Graphic by SB | Kendrick.
As Super Smash Bros. for Wii U grows as an esport, the scene becomes saturated with more and more major tournaments. In spite of this, the Evolution series remains the pinnacle of competition - not just for Smash, but for all fighting games. An Evo win is still the single most prestigious thing a player can add to his or her resume.
Japan is one of the most skill-dense regions of the world for Smash Wii U. Yet for all their numerous decorated players, new and old alike, an Evo victory has (narrowly) eluded them. This weekend, July 14-16, that could all change. Over 1,500 Smashers will converge on the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV to prove their worth. Whoever emerges from the gauntlet will be crowned champion on Sunday, and begin the new PGR season with a huge lead. Who will take home the gold?
Japan at Evo: A History
This is Smash Wii U's third year as part of the Evo lineup, and Japan is no stranger to Evo finals. With that in mind, it'd be good to take a look at how their best players have performed in previous years:
At Evo 2015, Abadango put on a particularly stellar performance. Though he was the only Japanese player to make top 8, he had a spectacular run including victories over Jestise "MVD" Negron, Eric "ESAM" Lew and Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby before falling to Ramin "Mr.R" Delshad in losers' semis. This wouldn't be Abadango's last appearance in top 8: others included a Pound 2016 win and a repeat appearance in top 8 at Evo 2016.
At Evo 2015, Abadango got revenge on Dabuz for his earlier Apex 2015 loss.
But even then, Abadango wasn't even the star of Evo 2016. His performance was equaled by Ranai, who also finished in 5th place and managed to beat Dabuz in an incredibly difficult character matchup. Yet neither could match the ferocity of Kameme, who blasted his way to 2nd place losing only to Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce. Though he didn't win in the end, Kameme's bracket included an incredibly dominant 3-0 victory over Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, who was slanted to win for a second year in a row.
As a statement, it'd be hard to top a 3-0 victory over the 1st seed except by winning the tournament.
So will Japan be able to put on an even better show this year? Three players in top 8 of an international tournament is admittedly hard to top. That said, they've brought over more talent than ever. Because they have so many good players, we've included a table below listing their strongest:
Top ThreatsBesides those players listed, keep an eye out for others such as Chart-yatsu, BT.YAMATO, Kei, El, Aile, Kentarosu and more. In addition, famed translator and TO Ayuha will also be competing in bracket.
Player Team Character(s) Notable Wins 1 KEN Free Agent 1st at MSM 104 and MSM 100; 2nd at Umebura Japan Major 2017 2 komorikiri 2GGaming 1st at MSM 98; 3rd at 2GGC: Greninja Saga and KSB 2017 3 Abadango LG 1st at Umebura 27; 2nd at MSM 104 and KSB 2017 4 Ranai 2GG 2nd at Hirosuma 6 and Karisuma 13 5 Kirihara Free Agent 1st at Frame Perfect Series 2; 2nd at Umebura 27; 5th at 2GGC: Civil War 6 9B SHIG 1st at Karisuma 14; 4th at Umebura Japan Major 2017 7 Kameme DNG 2nd at MSM 100; 4th at MSM 104; 5th at MomoCon 2017 8 Tsu Free Agent 2nd at Frostbite 2017; 4th at Umebura 27 9 Raito Free Agent 13th at CEO 2017 and 2GGC: Nairo Saga 10 Earth Free Agent 1st at Meikobura 2017 and Karisuma 13 11 Nietono DNG 2nd at SALT and Hirosuma: Revolution; 5th at Umebura Japan Major 2017 12 takera fFree Agent 1st at Toryumon Weekday Tournament #2; 7th at Umebura Japan Major 2017 13 Edge Free Agent 1st at Sumabato 17; 3rd at Sumabato 18 14 ikep Free Agent 1st at Umebura 26; 4th at Sumabato 17 15 Eim Free Agent 2nd at Umebura 26 16 Rain SG 1st at Toryumon Weekday Tournament #1; 3rd at TUS Tournament 7 17 Umeki RSZ 5th at SGC 2017 18 FILIP Free Agent 9th at Hirosuma: Revolution 19 Ri-ma Free Agent 5th at Shulla-bra X and Karisuma 13 20 OCEAN Free Agent 3rd at Sumabato x Cyclops #7 21 Suinoko Free Agent 4th at Shulla-bra IX 22 Gucci Free Agent 5th at Shulla-bra IX 23 aMSa VGBC 4th at UBC Weekly: Pre Battle of BC 2
Of all Japanese entrants, KEN is seeded the highest at 9th. When looking at the players he's projected to face in bracket, a top 8 finish is well within his grasp. In Round 2 pools, some of his most likely opponents include Austin "Dath" Brown, Charlie "Charliedaking" Antoun and Jason "ANTi" Bates. KEN recently defeated Charliedaking 3-0 at 2GGC: ARMS Saga. While he remains untested against the other two, Sonic does have a favorable matchup against their respective mains. In top 48, KEN may run in to James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson. Though he lost to VoiD in Round 2 pools at last year's Evo, subsequent showdowns between the two have gone in KEN's favor. All that said, the final obstacle to top 8 could easily be Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, whom KEN has yet to defeat. If KEN can finally manage a win there, he'd be in a very good position to win the entire tournament. And even if he doesn't, he'd only have to win one match in in losers' bracket to qualify anyway.
