Credit to @MHC_Ruffian
Musically, politically and culturally – it’s been a wild year for the United Kingdom. On all fronts the country is being pushed and pulled in all sorts of different directions and sometimes it can feel impossible to get away from the division. In times like this, it’s nice to have a community to go to – a place where none of these things matter.
In 2019, the first full year of the lifespan of Smash Ultimate, I believe the UK scene offered this to many people as it has always done. Sure, there’s even some division within our own community. Some people don’t enjoy the game as much as they did previous instalments, some people believe that it’s clearly superior. Some people want stage morph legal! Get back in the -naughty corner, Shadowkiller415!
But the thing is that while contentious opinions certainly exist, none of them have been enough to drive us apart. The competitive Smash community in the UK and in Europe as a whole have flourished with the new game and hit the ground running. UK and wider Europe have mirrored each other in a lot of ways, especially in the sheer amount of huge events that have been put on – lots of them by exciting new teams of organisers!
Within this article we’ll revisit some of the biggest footnotes in the crazy year that SmashUK has had. Starting with;
Team Regen were a modest team from the Midlands who’d been slowly making a name for themselves by putting on some quality regional and national-level events in the UK, (i.e. Regen 2018, New Era and the Invasion series) but Regen 2019 was a whole different type of animal; bigger, hairier and with a terrifying 3-frame jumpsquat. This was an undertaking the likes of which Team Regen hadn’t tackled before, a major event that would incentivise international powerhouses to travel over and compete with each other AND our nation’s best.
And travel they did, from the former undisputed King of Europe, Mr. R to Dutch Greninja master, iStudying to one of Norway’s best players in Whoophee. (whee!) This was one of the UK’s first big Smash Ultimate events and, in a lot of ways, set the scene for the year to come. It was an ambitious event from a relatively new team who had never tried something of this scale before. An ambitious event that would go on to show who some of the new top dogs of both the UK and European communities would be.
The 1st seed of the tournament, Mr. R, narrowly escaped an early upset at the hands of Zelda player demon_B in Round 2 of Winners Top 64, a set that ended prematurely in a tense game 3 via an unfortunate self-destruct on the part of Demonic Brandon. As someone who was not at this event and was watching from home, the ending to this set gave me an overwhelming urge to german suplex my laptop. You can experience my rage or relive this insane back-and-forth affair here.
In the same round, international threat Whoophee (whee!) took an early loss to UK stalwart and world’s most disgustingly nice man – Crispy. Scr7, a player who was on everyone’s radar from his impressive performances in previous events took a surprising loss to French Mario player, Shido. And yet, somehow, none of these upsets or surprise results could measure up to what was happening in one particular part of the bracket.
Now known as Twiddles and previously known as *cough* UrbanTurban911, this Northern Lucina player was destroying everybody’s fantasy bracket like he wanted the damn prize himself. Seeded to turn in an adequate performance, but certainly not seeded anywhere near the Top 8, this player ran through Khanage, Lucretio, Crispy AND Shido in succession to land himself a spot in Winners Semifinals against Mr. R. Saying this was a surprise would be like saying my cat, Ted, is cute. Everyone knows he’s cute. He’s disgustingly cute. It’s obvious to everyone.
It’s safe to say that from the team organising it to the players who staked their claim to even the commentators who turned in excellent shifts, Regen 2019 showed us who the faces of the future would be and what they’d be all about.
Albion 4 was really cool. So cool in fact that I’d genuinely call it the best event I’ve ever been to in my 3 years of being a part of this community. It was the culmination of all of DAT Team’s hard work and even I, as someone who was a T.O. under DAT Team helping put together and run Albion 3 was absolutely staggered by the immense scale that head T.O. G~P and DAT Team took Albion 4 to. I mean, The Emirates Stadium. A FOOTBALL stadium, and a legendary one at that. Which other T.O. not on the continent – but in the WORLD can claim that they’ve hosted an international Smash tournament in a damn football stadium? I’ll tell you, none. In fact, when speaking to G~P myself about the venue of this event shortly before it all kicked off he informed me that this was the first gaming event ever held at the Emirates Stadium.
Albion’s accolades precede it. As grand and as excellent as the previous Albions were, this topped them all and as I say, my handsome face was bullying everyone around during their pools at Albion 3 – so that’s a pretty tall order! It was the largest Smash tournament in European history and still stands as one of the largest Ultimate tournaments ever hosted with just a few heads shy of 1000 unique entrants. Somewhat foolishly as I wasn’t competing, I elected to volunteer as a pool captain for this event. Something I greatly regretted when iStudying decided to shadow sneak away from his pool in real life shortly before it started causing me to bang my foot on what I can only assume to have been at LEAST 50% of the table legs present in the gargantuan venue at the time in my frantic pursuit of him. You’d think this’d make me resent the scale of the event, but all it did was reaffirm to me that this was G~P and DAT Team’s magnum opus.
If I were struggling to chase down one guy in the venue before the pool I was running officially began, I thought “it’s truly hard for me to comprehend how much hard work and effort and stress must have gone into running this event as efficiently as the team did” (I didn’t think of it in those exact words!) because this event – for all its size and scale; ran magnificently.
