The largest tournament in competitive Smash history concluded over the weekend as 256 players from around the country gathered at MLG-sponsored Melee-FC Diamond. The three-day tournament in South Bend Indiana featured several events aside from traditional singles and doubles, making sure spectators and competitors alike would be entertained for the entirety of the weekend.
The first two rounds of singles pools featured most of the nation’s top talent advancing by going 7-0 in their pools. By the third pool, with only 64 of the starting 256 players remaining, things began to get interesting. The biggest player not to make it out of the third round was Isai, who went 1-6 and placed sixth in his pool, good for an overall ranking of 41st, his lowest placement ever. Not to be a lonely victim, Isai was also joined by the best Samus player in the Midwest, Watty, who had one of the designated death pools of the third round that featured, in order of placement, PC Chris, Taj, Tink, and Vidjo (three of these players would finish in the Top 5 overall). Xelic, who placed in the Top 8 in teams with Caveman, also just barely missed making it out of the pools, despite having advanced in years prior. Finally, two East Coast players, G-reg and Cactuar, both missed the cut and placed lower than expected in their pools, partially because of the unexpected success of 4% APR and also because they resided together in the other death pool of the third round.
After the third round of pools, bracket play was ready to begin, with each player having already competed in over 42 individual games. Due to time constraints, tournament officials decided to run the bracket straight through, instead of through the Top 8 and into a round robin. This news was welcome to many of the competitors who were beginning to show some fatigue as some of them had competed in the SSB64 tournament the night before, which ended at 4 a.m. (the winner was, you guessed it, Isai).
Bracket play saw several interesting developments, but few upsets. As a region the East Coast proved most dominant, holding all three of the top finishers. Also with a strong showing was Florida, who had brought 17 players to the tournament and had several advance deep into the tournament, including Lambchops, KeepSpeedn, Silent Wolf, and DaShizWiz. DaShizWiz had the best showing for their state, placing seventh after defeating Chillindude829. The last interesting note was the placement of two Peach players, Vidjo and Cort. Vidjo, long regarded as best Peach in the country, placed in the Top 4 at last year’s FC and this year almost matched his accomplishment by taking fifth, losing to Drephen and Darkrain, who also had impressive showings for the Midwest. While Cort had placed highly at local tournaments and had made impacts at both Pound 2 and Farmingdale, this tournament should cement his position as the second-best Peach player in the country, after he managed to take first in doubles and ninth in singles. None of these players could really hold up against the Top 3 players at the tournament, however, who dominated most of their opponents until they were forced to face each other in the Finals.
After disposing of ChuDat in the Winners Semifinals, PC Chris met Mew2King in the Winners Finals, who had also just sent Drephen to the Losers Bracket. The Finals between PC Chris and Mew2King would be a first for an MLG, as KoreanDJ had disrupted such an event from happening in Farmingdale and ChuDat had rampaged his way through most of the competition at Pound 2. Not to say they had never met in a tournament before, but the players had never met in the Finals and especially not in a Finals of this caliber.
PC Chris started the set looking great, as he jumped to an early stock lead over Mew2King on Pokemon Stadium. Using the Falco that had made him famous for beating Ken last season, PC Chris spent most of the match dominating Mew2King, that was until his last two stocks, when he committed suicide at zero percent, losing his stock lead. The match ended up tied with each player on their last stock. Such a situation can often prove dangerous for the player who had previously dominated the match, in this case PC Chris, as the game becomes a test of who can land the most devastating combo first. Fortunately for each player and the crowd, no such combo occurred as each player could only land a few hits before being forced to reset themselves and look for openings. Finally, with each player well over 100%, PC Chris landed a killing blow on Mew2King and jumped to a single-game lead.
Games 2 and 3 of the Winners Finals were similar to the first game. Mew2King tried counter-picking Battlefield and Yoshi Story, stages that traditionally favor Marth because of how the platforms aid his sword. Falco, on the other hand, also benefits, as the platforms allow him to continue shine-combos that would be otherwise impossible on non-platform stages. During these two games PC Chris managed to read Mew2King in just about everything he attempted to do. On four separate occasions Mew2King attempted to use Marth’s counter against PC Chris, a move that Ken used last year at MLG Dallas to thwart PC Chris, but each attempt was in vain as PC Chris’ attacks never connected and he instead could wait patiently to attack once the lag kicked in. Similar battles were won by PC Chris on the ground, as Mew2King often would shield expecting an attack but would instead be grabbed, these little nuances added up to PC Chris playing smarter than Mew2King during the first three games and as a result, taking the first match 3-0.
Mew2King was then forced to fight ChuDat in the Losers Finals. Similar to last tournament, ChuDat had made a gentleman’s agreement with Mew2King, in exchange for not wobbling, Mew2King agreed that they would only play on what essentially amounted to tournament-neutral stages. The set would be a back and forth battle between the two titans, with only the last game being a decisive victory. ChuDat actually out-played Mew2King during the first two games, but a low-percentage suicide in the first game meant a Mew2King victory. After replaying the game the match was tied at one game a piece, but ChuDat would not be able to get any closer to the Championship Match as Mew2King stepped up his game and secured victories on the last two stages.
With the championship match set, PC Chris came in playing better than he had all year. The difference between first and second place was a thousand dollars, so each player knew that each game carried significant weight. No one would have been able to predict the quick turn around Mew2King was about to pull off, however. Game 1 of the match would set the tone of what was about to come.
