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In the midst of its busy schedule hosting the Smash World Tour Regional Finals, VGBootCamp took the time to host a major Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament back home in Laurel, Maryland. Though Simon, Richter and Snake were the characters of honor at Glitch 8.5 – Konami Code, a whole slew of top-level talent, maining all sorts of characters, came out to compete.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Smash Ultimate’s latest major tournament.

ESAM wins his first post-quarantine tournament

For Smash Ultimate’s lone top-level Pikachu main Eric “ESAM” Lew, Glitch is a special tournament series. His first Ultimate supermajor victory came at Glitch 7 – Minus World in September of 2019. Even so, Glitch 8.5 was ESAM’s first in-person tournament since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This made him a potential underdog as he sought to readjust to offline competition.

Nevertheless, he cruised into top 16 without dropping a game, defeating the likes of “Pink Cage” and Aaron “BONK!” Markovitz in the process. Then came an opponent that would scare most other players: Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez. But ESAM held an even 2-2 record against MkLeo going into the set, making him a better pick to upset MkLeo than just about anyone else in the world.

ESAM won the first two games against MkLeo’s Byleth at Glitch 8.5. This put ESAM in a position where he was notoriously still more likely to lose the set than to win. MkLeo also seemed to rally back by winning Game 3 with Joker; a character he did not use at all at Riptide. However, ESAM finished the job in Game 4 to beat MkLeo 3-1.

From there, ESAM won a pair of five-game sets against Paris “Light” Ramirez and Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, MkLeo had run his way through the losers bracket in order to meet ESAM again in grand finals. There, he wasted no time with Byleth, playing as Joker for the entire set.

Even so, ESAM had a 2-1 lead going into Game 4 of Glitch 8.5. He forced MkLeo offstage with a string of back-airs, then tried to spike him with Thunder. The Thunder didn’t connect and ESAM self-destructed at 1%. Thus, he was at a major percent deficit by the time both players were on their last stocks of the game.

ESAM went for the back-air string to Thunder spike yet again on the last stock. But, the Thunder connected the second time around, dragging MkLeo down to ESAM and launching him past the blast zones. Therefore, ESAM won Glitch 8.5 without dropping a set. In addition, he now stands as the only person who has played more than two sets against MkLeo and still holds a winning record.

Kola bounces back from a disappointing performance at Riptide

Coming out of Ultimate’s online era, Kola seemed poised for major improvement. It showed at events like InfinityCON and Smash Ultimate Summit 3, where he placed first and seventh, respectively. However, Kola fell flat at Riptide, finishing in 65th place after upset losses to Noah “naitosharp” McCulley and Troy “BassMage” Waters.

At Glitch 8.5, Kola set out to prove that Riptide was an anomaly. He defeated Julian “Zinoto” Carrington 2-1 and Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland 3-1 en route to top 16. In winners quarters, Kola faced Tyler “Marss” Martins. Against Marss, he lost 3-2 at Smash Ultimate Summit 3 after self-destructing on his final stock of Game 5. Such mistakes did not plague him at Glitch 8.5, where he beat Marss 3-1 to advance into top eight.

In winners semis, Kola earned a 3-0 win over Santiago “Chag” Perez in the midst of Chag’s best major tournament performance to date. Then, in winners finals, he faced ESAM. For Game 5 on Lylat Cruise, Kola switched off of Roy and onto Snake. Despite Snake’s close association with the tournament as a whole, the switch didn’t pay off and Kola lost 3-2. Likewise, he lost another five-game set to MkLeo in losers finals to finish in third place.

Chag has his long-anticipated major breakout at Glitch 8.5

Mexican Palutena main Chag made substantial improvements in his gameplay over quarantine, climbing into the top 10 of the Wi-Fi Warrior Rank v7. He even made early strides at offline tournaments, winning a Mexican regional over Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez in July. However, these successes didn’t initially carry over to major events.

Chag finished in last place at the SWT Central America Ultimate Regional Finals, failing to qualify for the global finals. In addition, he placed a mediocre 49th at Riptide. After this string of subpar performances, Chag finally had his major breakout for Ultimate at Glitch 8.5

Chag beat Kofi “Kofi” Amanquah 2-0 before earning his first upset of the tournament; a 2-1 victory over Rasheen “Dark Wizzy” Rose. Next, he defeated Ricky “LingLing” Gorritz 3-2. Finally, he fought Enrique “Maister” Hernández Solís in winners quarters. Though theoretically a daunting opponent, Chag had won their last face-off at Warlock in The Multiverse of Hex.

After a series of close sets leading up to winners quarters, Chag didn’t give Maister the chance to take him to Game 5. Instead, he won 3-1 to extend his fledgling win streak against Maister. Chag ultimately fumbled in top eight, losing to both Kola and MkLeo without taking a game. Nevertheless, he showed that he’s capable of reaching the same heights offline that he reached at online events.

Dylan Tate is a student in 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.
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