By Daniel “Tafokints” Lee
Over the history of Super Smash Bros. Melee, crew battles have effectively settled the score between regions. In recent years, southern California has been dominant, featuring players such as Joseph “Mango” Marquez, Weston “Westballz” Dennis and Johnny “s2j” Kim. Last year SoCal performed as expected, winning the crew battle event at The Big House 5.
However, times have changed.
No longer is SoCal the sole powerhouse. Other regions, such as northern California, Europe, and Florida, have grown tremendously over the past year, making this year’s crew battles more exciting than ever. Thanks to the Compendium, The Big House 6 hits Michigan from October 7 – 9 with an eight-team, single-elimination crew battles event featuring a $5,000 prize pot. How do the teams stack up? Note: Alts will not be allowed to play unless a starter does not attend the event.
Kashan “Chillindude” Khan – Fox
Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez – Ice Climbers
Zain “Zain” Naghmi – Marth
Wenbo “Wenbobular” Dou – Fox
Maxwell “Sypher” Weand – Fox
Alt: Mike “peanutphobia” O’Mailey – Yoshi
Featuring old-school legends like Christopher “Azen” McMullen, Maryland/Virginia (MD/VA) was once the strongest region. That’s no longer the case. Chillindude and ChuDat are still active and will need to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. Zain is a rising star that still needs experience competing in out of region events, but can potentially pull upsets. Wenbobular and Sypher are experienced Foxes, but they’re nowhere near the level of competition from the other crews. MD/VA has a storied history, but they will have a tough time fighting against the likely first-seed, Florida.
Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson – Pikachu
Robert “Wobbles” Wright – Ice Climbers
Tony “Taj” Jackson – Marth, Samus, Mewtwo
Andrew “Tai” Vo – Marth
Ammon “Ka-Master” Styles – Luigi
The southwest region has potential to upset a powerhouse. Axe and Wobbles are nightmare counterpicks, since there are no stage bans in The Big House 6 ruleset. Wobbles has historically been a monster in crew battles and he can easily take as many as eight stocks by himself. As a team, they have plenty of experience in crews, reducing the possibility of jitters. Although past their primes, Taj and Ka-Master are still strong players that can hold their own against the other teams. Tai has quietly put together a solid 2016 campaign with wins over several Top 30 players. Still, the southwest will need their stars to play just about perfectly for a chance to win.
James “Duck” Ma – Samus
Kelly “Kels” Smith – Fox
Kalindi – “KJH” Henderson – Fox
Abhishek “Prince Abu” Prabhu – Jigglypuff
Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams – Sheik
Alt: David “Darkrain” John – Captain Falcon
The midwest comes in with home field advantage at The Big House 6. Can they put on a show? They came close to defeating the European crew as underdogs last year, and the midwestern players are much stronger this time around. Duck is the cornerstone of the team and has improved to become a Top 15 level player. Kels, KJH, and Prince Abu can make some noise if they are slotted into good matchups. Their fifth player, Captain Faceroll, is a wild card who has improved massively in the past year, winning a multitude of sets against top players. But the region might lack the firepower to take the title.
Roustane “Kage” Benzeguir – Ganondorf
David “KirbyKaze” MacDonald – Sheik
Ryan “RyanFord” Ford – Fox
Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby – Captain Falcon
Vikram “Nightmare” Bassi – Marth
Alt: William “Trulliam” Truong – Falco
Canada made noise with a huge upset over NorCal last year at The Big House 5. In a dire situation, Kage clutched the victory, taking three stocks from Kyle “dizzkidboogie” Athayde and four stocks from Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel.
The Canadian crew is deceptively strong at The Big House 6 and is more than capable to pull another upset. Although KirbyKaze took a short break, he is still a Top 25 caliber player and even took a tournament over his teammate n0ne at a recent local event. Kage and n0ne are dynamic players and can easily swing the momentum of a crew battle if they run hot. RyanFord brings stability to the crew as a veteran while their newcomer, Nightmare, continues to show strong results in Canada. Can perform under the pressure of crews? People wrote off the Canadian crew last year and I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake this time around.
