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Published July 10, 2023

With one major out of the way comes another one. And another one. And – amazingly, with Mango in attendance – a potential other one. The entire month of July is about as stacked as any month of Melee can be nowadays. For this week’s edition of Monday Morning Marth, our central focus is going to shift from Los Angeles to across the Atlantic Ocean, square in Camber, United Kingdom, at Fete 3: By the Sea.

Fete 3 isn’t merely the first major edition of Fete. It’s the first major ever held in the United Kingdom, as well as the first one the entire continent of Europe has had since DreamHack Winter 2016. By all means, it will be a monumental tournament for the entire European scene. It’s also the second to last big event that we’re going to be seeing before the cutoff period for summer rank.

Who’s going to win Fete 3? In today’s column, I’ll give a brief rundown of the field and make my prediction for who will win.

NOTE: This column was written when the initial seeding was revealed. I doubt it will change the players I’ve chosen to write about within each group, but it may impact their overall order within their respective group.

The Sacrificial Lambs

Within the lower end of top 32 seeds at this tournament are people you’ll find usually dominating locals within obscure regions or – bare minimum – making it out of pools at majors. They’re very fun to root for and are overall strong players. However, because of their spot within the seeding, they usually end up having to stare Death in the face. In other words, they have to play one of the top seeds.

The first one I want to mention is Goodie. Over the last year, he’s taken the rest of Australia by storm, recently winning a tournament over SA Nick, who finished on the Top 100 ballot last year. After Goodie, you have Espi, a long-time top Fox from British Columbia who’s looking to rebound after Battle of BC. Astar, a power ranked German Fox, is hard to evaluate, but my guess is he’s probably about as good as any Fox can be without being ranked in SoCal. Then there’s Jadde, a Sheik player from Stockholm who’s been playing since 2007 and has a reputation for terrorizing top European players on Slippi.

Although I don’t think the next four players are as immediately toast, it’s still going to be difficult for them to withstand the No. 5 to No. 8 seed players at this particular tournament. Rikzz, who is apparently sort-of-kind-of-maybe-retiring, is in a similar skill tier of play as Espi and Astar, but slightly better and has a history of doing well at larger European events. Above him is Branspeed, a UK Marth player who quickly rose to being nationally ranked right before the pandemic. Then, you have Mahie, a Falco player who’s been near the top of the French scene since the Stone Age, a decent Dutch Fox ($TYN) and a good German Falco (irfan). All these players are respectable – some of them being ones I’ve enjoyed watching for a long time – they just have a tough path ahead.

The Spicy Picks

If you want to know which part of the bracket to pay attention to, it’s wherever these players are. I would consider the people within this group the true wild cards of this event. They typically fall into “matchup specialist” territory or they are broadly unpredictable, volatile players.

Obviously the first one that comes to mind is Tekk, a French Jigglypuff who used to be a bit of a fan favorite due to his Rest-heavy playstyle, and he’s lately taken a set from Jah Ridin’. But then we get into a Danish player whom I obviously have great investment in: Moe, who once defeated Professor Pro and could put his name in contention for best Donkey Kong with a great performance here.

Following those two people come an interesting mix of hidden bosses and Top 100 ballot names from last year. We have the Long Island Sheik legend Foxy Grandpa, then a Melee Stats alumnus in Sharp, the No. 2 of Stockholm, skullbro, the No. 1 of the Netherlands and top Dr. Mario main, and a fun trio of top United Kingdom players in Kingu, Fat Tino, and max. I especially want to note Kingu as someone who’s defeated Frenzy and Ryobeat this year.

The last three people I want to mention are pretty fascinating. The No. 15 seed of this tournament is the longtime Melee ruler of Switzerland, Jah Ridin’, who has simultaneously looked like the best Luigi player in the world before in flashes, been the best Luigi in Europe for most of the last decade, and yet somehow hasn’t ever made the Top 100. On a similar note for that last trait is Kins0, a Falco from Germany whom you might remember for taking Leffen to the brink at Smash World Tour. And then, of course, comes another Melee Stats alumni group member in Abbe, who finished No. 97 in the world last year, trounced Kalvar at Genesis, and recently split sets with Solobattle en route to second place at Smash Sauna 2023.

