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Published February 28, 2022

Over the weekend, Evo announced that it would not longer feature games from the Super Smash Bros. series, citing issues with continuing the established partnership it had with Nintendo for most of the last decade. This is the first time that an official LAN version of Evo hasn’t featured Smash since 2012.

In other news over the weekend, the second edition of the Black Empowerment Melee Invitational raised over $3,000 for Black businesses and charities. As far as the tournament was concerned, billybopeep won it in a massive losers bracket run where he beat Question, mvlvchi, Salt, TheRealThing, Shroomed, and Flash. It’s his biggest tournament victory since winning the Vel-vitational 2 in late 2020 over 404Cray, FatGoku, and null.

To keep track of daily tournament results across the world, follow Melee Stats here for more updates.

Returning Players

In a scene where so many new and exciting players are on the rise, it’s often easy to forget about people who were consistently in major top 32s before the pandemic. Some of them outright retired, others took indefinite hiatuses, and some briefly came back before disappearing. If you look at the 2019 MPGR, it almost feels like a time capsule – the scene was so fundamentally different.

For today’s column, I want to review the recent return of Slox, a hidden storyline within Northeast Melee over the last six months. In the first part, I’m going to briefly recap his career – strictly as it pertains to tournament results – before the pandemic hit the scene. I’ll then talk about his return to competing in late 2021 and recap his recent performances. Finally, I’ll tell about why this is so fascinating and why you should care.

Slox’s Career In A Nutshell

I’ve always thought Slox was one of the most underrated players. He was Top 100 from 2014 to 2019 – six years in a row, with his highest annual rank coming at 42 in 2017, with as high of a No. 38 finish for 2017’s Summer SSBMRank, but the way people talk about other players comparable to him, you’d think he was just a hidden boss. If you made a list of players to have achieved the first accomplishment alone, it’s a short list – only 35 players have done it. The closest analogue to Slox within this period of time is another regional No. 1: Kels, who had slightly better peak performances at majors.

Something else about Slox that’s always stuck with me was his sustained excellence within the Northeast. In his prime, he was No. 3 in New York City, and actually No. 1 in New England before Crush. To fully contextualize these accomplishments, I decided to make three quick lists for every player who’s done these things or both. Here are the players who have finished Top 3 in New York City.

  • Bum
  • Wes
  • Warriorknight
  • Hax
  • G$
  • VaNz
  • dizzkidboogie
  • Captain Smuckers
  • Swedish Delight
  • Rishi
  • iBDW
  • Ryobeat
  • Aklo
  • Jflex
  • Wally

Here are all of New England’s listed No. 1 players.

  • Crush
  • KoreanDJ

Here’s all the players who have done both.

  • Slox

NOTE: I’m not including players who are currently permanently banned from the scene.

When writing this column, I remembered that I actually wrote a Melee Stats Top 100 blurb for Slox. I did that because I anticipated that he would make the final list. Unfortunately, he did not. He ended up finishing No. 102 (No. 95 on my ballot), so I’d like to share what I had written. I still think it’s appropriate for his career and the kind of quietly amazing things he did.

Throughout his career, Slox had a reputation as a Fox ditto specialist. The longtime No. 1 of Connecticut and Smash Summit 7 invitee has taken sets from SFAT, Hax, Crush, KJH, Ryan Ford, and many of your favorite Fox players in general. However, what you might not know about Slox is his rivalry and friendship with Swedish Delight. Not only would the two have thrilling, back-and-forth sets against each other, they’d place deep into top eight at doubles supermajors, like when they finished in third place at Genesis 3, beating Hungrybox and Axe.

Slox’s Mini-Resurgence

Although Slox doesn’t compete on Netplay too much, you can typically find him in one of three places: in the Nightclub venue, the Hall of Gaming venue, or the Game Underground venue. Over the last six months, these three places, more or less are where he’s seriously competed. Below, you’ll find a full resume of his results against notable players.

