Reflecting on 12 years of Smash - part 2


Hi all, it's Dean again. Recently I've been writing about my experiences in the Smash scene - this article will cover the 3DS/Wii U era from 2014-2018.
Part 1, covering the Brawl days, is here:

3DS era

Smash for 3DS was released 4th October, and a CouchWarriors tournament was scheduled for the 18th - we had just two weeks to practice before the first monthly.
I wasn't following the game too closely pre-release so I hadn't seen much gameplay footage to get a gauge on what characters seemed interesting or that I might like to pick up, so I stuck with what I knew (King Dedede). The only pre-release footage I remember was that one invitational that had people freaking out that Mega Man's dsmash did 40% and Kirby's uthrow killed at 80% or something.

I have the usual gang (ViVa, Jei and Khoa) over at mine day 1 of release to get some practice in, and after that start playing a bunch of Wi-Fi again.
Playing the same character that I did in Brawl, things like movement carry over pretty easily, as well as generally having a pretty decent grasp on things like hitbox sizes. On the other hand, King Dedede's overtuned moves from Brawl that I based most of my gameplan around (grab, dthrow, bair, utilt) were heavily nerfed so I still needed to adjust to having bad attacks now.

The first monthly sees a pretty solid turnout of 45 entrants, higher than Brawl had at a monthly in years, including the return of players like Earl who hadn't been to a tournament for a few years. Rather than needing TVs or monitors, there were 3DS charging stations set up around the venue. I wasn't feeling super confident coming into this tournament, I think I'd had mixed success playing people on Wi-Fi, particularly Jei.

The bracket has four experienced Brawl players in it - apart from me there was also Earl, Attila and Jei. I make it to winners' semis reasonably uneventfully and get to play Earl, who I'd never beaten in Brawl. Fortunately for me, Little Mac was one of the few matchups I was a bit more confident in as ViVa played Little Mac a bit, and I take the win 3-0, then take down another old foe in Attila's Rosalina in winners' finals 3-1 to sit in grand finals winner's side.

I get to watch as V tears through the losers' bracket - V was a bit of a novice Brawl player (attended a few events but didn't really do to well) but after being DQed from winners' for being late (V is late to basically everything ever), he beats Jei (who got knocked to losers early by Moxie, Melee PR player), Earl and Attila to reach grand finals. Villager was a character I'd never seen before and V was using two custom moves that I was really struggling with - the slow-moving multi-hit Lloid and the trip sapling - and beats my King Dedede pretty handily. I try a couple of my "secondaries" if you can call them that - my Duck Hunt also loses but I take a game with Ganondorf which gives me a bit of hope, utilising a custom downB which sort of popped up before angling downwards to try and angle over Villager's sideB and downB, but I end up losing both sets 1-3.

I was going to mention that this tournament was notable for being Boozer's first offline tournament, but it's come to mind that that's not very notable at all.

There's a bit of backlash to custom moves from some members of the scene after this tournament, not only V's victory but also (the original and the best) DD snagged 5th place by cheesing people with a fast-moving Bowser sideB (back when Bowser used to kill the opponent first when he sideBed offstage). The next monthly (the last one before the release of the Wii U version) would have two singles events for 3DS - one with customs and one without.

I've never been super into practicing, but after losing grands to V I study the Villager matchup heaps.
Unfortunately I didn't get a rematch straight up because the first tournament is the customs version and I get to face Jei round 1 because breadtech was like "well Jei you went 0-2 last tournament so you're going to be unseeded this time" and Jei beats me 1-2. I make a solid losers run including another victory over Attila (who has switched to Falco) before being knocked out by ViVa (who always was the strongest of our little group). Not even ViVa was strong enough to take down V though, and he wins another tournament.

Next up was the no-customs version though, and we had a little more hope of taking V down as out of the top 6 or so players there V was the main one that was using custom moves. I don't get knocked into losers early this time and fight V in winners' semis, beating him for the first time 3-0. I got to face Venks in winners' finals and like mentioned previously, Little Mac was one of the characters I was more experienced against and it helped that Venks did not seem experienced vs. King Dedede, one example being if I was facing him Inhaling he was like "I can't do anything!" You can just ride the succ and fsmash bro, the grabbox isn't very big.
I face off against V again in grands and he switches to Ness. I was comfortable vs. Villager but struggle vs. this Ness and lose both sets again. Oh well, better luck next time.

