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Published December 6, 2021

Down 2-0 in grand finals from loser’s bracket and facing a large deficit vs. Aklo at Galint Melee Open: Fall Edition, Hungrybox finally chose to win. He’d not only clutch out the match; he would win five more consecutive games to win the entire rollback event: his third Galint trophy of the year.

Side note: I was pretty sure that this victory did not make Hungrybox a three-peat champion, as it only followed his win at the Summer Galint Melee Open. Before that, and right after he already won the Winter edition, he finished in ninth place at the Spring iteration. In order to make sure I wasn’t just being a pedant, I looked up what constituted a three-peat and now I’m confused.

Merriam Webster says it has to be consecutive. Google’s answer mentions the existence of a third victory, noting that it applied especially when it was consecutive. I guess the latter definition isn’t necessarily exclusive, but, like, come on. The term “three-peat,” in the way we use it today, originated from Pat Riley, the head coach of the Lakers, trying to trademark the term for promotional purposes. Want to know why? His team was on the verge of winning a third straight NBA Finals. If a three-peat only referred to the act of winning itself, would the Boston Celtics be on the verge of a “18-peat?” Would Novak Djokovic have a claim to a “20-peat?” Look, I know language is made up, definitions are evolving, and everything is a social construct, so why don’t we compromise? Let’s call Hungrybox’s win a Galint dynasty, not a three-peat.

Anyway – a Las Vegas major, Double Down, also got announced by the same team behind Pound and Royal Flush. It seems pretty cool, so check it out.

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

Smash Summit 12 Deep Dive

I don’t think it’s too soon to call Smash Summit 11 the most electrifying major tournament since Evo 2013. Between a buildup that involved the greatest Summit campaign of all-time, the largest prize pot in Smash history, the level of play across the entire weekend, potentially the greatest grand finals of all-time, and the fact that it was the first important LAN tournament since the start of a generational pandemic, there are so many reasons to remember it.

I want you to think about all the hype for that tournament. I want you to seriously reflect on what it felt like to run across the room when Mango reset grand finals and recapture the feeling of stupefying disbelief you had when watching grown adults fail to hit a free throw. But most importantly, I want you to do these things and know that not only is there a chance that you could be feeling the same thing this very weekend, but there’s a chance that Smash Summit 12 could be even better.

Leffen’s back. Pipsqueak, the original invitee to Smash Summit 11 before travel issues prevented him from going, is finally cashing in on a long-promised appearance at the series. We’re going to see if aMSa’s greatness at the previous event will repeat itself. Hell, we might even see another chapter of Mango-Zain. There is so much to talk about, and I’m going to get into all of it.

As I did with the previous Summit, I’ll be diving into each the people attending this tournament, talk about what to expect from them, and then make my pick for Smash Summit 12 champion. Remember: this is not a strict ranking of these players – it’s merely how I see their chances at performing well within this tournament.

Sleepers, but not by as much as you’d think

16. Free Palestine
15. Sora
14. Pipsqueak

13. null

In spite of not entering as much as he used to, Free Palestine has entered four notable events this year, where he’s beaten Zamu, Mot$, Eggy, Preeminent and Travioli. Summit’s going to have a much tougher field of competitors, but for what it’s worth, I asked him if he was excited to play anyone in particular there. He said he’d feel confident vs. Magi and Tyler Swift, adding that because he likes playing vs. lower tier characters, he’d be thrilled at the chance to play aMSa too.

After almost making the Top 100 in 2019, Sora had a strong run to second place at a local on the West Coast, where he merely beat Android 0, Zeo, and Kurv. If you want to know what led him to the nominee list in the prior year, he split sets with Professor Pro when they played each other and even took sets from Franz and a then rising star KoDoRiN. Smash Summit 12 will be a formative event for one of the most exciting international stars, and I’m especially curious to see how he performs vs. the Fox players here.

I’d love to see Pipsqueak get a chance vs. Hungrybox and the top American Fox players. If a recent 6-3 record vs. Frenzy shows anything, it’s that Pipsqueak could also be a tougher out for the Falco players at this tournament than you might think. With that said, I wonder how Pipsqueak fares against characters he doesn’t typically receive top-level practice against. We all know that Pipsqueak knows how to handle Fox, Falco, Puff, Peach, Sheik, and whatever character Pricent casually decides to play in friendlies for a week. What’s his gameplan against Wizzrobe, aMSa, or Tyler Swift?

You might be tempted to compare null with Lucky, but there’s another former Summit invitee who quickly climbed SoCal’s power rankings en route to briefly looking like a Top 50 player: Alex19. Much like him, null has had excellent highs before his Summit debut, taking sets over the likes of Faceroll, Lucky, bobby big ballz, Fiction, Android 0, and KoDoRiN. At his best, and with a tight five-game set against S2J to work from, null could be a scary opponent for Wizzrobe. How’s that for being “Mango’s friend?”

Just Outside Top 8

12. Tyler Swift
11. Magi
10. Ginger
9. KoDoRiN

I’m not saying Tyler Swift has taken the crown of best Pikachu yet, but he’s not too far away, having already beaten KoDoRiN, Hungrybox, and Ginger this year. He’s basically like Axe Jr. – slightly worse in the matchups that the all-time great excels in, a far bigger underdog against some of the top-level spacies (Mango, iBDW, and Leffen), but a significantly better shot against Hungrybox because of his exceptional secondary Fox. I guess Axe has been taking notes.

