At his third tournament of the year that hosted more than 300 entrants, IlluZion's own, Nicko, stunned the Smash Ultimate Community by overcoming some very significant odds to reach the grand finals at Wavedash 2022, where he would ultimately place second, making it the first time he has ever made it to grand finals at a major tournament in over two years. With over 400 entrants, and with several members of the recently released PGRU v3 in attendance, Wavedash 2022 was shaping up to be one of the biggest non-super major SoCal tournaments of the year so far; a tournament that Nicko was dead set on claiming the win at in an effort to further cement his claim to being one of the best Smash Ultimate players in SoCal. Without any delay, let's breakdown how Nicko soared to new heights after his amazing showing at Wavedash 2022.
The early phases of winners bracket offered little to no challenge for the greatest Shulk player in the world, as Nicko would thoroughly trounce every player he faced in round one pools, not dropping a single game before making his way into top 48.
In his first set of top 48, Nicko would taste his first bit of adversity all tournament when he found himself opposite Diddy Kong main kuddler, who would be the first opponent to take a game off him all bracket. This game loss would do little to sway Nicko's confidence as he would put down kuddler 3-1, advancing to the top eight winners side qualifier.
In his next set of top 48, Nicko would come across the best player from Missouri, as well as one of the top Snake players in the world, ApolloKage. In comparison to everyone else that Nicko has played so far in bracket, ApolloKage, in theory, was a huge step up in terms of competition. Aside from being the best in his state, ApolloKage is also currently ranked at the 34th spot on the PGRU v3 rankings, and also boasts a sizeable resume of wins against other world-class talent such as ESAM, WaDi, Scend, Kola, and Lui$. I say in theory because not only did Nicko manage to defeat ApolloKage, he did so with a swift and decisive 3-0, putting himself in winners top eight at a major for the first time since February 2020 at LVL UP EXPO 2020.
In top eight, Nicko would cross controllers with Utah's greatest player, Scend, making it the pair's second meeting of the year, with their first set coming all the way back in April at Genesis 8, where Nicko won 2-0. Unlike there Genesis set, however, their set at Wavedash 2022 would go the full five game distance, with Nicko managing to clutch it out 3-2, making his way into winners finals.
In winners finals, Nicko had to play Andrik, who is considered to be the ninth best player in Mexico, as well as the country's best Captain Falcon player. Despite going into the set after a grueling game five set, Nicko and his play seemingly looked rejuvenated, as he would lay waste to Andrik 3-1, garnering his spot in grand finals.
Coming up through losers to meet Nicko in the potential last two sets of the tournament would be his winners semis opponent, Scend. If Nicko were to defeat Scend here, not only would it be his biggest tournament win of 2022, it would also be the first time he has ever won a major. Needless to say, a lot was riding on Nicko's victory at Wavedash 2022. Sadly, for everyone's favorite Shulk player, Scend, after embarking on a blistering warpath through losers bracket, would end up dominating Nicko in both sets of grand finals, closing out Wavedash 2022 over the Socal native with a devastating 6-0.
Though the promise of a first major victory may have eluded him yet again, Nicko did manage to definitively prove that he has what it takes to contend with, and even beat, some of the best players from all over the world. As the Summer of Smash is nearing its end, one thing remains certain, we have absolutely not seen the last of Nicko making astounding bracket runs in 2022. With another four months left in the year, keep your eyes peeled on upcoming major brackets to witness one of the greatest players in SoCal tearing up the competition.
Written by Hank Strandberg
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