Greninja specialists unite at 2GGC Saga

Greninja specialists are rare, but they've managed to push the character into the competitive arena over time. Provided by Nintendo

"Better nerf Greninja."

For longtime Smash 4 fans, this thought has been relevant throughout the lifespan of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Once a character on the cusp of the upper echelon, a notorious series of nerfs in 2015 caused Greninja to fall out of favor. High-ranking Greninja specialists were few and far between, but the few who did exist constantly pushed the character's boundaries. Through their efforts, Greninja is still considered viable in competitive play today.

The Pokemon's dedicated community will get its turn in the spotlight on Saturday with 2GGC: Greninja Saga. Nearly every notable Greninja specialist is headed to the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California, for a shot at a $8,500 singles pot and $1,500 doubles pot.

Top frogs

Due to Greninja Saga's focus on the titular character, 2GGaming has taken it upon itself to fly out many of its flagship representatives. This includes players from Japan, Australia, France and the Netherlands, making it a global affair.

The Netherlands' powerhouse Dennis "iStudying" Kwarteng is no stranger to the big stage. A tried-and-true veteran of the character, iStudying is considered the most successful Greninja specialist currently active or, at the least, the most popular. Throughout his rise to prominence -- which began with a second-place finish at BEAST 6 last year -- he's racked up wins over the likes of Eric "ESAM" Lew, Jestise "MVD" Negron and Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce. He's one of the players to beat in any bracket; the fact he's attending a Greninja-focused event should only raise those stakes.

While iStudying is well known, Waveguider is largely unheard of outside of his home region of Australia. Greninja Saga will be his stateside debut, with him repping not only Greninja but also Wii Fit Trainer. He has the most international experience among his countrymen, having taken top Japanese Peach specialist Umeki down to the wire at Battle Arena Melbourne 8 last year. A high placing at 2GG could very well put his region and name on the map.

Speaking of Japan, its top Greninja players, Oisiitofu and Some, headline the country's delegation. Both are considered to be on the bleeding edge of the Greninja metagame, having mastered setups and options few others have. The pair represent the East's ability to harness the most out of characters, with Some having taken down top-30 players such as Zack "Captain Zack" Lauth and Chris "WaDi" Boston over the past few months.

Other top frogs slated for attendance include the U.S.-based Guillermo "Stroder" Martinez, NinjaLink, Venia and France's second-best player Elexiao, players who all have contributed significantly to the development of the character's metagame.

Combo fever

Combos are an important part of every Greninja's gameplay, given the character's aptitude for long strings of attacks. Be it tricky, stylish or efficient, creating and optimizing combos is a well-loved pastime for the Greninja community. In honor of its first dedicated event, a special competition called the Greninja Combo Contest has been set.

"It's similar to the NBA Dunk contest," said 2GGaming executive Stephen "Bam" Bamidele.

Like the dunk contest, it is set to have a panel of judges rate combos based off of "things like style and technicality."

The contest's allure has even attracted those who don't normally go to offline tournaments, like famous video creators on YouTube.

The regulars

Outside of the army of Greninjas, several international threats are making their way to the latest 2GGC installment for a shot at the sizable prize pool.

Coming all the way from Japan is the tried-and-true Kansai region duo of Rei "Komorikiri" Furukawa and Ryuto "Ranai" Hayashi, both with their eyes on the prize for singles and doubles. Ranai in particular is the reason the event is happening, thanks to his use of Greninja throughout the Civil War round-robin side event. While it remains to be seen if he'll use Greninja over his traditional Villager, one thing is sure: Both players will bring their A-game.

Joining them is Edge, a legend from the Brawl era who has had a recent resurgence. He once had total dominance over the Japanese scene, only to take a hiatus in favor of competitive Splatoon. Recent results show he still can hang with the best; with the right push, he might just shake up the entire bracket.

Tournament regulars such as Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, Ally, Jason "Anti" Bates, Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson and Larry "Larry Lurr" Holland all are expected to be in attendance. As the fourth event in the yearlong 2GG Championship Series, the pressure is on for them -- bar ZeRo -- to secure a slot at the 2GG Championship in December before time runs out. Much is at stake for all attendees, Greninja specialist or otherwise. With more than 300 attendees, this kickoff to the Summer of Smash is one tournament you shouldn't miss.