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Published February 10, 2020

In the week leading up to Smash Summit 9, Magi, Ryobeat, Pricent and bobby big ballz were voted in by fans for the tournament’s last four spots. Notably, Smash Summit 9 will not have an official doubles event, meaning that most of the tournament will prioritize singles.

For regional news over the weekend, Prince Abu won Indiana’s BOPME 19, while Ice won Germany’s National Circuit Finals and Soonsay won Ontario’s Float.

Smash Summit 9 has the potential to be a satisfying followup to an already thrilling Genesis 7. In today’s column, I’m going to rank the attending competitors based on how they could perform in bracket.

The vote-ins

18. Pricent
17. bobby big ballz
16. Magi
15. Ryobeat
14. Shroomed
13. Spark

There’s no shame in being placed in this category for a stacked event like Summit.

Even if none of these players have a shot at winning, that doesn’t mean that these players can’t play spoiler to other contenders.

The fact that I have Pricent as the “lowest ranked” player is more a reflection of his lack of data rather than any significant doubt in his abilities. Pricent had a heartbreaker 3-2 loss to Captain Faceroll last year at Fete and he boasted wins over floaties like Bladewise and Aura when he came to North America. He has clearly shown the ability to at least compete with the bottom half of attendees here. I can’t say if Pricent has the ability to punch above his weight class and defeat a player of Plup’s caliber, let alone someone like Hungrybox, but we’ll find out soon enough.

BBB and Magi are strong enough in the fastfaller matchups to where they are not cakewalks for top representatives of those characters. Ryobeat did defeat a top-caliber fast faller recently in Wizzrobe (which holds more recency value than Magi beating Mango or BBB beating Hax), so it felt only fair to give Ryobeat the nod above these two. In fact, with enough practice and preparation, Ryobeat could additionally be a tough head-to-head for Axe or aMSa, who play characters that relatively struggle against Peach.

Despite having a lower ceiling than some of the players ranked beneath him, Shroomed strangely stands out as having the strongest baseline of skill within this group. He wasn’t impervious to “upset” losses last year, but his actual records against players ranked beneath him were still solidly in his favor. In a weird way, Shroomed is like “nega-Spark.”

Speaking of which, Spark has been fairly quiet since his exceptional Smash Camp showing last summer. I ranked him above the other players in this group because he has beaten multiple of the players ranked above him over the last six months. But losses to people like Blassy and SluG are not good looks for a Summit vote-in. This event is Spark’s chance to remind people why they were big believers in the first place.

If The Stars Align…

12. n0ne
11. Plup
10. Hax
9. Wizzrobe

n0ne has exceeded expectations over the last half of last year. Taking into account his wins on iBDW, Mango and aMSa, n0ne has a fighting chance against any non-Hungrybox player in bracket. That specific attribute differentiates him from the players beneath him. He’s in a weird spot where a lot of potential “Hungrybox slayers” might have their bracket ended by n0ne before they reach Hungrybox.

Plup’s placement on this list is a reflection of his decline since last summer and his full-time switch to Fox. His Sheik was getting roasted by the Top 15-level Foxes in mid-2019 and his Fox just came off losses to ARMY and PewPewU at Genesis 7 (though in fairness, he also beat Axe). Moreover, Plup historically gets trounced at Summit and is all but an auto-lose against Hungrybox. If Plup dodges Hungrybox and at the very least sticks with Sheik against Zain, a redemption showing could happen, but it’s unlikely.

Wizzrobe looked like the best player in the world for about a month and a half in 2019. Since then, he has looked vulnerable against the field. His underwhelming Genesis 7 can’t be dismissed as a one-off in the context of him dropping multiple sets to “worse” players in the second half of 2019. Wizzrobe’s ability to terrify people like Zain, iBDW, aMSa, Leffen and even Hungrybox in bracket keeps him as a dark horse, but he would probably hope to probably avoid Fiction, n0ne and Mango.

I’m riding high on Hax. From his ninth place at The Big House 9 to his third place at Mango’s Birthday Bash and his fourth place at Genesis 7, Hax has nabbed countless top-level victories, dominated his contemporaries, and, most promisingly, avoided dropping sets at nationals to lower ranked players. Out of potential matchups, only beating Zain stands out as an order too tall for Hax.

The Wild Cards

8. iBDW
7. Fiction
6. aMSa
5. Axe

With regards to iBDW and Fiction, they can beat anyone at the event. As far as their potential “valleys” go, the two as significant favorites against the players ranked beneath them in attendance, even if there are players (n0ne for iBDW and Spark for Fiction) who might give them a run for their money. They are kind of like Hax, but they’ve been trending upward for a little bit longer and probably are less likely to lose to a vote-in.

I like Axe’s spread against every non-Hungrybox player above him, but I worry about him against the field. Ironically, aMSa’s chances against Hungrybox are good, but similar to Axe, aMSa could easily get upset if he’s not at his A-game. You could argue that aMSa’s relatively favorable shot at Hungrybox is offset by how every single Fox at this event could push him to the brink.

The Contenders

4. Leffen
3. Zain

Leffen should be favored against everyone ranked below him and he has great head-to-heads over the long term against Hungrybox, but it’s hard not to hesitate when it comes to evaluating how he will do against some of the players I just listed. I’d pause before ever saying Leffen had a “Fox ditto problem” – but the way the matchup works in practice for today’s metagame makes it naturally difficult to have consistently dominant results, as seen by his last three losses to moky, iBDW, and Hax (though Leffen solidly 3-0’d him in winner’s bracket). That’s without going into Leffen against Wizzrobe or Axe: two question marks for him in 2019 that still exist this year. I would also put Zain as a huge question mark even though Leffen was up against him last year, if only because Zain beat him down so thoroughly in their last matchup.

Zain may have overcome a relative roadblock like Hungrybox lately, and he certainly benefits from someone like Plup falling off, but having a nightmare matchup like Axe still hurts his chances of winning events where Axe is likelier than not to still be in late-stage bracket. I’m also not too confident about his head-to-head against Wizzrobe. Nonetheless, Zain also just won Genesis 7, so this might be a new Zain we’re seeing than the one we saw last year, who was excellent against the field but had really bad records against the players ranked above him.

Clear Favorites

2. Hungrybox
1. Mango

These two players have the most impressive spreads against the field and are definitively the main two contenders for this event. I have Mango at No. 1 because he’s had the better last third of a year. Between him going back and forth with Zain and Hungrybox, being up on Leffen as of lately and winning events like his own Birthday Bash alongside The Big House 9, this is probably the highest Mango stock has been in recent memory.

Hungrybox won their last head-to-head, but you’d have to be willingly delusional to see his latest stretch of tournaments as anything less than disappointing. When you factor in the absence of Crunch at Summit, this might be the kind of event where Hungrybox goes, loses early to someone like aMSa, and then gets sent home at fifth place at the hands of Wizzrobe or Leffen. Hungrybox tends to do really well at top-heavy events with a clear drop in talent between his potential bracket-enders and the field. At Summit, those two kinds of players intersect with each other. This will be a really tough ask for Hungrybox to win this event.

Of course, this is Hungrybox we’re talking about, so if he won, I wouldn’t be shocked. But given everything that we have seen from him and his main rival right now, this is Mango’s tournament to win (or lose). Mango is my pick for Smash Summit 9 champion.

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