  • 0-1 vs SluG
  • 0-1 vs Jflex
  • 0-2 vs TheSWOOPER
  • 4-1 vs Mot$
  • 1-0 vs Bbatts
  • 1-0 vs Just Jason
  • 2-1 vs Captain Smuckers
  • 1-1 vs JoJo
  • 1-0 vs Joyboy
  • 2-0 vs Project
  • 3-0 vs K8A
  • 1-0 vs JNaut
  • 1-0 vs bonfire10
  • 1-0 vs Tommy
  • 1-0 vs Heartstrings
  • 1-0 vs Dr. Lame
  • 3-0 vs Kikoho
  • 1-0 vs Clutch
  • 1-0 vs YAMI
  • 2-0 vs TheAsianOne
  • 1-0 vs pilp
  • 1-0 vs Willy P
  • 1-0 vs Luu
  • 1-1 vs gwm
  • 1-1 vs Drew6
  • 1-1 vs Nitro
  • 0-1 vs HOBORG
  • 0-1 vs Prometheus
  • 0-1 vs NoFluxes
  • 0-1 vs Bank
  • 0-1 vs Duo

To make sense of this list of results, I try to think of it in terms of “tiers” – in other words, how Slox performs against different broad groups of players in similar skill ranges. For example, his sets against SluG and Jflex are sets that roughly came against cleanly “Top 50” players (anywhere from 26-50). Going 0-2 against them doesn’t really tell us too much other than that those two players are “very good.”

However, the sets he has against players right underneath those two players give a lot to be hopeful about. Against active players I’d consider anywhere within the “51-120” range (TheSWOOPER, Mot$, Bbatts, Just Jason, Captain Smuckers, JoJo), Slox’s records are quite good: 9-5. If you included Joyboy – a former Top 100 player himself – within that range, it would be 10-5. Against everyone else I listed above, in spite of occasionally losing early, he trends fairly positive at 23-8. Many of the upset losses came at tournament where he still beat someone else who was really good in losers bracket.

Let’s compare Slox’s results over the last six months to Skerzo since the Smash World Tour Championships. This someone who enters quite a bit more but exists in the same broad group of “Top 100 Fox player.”

  • 0-1 vs Hungrybox
  • 1-0 vs KJH
  • 0-4 vs bobby big ballz
  • 0-1 vs Ben
  • 0-1 vs Zamu
  • 0-1 vs Panda
  • 2-1 vs Drephen
  • 1-0 vs Krudo
  • 1-0 vs Chem
  • 1-1 vs Mekk
  • 1-0 vs Kuyashi
  • 1-0 vs Excel Zero
  • 2-0 vs Ober
  • 1-0 vs Essy
  • 1-0 vs Fro116
  • 7-1 vs Pleeba
  • 1-0 vs Eggy
  • 1-0 vs K8A
  • 1-0 vs Lad
  • 1-0 vs NoFluxes
  • 0-1 vs JSalt
  • 0-1 vs FMB5k
  • 1-0 vs KoopaKev
  • 1-0 vs DannyPhantom
  • 1-0 vs GI0GOAT
  • 1-0 vs mgmg
  • 1-0 vs Toast
  • 1-0 vs Frost
  • 1-0 vs Coin
  • 1-0 vs Kendrick
  • 1-0 vs Grab2Win
  • 1-0 vs EastCoast Jeff
  • 0-2 vs JustJoe
  • 0-1 vs Mars
  • 0-1 vs Epoodle

Skerzo has a bit more volume and activity to give him ‘bigger’ wins and he performs similarly well against the field in spite of a few upsets you could find here and there. I don’t see their approach to the game as similar, but their range of results is similar to Slox.

What Does This All Mean?

For some of you reading this, you might just think “cool,” and move on. However, I’m going to argue that this isn’t just a one-off thing. Slox’s mini-resurgence over the last half of a year reflects a broader storyline of the scene during this time. It’s not just him that’s had this comeback arc; players like Spark, Maples (formerly known as Kevin Maples), Captain Smuckers, Umarth, and even Jake (formerly known as Jakenshaken) have all entered tournaments within this timespan. It wasn’t too long ago when these players felt like they were totally isolated or outright retired from the scene.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen so many new players come to the forefront of the scene, and it’s easy to see why. We can play Melee with someone else every day. Tournaments are always happening – and contrary to what you might expect, the consistently largest weekly events are ones that don’t feature top players. At the same though, it’s amazing to see familiar faces return and take names. For each time we correctly celebrate someone like Flash, Aklo, Ben, or Jmook, we should just as confidently praise players like Slox and billybopeep.

They’re the ones who not only led the way for the present generation of players, but are continuing to pave their own path. And what’s more Melee than that?

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