Wii U - November 2014-January 2015

Shortly after the November CouchWarriors, a balance patch was released, including some big gameplay changes (removal of vertical vectoring and removal of DACUS), and a slew of character-specific changes - most notably for me were King Dedede, who already wasn't very good, had his dthrow, fair and sideB nerfed. This patched also removed teleporting Yoshi (c'mon this one was fun they should have kept this one in) and nerfed the top tiers at the time Sheik, Greninja and Rosalina. People who never played 3DS are lucky they didn't have to play against release Sheik.
Lucario was probably also a top 4 character in the 3DS era and although he wasn't nerfed as directly in the patch, he was probably the character most hurt by the vectoring changes as Lucario's the character that scales the best when everyone's living a long time.

The weekend of the Wii U release, a small invitational tournament is hosted for players that had previously been PR + players that had placed top 8 at one of the CouchWarriors 3DS tournaments. The Wii U version release saw a bunch of players show up that didn't show up for 3DS tournaments for probably very valid reasons, such as didn't want to buy the same game twice, or didn't have a 3DS, or didn't want to play on 3DS controls.
One of these players was Toshi, who knocked me out of this tournament with Mario (then proceeded to not show up to much more), and another one was Tibs, who ended up winning this tournament pretty easily. I wondered how many other hidden bosses there were out there.
This was also Venks' last tournament in Australia, and with him being the biggest advocate for custom moves being legal in Victoria, we switch to a strictly no customs meta with the Wii U release.

At this point I was at an age where I was a bit more responsible and had a bit more money, so I was keen to travel interstate for Smash more frequently. There was an event in mid-December in A.C.T. that was advertised as a two-day major so I make my way up there - it didn't end up being much of a Wii U major as the only other players there really were Invisi and Gords (both from Sydney) but there was a decent Melee turnout.
Even though I'm reliably informed that King Dedede beats Donkey Kong 90:10, I am knocked to losers by Apollo's Donkey Kong. In my next set I get the pleasure of fighting Pazx's Ness. As this was still early in the game's lifespan, the TO (Tin Man) was pretty liberal with the stagelist and Pazx counterpicks me to Pilotwings and sits under one of the wings where it's hard to reach and shoots PK Thunder at me the whole match. I managed to win, I'm not sure how, maybe I'm just a genius.
I end up getting knocked out by Waveguider's Ganondorf, then get to watch as Scabe (well known for being one of the few successful low-tier users in Brawl, and for his Pokémon cards) wins the tournament.

I get to team with Splice this tournament and we take it pretty casually - our main strategy was to pick the Omega version of Wii Fit Studio and perform the yoga poses that play in the background as we played. Some of the poses require one to take one hand away from the controller, which would usually be a bad thing but with just the left hand you can move, jump and shield, which as I described in my King Dedede guide is all you need.

So far after the Wii U release and the King Dedede nerfs I wasn't performing quite as well as I had hoped, so I take the next couple of tournaments to experiment with some new characters. The first weekend of January gives us another Miles' Warehouse, except this time it is in neither a house nor a warehouse but at the usual masonic hall that the CouchWarriors monthlies are usually located at.
I play R.O.B. most of this tournament and end up coming 4th. This tournament ended up having nearly 80 entrants which was massive and starts a pattern of consistent 70+ man monthlies.
My placing at this tournament was probably slightly inflated by my bracket - I play Ignis at his 2nd non-EBS tournament and Mozart who I'd had a download on for years - next CouchWarriors event I go 1-2 and place 33rd. I decide that R.O.B. is probably not the way of the future.

February - May 2015

Shadowloo Showdown is advertised as a major in early February - due to a combination of factors (late notice, price, proximity to BAM) it only sees 35 entrants.
I come 4th in what was known as "the death pool" and get put up against V first up in pro bracket, taking down his Ness and people whine at me for messing up the seeding. I get knocked into losers by ViVa then end up facing V again, beating the Villager this time. Doesn't quite make up for losing four sets of grand finals in the 3DS tournaments but I was happy I'd improved a little.
I get knocked out for 4th by Tibs, who had won every tournament since Wii U release. Until this one, where he was defeated by Earl's Little Mac and then kept jumping into ViVa's Mario fair; Earl goes on to win this tournament... and most of the next few.
I teamed with ViVa here and came 3rd. We pick up this. Hold back? I would never...

