It's not often that one gets to see a rising star defeat all three of Super Smash Bros. Melee's top-ranked players in back-to-back sets. At last night's Genesis 5, Justin "Plup" McGrath made it look like business as usual.
The SSBMRank number five found himself in grand finals of the prestigious super-major thanks to a spectacular series of wins over Joseph "Mang0" Marquez, Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma, and Adam "Armada" Lindgren. He sealed off his 3-0 victory over the latter by clocking him with an electrifying Zelda forward aerial, a high-tier move on a low-tier character rarely seen in tournament play.
Plup's historic victory was the highlight of an event chock-full of surprises. In top 64 bracket, fan-favorite Japanese Yoshi player Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto took out top ten players Zachary "SFAT" Cordoni and Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett before falling to veteran Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez in his top 8 qualifying match. HugS and his newly-minted Team Dignitas comrade Joey “Lucky” Aldama both made career-high runs to qualify for the tournament’s final day, with Lucky pulling out a 3-1 victory over Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in losers round 6.
While William “Leffen” Hjelte ended his run at 3rd place and was forced to be on the receiving end of choice words from Hungrybox after losing twice to the Jigglypuff main, his tournament featured wins over Armada, Mang0, and Mew2King, and was surely a sign of good things to come for the fiery Swede.
Though the status quo was shattered in GENESIS 5's Melee bracket, it was upheld in Smash 4—at least somewhat. The absence of recently-retired world champion Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios hung over the venue like a spectre as Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez cleaned up a grand finals victory over Tamim “Mistake” Omary with a quick 3-1 from winners.
However, Mistake’s tournament run deserves plenty of attention in its own right: the Canadian, who just debuted at number thirteen on the Panda Global Rankings, defeated top-five players Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada and Saleem “Salem” Young to gain his spot in grand finals.
The Bayonetta main wasn't the only mistake that greatly affected the outcome of the tournament. Another absence was that of Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, who was disqualified from the tournament after a misunderstanding caused him to miss his round one pool on Friday.
Though it ended at an ungodly hour for those watching on the east coast, GENESIS 5 lived up to its hype—and then some. With its perfect combination of nostalgia, hype upsets, and top-level gameplay, Northern California’s premier major is proof that 2018 will be Smash’s most entertaining year yet.