The European Smash Circuit (ESC) kicked off with a bang last weekend near Paris at HFLAN Melee edition. Previous editions of HFLAN have always included Smash but this weekend marked the first time the entire event was dedicated to the Smash games. While Melee was the main event, there were also side events for Smash Bros for Wii U(Smash4) and Project M, as well as a Salty Arena (exhibition matches) and a 3vs3 regional crew bracket. A comprehensive preview of the event was published last week so we’ll skip right to the results and most important upsets.
Participants in the ESC earn points based on their placements in Melee singles at the various qualifiers. Melee singles at HFLAN was unsurprisingly won by [A]rmada. With Leffen in the States to compete in Press Start and Ice opting to stay in Germany to attend DGSmash2, his Fox encountered little resistance and didn’t lose a game the entire tournament, nor did he feel forced to bring the Peach out. Considering such a dominating run, competing at HFLAN is an admirable decision by Armada as Press Start the same weekend had a 10k prize pool, but he opted to support the European scene instead.
The runner up spot was less certain and the question remained if a European player would get it. With the rest of the European top three not present, 4 players had the most likely shot and one of them was Zhu who came over from the US after a successful donation drive. The Europeans trusted to defend the continent were Amsah from The Netherlands, Tekk, Cyr and Baxon from France and UK’s top 2; Fuzzyness and VwS.Professor Pro.
Of those Europeans Amsah has the biggest history vs Zhu. They had a memorable set at Pound 4 after which Amsah went on to beat Jman and Armada. Amsah also won their second encounter at Pound V. Both were in NTSC however and question remained how they would fare in PAL. So much that a set between them was scheduled as part of the Salty Arena which was held on saturday evening. The set, that went to Zhu 3-2, was exciting to watch and a definite crowd pleaser but it was clear both were anticipating an encounter in brackets the next day. As fate would have it, they would meet the next day in winner’s semis. Having both been exposed to each others styles, the victory would go to the one with the most patience to play out his cards in the smartest way. Zhu started off their bracket set in a dominating fashion on Yoshi’s Story. Contrary to their Salty Arena set, he was more aggressive and efficient with his edge guards and gave Amsah little room to breath. Amsah counterpicked to Dreamland, where he 3 stocked Zhu in the Salty Arena. This time though it ended in a 2 stock by Zhu. On FoD Amsah started to gain control and secured his first win by a small margin. Having 3 stocked Amsah on FD in the Salty Arena, Zhu confidently picked it as counterpick which was his biggest mistake of the set. The match played out very differently from their earlier set. Amsah read most of his options, gave him little room to move and ended the match in a 3 stock. Zhu counterpicked to Battlefield where the match played out more even with them trading stocks. Amsah kept the advantage though and caught a ledge jump with a fair after which he ended it with a needle to fair gimp.
It would have been interesting to see how a 3rd set between them would have played out, but Zhu ended up falling to Tekk, Europe’s best Jigglypuff, who Amsah was lucky not to encounter this tournament. Here Zhu was clearly more affected by the differences in version. He started the set as Fox which didn’t go that badly, but he chose to continue the set as Falco after his first match loss. Tekk went on to play the matchups as he should, spacing just out of range and catching Zhu on his lag with efficient punishes and gimps. Tekk is also known not to fear pulling out the rest. At 1-1 he started to catch Zhu more on his rolls and techs and build a lead after Zhu was unable to punish a successful rest. Last game went even, but Tekk started to gain more control and this combined with 2 successful rests built him a lead that Zhu was unable to surmount. Tekk closed it out with a rest after a tech read on the right platform of Pokemon Stadium and ended the set 3-1. Thus Zhu’s run in his first European Melee singles tournament ended at a 5th place. His mentality is commendable though as instead of being a sore loser, it didn’t take long for him to compliment his opponent and commentate the rest of top 8 during in which he offered valuable input on the difference in play styles between the different continents, which he described as more patient and read based on the old school European side. A topic worth delving deeper into.
