This article is part of our Smash Bros Recap series.
While Smash Bros. has been sticking to the same basic tournament structure for years, Red Bull decided to reinvent the wheel a bit with their Gods and Gatekeepers event at The Wiltern in Los Angeles this weekend.
The crews are locked in
The action started off as a normal tournament with pools and brackets galore. I meant it when I say galore. There were eight pools containing over 800 players. No, that’s not a typo. Eight hundred. Once the field was chopped down to a slim and trim 32, Red Bull’s ingenuity came into play.
Prior to the action on Saturday, eight “gods” of the scene were chosen as team captains, and they made the initial selections for their respective teams. That’s right, we’ve got ourselves a good old fashioned team battle, y’all. The initial pairings were just about what fans could have expected and were filled with some of the best names in the business. The intrigue, however, came from Saturday’s draft.
From the field of 32, the eight team captains filled the remaining two spots on their respective teams to take into the crew battles set to get underway on Sunday. While the 800 players were battling it out to crack into that top 32, the gods were watching and scouting. At the end of the day, though, the final day of competition would come down to a series of 1-vs-1's for the first four games, with Game 5, if necessary, being a 2-vs-2. With this in mind, William “Leffen” Hjelte, one of the team captains made it clear what his ultimate strategy came down to. "I just want the best player when it comes down to it. Some who can just win one game," admitted Leffen. With such a new format, you can't blame him for simply wanting to get the best of the best when it's all said and done.
Dubbed the Chosen Ones draft, the gods gathered in the green room of The Wiltern to set their teams. There was much banter and antics all around over the course of the draft. One of the highlights came when Dajuan “Shroomed” Jefferson McDaniel jokingly declared that he'd sabotage the team if Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman picked him for his team. After actually being selected with the number one pick, however, Shroomed gave in and said he'd play fair and give it his all on Sunday. Not to be outdone, Joseph “Mango” Marquez said that he'd pick Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincon only if he called himself "Eddy America" for the event.
Once all the back and forth ceased, we were left with eight pretty stacked teams who will battle it out on Sunday. Here's how the draft shook out.
- Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, James “Duck” Ma, Dajuan “Shroomed” Jefferson McDaniel, Julian “Zhu” Zhu
- Leffen, Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, Joey “Lucky” Aldama, Theodore “Bladewise” Seybold
- Joseph “Mango” Marquez, Johnny “S2J” Kim, Edgar “n0ne” Sheleby, Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincon
- Justin “Plup” McGrath, James “Swedish Delight” Liu, Jack “Crush” Hoyt, Santiago “El Fuego” Pinon
- Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni, Kevin “PewPewU” Toy, Ryan Ford, Armand “Army” Del Duca
- Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto, Juan “Medz” Garcia, Andrew “Tai” Vo
- Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez, Weston “Westballz” Dennis, Michael “MikeHaze” Pulido, Shephard “Fiction” Lima
- Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett, Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, McCain “MacD” LaVelle, Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez
While the remaining 16 players had to nurse their pride after getting passed over by some of the biggest names in the scene, their nights weren’t over just yet.
Cal dominates the Forsaken Bracket
Despite not making it to the second day of the competition, the 16 players not chosen for a team dropped into the Forsaken Bracket. Not only would they be fighting for a chance to show the gods that they made the wrong choice, they would get a piece of the $1,000 prize pool for their troubles.
From the outset of the Forsaken Bracket, it was clear that a player had slipped under the gods’ radar. Conner “Cal” Daughtery hit the Forsaken Bracket with fire a passion that was showed in his style of play. He managed to push all the way through to the grand final while only losing a single game. It wasn’t as if he had easy competition, either. No, he swept the likes of Nicholas “NMW” Whittier, Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams, and Jason “Bizzarro Flame” Yoon before dropping a game to Drew “Drephen” Scoles in the winners’ final. Even though Austin “Azusa” Demmon gave him a run for his money in the grand finals, Cal still walked away with the 3-2 victory.
It wasn’t even the simple fact that he picked up the win against these players, but it was in the fashion in which he did it. Using Fox in every game, he played with an aggressive style that seemed to catch the pros off guard at every moment. Cal wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with these players, even going for high-risk/high-reward plays that sometimes didn’t pan out. When they did come out in his favor, which was the case in the majority of these instances, he was usually rewarded with a stock for his troubles. This youngster from Ohio will certainly be one to look out for going forward.