Adam “Armada” Lindgren – Peach, Fox
William “Leffen” Hjelte – Fox
Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya – Fox
Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas – Fox
Andreas “Android” Lindgren – Shek
Alt: Robby “Vanity Angel” Gee – Peach
Europe’s performance depends heavily on one player’s attendance: Leffen. If Leffen (he’s currently listed as a starter) shows up, then you can bump Europe into top two. Though he finally got his visa issues settled, he’s been noncommittal about attending The Big House 6.
Nonetheless, Europe still brings together a very daunting team. Not much needs to be said about Armada’s world-beating Peach. Ice and Professor Pro have incredible European-style Foxes that emphasize an intelligent neutral game with consistent punishing combos. Android and Vanity Angel round out the crew with their Sheik and Peach. Although they don’t receive as much recognition as the other Europeans, they are great players that can trade stocks with the other top players. Europe was very close to winning with a suboptimal lineup last year; this year, they look poised to make a serious run at it…especially if Leffen makes the trip.
3. Northern California
Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni – Fox
Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel – Sheik
Kevin “PewPewU” Toy – Marth
Michael “Nintendude” Brancato – Ice Climbers
Kyle “dizzkidboogie” Athayde – Ice Climbers
Alt: Julian “Zhu” Zhu – Falco
After a very disappointing performance last year, NorCal is looking for redemption.
This year’s roster is stacked, as Nintendude and PewPewU join the lineup for The Big House 6. SFAT and Shroomed have both improved notably over the past year and recently jumped into the Top 10. From a strategic standpoint, NorCal took an interesting approach by adding two Ice Climbers to their team. The gamble may pay off as there are not too many Peaches other than Europe and SoCal. With no bans, the double Ice Climber lineup could build massive leads on Final Destination, putting heavy pressure on their opponents. Pressure plays a major role in crews, and the Ice Climbers take the most advantage of nerves. Teams will have a tough time deciding who to send against this lineup.
2. Southern California
Joseph “Mango” Marquez – Falco, Fox
Weston “Westballz” Dennis – Falco
Joey “Lucky” Aldama – Fox
Johnny “s2j” Kim – Captain Falcon
McCain “MacD” Lavelle – Peach
Alt: Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez – Samus
Last year’s winner, SoCal returns with an all-star lineup filled with Top 20 players. Their team has heavy firepower with four fast-falling characters, but this lends itself to a risky trade-off. Each player will have to pull their weight, as a big counter-pick could potentially create a huge deficit for this team. MacD functions as the anti-Ice Climbers and a floatie that can soak up stocks against other gods. Still, this team is explosive; Mango could single handedly win a crew battle.
Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma – Jigglypuff
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman – Marth, Sheik
Justin “Plup McGrath – Sheik, Samus, Fox
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett – Captain Falcon
Colin “Colbol” Green – Fox, Marth
Alt: Jay “Drunk Sloth” Dahya – Ice Climbers
Can you find a hole in this lineup? Florida boasts by far the most stacked roster in 5 vs. 5 crew battle history.
How do you play against this team? If you play a space animal, they can send Mew2King on Final Destination to eviscerate stocks. If they need to drain a strong player’s stocks, they can send Hungrybox on Dreamland or Plup on Battlefield. Colbol can cover the strange mid-tier characters such as the Mario Brothers or Ice Climbers, and Wizzrobe can tech-chase his way to victory against anything else. Forget the fact that they have three of the best seven players in the world or that all of their players are arguably in the Top 15. The only potential hole is their a possible coaching mistake in how to slot their players, but with this lineup, it shouldn’t make a difference. By every metric, anything short of finishing first will be a disappointment for this all-star team.
Daniel Lee is on Twitter @tafokints.