Last week, I wrote about a brief survey I offered to 12 top players on their thoughts of doubles. The week before that, I offered a breakdown into doubles attendance at supermajors over 2022, comparing to prior years. There’s been a lot of doubles discussion in this column, unusually so. I’m sure many of you are sick of it. Initially, I was going to write more about doubles today – specifically exploring what kind of impact it has on viewership. However, in the wake of Cody Schwab’s planned entry at Kill Roy: Volume 6 this weekend, I’ve decided to put a pause on my recent doubles fascination.
How often do you typically see supermajor contending players go to smaller events within a region? Not a lot, but it’s also happened more frequently than you’d think, and I’m not just talking about The Function 2. One of my favorite tournaments from from the last year was an iteration of The Nightclub that aMSa attended and won, with Jflex taking a set in winners’ bracket. On a similar note, I fondly recall when Ahmad took a set from Zain (who played both Fox and Marth) at The Cave. Broadly speaking, there’s something special about seeing a titan of the game enter a tournament as an overwhelming favorite. I have pleasant memories of the 2017 to 2018 stretch where Hungrybox should show up at random regionals. The question was usually if anyone could beat him, and more often than not, the answer was a definitive “no.” But hey; he did drop sets here and there.
In the spirit of that, I’m going to examine the Kill Roy field – the eight players who I think have the best shot at taking a set from Cody. For each of them, I’ll tell you the high-level summary about their results, where they’re trending as a player, how good of a shot they have at beating Cody and, if applicable, what prior “upset” would come closest to being precedent. So who can stop Cody Schwab at Kill Roy 6?
Q? is a fun player to talk about. He mains Dr. Mario, a wacky, if not uncommon character, and he’s from Chicago, one of the most lovable regions in the Smash scene. From a little before the pandemic to nowadays, he’s gone from “power ranked Doc” player to making it on the Top 100 ballot, though he didn’t make the final list. Still – it’s not like he only takes the occasional set here and there from Skerzo. At larger events in 2022, Q nabbed sets over Ben, Morsecode762, Reeve, and Sharp. Just this year, he won The Construct 174 in Wisconsin, beating Top 100 player Eggy and Unsure.
Unfortunately, Cody is a tremendous hurdle to clear for Franz, let alone Q?. Some of my Midwest readers are going to request my head on a pike for stating this, and at the same time they know it’s just true. The skill gap between Top 5 and unranked, as well as the character gap between Fox and Dr. Mario make this the type of set that – in a vacuum – seems impossible for the underdog. In cases like these, I ask myself if a potential upset would have a case for being the biggest upset of all-time, and I usually compare it to something like Lovage defeating Leffen at GT-X 2017. Because of the inherent disparity in stakes between “regional upset” and “major upset,” I’m going to pump the brakes on saying Q? defeating Cody would be a “bigger” upset, but it’s probably comparable in a vacuum.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Grab. He is one of the few people in the scene who I can say is 100 percent earnest; the only person who can maintain Zen-like calm as he deadpan says “Box players deserve to be thrown in the Hague.” Grab’s results are also quite fascinating. Those in the know will remember his crazy run to ninth place at Shine 2022, where he beat Abbe, Matteo, vortex, Polish, and DrLobster, only losing to Mango and Jmook. In recent times, Grab had a quiet 49th place at Genesis, but more or less he’s one of the five best active Marths in the game now. Marths typically are the ones upsetting Fox. So can Grab pull it off vs. Cody?
When I played Mango, I thought I already knew what it was like to play the best. I had played vs Hbox, Jmook, Cody, etc. I knew how much better they were and that I had a long way to go. Mango made me feel like the gap would never close. He was better than my ideal dream self https://t.co/3xIg4bg46a
— Grab The Marth Player I Guess (@DthrowDtilt) February 24, 2023
I will never say it’s impossible, but we have to be completely honest: this is Cody vs. Marth; the same player that has gone 7-3 in his last 10 sets against Zain. That’s not to say that if Zain can’t do it no other Marth can – KoDoRiN has demonstrated the ability to take multiple sets from Cody. Yet at the same time, it’s a matchup that Cody overwhelmingly dominates. It would likely take a mixture of Grab playing the best Melee of his life and Cody playing the worst. I would compare a potential Grab upset over Cody to something like when MikeHaze defeated Mango at UGC Smash Open: a blip in an otherwise heavily dominant stretch in a matchup for the “losing” player.
One of 2023’s most bizarre Smash storylines has been Mekk’s switch from Captain Falcon to Ganondorf, as well as his dedication to running FT5’s with other mid-low tier players. How’s the switch worked out? It’s hard to say. If we don’t count Ranked sets where the Ganondorf’s terrorized the likes of aMSa, Zuppy, Ginger, and gave lloD a meltdown, I’d say it’s still a work in progress. On one hand, JOJI and bobby big ballz sent Mekk home from Genesis at 97th place. On the other hand, Mekk’s taken wins over Skerzo, Eggy, and shabo at locals. He seems like he’s still a Top 100 player, and at best, given how his Captain Falcon had similar, if not worse lows last year, maybe even at a similar level right now to where he ended 2022. Will that be enough for defeating Cody, a Top 5 player?
To be clear, there have been instances of wacky characters – Yoshi and Pikachu excluded – upsetting supermajor contenders. Just last year, we saw TheSWOOPER upset none other than Cody himself at Nightclub VIP (more on this later). However, a case that might be a bit more appropriate for evaluating Mekk’s chances against Cody could be Ringler vs. Leffen. If you asked me at Mainstage if Ringler could beat Leffen before that said, I would have said “two percent.” In hindsight, I think that was vastly underestimating Ringler. My gut tells me that Mekk has a better shot at upsetting Cody, but probably not that much.
