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Analysts Desk: Week 9 Recap

We’re back from the holidays with another Smash Bowl MMXXI recap!

This past Sunday, the first group of Stage Two played using the “Super Smashdown” ruleset, which is made to reward the player who gets the first hit of each match. The game is set to stamina mode with 10 HP, so most attacks will knock out a character in one hit. The timer is set to one minute, the knockback is set to 1.3, and item spawns are set to medium. Since the matches are so fast, each set is played in a best of 19, or first to 10, format. 

There were some surprising results from this format, most notably the elimination of Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez. The two players who advanced this week were Darius “Laid” Hill through the winners’ side of the bracket and Luis “Lui$” Oceguera through the losers’ side. 

The first set of the day was between the aforementioned Lui$ and MkLeo. Lui$ was a captain in this pool, meaning he had the opportunity to choose his opponent. However, it’s likely that MkLeo was the only player left for Lui$ to choose from given, his status as the highest-ranked player on the Panda Global Ranking. Lui$ had a rough time finding his footing during this set and had several moments where he couldn’t get the kill in one hit. Particularly, in-game five, he spent much of the game avoiding MkLeo’s Simon while charging a gyro with R.O.B., only for the gyro to deal 9.2% damage. MkLeo was able to close the space between them and take the game with Simon’s long whip attacks. Later in game seven, Lui$ found himself in a similar situation after hitting MkLeo’s Sonic with Zero Suit Samus’ up air, which only did around 7% damage. Unlike game five, Lui$ managed to get another hit and take the game. However, it wasn’t enough to win the set, as MkLeo won with a convincing 10-5 score. 

On the other side of the winners’ bracket, captain Gabriel “Epic_Gabriel” Romero had chosen Darius “Laid” Hill as his opponent. The set was back and forth, with Epic_Gabriel focusing on aggression while Laid played more defensively. After Epic_Gabriel secured a 6-4 lead with a game five that lasted under five seconds, Laid began to employ new strategies and made use of rapid jabs. He won the next six games in a row, resulting in a 10-6 win for Laid. 

Winners’ finals was the shortest set of the group, with Laid making a massive upset of MkLeo. The set started in Laid’s control, with a final smash in game two and four straight wins. MkLeo found his footing in the next few games, including a Palutena ditto where he managed to get Laid to bite first in neutral with a rapid jab, which he jumped over and punished with a forward air. This was indicative of a pattern throughout the set, where Laid attempted to use rapid jab the same ways he did against Epic_Gabriel. MkLeo was ready for it with fast punishes or dodges, but despite that, Laid still won the set 10-4.

In the losers’ bracket, Lui$ played against Epic_Gabriel in another fast set. Epic_Gabriel continued his aggressive playstyle, ending the first two games in under five seconds. However, this strategy didn’t work for long, as Lui$ answered back with three wins. During game five, Lui$ ran away from Epic_Gabriel’s Diddy Kong and used Ness’ PK Thunder to try and damage him from across the stage. After dealing some percent, Lui$ closed out the game using Ness’ bat to reflect Diddy Kong’s neutral B. During game seven, Epic_Gabriel shifted his focus towards a more defensive playstyle as Fox and used the turret item and Fox’s lasers to chip away at Lui$’s Squirtle. However, with less than 1% HP left, Lui$ managed to aim Squirtle’s side b between the turret and Fox’s lasers to hit Epic_Gabriel and win the game. Epic_Gabriel started answering back near the end of the set with back-and-forth exchanges, but Lui$ still won the set with a final score of 10-6.

The losers’ final set between Lui$ and MkLeo was a rematch from the first match in the winners’ side of the bracket, and it was the longest set this week, going all the way to a final game 19. The set was largely back and forth, but after Lui$ made a mistake as Duck Hunt Dog and hit himself with his exploding can, MkLeo took a 5-3 lead. He held on to this lead until game 17, where he had a 9-7 lead. Lui$ got King K. Rool from random, a character who he seemingly managed to learn how to play against Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez in their random character match in Group A1. He managed to hold on to his tournament life by hitting MkLeo with a max-distance crown throw, moving on to a game 18, where he rolled Olimar from random, and had a fairly easy time thanks to his high-damage Pikmin throws. In game 19, Lui$ rolled Samus, and MkLeo had Ice Climbers. The score was 9-9, so the winner of this game would take the entire set and move on to Stage Three. After Lui$ put himself in an unfavorable position on Green Hill Zone, he used an up B out of shield to escape and deal 5% to MkLeo. The two were anxious about approaching each other, and Lui$ chose to maintain his lead by waiting on the right side of the stage above the bowl in the center. While MkLeo was trying to bait Lui$ into approaching, a present box spawned above him, landing on the bowl, and rolling into MkLeo before he could react, ending the game and giving Lui$ the win in what may be the most unfortunate loss in the Smash Bowl thus far.

Moving on to Group B2, the ruleset will have very little room for luck, unlike Group B1. The group will be playing using the “Sami Singles” ruleset, based on the melee ruleset created by Sami “Druggedfox” Muhanna. Each player only has one stock, and the timer is set to two minutes. Items are off, Yoshi’s Story with hazards on is the  only stage available. Each set will be played in a best-of-nine format, so a player will have to win five games to take a set. Because hazards will be on, not only will the cloud platform, colloquially known as “Randall,” be rotating around the bottom of the stage, but the Shy Guys will also be carrying food items that can heal the players.

Eric “Pandarian” Lund is the first captain of Group B2, advancing to Stage Two through the winners’ bracket side of Group A2, where he was the lowest seed. Group A2 used the squad strike ruleset, so while he still had influence over his character choice, he wasn’t able to use his main the entire time.  In Sami Singles, he’ll have free reign over his character and will likely stick with his best character, Pokémon Trainer, the entire set. The opponent he chose was Eric “Mr. E” Weber, who advanced to Stage Two through the losers’ bracket of Group A3 using the “Phone a Friend” ruleset, which is essentially a standard doubles ruleset. This will be his first opportunity in Smash Bowl to play in a singles bracket, and he’ll have the luxury of choosing his character as well. Pandarian will have the advantage in their set, as he beat Mr. E 3-2 in a set earlier this year at “Playing for Pride,” an online event that raised funds for the Stonewall Foundation.

The second captain of Group B2 is Nicholas “Ned” Dovel, another PokémonTrainer main. Ned advanced through the winners’ side of Group A5, which used the “Randoms” ruleset. He made a notable upset over Tyler “Marss” Martins, winning their winners’ finals set 3-1. Like Pandarian, he’s coming off of a ruleset where he didn’t have total control of his character choice, or in his case, any control. The added comfort of a uniform character and stage could be what he needs to advance to winners’ finals, where we might see a PokémonTrainer mirror match against Pandarian if his set goes as seeded.

Ned chose Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez as his opponent. Sparg0 played in Group A1, the first group of the event, and used the “Randoms” ruleset. After losing a close set to Lui$ in the winners’ finals, he advanced from the losers’ side. Ned’s choice of Sparg0 as his opponent is interesting, considering that their current set count this year is in favor of Sparg0, who won their only set 3-1. While a single set win like that can be swept under the rug in some rulesets, Sami Singles is relatively normal, which could make that win hold more weight. 

Based solely on all of the players’ past set counts, Sparg0 has an edge in this pool. He has the previously mentioned win over Ned, a set over Pandarian and two sets over Mr. E this year. He’s also ranked fourth on the Wi-Fi Warrior Ranking, proving his experience in an online environment. 

You can watch the action Next Sunday, January 10th 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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