Part XI - H2YL Dwindles
Following Game Over, tournaments were scarce for a while. Locally, only Muffin King and M3D held regular tournaments, and for Mild and I at least our parents were still unwilling to let us travel further than Maryland for a tournament, making our options very limited. Nevertheless BOMB2 was announced and we were eager to compete in a tourney setting once again, even if it was nowhere near as big as Game Over.
Azen decided to use Mario for BOMB2, while the rest of us used our usual characters. Chu used Ganondorf, which at the time was one of his best and since he hadn’t really gotten his IC strategies developed, his IC’s weren’t yet his main. H2YL was still the dominant force in the region and none of us expected to lose early.
Anden dropped his first round match to Wife, one of the only locals who posed somewhat of a threat to H2YL early on. NEO was also present, and although he didn’t beat anyone from H2YL, we were all impressed by his skills. I played Azen 3rd round and lost the first match, unsurprisingly. However, in a shock to both me and Azen, I won the next two rounds and put Azen in loser’s, something that hadn’t happened in a local tourney since 2002.
Azen decided to add Peach and Sheik to his character roster to make sure he didn’t get knocked out of losers. I barely beat Chu’s Ganondorf (and Falcon I believe) in winner’s finals, and for a moment I thought I might finally get my first tournament win. Azen was tearing through losers however and I expected a rematch with him would result in a loss.
Anden ended in 7th, with Azen beating Mild in loser’s semis to put Mild in 4th. Jtanic was absent for the tourney, which meant another tourney with 4 of the 5 members of H2YL present taking top 4. I sat down for loser’s finals excited: maybe somehow Chu could take out Azen and set up an easy win for me.
Chu actually dominated the first match, 2 stocking Azen with low %. I saw Azen get serious and pick Sheik, but Chu was unrelenting and was leading the 2nd match till the very end. Loser’s finals were 2 out of 3 at this tourney, meaning if Chu could take one more stock, I’d face Chu in finals and have a strong chance to win my first tourney.
Azen never gave up though and ended up making a comeback on his last stock at over 100%; he then won the third match relatively easily. I was disappointed but I still believed I had a chance since I had taken out Azen in winners. Azen wasn’t just using Mario this time though; his backup character which was much scarier was his Sheik.
He did start with Mario though, and I beat him once again. My Fox was looking more and more like H2YL’s best behind Azen. He then switched to Sheik and never looked back. Azen’s Sheik was one of the best in the country despite not using her all that often, and within a match or two he went from beating me to ****** me. I specifically remember him doing techchases that were unheard of at the time and that I had never seen him do in friendlies, yet he was doing them consistently and effectively. Azen was stepping his game up to another level simply for this finals set, and I stood no chance. Azen ended up winning grand finals 3-1, then 3-0 to secure yet another tourney win and I was stuck in 2nd place.
H2YL still played regularly, but we all felt that our fests which provided a great source of consistent training wouldn’t last forever. Anden first told us that his family was moving to Arkansas in the summer of 04. We knew this would be a drastic change for Anden, and his Smash career would effectively be ended by it as long as he was in Arkansas. Jtanic was also moving, and although it was only to another city in Virginia he was also getting a new job and, being older than us, we could tell he had to move on from Smash.
Thus at the beginning of the Summer of 04, H2YL was down to 4 members who still played – Mild, Azen, Chu and I. Times were changing, and I could tell that the fests we had been doing regularly for almost 2 years that had turned us all into beasts were over. Nevertheless, with TG6 announced for the end of the summer as well as other majors earlier in the summer, Smash was nowhere near dead and we had to keep up. That’s when Mild and I decided to enter our first out-of-state tournament – whether our parents approved or not.