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Published February 21, 2022

Last Tuesday, FlyQuest, announced that it was funding a $1,000 weekly prize pot for the Training Mode Tournament series for the next year, with $500 donated to each American coast’s respective bracket. As a result, Zain, SFAT, Ginger, and S2J will be competing in the upcoming series tomorrow, along with FatGoku, SluG, KJH, Mekk, Eddy Mexico, and many more top players.

In news regarding tournament results, KoDoRiN won Lawless Melee 3, beating Casper, Lucky, and S2J in his seventh local victory of the year. Meanwhile, over in the Midwest, Ben had the biggest LAN victory of his career at Minnesota Melee Monthly, where he beat Zamu and held off Ginger without dropping a set. On Friday, Eddy Mexico won Rollback Rumble: NA West over bobby big ballz and SFAT.

For more information on Melee tournaments last weekend, follow Melee Stats on Twitter for daily coverage of results. If you like this content and want to support us further, feel free to subscribe to our Patreon.

The Black Empowerment Melee Invitational 2022

The Black Empowerment Melee Invitational was one of the coolest events of 2021. Not only did it raise over $8,000 in funds for charity, but it featured great players who we frankly didn’t get to see very often. It was a joy to watch people like billybopeep play high stakes Melee again, just as it was to see Vavez – someone primarily known for his doubles achievements – competing in singles and even taking a set from Shroomed. The event itself was so unpredictable, with TheRealThing taking it over 2saint in multiple sets.

It might seem hard to top last year, but I’m pretty optimistic. Not only is there a ton of returning talent, but we’re seeing Flash, someone who we saw make a deep major run six months ago. There’s also many players on the come up -Typhoon, Question, Brazmonkey, and Lowercase hero – who are gonna test themselves against longtime players like Darrell, Wes, and Shroomed.

I’m going to break down each of the players attending the event, group them in tiers, roughly count them down in terms of how I think they’ll perform, and then make my final prediction on who’s going to win the tournament. Remember – this is not a strict ranking of these players, as much as it is a broad assessment of how they will fare against each other.

Could Make Big Upsets In Pools

20. cadenville
19. Wes
18. danilo calamari
17. Question
16. Lowercase hero

I have to admit – I wasn’t actually familiar with cadenville’s results. I did a bit of research and from what I can gather, cadenville’s a Fox player from Oklahoma who usually makes it to top eight or even grands at their locals. While I haven’t seen them with much experience against established active top players, one thing I found was a set over Mekk all the way back in May 2021.

Yes – it’s Wes, the one from the Smash documentary. Obviously it’s been two decades since Wes was a top five player, but it’s also cool to see him play at a tournament with competitors generations apart from him. Something I didn’t previously know that I thought was interesting is that apparently he’s the lord of amateur brackets. In all three TMT amateur brackets Wes qualified for, he finished in first place.

danilo, also known as ole, played at a few online tournaments in early 2021 before going AWOL. This February, however, he seems to be making a comeback. At the latest edition of The Nightclub, he finished in ninth place, beating K8A, Jah, and Insightful. In the previous week, he beat YokaiNels. I looked at what he did in previous years and I found out he also had a 2020 set over Lotfy, as well as one over fellow BEMI competitor Question.

Question was pretty active at the end of 2021. The first thing I remember im him beating Lunar Dusk, but he was already accruing a pretty good resume around that time, beating Jimmy Jockstrap, Trail, Latin, and mgmg. That sentence makes no sense to 90 percent of you reading this. Just trust me – those people are good and so is Question, who also beat Dimension at LACS 4. You guys know Dimension, right?

My initial impression of Lowercase hero came from two things: him utterly clowning me in Fox dittos on unranked and watching Westballz rage on his stream when he was struggling to beat him. Lowercase hero has been really solid within Wisconsin – he’s the No. 1 there and has sets over players from outside the state, like ORLY, lexor, and Joey Donuts. All signs indicate to him eventually scoring a really big win over a nationally ranked player; it’s only a matter of time.