Like mentioned previously, I was keen to travel more for Smash and I make my way up to Queensland for a UQ Smash in late February. The TO (Lachlan) doesn't give me a seed since I've come from out of state, so after making it out of pools 1st place I'm up against Archaze first up in pro who I think was decently rated at the time. I was ill-equipped to deal with Archaze's strategy of Fireball and grab and lose this set. I win the next six sets in losers bracket, including Kurogane Hammer's Bowser as he gets stage spiked five times by the same Gordo, SuperRocko in a King Dedede ditto, the runback against Archaze and a 3-0 against Jaice before losing to crayon's A button. Lachlan gives me a soft drink and puts me on the UQ PR.

I had to leave early for the March monthly, but I did get to play in doubles. Rhyno, who I hadn't really talked to much but knew through ViVa, asked to team with me. I think he was impressed by my not-holding-backness from Shadowloo Showdown. I think he saw some kind of hidden potential in our teamwork as we went on to win doubles at this tournament, making this my first offline tournament win of any kind. Rhyno and his brother Bijou become invitees to the prestigious Dean's House where highly rated tournaments such as Winner of the Dinner and Winner of the Dinner II were held.

I did solidly at the April monthly and came 5th, I don't have much to say about this tournament I think it speaks for itself.
Rhyno and I win doubles again and are feeling pretty confident heading into BAM.

BAM is in May and has nearly 150 entrants. Very large tournament featuring a lot of good players from NSW, ACT, SA and TAS. breadtech dumps seeding on the PR panelists not long before the tournament which is cool; we still weren't sure about the relative power levels of each state and there were a lot of unknown players so it was a pretty spotty job in the end.
I get the honour of staying the weekend with The Hammer of Kurogane, Boozer and most importantly, Justin at the CQ Hotel. I don't think I could add too much onto this experience beyond what is documented here:
In terms of Smash, I was somewhat confident heading in having come 5th, 4th and 3rd at my last three tournaments, but place what I felt was a pretty average 17th, with losses to Atyeo and Ricky. I felt I didn't play too well in doubles either, in one match I impressively suicide killed Rhyno.
Getting knocked out early gave me a good opportunity to watch all the other sets though. I got to watch Bijou knock out two of South Australia's best players and I got to watch Ghostbone lose $40 to Deez in money matches.
Earl had winning records against basically everyone in the state except V over the last three months, unfortunately for him he ended up having to fight V twice this tournament. Tibs dominated pretty much every tournament from December - February but had dropped off a bit and especially with the Diddy Kong nerfs in April seemed to drop back to the pack a little. Attila had been having a bit of a character crisis at the game's release but seemed to overcome that and came 3rd at this tournament.
V's victory over Atyeo is probably one of the most famous victories in Australian Smash history. I don't think I could add too much onto it that isn't already covered well by one of the existing articles on the subject such as

June-December 2015

After BAM I wasn't too sure where I wanted to head with this game. Between things like scheduling conflicts/motivation/energy my next full tournament isn't until October, but I do enter a couple of monthlies in the meantime and leave early.
One tournament I came to the realisation that King Dedede was bad again and gave another attempt at trying other characters in bracket, I'm not sure THE GWIF was too impressed by my Charizard.

I hadn't been going to any EBS Swanston events but the extravaganza in November gave me a good opportunity to meet all the strange EBS kids, getting to play people like Jdizzle and Brett. The kids might have had more talent than me but I was able to get by on quirkiness alone.

I also get to meet MAT2, the famous Boozer slayer, and I immediately knew I'd made another eternal rival.

Later in November we carpool to Adelaide for SXC, and by we I mean Khoa and Bijou drove and Rhyno and I stayed in the back.
Only top two made it out of pools. I was in a pool together with Jezmo and Andre. Andre beats me in winners but that's not important. In losers' bracket I get to face a man so powerful, people fear to speak his name. He is simply known as Jack Balmer. I met him in the elevator earlier in the event, the moment I laid eyes on him I knew I was no match. I could do nothing but stare in awe as he Ness dthrow faired me onto the Smashville platform then dthrow faired me off the side. He was so unstoppable he went on to knock that loser Andre out of the tournament as well.

