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A “f*** Nintendo” chant emerged from the crowd at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, as they waited for the top eight of Super Smash Bros. Melee at Riptide to begin. Within a few hours, they saw history made as Cody “iBDW” Schwab became the 18th unique player to win a Melee major.
Here’s an overview of iBDW’s first-place debut and other major takeaways from the event.
iBDW earns his first offline Melee major victory at Riptide
Going into Riptide’s Melee event, iBDW was seeded fourth. This placed him below players like Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma and Justin “Plup” McGrath, both of whom he consistently outperformed throughout Melee’s online era. But, these players defeated and outplaced iBDW offline at Smash Summit 11, earning them their high seeds. At Riptide, iBDW set out to prove that his fifth-place finish at Summit, while impressive, was an anomaly.
Due to a series of upsets and drop-outs, iBDW had a fairly easy road to top eight. He beat Ryan “Wally” M. 3-0, Brandon “Panda” Orooji 3-1 and Kyle “Krudo” Krudo 3-0. Thus, he secured a spot in winners semis without having to face a player actively ranked in the top 50.
However, his next opponent was Hungrybox. After boasting a dominant 7-1 record against Hungrybox at online tournaments, iBDW had faltered in their offline face-off at Summit. This time, he didn’t falter. Though he lost on Dream Land as expected, iBDW dominated the other stages, two or three-stocking Hungrybox in every other match. Thus, he beat Hungrybox 3-1 and advanced into winners finals.
His next opponent, Plup, was a similar story. After winning all four of their online tournament matches, iBDW lost to Plup at Summit. And, as with Hungrybox, iBDW proved that his online results were no fluke at Riptide’s Melee event. Using Fox’s hard-hitting punish game to combat Sheik’s tech chases, iBDW defeated Plup 3-2 in winners finals and 3-1 in the grand final.
The Fox player now has a major tournament win to show for his efforts after nearly a year as one of the best players in North America. He still faces major obstacles in the forms of Zain “Zain” Naghmi and Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, neither of whom were at Riptide. Even so, his victory shows that the iBDW of the online era is here to stay.
— Ruffian @ Riptide🌊 (@Ruffian_K) September 12, 2021
Plup overcomes tough match-ups to place second
Plup seemed like he might be in trouble early on during Riptide’s Melee event, as he dropped a game against SoCal Fox main Sammy “Gooms” Curreri before top 64. However, he bounced back with 3-0 wins over Austin “Reeve” Reed and Thomas “Juicebox” Roche to reach winners quarters. There, he fought John “KoDoRiN” Ko, who had upset him before at the Summit Champions League. But, Plup solidly won this set 3-1, even three-stocking KoDoRiN in the last two games.
Plup would have liked to see his projected opponent in winners semis, Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett. Despite their long set history at both majors and Florida locals, Plup’s Sheik has only lost to Wizzrobe once, at CEO 2019. However, Plup instead challenged Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni, who upset Wizzrobe in winners quarters.
Though SFAT was a lower-seeded player, he posed a much greater threat to Plup. Plup had not beaten SFAT since 2018, incurring five consecutive losses in the meantime. But, Plup flipped the script at Riptide. Not only did he overcome SFAT’s methodical Fox, but he did so commandingly, three-stocking him in Game 4 to win the set 3-1.
After losing his first set to iBDW, Plup faced another tough match-up against fellow Floridian Hungrybox in losers finals. Since the beginning of 2019, Hungrybox had held a 9-1 record over Plup. Hungrybox’s odds seemed even better when Plup opted to play Sheik, despite usually switching to Fox against Jigglypuff mains like Hungrybox. Plup had not beaten Hungrybox with Sheik since CEO 2018.
However, Plup made excellent use of Needles in the neutral while frequently finding early kills. He even opened the set with a three-stock on Fountain of Dreams. While the rest of the set was much closer, Plup still came out on top, beating Hungrybox 3-2 before losing to iBDW again to finish in second place.
Ggs to everyone 🙂 I wasn't playing gud enough to win, but I hope the games were fun watch
— Plub (@Panda_Plup) September 12, 2021
Axe’s online troubles persist offline
Like Hungrybox, Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson experienced a dip in results after the switch to online play last year. Unlike Hungrybox, Axe has been slow to experience a clear resurgence now that in-person tournaments are back. Smash Summit 11 was a mixed bag for him, as he was upset by Dawud “Aklo” Rahman, but also scored a 3-0 win over Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto. Likewise, Axe’s Melee run at Riptide was a combination of good and bad.
The bad struck early, as Axe lost to Colorado Fox main Andrew “Secrets” K. in Round 1 pools. From there, Axe embarked on a deep losers run. He defeated Roy “Trail” Valle and Josef “Fluid” Ayupan, thus overcoming his worst nightmare: unranked Ice Climbers mains. Axe also eliminated the likes of Christian “Kürv” Melendez, Tyler “Harry Pogger” Pherson, Daniel “Zamu” Bernstein, Wally, Krudo and Logan “Logan” Dunn.
And yet, after all of that, Axe was still upset by SFAT and finished in fifth place. Despite winning 10 sets in the losers bracket, he only placed to his seed and failed to beat a single higher-seeded player. With two offline majors now under his belt, Axe has yet to match the heights he reached before the COVID-19 pandemic.
My run ends at 5th place.
Despite me not feeling too happy about my top 8 performance, I'm still proud of myself for making it this far. It was one crazy losers run.
— Tempo 🌩️I Axe (@TempoAxe) September 12, 2021
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.