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Published February 6, 2023

At the end of 2022, the entire Smash scene was at an impasse. The scene had thrown together some pretty exciting spur-of-the-moment events to replace the planned circuit finales, but 2023 was up in the air. When I spoke with the Crimson Blur on an episode for Waiting for Game, he seemed fairly despondent. Back then, so many planned events for the next year had their futures in jeopardy. It seemed like they were either up in the air or totally done for. What was the future of Smash going to look like post-December 2022? We were in danger.

Thankfully, I don’t think that’s the case any more. For starters, anecdotally speaking, it seems like regionals are making a bit of a comeback. With groups like NYCMelee, Top Shelf Esports, and Chicago Melee leading the way, we’re seeing a rebirth of local streamers and tournaments driving attendance. I’ve also seen, both publicly and privately, interest among top players in attending smaller events – 2017 Hungrybox style.

But why talk about top players when I can talk about myself? In today’s column, I’m going to potentially dox myself and talk about the five tournaments I’m most excited to attend over the rest of the year. Now, I want to be clear – if you are a tournament organizer reading this and you notice that your event is not listed, please keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean that I dislike your event. In fact, this is not even necessarily a statement about the quality of the tournament. It may only mean that I can’t go this year. On that note, I want to sadly “announce” that I won’t be attending The Big House 11 this year. I strongly recommend everyone go to it if they can – I had a blast at The Big House 10 and am only not going in 2023 because of a personal commitment. If I were going this year, I would easily have this in my top five. Anyway, enough about that.

5. Mainstage 2023

Ask any of my friends about my thoughts on Smash, and they’ll tell you that with enough time, I will randomly find a way to bring up Beyond the Summit – specifically how much of an asset it’s been to the scene. This was especially pertinent back in December, around the time of what looked like the Smash Apocalypse and when I attended my first Mainstage. Leaving the event, I felt like I had a good time, but I wasn’t sure if it was the unusual circumstances around that specific iteration which made it emotionally charged or a quality of the event itself. I even asked myself, “would I go to this again?” In hindsight, I think the answer is “yes.” There’s something special about being in the middle of nowhere (Ontario, California) with a bunch of smashers, good restaurants, and nice hotels.

Though the event hasn’t been announced, I would be surprised if it didn’t return. It nicely fits the “open major in between The Big House and Genesis” void. And who knows? Though I think Ontario had its appeal, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of Mainstage potentially getting a new and even better venue and location. My only request for this year’s Mainstage, if it returns, is to bring back the pre-top eight comedy roast. I loved the Roast of Bobby Scar and would be so down for something like that to return. My suggestion: do it for Blur.

4. Collision 2023

This is a no-brainer. Held in New Jersey, this event is only three and a half hours away from me, so getting to the event will be relatively convenient. Furthermore, it’s set to happen a month from now, so we won’t exactly have to wait. It’s easy to be thrilled about the things that are right in front of you, and by all accounts, Collision feels like the next “supermajor” caliber event on the calendar, and frankly, I’m not sure of the next event that will be anywhere near as stacked at the top level.

To give that statement a little more meat, Collision is currently set to feature eight of the Top 10. The top eight of this event may very well be the most stacked top eight we’ve had since the Ludwig Smash Invitational. Speaking of which, you’ll note that one of the attendees is SluG, the guy who had one of the biggest and most unexpected breakout years in the history of the game. Given his Smash career uncertainty right now, I don’t want to miss out on seeing how he does at the few events he goes to this year. Even outside of the highest echelon of play, this event’s in Tristate, so you know some random person who wouldn’t make the PR in Long Island is going to upset a Top 50 player in front of everybody. On a personal note, I have yet to hang out with DarkGenex at a tournament, so being able to finally make due on my promise to him will be lovely.

3. Shine 2023

I haven’t missed a Shine and I don’t ever plan on it. Though it’s not held in Boston any more, Shine always provides an exceptional playing experience. It’s not even close – by far, this series consistently has the most amount of friendly setups and things to do in the venue. Whether it’s the tourney’s unusual commitment to best-of-five, the numerous friendlies rotations, or the amount of side brackets that happen all the time, Shine is the one tournament I go to every year. It helps that it’s in my backyard as a New England resident, but frankly, even if I were somewhere far off like Alaska, I would prioritize going to Shine. Besides, so many people I know in the Northeast always attend this event. Shine’s become something like our annual get-together.

I know what you’re thinking. If it’s so great, why is it at No. 3? For starters, I go to it every year. It’d be pretty lame if I had something that I already know is the best tournament at No. 1 for events I’m most excited to attend. If this was a “what tourney should you go to” list, however, this one would be right at the top of the list. I just know what’s coming with Shine, and as a result, I chose to put it a bit lower. I guess as an aside, it hasn’t been announced yet, but come on. It’s Shine. No way it’s not happening.

2. Battle of BC 5

Now we get into an event that I haven’t ever gone to: Battle of BC. Last year, I made a grand proclamation on Waiting for Game – I gave my word that I would be attending Battle of BC 5. I have a few theories for why I did this. First of all, I’ve always wanted to go to British Columbia – it’s a beautiful region and Vancouver seems like a nice city. Second of all, it’s one of the more “modern” majors, having basically reached that status only since 2022; before that having a neat niche history as a Pacific Northwest regional that would occasionally get one or two Top 10 players. And lastly, the thrill of being extreme.

In all seriousness, I cannot wait for Battle of BC. I love its grassroots foundation; rather than immediately ‘buying’ its way to the top of the scene, it organically had local buy-in from the very start and gradually worked its way upwards. I also appreciate that its rise to prominence has given more of a spotlight to the Pacific Northwest, which, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated regions in North America. I fully expect this year’s edition of Battle of BC to be more stacked than last year, given aMSa’s immediate proximity, Plup being nearby,

1. Festa 2023

Some of you reading this section may have no idea what I’m talking about. In fact, heading into this section, you might have expected me to bring up Fete 3: By The Sea. That’s a great choice too; in fact, every time I’ve discussed tourneys with my dear friend s-f, he has always brought up Fete as his most anticipated tourney series to attend. So in the spirit of s-f gassing up one European event, I’d like to bring up another one: Festa 2023.

Let me be clear about something: I’m not an outdoors guy. I hate camping. I don’t even like the summer. My spouse has to practically drag me outside for walks. I’m impulsively buy “Even More Space” seats if they’re available and not too unreasonable (only mildly) on flights. I like nice things, have grown up with nice things, and though I feel silly at sometimes prioritizing nice things, that’ss just who I am. Yet when it comes to Festa, a tournament where you stay in cabins without bathrooms for five days, I can’t help but giggle at the prospect of doing something that I’d otherwise loathe with my whole fiber. Melee with some of my closest friends, in a cabin, on the outskirts of civilization, in Sweden? For some reason, I think “hell yeah.” Not only is it a great step outside of my personal comfort zone; as a five day festival, there’s truly nothing like it in the scene. Smash Camp is probably the closest, but I won’t be able to attend this year.

In spite of Festa’s relative obscurity, I have heard nothing but extremely positive feedback about this event from those who have attended it. Pipsqueak told me it was one of his favorite festivals to go to every year. As of right now, myself and my dear friends, Ambisinister and Wheat, are signed up for it. It’s my most anticipated event of 2023.


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