Elliot “Ally” Bastien Carroza-Oyarce poured coffee from his thermos into a cup, and took a sip to calm his nerves. On the stage inside the Las Vegas Convention Center, he was in the Grand Finals of Evolution 2016 for Super Smash Bros for Wii U. The difference between victory and defeat was $10,000 in payout. Next to him was Takuto “Kamemushi” Ono, a Japanese Mega Man player. Ally had defeated Kamemushi in winners final just over an hour ago and would need a repeat performance to secure EVO’s crown.
Kamemushi started the set by switching characters. Rather than use his Mega Man, which had dazzled the audience with spectacular combos but had already lost to Ally, he locked in Yoshi. Ally wasn’t fazed and closed the first game quickly. Kamemushi shook his head and went back to his Mega Man, and the real fight began. After three intense matches, Ally took Kamemushi’s final stock and leapt into the air. He made history; he secured the highest payout of any Smash player with $15,972. He won as a free agent and was the first Canadian to win an EVO Championship in any game. These are more additions to his steadily growing achievement list, and places him at the precipice of making 2016 his year.
The competitive scene of Smash 4 has taken on a new look. Last year it was dominated by a single man: Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios. With a tournament win streak over 50, including a run through EVO 2015 where he did not lose a single game, ZeRo was the undisputed king. Him losing a set, let alone a game, was enough to get the community’s attention. Now, after ZeRo sat out a few months due to an injury and balance changes to the game, Smash for Wii U is developing an upper echelon of players that are not second best to ZeRo, but stand beside him as rivals.
Ally’s career Super Smash Bros series is nearly eight years old and spans three titles. When Smash 4 came out, Ally picked up Mario, a character many considered to be mid-tiered. Ally won several regionals but failed to secure a national title during ZeRo’s reign.
The scene has constantly reevaluated its tier list as Nintendo issued patches that drastically changed the game. Top tiers like Sheik, Zero Suit Samus, and Diddy Kong lost much of their power, while some low tiers were buffed dramatically, such as MewTwo. By May, some argued Mario was approaching the top 10 best characters because the character had been left untouched while the top tiers were nerfed. Ally did not seem to agree because the character lacked success at national events.
— C9Ally (@AllyOrNotAlly) May 19, 2016
Three days after that tweet, Ally won his first national with Mario at Get On My Level 2 after defeating ZeRo in the grand final. He then took Smash N’ Splash 2, beating ZeRo several times to secure victory, and now EVO. His performances have been convincing, with few sets coming down to the wire. When Ally is on point, few are able to hold a candle. Even with that, of course, Ally still considers expanding his character pool to further improve. “I really just need to pick up Diddy to cover Mario’s meh Matchups and I could even be more consistent,” he tweeted.
Of course, Ally is nowhere close to matching ZeRo’s dominance from 2015. At CEO, he finished in 49th place after losing a Mario mirror match to Dustin “Zenyou” Rice in the loser bracket. Still, Ally could be considered the best in Smash 4, but a few pointed to Samuel “Dabuz” Robert Buzby as another contender.
Across 17 tournaments this year, Dabuz has finished outside of the top eight only twice, with his lowest placing being 13th at KTAR XVII. This consistency led some to consider Dabuz as the best in the world. Ally could match that consistency, were it not for his startling placement at CEO 2016. Ally has attended six more tournaments than Dabuz, though, and at the premier tournaments, or tournaments where a majority of the other notable competitors entered, Ally did markedly better. (Aside from CEO).
Historically, Dabuz holds the advantage in the head-to-head with Ally. This suggests that if the two were to meet in a tournament, Dabuz would edge out. That changed, however, at EVO. In the top 32, Ally bested Dabuz in a concise 2-0 that sent Dabuz to losers. Dabuz managed to make it to top 8 on losers side, but he didn’t go far enough to rematch Ally.
With that duel at EVO being their only meeting on 1.1.16, Ally provides the evidence that he can beat Dabuz in Smash for Wii U’s current state. That, along with the crown of EVO, the most prestigious major of them all, and his better performances at stacked tournaments, firmly gives Ally control of the title of best.
How long can he keep it?
Cover photo: Screenshot