Last weekend featured two stacked Smash 4 events: Niconico Tokaigi 2018, a Japanese major, and Frostbite 2018, a major tournament held in Dearborn, Michigan. Both tournaments featured impressive lineups of world-class players; every member of the Panda Global Rankings top ten attended one of the events, with the exception of recently-retired world champion Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios.
At Tokaigi 2018, Zero Suit Samus main Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada reigned supreme, sweeping Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez in Grand Finals after losing a tight Winners Finals set to the Mexican’s Meta Knight. In Grands, however, Nairo reminded MKLeo why he was up 2-0 against him in the last Panda Global Rankings season, dominating MKLeo’s Meta Knight and forcing him to unsuccessfully switch to Cloud during the last game of Grand Finals.
The rest of Tokaigi’s bracket was marked by several notable upsets. Top Lucario player Tsubasa “Tsu” Takuma double-eliminated PGR No. 7 Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland and vanquished top Japanese Olimar Shuto “Shuton” Moriya to secure a 4th-place finish; before this tournament, Tsu had had a 0-3 lifetime record against Larry Lurr, making his accomplishment all the more impressive. Japanese Dr. Mario player Rizeasu had a breakout tournament, defeating top Zero Suit Samus Toshimasa “Choco” Hayakawa and nearly taking a set off of MKLeo before falling just short of Top 8.
Though the upsets at Tokaigi provided continued evidence of Smash 4’s infamous volatility, the outcome of Frostbite 2018 was a tale of consistency—at least for one competitor. At the end of the weekend, Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby lifted Frostbite’s trophy, reinforcing his reputation as one of Smash 4’s most consistent top players. The world’s preeminent Rosalina main used his notoriously patient playstyle to run through a bracket chock-full of killers, including Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Tamim “Mistake” Omary, respectively the second- and third-place finishers.
Mistake was the overachiever of the tournament; ranked No. 13 on the most recent Panda Global Rankings, the Bayonetta main defeated Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad and Griffin “Fatality” Miller while on his way to Winner’s Finals.
Perhaps the most notable upset at Frostbite 2018 included Fatality’s electrifying win over the tournament’s first seed, Saleem “Salem” Young. Salem, fresh off of a Team Liquid sponsorship, entered the tournament with high hopes, but would eventually fall to Tweek in Loser’s Semifinals to end at a disappointing fourth place.
Additionally, Melee veteran Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman proved that he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the newest Smash title, defeating Panda Global ranked players Eric “Mr. E” Weber and Jestise “MVD” Negron in an impressive bracket run. Unfortunately, his fellow Melee god Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma didn’t fare as well, failing to make Top 192 at the event.
Ultimately, many Smash 4 fans left Frostbite 2018 with a bitter taste in their mouths, mostly due to its oversaturation of Bayonetta players: with Tweek mostly using Bayonetta, three of Frostbite’s top four finishers played Bayonetta. However, Dabuz’s victory is proof that the slippery and combo-heavy downloadable content character is far from insurmountable.