Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Summer of Smash Part 2: Dismantle

So week two of The Summer of Smash has come to a close after another 3 days straight of Smash. This post is going to be really long again; I'm pretty much just writing whatever comes to my head as I remember it, so some of it might not end up making any sense at all. You've been warned.

The whole week leading up to this tournament I was practicing a lot for it since this would be my first big opportunity to prove myself against top out of state and out of region players. I was grinding out more than I usually do, and I was already noticing improvements in my play online which made me feel really good going into the tournaments.
On the Friday before Dismantle I went down to Back in the Game for their weekly tournament as a warm up for Dismantle and to get matches in against the East coast guys. I was given 4th seed which set me up for a rematch against Bo in winner's quarters. Last time at E2C I lost to his Rob 0-2, but I really felt like I could win this time as long as I didn't get impatient. I managed to take the set in a close game one, and a somewhat convincing game two which I was really happy with. My next round would be against Dabuz, and since this was my first match against a top player of his level I went in without knowing what to expect. Game one was really solid and I managed to keep it pretty close throughout, and even though I lost I got him to last stock with just over 100%. Game two though, the download was complete and I got bopped, but overall I must say that playing game one so close made me feel like I'd be able to win against anyone if I was on point. In loser's side of the bracket I had a pretty quick match against Gamerhead, and then played Keitaro for 4th. It was a Diddy ditto of course, and was pretty close throughout. The match ended faster than I expected, and I noticed how much more patient Keitaro is than me. I like to play aggressively and keep pressure on my opponent, where Keitaro was able to win the set 2-0 by waiting for me to make a mistake and punishing me hard with grabs. This small tourney was a great learning experience for me, and was definitely a great help going into Dismantle the next day.
Saturday the real deal began, starting with triples. The night before, me, Demitus, and JTWild all agreed to wear purple and pick purple costumes in game in honor of the team name "The Purple Gentlemen." Our 3v3 bracket was pretty solid and we were doing really well and even managed to take Akiro, Greenbeast, and Bo to game 3. Last game there was some real shenanigans going on though, turns out that Norfair is a super jank stage LOOL. They managed to take it from us, but I was still pretty happy with how we did overall, I just wish it was double elimination and that we could get a chance to play more games.
Next event was the auction, which is always a lot of fun. First character pulled out was Greninja, one of my secondaries so of course I was going to bid on him. I was about to get him for only $8, which would be the second auction tourney in a row that I would have bought the first character for exactly $8, but then Spicy came out of nowhere and bid $10. This guy clearly just wanted me to pay more for the character and expected me to outbid him, but I wasn't about to play that game, I didn't care too much for Frogger so I let him take it for $10 #gotem. A couple characters later, Metaknight is called, and I managed to win that $11 only, so I still got in as a secondary for cheap, so I was happy because right afterwards the auction got insane. Captain Falcon was called, and an insane bid war brought him up to $70, Mario came up for $80, Ness went for $80. The most hype character of all though, Sheik got pulled and after a crazy bid war between False and Akiro, False took it for $150. In the tournament itself, I got bodied so hard by Xyless round one haha. Game two we got Great Cave Offensive, and I accidently killed myself by up throwing and flying myself into the lava and killing myself. Even though I went out like a buster, it's always a fun side event, and grand finals of JTWild vs. False was super hype. Overall I would say that Auction is my favorite side event right now.
Doubles was next. Teaming with Akiro for the first time was sure to be interesting, but I was actually really confident that we could actually win it all if we were able to get some synergy together during the early rounds. After breezing through the first few rounds we ended up against a team from Ohio playing Ness/Samus using the charge shot to heal Ness up. First game was solid, but the second game we let Ness heal up too much and lost it pretty badly to be honest. Game three we took them to Battlefield and tried to keep them separated more, and things were looking bad at first. We both lost our stocks first, but then started to make a comeback. Stuff happened that I don't really remember, but it came down to a 1v1 between Akiro and H-Man, both were off stage and H-Man up b's to try to make it back, hits Akiro and stage spikes him to death. If Akiro hit that tech we would've won the game since H-Man's up b didn't make it back to the stage. Disappointing to go into loser's bracket so early, but it happens and we'd just have to play well to make it back.
