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Published January 14, 2019

Last weekend, S2J won his second straight Poi Poundaz 2, defeating Lucky and the rest of the field in Hawaii. Over at Texas’ TGC Returns, Captain Faceroll took first, and Colbol won Georgia’s Dare to Dair.

At Long Island’s Scorpius 2019, Hax overcame an early loss to Ice Climbers player Walz to vanquish the Tristate field and withstand a surprising second place showing from Fox and Marth hidden boss Aklo.

1. My pick for Breakout Region of 2019

Many different regions entered the spotlight last year. In America, you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere with as much activity and rapid improvement as NEOH, which boasted Boyd, JakenShaken, TheRealThing and more. Sticking consistent with the Midwest theme, Champaign became another Smash hub, with PRZ, shabo and Zamu leading the way.

For my 2019 pick of breakout region, I’m going to go with an entire country: the United Kingdom. The still mostly-ruled-by-Professor Pro nation has many players who could make the jump to stardom.

Frenzy didn’t have a great return to the United States and rode a relatively fortunate bracket to ninth place at Super Smash Con 2018, but he’s still among the best in his country. Last year’s victories over DrunkSloth and Overtriforce are still impressive. Meanwhile, Setchi was one sober night at HEIR 5 from meeting activity requirements for SSBMRank, and his sets against Trif at Murk3d are must-watch material for Captain Falcon players against Peach.

For other names in the UK, MINT comes to mind. He is a Fox who routinely takes Professor Pro close and hasn’t been able to clutch out many sets against him, but is trending upward, having swept Chillin last year. His fellow Irish compatriot, Jigglypuff main maXy, defeated a non-sober S2J at a local last year and began 2019 by defeating a lot of Europe’s third tier of talent (beneath Ice, Trif, Leffen and Armada’s ghost).

It isn’t all great news for the UK. Vanity Angel, a Peach player, fellow Smash journalist and one of the select few of people in region who can take sets from Professor Pro, announced his retirement earlier. Setchi has too, although the legitimacy of his retirement is annoyingly up in the air. More substantially, the UK lost its biggest annual event in the HEIR series.

Still though – with so much talent and the third tier of Europe looking more open than ever, there are so many potential players that could break through to the next level. Don’t be surprised if many of them hail from the UK.

2. Will a low-tier character will make 2019’s Top 100? If so, who?

There’s pretty much zero basis for me to reasonably predict it one way or another, so let’s examine the question in a different way. Out of every low-tier character, who has the best shot to make Top 100 in 2019?

Looking through the scene, there’s a surprising amount of them I could see coming close. We’re not going to see a Kirby main make Top 100, but Donkey Kong, Game & Watch and Link have stronger representatives than you’d think. For the sake of argument, I’m not counting Mario or Ganondorf as low-tiers, and I’m trying to limit this to solo representation or as close to it as I reasonably could.

One of my readers recently wrote to me about the relative “resurgence” of DK in 2018. I still wonder if they were actually Chandy in disguise, but the point is true and relevant. Just last weekend, Danish DK Moe defeated Professor Pro over at Valhalla II.

The DK revolution extends beyond individual set wins and Ringler’s impressive resume of wins against SoCal Marths. To close the year, Midwest DK player Twotran defeated Zamu and Cob – likely or borderline at worst cases for Top 100. Given his impressively close set with HugS at TBH8, giant improvement over the last year and strengths across matchups that aren’t just fast fallers, Twotran feels like the best pick for a DK (and low-tier) to make the list.

For whatever reason, Game & Watch mains don’t lack representation on the East Coast. Take New Hampshire’s glock in my toyota. In addition to sporting the best tag in New England, he has victories over the likes of Frenzy and Crunch in bracket. His more well-known counterpart, the newly sponsored Qerb, is a long-time top-level player and crowd favorite in Tristate. Florida’s Kuya, with his complementary Link as well, is another name to look out for.

Speaking of Links, I would keep an eye out for the Germany’s Sixx, who defeated HomeMadeWaffles last year in Europe and was among an elite group of players to beat Amsah in his own region. If he could get a few Top 100 wins abroad, Sixx could gain enough attention to make a tournament like Don’t Park on the Grass, were it to happen again, and earn a big win over a ranked American player.

There’s other character representatives who I think have talent to take Top 100 wins. For instance, Warriorknight could beat a lot of borderline Top 100 players, but it’s tough to predict his activity, or if he’d pick Marth or Sheik ahead of his trademark Bowser. Zoma, a Japanese Mewtwo, is a particularly fascinating player, but he also still plays a lot of Fox, so I’m not counting him.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this, so I’ll say it somewhat abruptly: it’s very unlikely that a low-tier main makes Top 100. There’s just too many barriers to it happening, be they difficult-to-impossible matchups, bracket misfortune and, quite frankly, how talented the whole field is.

My heart, however, does think that an honorable mention is well within reach. And how cool would it be to see a solo low-tier main make it a conversation in 2019?

3. Monday Morning Mailbag

2018 was a year where DK had a mini renaissance in terms of results. Outside of DK, do you see any low tiers with a similar future? – coffee_sddl

See above. Also, I wrote this whole column on my phone while I was at a work conference.

For next week, I’ll be happy to count how many errors I made and point them out. Time to get back to work!

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