Rhyno and I win doubles again for the last time in December which was fun.

Late in December I make the trip to Geelong for a weekly, I saw some weirdo using a "DEAN|sosej" tag, I'd never heard of sosej before since I only know players that had at least 700 Elo.

January-April 2016

I try playing a new character again, this time it's Mewtwo and my efforts last a good solid month this time.
I make another trip to Queensland, we are nearly late for our flights thanks to V. This tournament is very notable for being the first time I meet SpaceJam, who I assume doesn't attend Victorian events and just attends out-of-state majors. SpaceJam, Googers and I cook up some of the worst memes imaginable as we share a hotel together the whole weekend.

I'm fortunate enough to be invited for a carpool to Wollongong for Expand Gong, and by that I mean Ignis was the only one there that could drive so he did all the work.
I get to watch as Extra wins this tournament and probably establishes himself as a top player country-wide for the first time.
For me, my highlight was watching crayon panic as he fought my Duck Hunt, even if he took the victory in the end.
My other highlight was when the dude who was housing us' shower broke. Or maybe we broke it, I'm not sure. Nothing quite like a cold shower either way.
The lowlight is getting Waveguider to gentleman's to Gamer and losing. Jank stages are supposed to be my specialty. (The power actually went out game 1 of this set as he was in a winning position, we played game 1 again from the start and he went on to win still).
I still think this is one of my better Tweets (which considering the usual quality of my Tweets is not a high hurdle)

May-August 2016

After the excitement of Expand Gong, my next tournament is BAM. I have the honour of hosting JonCheee and the misfortune of hosting Poppt1. Jon introduces me to the highly competitive video game 100% Orange Juice, and Poppt gives my dog a new name.
My first match at BAM is against 13y.o. Defective Dagger at his first tournament and he does quite well with his powerful Cloud but I take the set. I face SeymourButts next which I don't remember much of but I think I would have been a little disappointed losing as I'm generally pretty familiar with Yoshi and I usually beat Queenslanders (in contrast to South Australians who I usually lose to).
I get to fight Sriks in losers' bracket who I'd never heard of at the time but he had quite a crowd of A.C.T. players watching our set. He wins game 1 pretty solidly and starts game 2 very well as well but does what Sriks is known to do and kills himself. Game 3 I gain a bit of ascendency as most of it us us spacing bairs against each other's shields and King Dedede's frame 17 bair edges out Shulk's frame 18 bair. I struggle to land a finishing blow though as he switches between Jump and Shield modes. Eventually I hit him with jab and even though he's at 200%, he is in Shield mode, but fortunately for me he DIs in and gets KOed off the top earlier than he should have. My last set for day 1 is against JonCheee who offers to do random dittos which under normal circumstances I would have accepted but being a major I felt it would have been a little... disrespectful? to the players I had just beaten and I play my main into him.
Day 2 I face off against my friend MAT2 and take him out. My next set is against one of my other eternal rivals, HydroPimp, and when I take a game he becomes scared of me and picks Mayonetta. His Mayonetta knocks me out of the tournament.

Next monthly I get to face off against Jdizzle in pools. He wins game 1 then breaks my shield game 2 when any charged smash attack would have killed; he charges Toon Link's fsmash and I mash SDI upwards to escape the second hit (one of the few skills I had left over from the Brawl days). He gets a bit flustered and drops this game but rebounds to take game 3. I also lost to Brett this tournament, two players I'd beaten at the extravaganza last year. Have they... improved? No, surely not...

I'm back in Queensland again in July for another pseudo-major and am lucky enough to get 4th, getting the runback on SeymourButts and taking down Vasi, and even though Jezmo beat me I got him to gentlemans to Norfair. I was probably fortunate that my losers' bracket had matchups I was familiar with again (Little Mac and Yoshi) and that Queensland still wasn't sure what to do vs. King Dedede.
I win Brawl at this tournament, which is my first offline single's victory.

