ONTARIO, Canada -- After three days of intense competition, Jason "Anti" Bates ended an extended title drought by taking the Get On My Level 2017 championship for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U over Larry "Larry Lurr" Holland.
Get On My Level 2017 was the fourth installment in an annual series of Canadian Super Smash Bros. tournaments. A total of 1107 entrants congregated at the International Center in Mississauga to compete in the event, 446 of which were for Smash Wii U.
The weekend gave way to two unforgettable storylines: the rise of an oft-underappreciated character loyalist and the comeback of a fan-favorite pro.
We Like Ike
Few professionals consider Ike a viable pick in competitive play. Fewer actively use the character in tournaments, citing poor mobility and a lack of options. The handful of Ike specialists remaining have even added secondaries to their arsenal as of late as a way to cover his shortcomings.
Enter Sanford "San" Johnson.
One of Upstate New York's finest, San's story dates back to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In a game where a select set of characters were seen at the top level, he defied boundaries by placing ninth with Ike at Apex 2010, which at the time was the holy grail of competitive Smash. He, along with Tommy "Ryo" Janky, have been behind a sizable percentage of the character's best results.
Heading into the weekend, San was not expected to place highly for a number of reasons. Aside from the slew of international-level talent in attendance, Ike's place in the metagame has been dwindling as of late. That, coupled with San's lack of out-of-state showings, made him a favorite for no one. What's even worse is that he was faced with something most competitors consider a death sentence: being sent to the loser's bracket in the pools phase.
Yet San persevered. Throughout the competition, he ran through a gauntlet stacked with Canada's best, including but not limited to Maxime "Deathorse" Charron, Chris "Chrim Foish" Fisch and Kelsy "SuperGirlKels" Medeiros, to make it into losers semifinals. And while San was then eliminated in fourth place by eventual 1st runner-up Larry Lurr, such a feat sparked conversations about Ike once more and showed what the character can do in the right hands.
Once a competitor in the running for best-in-the-world, Anti's results suffered a slight downgrade over the past season. The New York-based veteran failed to break into the top eight at many majors he'd attended and even lost his Community Effort Orlando title in June.
After a middling 25th place finish at Evo however, he seemed to have shaken off his slump entirely by placing fifth at Dreamhack Atlanta, the first Panda Global Rankings S-Tier event of the season. This set into motion the events that would unfold last weekend.
While Anti was by no means the heavy favorite to win the tournament, he tore through the bracket with little trouble up until winners finals. Even then, the 16-year-old Bayonetta prodigy Mistake, fresh from dominating Larry Lurr in winners semis, could only take Anti to the last game as he secured a spot in the grand finals.
Larry Lurr, who had defeated Mistake in a losers finals runback, made short work of Anti's Cloud. Anti however, was unshaken and took two consecutive games following a switch to his signature Mario. Though Larry Lurr managed to take one last round, a recollected Anti clutched out a game five win and ended their bout with a 3-2 score.
Through a convincing victory at Get On My Level 2017, Anti secures his first major title of the year.
The question is: can Anti carry this momentum into more success this season?