Takuma “Tea” Hirooka won Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Singles at Thunder Smash 3: Clash of the Pandas! The event took place in Long Beach, California on Oct 12. It marked Tea’s first tournament victory since Sumabato SP 2 in February.
Tea started the Thunder Smash 3 bracket with flawless victories in pools. Among these was a 3-0 win over Antony “MuteAce” Hoo, which proved to have a negative impact on MuteAce’s mentality. Tea’s run continued with a close victory against Eric “ESAM” Lew in Winners Quarters.
In top 8, Tea secured 3-1 victories over both Saleem “Salem” Young and Brian “Cosmos” Kalu. However, Tea lost the first set of Grand Finals to Tyler “Marss” Martins. Nevertheless, Tea was able to bounce back and win their second set. Thus, Tea won Thunder Smash 3 and responded with an emotional pop-off.
Since the beginning of Ultimate’s lifespan, Tea has been one of the most consistent players in the world. He has only missed top 8 at two tournaments, placing 13th at Frostbite 2019 and 17th at Umebura SP 4. This Pac-Man aficionado has also earned wins against Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, Ezra Samsora Morris, and Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby.
Marss started Thunder Smash 3 on a rough note, losing to Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland in pools. However, Marss was able to tear through the losers bracket en route to a 2nd place finish. He reached top 8 with 3-0 victories over Kevin “KiraFlax” Reeves, Jesties “MVD” Negron, and Alex “Razo” Sanchez.
Marss’ dominant streak continued in top 8, as he defeated Takuto “Kameme” Ono without dropping a game. He continued through the bracket after a narrow victory over Rasheen “Dark Wizzy” Rose in Losers Quarters. Marss then beat Salem, Cosmos, and Tea before finally falling to Tea in the second set of Grand Finals.
Despite some subpar performances throughout this season, Cosmos earned a respectable 3rd place at Thunder Smash 3. Along the way, he beat Shawn “K9sbruce” Bruce, Kameme, Tsubasa “Tsu” Takuma, and Dark Wizzy. This event marked Cosmos’ first top 8 finish since Low Tier City 7 in July.
As with previous iterations in the series, Thunder Smash 3 suffered from low attendance. Only 86 people registered for the bracket, and several of them, including James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson, dropped out before bracket began. Nevertheless, the event had enough top players to achieve A-tier status. In addition, Thunder Gaming announced that Ishiguro “Raito” Tetsuya would join as the organization’s first international player.
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 Smash Bros., Splatoon, ARMS, and Pokémon. Dylan also writes Nintendo news articles for Nintendo Enthusiast.