Combo Breaker: Smash

Wed 1st Jun 2016 - 7:09pm : Gaming

St. Charles, Illinois was the center for an action-packed weekend of choice fighting game tournaments as Combo Breaker set up camp at the Pheasant Run Resort, May 27-29. Super Smash Bros. was a headlining feature of the event, with competitions in both doubles and singles; as well as additional auction tournaments for cash prizes. Panda Global’s ESAM and MVD arrived in Chicago ready to make an impact.


Our Pandas joined forces for Friday night’s Wii U Doubles tournament, with MVD playing Diddy Kong and ESAM Pikachu. The duo went undefeated before coming up against NiTe and Dan in the Winners Finals. Bumped to the Losers bracket, MVD and ESAM delivered a crushing 3-0 victory over Day and Ned, and prepared themselves for a rematch against their earlier rivals. With their work cut out for them in the Grand Finals, ESAM switched to Corrin and together he and MVD were able to reset the bracket against NiTe and Dan, and ultimately take first place.


Both ESAM and MVD made it into the Top 8 in Wii U Singles: the former on the Winners side and the latter on the Losers. ESAM’s Pikachu powered through the Winners bracket without much contest until the Finals where he faced JJ Rockets’ Diddy Kong. While JJ posed a significant challenge, ESAM’s control of the platform and unpredictable maneuvering ensured the win 3-2.


Things appeared to be gearing up for a Panda versus Panda Grand Finals, as MVD gained ground in the Losers bracket. Unfortunately E2C’s Tyroy bested MVD in the Losers semis when he switched from Sheik to his lead, Bayonetta. MVD anticipated difficulty in facing the controversial 1.1.5 patch Bayonetta - who underwent significant revisions in the latest patch - and, in spite of his efforts to overcome the challenge, MVD placed fourth.


Tyroy and his fiery Bayonetta went head-to-head with ESAM in the Grand Finals. ESAM did not experience the same difficulties as MVD, which prompted Tyroy to switch to Sheik for the third game: enabling him to secure a win, and leveling the playing field 2-2. However, having yet another change of heart, Tyroy returned to Bayonetta for the final game; a decision he came to regret as ESAM overtook him and secured first place in the tournament.

Combo Breaker also featured two Smash auction tournaments, wherein players bid to secure the characters they wish to play and the champions split the pot. ESAM and MVD teamed up with Tyroy for Wii U 3v3: playing Meta Knight, Donkey Kong and Bayonetta respectively. The event incorporated an innovative twist: one player on each team was dubbed the VIP, and if they lost their stocks the other team was awarded immediate victory. The set-up thus required an extra dimension of teamwork as players fought to target the opposing VIP while defending their own. The Pandas and Tyroy dominated the entire tournament, taking first place without breaking a sweat.


ESAM also entered the Melee doubles auction tourney; bidding for, and winning, his lead Samus and pairing up with a Peach. Once again there were some interesting alterations to the gameplay: not only were previously deemed “illegal” stages admissible, but characters were allotted stamina in lieu of the traditional damage percent. After a difficult first few rounds, ESAM and his partner found their rhythm in the Grand Finals, and won the tournament with a conclusive 4-0 victory.


In the Melee Singles, ESAM hoped to conclude his weekend with yet another top placement. He advanced into the Top 4 on the Losers side after besting Vro’s Marth 3-0. In the Losers Semis the tenacious Panda faced Drephen - who had been responsible for booting him from the Winners bracket. The game was a perfect showcase for ESAM’s “high risk, high reward” playstyle: with hair-raising off-stage aggression and risky tactics he managed to take a match off Drephen. Although he lost the game and took 4th place in the tournament, ESAM demonstrated that he is not only a thrill to watch but a legitimate contender in the realm of Melee.


You can catch more of these Pandas at the third installment of Chicago’s new premiere monthly tournament series: Midwest Mayhem, which will be hosted by Events2Compete at the Holiday Inn Rolling Meadows on Saturday, June 4.



Jenna Lorraine

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