Midwestern underdogs shine in Big House 4 bracket

Super Smash Bros

Image via JD Hancock/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Super Smash Bros. Melee is a game with a well-established hierarchy of players. Many tournaments are simply a matter of determining which one of the “Big Five” will take home the title while the rest fight for the scraps. Michigan tourney Big House 4 is fighting to break that mold.

The best players in the Midwest, “Kels” and “Kalamazhu”, took down Arizona’s fan-favorite Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson and gave New York City’s regular top-8 contender Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami everything he could handle. With the home crowd behind them, every successful combo and nail-biting escape was met with a din heard throughout the hotel.

The regional significance of the proceedings cannot be understated. Melee is a game that developed a competitive community before online play was ubiquitous, causing players to develop identities around their geographic region. The East and West Coast were the first to establish large competitive communities, leaving the Midwest to develop more slowly.

But the two locals looked anything but underdeveloped as they took on a rising star and a seasoned veteran. Kels used aggressive play and perfect positioning to elude the aggressive and scrappy Pikachu of Williamson. Kalamazhu used old tools in creative ways as his Peach nearly eliminated Al-Yami’s much faster Fox, taking him to a full five games and a deciding final moment that put fans on their feet.

So unlikely were these upsets that the names of the two players responsible could not be found on any online record or database of competitors. With a result like this, however, it’s unlikely that they’ll remain unknown for much longer.