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From Halloween costumes to in-person commentary, staff behind the Smash World Tour worked to make their most stacked Super Smash Bros. Melee event so far extra special. In turn, the players worked to deliver a series of surprising upsets and stellar performances.
Here are three major takeaways from the SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals.
Zain wins the SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals uncontested
The SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals marked Zain “Zain” Naghmi’s first offline tournament since Smash Summit 11 in July. With his toughest opponents, Joseph “Mang0” Marquez and Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, located on the West Coast, Zain was poised for a relatively easy road to first place.
That’s exactly what happened. Zain won all of his sets at the tournament without going to Game 5 once. In pools, he defeated Jason “Gahtzu” Diehl 3-1, Dawud “Aklo” Rahman 3-1 and Daniel “Zamu” Bernstein 3-0. Zain’s play looked even sharper in the main bracket, where he started with 3-0 victories over Colin “Colbol” Green and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma.
Even in the midst of the best run of his life, Matt “Polish” Warshaw could only muster a single game win against Zain. Down four stocks to one in Game 4, Polish pulled a Bob-omb with Peach’s down special and opted to blow himself up rather than giving Zain the chance to take his stock.
Zain’s run culminated with a grand finals face-off against the No. 2 seed, Cody “iBDW” Schwab. Although iBDW theoretically should have been Zain’s toughest opponent, Zain’s exceptional skill in the Marth versus Fox match-up allowed him to make quick work of his opponent. He three-stocked iBDW in Game 3, cementing a solid 3-0 victory and another first place finish for, potentially, Melee’s best player.
<3 Cody we’ll be having actual legit grand finals very soon
Respect the work he puts in- motivates me to be the sweatiest possible version of myself
— Zain (@ZainNaghmi) November 1, 2021
Polish has the best run of his career
Polish came into this tournament fresh off of his first-place finish at Super Smash Con: Fall Fest. Of course, with very few top players in attendance, Polish hardly had a difficult path to victory at Smash Con. However, with some of the best players in the world at the SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals, Polish proved that his ability is almost at major-winning levels.
As the lowest seed in his round robin pool, Polish had to begin the tournament by facing his pool’s highest seed, Hungrybox. This set would prove difficult not only because of the skill discrepancy between the two players, but also the match-up; Peach versus Jigglypuff is considered one of the worst match-ups in all of Melee. Hungrybox had not lost an offline set to a Peach player since 2008, although he did lose a couple of online sets to Arjun “lloD” Malhotra over quarantine.
Nevertheless, Polish pulled off the unthinkable. He pushed Hungrybox all the way to Game 5, where he continually punished Hungrybox for lazily drifting toward him. Polish finished off Hungrybox’s stock with an up-air to win the set 3-2. From there, he also earned 3-2 wins against Avery “Ginger” Wilson and Sasha “Magi” Sullivan to finish first in his pool. In typical Polish fashion, he was quick to lament his opponents’ poor play on Twitter before celebrating his own achievements.
In winners quarters, Polish faced lloD, who had defeated him 3-0 at Polish’s first breakout tournament, Super Smash Con 2019. This time, Polish came out on top after a grueling five-game Peach ditto. In winners semis, he went to Game 5 yet again, this time against iBDW. Despite facing a percentage deficit in the last game, Polish coaxed iBDW to the ledge where he clipped him with his up special. From there, Polish was able to take the stock early with an edgeguard sequence and win his fifth five-game set of the tournament. Ultimately, he lost 3-1 to both Zain and iBDW, ending his exceptional run in third place.
i was better at this tournament than i was at my last tournament, and there’s still SO much i can do better, i am happy 🙂
— pole-ish (@ssbmPolish) November 1, 2021
Balancing Melee and med school isn’t too hard for lloD
Since 2018, lloD has balanced competing in Melee with attending medical school. On the whole, he has done well, achieving solid results at the tournaments he’s entered. However, lloD entered this tournament with very little recent activity along with mediocre results at the tournaments he had recently attended.
Nevertheless, lloD’s run at the SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals was fairly similar to that of Polish. Both Peach mains were the last seeds in their pools, yet overcame the competition to advance to the main bracket on winners side and qualify for the SWT Championships. In pools, lloD lost to Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett 3-1, but defeated Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby 3-2 and Ben “Ben” Strandmark 3-1.
After losing to Polish in winners quarters, lloD eliminated Zamu 3-2 to qualify for the global finals. Afterward, he secured a 3-1 win over Gahtzu before losing to Hungrybox 3-0. While his education may continue to limit his ability to practice Melee, his baseline skill level has proven enough to make him one of the East Coast’s fiercest competitors.
Too bad I won't be able to touch this game for a while again sadface. Just wait til I can start practicing again and I'll run over these events ezpz 😘
— lloD (@lloD74) November 1, 2021
The following eight players have qualified for the Melee finals at the SWT Championships in December:
The circuit will resume with the NA East Ultimate Regional Finals from Nov. 6-7.
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.