After going to check the bracket, we saw that NiTe and Dan the legends took down False/Keitaro and so now we had to play them in loser's bracket for 7th. I don't think anyone expected either of us to place this low, but we had to play it out anyways. Game one starts and False/Keitaro are playing super fast, which I wasn't used to in teams. I tried too hard to keep up but kept getting punished. Going into game two I knew I needed to change something up, so instead of trying to keep up with that speed I tried just slowing it down a bit and trying to force them to slow down and play at my pace a bit more. During the second game, the most frustrating thing happened and the TV blacked out on us mid match. We all agreed to reset the situation to a neutral position and continue, but having that pause mid match is never a good time. Despite that hold up, we ended up playing really really well and took the second game, forcing out a game three. It was pretty close game three again, when the TV blacked out on us again, this time twice in one match. After all that we couldn't find our stride again, and False and Keitaro managed to clutch it out and take the set. To say that I'm disappointed with 7th place in doubles would be an understatement, but it's all a learning experience. Overall we didn't play too terribly, but there is definitely room for improvement.
Pools came after bracket, and my pool was going pretty smoothly until I was up against H-Man, the same Samus from the team that knocked us into losers. Game one I had a decent lead the entire game, but on last stock I got hit by a charge shot that I should've dodged and died early to lose the game. Game two, though, I was adapting so well. I noticed how he liked to sit on the Smashville platform and charge his shot, but if I jumped at hit he instinctively shielded. I was able to abuse this habit and just monkey flipped at him for free damage. Three stocked game two, and JV three stock game three to move onto the finals of my pool vs. Flow-Yo. I was playing pretty solidly, and these matches pretty much went just as they did when we played in Missouri, and I took the set with a pretty clean 2-0 victory.
Finals day on Sunday started out with another really fun side event, crew battles. It was single elimination, 5 man crews. Our team was really stacked, consisting of the top 5 PR for Chicago: me, Akiro, Greenbeast, Bo, and Shel. I felt like we really did have a good shot at winning, but we really played awful throughout the entire thing LMAO. It all started going south our second round when I was up first against YoshQ, and then Nicole started her godlike (anti) trash talking. Me and Yosh were dying laughing the entire time, making it pretty much impossible to focus on the match. I ended up losing after taking two stocks, and then Shel and Bo went on to get bodied as well against the St. Louis crew. Greenbeast had to pick up our slack and carry us, but it was all worth it because Nicole's trash talk was just that good. We ended up making it to the finals, barely, and then somehow made that come down to 1 stock even though me Shel and Bo all got bodied again. Shout outs to Green and Akiro for the carry and making us look not as free, and I have to give shout outs again to Nicole for making crews as funny as it was.
Immediately after crews began I was sent over to Chompy to start round one of bracket. I'll be honest, I expected this match to be fairly easy since Chompy has been out of the scene for a while, but in our past games months ago they always ended up being pretty close. As it turns out, this set was no exception. Game one came down to last stock, and when I ended the game with a forward smash, someone from the crowd said something about the timer. I hadn't even noticed it, but that match came down to 25 seconds left on the clock. After that game I had to constantly remind myself to check the timer every now and again, which, spoiler, ended up being important for a later match. Game two was just as close, another 7 minute long game, but Chompy managed to clutch it out with a solid read on my spot dodge. For counterpicks, normally I always just go back to a neutral stage, but for some reason at this tournament I decided I'd be a little more risky on my counterpicks and go to stages that benefit me more, even if they aren't really my favorite stages. I ended up going to Delfino, which really worked out for me and I was able to get the only solid lead that anyone had in the entire set up to that point. The timer was running low once again, and Chompy was forced to approach me and I was able to punish him for it and take the set 2-1.