Wild Cards

15. Brazmonkey
14. Prometheus
13. Darrell
12. Justus
11. King Momo

Brazmonkey’s been good for a while. I thought he was the fairly convincing favorite for the 2021 Online Michigan Arcadian and he ended up winning it. Since then, he’s continued performing well. Last weekend, he took sets from Bones, K8A, and his longtime bracket nemesis, Kuyashi. If you see Brazmonkey at a Michigan event, it’s rare that he’ll lose to anyone outside of KJH, Ginger, Morsecode762, Kuyashi, or Ossify.

It feels like yesterday when I genuinely wondered if Prometheus was the best Ganondorf player in the world. Even after the former North Carolina No. 2 moved to Maryland, I always feel like Prometheus totally flies under the radar. It wasn’t a surprise to see him beat htwa, King Momo, and Suezo on the way to a strong 33rd at LACS 4, but want to know what was genuinely stunning? Him double eliminating longtime Long Island hidden boss Foxy Grandpa – one of Tristate’s best Sheik mains – at a weekend Xanadu earlier this month.

I still sometimes think about Darrell’s fourth place run at Revival of Melee 7,  where he beat s0ft, Cactuar, and Hax. That was eight years ago. Holy shit, I’m old. Anyway, Darrell’s still solid; he’s just not nationally too active. You can usually find him at a Guildhouse Fighters, going toe-to-toe  with Kevbot, blargh257, darkwizard123, and a bunch of other NorCal players you probably don’t know, but will have to take my word for on being “good.”

In a community with so many talented up and coming Fox players, it’s tempting to group all of them into the same category, but I feel like Justus does a good amount to separate himself from the pack. Formerly known as GP, he’s lately beaten Dawson, Steech, aCID, and PanterA – all players who are either Top 100 caliber or around the range of players who could compete with Top 100 players. At the last BEMI, Justus had a slick run to seventh place, beating Coolkid, GranmasGotGame, and 2saint.

If King Momo struggled to make it out of pools only to make an insane loser’s run to top three, I wouldn’t be surprised, nor would I be too shocked if the inverse happened (him sweeping his pool and then going 0-2 in bracket). He’s lately been making a bit of a comeback, going back and forth with Panda at locals and beating Bbatts at LACS 4. Are we going to see the return of Top 100 King Momo at BEMI 2022? Your guess is as good as mine.

Top 8 Qualifiers

10. Typhoon
9. Bab Activated
8. Ryan Ford
7. mvlvchi
6. Salt

Typhoon is easily near the top of the list for “Netplay grinders of 2022.” You can catch him in a tourney every week. Recently, his Marth has nabbed wins over the likes of bobby big ballz, Casper, Umarth, CPU0, PanterA, Sock, and Bimbo. A good comparison point for Typhoon would be Khryke on the other side of the United States, who we saw attend a ton of tournaments and gain a high volume of wins in 2021.

Everybody knows Bab Activated for his combo videos, but his actual tournament results are great. In spite of not entering a lot or seemingly caring too much about competition, he’s beaten Ben, Dawson, Lunar Dusk, and JJM in his last three events. It’s crazy that Bab routinely takes months off from tournaments and comes back to beat some of the scene’s most dedicated rising stars. Honestly, this feels like a low spot for him, but it goes to show the amount of talent at this tournament.

Although he’s not active any more, Ryan Ford is historically consistent even when he’s not prioritizing the game. He still usually finished in the top two at offline Ontario events he entered near the end of last year, taking a set from Zuppy, as well as beating strong regional talent like Goosekhan and Faust, among others. Last time he played at the BEMI, he finished in seventh place, beating Darrell, Vavez, and Salt.

mvlvchi (formerly known as MoG) has a tendency to randomly thrash your favorite players at big tournaments. Redd at LACS 4, Chem at the Nightclub Online, Lucky at Pound 2021, Gahtzu at GOML 2021 – it happens a lot. At the last BEMI, mvlvchi tore his pool a new one, beating billybopeep, King Momo, and Kels before scoring another win over Bab Activated in the main bracket. He’s earned his spot up here.

