Wellington Invades SeaSideSmash - But Will They Take It?
On February 24th, 2024, Wellington Invades SeaSideSmash will take place. A one-day event featuring both Melee and Ultimate brackets, this tournament will feature the cream of the crop from Auckland, Wellington, and even Hamilton's local scenes duking it out. Many of the best players in Auckland haven't fought Wellington's talent in a very long time and vice versa, so this event will be a test of how well the players of their respective local scenes have developed. Let's look at the most noteworthy players taking this challenge on!
(If you're interested in watching, it'll be streamed from 11:30am NZDT on twitch.tv/nzsmash)

Auckland Defends

RenSoul LucasMiiSwordfighter
RenSoul has been one of the strongest players in Auckland since he started competing offline. Ranked 1st on the most recent Auckland PR, his technical combo game, mastery of the double-jump cancel zair, and raw ability to outplay any opponent makes him threatening for any opponent. His Mii Swordfighter even provides unexpected coverage for tricky matchups like Mr. Game & Watch.
He will likely be the first seed at this event - his seven-event winning streak in Auckland was only broken last week with surprise losses to ube and Twister3. A win here would cement his status as New Zealand's best player, following wins at Waikato Arena Rampage and Southern Cross Up last year.

ube GameAndWatchLucina
ube is another Auckland contender with a serious shot at taking it all. With his Mr. Game & Watch, originally developed as a Ridley counterpick turning into his full-time main, it seems unlikely that we'll see his Lucina at all on the 24th. Both his Mr. Game & Watch and Lucina have a patient, advantage-based playstyle that is a terror to behold. Having placed top 4 at every event he's entered since the acquisition of his new main, with wins on all of Auckland's best players, it could all come together in a single run to give him the event.
Currently ranked 2nd on Auckland's PR, this will be ube's first major NZ event since Docked & Loaded 2 two years ago, where he placed fourth. Can ube finally make it onto the podium at a major NZ event? This is his best shot yet.

Giantdad JokerCloud
Giantdad can be best described by one word - consistency. He hasn't taken a loss to a player outside his skill range since July last year. His Joker will almost certainly make top 8 at this event. That being said, he struggles against the top two in Auckland; could this event be where it changes? Giantdad, currently ranked #3 in Auckland, could take this opportunity to rise above the rest and become the best.

Aluf MarioCaptainFalcon
Aluf, a veritable legend of the NZ Smash scene who's been around since 2015, came into the new year with a mission.
Just. Play. Mario.
After sandbagging for much of 2023, and being ranked at just #4 on the Auckland PR as a result, Aluf has only picked Mario in tournament this year. The results? Set wins on Ulti kids RenSoul, ube and Twister3, with his Mario experience from Smash 4 and even Melee paying off. Aluf's secondary Captain Falcon could still come out in times of strife, but he seems dead-set on Mario going into the 24th. Despite being an outside pick, Aluf's strong 2024 results make him a contender to take it all. He is also a strong contender to take the Melee bracket, with a generally positive set record against Icies main CookBook. Ranked first on Mook's unofficial 2023 NZ Melee PR, Aluf could realistically take both brackets come Saturday.

timtam SteveWolfPiranhaPlantMinMin
timtam, a multi-character extraordinaire, has not yet signed up for the event on start.gg, but that's because he's the type of guy to sign up two days before the event to make more work for the seeders. He was the highest placing Aucklander at Wellington major Second Wind, with his Steve taking wins on IcyK, Big Red and AndrewSSB for a run to 4th place. timtam, an incredibly consistent player, tends to place between 3rd and 5th at every local he goes to. Him winning is unlikely, but a top 8 from timtam seems very likely. Ranked fifth on the Auckland PR, can his passive playstyle catch Wellingtonians and Aucklanders alike off-guard on the 24th?

Twister3 RidleyPyraMythra
Twister3 is terrifying to fight, and he knows it. With an explosion in results in 2024, placing in top 3 in the last 4 locals he's entered with wins on pretty much every notable Aucklander, Twister3 has gone from having no shot of taking it to having an outside shot at taking it. His Ridley, while still familiarly unhinged, is a lot less plain stupid, and should give anyone cause for concern when fighting it.
Unlike a lot of other Aucklanders in attendance, Twister3 has much more experience fighting Wellingtonians. Last year, he picked up wins on Smithereen (now Crayon Muncher) and mojobones, but took losses to IcyK and LooseGoose. Currently, Twister3 is ranked 6th on Auckland's PR - this tourney could be his proving ground to be ranked higher.

K dawg Jigglypuff
K dawg is here to show that solo Puff can do it. With a strong fifth place at the last SeaSideSmash he entered, K dawg is looking to reverse a recent slight slump in local results. With an incredibly patient neutral playstyle from being timtam's protege, K dawg could be the perfect counter for Wellington's more aggressive players.
At Second Wind last year, K dawg was eliminated by AlastairBL in winners in a frankly bad matchup for Puff, and fell in an unfortunate teamkill to Twister3 in losers. At Waikato Arena Rampage, he took a win on dingdongkid but lost to DuoFace in an unfortunate double jeopardy. K dawg, currently eighth on Auckland's PR, isn't here to loaf around - he's here to win.

Viiv YoshiDarkPit
Viiv is one of the two main TOs of this event alongside DaWests. But that doesn't mean that they aren't a player capable of making a run. At Second Wind last year, they took set wins over BoBert and travelling Sonic main AhMasTer, falling to Smithereen and LooseGoose for 9th. With their newly trained Dark Pit to deal with pesky swordfighters, Viiv could go on a tear at this event. They could show their rank of ninth on the Auckland PR to be outdated; they'll just have to do well here.

