Pound 2016 has come and gone, and with it two champions were crowned in two different games. The first, Yuta "Abadango" Kawamura, took home the title for Smash 4. The other, Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma, grabbed his third straight Smash title.
Smash 4 - Abadango Dazzles
Chatter at Pound commonly noted that the tournament seemed full of upsets, and for Smash Bros for WiiU winner Abadango, having one of his game's biggest competitors in Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada knocked out early was a bit of a blessing.
In a post-game interview interpreted through Kris "Toph" Aldenderfer, he expressed that the event was fun to watch as a spectator, and he may have had some luck during his road to the Grand Finals. Nairo was the player to break Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios' 55-tournament win streak; ZeRo did not attend the tournament.
In the Top 16, Abadango used Meta Knight and Mewtwo to defeat Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby (3-2), James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson (3-0) and Tyler "Marss" Martins (3-1). This is his first stateside win, getting 7th at October's Big House 5 and a disappointing 49th at January's GENESIS 3 event.
His opponent in Grand Finals, Quebec's Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce, went through a tear in the loser's bracket, defeating Eric "ESAM" Lew (3-2), Larry "Larry Lurr" Holland (3-1), Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey (3-2), Ramin "Mr. R" Delshad (3-2) and Marss (3-0).
Smash Bros. Melee - Hungrybox reigns supreme
Pound's field of competition was unique in that four of the "Big Six" of Melee were not in attendance; problems such as recovery, visa issues and family time let this tournament be more open in terms of those who placed high. Despite competition that he might not face too often, Hungrybox welcomes the challenge.
"Everyone is just very hungry and they see the potential this game gives and just how far they can push themselves. They can, you know, win good money, get sponsorship opportunities and have people see you do what they love. The fact that we're in that era now - esports - it's the time to shine."
Sometimes, dominance is easily explained by two criteria: wins and losses. At Pound 2016 this past weekend, Team Liquid's Hungrybox went 10-0 in sets, only losing a single time out of 22 total games during the grand finals.
"I feel pretty amazing. It's the fact that, once again, that momentum has carried, and I really think that I can win everything now," he said. "As long as I'm playing well, getting enough sleep, I'm pushing my game to whatever limit there is and I'm really excited to see the future of it."
On the way to facing Cloud9's Joseph "Mango" Marquez in the finals, Hungrybox's top 32 run had him defeating Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett, Jason "Infinite Numbers" Gauthier, James "Swedish Delight" Liu and a resurgent Aziz "Hax" Al-Yami, stopping the latter Fox main's momentum after defeating Mango earlier in the bracket.
Mango's' top 32 run started with victories over Colin "Colbol" Green (2-0) and Johnny "S2J" Kim (2-0) before running into Hax; pulling out an uncharacteristic Marth and donning a "PPMD" tag for the missing Kevin "PPMD" Nanney, Marquez actually held his own until an unfortunate death timing in Game 5 sent him to loser's bracket. From there, he defeated Justin "Plup" McGrath (3-0) and Swedish Delight (3-2) before avenging his prior loss to Hax in Loser's Finals (3-0).
This caps off a strong few weeks for Hungrybox, as he also defeated Mango in late March to win the Battle of the Five Gods at SXSW. He currently looks to be a strong favorite going into April's Smash Summit 2 invitational, and Evolution 2016 in the summer.
"When they're in the game with me, I can see their tension, I can see the way they're holding their controller, their facial expressions, how they move around the stage. I'm using that fear that they have - and the fact that I've worked my mindset," Hungrybox said.
"When I'm on the stage I'm very calm, even when I'm losing, I don't feel that I'm losing. It's just one more stock away. I know that they're very frantic and trying to get that kill, so I take advantage of that. You just learn from the set, learn from the game."