Apparently that was the last round one set still going on, and so my next opponent, Shel, hopped in right away and we began the next match. Going into this matchup I was confident since we had played on Wifi earlier in the week to practice, but at the same time Shel beat me in a money match in the only other offline set we had played. I was much more confident in the matchup this time around though. We agreed to Smashville game one, and played a very back and forth game where nobody ever had a real lead. I think I won at around 112% on my last stock. For counter picks, he wanted to take me to Omega Mario Galaxy, but I've learned to never allow Omegas unless I have to because the home field advantage is real LOL. Another back and forth game on regular Final Destination ended up with him taking the second game with around 70% last stock. Once again, game three came down to last stock both at over 100%, whoever could find the next kill move would win. I could hear a crowd behind us getting hype at this game three last hit scenario, which put even more pressure on the both of us. We were both scrambling to get that last kill, and eventually I found it with a down tilt into up smash. This was probably one of the closest sets I have ever played up until this point, and it happened right after my super close set with Chompy. All these games at Dismantle have been too close for comfort, but I somehow managed to squeak out wins.
After unplugging my control, False, who was standing behind me watching the last game of the set, informed me we would be playing next on the stream set up after Bo and Akiro's match ended. In a surprise upset, Bo managed to take the win from Akiro, something I had not expected at all, and niether did False. I heard False say something along the lines of "Oh shoot, now I have to play that Peach in semis?" to which I responded that he still had to go through me. False opted to start the set with his Luigi since he likes that matchup better than with Sheik. I was okay with that since I had just played three great games against a Luigi, and my confidence was able to show in my play. He managed to take an early lead but I was able to claw my way back into the game, and on last stock I found the classic down tilt into up smash combo to end his stock fairly early. Taking game one against one of the Tri-state guys was really hype, but I still had to win one more game. He took me back to Smashville and switched over to Sheik and gave me a quick bopping. Normally for my counterpicks I would take him straight to Smashville for the third game in a row, but I thought back to my match with Chompy and remembered how well I did against him on Delfino, and so I decided now is the time to take that risk and try that stage out once more. It started out not so good, but after False SD'd with about 100% on his first stock, he lost a lot of the momentum he had from game one and the match became a lot closer from there. All game from his down throw combos he had been attempting to hit me with up air, which I caught on to and was able to air dodge them frequently to avoid a lot of his throw combo damage. This turned out to work against me on the last stock, where he baited out my air dodge and got me with vanish to take the set. I may have lost the set, but I was happy with how it went. I took him to a close third game and had him worried for a bit, and I got the crowd really hype for a while. These kinds of matches are my favorite, close game threes where I have a crowd behind me supporting me. There is just something about having all of your friends behind you yelling "Birds up!" in between stocks that really makes the matches so much better. Later after the tournament I went and rewatched my sets with the Twitch chat, and I was really surprised by how much "Birds Up!" in the chat there was also, so thanks to everyone who supported me not only in person, but also online on the twitch chat. Birds up to you guys! Oh, by the way, congratulations to you, the reader, for actually reading this far. Birds up to you, my friend.