Wellington Invades

IcyK BowserByleth
time to write about myself in the third person
IcyK has been the best player in Wellington since early 2021. However, his long-awaited debut outside Wellington has come after his weakest start to a PR season in a while. With a losing record to AlastairBL and losses to Crayon Muncher and BoBert, it looked like AlastairBL was ready to take the #1 spot in Wellington. However, IcyK's Byleth counterpick has come in clutch for taking wins on AlastairBL and Crayon Muncher, and as a result, IcyK has taken first at the last three locals he's entered. With a win here, IcyK doesn't just want to prove that he's #1 in Wellington. He wants to prove that he's the best in the whole country, and a win on Auckland's best would confirm that.

AlastairBL Sora
AlastairBL has been #2 for almost as long as IcyK has been #1. These two players have reigned over Wellington for years, and with AlastairBL being a frequent flyer, it's no surprise to see him leading the invasion on the 24th. Recently, AlastairBL went exactly as seeded at GENESIS X, making it out of round 1 pools and taking NorCal Min Min Skeletal to the wire. His travelling has given him a lot of experience against Auckland - with wins on Aluf at Waikato Arena Rampage, and Christchurch's finest, Mina at Ōtautahi Onslaught, AlastairBL can take on anyone and come away with a win. It wouldn't be surprising to see him in top 4, top 3, or even grands, but coming away with a win will be a tough challenge. But that's what Alastair does - he faces tough challenges.

mojobones Bayonetta
mojobones, a Bayonetta player who came out of inactivity back in July to get right back to Wellington PR-level, has a strong change to outperform their seed. Auckland does not have a Bayonetta main, and mojobones has a strong history of beating out-of-region players, with their loss to Twister3 at SXU last year being their first loss to a northener in six sets. mojobones has a very solid shot at making top 8 at this event. Don't sleep on mojobones - it will be a mistake.

LooseGoose Ike
LooseGoose has a penchant for turning it up in the tourneys that matter the most. And yet, this is their debut outside Wellington, despite being an active player as early as 2019. From wins on Twister3 and Viiv to make top 8 at Second Wind, to a win on AlastairBL to make top 8 back at CCC 2021, LooseGoose is almost never seeded to make top 8, but they do. Will this tournament be a repeat for the consistent Wellington PR player? Time will only tell.

Unladen Daisy
Unladen is Wellington's strongest non-PR Ultimate player. With a close win at Down Underdog, to a dominant win at Down Underdog II, Unladen has won both Wellington arcadians so far. While a top 8 from Unladen is unlikely, Ultimate isn't his main game. That would be Melee, where he seems destined to place third with the current entrants. A win on Aluf or CookBook, while unlikely, would tip the balance massively, as the #8 Melee player in NZ taking a set off the top 2 is pretty unprecedented. But there's no saying it can't happen...

Widdershin Link
Widdershin is consistently just a little bit off. He's gone last hit with the cream of the crop in NZ like IcyK, AlastairBL and new arrival Mackarp, but never seems to take the sets. But if there's one time for this Link to take sets, it's this time. Widdershin, a player who has never been PR in Welly, taking sets off Auckland's PR would send shockwaves through the power balance of what scene is better, and what scene's depth is more impressive. But enough talk... what matters is whether he'll do it. And I wouldn't count him out.

Who Else is Invading?

solemn Palutena
solemn, a Canadian Palutena who recently moved to Northland, has one of the biggest x-factors out of all the attendees. The Vancouver Island native's fundamentally strong Palutena playstyle was able to take sets off Giantdad and Twister3, and he even took RenSoul to game 5 for fourth at his first Auckland local. With Wellington invading, it is hard to tell how well he'll do, but "well" seems to be a baseline. With his Canadian fans cheering him on, solemn has an outside shot to take it all.

DuoFace Lucas
DuoFace, the progenitor of the Lucas plague that extended across the whole North Island at one point, may not be as dedicated to Smash as he was during his incredible bracket runs in 2021, where he beat Big Red, knarf97, Bozzie and Lotus (all strong players back in 2021) to put Hamilton on the map. But he still has that dawg in him. Being a presence in top 8 at any major tournament he attends, will this tournament be the same? He hasn't faced off against Auckland's best in some time - this could be his chance to prove that he's still got it.

Squinnsher CaptainFalconDK
Squinnsher, the young Falcon main whose hyper-aggressive playstyle and early kills have got him on near-equal footing with DuoFace, is looking for a run. Auckland, a more patient region, may not be ready for the "we ball" playstyle that Squinnsher brings to the table, especially considering how much he's improved since his last Auckland tournament. His rivalry with K dawg is also a factor - taking another set to extend his lead in the head-to-head would be a statement, that's for sure.

CookBook IceClimbers
CookBook is the only player I've mentioned who isn't entering Ultimate. That's because the Hamilton native is one of the strongest Melee players in the country. His handoffs with the Ice Climbers are terrifying - he even invented a super-hard handoff technique and called it the "Cookhold". His set record with Aluf is in Aluf's favour, but their sets tend to go to the wire. CookBook is looking for a win here to prove himself as the best Melee player in New Zealand. Time will tell if he can climb that ladder, with just one rung left.


In conclusion, this event is sure to bring a lot of hype to the table. The buildup for this event has been insane, and in just one day, the 24th of February, the perceived strength of players may totally change. Until then, all we can do is wait and speculate. Hopefully you watch the stream at twitch.tv/nzsmash then!

by IcyK 02/19/2024 00:00:00

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