Japanese players show a tenacity and ferocity in Smash 4 that is unrivaled by many other regions. With Sumabato 9 taking place this Saturday, April 9th, another opportunity is available for fans of Smash to see some of their finest come together and play. The stream will begin at around 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern time and will be provided by SHI-Gaming. Ready to see the big players set to compete? Read on and learn more about Japanese Smash 4.
Komorikiri has won the past two Sumabato events and is the clear-cut favorite coming into this one. While he opted to use Bayonetta exclusively at Sumabato 7, he has more recently been rotating through all three of his characters to great effect. He may in fact be Japan's strongest player right now (though that title is ever in contention) and is certainly able to attain a favorable character matchup against virtually anybody. He is hard to prepare for in every way.
SHIG | 9B has been honing his already-potent Bayonetta play as of late. While he has lost the ditto to both Komorikiri and ikep recently, he has been steadily improving and managed to take Karisuma 6 this past weekend. This is notable for him because despite his obvious talent, he never managed to take any large regional events with his previous mains. Things are looking up for 9B, and his highly technical approach to the game adds a nice twist to his Witch Twists.
Earth is mostly known for his immaculate Pit play, but has also been training up a Corrin. His results have been shaky in terms of consistency, but strong in terms of peak performance. On one hand, he finished in a solid 4th place at Sumabato 8 after being sent to losers R1, but more recently he failed to crack top 8 at the smaller Karisuma 6. It will be interesting to see in which scenarios he favors each of his deadly swordies going forward.
ikep is a former Good Witch, but has opted to play Bad Witch instead. Forsaking Rosalina (whom he long ago used to beat Ranai) seems to have been a good decision. After losing a close Winners Finals to Nasubi, he bested 9B in the ditto and managed to become the champion of Hirosuma 3. While his subsequent Karisuma finish was not quite as strong, he still made it into top 8. You should probably expect more of the same lethality and consistency going forward.
On the other hand, Atelier remains committed to light magic. He's been having a number of strong showings lately, including 4th at Sumabato 7 and 3rd at Karisuma 6. It's hard to argue that he's not one of Japan's best Rosa players, as only the elusive Kirihara has better wins right now. However, he has been struggling with an emerging Lucas player, Taiheita, having lost all 3 of their recent sets. Outside of this peculiar threat, there are relatively few players who could serve as roadblocks to another stellar finish for Atelier.
Aki tends to show up less frequently than many of Japan's other top-level threats, but this doesn't stop him from attaining good placings when he does. He was most recently seen at Sumabato 7, which notably took place before the recent Sheik nerf. While Aki has an excellent Ryu to fall back on if the changes prove too limiting, it's still something that could potentially limit his counterpicking versatility. However, there's no reason to think this will stop him from doing well in the long run; this man has used other characters to great effect before.
Of all recent breakout player performances, Taiheita's is perhaps the most impressive. Though he has only entered several Smash 4 tournaments, he's still managed to build an incredible resume in the past month alone. He finished 5th at Sumabato 8 after losing R1 in winners, then followed it up this month with 2nd place at Karisuma 6. His losses have only come at the hands of Japan's very best players (Komorikiri, 9B, and Edge), and he's racked up wins against the likes of Atelier, Sigma, Kie, Kamemushi, SH. He even took a set off of 9B in Grand Finals, suggesting that even old tournament favorites are not safe from him. It's still hard to predict his future performances off of so little data, but the signs we have suggest the meteoric rise of a new top player.
Nasubi was just about to call it quits on Wario, opting instead for Sheik at a Kyoto University local. But after the nerfs, he decided to give his old main one more chance. Who would have expected that this would have resulted in him having the best tournament run of his competitive career, making it into Grand Finals winners side? After all this 1st place still eluded him, as he succumbed to a succubus. But his new peak served to highlight the fact that Wario still has what it takes to compete in a game where swords keep getting longer and faster.
