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Chris “Quidd” Rella was only 5 years old when he began playing Super Smash Bros. Melee with his older brother, AJ “Charles” Rella. Later on, the two of them would host tournaments with Charles’ friends at their home in Westchester County, New York.

Seven to 10 people would congregate in the Rellas’ sunporch for any given tournament. While the house tournaments were initially just for Charles and his friends, Quidd proved to be one of the best players among them when he did eventually join in.

“Being able to beat all our friends in town made me wonder how good I’d be in a real big tournament,” Quidd said. “Once that urge started, it really never stopped.”

In January of 2020, when Quidd was 15, he and Charles finally got their first taste of real big competition at a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate major in New York called Let’s Make Big Moves. However, it turned out that Quidd still had a lot of room to grow. He ended up winning two sets and finishing in a mediocre 129th place.

Two years later, Quidd and Charles returned to the big apple for another shot at Let’s Make Big Moves 2022. Quidd was projected to place 25th; a sign of his rapid improvement since the previous LMBM. Yet, the high school senior exceeded all expectations when he placed first, becoming the lowest-seeded player to win a North American Smash Ultimate major ever.

Humble beginnings

Though he’s a relative newcomer to formal competition, Quidd’s years of experience watching and playing Smash forged in him a rock-solid mentality and a tried-and-true game plan that paved the way for his historic victory at LMBM 2022.

Long before he attended a tournament outside the walls of his own home, Quidd began watching Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U tournaments on Twitch. As he tuned in to each major, Quidd picked up on habits and play styles that he would later emulate himself from players like Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, William “Leffen” Hjelte and Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey.

“[Mew2King] looks at the game analytically and plays always so solid and with such a focus that is really replicated by few,” Quidd said. “[Leffen] played with this intensity and this passion. He would not accept anything except first place, and that is the kind of mentality I strive for, as long as I can make it sustainable and not toxic. When it came to Smash 4, Tweek was always one of my favorites for sure. I was really inspired by the way that he was able to turn around his mentality.”

Quidd said he was old enough to feel comfortable competing at tournaments as a 14-year-old shortly after the release of Smash Ultimate in December of 2018. He entered his first local tournament in January of 2019 and began to regularly attend locals in Westchester in July.

The day before LMBM 2020, Quidd placed second at an Encore Smash Weekly in Westchester. Along with beating Charles, he defeated regionally-ranked players like Myles “Myles” McKenzie and Jonathan “Venia” Grullon. Unfortunately for him, the skills Quidd had demonstrated at Encore didn’t translate to the unique environment of LMBM.

“I ended up being pretty nervous and I think I wasn’t playing at my best,” Quidd said. “There were hundreds of people there, and to have to play with that much on the line was something I was not yet used to. It honestly just showed me how much more experience I needed.”

Quidd and Charles fist bumping Hawk and Linus after Doubles Grand Finals | Photo by Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

The wi-fi grind

Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented Quidd with the unexpected opportunity to gain the competitive experience he was missing. He began to frequently enter online tournaments, even though his main, Pokémon Trainer, fares worse online than offline due to Smash Ultimate’s poor netcode.

“After a few months, I definitely grew accustomed to the input delay and the lag,” Quidd said. “It’s not the best circumstances, but I just tried to look past all that and use it as a time to improve.”

By competing in online tournaments, Quidd faced off against top competitors outside of his region for the first time, defeating the likes of Carlos “Sonix” Pérez and Tweek in the process.

When New York’s offline locals resumed in June of 2021, Quidd carried over the experience he had gained competing online. He became a dominant threat in his region, beating players like Paris “Light” Ramirez, David “LeoN” Leon and Salvatore “Zomba” DeSena.

In November, Quidd traveled to California for Mainstage 2021, his first out-of-state major, where he placed 25th.

“I was too worried about the trip itself and how big of a commitment it was,” Quidd said. “I put so much pressure on how I placed. That kind of pressure is really negative when you get into the tournament and start playing.”

Quidd’s formula for success at LMBM

After his disappointing Mainstage placement, Quidd came into LMBM 2022 with a different mindset. Though he was motivated to do well, he said he prioritized enjoying the weekend ahead of his performance in bracket.

On Day 1, he won the Squad Strike side bracket and placed second in Doubles while teaming with Charles. As a result, he said he felt confident going into the main Singles bracket. Still, he made sure not to let his early victories go to his head.

