Image via @ryugacord on Twitter

Saleem “Salem” Young defeated Aaron Wilhite 3-2 to win Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Singles at The Host Up Invitational on January 30. It was his first tournament victory since the beginning of the Wi-Fi Warrior Rank v7 season.

The 64-person invitational tournament featured top players from the Ryugacord, Dakota “Ryuga” James’ infamous Discord server for high-level Ultimate competitors. In addition, the event was presented by GameTime Detroit, the home of Ryuga’s sponsor, the Renegades.

Despite the high level of competition, sixth seed Salem emerged as the victor at The Host Up Invitational. He beat “Quidd” 3-2, Luis “Lui$” Oceguera 3-0 and Spencer “BestNess” Garner 3-1 en route to top 8. Then, Salem conquered Luke “KirbyKid” Richmond 3-0 and Aaron 3-1 before repeating his victory over Aaron to win the tournament.

Though he boasts a rather large character pool, Salem relied entirely on Minecraft’s Steve to win The Host Up Invitational. Impressively, he did so while only going to game five once against Quidd. As a result, he further cemented his status as the best player of the character in the world. For this reason, Salem’s triumph over Aaron seems somewhat symbolic; Aaron also found early success with Steve, but was quickly overshadowed by Salem.

Other results from The Host Up Invitational

Aaron scored many upsets at The Host Up Invitational, securing his first top 8 finish since L4st’s Box in October. Even more so, he convincingly beat every opponent he faced except for Salem. Aaron earned many 3-0 wins in top 64, overcoming Grayson Ramos, first seed Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez and Santiago “Chag” Perez.

Aaron also defeated Gabriel “Epic_Gabriel” Romero 3-0 and Carlos “Sonix” Pérez 3-1 in top 8. He accomplished much of this using Diddy Kong, a relatively little-used character in Smash Ultimate’s metagame. Of course, Diddy Kong has seen increased relevance in the online era, thanks to players like Aaron, Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and James “Rivers” Wade.

Sonix dipped into losers early after dropping a set to KirbyKid, who has been a bracket demon for him recently. However, he made a deep losers run in order to finish in third place. Sonix eliminated Grayson 3-2, Rivers 3-1, Ryan “Ravenking” McDonough 3-1 and Chag 3-0 to reach top 6. From there, he finally edged out KirbyKid in a five-game set and secured a 3-1 win over BestNess.

Sparg0 placed a disappointing 17th at The Host Up Invitational, despite being the first seed and incumbent best online player. He suffered upset losses at the hands of Aaron and Alexis “Goblin” Stennett. Interestingly, this has created a pattern in Sparg0’s recent results. So far this year, he has placed first, 17th, first and 17th at major online tournaments.

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.