I continue my streak of decent form into the August CouchWarriors monthly, which was missing a lot of regular players due to it being the same weekend as OHN. Most of the people in Sydney were weirded out seeing me and Deez in 5th place but these placings seem normal to me. HydroPimp had tossed his Mayonetta aside and came at me with Donkey Kong, but he was not strong enough to beat the 10:90 matchup and the unbeatable ledgetrap.
After Earl beats me in losers he's like "you're good man we need more defensive players like you", after this tournament I stopped playing much, sorry Earl I have let you down.

September 2016-March 2017

I head over to Perth, which I had hoped to attend the previous year as well but couldn't due to an exam. I meet SpaceJam for the 2nd time which further cements my belief that he only goes to OoS majors, and we get fish and chips together with my good friend JonCheee as SpaceJam tells me about the free champagne that came with his hotel room.
SpaceJam and I make a deadly doubles team, with out strategy of using Dedede's Inhale to spit Bowser at our opponents proving too strong (until you shield it).

I don't have too much more to say about tournaments in this period, I was still attending regularly (which was unusual for me for Smash 4) and making it to pro brackets but my interest in the game was waning a little so I don't remember the sets as vividly, except I got matched up against my son, Mar, quite often.

The main thing I do remember is being matched up against Genki, a Japanese student staying in WA, at SXC, who had made a name for himself for hitting people with Kirby's sideB. I defeated Genki and became literally known as the god slayer in my state

The other important sets are definitely me vs. HydroPimp in Pokémon

In January, I apparently took a game off Ghostbone's Mayonetta, which I don't remember at all but Krasic always brings it up. I didn't make it out of pools this tournament so oh well.

In March I travel to Tasmania together with THE Kurogane Hammer for TFC. We struggle to find anywhere in the city to get dinner as from what we could tell Hobart had basically no night life except for strip clubs which weren't quite what we were looking for.
Boozer and I gentlemen's to jank/custom stages the first four games of our set until he gets scared he can't beat me on jank stages and takes me to a normal stage for game 5, the absolute coward.
I fight Luma, best player in Tasmania, this tournament for top 8 and he beats me in a close 5-game set, I cop some flack for losing to a Tasmania but after this Luma started travelling and turned out pretty decent so I think that flack should be taken back.

May 2017-end

I placed top 8 for one last time at a Krasic Jamboree in May, but apart from that most of my remaining tournaments were just me rocking up, eating some Royal Stacks, making it out of pools then going 0-2 in pro.

I travelled to Queensland one last time in July together with Rhyno, Bijou and Krasic to win Brawl again.

Can't compete with Rhyno's 1-2-Switch victory though.
Apparently there was a Wii U tournament here as well, I don't remember my set with BattleDolphin too well but Krasic often likes to bring it up (often alongside that time I took a game off Ghostbone's Mayonetta). I remember McJobber hitting me with fair waft a lot though. Or it might have been bike waft.

From the middle of 2018 onwards I start playing Marth in tournaments without a heap of success but it was nice to bring my 2008 main back out for a bit.

Final thoughts

I was fortunate to enjoy a good bit of success when the 3DS version first came out, even against historically better players like Earl and Attila. I'm not too sure of the exact reasons, might be in part due to playing the same character I played in Brawl, might be in part due to 3DS controller limitations affecting me the least since I've never been technical to begin with and barely move anyway (e.g. one tournament V forgot his Gamecube controller so I leant mine for a bit and played my doubles matches with my 3DS with no real decline in performance), might be in part I adapted quicker - we will never know but it was nice to be a top 3 player, even if just for a short period. Going 0-4 in grand finals over this period is disappointing but we move on.

The Wii U release saw a lot of players overtake me quickly - I went from 5th on the first PR to 10th on the second with basically only old Brawl players overtaking me, with additional Wii U newcomers coming later in the year as well, and I didn't really have the motivation to improve at the same rate as everyone else. Or maybe I didn't know how to improve, I'm not too sure. Since about 2017 I have been working full-time which might explain the extra drop-off during that period. The Dedede nerfs in 2014 didn't help.

I definitely liked the game (particularly casually, stage builder, Smash Run and Smash Tour are all good, maybe with a bit of alcohol involved) and looking over this article I had a lot of fun sets in tournaments and met a lot of cool people still. Anyway, good looking out.

Will write about my experiences with Ultimate + some miscellaneous topics in another post when I feel like it. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments below or on Twitter @no_mere_dean

by dean 05/20/2021 00:00:00

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