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Analysts Desk: Week 2 Recap

With the second week of Smash Bowl MMXXI coming to a close, we’re back with another recap and preview for next week!

This week, we saw Group A2 face off in the “Squad Strike” ruleset, which is the most common ruleset in Stage One. In Squad Strike, each player picks five characters before the beginning of a set. They’re allowed to use only these characters for the duration of the match, and they have to switch characters every game, win or lose. 

Each set starts with both players revealing their pool of characters, followed by a double-blind pick for the first game. Stage and character counterpicks function as normal for the rest of the set, with the winner banning three stages and selecting their character, while the loser selects the stage and gets the advantage of picking their character second. 

Since this ruleset gives an advantage to players who specialize in multiple characters, Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan was predicted to make it out in winners side, as he has two mains with Roy and Cloud, as well as a strong Snake secondary. However, in a major upset, Group A2’s third and fourth seeds, Eric “Pandarian” Lund and Darius “Laid” Hill, advanced to the second stage, eliminating the first and second seeds.

It seemed as though the deciding factor this week was the use of each players’ mains. In most of the sets, each player saved their mains to counter other players’ mains or for deciding game-five matches. Unfortunately for David “LeoN” Leon, this didn’t work out, as he lost both sets without using Bowser, despite selecting him as one of his five characters each set.

For Pandarian and Laid, this strategy worked wonders. Both players had their respective mains, Pokemon Trainer and Pac-Man, in all of their character pools—and only used them once in the entire bracket. 

During his set in the winners’ finals against Kola, Pandarian was down 1-2, but he had a counterpick advantage. Kola selected Young Link, saving his main, Roy, for the final game. Realizing this, Pandarian picked Wolf, allowing him to tie the game 2-2 while still keeping his Pokemon Trainer for game five, securing him the set.

Similarly, Laid saved his Pac-man for his final set, a runback against Kola, who he lost to in round one. Laid had a counterpick advantage going into game three, which gave him the option of selecting Pac-Man against Kola’s Roy. He also saved his R.O.B., which won a game against Kola in their first match, for game five. Despite Kola’s Roy falling flat in both sets, he managed to win every game in which he selected Cloud ashis second main. 

Surprisingly, the most used character in Group A2 was Incineroar, who was picked in all three of Laid’s rosters and one of Pandarian’s. He was used every time he was selected for a roster. Behind him was Wolf, who was also picked by Laid and Pandarian, and was used three times. 

Next week, we’ll have what may be the most varied ruleset chosen in Stage One, “Phone a Friend,” or, as it’s more commonly known, doubles. For this ruleset, each player has selected a partner, who will participate with them in a standard-doubles set. This ruleset will be used for both groups A3 and A4, meaning the next two weeks will be all doubles. 

Group A3, which will be playing this Sunday, consists of Enrique “Maister” Hernández Solís, Eric “Mr. E” Weber, Alexis “Goblin” Stennett and Brett “8BitMan” Esposito, in order of seeding.

Maister, the first seed and current favorite to win, is a Mr. Game and Watch main from Mexico. He’s often considered to be the best Game and Watch player and is currently ranked eighth on the Wi-Fi Warrior Ranking (WWR) and sixth on the 2020 Panda Global Ranking (PGR). He’s selected Arturo “Joker” Ochoa, a Samus main who also hails from Mexico, as his partner. Joker is known for his doubles play with his brother, Héctor Manuel “Meme” Ochoa, with whom he has achieved strong national results, including a 4th place finish at Genesis 7 and a 9th place finish at Frostbite 2019. While Joker is experienced in doubles, there is no record of him and Maister teaming in any major tournaments.

Mr. E, a NY-based Lucina main, is seeded second. He’s not currently ranked on the PGR, but he is ranked 39 on the WWR, and third on the New York City Power Ranking. He’s chosen Salvatore “Zomba” DeSena, a R.O.B. main from Staten Island, as his partner. Zomba is currently first on the Staten Island Power ranking, and ninth on the NYC Power Ranking. The two have teamed before at a tristate monthly, where they placed first out of 19 teams.

The third seed, Goblin, is a Roy main from Central Florida, currently ranked 21 on the WWR and 42 on the PGR. He’s chosen KKB Chase as his partner, a Palutena main from Southern California who frequents Wi-Fi tournaments. The two don’t have any history of teaming with each other at major events. 

The last seed of Group A3, Brett “8BitMan” Esposito, is a R.O.B. main from Southern Florida, currently ranked 24 on the WWR and second on his local power ranking. He’s selected Rylan “ChunkyKong” Silva as his partner, a local DK main ranked 74 on the WWR. Like most of the players in Group A3, they don’t seem to have any records of teaming at major events. 

This group is one of the hardest to predict, considering the lack of data on each doubles team. With that said, Mr. E and Zomba might have a unique advantage, since they’ve teamed at a somewhat large event before. Joker has also proven himself as an experienced doubles player, even though his large wins haven’t been with Maister.

You can watch the action this Sunday, November 15, at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on Thunder Gaming’s Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/thundergamingla

If you’d like to see the bracket, or learn more about the rulesets and format, you can check out our smash.gg page: https://smash.gg/tournament/smash-bowl-mmxxi/details

Writer’s Note: This article was written in collaboration with Andrew “PracticalTAS” Nestico, Data Analyst.

Louis Pagillo is a freelance journalist and competitive Super Smash Bros. player

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