Road From Redemption 1: Kaden
Kaden is a relatively new player on the scene but has shown great hunger for improvement. His debut Ultimate event was an AEL tournament near the start of March 2020 however his first taste of competition was unfortunately cut short by the COVID-19 Pandemic and he would not be able to quench his thirst for the game until competing in the second installment of ISOLATION COMBAT in July later that year. This is where I met Kaden for this first time and he was a bright, enthusiastic person who explained that he was absolutely hating online play (and who can blame him) but was eager to get back into the Smash scene. Whilst his results at ISOLATION COMBAT were all but inconsistent, he showed great determination and was definitely keen to learn more and dive head-first into the Queensland community. Unfortunately, the pandemic would extend longer than anticipated and resulted in a hiatus where tournaments were unable to run for the rest of 2020 essentially; that was until the Sunshine Coast Crew, PISS GANG, were able to organise the first Post-Covid Major - PISSMAS 2.

PISSMAS 2 was the first tournament back for practically every Ultimate player, and not just Queenslanders, as there were interstaters who ended up making the trip up to the amazing Tournament. Everyone was shaking off the rust of not playing for the latter half of 2020 which sadly showed in Kaden's bracket performance losing out to Chipotle, a fierce King Dedede player from New South Wales - and Michi, another up and coming Queensland Snake player. This didn't phase Kaden however as he steeled himself to take some good sets in the Amateurs' Bracket winning over the likes of EpicTiffy and HeaL ultimately placing 7th out of 31 players after dropping to Serein.

It wouldn't be long after the new year that Queensland's tournaments started returning including a brand new Gold Coast Weekly Tournament run by Dags, the Gold Coast Fight Club. This new Tournament was essentially the successor to Gold Coast's previous weekly, Tuesday Night Fights which allowed for the Gold Coast community to usher in new players and give them a great taste of competition. Whilst Kaden's first GCFC bracket had him going 0-2, he managed to make it to Grand Finals of the Amateur's Bracket taking some solid sets over Embo and FC but ultimately falling to Gravydice's Wolf 3-1. This only fueled his fire as he found himself in Grand Finals of Ammy's the following week against Gold Coast's resident Lucas Main, Rice but once again falling to him 3-1. Third time's a charm as the next GCFC had Kaden taking his first Ammy's Grand Final victory in a revenge set against Gravydice, not to mention a great set win against long-timer Vye along the way.

With some solid competition under his belt, Kaden would face his next big challenge - Competing in his first Friday Night Smash, Queensland's most established Weekly Tournament. This bracket had consistently high competition with some of the best players from all over Queensland. Kaden was able to take his first set against a relatively new Daisy player, Lari, 2-1 but dropped to BattleDolphin's Mario and SeymourButts' Yoshi placing him into Redemption Silver at his first FNS showing. He'd tear through the Redemption Bracket beating Western Australia's Shiva, Cordina and dropping into Losers Side to Jungleo's spicy Wolf in a close Game 3 Set. He would ultimately place 3rd dropping to another reputable newcomer Scott/Max - 25th/48 and 3rd in Redemption was a fantastic first showing at Brisbane's most stacked weekly. The next FNS he managed to place a spot higher than his previous bracket netting him a cool 17th place with the prospects of top 16 just eluding him.

Remaining on the grind, Kaden would be able to attend his first Queensland Ranking Battles, hosted by CouchWarriors. He would be able to take Ultimate Veteran Squidfist to game 3 but unfortunately fail to close it out knocking him into Losers Bracket. He would best VoidUpdate and Stilts but drop to Sifo1's unhinged Ganondorf placing Kaden 33rd at his first Ranbat which is quite respectable out of 73 total entrants. He would follow this up the following week with a great 4th place finish at GCFC10 trading sets with Smash 4 Veteran, Fiasco/J-Dot, and taking a convincing set off Boingboing's Pokemon Trainer 3-0. This 4th placement would be Kaden's best GCFC placement and put him within reach of his first ever top 3.

At the next Ranking Battles, he had the pleasure of facing up against one of Australia's best players: Extra. Kaden went into the set expecting to get completely bodied - A top 3 player in the country against an unranked Queenslander? "When I got the first game off Extra it was pretty crazy, it made the possibility of winning real and my adrenaline shot into the roof." Sadly, Kaden wasn't able to translate the game 1 win momentum into a set win but the experience was still invaluable and taking a game off one of the best Game & Watch players in the country is nothing to scoff at. Kaden would then comfortable dismantle Gravydice in Losers Bracket and take Sifo1 to a game 3 this time, getting closer and closer to beating one of Queensland's best stalwarts but ultimately dropping to him placing 25th out of 54. Kaden was improving at a rapid pace but still lacking that breakout performance.

He would be invited to a house-tournament invitational which fielded a wide variety of players in Queensland. Since this tournament was a free semi-casual bracket with no real monetary prize, he would play with a more laid-back attitude. Even so, he managed to place 2nd in his round-robin pool dominating Mittens' Pikachu. In the Double Elimination stage he would once again best his Gold Coast Rival, Rice, in an intense Game 5 set which he managed to clutch out. This resulted in Kaden having to face up against former PR player Ricky Clean. This insane set involving multiple character swaps would see it go to Game 5 with Kaden's Zelda facing up against Ricky's Bowser. Last hit, last stock, a Zelda Up-B would connect and seal the set landing Kaden into Winners Final. This win over Ricky Clean would be Kaden's biggest upset yet however he would still have to face up against one of Queensland's biggest new powerhouses, Jix. At this point in the Bracket, Kaden's steam ran out as Jix defeated Kaden 3-0 and Ricky would be waiting for his revenge in Losers Final where he also was able to sweep Kaden 3-0. Regardless, this was Kaden's first Top 3 of a main bracket with some fantastic wins.

Kaden's current competitive goals are to make top 8 at a Friday Night Smash and winning a Gold Coast Fight Club which are definitely in realm of possibility when you consider his incredible growth over the short amount he has been playing this game.

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Kaden's other hobbies include hiking, snorkeling, animal photography and fossicking! You can find Kaden at @actually_kaden on Twitter. He's one of the nicest people in the scene so go give him a follow!

by Python 05/17/2021 00:00:00

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