One of the oldest Super Smash Bros. Melee pros won a stacked New York event last night, defeating several top-15 players in the world.
Johnny “S2J” Kim has always been known as a bit of a wild child in the Melee scene—and not just because he plays the iconic Captain Falcon. Whether it’s drinking Red Bull and a mystery drink back-to-back mid-set or accidentally punching Wizzrobe when he meant to fist bump, there’s no shortage of chaotically bizarre moments with this guy. But that’s to be expected when your tag is short for “Smoke2Jointz.”
On Nov. 12, The Function in Brooklyn featured a plethora of talent, including Jmook, Aklo, Chem, and even the return of top Ice Climbers player SluG. While S2J has won many tournaments over his long Melee career, his most recent ranking at 23rd reflects his somewhat stagnant performances this year.
But, of course, S2J proved this weekend why fans should never count him out. He went on a tear through the winners bracket of The Function, advancing to the winners side of the top eight in the 259-player tournament. His first opponent in the top eight was SluG, who just came off of an amazing upset against Jmook—the favorite to win the tournament. S2J ended SluG’s hot streak, putting the Ice Climbers player into the losers bracket and advancing to the winners finals against Dawud “Aklo” Rahman.
Aklo is a key player in the New York Melee scene. He’s well-known for his amazing sets against invaders from out of the region, which lends itself nicely to being called “The King of New York” on commentary. Most notably, he defeated top Marth player Kodorin at the end of last year using only his Link secondary.
S2J’s winners run was cut short by Aklo. Despite a dominant performance against Aklo in game one, S2J went on to lose the next three in convincing fashion. But after defeating Chem in the losers finals, the Falcon player was right back in the grand finals and ready to fight Aklo again.
The grand finals of The Function could be best described as non-stop momentum swings. S2J won the first two games and looked poised to close it out 3-0 and reset the bracket, but Aklo fought back and evened the score at 2-2. In the final game of the first set, S2J nailed the edge guard and prolonged his tournament life.
In the bracket reset, S2J wowed the crowd with a titular Johnny stock, named after his ability to close out games with a single grab. And after that, he took the next two games on Final Destination, arguably Falcon’s worst stage against Fox, to win the tournament 3-0.
S2J not only defeated The King of New York twice, but he also won one of the most stacked New York events of the year. S2J thrust himself back into the limelight with this title and proved himself to be a player worth looking out for in the coming months.