Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Summer of Smash Part 3: Rebirth IV

On the Thursday before week three of the Summer of Smash, I actually wasn't sure of which tournament I was even going to for the weekend. There was one in Davenport, IA that some people from IL were driving to, but I knew that tournament would be relatively small and still a couple hours away. It made no sense for me to go to that when a tournament of about the same size was happening in Chicago that same day anyways. If I were to be traveling this weekend, I may as well go to Michigan for Rebirth IV which was looking to be 80+ attendants including some of the best players in the region. Since I've never been to Michigan for a tourney, I really wanted to make it out to Rebirth, but organizing a carpool was near impossible because everyone just wanted to go to Davenport for some reason. I asked around and eventually got Slow Joe and Hoenn in on going to Michigan, and on Friday as a last minute Razor joined our carpool.
We planned on leaving early morning Saturday and driving the 4.5 hours out to Livonia, MI for this tourney, but then luckily Skiboots reminded me that time zones are a thing, and that we'd have to leave an additional hour earlier, and ain't nobody got time for that. Since Slow Joe and Razor had work on Friday, we ended up loyoing it and leaving at almost 11pm on Friday night towards Michigan. Random funny story: we stopped in the middle of nowhere Michigan for gas and this gas station was selling lasagna dinner that cooks itself. It sounded incredible, so Joe bought one for breakfast the next day so we could all watch this thing cook itself. Too bad Joe never had it for breakfast and then almost left it at the venue Saturday so we could never see it. Oh well. Anyways, we ended up getting a motel somewhere near Ann Arbor just past 4am and got a little bit of sleep for the tourney the next day.

After a short drive in the morning we got to the venue which was in the basement of a technology building of some college I had never heard of. There were a lot of people down there, but most impressively there were a lot of set ups. I counted 22 as I was setting mine up, which is about ten more than Dismantle had, and Dismantle had more entrants. This was really cool because there was a lot of time for friendlies throughout the day. The venue was also spacious, and there was a nice stream set up. All of that with just a $5 venue fee and $5 tournament fee. Not bad.

As I was finishing setting up, a Michigan player challenged me to a money match and of course I accepted so I could see if the Michigan hype was real or not. It was Ryuga, and Ike player and ranked #7 on Michigan's PR. I have literally never played a decent Ike before, only For Glory Ikes that spam counters, so this would be a good learning experience. In this match I treated Ike like any other big character: be faster than him and don't get hit by big moves. Ryuga's Ike was so much cleaner than any Ike I had ever seen, and he was using combos and set ups I had never seen before. I managed to win the first match, but when he offered a rematch he managed to take it. We traded the sets and I think both sets went to game three and were pretty close over all. I was pretty impressed with his Ike, but I felt like if we met in bracket I'd be able to take the win as long as I didn't fall into his traps.

The first real event of the day (as per usual) was doubles, and I was teaming with Slow Joe, someone who I have never teamed with. We had initially planned on practicing a little in the motel last night or in the morning, but because of how late it was we just slept. I thought we would do pretty well, he was going to play as Fox as get all the kills and I'd play support and cover his options and deal damage. Very early in the bracket we met Coco's team, a team that I knew would be a pretty big challenge already since I had played Coco at Combo breaker. Quickly into game one of the set, the adaptor on the set up we were using broke mid game somehow, and made it so that everyone's controller held down and to the left. This caused Coco to die for no reason, and so we reset the match with the same stock count on everyone, which was two across the board. This took away the momentum both teams had and then the reset felt like the shortest doubles match ever since we all only had two stocks, but Coco's team ended up winning in a moderately close match. The second game Joe was doing really really well until he SD'd, and I wasn't doing too much myself so we ended up getting sent to loser's bracket after only the second round.

In loser's we played a couple quick matches against people whose names I do not remember at the moment, but me and Joe were both on point. One set I only lost one stock the entire time and dealt a lot of damage each game while Joe was consistently getting 4 or more kills. We finally met against a team consisting of Sparta Kick's Shulk and Stewy's Sheik. Game one was going decently, except for the fact that we could not land a kill onto Shulk. I think me and Joe both were on last stock when we finally took his first away from him, and because of that we lost game one. Second game was just awful for me. I started by SDing myself at around 70%, then soon I got stage spiked by a Sheik forward air that was facing the other direction somehow and so I died early again. It was pretty ugly, and we got eliminated into 9th place in doubles of 36 teams, significantly lower than we had hoped for.

Because of the high number of set ups, as soon as we were eliminated we were able to find friendlies pretty much immediately. I played a few more money matches against some good players that were all close, and soon enough pools began. Since there were 111 singles entrants, they did 16 pools of about 7 players each and actually did round robin pools instead of bracket pools. I was seeded first in my pool and cruised by it fairly easily without dropping a game. There was a pretty decent Pacman player in my pool whose tag I believe was Nebula, but in our matches he got too impatient for kills which let me deal a lot of extra credit damage on my first stock both games. After my pool I got food at Tom + Chee which had godlike grilled cheese sandwiches and even a grilled cheese made out of donuts which was amazing.

Bracket started pretty late and had 48 people in it, but with the high number of set ups, it should run pretty quickly. Round one I got my chance at revenge against Sparta Kick who knocked me out of doubles, but this time it was just my Diddy vs. his Shulk. I've played this matchup a million times against my brother, so I was definitely confident going into it despite my loss in doubles. Once again, SK was able to hold stocks really well, but in the end Diddy is just too fast for Shulk to handle and I was able to take the set 2-0, even though each game was close.

