Three takeaways from the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals
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The second phase of the Smash World Tour has come to an end, with five more players qualifying for the global finals at the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals. With competitors from the East Asia South Online Qualifier unable to attend due to travel restrictions, 16 Japanese competitors duked it out for the few remaining slots.

Here’s an overview of the biggest takeaways from the circuit’s last Regional Finals.

ProtoBanham is back on top of Japan

Since earning his first major victory at Kagaribi 4 in June, “ProtoBanham” has been one of Japan’s most dominant Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players. For a period of four months, he won multiple tournaments and placed in the top three of every event he entered. This hot streak fizzled at Kagaribi 5 in October, where ProtoBanham placed fifth. However, he wasted no time climbing back to the top with his first-place finish at the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals.

ProtoBanham finished second in his pool, beating both “Rido” and “Keroguchi” 3-1, while losing a five-game set to Shuto “Shuton” Moriya. But, his play only got better as he progressed through the main bracket. In winners quarters, ProtoBanham defeated “Harasen” 3-1. After his Lucina lost game 1 to “Lea” in winners quarters, ProtoBanham turned to Min Min and won the next three games.

In winners finals, ProtoBanham rematched Shuton. Unlike their pools set, winners finals ended in a commanding 3-0 win for ProtoBanham. Kengo “KEN” Suzuki created some trouble for ProtoBanham in grand finals. ProtoBanham lost the first set, winning a single game as Min Min while losing the rest of his games as Lucina. However, he stuck solely to Min Min in the second set, enabling him to 3-0 KEN and win the tournament.

Alice beats out tough competition to narrowly qualify

At the Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier, “alice” just failed to qualify, placing third in a last chance qualifier where the top two advanced. However, he got a second chance after the non-Japanese players were unable to make it to the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals. As one of eight new invitees, alice flipped the script by narrowly making the cut for the global finals.

Alice had a rocky start to the tournament since he was placed in a difficult pool. He finished last in his pool after predictably losing to KEN, Gakuto “Gackt” Ito and Takuto “Kameme” Ono. However, alice piloted multiple characters to success on his losers run to fifth place.

Using Sephiroth, alice eliminated a pair of Ice Climbers mains, defeating “murasat” 3-2 and “Harasen” 3-1. Then, he used Chrom to earn a 3-1 victory over Gackt, one of the players who had beaten him in pools. After losing 3-0 to KEN, alice still had to face Rido in a tiebreaker match to advance to the global finals. After five back-and-forth games, alice’s Roy ultimately came out on top, securing alice a spot at the SWT Championships.

Rido has the best performance of the wi-fi warriors at the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals

Although he’s best known as a wi-fi warrior, Rido underperformed at the online qualifier, failing to qualify for the regional finals. But, like alice, Rido got another shot as one of the invitees to replace the non-Japanese competitors. In an unexpected showing, the Link main made an impressive losers run to finish in sixth place.

Though he lost to ProtoBanham and Shuton in his round robin pool, Rido still managed to earn a 3-1 win against Keroguchi. In the main bracket, he eliminated “HIDE” 3-1, two-stocking his opponent in every game he won. From there, Rido ran through a bracket of established offline threats.

He eliminated “HERO” 3-1, then came up against Kameme, who peaked at No. 11 in the world on the Fall 2019 PGRU. Even after getting three-stocked by Kameme’s Sora in game 1, Rido managed to bounce back. Though Kameme switched to Mega Man by the end of the set, Rido still came out on top 3-2. From there, Rido barely missed out on qualification after losing 3-2 to both Lea and alice. Even so, he proved that he knows what it takes to win both online and offline.

Looking ahead

Since the qualified players from the East Asia South Ultimate Online Qualifier could not attend the SWT East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals, Timothy “XIFL” Chan received an automatic invitation as the winner of the online qualifier. In addition, the following five Japanese players qualified for the global finals:

  • ProtoBanham
  • KEN
  • Shuton
  • Lea
  • alice

The final eight slots for both Melee and Ultimate at the SWT Championships will be up for grabs at the in-person last chance qualifier on Dec. 17.

Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.