Melee report: SANick races to BAM8 crown
IN the shadows of BAM7, with curtains closed on the international saga, Australia’s melee super major ushered in a new storyline this year as the local crowd took centre stage.
There were no ‘gods’ in play, no MIOM top 20 stars, just Australia and New Zealand’s best battling it out for the coveted boxing glove trophy.
In eventual champion Nick ‘SANick’ Siemelink’s mind the script had already been written, all he had to do was follow it.
Forced to ad-lib through the loser’s bracket, following a shock loss to ACT Ice Climber main Wibbles, SANick ultimately arrived at the final act he’d anticipated – a clash of light versus dark – good against evil.
There was nothing coincidental about the South Australian champion’s choice of white when he sat down to Marth ditto Te-Tuhi ‘SIN | Spud’ Kelly in grand finals of BAM8.
As far as he was concerned it was a pre-ordained finale to a story arc harking back two years to when his melee journey began.
“I like my little story arcs in my life. It just felt like it was meant to be I should play the white Marth,” SANick said.
“I spent a lot of time on green and blue Marth and I actually quite like black Marth but I thought at the end of the day there’s going to be a good versus evil battle (against Spud’s black Marth) for the heart of Australia.”
There was never any doubt in his mind as to who the hero of this story was.
“I was putting a lot of emphasis on BAM personally. I have this protagonist complex a lot of people have, but I have it pretty hardcore,” SANick said.
“I just felt in my mind, I’d been playing for two years, coming up on my anniversary, this was a story arc in my life and I anticipated I would win. I had a lot riding on that mentally. If you believe something is going to happen really hard and it doesn’t it’s very disheartening.”
His belief was vindicated after a 3-1 bracket reset and subsequent 3-1 set win over the New Zealand native-cum-Perth resident, but nothing came easily against the wonder kid who made his name a year prior by defeating American star Alex19 on the same stage.
Though SANick is renowned as a methodical and cerebral player, more akin to a chess grand champion than cage fighter, white did not make the first move against black in this battle of wits.
A prompt four stock victory in game one by Spud left SANick on the back foot and the crowd deflated.
Unshaken by the rocky opening, SANick recovered quickly to take the next three games and force a bracket reset.
A notoriously poor game one player, who dropped his round one Marth ditto in top 64 by three stocks to Western Australian sundowns, SANick knew what was necessary to turn the tide.
“I didn’t really feel like I had a choice other than to just play better. It was pretty dark, the crowd was just dead (thinking) ‘oh it’s going to be one of these (finals)’ – I didn’t want to let people down.
“The first game was kind of how I felt the set was going to be, I was just going to get destroyed off everything, but I figured some things out.
“I rely heavily on knowing player habits. I definitely picked up on some of his habits and started doing better. I needed to have a better read on him than he did on me because his punish game is better and my DI was awful, I DIied hard in on everything.
“Honestly I thought Spud was the best player at the tournament, (but) I knew if I outsmarted him and got the reads I could still win, I still believed I would win.
“I was relieved (when I won). It was a lot easier than I thought to be honest.”
While he clinched the title, it was far from smooth sailing for the tournament’s top seed.
He had to recover from a three stock to one deficit in the deciding game of his first Sunday match, and had the players he considered the greatest threats – Rainbow and Spud – on his side of the bracket.
As it turned out he would face neither opponent on winner’s side.
Eventual fourth place finisher and winner of the ‘most improved’ medal for 2016, Wibbles shocked everyone by sending SANick into losers early.
After giving up a stock lead in game four and being wobbled off the main stage, SANick admitted his mentality was poor before, during and following the set.
“I just don’t think I had a very good mentality going into the set. I didn’t know how to play the matchup, but I thought I’d figure it out and just better player my way through it. Obviously it didn’t work out like that, I got frustrated,” SANick said.
“While I won game one and looked as though he made adaptations, it’s much easier to make the adaptations when you know the flowcharts.