Top 8 Contenders

The No. 9 to No. 12 seed group here is weird to analyze. All these players are obviously Top 100 and are solid favorites over the field. However, they also have wildly different results and rates of activity this year. All four of them are Top 50 “by vibes,” and yet each of them have something currently holding them back from an appearance on the summer rank as of right now.

For a good period of last year, I thought Frenzy was a lock for Top 50. Unfortunately for the world No. 47, he’s had a pretty tough start to the year, with a ho-hum Genesis by his standards, and one subpar major as an international player tends to hurt. Within the events we’ve seen from him in Europe, however, he’s usually done fine. He also recently defeated Professor Pro at Avant la Fete.

Bbatts, a breakout player from the last Fete, has been all over the place in his results this year. Although he attends a ton, he’s had inconsistent results. His majors haven’t been particularly great, but Bbatts recently won a Nightclub over Aklo, and he also has sets over Salt and bobby big ballz. How he performs here depends on which Bbatts we see. Will it be the one who got 97th at Genesis or the one we’ve seen look much more comfortable at home?

It’s been a little sad to see Professor Pro, who’s ruled the UK Melee scene for a little over a decade, no longer as active as he used to be. In 2023, he’s had five events, There’s two highs in tournament wins over Tekk and Jah Ridin’, and three lows in a relatively mediocre fifth place at Avant la Fete, a mixed bag at BEMI, and an unusual runner-up showing to max last weekend. Still – it is Professor Pro. I cannot imagine what the UK scene would look like without him on top.

There’s no question that Pipsqueak would be a Top 50 player, if not Top 25 or higher, with more activity at a national level. But he’s taken a break for most of the first half of this year, so he’s not currently eligible for summer rank. In what little we’ve seen of Pipsqueak this year at bigger events, he’s finished an alright 25th at Genesis (due to running into aMSa early) and won Smash Sauna 2023 over Abbe and Solobattle.

Dark Horses

I mentioned before that the No. 5 to No. 8 seeds at this event were going to be large roadblocks for some of the “sacrificial lamb” group players. Not only do I think they are quite hard to break through, I also think each of these players have a decent shot at making it as far as the winner’s finals. In line with last week’s column, I want to talk about what a tournament victory would look like for each of them, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. You’ll find one interesting link between three of them in particular.

Let’s begin with Joshman. I received a lot of flak for exploring the minor possibility of a Joshman victory at LACS, but it’s worth noting he was one of two people at this tournament who beat the eventual winner. As far as Fete goes, if he gets by Pipsqueak and everyone else before, he’ll likely face aMSa, whom he’s beaten before, in winners’ quarters. In winners’ semifinals,he would have to probably play one of Hungrybox or Aklo, both of which are difficult, but certainly not impossible. After that, he’s unfortunately likely to have to endure the Zain or Jmook buzzsaw. If he’s lucky though, maybe he just has to withstand another dark horse in winners finals (like Trif) to make it to grands. From that point onward, he just needs someone he’s already beaten or has a nonzero shot of beating, so one of Trif, Hungrybox, Aklo, or aMSa would do here.

Trif’s shot at winning Fete 3 is not particularly large either, especially since he has a fairly tough potential field draw in Professor Pro, one of the few people in Europe he’s struggled with. I’ll have to once again become creative: not only does he skate by Professor Pro (or dodge him); he actually upsets Zain in an out-of-nowhere repeat of their Smash Summit set from four years ago and in similar fashion to Wally last year. From there he…beats Jmook? Is that what he does? lloD took Jmook close a year ago, so maybe it’s not that crazy for either Trif to outright beat Jmook or for Polish to beat Jmook and then lose to Trif. On second thought, it totally is. But regardless of which unlikely scenario happens, if one of them occurs and benefits Trif, he then could play aMSa, and we have a good idea of how that would go (a Trif win).

