History of Chu

October 04 2017
By Ezequiel Pinedo




Few players have proven that they have the ability to endure and adapt in Smash—an ever-changing game since its inception—as much as Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez. A mainstay in the Super Smash Brothers Melee community since its earliest days, he is a pioneer for one of the most controversial and hard to understand characters in the game. Despite having one of the lengthiest careers that Melee has ever seen, a few things separate Chu from the rest of the old school pack. While most players from his era are either retired or saw brief renaissances, Chu is still making waves in the upper levels of the current meta, and doing it more consistently than ever. With a hand to the chin, a “Yayuhhzz” for the fans, and a new team, ChuDat aims to climb to new heights.


LEGACY



“Back then, people fell for my tricks a lot more and generally weren't picking up on my habits. Outside the game, I was never really asked for my autograph, people didn't ask to take pictures with me, there wasn't a live stream so matches were recorded and uploaded days later. I played in basements, and the community was a lot smaller. Nowadays, it's hard to get into the top 8, and there's about 50 really good players out there. ”

A part of the first well-known “crew,” H2YL (Ha Ha You Lose), ChuDat and company represented the East Coast in crew battles, out-of-state tournaments, and rap diss tracks. Known for being confident in his ability to compete with the best of players using a myriad of the game’s lower tiered characters, the Virginia native helped instill the regional pride that lingers in Smash’s culture to this day. He bounced around from Fox, Kirby, Pikachu, Young Link, and Jigglypuff before finally deciding to main Ice Climbers, and did so while shouldering the honor of his region and crew at every event he attended.





Adorning ChuDat’s accolades are over a decade’s worth of top 10 placings across multiple Smash titles. With tournament placings dating from early 2003, Chu has been a part of every major landmark in Melee’s history. The years of 2004 to 2008 are largely referred to as the “Golden Age”, which marked Smash’s involvement in the MLG circuit. The succeeding years have been called the “Dark Age,” where tournament numbers waned, and Melee took a backseat to Brawl. Chu has since experienced his biggest resurgence in the “Platinum Age,” which began when Melee earned a spot in the lineup of Evolution 2013 to the present.

When players such as Daniel “KoreanDJ” Jung and Christopher “PC Chris” Szygiel, icons along with ChuDat in the Golden Age of Melee, tried to make a return to competition, it was often short-lived or underwhelming. Their comebacks revealed how much Melee had continued to evolve, and how much better players had become.

Chu, however, set himself apart from his alumni. He remained steadfast in his desire to compete and do well, and proceeded to outdo himself at most events he attended.


FORERUNNER FOR THE CLIMBERS



“I like the Ice Climbers because you get to control two different characters. The idea that you have to multitask in order to be good with them was stimulating and fascinating to me. The reason I succeeded as the Ice Climbers was because I was the only player using them and no one knew how to fight them, which was a huge advantage.”

If you’ve seen the Smash Brothers documentary, you are aware that ChuDat took one of, if not the most underdeveloped character at the time, and made it his own. The Ice Climbers were a character few touched; in fact, it was ranked 18th out of 26.


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(SSBM tier list, released September 9th, 2003)


Against those odds, Chu placed outside of top 4 a mere 4 times within the first 4 years of his career. With his consistent tournament results, and despite a tumultuous move from coast to coast, Chu solidified himself as the second best player of his time, only behind Ken “SephirothKen” Hoang. He singlehandedly advanced the meta for the character, helped move them up 11 spots on the tier list, and brought them to their first major victory at Pound 2, beating out Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and PC Chris.


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(SSBM tier list, released July 8, 2006)


Many of the great Ice Climbers of today, including Robert “Wobbles” Wright, Kyle “Dizzkidboogie” Athayde, and Michael “Nintendude” Brancato, had their ways paved by the old guard innovator himself. With most Ice Climber players being called out for the use of the ever-disputed infinite, dubbed “wobbling”, it is almost universally accepted in the community that ChuDat isn’t reliant merely on the technique to find success.

“I don't mind people who hate me for wobbling. I think other Ice Climber players get more hate for wobbling than I do, which is funny to me. The majority of the community actually cheers for me whenever I get a wobble.”

While he is not credited with inventing any “tech” for the character in particular, ChuDat quietly shaped the way Ice Climbers players approach the game in its entirety. His achievements in multiple Smash titles, including Brawl, Project M, and Smash Brothers for Wii U is attributed to his deep understanding of the neutral game, uncanny fundamentals, and mental fortitude in being able to adapt, read, and outsmart his opponents. These are skills that are nearly impossible to teach, and they came naturally to Chu. Combined with unwavering determination, his ability to perform has rarely seen slumps.


