Friday Surpise: APEX 2016

Hello all! First off, if you would like to support me and what I do, getting THREE ARTICLES A WEEK on Melee-related history and content, I implore you to support my Patreon!

Second off, this is the first in a new series that I could not come up with a good name for, so I’m just going with “Friday Surprise”. In this series, I will randomize a page on either Liquipedia or Smash Wiki, and do an article on whatever shows up (as long as it’s within the topics I would cover). This is the first one, and I hope y’all enjoy it!


 

APEX was once a prestigious tournament series, home to some of the greatest and most storied moments in Smash’s history, across all games. Reaching record attendance numbers and seemingly growing with every year, there appeared to be nothing that could stop it. That is, except APEX itself. The tournament was well-known for its abundance of problems, from both an organizing standpoint and behind the scenes. There had been many cases of difficult problems occuring in years past, from late running pools to fire hazards. However, despite all that, Smashers kept coming, maybe because it was the only place that gave them that true supermajor. That all changed in 2015.

Despite being another incredible tournament spectator-wise, among the greatest of all-time, APEX 2015 matched that with equally historic breakdowns beyond the curtain. The head of the team, Alex Strife, had his own issues finally catch up to him amid some sexually related criminal activity, but yet the tournament continued without him. No, the real kicker was when the original venue itself collapsed. If it weren’t for a freak towel on a fire alarm, many Smashers may have been in that venue as the snow that lay upon it caused it to be increasingly unsafe. In the end, Twitch practically bailed out the Smash community, as the biggest tournament of the year was able to continue the next day in a new, superior venue, albeit with one less day to work. There’s so much more to this story that could be delved into (and will be in the future), but…this tournament isn’t our story today.

Our story is what had to follow.

The following year, APEX returned, sporting a new time of year as to not overlap the returning GENESIS series, and was aiming to be another major, or at least a large regional. However, the tourney would mark a vast departure of talent from the once lofty franchise, and APEX would fade into obscurity, as this would be the last entry it ever saw.

The tournament continued to host a variety of different games, including Melee, Smash Wii U, Smash 64, Street Fighter V and Pokken Tournament. APEX always strived to move beyond its Smash-centered origins, though it never truly worked out. It was held in the same venue that saved the tourney last year, and thus had a remarkable amount of open space to house a plethora of players. In the end, though, the total attendance fell to less than a third of the previous iteration, capping at just over 500 attendees. 159 of those people entered Melee singles, and while there was a vast decrease, a handful of top players made their way to the convention center. Mew2King was the obvious favorite, being the far and away first seed, while The Moon, now known as La Luna, was the expected partner in Grand Finals. Other top contenders included the likes of DJ Nintendo, longtime veteran of the scene, and the New England Peach main Mafia, who was beginning to truly come into his own, recently getting 2nd at the NE Invitational with a double elimination of Slox. There was definitely a battle for 2nd to be had, but 1st was obvious. Time to see the bracket:

Round 1 of pools went off without a hitch, and, aside from an early exit from strong Delaware Fox main Snacks!, very few notable upsets. The only other interesting case would be TheSWOOPER, a fairly new Samus main who was just beginning to find himself, sent longtime Falcon main Dunk to loser’s early, before dropping to loser’s himself against Link main, 20XXTE and Doki Doki Literature Club creator Dan Salvato. Round 2 pools would be where the intriguing matchups began to get underway:

Jflex vs. Stango

Jflex was a strong Tristate Sheik main, who had been around for years formerly as JSex before a relatively recent tag change. He would perform possibly his best year yet in the game, eventually being ranked 95th in the world at the year’s end SSBMRank. This, however, would be a stumbling block for him, as he would lose to the fast rising Lawn Chair, now known by many as Stango. Before Stango was an easy pick for the Top 100, he was just an up and coming Marth main with a stupid tag. Just prior to this tournament, he had risen incredibly, going from #5 in Philadelphia to #1 in just a couple months. He would continue his quick rise to stardom with a stunning upset over the powerful Sheik player. This, however, would not be the end of his run.

G$ vs. Borp

Yes, the legendary techless god himself, Borp, graced us with his presence. He had won his pool with absolute ease, using his mastery of picking up on opponents’ habits and exploiting them through the bracket. This mini-Drephen attempted much the same against the old-school Falco/Marth known as G$, and kept it very close to the end. When the dust settled, however, it was the man who couldn’t edgeguard who felled the man who couldn’t wavedash.

Mafia vs. Stango

This win was certainly the big one for our Philly friend here. Mafia was certainly on the come up, being ranked 91st in the world by the end of 2015, and would later end this year as #50. He has several very impressive wins over this span, but of note would be his consistent dominance over La Luna. At every event they attended, Mafia would always seem to have the edge. This would continue for years to come, where even at Mafia’s lowest of lows, he would still find a way to beat even a La Luna who was on a hot streak. He seemed to be skilled at the Marth MU, but that wouldn’t help him today. Stango would use his rather unorthodox style, aggressively pushing against the Peach, and causing Mafia to break. He would swing his way to a powerful 3-1 victory, notching himself a Winner’s Semis appearance. This was almost certainly Stango’s breakout, and a great way to show himself off to the world.