Second round I was called to play on stream vs. Ryuga, the Ike player I had money matched earlier. Game one went pretty much like all of our previous games, very close in the end but he managed to clutch it out with a ledge trump back-air when he had 150% rage. I knew I was playing pretty solidly and just had to be more careful not to get hit when I was offstage the second game, so I took him to Final Destination and won another extremely close game. The third and final game of the set did not start off so well for me, as he had a string of great reads that led into me getting hit by a charged forward smash and dying very early in the game. He was only at 17% when I died, and so I'd have to bring back an entire stock deficit in a two stock rule set. His strong reads continued until he got me to 97% on my last stock while he was sitting comfortably on his first stock. A lot of players would get flustered in this situation and start playing worse, but I feel like one of my strengths as a player is that no matter how far behind I am I always am able to keep my composure. I think he began to feel a little too comfortable with his lead, and started making a lot more mistakes and I was capitalizing. Between his mistakes and a few solid reads of mine, I somehow managed to take his stock and then bring his damage all the way up to 107% without taking any more damage myself, which put me in a slight percentage lead. At this point I tried to run away from him and pluck a banana while on the ground, but I accidently pressed side B instead of down B, which caused me to monkey flip into a terrible position off stage. In this spot he found a forward tilt and killed me off the side and ended my hopes at a comeback. I lost the set, but I knew that if I kept playing like I did on that last stock (minus the one missed input) that I would be able to go far in loser's bracket.

Oh, by the way, check out http://www.jjrockets.com/p/videos.html for videos of this match and all the rest of my matches from this tournament!

My next stream match in the loser's bracket was when I played Hyper Crasher's Luigi. Last weekend I proved my proficiency in this matchup when I forced False to switch off of Luigi and beat Shel. This time was no different. Game one went exactly according to plan, and I managed to grab combo for an early lead and then wall out and punish all of his attempts at approaching me and I took the game with a two stock victory. Second game I slipped up pretty bad, though. He took first stock on me, and then shortly after put me in a bad situation off stage and managed to hit me with his down air to take away my double jump so that I fell helplessly to my death at a very low percent, getting two stocked myself. Game three I managed to get back on track and do what I needed to do and took it with one stock low percent.

Immediately afterwards, I was to play Smasher1001 on stream without any breaks. Smasher is a Mario main, a matchup I also know pretty well from playing Bo in Illinois tournaments. However, Smasher's Mario plays a lot differently than Bo does. Smasher plays very aggressively and tries to keep pressure on his opponents at all times to force them into bad situations where he can find reads with his smashes. This style threw me off at first, and I dropped my first stock pretty quickly. On my second stock I was able to adapt to this aggressive Mario and punish some of his reckless aggression. On my last stock I ran up to him and held shield to bait him to throw out the cape to attempt to reverse my thrown banana, but instead of throwing my banana I simply waited and punished the cool down of his cape with a classic banana to forward smash combo. For game two I banned Battlefield and Castle Siege, and Smasher took me to Duck Hunt. Early in the match some shenanigans happened that almost resulted in an early kill off the top for one of us, but we both managed to get down safely and reset the situation. This game, I managed to carry my momentum from the end of game one into it, and got the early percent lead. This was taken away though when he read my monkey flip kick and reversed me with his cape to my death offstage. I didn't let this effect me though because I knew I was still putting out more damage than I was taking during the set, and that I could bring it back. In the end he recovered unsafely with a down air when I was spaced back too far and I tripped him with banana to forward smash again to take the set 2-0.

Once again I immediately was told to play my next match on stream vs. Ksev, a Fox player I had heard a lot about. This is a matchup that I am somewhat less familiar with, though I had grinded a lot of matches the day before against DOM on wifi and learned a few things. Ksev's Fox, however, is on a different level than DOM's. In the first game I felt like there was nothing I could do as Ksev was reading all of my movements. He punished all my ledge get ups, and managed to take my stocks by reading rolls from the ledge and up smashing. The second game went slightly better when I took him to Halberd, a stage that benefits us both. It allows him to kill earlier, but he still needs to get a read to land a kill. For Diddy, I now have an easy kill set up with up throw to up air around 80%, so I think it benefits my character significantly more. I played pretty well my first stock and actually had somewhat of a lead for a while, but once he was on his last stock he was playing on point again. I miraculously won through that up throw to up air combo when I had a lot of rage on my last stock. Game three Ksev proved that the stage choice was the reason that he lost the second game, and this time on a neutral stage he was able to punish all of my moves again. I lost to him in game three, and learned a lot about the Fox matchup in doing so.

Overall I ended up placing 7th of 111 entrants at Rebirth IV, which was for sure lower than I had wanted, but for playing in a new region with this many good players I could be happy with some of my wins and this placing. It made me more motivated to reach Michigan's level because I now know that MI is a lot stronger then IL as a whole. I will definitely be back to Michigan sometime this summer for a second shot at them, but for now I will be focusing on my next few big tournaments. Playing in a stronger region has made me a better player, and I know that if I can apply what I've learned I can place very high at Smash n Splash next weekend. As the third multi-day event of the summer, it should be a blast!