SPONSORSHIPS AND HARDSHIPS



EVO 2013 was a resounding success for Melee and exposed the game to a new audience. During this time, esports was on the verge of becoming a global phenomenon, and a few players were finally able to make a living as professional Smashers. By the end of 2013, ChuDat had climbed to 22nd on the soon-to-be-annual SSBMRank, but few prominent sponsors felt comfortable investing outside the cream of the crop. This impacted Chu’s tournament attendance that year, and it appeared that he was headed down the same road of many of his colleagues: only competing in tournaments when it was most convenient, and not taking it as seriously as they once had.

In May of 2014, ChuDat was approached with a sponsorship offer from Mortality eSports, which Chu quickly accepted, and he became the first member signed under their Smash division. After the signing, Chu’s tournament attendance for the latter half of 2014 skyrocketed, nearly doubling that of the first half of the year.

Unfortunately for Chu, Mortality opted to release their entire fighting game division, and Chu was dropped on June 22, 2015. This proved to be more problematic than originally anticipated, as it was only a month before EVO 2015. Through the help of donations from Facebook groups and stream viewers alike, he was able to compete, and toppled many of Melee’s giants en route to a 7th place finish at the then highest attended tournament of all time. Among the list of players he defeated during the tournament run were heavy hitters Zac “SFAT” Cordoni and Weston “Westballz” Dennis. He also proved that he wasn’t reliant on wobbling with a two stock SoPo comeback against Hugo “HugS” Gonzales.



It did not take long for a performance of that caliber to go unnoticed, and Chu once again became the first and only member of another team’s Smash division, ROOT Gaming. This propelled his career into 2016, and the ChuDat stock showed no signs of decline. Despite good indicators, Chu faced a glass ceiling that would not break. He placed 17th at every major tournament he attended, with the exception of CEO 2016, where he placed 7th. During this time, however, at Heir 3, ChuDat became the first Ice Climbers in recorded history to take a tournament game off of Armada’s Peach, a matchup in which Ice Climbers are heavily disadvantaged. Midway through the year, Chu had announced that he’d be leaving ROOT to pursue other options.


CLIMBING TO THE FUTURE



After parting ways with ROOT, Chu was picked up by experienced local MD/VA stream team VGBootCamp. Starting off 2017 hot, ChuDat attended Genesis 4 in January. There, he beat Anthony “Slox” Detres, upset DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel, took Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma to an insanely close game 5, and took home 9th place.

ChuDat hit his stride for the first half of the year, taking home a top 8 finish at Smash Summit 4, where he was voted in by the community and notoriously upset Joseph “Mang0” Marquez. The event proved two things about Chu: his ability to win over fans as a personality, and his individual skill, able to contend at the pinnacle of competition.

His momentum carried over to the next month, as he placed a remarkable 5th place at Smash Rivalries, where he again bested Mang0—a feat some thought Chu was incapable of repeating. Silencing the doubters even further, Chu claimed a silver medal at Dreamhack Austin 2017, his highest placing result at a major in almost 10 years. There, he improved his record over Mang0 to 3-0 on the year, conquered rival of over a decade, Mew2King, and again brought Hungrybox to a grueling 5-game series. After placing first in both singles and doubles at Battle of BC 2, Chu’s 2017 is shaping up to be his best year yet. Even with a repertoire as vast as his, ChuDat listed his wins against Mang0 and Mew2King as the “most memorable moments of [his] career”. He is unanimously considered a top 10 player for the first time in a long time, and has but a few more top players on his list to beat.

“A short term goal is to beat every single player out there at least once, and my long term goal is to maintain a top 8 level, and maybe one day break into the top 3. I still have yet to defeat Armada, Plup, and PewPewU so I'm getting close.”

After over a decade in the game, Chu's desire to win has only grown with time. His renaissance is proving to be a new norm rather than a momentary climb, and he now has the support system to propel him even further. Chu recently announced that had signed with Team Liquid, joining long time rival, Hungrybox, and even longer time friend, Chillin. Could this be the push he needed to conquer his final demons and to climb the highest of mountains? Whether it’s with his explosive SoPo play or hard reads, only time will tell; but we will all certainly be watching.





"Growing with Chillin in these past few years has been a blessing. I knew some contacts in the esports world, and he knew how to make a good resume so we worked together to get Chillindude a spot on Team Curse [in 2014]. Things worked out and now we're both on Team Liquid through our efforts. Being a player sponsored by a major organization is actually a dream come true. I'm very happy with where I am now.”



You can follow ChuDat here:






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