“I tried to view everyone as a very worthy opponent [and] put in all the effort I could against them,” Quidd said.

During Singles, Quidd largely adhered to a standard flowchart with Pokémon Trainer. Although Ivysaur appears in his Twitter handle and profile picture, Quidd prefers to spend most of his time racking up damage as Squirtle.

Generally, he’ll only switch to Ivysaur when there’s a clear opportunity for an edgeguard or early kill. Finally, he relies on Charizard’s “fear factor” for high-intensity situations when he’s at a high percent and needs to stay alive longer to rack up more damage.

While Quidd ran into match-ups that largely allowed him to stick to this formula at LMBM 2022, he still adjusted his game plan as necessary depending on his opponent. For example, he could use Squirtle to catch Falco’s landings and pressure him offstage in one set, then play more of a zoning game with Ivysaur’s aerials against Peach in another set. However, Quidd never went far outside of his comfort zone.

“I never wanted to get too complicated with my game plan,” Quidd said. “I think the flowchart was always similar enough that I was able to enter each set with a similar mindset to the last and carry on with that comfort and that confidence.”

Making big moves

Quidd with the rest of the top eight players in Singles
Quidd with the rest of the top eight players in Singles at LMBM 2022 | Photo by Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

Quidd’s game plan worked well early on, as he swept Anthony “ChocoTaco” Riley and Sierra “moxi” Lund to get into top 16. After earning another pair of 3-0 victories over Michael “Tilde” Tedesco and Spencer “Scend” Garner, Quidd had made it to winners finals without dropping a single game.

“I thought to myself, ‘I only need to win two more sets 3-0 and I could complete a no-hitter,’” Quidd said. “That was an awesome feeling. In a very positive way, it put that pressure on.”

Even so, Quidd made sure that the idea of the perfect run didn’t interfere with his mentality. So, when he did finally lose his first game of the tournament to Antony “MuteAce” Hoo in winners finals, he bounced back in the next game to win the set 3-1.

In the grand finals, Quidd faced No. 1 seed Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan, who was coming off of an 11-set win streak in the losers bracket. Despite being a fan of Kola himself, Quidd entered the set with the same mindset that had propelled him throughout the rest of the event.

“The whole tournament I hadn’t really been nervous,” Quidd said. “I was very proud of myself for maintaining a level head through all those sets against great players.”

In the first set, Quidd took an early lead in each game with Squirtle’s combo game. However, Kola’s ability to consistently find neutral openings and get early kills enabled him to clutch multiple games and reset the bracket with a 3-1 win. Nevertheless, Quidd didn’t let any nerves negatively impact his gameplay.

“Instead of telling myself that the loss was indicative of what the second set would look like, I tried to look at the first set as time to collect data and information on how he played,” Quidd said.

Quidd’s LMBM turning point

With what he learned in the first set, Quidd properly tweaked his game plan and shut down Kola. He sped up his own tempo to match Kola’s pace, spaced himself better around Roy’s sword, and called out Kola’s recovery mix-ups to edgeguard him more consistently.

“I have never felt more energized and more in tune with the game,” Quidd said. “That was the best I could have played in that moment.”

In Game 3, Quidd’s Ivysaur hit Kola with a down-air into up-air combo, causing the red flash and freeze frame that typically accompany a killing blow in Ultimate. Before the word “GAME!” could appear on screen and officially mark the end of the match, Charles had already rushed on stage to greet his little brother with a congratulatory maneuver somewhere in between hug and slap fight.

A group of players from Westchester joined the Rella brothers on stage to pop off for Quidd’s 3-0 win over Kola and his first major tournament victory.

“I have never been so ecstatic in my whole life,” Quidd said. “It was just pure joy to celebrate with my friends, who have supported me throughout the entire thing. It was unforgettable honestly.”

The next big tournament on Quidd’s schedule is Collision 2022 in March. He also said he is interested in attending other majors like Genesis, Glitch and Super Smash Con before he starts college in the fall.

“I’m just keeping my eyes open for tournaments popping up and definitely keeping track of how COVID is progressing and if it’ll be safe to go to those tournaments or not,” Quidd said. “No matter what happens, I’ll keep playing, online [or] offline, because I’m so motivated to keep improving and reach that top level.”