Another top player with an interesting bracket is komorikiri. His biggest Round 2 obstacle could wind up being Dacota "Ryuga" James. Cloud vs. Corrin is a very interesting matchup, as it's one of the few where Cloud doesn't possess a range advantage. That said, komorikiri has lots of experience against Earth, who also plays a potent Corrin. Should he overcome that, Jamaal "Samsora" Morris Jr. could be waiting in his pool's winners' finals. Though Samsora is a very talented player, his main has an absolutely abysmal Sonic matchup. Top 48 is where it really gets interesting: komo's two most likely opponents are Dabuz and Ally. Though he has favorable character matchups, he also has recent losses to both players, who prove difficult opponents to anyone despite the odds. That said, if he can repeat his earlier successes, komorikiri will also be in a great position going into Sunday finals.
Though komorikiri started off with an advantage, Ally has been making gains in the head-to-head.
Hot off a win over his demon at a California local, Abadango has to be feeling pretty good about his Evo chances. However, he actually has a pretty tough bracket ahead of him. His Round 2 pool contains Orion "DarkShad" Sky and Mason "Locus" Charlton, two players who've taken sets from him before. Abadango did recently get his revenge on Locus at WNF 2.5, but it remains the case that either player could pull off the upset. In Semifinals, Saleem "Salem" Young could prove very challenging, as Bayonetta has the tools to combat Mewtwo quite effectively. Even if he makes it that far, Aba could still have to play MkLeo again. Yet if anyone can manage this, a two-time Evo finalist is one of the strongest candidates.
Kirihara is likely in an even tougher spot. Chances are he'll have to beat either Griffin "Fatality" Miller or Eric "Tyrant" Legesse in order to make top 48 winners' side. Fatality already defeated Kirihara in a very close set at 2GGC: Civil War, while Tyrant plays Meta Knight, by far the hardest Rosalina counter in the game. Once he makes it that far, he still has to get through MkLeo's Cloud, something that no Rosa main wants to face. Despite all this, you shouldn't count Kirihara out. He's made several impressive losers' bracket runs despite his sporadic tournament attendance; he doesn't even need to remain in winners' bracket to make it far.
Can Kirihara get revenge on MkLeo for his loss at Umebura Japan Major 2017?
Ranai and 9B have somewhat mixed luck when it comes to brackets. Ranai is up 2-0 in sets against ESAM, his likely opponent to qualify for top 48 winners' bracket. However, both of those sets were very close, and ESAM has been on an upswing lately. Then, the winner of that match will likely play ZeRo, whose record against both players is impeccable. 9B's Round 2 pool contains Dabuz, who typically performs well against Bayonetta. Yet 9B only narrowly lost when they played over a year ago. Should he clutch out a victory there, he'd inherit the 5th seed's bracket - a huge advantage.
This year, Kameme will be hard-pressed to top last year's second place finish. Yet a 4th place finish at an incredibly stacked MSM 104, including another victory over ZeRo in losers' bracket, bodes well for him. His Round 2 pool looks doable considering the players and characters he could encounter. Kameme has expressed confidence in the Cloud matchup, even boasting wins over MkLeo and komorikiri. This will serve him well against Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey, another stellar Cloud player who is in his projected bracket. Tweek is a phenomenal player who could still prevail, but Kameme has the edge in matchup experience. If he makes Semifinals in winners' bracket, we could end up seeing a rematch from last year's grand finals.
Though Ally holds a positive record over Kameme, the Mega Main finally won a set at MomoCon 2017.
Finally, Japan also has a number of talented wildcards. How does one predict how Tsu, Raito, and takera will perform in bracket? All have done great things before, but none are the top seed in their respective Round 2 pools. If they can pull off an upset or two, they could be in a very good place for Semifinals. But if they don't, then they'll have to fight twice as hard for another chance at top 8.
---Hopefully you're excited for the year's most prestigious fighting game tournament. Who do you think will prevail in this ongoing intercontinental rivalry? Let us know in the comments section, and be sure to stay tuned for more Evo 2017 coverage.
Welcome to Smashboards, the world's largest Super Smash Brothers community! Over 250,000 Smash Bros. fans from around the world have come to discuss these great games in over 19 million posts!
You are currently viewing our boards as a visitor. Click here to sign up right now and start on your path in the Smash community!