There are many different kinds of smashers out there. For some, the game comes naturally, and seemingly the moment they pick up the controller, they’re a pro at the game, some unexplainable insight giving them the know-how to pick up on strategies and tactics that others would never even consider. On the flip side of the coin, there are the smashers that don’t come naturally to competitive play at all, and instead have to apply a heavy work ethic to grind their way to the top through incredible effort and time investment. Regardless of the grind, you can find players of this archetype in any level of play; Mew2King is one of this style, with his methodical in-grained responses, robotic memorization, and efficient play. ZeRo had to grind incredibly hard to get to where he did in his Brawl and Melee competitions, not to mention the absurdly high level of dominance that he’s kept over the Smash 4 scene.
TLOC’s Denti is also one of those types of players.
And boy, does he grind. I could tell stories about how Denti was knocked out of a tournament, and then was already home playing online before the tournament finished. I could talk about how he ordered a Japanese 3DS to play Smash 4 a few months early, and how he played it nearly non-stop for those two months. About how I, at the heights of my Project M career, would skip out on the weekly for a bit of a break, and Denti would have people over every night of that week to play. "I just have fun playing the game," Denti says. "Despite having logged sooo much time into it."
That’s simply how Denti has always played Smash, and likely how he always will…from the earliest days of his Brawl career, to wherever the newest games will take him.
The Old Brawl Days
With the hey-day of Brawl so far in the past, not many around nowadays know of Denti’s accomplishments with the game. He had his grind going with the character Olimar back then, throwing himself into the many nuances that the character had. Back then, we would call Denti the “Pikmin Mad Scientist”, with how he had all of Olimar’s aspects down to a science. He could rattle off on the exact percents that different colored pikmin would kill different characters at, which pikmin were best for what situation, the exact damage that all of the different flowerings were, and what the percents were pulling pikmin on each stage. (Fun fact of the day; Delfino Plaza’s terrain has a high pull rate for purple pikmin, and was one of the reasons it was a favorite counterpick for Denti.)
During the old Brawl days, Denti was a common face in the crowd for local Dallas tournaments, coming in a little late in the scene’s years. At the tail end of my Brawl career, we had one head-to-head set, the only one that we played in Brawl; his Olimar and fresh vigor for the game versus my aging Falco and superior character matchup. The set was close, going down to the last game and last stock, but one miss-spaced sideB on my part led to an early SD on my last stock and Denti’s win.
Denti was unsatisfied with the win, mentioning immediately after that he hoped we would play again. A rematch wasn’t to be, though…my Brawl career was ending. His was just starting to begin.
Denti went on to participate in innumerable local tournaments, and several national ones. ‘25th’ seems to be his magic number as far as most of those went, placing 25th in Brawl at Genesis 2, SKTAR, and Apex 2014. He had two major break out performances, though; the first, SKTAR 2, in August 2013. Denti made an incredible run through the winner’s bracket, defeating heavy-hitters such as Nairo and NAKAT (after a rough game one), making it all the way into Winner’s Finals before finally being defeated by MVD and then ADHD in Loser’s Finals, for an extremely solid 3rd place. "If I had to pick one event I feel most accomplished about, I would say SKTAR 2," Denti says. "Even though the majority of people that know me in Smash aren't even aware of that tourney."
Denti repeated the performance at WHOBO5 later that year, defeating Rich Brown and MJG, making it all the way into Grand Finals before being defeated by Vinnie, taking 2nd and out placing players such as Gnes, MVD, MegaFox and Mew2King.
Sadly, Brawl’s time grew to a close…but Denti’s competitive drive continued. While Brawl tournaments dwindled, Project M’s tournament scene grew, and similar to many other Brawl players, Denti transitioned to PM in the interim while waiting for Smash 4. Training with the other heavy hitters in DFW, his Ivysaur grew into a plant-monster not to be reckoned with, taking 17th out of 382 in PM at Apex 2014 beating Kage's Gannondorf, 2nd at WHOBO5 over players like Strawhat and Oracle, and making many waves in the local community, before finally dropping out of the scene as the version 3.02 era came to a close.
The New Age of Smash
There was a huge commotion in the community when the new Smash game came out. Everyone was dissecting every piece of information available for any possible edge, coming into the game, and Denti went as far as to order a Japanese 3DS so he could ship the game from overseas a few months early. The 3DS controls we're hard to deal with for many of us, coming from a Gamecube controller background, but that didn't stop Denti from grinding every single day.
And boy, did it pay off.
On release of the game, Denti was a dominant force. For the first twenty weekly tournaments held in DFW, Denti was at sixteen of them, and took first place at thirteen. The first two major tournaments in DFW, humorously called Denti's Bizarre Adventure, Denti also took first place.
Denti continued to be successful for the majority of 2015, also taking third place out of 106 at Aftershock, and then fourth place at Low Tier City 3 out of 134.
In the wake of Diddy Kong nerfs, Denti switched over to Sheik, and was doing well in the early stages. His stranglehold on the scene had eased, but he was still a very serious tournament threat. "In Brawl and Project M, the majority of everybody placing better than me was playing a better character. So for Smash 4 I wanted to main the best character to see the difference, which was why I chose Sheik in the first place." At the start of 2016, however, troubles and frustrations set in. His tournament placings began to drop, and he left Genesis 3 with a very disappointing placing. Frustrations compounded, and other heavy-hitter players in the region began to write Denti off as no longer a threat.
Eventually, Denti decided that Sheik simply wasn't the character for him, and he began to go through something of a character crisis. "Sheik WAS fun for me, but I wasn't passionate enough about playing her to be ok with dealing with very bad kill power."
Fast forward to today; now, Denti dual mains Cloud and Luigi. "I love both of their play styles, and they're both strong characters. There is a flaw with it, though; I'm having trouble finding when to bring out Luigi. I only use Luigi like, 15% of the time. So I'm in this complex of if I should even keep Luigi him as a character. Cloud doesn't really lose any match ups hard enough to warrant a secondary in the first place, so I might be wasting my time trying to keep them at the same level of threat. Maybe I could be placing better if I went all Cloud and put all my training into him. Not sure what I want to do, seeing as I love playing both."
Despite the character conundrum, Denti has still been picking up steam. At Shockwave 71 in March 2016, Denti brought home his first Shockwave win in a long time, outplacing AeroLink, Dakpo, Cosmos, Awestin, and others. In the eight Shockwaves since, he's placed top 5 at four of them. Denti's dominance may have subsided some, but you can bet that he's still going to be grinding away, and nipping at the heels of any player who has pulled ahead of him!
Want to drop a line on the writer? Feel free to hit Sethlon up on his twitter; @S3thlon