I’ve written about Salt before in this column, so in addition to what I already jotted down about his awesome run at a January Salt Mines, I’ll recap his February so far. He’s lately won a Spudfest over Typhoon and CPU0, won a Bristahood Brawl over Mekk, and he’s won individual sets over Travioli, Aura, and Medz. Salt could decide to play secondaries at this event and I’d probably still have him here.

Leading Contenders

5. Shroomed
4. Flash
3. TheRealThing
2. KJH

When I preview players for big tournaments, I usually try to be positive. I’m going to make a special exception for Shroomed, whose performances in the back end of 2021 ranged from playing with secondaries to being aggressively bad. Nonetheless, this is literally a Top 25 player of all-time. I still have a lot of faith in his ability to do well when he cares and don’t think much more needs to be said.

As someone who predicted Flash’s Riptide breakout, I feel an special obligation to hype him up further. The only thing we’ve seen from him since was a local STB where he lost to TheRealThing and essy for third place. I’m going to assume that the Flash we saw at Riptide – the one who beat Ginger, Slowking, and Juicebox – is a bit closer to the Flash we should expect to see this weekend, but it’s worth noting that TheRealThing is actually here.

Speaking of which, I feel like so many smashers – even those in the know – internalize TheRealThing as a “Top 100 Falco who loves the Cavaliers and shoots a ton of lasers.” While that is true, he’s also got an interesting resume, with wins over Lunar Dusk, Jflex, Skerzo, Flash, Free Balloon Day, and a bunch of other solid competitors. I would honestly say he’s not far at all from Top 50, if not outright within it. But you wouldn’t know it from how often he slips under the radar in these conversations, which is crazy to say about someone who outright won the last BEMI.

KJH is the most safe pick for winning this tournament. The stage is practically set for him. He’s off an amazing January where he won a East Coast Fridays over Hungrybox and he’s made a weekly tradition of monster loser’s bracket runs even when he occasionally lost early. Matchup-for-matchup within this group of players, KJH has exceptionally strong chances. I trust him against every Falco here, think he’s great vs. Sheik and Fox, improving vs. Falcon, very good against floaties, and there’s no Ice Climbers here. So if it’s not him, who’s my pick?

My Pick

1. billybopeep

When I watch billybopeep play, I feel the same way as I do when I see old videos of Druggedfox or Crush. It’s hard to describe, but the best way I can put it is that the pieces are all there. I remember how he casually beat S2J, Shroomed, Ryan Ford, Drephen, Sock, and bobby big ballz at consecutive events before the pandemic. He finished 2019 at a strong No. 52 ranking, but he was arguably trending well above that.

Curiously, it’s not like he totally disappeared from the scene once the COVID era began. In 2020, he won a couple small pre-rollback online events before switching and back between seriously playing and choosing Pikachu at tournaments. When he finally took the ankle weights off at an East Coast Fridays, he beat Zuppy, th0rn, and htwa in a fifth place run, only to win the Vel-vitational 2 over FatGoku, null, and 404Cray shortly afterward. Two months later, he finished in third place at the first BEMI, beating Ryan Ford, Shroomed, King Momo, Kels, and Axe, only losing to 2saint.

In the last year, billy has basically gone AWOL. I could only find two tourneys he entered, neither of which seem particularly indicative of what to expect from him now. The first showing was splitting sets with SDJ at the KB Classic 6; the second was going 0-4 in sets at the Smash World Tour NA West Regional Finals, something that would have been a possibility for so many Top 50 players.

It’s been four months since this tournament. It’s time for the hero to return. billybopeep is my pick to win the Black Empowerment Melee Invitational.





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