Mew2King’s worse loss in the first set was a JV two stocking on Yoshi Story, so coming in on this very same stage would seem to favor PC Chris. PC Chris, though, would end up having no answer for Mew2King’s improved play and ability to control the stage. Most of the match and, thus, Mew2King’s victory centered on his Marth’s ability to edge-guard PC Chris and prevent him from returning to the stage. Players traditionally drop below the stage in order to perform their recovery technique in the safest manner, but such a tactic against Mew2King ended up leading to PC Chris’ early death, as Mew2King would frequently follow PC Chris’ Falco beneath the stage and back-air or forward-air him to his death. These tactics led to early losses in life on several stocks, as Mew2King won by his greatest margin of victory thus far.
Game 2 on Pokemon Stadium was a close affair. PC Chris took control of the game early, staying away from Mew2King just enough to bait him, but each player combos rarely lasted more than a few hits before the other DI’d away to safety. The battle finally made a turn when Mew2King began chain-grabbing PC Chris’ Falco, effectively controlling the match and securing his victory. Game 3 took place on the same stage and had a very similar feel overall. PC Chris played a much tighter game, avoiding grabs whenever he could managed to gain a small stock lead over Mew2King. Similar to the first game though, this lead was quickly lost as Mew2King managed to kill a low-damage PC Chris during his recovery below the stage. Having won the third game in the match, Mew2King had tied things up and was now going into a new match with a fresh start.
The final best-of-five match would end up more closely resembling the one won by Mew2King. Playing once again on Pokemon Stadium, each player had already found a familiarity with the other’s style on the stage. Mew2King, having won the previous two games there, was at a distinct advantage. PC Chris made things difficult early, however, jumping to, once again, an early lead, behind his ability to combo Mew2King using Falco’s shine and Down air entry. Mew2King eventually tied the game at two stocks a piece, after which PC Chris would be unable to net another kill.
Possibly seeing defeat and attempting to mix things up, PC Chris switched characters to Peach and selected Dreamland 64 as his counter-pick stage. Fighting Marth with Peach can be a difficult battle and is one of the more interesting match ups in SSBM, as each character has valuable weapons against the other. PC Chris, similar to just about every previous match, came out with an early lead, this time fueled behind an unexpected death turnip as Mew2King was recovering to the stage. The remaining part of the game would feature each player attempting to fake out the other, looking for small combos, rarely ending with a kill move. Almost every life for each player lasted into the mid-100% range, partially because of the size of the stage and partially because of how conservative each player played. Landing small, non-kill moves happened frequently, but landing the killing blows almost always seemed out of reach for both players. The game finally ended when Mew2King killed PC Chris off the side while he was over 150%.
As a last desperate attempt to throw off Mew2King, PC Chris switched characters and stages once again, this time trying Fox on Yoshi Story. Fox has several dangerous properties on Yoshi Story, particularly his ability to kill his opponents using his Up-air and Up-Smash attacks. Unlike previous matches, though, Mew2King took control early and never turned down the tempo, as PC Chris was unable to find openings for his kill moves. While Mew2King was pulling off large-damage combos, PC Chris was only landing a hit here or there. The final tally was a two-stock victory for Mew2King and a $2000 first-place prize.
Melee-FC Diamond was Mew2King’s first MLG win and should help build his case for being the best player in the country. He is already showing signs of achieving the consistency that Ken had done throughout 2004, 2005, and much of 2006. Being able to battle back against a player of PC Chris’ caliber, especially when he appeared off in his first match against him, is a sign that Mew2King is right on the verge of making the leap to being the best player in the country. Once more, there are only three or four other players in the country who even stand a chance against him and most of those players consider Mew2King to be the best.
Stay tuned to MLG for more post-event coverage and keep your eye on VoD for all the exciting matches that took place over the weekend.
PC Chris (Falco): 1 Stock and 146% |Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 0 Stock
PC Chris (Falco): 1 Stock and 63% |Battlefield| Mew2King (Marth): 0 Stock
PC Chris (Falco): 1 Stock and 0% |Yoshi Story| Mew2King (Marth): 0 Stock
ChuDat (Ice Climbers): 0 Stock |Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 1 Stock and 109%
ChuDat (Ice Climbers): 0 Stock |Final Destination| Mew2King (Marth): 1 Stock and 72%
ChuDat (Ice Climbers): 1 Stock and 9% |Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 0 Stock
ChuDat (Ice Climbers): 0 Stock |Battlefield| Mew2King (Marth): 2 Stock and 47%
Finals Set 1
PC Chris (Falco): 0 Stock |Yoshi Story| Mew2King (Marth): 3 Stock and 91%
PC Chris (Falco): 0 Stock |Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 1 Stock and 112%
PC Chris (Falco): 0 Stock | Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 1 Stock and 31%
Finals Set 2
PC Chris (Falco): 0 Stock |Pokemon Stadium| Mew2King (Marth): 2 Stock and 94%
PC Chris (Peach): 0 Stock |Dreamland 64| Mew2King (Marth): 1 Stock and 153%
PC Chris (Fox): 0 Stock |Yoshi Story| Mew2King (Marth): 2 Stock and 45%
Final Singles Standings
1. Mew2King $2000
2. PC Chris $1000
3. ChuDat $500
4. Drephen $350
5. Vidjo $225
5. Taj $225
7. Darkrain $125
7. DaShizWiz $125