Final group shot including streamers, staff and the tournament winner.
As the doors of the limited express closed and the train departed for its two hour journey from Osaka to Nagoya excitement began to overwhelm me. Finally, I would have the opportunity to experience the Japanese Smash 4 metagame first hand. This time we set our sights on Earth's Karisuma tournament series located in the Chubu region of Japan. Lengthy discussions over Twitter regarding tournament philosophy and rule sets with Earth made this journey about more than just reporting its results to the world. It was a lesson all tournament organizers could learn from.
I studied Karisuma 6's rule set (Japanese Only) while I traveled to the venue and quickly noticed some major differences in tournament operation from North American standards. Much like many local or regional events around the world, there was a series of round robin pools followed by a double elimination bracket. At Karisuma 6 pools were completed using a very unique format. Players were separated into eight pools of ten and everyone played only one match against each other player in their pool and the stage selection was limited to only Final Destination, no exceptions.
When recording the results from each match players reported only the number of stocks taken by each player. Example: If you 2-stock your opponent, you beat them "2-0". If they took a stock but you still won, you beat them "2-1". At Karisuma 6 every player made it into the final bracket so this is only used for seeding purposes and to allow everyone to get the chance to have a tournament match against as many opponents as possible without taking too much time to do so. This format is extremely friendly towards new or inexperienced players.
Earth explaining pool procedures to all the new faces at Karisuma 6.
Earth got in front of everyone and explained all of the rules at length before starting the event. When he asked, "Are there any players who are at their first Smash Brothers tournament?" over half raised their hands. When Earth followed up with, "Are there any players who are attending their first Karisuma tournament?" even more raised their hands. This is why, as Earth explained to me later in the day, this style of pool play is so important. Under Earth's system players get to experience a minimum twelve opponents!
As for the pool structure, Earth explained that Japanese players are all very accustomed to playing online. Setting up an environment very similar to For Glory makes it so new players and players inexperienced with offline tournament play can make the experience more comfortable for them. While this structure is to accommodate new players the results still determine seeding for the final bracket. With only one match to play everyone is competing their hardest so everyone gets a true tournament match out of every opponent.
The final bracket rules are very similar to those in North America, only the stage list is much more reserved. Final Destination, Battlefield, and Smashville act as starters while Town and City, Lylat Cruise, and the Omega stages are the only counterpicks available. Because of these limitations, there is only one stage ban. Otherwise, Earth uses stage striking and also allows default Miis to be used. As I mentioned previously, Earth is slowly trying to adjust the rules to be more like ones found outside Japan but it is not universally accepted. Lylat Cruise was still very unpopular and many players used their ban on it immediately.
SHIG | 9B and SHIG | Shimitake run the stream for Karisuma and other local events on Twitch at SHI_Gaming.
The final bracket was full of amazing match ups, upsets and pop offs. The energy in the room was high, especially when HIKARU (Donkey Kong, Kansai) or Dachan (Little Mac, Chubu) got on stream. In the end the real story of the tournament was told by Taiheita (Lucas, Chubu) whose Lucas play is frankly unrivaled. In all of his Top 8 matches we all saw things done with Lucas none of us thought possible. I strongly recommend watching the VOD to check out these relatively unknown players if you have the opportunity to. Top 16 results of the tournament are as follows:
1st SHIG│9B (Bayonetta, Kansai)
2nd Taiheita (Lucas, Chubu)
3rd Atelier (Rosalina & Luma, Kansai)
4th SH (Fox, Chubu)
5th HIKARU (Donkey Kong // Bowser, Kansai)
5th Fuwa (Marth, Chubu)
7th ikep (Bayonetta, Chubu)
7th Kie (Peach, Kansai)
9th DoubleA (Villager, Chubu)
9th Earth (Pit // Corrin, Chubu)
9th Dachan (Little Mac, Chubu)
9th Sigma (Toon Link, Chubu)
13th Dio (Yoshi, Chubu)
13th Ako (Cloud, Chubu)
13th Tonsan (Sonic, Chubu)
13th Mazinger (Mario, Chubu)
For the full results please check out the translated Challonge link by Twitter user @juddy_96 who follows the Japanese smash scene more diligently than anyone else I know!
As a tournament organizer the things that most impressed me were their system for desyncing controllers and their method for calling matches. There were two staff members behind the TO Desk at all times manning a Wii U with only a gamepad used for desyncing and recording match results to Challonge.
The tournament ran extremely efficiently and finished early allowing an hour of friendlies before clean up. I believe this is entirely due to their match calling procedure. First, players are called to the TO Desk and given a plastic chip with a table number on it. Then, the staff use a room map to easily show players where their station is in the room and direct them to it. Lastly, players must return the plastic chip when reporting results so the process can repeat. This level of organization made it simple for everyone involved to find a station, play their matches and get ready for their next opponent. Friendly set ups were clearly marked for anyone who had been eliminated to continue enjoying casual matches against others who suffered a similar fate.
Next week I will be traveling to SHIG | 9B's Sumabato Tournament Series in Osaka! The tournament takes place on Saturday, April 9th, which is a late Friday night start for most of you in North America. 9B's tournaments have even more drastically different rules so I am excited to see those in action! Sumabato should have a much larger turnout already than Karisuma - it already features top names from all over Japan including Komorikiri (Cloud//Sonic), HIKARU (Donkey Kong//Bowser), Earth (Pit//Corrin), atelier (Rosalina and Luma), ikep (Bayonetta), and of course SHIG | 9B (Bayonetta). Tune in to SHI_G on Twitch for updates or follow me on Twitter where I'll be live tweeting the event.
If you would like to follow along with more going on with the KARISUMA series please follow Earth on Twitter, Karisuma Series on Twitter or check out their blog for all future events and updates!
Also please follow Japan's biggest streamer SHI_G on Youtube, Twitch and Twitter so you'll be notified when they travel to other events in the future!
Sayonara until next week.
Vayseth's Voyage is an article series written by The Big House 5's Wii U Head TO Vayseth straight from Japan. Every week, he will be bringing you articles on various topics regarding the Japanese Smash Community. Bringing Smash Communities around the world closer and closer together with every article!
Japan's Top 3 Wii U Tournament Series