Two weeks ago (I'm super belated with this), IlluZion's own, Skyjay, the greatest Incineroar player in the world, competed in one of the biggest Latin American tournaments of the year so far at Smash Factor 9, which hosted over 700 entrants from around the globe. There, he managed to earn a phenomenal ninth finish, going on one of the greatest tournament runs of his nearly four year career and picking up a few stellar wins along the way. Let's not waste anytime, and take a closer look at how one of Mexico's greatest players set a new career high for himself with his run at Smash Factor 9.
In the early phases of the tournament, Skyjay faced very little adversity; he cruised his way through round one pools; reaching top 128 without much of an issue, other than dropping a single game to fellow Mexican player Dia.
Whereas Skyjay took a single game loss in pools, he would completely sweep his way through top 128 without giving up any games at all, dominantly defeating his fellow countryman, Pollitopio, and the current best player in the Netherlands and perennial Smash pro, Mr. R., 3-0 back-to-back enroute to top 32.
In his first set of top 32, Skyjay would find himself faced with his greatest challenge of the tournament so far, when he found himself opposite Panda standout and one of the best R.O.B. players in NA, WaDi. A little interesting tidbit before I delve a little more into their match: Skyjay has quite the set history versus R.O.B.; he notably has a 50-22 winning record versus the character with an overall 69.44% win rate. That winning record and win rate would show itself in game one of their set, when Skyjay superbly two stocked WaDi's R.O.B., including a stylish clothesline from below the stage to seal the game.
In game two, WaDi, possibly knowing that his R.O.B. was at a serious disadvantage versus Skyjay's Incineroar, opted to, instead, forgo his main for an all out wildcard character selection in his Ice Climbers. The sudden character change would play out much better for WaDi in the second game, as he was able to take Skyjay all the way down to the last stock. However, Skyjay would still come out on top in the end with another signature clothesline finish, this time using on stage to get the game win.
After being pushed to the bring of elimination from winners bracket, WaDi, seemingly almost out of options, decided to try his luck with a third character, this time busting out his world-class secondary, Mewtwo. Unlike his Ice Climbers, which do not have anywhere near as much high-level experience as his R.O.B., WaDi's Mewtwo is one of his most tried and true characters that has garnered him several top placings since his return offline competition last year, such as ninth at Riptide, and third at The Comeback. The Mewtwo was, actually, able to give Skyjay a little trouble early on; WaDi was able to wrack up nearly 140 damage early on into the first stock of the game before Skyjay managed to reverse him and take his first stock. The last game would go largely in Skyjay's favor after that, with him sealing out the last game with another clothesline, finishing the set with a 3-0 victory over WaDi and punching his ticket to a top eight winners qualifiers set against the king of New York himself, Dabuz, who was also ranked just recently at the seventh spot on the mid-season PGRU.
In the first game against Dabuz, Skyjay was able to take the lead slightly because of Incineroar's better close quarter combat abilites. However, Dabuz was able to quickly adapt to Skyjay's constant pressure by keeping the fight more of a ranged battle, such as using Rosalina's long aerials and Luma to stuff Skyjay out, to seal the first game with a solid two stock finish.
Game two would start out much better for Skyjay, who was able to quickly wrack up a three to one stock lead thanks to a combination of Lylat Cruise, allowing him to restrict Dabuz's movements, and a few clever clothesline set ups. Dabuz would attempt to surmount a surprising comeback, he even almost managed to reverse three stock Skyjay. In the end, though, Skyjay was able to come out on top by taking the game putting himself on the board against one of NA's best.
The next two games would play out near similarly to the first game, with Dabuz using Luma and long-reaching aerials to basically outbox Skyjay's approaches and shark his landings whenever he tried to use his own aerials. This long range toolset would prove to be too much for Skyjay, as he fell to Dabuz 3-1.
In his first round of losers bracket, Skyjay would face off against the greatest Sonic player in the world, Sonix, for a chance to compete in losers side top eight.
Skyjay would largely struggle throughout the set due to Sonic's superior mobility, which would, ultimately, lead to Sonix taking the set over Skyjay with a fairly dominant 3-0, ending his run at Smash Factor 9 at an astonishing ninth place, outplacing other strong players such as Fatality and Cosmos.
In only his second major tournament with IlluZion, Skyjay managed to place ninth at one of the biggest Smash Ultimate tournaments in Mexico so far this year. He may not have gotten that coveted top eight spot that he would have wanted, but, he still proved that his lackluster 33rd place showing at Double Down 2022 was far from what he was ever capable of. He also left the event with stellar wins over some strong competitors as well.
Catch Skyjay this coming weekend in Chantilly, VA for one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year, Super Smash Con 2022!
Written by Hank Strandberg
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