Super Smash Brothers Melee was on the marquee the weekend of September 2nd and 3rd at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The fifteen-year-old game had a hybrid invitational tournament and open bracket that was a refreshing take on standard competitive play. It was a big weekend for the Super Smash Brothers community to have come from tournaments in comic book shops to a theatre. RedBull invited 8 of the top 10 players to join in on the action. RedBull Smash Gods and Gatekeepers would have players such as RedBull’s own William “TSM Leffen” Hjelte and the hometown hero Joseph “Cloud 9 Mango” Marquez amongst the invited to battle it out for the title of “Smash God” and prize money to share with a team of four.
The format for the event was each invited player was to have four players in their crew. Each stage was preselected to have one versus one. If the set was tied at two versus two, the final match to decide the outcome would be a team match between two of the players from each team. Each player was allowed to select a “disciple” to help them take on the other invitees. These players were picked out of the ones to attend and were allowed to skip the open bracket. The last 16 players would be chosen amongst the top 32 players of the 800 entrants from an open bracket. They would be chosen in a draft style manner by the invitees. The many chosen players ranged from hometown heroes such as Southern California’s own Joey “Lucky” Aldama and many other players amongst the scene.
The 16 players left out of the draft had a double elimination bracket on the first night. This lead to an amazing run by 16-year-old Conner “Cal” Daughtery. Coming from Ohio, he took on several locally ranked players to win out in stunning fashion. With this breakout performance, we shall expect huge things from Cal in the future.
On Sunday, the main event began where the crews began to battle it out. Many crowd favorites were taken out early on by the format. Many players such as Masaya “VGBC aMSa” Chikamoto from Japan came to take names with his fan favorite red Yoshi gameplay. One player, Julian “BOXR Zhu” Zhu made a run by taking out several ranked players above him. Known for being part of the viral sensation known as the “Wombo Combo” the veteran would have made waves that left the crowd on their feet cheering. On a current interview by HTC eSports, Zhu had mentioned that he thought retirement was in his future soon. He made a promise that by next summer if he were not to place 9th place at a major tournament, he would retire. Little did we know but he would help lead his crew to victory. The champions of the Redbull Smash Gods and Gatekeepers included captain Jason “Echo Fox MVG Mew2king” Zimmerman, James “Phoenix Duck” Ma, DaJuan “Immortals Shroomed” McDaniel and of course Zhu. The crew had lost in the first round to make an epic comeback run from the lower bracket.
Photo: Marv Watson (RedBull eSports)
The event was a success not only for the Southern California home crowd, but for the Super Smash Brothers Melee community. Players from all over the west coast came down to get to play smash in a theatre. Fifteen years into this retro game and the community seems to keep pushing and growing today. Many thanks to RedBull for holding such a great event and believing in the Smash community.
–Greg “swervenights” Duran
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