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Published January 13, 2020

Last weekend, Leffen won Denmark’s Valhalla III over the rest of the European field. Notably, the event’s seventh seed, Solobattle, defeated Trif twice and scored another win over Overtriforce – both of whom he had defeated before in late 2019.

In other regional news over the weekend, Slox won Mass Madness in New England, while Hungrybox finished in first place at GatorLAN Spring 2020 in Orlando. Of note, Hungrybox survived a scare against Forrest, reverse 3-0’ing him and then 3-0’ing him in grand finals again to win the tournament.

Today marks the start of the MPGR countdown. For this column, I’m going to talk about four players who I believe have interesting cases for the 2019 ranking season. I will roughly recap their respective years, talk about where I ranked them and then predict where they will end up in the final list.

1. 2saint

In 2019, 2saint became what I like to call “the king of regionals.” If there was an event that was relatively top heavy with regards to talent distribution, 2saint tended to either win these events or place highly. Some examples include his first place finishes at Defend the North 2019, Aurora Blitz 2 and Mass Madness 28. Save for an occasional outlier, usually what you could consider as a potential floor for 2saint would be a head-scratching loss in winner’s bracket before he makes it back to the top four of the same event anyway. When I looked at his head-to-head splits against players ranked within my 11-50 spots, it was really tough not to reward 2saint highly.

The problem, however, was that 2saint’s lows typically came at majors. At TBH9, he lost to TheRealThing, while 2saint lost to FatGoku – someone whose singular major performance of excellence and in-region dominance will likely keep him top 50 – at Genesis 6. 2saint also dropped sets to Kevin Maples (Shine 2019) and Cool Lime (Pound 2019), making the prospect of obtaining these losses seem to have a bit more predictive value for events filled with more Top 100 players.

When strictly looking at results, in many respects, current 2saint reminds me a lot like what Westballz used to be in SoCal: the king of super regionals but not always the best at majors. I had 2saint at 28 on my final ballot and expect him to finish around 35 or so on the official one.

2. Professor Pro

Professor Pro is a longtime UK Fox and ruler of the country’s national scene. For so many years, I took his dominance over his peers for granted, even as he relatively fell off in the international Melee radar – not because he was “worse” but because he just didn’t go to as much.

The difference between Prof in 2019 and 2018, however, is that you can’t take his dominance over his peers for granted any more. This is especially when you consider that two of them – Frenzy and Setchi – are rising international stars, yet he basically beats them down every time they play.

It’s not as if Prof lacks out-of-region wins either. While he’s negative on Trif, Prof’s ability to at least take sets from him still showcases some amount of promise. For his other top results, Prof also had wins over S2J, Fiction, and Spud.

There’s pretty much no reason to have Prof anywhere beneath 40 on the ballot. I had him at 34 and expect him to land around that spot.

3. Morsecode762

In 2018, Morsecode finished No. 99 on MPGR. This year, he’s a lock.

When I initially compiled all of Morsecode’s head-to-heads and organized them by skill range, I found his records against the ballot field under 51 to be really underwhelming. But then I noticed one fat set of results influencing the rest of the pack: his 0-10 record against Michael. Adjusting for this, he just about goes even with everyone else in his skill tier.

I think the two Moky wins and the Spark win are massive. The Drephen win on top of that shows that Morsecode has some potential to be a threat in matchups where other Samus players of his previously perceived caliber might auto-lose. I conservatively placed Morsecode No. 51, but I predict he will end up in the mid-40s.

4. Zeo

Zeo has been a part of SoCal’s extraordinarily stacked mid-level ranked segment of players for the last couple of years. If you’ve followed him for a while, you’ll know that the question about him has never been “could Zeo make Top 100” as much as a question about when he will do it.

Zeo has the peaks to be considered for the list, be it his win on Spark or his additional wins over Squid and Bimbo. He also split sets with Nut, is up on null (7-2), up on Kurv (4-1), has a win on Krudo, and split sets with Schythed. For an average Melee fan, these results may not stand out, but they cumulatively tell the tale of a Top 100 player. You just probably don’t hear about it because Zeo doesn’t have as much “brand” recognition as players around this level, like Leighton or TheSWOOPER.

However, I don’t think the average balloter will necessarily see it the same way. In fact, what worries me about Zeo doesn’t have anything to do with his performances – it has to do with him accidentally forgetting to register for Super Smash Con 2019 and proceeding to play friendlies the whole weekend. With a resume as sneakily good as his, having one more solid major could have erased any doubts about him or given him an immediately recognizable victory for balloters to note. I am a huge fan of Zeo and had him ranked 87 on my list, but I really worry about his chances as a result of his up-and-down activity. I will be so happy if he makes it around where I had him or higher, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

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