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Analysts Desk: Week 7 Recap

Welcome back to another Smash Bowl MMXXI recap!

Last Sunday, the four players of group A7 fought against each other using the “Sakurai Says” ruleset, which uses Smash Ultimate’s default rules. This means each game was set to time rather than stocks, items were set to medium, and stage hazards were on. Stages were also chosen randomly, aside from a few specific banned stages. To adjust for the shorter games, sets in this ruleset were best of seven rather than best of five. 

After the final set of the day, Yezre’el “Yez” Askew advanced to Stage Two from the winners’ side after a series of unexpected upsets, and Spencer “BestNess” Garner moved on from the losers’ side. 

The first set of the day was a match between the above two players. BestNess was the first seed of the group, making him the favorite to win against Yez, who had the lowest seed in the pool. Even in their head-to-head record before Sunday, BestNess had a 5-2 record over Yez. Despite this, Yez took the set somewhat convincingly, with a 4-1 victory. Even after a nailbiter game five in which BestNess read Yez’s jump with a back air with three seconds left on the clock, Yez’s survivability and strong DI let him keep his lead and take the set. 

On the other side of the bracket, the second and third seeds, Brian “Cosmos” Kalu and Andrew “ScAtt” Huntley had an exciting set that went as seeded, with Cosmos winning 4-2. While he lost the set, the two games that ScAtt won were some of the most impressive this week. During game four, ScAtt put himself on the board thanks to an assist from a Pokeball containing Bewear. During the stage transition on Castle Seige, he hit Cosmos with Megaman’s forward smash as Bewear jumped away. The flat ground that appeared from the transition gave Bewear a platform right as it jumped, allowing it to follow up ScAtt’s forward smash with an uppercut, putting ScAtt in the lead as the final countdown appeared on screen.

The winners’ finals set between Yez and Cosmos went down the wire, with Yez barely winning 4-3. This set had many moments that reminded competitive players why they don’t use the default ruleset. During game two, Yez knocked Cosmos up into the air with Ike’s neutral air, and followed up with his final smash as the announcer began counting down the last five seconds on the clock. However, Ike’s final smash took too long, and he couldn’t take the stock, resulting in a sudden-death match against Corrin, a character with long-range attacks and projectile, and a win for Cosmos. 

During game 5, Cosmos picked up the Gust Bellows item and used the wind it created to push Yez off the stage. In what looked like an attempt to bring up his shield and stop himself from being blown back any further, Yez slid off stage and air dodged, resulting in an early stock and a lead for Cosmos, who would later win the game. However, despite both of these setbacks, Yez still came out on top during game 7, and he advanced to Stage Two from the winners’ side.

In the losers’ round one match, BestNess beat ScAtt in the only 4-0 sweep this week. BestNess demonstrated a commanding use of items throughout the set to control the stage and grow his lead, making it difficult for ScAtt to find any ground. During game two, BestNess had both a Pokémon and an assist trophy out on the stage, which gave him the coverage he needed to grab a special flag and increase his lead even further. 

Bestness carried his momentum into his losers’ finals set with Cosmos, allowing him to move on to Stage Two after winning the set 4-1. However, there was a bit of a hiccup during this match: during game five, Cosmos switched the Joker, and they were to play the match on Midgar. However, there was a loss of connection that resulted in the match ending prematurely, with both players agreeing to replay the game under similar conditions. Before they disconnected, BestNess took a stock without taking any damage, so the two agreed on Cosmos forfeiting a stock and replaying the match. However, they seemed to have rerolled the random stage, resulting in a second game on Find Mii. The game went to sudden death, even after Cosmos self-destructed to make up for the last game. BestNess managed to close out the set with a forward tilt to punish Cosmos’ reversal attempt out of shield. 

Next week is the final group of Stage One! Group A8 will be playing using the “Squad Strike” ruleset, one of the most common rulesets in this stage. Each player will select five characters before the set begins, and they can only use each of those characters once. So even if someone wins a game, they have to switch their character afterward. Counterpicking will function the same as a normal set, where the loser of the previous game has the advantage. The players will be locked to nine tournament viable stages.

The first seed of Group A8 is Samuel Robert “Dabuz” Buzby, currently ranked ninth on both the Wi-Fi Warrior Ranking (WWR) and the Panda Global Ranking (PGR). Dabuz has been a top player since Brawl, where he has notable tournament results dating back over a decade. Since his early days as a competitor, he’s played Olimar, a character with whom he’s still strong today. He picked up Rosalina in Smash 4 and is often considered the best at the character, even now in Ultimate. What sets him further apart from the competition is his experience in the online playing field. Dabuz first got his name through competing in online tournaments and exhibition matches back in the Brawl days, so he has over a decade of online experience under his belt. 

It’s almost certain that we’ll see Dabuz pick both Rosalina and Olimar for his roster. Beyond that, he’s used Min Min in various online events since her release, with somewhat frequent Dark Pit and Palutena picks on the side. 

The second seed, Gabriel “Epic_Gabriel” Romero, isn’t ranked on the PGR but is 12 on the WWR. He’s a R.O.B. specialist with impressive results in the online scene this year. While he was already well known prior to the pandemic for his offline results, particularly his 25th place finish at Genesis 7 and seventh-place finish at CEO Dreamland 2020, he’s had consistently high results in online tournaments this year, with sets over several top players. In fact, he has three wins over Dabuz online, although Dabuz was using Min Min, and not his more well-versed characters. While he rarely deviates from R.O.B., he has used Ken, Ryu, Palutena, Chrom, Wolf and Terry in a few online events this year. 

Epic_Gabriel’s opponent, Dawson “Big D” Perron, is the third seed of Group A8, ranked 49 on the PGR. He’s another long-time player, but one that hasn’t seen the same national recognition as players like Dabuz. He dominated his local scene in every game since Brawl, using mostly Ice Climbers and King Dedede. Aside from those two, he’s also used Mario, Captain Falcon, Link and Donkey Kong. With over a decade spent using his unorthodox mains, he’ll likely have an advantage going into matches against inexperienced players. With that said, Big D’s characters are far from a gimmick: looking at only online events, he had an impressive 13th place finish at The Box and won the Fight for Rights West Coast tournament.

The fourth seed is Tanner “SKITTLES!!” Jordan, a Young Link main currently ranked 13 on the WWR and unranked on the PGR. Skittles is group A8’s second specialist and coincidentally right behind Epic_Gabriel on the WWR. He’s entered nearly 100 online tournaments this year, using almost entirely Young Link. In a few games, he didn’t use his main. Instead, he picked Toon Link, Dr. Mario, Steve and R.O.B. His specialist mindset may put him at a disadvantage given the ruleset, but based on his results, it’s no question that he’s capable of adapting. 

Group A8 is seeded for Dabuz to advance from the winners’ side, and for Epic_Gabriel to move on from the losers’ side. However, as we’ve seen in the rest of Stage One, the players like to prove us wrong. The most likely to do so is probably Big D, who has more experience than most of the players in the entire tournament, and a character pool with some solid oddballs he could use to catch people off guard. 

You can watch the action this Sunday, December 20, 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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