You might not know it from her 100-52 loss to KJH in their first-to-100 exhibition, but Magi’s ridiculously good vs. Fox. From Smash Summit 10 Online to now, she’s 2-0 vs. SFAT,  2-0 vs. fellow Summit invitee null, and she’s won each of her only sets vs. Plup, Lucky, Aklo, Hax, SFOP, and Chem. The only moments of mortality against Fox have come in a stray set vs. Zealot (0-1) and in an even record against Zamu (1-1). If she’s playing on fire, I could see her being a terrifying opponent for iBDW and maybe even Leffen. Not so much vs. Zain or a 2021 Mango.

The good news for Ginger is that like Magi, there are plenty of Fox players at this tournament whom Ginger’s either favored over or has a fighting shot against. Even better for him, as it is for Magi, none of them are KJH. The bad news, like Magi, is that there are three horrifying Falco slayers (Zain, Mango, and KoDoRiN), at this tournament alongside a personal kryptonite of his in Wizzrobe. If he loses to one of them, getting through from loser’s would likely involve him overcoming aMSa or turning around a head-to-head against Hungrybox – a once even matchup that’s recently started to slip away from him (3-7 in their last ten).

KoDoRiN’s been a joy to see improve since his run to ninth place at the previous Summit. He’s looked like a menace vs. Captain Falcon, cleaned up his Fox matchup, and even had an amazing third-place showing at Mainstage 2021. I mentioned Magi and Ginger as people with upset potential vs. Fox, and it’s only fair to bring up KoDoRiN as someone who’d be equally or more threatening for a rusty Leffen and a less-than 100 percent iBDW. With this in mind, I have to admit that he should avoid Tyler Swift and aMSa like the plague if he wants to make a deep bracket run.

Bottom Half of Top Eight

7. Hungrybox
6. aMSa
5. Leffen

All things considered, this the best version of SFAT we’ve seen in the last four years. More promisingly for him, he’s taken sets from iBDW and Wizzrobe this year, so he’s actually proven that he can take down two of the top five seeds. But isn’t this major just another example of the same story? SFAT will, more often than not, be favored against the field. SFAT will, more often than not, make top eight. Want to know what will happen there? SFAT will, more often than not, lose to one of the same four people. All four of them – Zain, Mango, Hungrybox, and Leffen – are attending this tournament.

While online Hungrybox has much better performances than most people remember, offline Hungrybox has, so far, mostly thumped any player outside of the top tier of major champions. In fact, he’s briefly taken sets from iBDW and Wizzrobe, albeit in lopsided losing head-to-heads. Hungrybox will probably need to defeat one of those two players again, and that’s just to make it to winner’s finals. Do I think he has a shot at beating Mango, Zain or Leffen? It’s not totally inconceivable, but taking a single set from these players would necessitate every ‘break’ going his way.

aMSa’s dream path is something like going 4-1, bare minimum, against Mango, Hungrybox and Zain – not impossible, but a really tall order. If I had to guess who he’d need to avoid, Leffen, iBDW, SFAT, and Wizzrobe would be his hardest opponents, but even they aren’t immediate losses if you’ve seen his sets against them. Combine this with how aMSa is pretty solidly favored against everyone else and you’ll realize that a Smash Summit 12 victory for him is not as insane as it sounds. Okay; it’s still crazy, but it’s about as good as it’s going to ever get for a Yoshi player.

There is no way that I can confidently predict where Leffen will end up at Smash Summit 12. He has an outside shot vs. Zain because they’ve trained together a lot, but I can’t see him being favored or a coin flip versus Mango, iBDW, and Wizzrobe. I’m going to assume that Leffen still washes everyone within this tier, but frankly, KoDoRiN, Magi, and Ginger are much tougher opponents for him than anyone comparable he’s played in Europe over the last year. At the same time, he’s also Leffen. Could I really be surprised if he just destroyed everyone to win Summit?

Dark Horses To Win Summit

4. iBDW
3. Wizzrobe

Zain and Mango have been long-time roadblocks for him, but iBDW’s now shown moments of vulnerability against Ginger, SFAT, and KoDoRiN this year, let alone even Hungrybox in a rare set. This is not to say that he’s disadvantaged vs. them, but iBDW will have to balance fending off a rapidly improving field, preparing for a new entity in Leffen, and catching up with two people who have thrashed him. On the plus side, if he actually wins Summit, he can admit that he was wrong to doubt the Melee Stats panel’s confidence in his all-time legacy. You know what? Let’s go, iBDW!

If Plup were attending, Wizzrobe’s chances would be contingent on dodging him. Based on who’s actually at Summit though, Wizzrobe has a relatively good shot at winning it. Along with being the only person to beat Zain and Mango at the same tournament, he’s a favorite vs. Hungrybox (5-1 in the rollback era), aMSa (6-1 lifetime), and Leffen (4-3 in the last four years). However, what keeps Wizzrobe in this tier is the other player he has to avoid: iBDW, who’s beaten him for four sets in a row. He needs to figure out something vs. him.

Leading Contenders

2. Mango
1. Zain

It’s so tempting to pick Mango to successfully defend his Summit throne. He’s up 4-2 on the year vs. his biggest active rival, has winning records over everyone else at this tournament and, well, he’s the greatest player of all-time. Winning this tournament would not only further the potential gap between him and every single Melee player ever, but it would practically cement him as the No. 1 player for a whole year, even if he’s only entered two LAN events. This is something that he hasn’t accomplished since 2014. Alas; I already bet on Mango once this year. I’m not doing it again.

Without Axe or S2J to keep him in check, Zain has to worry about the following players: a Mango likely to coast on his GOAT laurels, a barely-back-in-practice (and jet-lagged) Leffen, aMSa, Wizzrobe and maybe iBDW if he’s playing out of his mind. The time has come for Zain to win another LAN major – he is my pick to win Smash Summit 12.



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