Three takeaways from the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals
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More than five months after its debut Super Smash Bros. Ultimate event, the Smash World Tour has finally delivered its first Melee tournament of the year. Sheik mains Juan “JCAM” Alcedo and Fernando “Far!” Dórame Ruiz qualified for the global finals following their performances at the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Smash World Tour’s premiere Melee event.

Central America wins the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals

Despite the tournament’s name, the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals were hardly Central American. The event took place in Mexico and featured only two non-Mexican competitors: Panama’s JCAM and Puerto Rico’s Kevin “Kata” Rivera Bonilla. Nevertheless, JCAM out-placed a slew of higher-seeded Mexican competitors on his path to first place.

JCAM kicked off his round robin pool by defeating Yu “Yu” Okada 3-1 and “DASH” 3-0. He then put his tech chasing capabilities on full display as he scored a 3-1 upset over Javier “Javi” Ruiz in order to finish as the top seed in his pool.

Throughout top eight, JCAM got to show off his proficiency in the Sheik ditto, as he exclusively faced fellow Sheik mains. This run started with a 3-0 win over Azael “Aza” Mares in winners semis. Then, in winners finals, JCAM solidly beat Far! 3-1. Although Far! started on a better foot in grand finals by winning the first game, JCAM proceeded to win the next three. He even finished the final game with a two-stock to cement his status as Central America’s top competitor heading into the global finals.

Far! stands out among the top seeds

Mexico’s top-ranked players largely underperformed at the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals. Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincón lost to Victor “PanterA” Salgado. Jonathan “Bimbo” Rocha lost to Aza and Javi lost to JCAM. As a result, these top seeds all finished second in their pools and started the main bracket on losers side.

But, amidst a stream of upsets, Far! remained consistent. He emerged at the top of a competitive pool, beating Rael “Rael” Alvarez Valdez 3-1, Ricardo “Dream” C. 3-0 and Kata 3-1. As a result, Far! was the only one of the four first seeds to actually finish first in his pool.

Far! kept up the pace in top eight with a convincing 3-0 over PanterA. After losing his first set to JCAM, Far! dropped to losers finals and faced Bimbo; a top 50 player and the only Mexican ranked on the 2019 MPGR. However, the disparity in rank did not discourage him. Far! swept Bimbo 3-0 to secure his spot at the global finals before falling to JCAM again in grand finals.

Mexico’s first champion has fallen from grace

Javi put Mexico on the map with his breakout performance at Apex 2012, where his Fox bested the likes of Daniel “KoreanDJ” Jung, Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami and Kevin “PPMD” Nanney en route to fourth place. He last appeared in the top 100 at 37th on the 2016 SSBMRank. This was in large part due to a decrease in international competition since then. Even so, Javi was awarded with the first seed in his pool thanks to his continued presence as one of Mexico’s best Melee players.

However, his lack of recent activity seemed to spell trouble for Javi at the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals. While he solidly beat both DASH and Yu, he faltered against the lower seeded JCAM in his round-robin pool. As a result, Javi finished second in his pool, advancing to the main bracket on losers side with a Round 1 bye.

In his top eight qualifier match, Javi faced off against Samus main Kata. He won Game 1 with Sheik; a secondary he also used against Samus main DASH in pools. But, after Kata bounced back to win Game 2, Javi tried out his Fox. When this failed, he switched back to Sheik, only to have Kata finish off the set 3-1. As a result, a pair of upset losses left Mexico’s former best player in ninth place at the SWT Central America Melee Regional Finals.

Looking ahead

JCAM and Far! will join Vicente “Chape” Sánchez and Rodrigo “HP” Hinojosa at the Melee Global Finals later this year. The Smash World Tour’s next stop, the Europe Ultimate Regional Finals, will take place from Sept. 18-19.

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.