SWT Japan Online Qualifier
Image via VGBootCamp on YouTube

The weekend of April 17, the Smash World Tour headed over to arguably the best region in the world: Japan. From a field of some of the best players in the world, only eight secured spots in the offline Regional Finals. Here are some of the major takeaways from the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier.

KEN completes a deep losers run to win the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier

Though many prominent online competitors entered the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier, it was an offline mainstay who finished in first place: Kengo “KEN” Suzuki. But the road there was not easy. After losing his second set of the tournament to “Rokkon,” KEN had to triumph in 13 consecutive sets to win the whole event.

Just to make it into top 16, KEN had to eliminate some of Japan’s best players, including “takera” and Takuma “Tea” Hirooka. From there, he defeated the tournament’s No. 1 seed and one of Japan’s best wi-fi warriors, “HERO,” then overcame “HIDE” and “Lea” en route to top-six.

The last stretch of the tournament pitted KEN against many of Japan’s biggest online threats. Despite his inexperience online compared to these players, KEN defeated “Harasen,” “ProtoBanham” (who played Min Min and Samus, as opposed to his offline main, Lucina) and “Omuatsu.” Finally, KEN finished ahead of “Kuroponzo” in a pair of grand finals sets spanning 10 games in order to win the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier.

Kuroponzu finishes first among Japan’s wi-fi warriors

Among all of Japan’s prominent wi-fi warriors, Kuroponzo was not the favorite to place the highest. In fact, Kuroponzo was seeded 45th, making him an unlikely pick to even qualify for the Regional Finals. But the R.O.B. main upset many opponents on his path to second place at the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier.

Kuroponzo’s run began with wins over the likes of “TKM” and “KaPMk” (who upset Tea earlier in the bracket). In top 16, he solidly overcame a pair of top 16 seeds, ProtoBanham and Harasen. After conquering these highly-seeded opponents, Kuroponzo faced another unexpected competitor in winners finals: No. 30 seed Omuatsu.

The set started on a rough note for Kuroponzo, who accidentally self-destructed to lose game one to Min Min main Omuatsu. However, Kuroponzo bounced back over the course of the set. He ultimately secured the victory by comboing Omuatsu into a down-air offstage for a low-percent kill in game five.

Many offline stars fail to qualify

Perhaps more interesting than the field of players who did advance from the SWT Japan Ultimate Online Qualifier is the field of players who did not. Even with prominent Japanese players like Sota “Zackray” Okada opting not to participate, there were still many highly-ranked offline players who did not qualify for the Regional Finals.

The best-performing among them was Lea, who placed seventh in the main bracket and fourth in the Last Chance Qualifier, and thus narrowly failed to qualify. In addition, No. 4 seed Tea was the highest-seeded player who did not advance from this event. After losing to KEN in the regular bracket, Tea dropped out rather than playing through the Last Chance Qualifier.

Beyond this, many other top 50 players and rising offline threats failed to secure a coveted Regional Finals spot. These included Yutaro “Paseriman” Nagumo, Takuto “Kameme” Ono, Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura and Yuta “Nietono” Uejima, among others.

Looking ahead

The following players have qualified for the East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals beginning on July 3:

  • KEN
  • Kuroponzo
  • Omuatsu
  • ProtoBanham
  • Shuto “Shuton” Moriya
  • Harasen
  • HERO
  • Gakuto “Gackt” Ito

The Smash World Tour will resume April 24 with the East Asia South Ultimate Online Qualifier, where the next set of players will qualify for the East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals.

Dylan Tate
Dylan Tate is a student in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, including Super Smash Bros., Splatoon, ARMS, and Pokémon.