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Published December 20, 2021

47 months after Plup shocked the world at Genesis 5, he won the Smash World Tour Championships in Orlando. To finish in first place, he beat the runner-up Wizzrobe twice, as well as beat aMSa, Pipsqueak, Aklo, Ice, Ginger, and Shippu across the whole weekend. The Smash World Tour Championships marks his third ever major victory, complementing both his victories at Genesis 5 and DreamHack Atlanta 2017. This makes Plup have the tenth most major victories ever.

Formerly living in Orlando himself before moving to Oregon, Plup had previously competed at the Smash World Tour NA West Finals in November. He qualified for the championships by winning this tournament over SFAT, Captain Faceroll, KoDoRiN, Fiction, Medz, and billybopeep. Plup will end the year as just one of five people to win majors, along with Mango, Zain, iBDW, and Wizzrobe.

The other story of the tournament, however, was Polish’s run to third place. After already defeating iBDW, Hungrybox, Ginger, lloD, and Magi en route to third at the Smash World Tour NA East Finals, Polish had a big loser’s run at the championships, in which he beat Trif, Hungrybox, Pipsqueak, lloD, Ice, and Nicki.

Follow the Melee Stats Twitter account for daily coverage of all the results you need to know.

Assessing International Talent

One of the best parts of the Smash World Tour Championships was seeing all the international talent in the same venue. While there wasn’t Mango, Zain, or iBDW, what we had alongside some of the best players in the world was matchups that I previously only dreamed about. It reminded me quite a bit of the same feeling that Don’t Park on the Grass used to give me in each year of its existence. Where else was I going to watch Chape take on Spark, or see Sora get a chance to fight against Jmook? This event was a Melee nerd’s dream.

Because many of these players are ones that have been in the United States for an extended period of time, I’m dedicating the rest of this column to talking about each of them. I will give a quick summary of their careers heading into the Smash World Tour Championships and list out their records against other notable competitors within the scene. Then I’ll offer an unofficial “player comparison” that offers a good baseline for what to expect from them at future events.

NOTE: the beneath music is required to have in the background, preferably as you read the rest of the column.


Talk to me about Melee for an hour straight and you’ll be guaranteed to hear about one of three things: how much I hate Captain Falcon, how results in New Jersey don’t make any sense, or how cool Chilean players are. Chape, a Fox player who is so dominant in-region that he frequently enters tournaments as “Chap3” – when he only plays with three stocks against his opponent – is at the top of the Chilean Melee scene. When Chape came to the United States, it was his first time ever playing against strong players outside of Chile.

0-1 vs. Polish
1-0 vs. Spark
0-1 vs. Pipsqueak
0-1 vs. Jflex (exhibition)
0-1 vs. Panda
0-2 vs. Bbatts
0-2 vs. Salt
1-2 vs. MOM!
1-2 vs. Travioli
1-0 vs. Captain G
0-1 vs. Akir
0-1 vs Kuya
2-0 vs OC Mike
1-0 vs Solomon
1-0 vs Jixus
1-0 vs. Question
1-0 vs. Latin
1-0 vs. Rodney
1-0 vs. mgmg
1-0 vs. Freezus
1-0 vs. OtES
2-0 vs. Jimmy Jockstrap
1-0 vs Dempt
1-1 vs. Zab
1-1 vs. Tiebex

The more experience Chape got, and the further time he had away from his initial travel fatigue, the better he began performing. Funnily enough, when Chape returns to Chile, he’ll be one of two Chileans to defeat Spark, the other one being Blassy: the only, and now inactive, in-region player who Chape hasn’t defeated. I’d compare his results favorably to another Fox player who does well in a hidden region: The Leaf. For what it’s worth, The Leaf recently upset TheSWOOPER at Riptide and is a usually lock for winner’s finals at Austin’s locals, with additional out-region wins over Aura, Blues Clues, and Kurv. He’s not active enough out-of-region to necessarily make Top 100 this year, but he’d trend there for the future. I’m inclined to think of Chape in a similar light.


Hidden beneath an approximately 0-bajillion record within Australia vs. Sora is the fact that Sock is actually good. He’s been Top 5 in the whole continent in the last couple of years, right there with Spud, Sora, SA Nick, and DonB. When Sock came to the United States this year, he showed that he was no joke.

