Team Japan came into the 2019 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World Championship as heavy favorites, but they didn’t actually start to dominate the event until the very end.
Unlike what most viewers have come to see in competitive Smash Bros., Nintendo focused on trying to implement several different game modes and features of Ultimate into the events leading up to and including the Championship.
With a select few items on low, Smash Balls on, and rounds switching between doubles, singles, and Squad Strike, every team looked a little lost to start things off. Japan ended up losing their first series against Team Europe, highlighted by a poor showing in the doubles round.
But as the event went on and Japan started working out which of their players worked best in each mode, things began to turn around.
They made it into the grand finals off the back of Sota “Zackray “ Okada, one of the top-rated players in the world for competitive Smash Ultimate. He dominated the later singles rounds and set his team up for a rematch against Europe.
With every match being Squad Strike, a mode where each individual player picks three different characters to use as lives, the two players everyone was eyeing for a decisive round one were Zackray and the EU’s Viktor “Light” Strohmeier. EU ended up leading with Jonas “SirJon” Scharnetzki, who Zackray proceeded to three-stock with only his Joker.
That dominant opening performance set the tone for Japan, who followed it up by sending their alternate player akasa out to face Light. The strongest player for EU was next to go down as akasa put on his own show using Cloud to three-stock Light and put Japan one match away from a perfect victory.
Robin “RobinGG” Gronau, who’s considered the best Peach main in Germany, was the last hope for EU. Being able to select both Peach and Daisy gave him a strong edge against his opponent Kuro, but the start wasn’t what he needed.
Within 30 seconds, Kuro managed to take out RobinGG’s Peach and put him into a terrible position. He managed to fight back, taking it down to the last character for both players: his Palutena against Kuro’s Dark Pit.
In a tight match, RobinGG pulled off two consecutive grabs to knock a Smash Ball out of Dark Pit, tossing him away and getting the super move for himself. The Black Hole from Palutena was enough to give Europe one more chance to bring it all back.
SirJon couldn’t shake off his early poor performance, however, only managing to take a single stock off of the final Japan fighter, Konbu. The event ended with Konbu utilizing the rarely-picked Mii Swordfighter to clean up Jon’s final two stocks.
That gave Japan the win as the current president of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, came out to congratulate the team on their win and announce the Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Open, which will kick off in June and send the four top players to EVO 2019 in August.
Masahiro Sakurai appeared in a video message at the very end of the competition to congratulate Japan and tease the next DLC fighter for the game, which will be shown during the Nintendo Direct on June 11 at 11am CT.