“Most people only have one real strategy against Ice Climbers, especially in Australia we only really have Deeks, so if you don’t have much experience against a mid tier you go into it with one strategy you think works and I think Wibbles did a good job figuring out what one strategy people like to go for.”
Luckily for SANick he got the perfect next round opponent to recompose.
“I ran into Azri and no matter how hard I tried there was no way I could lose that set. I was walking around, doing random F-smashes, obviously BMing, I couldn’t lose it,” he said.
“I literally spent the whole set thinking about Wibbles, teeming about it. I could practice for a whole year, come back and still not know the ICs matchup.”
He defeated Azri and followed up with a scrappy but comfortable win over New South Wales Falco main MC, who had just caused an upset to send Rainbow out in ninth.
Then came a test against Queensland’s Smoking Puppy, who has held the edge in their previous head-to-head encounters.
This time SANick was able to get one back on the flashy fox to set up a rematch against Wibbles in loser’s semis.
Some unwelcome advice from all comers proved useful in the runback.
“Random scrubs came up and tried to explain the matchup to me in steps,” he said.
“I just got it battered into my head I needed to fair, down tilt and kill Nana. Those were the three steps.
“I got very frustrated with random Marth guy or Sheik player over there telling me ‘all you have to do is fair’. As it turned out all I did have to do was fair.”
With a more focused game plan SANick advanced to loser’s finals, where he emerged victorious in a tight five game set against Victoria’s last man standing S.D.
“I spent the whole set against Wibbles really zoned in, really knowing my goals and having to execute them and punish really hard for every mistake,” he said.
“Once I got to S.D I was still in that zone… and I know the plan much better against Fox which I was able to execute very well.”
For the first time in his career, SANick went into grand finals with the crowd at his back.
When all the dust settled, his victory was met with another first.
“I think that may be the first SA Nick chant there’s even been, so that was nice. I had Russell TLM going nuts in the crowd, S.D, Miles,” he said.
“I was very zoned in, I didn’t concentrate on the crowd… (but) I felt a duty to play better when the crowd was on my side.
“For a lot of people maybe that would have caused them to choke, but I knew I had to get it done.”
Thankful to have an all-Australian tournament, after Smash 4 invitee and proficient melee Samus main ESAM pulled out late, SANick said Australia’s single super major syndrome put more pressure on his performance.
“Absolutely. It’s for all the marbles. One of the interesting quirks about the Australian scene comes down to BAM being a yearly tournament. You don’t see American players choke to the same degree or trash talk to the same degree, they’ve got something else to work for, you can’t hold that win forever,” he said.
“I think Australia is getting to that point with a few smaller majors on, you can’t just rest on BAM.
“That was my first thought on the bus home. I wasn’t that satisfied, I was like ‘I’ve got to beat this guy next time’.”
The message is clear – stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Australian smash.
1st: SANick (South Australia)
2nd: Sin | Spud (Western Australia/New Zealand)
3rd: S.D (Victoria)
4th: Wibbles (ACT)
5th: Smoking Puppy (Queensland)
5th: Redact (Victoria)
7th: DonB (Victoria)
7th: MC (New South Wales)
9th: Rainbow (New South Wales)
9th: MM | Skeletom (Victoria)
9th: Quetz (Western Australia)
9th: Azri (Victoria)
Reverse four-stock for Dekar
Memories: When Dekar and Syke met at BAM 2012 it spawned some salt.
WHEN a match which could have been grand finals in years past comes in round one losers of top 64 you know the competition is tough.
To the delight of the fans Victorian champion Dekar had dusted off his controller to enter the singles bracket but suffered a shock loss in pools to Sheik main Buster.
After winning the runback using his former main Jigglypuff, Dekar was pitted against Queensland stalwart Syke, who dropped his first round bracket match to ACT Joe on Sunday.
Last time the two met in major competition Syke ragequit against Dekar’s Falcon, and anticipation was high for the rematch.
When the two big names of Australian melee met again, sparks flew.
