Michigan's own, Nicko, made the trip all the way out to Orlando, Florida for one of the biggest tournaments in Smash Ultimate history: the Smash World Tour. There, he entered the Last Chance Qualifier tournament for a shot at being added to the Championship Bracket on Sunday. The Last Chance Qualifier wouldn't be easy though, as Nicko would have to go up against 454 other players who were just as determined to make it to Sunday's bracket.
Nicko started his bracket run by coasting through R1 pools with no difficulty at, 2-0ing both his opponents to make it into R2 pools.
In R2, Nicko faced off against the number seven-ranked player in South Florida, Juanpi, an accomplished Palutena player. Making a statement early in R2 winners, Nicko quickly dispatched Juanpi 3-0.
Next in winners, Nicko had to play one of the best Ken players in Ultimate, Vendetta. Nicko faced a tad bit of adversity against Vendetta, but Nicko would ultimately prove that the Monado is greater than the fist by taking down Vendetta 3-1.
With these two wins, Nicko advanced to the winners bracket qualifiers. So far, Nicko had been playing like he was really feeling it, but the opponent standing in his way next would prove a challenging foe; he had to play Grape, currently considered the best Snake main in Canada, if not one of the best players in the country. The set was a war, to say the least, with both players not giving an inch, culminating in a tight game five set, a game five that Nicko unfortunately came up short.
Now in losers bracket, Nicko had to play Yoda Cage who is regarded as one of the best Bowser Jr. players in the U.S., as well as the number one-ranked player in Philadelphia. This was Nicko's final chance at both making it into the qualifying bracket, as well as his chance to make it to Sunday's Championship Bracket.
The set started rough for IlluZion's favorite Shulk player, as he dropped the first game to Yoda Cage, but after that, it was all Nicko who dominated the next three games, not only taking out Philadelphia's finest, but also earning his place in the qualifying bracket.
After a hard journey of contending with some Ultimate's best, Nicko finally made it to the last stage of the Last Chance Qualifier: the qualifying bracket. In his first round of losers, he crossed controllers with South Florida's greatest player, as well as one of the best R.O.B. players in the game, Anathema.
Nicko had come far and overcame much on his warpath to the final stages of the Last Chance Qualifier, and he was determined to take down the rest of South Florida for the opportunity to make it to the Championship Bracket and its lucrative prize pot. However, Florida's premier R.O.B. main would prove to be too great, and he was eliminated from the tournament 3-1.
Though Nicko didn't make it to Sunday's bracket, he still managed to place an astounding 13th place out of more than 400 competitors, and by his own words, this was his first national-level tournament in two years; talk about a successful return to form. With 2021 coming to an end and 2022 looking even bigger and grander, it's only a matter of time before Nicko takes to the national stage again and shows that he isn't just of the Midwest's best, he is one of the world's best.
Written By Hank Strandberg
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