Ri-ma is an exceptional Toon Link player hailing from Kyushu. He has to travel a ways even to compete in Kansai events. But clearly this man has already learned the Ballad of Gales, or else public transportation doesn't bother him much. He's been travelling a lot recently, and it's been paying off in terms of improvement. In fact, he has recently taken a set from 9B. While he is not the first Toon Link to do so, he is the first to beat his Bayonetta. Going forward he'll yet again be looking to upset much more than the local weather conditions.
You3 is one of the strongest Duck Hunt players in the world (and easily the best in West Japan). He has historically performed very well, and has even made top 8 at previous Sumabato events. However, he hasn't done particularly well at the two most recent ones; 17th and 33rd place seem quite a ways below his maximum potential. It'll be interesting to see how he has adjusted his playstyle in light of both his recent struggles and changes to the game. Fans should not lose hope; it is unlikely that the Duck Hunt Dynasty has come to a close.
Kie's placings have also been lower than usual as of late. For this he can be partially forgiven; his Hirosuma bracket was incredibly hard, and he ended up losing to two of Japan's best Mario players with only 17th place to show for it. His bracket at Sumabato 8 was hardly any easier; he had to beat Kamemushi and Paseriman just to make it to Quarterfinals. But with the competition getting tougher and tougher, ordeals like these are to be expected. Kie will have to turnip in top form if he wants to taste victory again.
FILIP is another strong Kyushu player determined to make the most out of travelling. His results have also noticeably improved as a result. He notably outplaced Ron (the undisputed ruler of the Japanese Wi-Fi ladder) at Hirosuma 3, though he eventually lost to the same two players who took him out. He has multiple wins against players like Kie and Shimitake (who undoubtedly don't look forward to playing him so early in bracket). We've recently seen just how dangerous Mario can be in patch 1.1.5; FILIP wants to show you even more of his potential.
SHIG | Shimitake is a very talented, yet inconsistent, threat at Japanese tournaments. One month he'll make top 8 winners side at a large Sumabato event, and the next he'll finish dead last at a smaller Karisuma tournament. His peak performances will shock you, but then you'll find yourself jolted back to reality shortly thereafter. It's almost as if he's trying to ruin your bracket predictions.
RIN got himself into shape over the winter and managed to do quite well at Genesis 3. The effects of his conditioning seem to have carried him at least partway through the spring season, as he did quite well at Sumabato 7. The previous Sumabato saw him floundering a bit, but as we've seen recently even the best players struggle to maintain consistency. RIN will be looking to make up for that lackluster performance by attaining a new PR.
There were rumors on Twitter that Tea had switched mains, but it seems they were false. He is as dedicated to Pac-Man as ever, and is still looking to match his incredible performance at the Sumabato NicoNico qualifiers a few months ago. He cut Nasubi's run short at Sumabato 7, but then he himself fell to Shogun before top 16. It seems that the key to regaining his success is...well, actually it might just be a key.
HIKARU nearly made top 8 at Sumabato 7, and more recently made it to Winners Semifinals at Karisuma 6. The latter run was especially impressive, as it featured wins against ikep (Bayonetta) and Sigma (Toon Link). At this point he appears to be Japan's best player of two different heavyweight characters. Not many people can they've accomplished something like that.
Fuwa mained Villager for a good portion of Smash 4's life so far, but the recent buffs to Marth seem to have converted her back to her old Brawl main. Both her and her longtime teammate Earth have been getting good mileage out of the Fire Emblem series as of late. After losing to him at Karisuma, she managed to cut the tournament lives of Sigma and Kie short on her way to 5th place. Hopefully this represents a consistent new level of performance for her.
Nojinko rounds out the Fire Emblem squadron for Sumabato 9. He's yet to have any remarkable breakout performance with Ike, but he's still the most notable representative of his character that Japan has. With Ike seemingly getting more dangerous each new patch even as other characters get toned down, it seems likely that he will upset someone's predictions soon. Then perhaps Ike will move up on the Japanese tier list, and the rest of the world can finally stop fearing more buffs.
A special thanks to @Vayseth and @Jucchan for help with this article. Don't forget the event takes place Saturday, April 9th, with the stream beginning at around 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern time to be provided by SHI-Gaming. Excited to see Sumabato 9? Sound off in the comments below and don't forget to tune in!