Syke claimed the first game against Dekar’s Falcon, and set about dismantling the host state’s hero in game two on Battlefield.
Some brutal tippers and edgeguard setups allowed Syke to build a four stock to one lead with only 21 per cent to his name, before Dekar pulled some magic out of his bag of tricks.
A knee here, an up air string there and suddenly stocks were tied at one apiece.
Syke was unable to close out some edgeguard opportunities late in the game and Dekar achieved the reverse four stock to keep the set alive.
Dekar then clutched out game three on Pokemon Stadium to move on.
He would ultimately finish 17th after losing to Quetz later in bracket.
No pot of gold for Rainbow
MANY tipped New South Wales Peach main RJ ‘Rainbow’ Saycon Alegre to take the singles title prior to the tournament.
Armed with a brutal punish game and solid matchup spread, Rainbow began his march emphatically before meeting Sin | Spud in winner’s quarter-finals.
Rainbow won their previous encounter at NSW major Town and Sydney last year, but the Kiwi came armed with some new tricks this time out.
A well-executed zoning and combo game allowed Spud to take a 2-0 lead with wins on Battlefield and Final Destination, as Rainbow looked stumped for an answer to the Marth’s measured ground game.
An improved effort from Rainbow put him ahead in game three until an untimely missed recovery brought about a last stock situation for both players.
The fates tried to intervene, giving Rainbow two bombs from turnip pulls on the final stock, but Spud narrowly evaded both to end the set with a high percentage up throw off the top.
Rainbow then went down 2-3 to fellow New South Welshman MC in his next match to bow out in ninth.
Wibble your wobbles away
FEW outside of the ACT would have expected Ice Climber main Wibbles to make a splash at BAM8.
Seeded low and with a nightmare bracket for his main in store, Wibbles shocked everyone to finish fourth at a stacked Australian major.
He began his top 64 run with a 2-1 win over Queensland Captain Falcon AussieRob in one of the climbers’ worst matchups.
To prove it was no fluke Wibbles backed it up with a second consecutive win over a proficient Falcon, this time 3-1 over Skeletom.
Forgoing several opportunities to close out stocks with the climbers’ grab infinite ‘the wobble’ in favour of stylish hand off and chain grab options, Wibbles rode the momentum to defeat top seed SANick 3-1 in winner’s quarters.
A defiant winners’ run ended at the hands of Sin | Spud, who successfully negotiated the CF/ICs matchup in a 3-1 set.
Wibbles then defeated Victorian Redact, who turned in one of his best performances in recent times to place fifth, before being eliminated in fourth by SANick.
His great showing was rewarded with the most improved medal for 2016.
State against state, mate against mate
Guns blazing: NSW defeated QLD in the state crew battle final.
NEW South Wales fell short of expectations in the singles bracket, but claimed regional bragging rights with victory in the crew battle competition on Friday night.
Led by ruthless Peach main Rainbow, who was at his menacing best throughout the single elimination bracket, NSW made short work of South Australia in round one as Falcon main Cunchy extinguished anchor SANick in the final match.
Falco main MC came to the fore against Victoria, eliminating both RedX and DonB for a total of eight stocks, before Rainbow’s two stock victory over S.D gave NSW an unassailable lead.
Skeletom showed glimpses of magic, finishing Rainbow and taking three stocks from Fox main Sora, but the early carnage proved too much damage control for the Falcon fan-favourite.
Top seed Queensland made a promising start to the final but again Rainbow proved the difference by taking nine stocks to bring home the victory.
Old guard doubles up
VETERAN duo Syke and S.D took out the BAM8 doubles title with an unbeaten winner’s side run.
The Victoria/Queensland combination, which has enjoyed major team success in the past, defeated Victorian pair Atticus and Splice 3-1 in grand finals.
The experienced team was pushed hard by last minute pairing Rainbow in Kaiza in a game five set earlier in the bracket after scraping home 2-1 against West Australian team Spud and Sundowns in the preliminary rounds.
3rd: sundowns/Sin | Spud