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Many of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s best players opted not to compete at Low Tide City 2021. None of the top four players from Riptide were in attendance. And, while Joseph “Mang0” Marquez was there, he opted only to enter Smash Ultimate Singles and commentate Melee top eight. This paved the way for Avery “Ginger” Wilson to claim first place at a national tournament for the very first time.

Here’s an overview of Ginger’s victory and other major takeaways from the event.

Ginger gets his biggest tournament win to date

Ginger has improved steadily in recent years, ranking just outside of the top 20 in 2019 and climbing toward the top 10 throughout the Slippi era. However, his first post-quarantine major, Riptide, was a bit of a disappointment. He was a victim of Ohio hidden boss Erick “Flash” Washington’s breakout performance and finished in 13th place as a result.

But, Low Tide City Melee Singles marked a big turnaround for Ginger after his underperformance at Riptide. He cruised into top 16 without dropping a game, sweeping Noah “MegaXmas” Mendelsohn and Aaron “ALP” Espinoza. Then, he beat Duncan “SDJ” Meara to secure a spot in top eight.

In winners semis, Ginger showed off his proficiency in the Falco ditto by defeating Sasha “Magi” Sullivan. Next came his hardest opponent of the tournament, Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson. However, it was not a match-up Ginger was altogether unexpected to win. He took multiple sets off of Axe at online tournaments. In addition, one of Ginger’s first breakout performances back in 2018 was at Full Bloom 4, where he beat Axe.

After a series of close games, Ginger sealed the set with a three-stock on Pokémon Stadium in Game 5 and advanced into grand finals. There, he faced Axe yet again. Once again, the set culminated in a Game 5, this time on Fountain of Dreams; a stage where Axe is notorious for dismantling Fox and Falco players. Axe even threatened an early kill on Ginger’s last stock by connecting a tail spike with Pikachu’s up-air. But, Ginger was able to make it safely to the ledge and back onto the stage. From there, all it took was one back-air for Ginger to defeat Axe once more and secure his first-place finish at Low Tide City.

S2J underperforms at his first post-quarantine national

Like Ginger, Johnny “S2J” Kim performed exceptionally well at online tournaments over quarantine. He was one of the few players to boast a coveted win over Zain “Zain” Naghmi. In fact, S2J was the only player besides Mang0 to beat Zain multiple times during the online era. With this in mind, S2J was rewarded with the No. 1 seed going into his first post-quarantine Melee national, Low Tide City.

However, the S2J of the online era was not the S2J that showed up to the Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas for Low Tide City. S2J fell into the losers bracket before top 16, losing to Ben “SFOP” Duren in a set that wasn’t particularly close. From there, he at least managed to reach top eight, eliminating Daniel “Zamu” Bernstein and Davis “Palpa” Scherer along the way.

In top eight, S2J faced fellow Captain Falcon main Jason “Gahtzu” Diehl, against whom he has historically had the upper hand. And yet, Gahtzu went up 2-0 to start the set. Their face-off ultimately ended in an anticlimactic 3-0 after S2J self-destructed on his final stock of Game 3. Thus, the first seed finished in seventh place, showing that S2J has yet to re-adapt to the intricacies of offline competition.

God blessed Texas

At Riptide, Flash was the lone Ohioan making waves amidst a sea of highly-ranked out-of-state competitors. In comparison, the hometown heroes as a whole did far better at Low Tide City’s Melee event. Multiple Texans — some of them not even ranked in the top 100 — shook up the bracket at Low Tide City, earning upsets and greatly exceeding expectations.

Leading the charge was Jigglypuff main SDJ, who placed fifth as the No. 21 seed. Along the way, he upset Michael “Nut” Silver, Gahtzu and Sufyan “Android 0” Hassan. In addition, SDJ eliminated one of Texas’ few representatives in the top 50, Albert “Albert” Luu. This was especially notable considering Albert had risen to prominence in 2019 by defeating Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma; the best Jigglypuff player in the world.

While SDJ and Albert were the only Texans in top eight, multiple others earned good wins and placed in the top 12. SFOP beat Gio “null” Rossi and S2J to place ninth, while Issac “bobby big ballz” P. defeated DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel en route to the same placement. Jigglypuff main Palpa also finished in ninth place, upsetting Joey “Lucky” Aldama and Albert.

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