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Analysts Desk: Week 5 Recap

With the fifth week of Smash Bowl MMXXI wrapping up this past Sunday, it’s time for another weekly recap!

This week, the players used the “Randoms” ruleset, in which both character and stage picks were randomized. The random selection was somewhat limited, with only nine tournament viable stages available. However, the character pool consisted of the entire roster. In similar fashion to last week, we saw the third seed of group A5, Nicholas “Ned” Dovel, move on from the winners’ side, and the first seed, Tyler “Marss” Martins, move on from the losers’ side. 

Marss won the first set of Group A5 with a convincing 3-0 against Joshua “Pelca” Bedoya, the only clean sweep this week. During game three, Pelca got Diddy Kong, a character he’s quite familiar with, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Marss’ Pit. Despite an early lead from Pelca, Marss managed to use Diddy’s banana to his advantage and brought the game back last stock, finishing with an early kill off the top blast zone. 

On the other side of the winners’ bracket, Chris “WaDi” Boston, the second seed of Group A5, lost 3-1 to Ned. In game two of this set, both players got Ganondorf, making the first mirror match of the week. Ned took the game with a convincing two stock, and although WaDi was able to answer back with his Yoshi next game, he lost a close game four against Ned’s Roy, sending him to the losers’ bracket.

In the final winners’ bracket set, Ned proved his worth with a 3-1 win over Marss, the first seed of their pool. In game two of their set, both players rolled Zero Suit Samus (ZSS), for Ned’s second mirror match this week. Unfortunately for Ned, despite having ZSS experience, Marss is the highest-ranked ZSS player on the Panda Global Ranking (PGR), so this mirror match skewed in his favor. After Ned lost game two, they went into game three, and both rolled Dark Pit for a back-to-back mirror match, and Ned’s third that day. Ned made a repeat of his set with WaDi, winning the game with a two-stock lead. As they went into game four, Marss got Pit, a character who he already showed his competency with against Pelca. He used Pit’s large attacks and long-range arrows to keep Ned’s incineroar in the corner, racking up percent slowly each stock. While the strategy was effective for most of the game, Ned managed to find an opening on the final stock using his dash attack to clank with Pit’s smash attack. He then shielded the incoming rapid jab, and punished with a forward smash backed by rage, letting him advance to stage two of Smash Bowl from the winners’ side. 

In the losers’ bracket, Pelca beat WaDi 3-1, knocking him out of the tournament. WaDi was somewhat unlucky, rolling unique characters that often take specialists to do well, like Steve and Bowser Jr. Pelca was able to adjust to the unorthodox characters faster, advancing him to the finals of the losers’ bracket and giving him the opportunity to get revenge on Marss after losing their set on the winners’ side. 

At first, it looked as though that would happen, as Pelca started the set with two wins, putting Marss on his tournament life. In game three, Pelca had to play as Bowser against Marss’ Ness. While this matchup isn’t necessarily bad at the top level, for two players who don’t use either character, Ness tends to have the advantage thanks to his large hitboxes that allow him to keep massive characters, like Bowser, out. Combining this with an early kill using PK Flash, it seemed as though the game was over. However, after Marss took two stocks unanswered, Pelca managed to start a comeback and bring Marss to an even stock count after reading his air dodge. Unfortunately, the damage he incurred while doing so was too much, and he couldn’t secure the game, bringing the set to a fourth round. After Marss’ Dark Samus took game four somewhat convincingly, Pelca had another unlucky roll, finding himself playing as King K. Rool against Marss’ Pokémon Trainer. This was a similar situation to game three, and this time, Pelca couldn’t make the adjustment, and Marss advanced to stage two from the losers’ side. 

Interestingly, there were three total mirror matches this week, all played by Ned. This week’s most common character was Ganon, played in one of the aforementioned mirror matches, and in game one of Pelca and Marss’ final set. Outside of the other two mirror matches, Robin, Ness, Villager, Pit and Ridley were all played twice. There were 31 unique characters used in this group, out of 20 games played. 

Next week, we’ll see the return of the “Squad Strike” ruleset, which we saw from Group A2. In this ruleset, each player selects five characters before the set begins. They can only use these five characters throughout the set, and they can only use each character once. That means they have to switch after every game, even if they won. Counterpicks will function regularly, with the loser of the previous game having the advantage of picking second. 

The first seed of Group A6 is Eric “ESAM” Lew, who is currently ranked 14 on both the PGR and the Wi-fi Warrior Ranking (WWR). He’s one of the heavy-hitters in this tournament, with over a decade of experience in the competitive Smash scene. He’s played Pikachu in every game since “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” and he was a Samus main in “Super Smash Bros. Melee.” He’s also used Samus as a secondary in each game, so it’s safe to say we’ll see both characters on his roster. As for the other three spots, we may see Shulk, ZSS and Min Min based on his character usage in online tournaments. 

His opponent, the fourth seed of the group, is Kelsy “SuperGirlKels” Medeiros, who is unranked on the PGR, but 58 on the WWR. She is another long time competitor and character specialist, making a name for herself as one of the best Sonic players in every game since his first appearance in “Brawl.” She’s also used Kirby as a secondary in every Smash game she’s played, so we can expect those two on her roster. As for the other picks, she’s used Isabelle and Yoshi, but much less so than Sonic and Kirby.

On the other side of the bracket, we have Noah “Sharp” McCulley, the second seed of the group and 15 on the WWR. He’s a Joker main with a well-rounded character pool thanks to his many secondary and pocket characters. Based on his online tournament results, we’re likely to see Wolf, Sheik and ZSS, with either Cloud or Lucina rounding out his roster. 

His opponent, Pedro “Prodigy” Alonso, is unranked on both the PGR and WWR but is first on the NorCal Power Ranking. He’s often considered to be one of the best Mario players in the world, behind only Rasheen “Dark Wizzy” Rose. As a character specialist, Prodigy doesn’t often stray away from his Mario, but based on the few times he has in online tournaments, we may expect to see Roy, Cloud, Ike, Wolf or Terry. Based on what we saw in Group A2, each set will likely be decided by whoever has more mastery over their characters and who can plan their picks for the entire set. One of the most common strategies we saw was saving one’s main for the other person’s main, or when they needed to close out the set. ESAM and Sharp will likely make it out as seeded based on their experience, but we may see an upset from Sharp thanks to his deep character pool. 

You can watch the action this Sunday, December 6, at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on Thunder Gaming’s Twitch channel:

If you’d like to see the bracket, or learn more about the rulesets and format, you can check out our page:

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