Rollback Rumble: Crews Finals Ends in Upset
After taking on and beating the Florida crew, Midwest progressed to the finals. Here they faced off against the crew from the AZ/Mountain region. This was a surprising finals matchup to determine which region had the strongest players on netplay.
The match started out with Midwest’s Ben playing Shiek up against CPU0’s Jigglypuff. Both players showed quick, defensive movement trying to find openings. It was CPU0 who took the first stock with a rest confirm out of a down air. Ben responded with a down throw into a forward air to even the stock count. The two players then entered a stalemate for the next couple of minutes trading hits as well as stocks. When Ben started his third stock, CPU0 was on his last. That changed when CPU 0 hit a quick zero to death combo ending in a rest to even the stock count. The game ended when CPU0 jumped under the Battlefield ledge. As he tried to make it back out from under using Puff’s multiple mid-air jumps, Ben was able to gimp him with Sheik’s needles. This move effectively stuffed CPU0s remaining jumps. This gave Midwest a stock lead.
Ranked 66th on the last MPGR rankings, Tai was sent in next. This was an interesting choice from AZ/Mountain, sending in a Marth to play a losing matchup. Ben started out the match looking dominant by taking two stocks from Tai. But when Tai returned from the angel platform on his third stock, he got a couple of good pokes in and ended Ben’s six stock run with a forward smash. This run meant that Ben was able to widen Midwest’s lead to two stocks.
Next up for the Midwest was Zamu’s Fox. Another interesting counterpick choice as Marth is one of Fox’s harder matchups, though top players disagree on which character is actually favored. However, Zamu made the matchup look easy as he used Fox’s speed to avoid Tai’s pokes, ending Tai’s third stock with style. He did so by baiting out an early up b from Tai, making it so that Tai was carried above the ledge, but not back onto stage. In the small window it took for Tai to fall back to ledge, Zamu grabbed the ledge, stealing it from Tai. Zamu again used style to take Tai’s last stock. When Tai missed a tech, Zamu jumped in but reading the roll in he wave dashed back into an up smash. Zamu increased Midwest’s lead to four stocks — a full player.
With AZ/Mountain in a dire situation they decided to send in Axe, the Pikachu player ranked fourth on the MPGR in 2019. But Zamu wasn’t intimidated, dominating the first 30 seconds and quickly taking Axe’s first stock. But his momentum didn’t continue and the two players spent the first three stocks trading back and forth. At some points the players dashed around the stage for multiple consecutive seconds while searching their opponent for weakness. With both players down to their last stock and Zamu with the lead, Axe kept the pressure up sending Zamu offstage multiple times but he was unable to find the early gimp. Zamu finally found the opening for a kill after Axe made a recovery then left himself open to a cross up back air. After going up against one of the best players in the world, Zamu was able to hang on to his last stock, giving Midwest a five stock lead.
Following up Axe was Arizona’s second best player, Medz. AZ/Mountain sent him in hoping a fast Fox ditto would clean up Zamu’s last stock and carry momentum to defeat the remaining Midwest players. The two Fox’s were well matched, however Zamu was able to take Medz’s first stack before Medz could take his last. This meant Zamu was able to keep Midwest’s five stock lead before Medz ended his seven stock streak.
Midwest decided to keep up the high paced games by sending in TheRealThing, a Falco player. TheRealThing took the first stock but Medz was able to clean up his opponents stock without taking any damage on his third. TheRealThing rebutted with an almost 0 to death combo, only taking 8% damage. Medz was down but not out. He mixed strong edge guards with smart neutral decisions to take out TheRealThing’s second stock, however he took a fair bit of damage and was now at high percent. TheRealThing made edgeguarding look easy when he hit Medz out of Illusion with a down smash to end Medz’s last stock. TheRealThing was able to get Midwest another stock, making the lead 6 stocks.
The AZ/MTN anchor was next: the Marth player John Wick. He had a mountain to climb if he wanted to make a comeback and TheRealThing sent the message home by sending John Wick below stage with a down air and then ending his stock with a down smash as he tried to recover. TheRealThing kept the pressure up taking two more stocks with the flashy combos that Falco is known for. But John Wick was able to pressure TheRealThing off stage with continuous pokes to finish off the Falco player’s third stock. Both players were now on their last stock, with Midwest having two more players to go. John Wick did not give up and fought tooth and nail. He looked like he was about to take the game as he went for a Thundercat combo on the top platform, but he wasn’t quite able to pull it off. He did however win the game after he forced TheRealThing onto a platform. TheRealThing missed the tech and John Wick covered every option with a forward smash. The Midwest was now up 7 stocks with AZ only having 1 stock.
With such a huge lead Drephen decided to pick Zelda for the Midwest. John Wick got some good hits, but Drephen used Zelda’s hitboxes to get trades in on most of them. John Wick hit a Dolphin Slash, but Drephen was able to Amsah Tech the attack, saving his stock. John Wick did manage to take the stock later on, but while at seriously high percent himself. Drephen took the winning stock for the Midwest crew with Zelda’s forward air soon into his second stock.
The Midwest is a region that historically doesn’t have a high concentration of top players and were definitely the underdogs in this bracket. However, due to new talent coming out of the netplay era they were able to do well and dominate the best crews in the bracket. It will be interesting to watch the careers of some of the newer Midwest players in the following year as we progress back to LAN tournaments.