G$ vs. PudgyPanda (9th)

PudgyPanda had been a slowly rising New Jersey Ice Climbers for about a year now, before finally bursting onto his local scene in the Spring, winning the NJ Arcadian and making his first appearance on their PR at 10th. This would almost certainly be his best win to date, especially at a non-local, as he defeated G$ in an extremely tight contest to get his first regional Top 8.

Minty vs. Jflex (9th)

Minty was a Samus main who had really been making a name for himself in the past several months, defeating Duck in the Samus ditto at the first Smash Con, as well as making Top 64 at GENESIS 3 and Top 8 at Super Nebulous 4. With wins over players like Medz, Slox, and Dizzkidboogie, Minty was one of the first names to truly put Long Island on the map. He would continue this here, with another stellar win over Jflex, 3-1, to move on to Top 8. And overall underwhelming performance for our Sheik friend.

Eventually, after a dominant win for Mafia over TheSWOOPER, and a soulcrushing stomping of Kaeon over Borp, the Top 8 was decided. It’s time to delve in.

Mafia would eventually defeat North Carolina turned Long Island Fox, Kaeon, 3-1, while Minty dispatched the up and coming PudgyPanda in a dominant 3-0, both for 7th place. In winner’s, Mew2King ended Stango’s Cinderella winner’s run in a decisive 3-0 victory.

La Luna vs. DJ Nintendo

On the other side of winner’s, however, was a more interesting matchup. The team usually known as Grab N Go faced off in Winner’s Semis, and the two were known to be frequent practice partners. While La Luna at this point was considered the better play, DJ would often give him trouble in bracket, consistently netting wins on him. In this tournament, however, La Luna won in a fairly commanding 3-1, sending his good friend to the loser’s bracket. He had a date with Mew2King in Winner’s Finals.

In a sad turn of events, Mafia would get his revenge on Stango in loser’s, mirroring Stango’s win with a 3-1 of his own. DJ Nintendo would also defeat Minty 3-1, leaving the expected Top 4 seeds where they were meant to be. Mew2King would also handily defeat La Luna, using both his Sheik and Marth to great effect.

Mafia vs. DJ Nintendo (4th)

In a rather peculiar battle, Mafia went toe-to-toe with the partner of a man he would go on to consistently defeat with DJ Nintendo. He would defeat DJ pretty convincingly in a 3-1, but what was interesting was DJ’s choice of characters. After losing the first two games with his typical main, Fox (including a really bad beatdown Game 2), DJ opted for a character he was recently working on with Pikachu. While back in the day Pikachu was known to be a counterpick against Peach thanks to early kills with up smash, notably by ChuDat, nowadays Peach was considered to strongly to win the matchup. DJ Nintendo, however, brought back the old school tactics well-known at the start of his career to shockingly take the game. He would then switch to his original main, Mario, for Game 4, another shocking choice, and one that would eventually cost him, ending his run at 4th.

La Luna vs. Mafia (3rd)

While in the future we would learn of the devastating counter Mafia was to La Luna, at this point it wasn’t quite as proven. Mafia had a garnered a couple wins over the top level Marth player, at the time ranked 28th in the world, but it wasn’t anything to be considered dominant, especially with how close the sets were. La Luna was likely still the favorite heading into this, considering the higher stakes of this bout in addition to his more prestigious standing. Despite this, however, Mafia won a hardfought four game set, with every one of those four going to the last stock. Mafia completed the upset, and sent La Luna home early at 3rd, kicking this winning streak into high gear.

Mafia would go on to lose to Mew2King in another horrific 3-0 display from the God, giving M2K his first APEX victory. This may come as a shock, with Mew2King having entered Melee, Brawl, Project M and Smash Wii U at every single previous APEX where they existed. He would often suffer early losses, such as Wobbles and OCEAN at APEX 2012 for Melee and Brawl, or fall just short to other amazing players at either 2nd or 3rd place. One notable example of this being this infamous APEX 2013 Brawl Grand Finals against Salem, capping off the most unlikely run in any Smash game ever. Finally, however, he had done it. While it wasn’t as prestigious as the ones before it, it was definitely something the king could check off his bucket list. It was good he did it this time too, as this would be the final entry in the APEX series.

APEX 2016 was a surprisingly well-run event, likely due to the smaller than anticipated size, but it did indeed give some hope that the brand could bring itself back through consistent solid outings. This, however, never came to be, and was likely for the best. APEX was a tarnished brand after all the turbulence of the past, and one halfway decent regional wasn’t going to change what it had become. The ones who worked on the series have moved on, and it’s past for us to do so as well. APEX is a tournament series to be reflected upon and understood, in order to never make the same mistakes it did again. The 2016 iteration was the post-mortem, something to look back on and see what can happen to such a beloved series if steered in the wrong direction.

Let us never have another APEX. Let us tread lightly away from the top…so we never fall back down.

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