While the HFLAN team successfully kept the country’s top players apart in winners the unfortunate results is that many of them ended up eliminating each other in losers. Thus Fuzzyness ended up eliminating Vanity Angel after which he lost to Professor Pro. Tekk on the other side eliminated Cyr after he himself had to eliminate Baxon. Tekk went on to beat Zhu and then encounter Professor Pro. Pro seemed to be more experienced at the matchup then Zhu is. Tekk took the first game. Prof however managed to hold on to more stocks the second game and evened the score. 3rd game he again built a lead through an efficient laser and punish game. Tekk managed to bring it to one stock after a successful jab reset to rest and then won the game with an edgehog. Prof evened it up on FD with a efficient run and gun game that ended in a 3 stock. Last game on Dreamland went even but Prof gradually built more of a lead and ended the set with a sweet spot bair ending the set 3-2.
While it wasn’t total domination, Amsah was unable to take a game from Armada’s Fox and thus ended up playing losers finals vs Professor Pro. This was their first encounter ever in a tournament, so it was a set many were looking forward to. In the weeks leading up to it Leffen had talked some smack about Amsah on stream, citing Prof as the one with the most recent better results. Their encounter at HFLAN ended up going 3-1 to Amsah though and while Prof seemed to adapt as the set progressed and won a game on FD, it never appeared in his favor.
Grand Finals played out in a similar fashion as winner finals with Amsah managing to tie the stock count on several occasions but never able to win the match.
Teams was won by Armada and Zhu, making it Zhu’s first European tournament win. Amsah and Vanity Angel finished 2nd and UK’s best; Fuzzyness and Professor Pro took 3rd.
Melee also had a Salty Arena on saturday as well as 3vs3 regional crew bracket. Crews was won by France (Tekk, Baxon, Mahie) over the UK(Professor Pro, Fuzzyness, Deathgazer) but it’s worth mentioning that apart from the UK many countries lacked the majority of their top players and even the UK and France lacked one of their top 3. Other countries that participated in the crew brackets where Switzerland(Jah Ridin, Poney, Shloub), The Netherlands(Amsah, Jim Morrrison, Avalancer) and Germany(Jonas, Mawacate, Charon). There’s an opportunity at a more stacked crew battle at Heir this August, who have dedicated the entire Friday prior to the event for side events like these.
Aside from the Amsah vs Zhu set, Salty Arena also featured a set of Zhu vs Baxon, a highly anticipated Falco ditto. Both players have the utmost respect for each other so were very eager to face off. In a set filled with impressive combos from both sides and constant momentum swings it ended up going 3-2 to Baxon after they were both on their last stock.
HFLAN housed singles side events for Project M and Smash4 but these were limited in turnout due to the requirement of having to register for Melee singles. This requirement was put in place to allow 256 players to compete in Melee singles. Both side events had of cap of 128 players.
Project M with 56 signed up suffered the least of this requirement with many of the Melee players already in attendance. Armada won the tournament but it wasn’t nearly as one sided. In fact the runner up Professor Pro was close to resetting the bracket before Armada managed to turn the set around and close it out. Prof’s Snake was more impressive to watch, constantly surprising Armada with sneaky stickies, smart positioned mines and well executed setups to C4 detonates near the top and the occasional fair spike. Armada used to play an impressive Pit, but after nerfs opted to stick to Fox for both games. Leon, one of France’s best brawl players and top PM player, finished 4th after he lost to a Prof in a Snake ditto in winners and was eliminated by Fuzzyness his Falcon. Fuzzyness finished 3th and Mahie and Zen 5th.
Smash 4 had the smallest turnout (33) and lacked many of the European top players like LLL.Mr-R for example. The event was won by Leon. Gluttony took 2nd and Griffith finished 3rd. Clade finished 4th and Yoren and Felker each ended at a 5th place.
Overall response to HFLAN was positive. Like many Smash tournaments the tournament ran behind schedule but as it was two days, they wrapped up top 8 in the nick of time. The venue of HFLAN was impressive and fitting for a first ESC qualifier, in fact the other events in the line-up have their work cut out for them. Head over to the event page for the results and to SaltyPlayground’s Youtube channel for all the matches. Lastly, don’t forget to sign-up for the second qualifier Heir II The Throne in Nottingham, UK. As a 3 day event with 300 beds in a grade II listed building it’s looking to be amazing.
Photographs taken by Seya. Thanks to LLL.Remen for help with the article.