As a spectator, it just had it all. Foreign behemoths from all different parts of the world. Regen winner and European veteran, Mr. R. The new king of Europe and dominant French force, Glutonny. The great wall and a consistent Top 5 ranked player globally from the U.S., Dabuz. Snake extraordinaire and everybody’s favourite Spoons banter machine, MVD (seriously please come back soon) and of course, the explosive happy chappy and Duck Hunt Duo savant from the land of the rising sun, Raito.
Never before had such a mix of globally recognised players convened in Europe for one event, but Albion 4 was set on breaking the mold. All of the aforementioned players made it to Top 8 as expected, but not all in the WAY they expected. See, leading up to Albion 4, there was a fair amount of contention as to who the best player in the UK actually was. There were a number of viable candidates and they all seemed to trade sets and placings fairly often. But at this event, it was Northern Palutena monster Scr7 who blew everyone out of the water, and then once he’d finished blowing people out of the water he blew them out of the Earth too. Stop blowing people out of things!
With the undeniable upset of the tournament, Scr7 pulled off an improbable reverse 3-0 against Top 20 worldwide player according to the Panda Global Rankings, as WELL as Spoons banter machine (PLEASE come back soon) MVD. This was a huge deal, there was a monstrous uproar in the venue, this was easily the most significant victory a non-Glutonny European player had gotten over a PGR-ranked player yet and it meant that MVD had to fight his way into the Top 8 via a long trek through the loser’s bracket.
To cover every notable thing that happened at this event in this article alone would be a task even more impossible than tracking down iStudying in the Emirates Stadium while on a vicious manhunt to ensure that the T.O.’s don’t eat you alive for ruining their event by doing an awful job with volunteering (get BACK here) so I’ll give you the short version.
The Top 8 was just as incredible as the rest of the event, international powerhouses dropped like flies left, right and centre and at the end of it all, after a long and dramatic Grand Finals, the new European #1 was crowned as Glutonny triumphed over long-time demon Dabuz to take the gold. (The 3rd year in a row that I’d correctly predicted the winner before Top 8 even started, just saying. Send me some Eggnog to celebrate the festive season and I might just give you tonight’s lottery numbers.)
If I had to give you a set that embodies the energy of the event then, well – call me biased but I think it’s the set that myself and fellow gorgeous Patchwork cohort Moke called between Oryon and Young Eevey. An amalgamation of the incredible run that the Dutch Bowser Jr player had been on up until that point and the epitome of hype right up until that last, nail-biting Game 5 last hit scenario.
Thank you DAT Team for this unbelievable event. And a special thanks to G~P, Eevee & DX17 who made this their last event under the DAT Team banner and left in their wake the greatest Smash event Europe has seen yet, bar none.
UKIE Circuit Finale
2019 also saw the birth of the UKIE Circuit, an ambitious project that saw every major tournament in the UK throughout the year provide the players a certain amount of points based on their placings. Players with enough points were automatically invited to the illustrious Circuit Finale, and the day before the Finale started proper was the LCQ; as in – Last Chance Qualifier.
The LCQ and Circuit Finale made for a double-whammy of exciting events to round out the UK’s already absolutely insane year of Smash.
Introducing Bloom4Eva. A player whose name I’d only heard in passing once or twice prior to this event. At this gargantuan event with many of the UK’s darkest horses fighting tooth and nail for one of only 4 spots in the Circuit Finale alongside the 16 already qualified players the next day, he took out established name after established name with an eclectic mix of characters. Including but not limited to Pokemon Trainer, R.O.B., Daisy, Bayonetta, Piranha Plant… And… King…K…Rool.
A part of me wants to say that the prospect of this player is exciting. He got 3rd in the overall LCQ event, bowing out to 1st and 2nd place respectively in Mr. Spuddles & Kibzu and beating many respected players such as Stranger & C4rrot along the way, and it was apparently only his 3rd or so tournament!
He’s also disgustingly talented for someone so young AND he supposedly has claimed that King K. Rool VS Palutena is a decent matchup, so I think I might actually hate him! (That was a joke.)
Bloom4Eva’s sudden arrival and solid showing the day after in the Circuit Finale itself is a microcosm of what Smash Ultimate in the UK in 2019 has been all about, new faces. But the drama didn’t end there as the day after was the Circuit Finale. While he managed to seal an impressive set win over Crispy, it was eventual winner Scr7, alongside his Palutena comrade Zone who made it out of their pool. The pools were as ruthless as expected, with CurryG (#QuiltGang) tragically drowning in his pool despite only losing 1 set (I will offer no comment) and SBF (#QuiltGang) making it out of his pool despite losing two sets. How round robin can giveth and how round robin can taketh away…
SBF would transform his miraculous surfacing from pools into a dramatic run all the way into Grand Finals against Scr7 (a rematch from Winner’s Finals) after a nail-bitingly close win over Zone in Winners Semis, and a switch to Pichu brought him good fortune in a Loser’s Finals victory over UK titan, Peli. At the end of the day however, Scr7 brought home the win as he’d done so many times already across the country throughout 2019.
It’s a transitional period, a period of change. As we all expected with a whole new game. But it’s an exciting period, a changing of the guard. We here at Patchwork not only look forward to seeing this change continue to take place in 2020 – but we also look forward to being a part of the change. We’re going to be dedicated to bringing you the most consistent and high-quality content the UK scene and hell, maybe even the European scene has had yet. Not just articles, but lots of exciting things are coming down the pipe. So we hope you’re looking forward to 2020 as much as we are. Keep being you, SmashUK.