0-1 vs. Hungrybox
0-1 vs Fiction
0-1 vs. Android 0
1-0 vs. Nicki
0-1 vs. Westballz
1-0 vs. Casper
1-0 vs. Asashi
1-0 vs. Ka-Master
2-1 vs. Leviathan
0-1 vs. Squid
1-0 vs MegaXmas
1-0 vs. Solomon
1-0 vs. PHDeeznuts
0-1 vs. Mo$

Although Sock had one relatively rough showing at Verdugo, his performances have shown him to be nothing less than a player who’d cleanly be in consideration for Top 100 in a regular year. Between defeating a Top 10 European player in one of his best matches, beating three of SoCal’s best spacies, coming out on top of a trio of sets vs. a top CenCal Sheik main, and even holding off a resurgent Ka-Master, Sock is someone to look out for. A good comparison for him right now would be Mot$: another rising Fox player who recently won Fireside Open 2021 over Fable, Jflex, and Wally.


Spark doesn’t require much of introduction. He’s the 87th greatest player of all-time and one of the best Sheiks in the world. Before he left NorCal for Pakistan, he looked like a Top 25 player in the world. The peak of his 2020 was finishing in second place at a week of Summit Champions League in Season 1 where he only lost to Zain, beating iBDW and Captain Faceroll at the same event. When he came back to America in 2021, nobody knew how well he’d perform; we just had a general idea that Spark was a very good Sheik who might be rusty.

0-1 vs. Polish
0-1 vs. Colbol
1-0 vs. Faceroll
2-1 vs. Lucky
0-1 vs. Pipsqueak
0-1 vs. Chape
1-0 vs. Ringler

While all we have to go with are two events, it does seem like Spark isn’t far off from where he was in 2020. The first tournament was the Smash Summit 12 VIP bracket, where he beat Ringler, sent Faceroll to the cleaners, and held off Lucky in three sets. Considering it had been so long since Spark played a meaningful set of Melee, winning the event exceeded expectations. With that as a point of comparison, he got rocked at Smash World Tour Championships. At the same time, losing to Colbol, Pipsqueak, and Polish isn’t a sign that you’re not a top player, and, frankly, we had seen Spark lose to a top Chilean Fox player in the past. Spark’s probably a bit better than Jflex and Ben; nothing I’ve seen from him so far in the United States has drastically altered my perception of him from when he left. This is a long way of saying that my player comparison for 2021 Spark…is 2020 Spark


Out of all the international players I was most excited about seeing in the United States, Sora was at the top of the list. He was Top 2 in Australia for so long before Spud’s retirement and since then has been the unquestioned king of Australia. Within Melee Stats, Sora’s been a bit of a legend – every one within the team who voted in the 2019 MPGR had Sora in their Top 100 ballot and were saddened to see him not make the list. Before Smash Summit 12, I even made the bold claim that Sora was not too far off from Spud, a Top 50 player in the world, before his eventual retirement.

0-1 vs. Zain
0-1 vs. SFAT
0-1 vs. KoDoRiN
1-0 vs. Ginger
0-2 vs. Fiction
1-0 vs. Axe
0-1 vs. Captain Faceroll
0-1 vs. Jmook
0-1 vs. Trif
1-0 vs. Ben
0-1 vs. Tyler Swift
2-0 vs. null
1-0 vs. Westballz
1-0 vs. Nut
1-0 vs. Gooms
1-0 vs. Squid

It’s beyond clear that Sora has lived up to the hype, I have to add that it’s honestly stunning that within a week of losing to another top-level Pikachu (Tyler Swift), Sora merely beat the 12th greatest player of all-time and the unquestioned greatest Pikachu player ever. I think he’s around the same level as Zuppy, a clearly Top 50 player in a normal year, the No. 3 in Ontario, and someone we’ve seen with peaks as high as winning stacked tournaments over Aklo and Logan.


Pipsqueak came up in Stockholm – Leffen’s region – and quickly rose to being its best active player in a few years. As Pipsqueak started getting more time against the rest of Europe (as well as coming to America earlier in his career), he became known for punching well above his perceived weight class in the Fox ditto. Over rollback, he became a Top 5 player in the continent and rounded out his game. His first attempt to travel to the United States during the pandemic didn’t go so hot, but he has to be thrilled with the results of his second attempt.

0-1 vs. iBDW
0-1 vs. Plup
0-1 vs. Leffen
0-1 vs. Hungrybox
1-1 vs. Polish
0-1 vs. Magi
1-0 vs. Spark
1-0 vs. Tyler Swift
1-0 vs. Colbol
1-0 vs. Free Palestine

Let’s start with the “lows” of his trip, because it will really contextualize Pipsqueak’s performance. He took four top ten players pretty close, lost to Magi in a matchup she bulldozes Fox players in, and split sets with the best active Peach player in the world. The highs? He ‘only’ trounced three players who are probably borderline Top 25 – or just outside of it – and beat Free Palestine convincingly. Speaking of which, Top 25 is starting to sound like a convenient place for Pipsqueak to hover around. I’ll go as far as to say Pipsqueak is at the same skill range as Aklo, a pretty solidly Top 25 player who usually wins The Nightclub, a stacked NYC local.


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