When I made my 2025 Top 10, Polish ended up as one of my honorable mentions due to their incredibly consistent Peach and the promising nature of their Fox. In a weird way, I feel optimistic about Polish’s long-term potential in being competitive with the top seeds, even if their current chances for winning the whole event are tiny. Whatever a Polish Wins Fete 3 Universe looks like, I feel like it wouldn’t involve many shenanigans as much as it would just be a final coming-together moment for someone who once looked Top 10. I don’t actually think it would require one specific path over another one – it would need Polish to finally take a leap forward that we all know they’re capable of taking. If I had to put names to it – they upset Jmook, defeat Trif or Zain, then beat aMSa twice to make history.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Aklo’s hovered just outside Top 10 for the last couple of years. When does he enter the major contention range? It really seems like a matter of time. My best estimation for what this looks like is him finally overcoming Hungrybox on LAN, defeating a resurgent Joshman or Pipsqueak in winners’ semifinals, and then maybe defeating Jmook twice to win the event. Granted, their only LAN set so far was one where Jmook made mincemeat of him, but I like Aklo’s chances vs. Jmook much more than aMSa or Zain. both of whom we’ve seen convincingly beat Aklo more times.

Major Contenders

These are the big boys. We don’t need to dive into them too much. Everyone would roughly put each of their chances to win the event in a significantly higher category than the players beneath them and around the same level.

When in doubt of good Smash topics to discuss, always ask the question “can Hungrybox win a major?” This has been an unofficial recurring segment on Waiting for Game for the last two years, and I may as well keep it going here. With that said, if there’s a tourney for him to win, it’s this one. We’re seeing him evening out his head-to-head with aMSa, the field has a big dropoff from the top seeds, which typically favors a mostly steady player like Hungrybox, and he has an immediately great “path” to grand finals if he runs into Jmook. Come to think of it, the only player at this event who I think stands out as solidly favored over Hungrybox in a head-to-head breakdown would be Zain, whom he nearly 3-0’d last weekend.

We then have the No. 3 seed Jmook. He started the year looking untouchable and like someone who had a chance of becoming the first player to ever win the first three majors of a calendar year. Within this specific group of competitors at Fete, Jmook seems like a lock for the winners’ side of top eight. If everything goes as projected, he’ll face Zain – one of his best top seed matchups – here. However, aMSa and Hungrybox, who each have the 1 and 4 seeds, are still terrifying. Even if aMSa could easily be upset by any of the dark horse players, Hungrybox is a bit tougher to dodge, as well as more deadly.

Zain has only really struggled vs. aMSa and Jmook within the current crowd of top seeds. In particular, the Jmook head-to-head looks like something that could potentially trend his way given the trajectory of the Ice Climbers, though it had a mixed bag of a start vs. Leffen last weekend. Winning this event would nicely position Zain further in contention for No. 1 on summer ranking, which is something he could cement with a win here and at GOML.

Finally, there’s the No. 1 seed and reigning Fete champion aMSa. Ironically, he’s the one that’s most vulnerable against the dark horse group of players, but he also boasts positive records over each of the top seeds. Other than maybe Trif, there’s no player within this tournament whom you could say that aMSa is disadvantaged against, even if they have a nonzero shot at defeating him.

My Pick

I thought long and hard for who I think would win this event. In the end, I have a sneaking suspicion that everything is falling into place at Fete 3 for a Hungrybox victory. I predict that he will waltz into winners’ quarters, barely hold off Aklo in a last-stock thriller, do the same thing to aMSa in top eight, and then defeat Jmook twice to win the tournament. By doing so, he’ll take home his first major of the year, become the fifth person to win a major in 2023, and, in the process, make this summer ranking period far more interesting.

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