Three takeaways from the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals
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Sixteen of the best players on the West Coast made their way to Xanadu Games in Laurel, Maryland to compete in the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals from Oct. 23-24. Without Joseph “Mang0” Marquez or Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson in attendance, the West Coast’s newest transplant earned a victory a little closer to his long-time home.

Here’s an overview of Justin “Plup” McGrath’s win a nd other significant takeaways from the tournament.

Plup leaves the East to conquer the West

Because of his recent move to Oregon, Florida native Plup got the chance to compete in the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals. Though two of the region’s heaviest hitters were not there, Plup still climbed to victory over many top-level competitors with little opposition. Notably, Plup did not drop a single map until winners finals.

His flawless round-robin pools performance included victories over Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams, Juan “Medz” Garcia and Jeffery “billybopeep” Palmer. Plup liberally switched between his Sheik and Fox in the process. After beating Medz’ Fox with Sheik in Game 1, he switched to Fox against Medz’ Marth on Final Destination and beat him — even though Final Destination is generally considered an extremely strong counterpick for Marth against Fox. In the main bracket, Plup swept both Shephard “Fiction” Lima and John “KoDoRiN” Ko with Sheik.

Next came a winners finals face-off between Plup and Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni. Plup beat SFAT for the first time since 2018 at Riptide. However, SFAT returned the favor with a 3-2 victory at the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals. Plup’s frequent character switches backfired, as he lost the only two games he played as Fox.

From then on, Plup set aside his Sheik and played Fox exclusively. With his attention focused on one character, he defeated Captain Faceroll 3-1, setting up for a grand finals rematch against SFAT. SFAT was less prepared for the Fox ditto this time around, as Plup won both sets of grand finals 3-1 in order to win the tournament.

Captain Faceroll returns strong at the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals after an inactive quarantine

Compared to many other top players, Captain Faceroll was inactive when it came to online competitions in 2020. He largely stuck to majors like the LACS, Slippi Champions League and Smash Summit 10 Online. Captain Faceroll took an even bigger step back in early 2021, entering only a couple of Summit Champions League qualifiers where he failed to advance into the League.

However, Captain Faceroll proved that his talents did not disappear over quarantine; finishing in third place at the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals while only dropping sets to the top two. He finished second in his pool, beating Medz 3-1 and billybopeep 3-2 but losing to Plup. Thus, he faced SFAT in Round 1 of the main bracket and lost that set 3-1.

However, with his toughest opponents out of the way early on, Captain Faceroll was able to make a deep run through the losers bracket. He eliminated Albert “Albert” Luu 3-1, Kyle “Kalamazhu” Zhu 3-0, KoDoRiN 3-0 and Fiction 3-2 before finally dropping another set to Plup in losers finals.

New main, same Fiction

Like Captain Faceroll, Fiction entered only a handful of online tournaments over quarantine. Even so, he used that time to hone a new character. At the SWT NA West Melee Regional Finals, he emerged not as a Fox main, but instead as a Falco main. Despite the character switch, Fiction finished in a commendable fourth place.

Though he narrowly lost a five-game to SFAT, he still finished second in his pool after defeating Isaac “bobby big ballz” P. 3-0 and Andrew “Tai” Vo 3-1. However, he quickly suffered a 3-0 loss to Plup in the main bracket, even incurring a three-stock in Game 3.

From there, Fiction had a hard-fought road through the rest of the bracket. He went to Game 5 in the Falco ditto against Kristian “Rocky” Kruz, although he managed to finish the set with a convincing three-stock. Then, he beat Medz in another set that went to Game 5.

In losers quarters, Fiction faced Johnny “S2J” Kim. After losing Game 1, Fiction quickly got rid of S2J’s first two stocks on Final Destination. However, S2J began to mount a comeback toward the end of the game, leaving Fiction with just enough time to finish off his last stock and win Game 2. Despite this scare, Fiction managed to win the next two games, even three-stocking S2J in Game 4 to win the set. Fiction’s run came to an end after yet another five-game set where he lost to Captain Faceroll.

Looking ahead

The following eight players have qualified for the Melee finals at the SWT Championships:

  • Plup
  • SFAT
  • Captain Faceroll
  • Fiction
  • S2J
  • KoDoRiN
  • Kalamazhu
  • Medz

Sixteen more players will compete in Laurel, Maryland, when the circuit resumes with the NA East Melee Regional Finals from Oct. 30-31.

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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