Low Tide City 2023: Axe looking to continue his recent success
by Ryan Tarney
Low Tide City 2023 takes place this weekend in Round Rock, Texas, and it has the potential to be one of the best Smash Melee events of the summer. Eleven of the top 100 ranked Melee players are in attendance, so we are sure to have a stacked top eight at this tournament. Some players are looking to cement themselves in the global rankings, while others are looking to move up the Texas rankings.
The stars in this tournament lineup are Arjun "lloD" Malhotra, Jeffrey "Axe" Williamson, Sasha "Magi" Sullivan and Alexandra "Salt" Rennie, but there are other players such as Adrian "Skerzo" Chavez, Duncan "SDJ" Meara, William “Wevans” Evans and Davis "Palpa" Scherer who are looking to make their mark.
Sign up for the next Nerd Street tournament!
Salt is a player to focus on as she has had a meteoric rise from well-known Texas player to one of the best in the entire world in a couple of years. She has performed well at other Texas Majors such as Lost Tech City and The Off Season, placing in the top eight at both. Salt has also been doing very well at Texas regionals this year, winning all but one that she has attended so far.
LloD hasn’t been the most active player recently, but that is understandable with the high workload of his career as a doctor. He’s the 11th ranked player globally and the highest-ranked Peach player in the world with his highest achievements last year being a fourth-place finish at Pound and coming in third at Super Smash Con. While lloD is going in as the second seed this weekend, I’d consider him my favorite to take home the trophy.
Read more: The best events and tournaments at Localhost in April
I am very interested in seeing Palpa vs. Yasin "Mekk" Mekki during this tournament which should occur based on their seeding. These players have a lot of experience playing against one another when Mekk was living in Palpa’s current city of Austin. Mekk has switched to play Ganon this year, which can have an electric matchup against Palpa’s main character, Jigglypuff. Another seeded matchup that has an interesting character pairing is between Noah Ray "N3zModGod" Valdez and Wevans, who play Yoshi and Samus, respectively. It’s a very uncommon matchup, so it will be interesting to see who will have the edge in this encounter.
Read more: Top 10 best Smash Melee players of 2022
The last player I want to highlight is Axe. He’s coming into this weekend as the first seed, but has struggled against lloD and some of the other high seeds at this event. Axe is ranked 10th overall and is the highest-ranked Pikachu player in the world and widely considered to be the greatest of all time with that character. I had the pleasure of asking Axe a few questions ahead of Low Tide City.
Nerd Street: You have made quite a few appearances at Texas Majors the past three years, more than any other top 10 ranked player. What keeps you coming back to the state?
Axe: I have quite a few family members who live in Texas, so it has been pretty convenient for me to visit and compete in an event while I'm here. In 2020, my mom also moved to Texas which gives me even more of an incentive to visit. Not to mention that LTC is just an awesome event. I especially love the Kalahari. My mom, sister and niece are all coming with me to the event this weekend.
Nerd Street: At Low Tide City, there are other highly ranked players signed up such as lloD, Magi, Salt and the player who eliminated you at last year’s Low Tide City, Mekk. Which of these players or any others in attendance are you most excited to compete against?
Axe: In the cases of lloD, Magi, Salt and Mekk, all of them beat me the last time we played. I have made a lot of improvements since my last encounters with them, and I would love to see how I do this time. LloD in particular is the one who has been giving me the most trouble lately. Our matches are always close, but I can never get the upper hand. There's something very exciting about facing a player like that. I guess I just love the challenge.
Nerd Street: It is no secret that you had a stronger second half of 2022 than first half. The strong performances are seeming to continue with your recent performances at Smash Camp and Dreamhack San Diego. What adjustments did you make during the year and how are those adjustments carrying into 2023?
Axe: At the beginning of 2022, I couldn't play Melee for a few months because I injured my thumb, and I also ended up catching COVID which caused me to miss quite a few tournaments. I ended up going to only a few events and didn't do very well. With the level of competition only rising as time passed, I ended up falling behind quite a bit. I'm still very passionate about the game, so I did everything I could to come back, and I had decent success. I'm still very unsatisfied with a lot of my recent performances because I think I can do a lot better, but it's more difficult now than it has ever been. My last two tournaments went pretty well, so I'm hoping I can continue that momentum and do even better at LTC.
Nerd Street: A lot of emphasis has been refocused on grassroots events because of the closing of Summit, CLG and other esports companies. What extra role, if any, do you think top-ranked players have in supporting their local communities?
Axe: In order for the scene to grow, more people need to be aware it exists in the first place. In the case of top players with larger followings, giving local events more publicity helps a lot. Simply talking about these events on social media or their Twitch channels is a great way to do that. They can also go the extra mile and stream local events on their channels like [Zain “Zain” Naghmi] and [Cody Schwab] have been doing lately. Attending events, especially larger state tournaments, also helps. It gives the regular local attendees something exciting to look forward to. With that said, it's really the tournament organizers who are doing the heavy lifting for local communities. Top players might be the face of the community, but events simply do not exist in the first place without the right people who are willing to run them. In my eyes, top players are sort of a form of advertisement, which is just one piece of many needed to run successful events and grow the scene.
An extra big thank you to Axe for taking the time to give these very detailed and insightful answers. Low Tide City starts Saturday and will include competitions in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Splatoon 3 and other titles.
Lead photo credit: Beyond the Summit