I was in loser's bracket then, and my next match was to be Keitaro who had beaten me 2-0 in the ditto the previous day. I had told everyone I talked to that I felt confident in beating him in the rematch as long as I didn't make dumb mistakes like I had the time before. This confidence sort of disappeared some time during game one when I kept running in recklessly while Keitaro sat back and punished all of my approaches with his throw combos and kept a solid stock lead most of the game and ended up two stocking me. Game two we go back to Smashville (of course) and I just tried to do the same things again. It didn't work out, and Keitaro began to mount a solid lead on me once again. I was down to my last stock and he was still on his second stock with low percentage, and I knew if I were to somehow bring this back that I'd have to change something up and stop getting grabbed. I had a string of solid reads, mostly monkey flips on his shield while I was holding a banana, and managed to get him down to his last stock while I was at 96%. I knew that he really liked grabbing me, and that he really likes to throw out random forward smashes when I'm at high percents. I had to be really careful with my positioning, but at the same time I had to take risks to put the game back in my favor. Eventually I was able to build his percent high, and with the rage I was at I managed to kill him with a forward smash while he was on the ground and bring it to the third and final game. The momentum in the set had shifted, and now I was in control. Game three I tried to keep this pressure on him, and the percents were in my favor for the entire first stock. He got me with a read on the edge, and killed me at a low percent with forward smash to take the first stock and put me behind, but the overall momentum was still in my favor and I finished his stock with a really jank spot dodge to spot dodge to charge forward smash when I had only taken about 50% on that stock. His second stock was when he really started to pull the momentum back into his favor, and eventually we both ended up on last stock with me at a much higher percent. At this point we had both really slowed our games down and were committing a lot less, and just trying not to get hit. Through the patient play I was reminded of my first match with Chompy where we nearly went to time, so I glanced at the timer to see only two minutes left on the clock. This could potentially be a timeout, so I knew I had to get the percent lead soon and then try to wall him out. I was behind by 5% when he tried to pull his banana out, which I quickly grabbed and just held onto without throwing it back. Now he couldn't pull out another banana, and I played patient and decided to wait to make my move, but the timer was quickly running down. I eventually had a read on a roll that got me an up air that put us exactly tied at 109% last stock with just 40 seconds on the timer. Another read on a roll landed me a grab at the edge of the stage, and I opted for a forward throw to try to get a kill, but he barely managed to survive it. Even though it didn't kill, this was pivotal because I had the percent lead now by a decent margin. A third read on his roll grabbed me another forward throw, which didn't kill but now I had 25% lead and just 10 seconds left. I was at high percents myself, and I didn't want to jump off stage and get killed by a random aerial, so I wanted to try to just hold center stage and just survive the last 10 seconds. I figured that only a smash attack would end me, but he found a grab on my sheild and did down throw. At this percent, I should have DI'd behind him where I could have jumped away from the combo and then up b'd away to end the game, but instead I DI'd inwards because I was doing that all set to avoid the double/triple up air combo at low percents. This was very bad for me because at high percents if I DI that way, he can land an up air, and with the high rage that he had he was able to end me with just 4 seconds left on the timer.
And with that game ending, my tournament life was over and I was eliminated at 9th place, much lower than I had hoped for going into the tournament, and to lose in that game three like that was not the way I would've liked to go out. Since the tourney, I've probably re-watched that game three at least 10 times now, and I can feel my heart rate increase and I still get really nervous every time I watch it. It's one of those moments that I'll keep going over in my mind thinking "what could I have done differently?" and "what if I did this instead of that?" I made two very horrible decisions (forward throw on the last grab when I should've back thrown then ran to the opposite ledge and got ready to go under the stage, and then the DI on his down throw), though I don't blame my loss on either. That was only two decisions that I had made during an eight minute game. On each and every stock there were so many things that I could have done better that wouldn't have ever put me in that time out situation. I'm not mad about any of it, and even though I would've loved to be the one moving on in the bracket, I have to give props to Keitaro for playing out such an incredible match with me. Congrats Keitaro, you deserved it,
It was the closest match I had of the tourney, even though every single one of my games came down to a close game three. Every match today was way too close, even the games I watched. Greenbeast vs. Dabuz, Bo vs. False, Akiro vs. Keitaro etc. One thing I noticed through everything is that I was significantly more nervous when I was watching close matches with the Chicago boys than it was to actually be playing in them myself. I can't even imagine what it felt like to watch the heartbreaking ending to my own game three. Playing in it is so much different and for some reason when I'm in game and focused with my music playing, I don't get nervous at all and just play the game. But watching those close games actually ended up being one of the highlights of the tournament for me. Especially Greenbeast, who played out of his mind all day. It was so much fun supporting and cheering on the Chicago scene. To watch all that work we put in pay off and put the Midwest on the map. Even though we let out of state take top two, I really do believe that other regions did notice us, and that one day we can be up there with the best of the best. I'm so proud of all of you, we have come so far as a region. I used to think only me and Akiro were the only good players in IL, I used to say "GGA is free," and I used to think we would never compare to the coasts. I really do believe that this weekend we proved that all of that is not true, and that Chicago is a strong region. We are good now, but we are far from great. Let's put in the work and next time at E2C 15, we are going to defend the city and win the tournament. BIRDS UP.