Part IX – H2YL Presents: Game Over
While TG5 was the first Melee major ever, Game Over took the concept further. The tournament was more hyped, had more entrants, and had a wider range of people attending. There were attendants from at least 15 different states around the country, as well as Canada. By the time the tourney happened, I expected over 100 people to attend easily, which would make it the biggest Melee tourney to date.
I recall getting a shirt a couple days before which I wore to school the Friday before the tournament and ended up wearing for the tournament as well. It was a Packers t-shirt which was all green and had nothing but the Green Bay logo across the front. I didn’t know it then, but wearing this shirt to tourneys would end up becoming a tradition that was well-known throughout the Smash community – because of the events of Game Over, I ended up considering it sort of a lucky shirt.
The day before the tournament, as soon as I got home from school, I got my stuff that I needed for the tournament together and walked over to Azen’s house. People were already there; DieSuperFly, a relatively unknown Sheik player at the time who came from Cali and Eddie, the Midwest Ganon I’d be teaming with, were playing with Mild and Azen. Throughout the evening, more and more Smashers arrived including almost ten members of DA and the infamous Snex. By the end of the night, there were over 20 smashers packed into Azen’s tiny little house.
The Sultan of Samitude was there, and I remember watching him play friendlies vs Azen. Azen Falco ditto’d him and 3 stocked him, then went Ness and 3 stocked him again. I remember thinking to myself “wow, Azen was barely better than Samitude at TG5 and now he’s 3 stocking him with Ness.” I liked H2YL’s chances to win Game Over a lot and the fest the night before continued to boost my confidence.
The only players there who could really compete with H2YL were Eddie and DA, and to a lesser extent Samitude and his brother Scamp. DSF knew about Sheik’s chaingrabbing which was still rare at the time but he wasn’t developed enough to pose a challenge to us. Anden also arrived that night; Jtanic and Chu were housing other out of state players so they would be holding fests at their own respective houses. Chu was housing Ken and Isai, perhaps planting the seeds for his later departure from H2YL.
I finally got to sleep around 4 am. Sleeping in Azen’s packed house wasn’t easy, but I was tired enough that I fell asleep pretty fast. Everyone was still playing when I went to bed, and I’m pretty sure some people didn’t sleep at all. I woke up around 10 and immediately got excited: the day was here. The tourney was scheduled to start at noon, but with all the craziness I had a feeling it wouldn’t start on time.
There were at least 8 different cars leaving Azen’s house, and even though the venue was only 30 minutes away I believe at least a couple cars got lost on the way. When we arrived around 11 am there were already around a dozen people at the venue and I had to go in and talk to the owners of the venue to clear up confusion. We quickly got things set up and with around 40 people in the building, I realized the venue looked a lot smaller than I remembered.
Within the next half hour another 40-50 people arrived, and I was starting to get a little overwhelmed. I had a bit of assistance from H2YL but for the most part I was running this tourney solo. It took almost an hour and a half to complete registration because of the number of people; I wasn’t very organized in the way I set it up either. Finally around 1 pm registration was finished, and although singles didn’t reach 100 people there were at least 100 unique entrants since some people only entered teams. It was the biggest melee tourney to date as we’d hoped, and the venue was packed. Looking back, if we had gotten another 20 people the tourney may have gone terribly but it was just the right number of people for the venue.
I seeded teams and started to create the bracket, and another regret I immediately had was handling brackets on my own. Creating a 40+ team bracket and a 90+ person singles bracket on paper was difficult to do quickly. I did my best and ended up getting teams started by 2:30. Finally I was able to focus on the tourney and after calling matches for every setup, I sat down to play my first teams match with Eddie.
Our team name was “Chillin wit a Villain,” since Eddie played Ganon. He was undoubtedly the top Ganon player of the time, but even then people could see Ganondorf’s limitations as a character. We however breezed through our first round match and had Wes and Jason, DA’s Fox player up next.
Eddie came up to me before the match and said he had been watching Wes and Jason’s previous match, and that Wes liked to missile a lot (obviously, with Team Attack off). Eddie suggested I reflector the missiles as often as possible and that it would hit Jason, Wes’ teammate, more often than anyone. I was impressed by this strategic advice and it ended up working very well - we won 2-0. We were already doing better than we thought we would.
The bracket started to advance and no major upsets happened. The only thing that really caught people’s attention was Ken and Isai’s teamwork. They dominated every team they played in the bracket, and it seemed like no team would even be able to come close. It was a level of teams play that was years ahead of its time and pretty much everyone in the venue was impressed.
Eddie and I got to the semifinals to both of our surprise and we had to fight Azen and Anden. I had no intention of holding back vs my own crewmates and I played very well in the first two games; we jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately for Eddie and I, we had established 3/5 semifinals and 4/7 finals for the tourney, so the set was best of 5. Azen stepped his game up greatly and while Anden’s play was inconsistent throughout the set, Azen ended up clutching it out and they won three straight to win the set and advance to winner’s finals. Ken and Isai emerged out of the other side of the bracket with ease, setting up the first big clash of EC vs WC for the tourney: Ken/Isai vs Azen/Anden.
Azen/Anden got dominated and lost 3-0, and none of the matches were really close. Even with Team Attack off, which Ken/Isai weren’t as used to, their teamwork was near flawless for the early stages of the game and EC’s lack of practice in teams was exposed. Eddie and I barely lost to Chu/Jtanic’s double Samus team; the projectile use was a huge advantage in this Team Attack off tourney. We placed 5th, which we were both happy about. Azen and Anden faced Joshu and Iggy, brothers from Indiana, in loser’s finals. Joshu and Iggy didn't do very well in singles but they showed they had a good grasp of teamwork by getting all the way to loser's finals. Azen/Anden won 3-1, then got swept 4-0 in finals. Ken/Isai’s Marth/Falcon team was unstoppable by anyone at the time and I believe they went the entire tournament without dropping a game.
While this was a victory for WC, our confidence wasn’t shaken. The singles tourney was what was truly important in our eyes, and as I started to seed the bracket I was filled with anticipation. There were killers throughout the bracket and it wouldn’t be easy for anyone. I seeded Ken and Isai in opposite sides as well as Azen and Wes, arguably the EC’s two best players.
The singles bracket took even longer to seed than teams and singles finally got underway around 6 pm. Around this time is when I first started getting nervous about time constraints, but I hoped for the best. I was exhausted from looking at names and brackets, but the tourney was ready and I was pumped regardless. There was excitement throughout the room as the first round matches were called. I had a bye, then won my first match. All six members of H2YL won their first two rounds, which we were pleased about. I checked my bracket: me vs Neo, winner fights Ken.
I remember sitting down to play Neo and joking that it didn’t matter who won since we’d both lose to Ken. Neo was a Roy main at the time and still hadn’t gotten to the top level in MD/VA, so I won with relative ease. Most of the rest of H2YL advanced to the next round as well, but I believe Anden and Jtanic were put in loser’s. Ken, Isai and Azen were sweeping through their matches without breaking a sweat.
With the first three rounds of the tourney out of the way, the 4th round was filled with great matches. For me though, there was only one match to think about: me vs Ken. I had plenty of practice with Azen’s Marth, but I still didn’t really think I could win against arguably the best player in the country. I didn’t know this at the time, but Ken had never lost a set in a singles tournament to that point. I called our match and a crowd began to gather immediately around the setup. I nervously approached the TV, unaware that my Smash career was about to be changed forever.