Following our second tournament and our defeat at the hands of DYCE, we decided to set up another tournament as soon as we could. Jtanic offered his house as a venue and the date was set for late December 2002. H2YL was determined to bounce back from our losses at the Maryland tournament and we trained extensively with all of our members: Azen, Anden, Jtanic, Mild and myself. Nearly every weekend we would play for hours, honing our skills; the looming tournament date provided great motivation for us to improve, knowing we’d get another shot at DYCE soon.
Jtanic’s house wasn’t the ideal tournament venue, as it was fairly small and a bit cramped, but all we needed was a place to play. The tournament drew much more interest than our first event, as over 40 people showed up, including people from as far as New Jersey. I once again created the bracket, and similar to the Maryland tournament, it was a terribly constructed bracket. Due to time constraints with the number of entrants, we opted for single elimination, and made the matches 6 stocks to try to make up for the lack of a loser’s bracket. Character lock was once again utilized; while the rest of us had our designated mains, Azen frequently used different characters, and decided to go Falco for this tournament. Notably, we also decided to turn items off completely for this event, and set a precedent that many tournaments began to follow. We also decided to make the entire tournament Final Destination only, because we considered it to be the most fair stage at the time.
My first round was actually against the player who had traveled from New Jersey, a Mario player named Brendan. He got me down to 2 stocks but I defeated him, and I actually felt bad, knowing he had traveled so far to compete. The rest of H2YL won their first rounds as well, and we felt good knowing we were off to a strong start.
In round 2 I faced my brother Mild, who at the time was a Falco main. His Falco was a far cry from anything you’d see today; tech skill was very undeveloped, but for Mild especially it was not a strong point, and his Falco mostly consisted of spamming forward smashes. I managed to beat him with my Sheik and he was annoyed that we played so early, but I moved on to round 3, as did Azen, Anden and Jtanic.
In round 3 I was set to play Eric from DYCE, the Yoshi player who knocked Azen to loser’s at our first event. To my surprise, however, he was now a Peach main, and we were very unfamiliar with what Peach could do. I remember getting hit by a downsmash and taking over 50%, which made my jaw drop. Clearly Peach was better than we realized, and Eric defeated me handily to move on. Jtanic lost to a player we were unfamiliar with, a Fox player named Daniel, and Anden lost to DYCE’s Derrick, meaning only Azen remained from H2YL.
Due to the badly made bracket, there once again ended up being 3 spots in “winner’s finals,” and Derrick and Eric claimed two of these spots. The last semi-final match ended up being Azen vs Daniel. The match was incredibly close, and we were shocked to see that someone outside of H2YL and DYCE was so skilled. Daniel’s Fox actually ended up barely edging out Azen’s Falco for the victory, and to our dismay H2YL failed to make winner’s finals once again, this time at our own tournament.
Since there were 3 people remaining, we had to do a round robin between Eric, Derrick and Daniel to try to determine the winner, but it was a stalemate as Eric defeated Derrick, Derrick beat Daniel and Daniel beat Eric. As such, we had no choice but to declare a 3-way tie for first, a fact that many people were upset about. After this tournament I made sure how to learn to properly construct a bracket to ensure this type of fiasco didn’t occur again, but regardless it was a loss for H2YL. Even our best player who dominated the rest of us could only manage 4th place, and we had to go back to the drawing board.
Our training resumed with even more fervor than before, even though there were no tournaments announced in our area for much of early 2003. We ended up getting in touch with Daniel, or “spanish d00d” on Smashboards, looking to practice with him since he lived nearby and clearly demonstrated his potential at the tournament. We traveled to his house one day and played with him extensively.
The first thing we realized about Daniel was that he was extremely talented; he actually managed to go back and forth with Azen, a feat which no one else in our crew could accomplish at the time. Additionally, he could use several different characters at a high level, a skill we’d only ever seen from Azen at the time. Thoroughly impressed, we decided to continue training with Daniel, and soon thereafter we added him to our crew. He hadn’t yet settled on a main, but in a few years Daniel would become the best Ice Climbers player in history; most of you know him better as Chu Dat.