CSL Smash Eastern Divisional Finals Recap

Now that our 16 locals and eight regionals have all come and gone, the start of spring has ushered in the semifinal round of the CSL Smash circuit--divisional finals.


Only four teams for Melee and Smash 4 in each quadrant of the map have reached this prestigious stage of the season. This past Saturday marked the Eastern Divisional Final, taking place in Manhattan at XenoZero Gaming, one of the main Smash community hubs in the metropolitan area.


Top talent fills the room as the event is about to begin


Crews Bracket

Singles Bracket Winners

  1. Virginia Tech

  2. College of William & Mary

  3. SUNY Albany

  4. Brandeis University

  1. [Albany] 2saint (Jigglypuff)

  2. [Hunter] Ryobeat (Peach)

  3. [VTech] Edric (Ice Climbers)


The ferocious Virginia Tech team met everyone’s expectations, taking the entire bracket by storm. Sporting their region’s best player and a top 20 contender in the entire world, Zain, they had everyone scared in advance--but perhaps most impressive is that Zain wasn’t even the most destructive force on their team. By leading off with Edric, their Ice Climbers player, they were able to melt through Brandeis in the first round. Edric took 10 stocks before finally being knocked out by Heaton’s Falco, paving the way for the rest of the VTech team to clean up with a 7-stock victory.


On the other side of round one winners, William & Mary barely squeaked by against SUNY Albany with only two stocks remaining. The two teams proved a very equal match for each other, each with a healthy distribution of skill from top to bottom. W&M’s anchor Juicebox (Sheik), the 11th-ranked player in MD/VA, finished off 2saint (Jigglypuff) with less trouble than expected. 2saint is the top ranked player in the New York State capital region, had just won the singles bracket, and also plays a bad matchup for Juicebox--but utilizing the slight stock lead that his teammates had carved out, Juicebox was able to outlast 2saint in the head-to-head.




When the two Virginian teams met in winners finals, VTech once again cruised on comfortably. They won with 6 stocks remaining, with Puddle’s Falco setting the pace early and W&M never being able to catch up. Zain closed it out over Juicebox, with two stocks of his own remaining and the fully healthy Edric in the back. Since these teams come from the same local scene, there were almost no surprises to be had--while a clever counterpick or rogue character choice can sometimes be enough to outweigh individual player strength in the crew battle format, VTech was prepared for the matchup and thus pulled off a firm win.


When W&M made it back through losers for another shot at VTech in grand finals, it was a lot closer. Zain was forced out earlier than expected, and a phenomenal performance from Stephanie Twisted (Peach) allowed Juicebox to come in on Zain with a significant stock advantage. After that, Edric came in as a hard counter to Sheik, setting up a 4 stock tie between him and W&M’s MOM. The bracket reset seemed more likely now than ever--MOM mains Peach, which is a highly unfavorable matchup for Ice Climbers on paper. Despite this disadvantage, Edric had shown his chops against Peach earlier in the singles bracket by taking Ryobeat down to the wire, and he brought that same heat to the final round of the crew battle to close it out with two stocks left.


The matches between VTech and William & Mary emphasized some of the key elements of 5v5 crew play that distinguishes it from singles. Ice Climbers become extremely powerful because they can have counterpick advantage with no stage ban, often win games on their counterpick with multiple stocks remaining, and get a free revival of Nana if she’s eliminated while the ICs player wins a match. Because of this boost, Sheik loses utility, but Peach and Falcon gain some. Even beyond that, having an ICs player with a lot of Peach (or Falcon) experience on your team is even more valuable.


Virginia Tech smiles for the camera after winning their nationals invite

Virginia Tech is the first team to officially qualify for Melee nationals at Shine in August. They’re taking home $2,500 and hitting the books for final exams before their hardest test of the CSL season yet. Can anyone hold up against Zain and the other strong players backing him up?




Smash 4

Crews Bracket

Singles Bracket Winners

  1. Stony Brook University

  2. Drexel University

  1. [SBU] Dabuz (Bayonetta, Rosalina & Luma, Mewtwo)

  2. [Drexel] Spirunk (Cloud)

  3. [Drexel] Earthboundy (Ness/Lucas)


A series of unfortunate last-minute issues prevented many Smash 4 crews from attending, but Stony Brook certainly showed up. Their best player, Dabuz, is a serious contender for the #1 spot on this season’s Panda Global Rankings. Drexel started off very well, with Earthboundy and Kaan (Sheik) holding the lead against the first two players, Vino (Bayonetta) and Grash (Captain Falcon). At the midpoint of the crew battle, SBU decided it’d be appropriate to swing the momentum in their favor by fielding Dabuz third. Doing so prompted Drexel to throw their anchor Spirunk in early as well, and he was only able to claim one stock from Dabuz.


Spirunk, Yoda Cage (Bowser Jr.), and Rozics (Fox) took one stock each from Dabuz, making way for Aceto (Meta Knight), the second-strongest player on SBU, to clean up the final two from Drexel. Spirunk looked poised to land at least two kills on Dabuz, especially following their close grand finals set, but a brutal tech chase followed by an interception on Limit Climhazzard cost him his last stock prematurely. Rosalina & Luma are notoriously good at shutting down low tier characters like Bowser Jr., and  even though Yoda Cage is one of Drexel’s best players, his effectiveness was stifled by a hard counterpick. Drexel was never able to compensate for the huge lead that Dabuz had created, and SBU claimed their invite to nationals--along with a hefty sum of cash. The decision to play Dabuz early was informed by their experience fighting at local qualifiers back in the fall, where SBU saved him for last and he fell to Spirunk in a 3-2 stock situation. Since that key moment, Stony Brook has hardly come close to dropping another crew battle.




In the singles bracket, Dabuz tried some of his less polished secondaries like Mewtwo and Bayonetta, only being forced to switch off against his crewmate Aceto. Although Meta Knight does phenomenally against Rosalina & Luma, Dabuz felt more comfortable playing a matchup that was harder on paper if it meant having access to his main, and he didn’t want to drop the set after losing game 1 with Mewtwo. Spirunk took Dabuz’s Bayonetta to game 5 in grand finals, but fell just short of resetting the bracket and possibly forcing out an appearance from Rosa. Earthboundy finishing third and Aceto in fourth shows that the SBU and Drexel rosters are both extremely solid overall, but it’s hard to overcome the presence of a top 5 player.


 SBU all striking a pose after their victory


Congratulations to the teams who qualified and the individuals who placed in singles bracket! We’ll be seeing more of Virginia Tech Melee and Stony Brook Smash 4 in August--for now, stay tuned to the remaining divisional finals events to see who will be joining them. The Western Divisional Finals will take place on April 28-29 at CSL Finals in Huntington Beach, CA, so stop by if you’re around!







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