How good is Morsecode762 right now? Let’s examine his results. A little under two weeks ago he managed to steal a set from Zamu and beat Reeve at BOPME 23. Before that was his performance at The Big House 10, where he beat Skerzo, Umarth, and Sirmeris en route to 25th place. The only notable events before that were his first place finish at Full House – not dropping a set while beating Kuyashi, Ossify, Vorporal and Brazmonkey – and a run to third at Invincible VI, where he beat Blue, Slowking, and Eggy. His losses during that time: Zamu (twice), Duck, Ben, Q? and Chape.
Alright, I just threw a bunch of names out there, and maybe you have no clue how to decipher it. Frankly, neither do I, but from what I can tell, he goes back and forth with Top 50-caliber players, and more or less beats the bottom of the Top 100 and everyone else. In the off chance where he gets upset, he usually makes big loser’s runs. In a weird way, this reminds of, well, the last Samus who beat iBDW, TheSWOOPER. Unfortunately, Morsecode won’t have the element of surprise on his side. But I think it’s possible. I fleeced someone last year during The Nightclub: VIP with getting them to accept 15:1 odds for TheSWOOPER. Retroactively, I can’t believe that I thought those were appropriate odds and that someone else agreed with me. I’ll give Morsecode 4:1 for this.
KJH’s experimentation with Falco defined a large part of his 2022. His Fox had the results of a Top 25 or 30 player, and the Falco was losing to every Top 100 player it came across, due to still being new. However, it seems like the Falco is starting to heat up. At KJH’s last two events, Genesis 9 and last weekend’s BEMI, his Falco grabbed wins over JoJo and Flash, the former being someone who made it on the Top 100 ballot (and finished in the 90s on my list) and the latter being a player whose reputation seems to hint at him being “Top 50 in skill.” Considering the amount of times that Cody and KJH play and talk Melee with each other, would it be the craziest thing in the world to imagine a KJH Falco victory over the Cody Fox?
I’m not really sure how to view KJH’s trajectory and future success with Falco. Given his recent performances, I’m not inclined to view last year’s results as indicative of how his Falco would perform vs. Fox today, as well as Cody. But at the same time, are two recent performances supposed to tell me anything? The only time these two played this matchup in tournament was last year, when Cody 3-0’d him at a TMT. My gut tells me that this would be a notable upset, but probably something akin to like when Panda beat Axe at Genesis 7; not inconceivable but not necessarily easy to predict.
From the days of Zamu being this random kid from Champaign, Illinois, who seemingly defeated Top 50 spacies at will to today, when Zamu’s done this big brand change into become Melee Hasan Piker, I’ve loved watching him. As it stands right now, he’s one of the most consistent players you’ll find in the Top 40. What’s been extraordinary has been his consistency in the Fox ditto as it’s come with multiple wins over Zuppy, Skerzo, Smash Papi, Chem and shabo in 2022. Though there isn’t a supermajor-contending name in that list, given Zamu’s strong baseline of play, it’s safe to see him as the exact kind of player that could take a supermajor-contending Fox to the brink in the ditto.
Interestingly enough, the Fox ditto has been one of Cody’s weaker matchups. I examined his records in the offline Fox ditto since 2022, and it’s not pretty. In combined sets against Leffen, moky, Joshman and Aklo (Top 25 Fox players he’s had sets against), iBDW has a 1-8 record. Discouragingly, within this group of players, as well as other Top 25 Fox mains (Pipsqueak and Soonsay), he is the only one to have negative records against everyone else he’s played. Granted, Zamu is not a Top 25 player, but finishing at No. 32, it is not crazy to imagine him as “trending toward Top 25” or not too far off.
In a year where newcomers to the Top 100 like Jmook and SluG took all the headlines, the rise of someone like Skerzo has nonetheless been fascinating to follow. The successor to Kels’ throne in Chicago has a well-documented dedication to attending events within and outside of his region, all on a $50 dollar controller as well. What makes Skerzo an especially deadly opponent is his prowess in the Fox ditto. In 2022, he nabbed multiple consecutive sets over Zuppy, won a Midlane over Zamu, and even eliminated the Cody-slayer Joshman from Mainstage 2022. This is clearly not a matchup that Skerzo struggles to understand. He’s both consistent and has shown flashes of being able to take down the top Fox players.
I talked about Cody’s struggles against Fox in the previous section. The only thing that I would add now is that because Skerzo actually has a win over a Fox “closer” to Cody’s tier of play than Zamu, I’m putting him above Zamu for people at this event with the best chance of upsetting Cody. Either of the two would be strong upset choices over him though.
If we’re going to take a look at players who have a chance at upsetting elite players, why wouldn’t I talk about someone who’s actually done it before? Not only did Ginger defeat Cody on LAN all the way back at Mainstage 2021 – he’s actually up, 3-2, in lifetime sets offline, per Liquipedia. I must caveat this very hard though: the last time they played offline was that very Mainstage. And if you include online performances, the record goes a totally different direction, 8-5 in Cody’s favor, per Liquipedia and including the most recent Coinbox. With that said, the latest set did go Ginger’s direction.
BODIED 2 Results! pic.twitter.com/U9J2Hv0Mwj
— Michigan Melee (@MichiganMelee) February 26, 2023
In all likelihood, this is the most probable winner’s finals and grand finals meetup of the tournament. Given their multiple sets against each other, as well as a fun fact that Ginger won the same regional that Cody flamed out of in 2022 (The Function 2), a potential showdown between these two should be thrilling to see play out, even if expected.