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Published July 17, 2023

Three weeks, three majors. This upcoming weekend features another edition of GOML, Canada’s biggest major. I’ll be attending, and I’d go as far as to call it the most stacked supermajor we’ve seen since Genesis. Per my count, there’s over 60 players here who could potentially make the Top 100. It’s also the biggest GOML ever, as well as one of the largest non-American events in the history of Melee.

In a similar fashion to the Fete column, I’m gonna talk about 32 players to look out for at this event. At the end of the column, I’ll make my pick as to who will win the event.

The Trojan Lambs

Last week I described this group of players as sacrificial lambs. I did that to both be respectful and to acknowledge reality. GOML is more stacked though so the bottom of Top 32 is naturally going to be a little different. These are people who have a very tough road ahead of them and are undeniably massive underdogs, and yet they’re also a bit stronger than the typical people you see in this group at most majors. I’ve dubbed them “Trojan lambs,” in other words, players who are far scarier outs than their seed may indicate, even if their seeding is fair.

Leading off this group is Ben, who’s had a strong first half of the year, and who defeated Spark and Zamu last weekend. Within that same group of players is KJH, a player I find especially fascinating because his once fresh Falco is now starting to catch up to his Fox in tournament readiness. After him comes Morsecode762, whose appearance as a Top 32 might catch the unfamiliar off guard, but in what little we’ve seen of him this year, he still looks pretty good. Khryke, having been one of the few people to defeat Junebug in the Mid-Atlantic and someone who’s defeated Mot$ multiple times, is another player in Top 50 contention to look out for here.

Dawson, the reigning No. 1 of Philadelphia, has maintained his spot, more or less, as a Top 50-contending player on the East Coast. He could be due for another big major performance here. The same could be said for Skerzo, who oscillates from looking like the best player in the Midwest to finishing 1-2 at large out-of-region events. Shroomed is a longtimer who could make this bracket interesting, even with relatively minimal chances of scoring a upset in winner’s bracket, and then you have one of my favorite rising stars of the year in prof: a guy whose Marth/Sheik dual-main prowess seems straight out of 2015. It’s netted him a quietly impressive regional showings before, like at LVL UP Expo, where he beat Kurv, so don’t be surprised to see him build upon that here.

Wild Cards

The next group of players have very good matchup spreads against the higher third echelon of players and could potentially even defeat top seeds. If you’re looking for breakouts, it’s most likely one of these people. At the same time, they’re extremely difficult to make predictions for. Expect to see a mix of “currently slumping, looking for a rebound” players and “currently on fire, potentially due for a rebound” players.

It might shock you to see Khalid mentioned this highly, but he did start the year with a victory over Krudo. He’s shown glimpses of entering the realm of “Top 5 Jigglypuffs,” which is a discussion that pops up every now and then. Frenzy, Lucky and null fit the mold of “currently slumping spacie with well-earned reputations,” so even if their results don’t look Top 50, it’s hard to imagine a full ranking period completing without any of those three doing their part to make the list. Lunar Dusk follows after that – a player who finished last year within the Top 50 and has not been around as much to show it in recent memory.

I want to give n0ne his own section for a couple reasons. First off, this is a major close to home for him, so how his results turn out here seems significantly more relevant to previewing the event. Secondly, this has not been a typical year for n0ne. He ended 2022 with a Top 20 spot, and is now currently in danger of not even making it onto the Top 50 ballot. n0ne is no stranger to slumps and typically comes back from them with a major top eight run, so it’s not a question of his potential. But will the n0ne comeback run happen here?

On a similar, yet somewhat opposite, note to n0ne, 2saint, the more recent Genesis-top-eighter, is worth watching. Or, well, not watching. They’ve shown glimpses of brilliance, as highlighted earlier in the year, but they’ve also taken a mercurial approach toward competing. Between retiring, DQ’ing early, not attending anything, and then suddenly showing up to Nightclub VIP, it’s hard to say how they will perform here. That’s assuming they actually show up as well. Regardless, after 2saint comes Spark, whom I feel is often pigeon-holed as ‘consistent,’ when in reality, he has a good chance at upsetting top seeds. Though it was last year, he did take moky fairly down to the wire, and Spark beat KoDoRiN earlier this year.

Superstars in the Making

These players are not that far away in skill from the wild cards – they just have current results that seem to point to them being more safe picks. More than anything, a strong performance from people in this tier offers a nice ‘resolution’ to each of their individual stories this year. All of them would make the Top 25 as of right now.

With Joshman, the clear story here is multi-layered. There’s his return to NA after getting his visa, the potential for him to be better than he was before, and him putting it all together once again at the same series where he made his first major top eight. If you asked me to give Joshman a number off the top of my head for this ranking period, I’d guess “19,” but he could possibly put his name in contention for Top 15 come the end of the event.

For Polish, the big question is if they can eventually return to that Top 10 status they used to hold. I feel like their Fete didn’t give anyone a reason to think of them any less favorably than they did before, even if it did probably halt them from achieving that for the summer. While they were technically upset, seeding-wise, by Trif, the difference between those two players may as well be the difference between a dollar and 99 cents. Polish could just as easily make a deep bracket run here.

Axe’s arc is fairly obvious. You have the formerly perpetual top 10 player who then suddenly won a major, regressed during the pandemic, and has now been clawing his way back to the top since events returned. Though he has a few performances here that are subpar for his career standards, he’s also had some showings, like Smash Camp that are fairly strong. A great tournament here could nicely position him for the second half of the year.

Then we get into the anti-hero of Ontario: Zuppy. His fourth-place run at Collision, as simultaneously random and yet totally believable as it seems in hindsight, is nonetheless one of the best breakout performances at a major ever. In spite of two other not-so-great majors, I would still say that Zuppy has a good shot at defeating several top seeds, if only because he’s clearly shown the ability to do it before. Doing well in front of his region would round out the best stretch of big tournaments he’s had in his career.

We have both seen a ton from Soonsay and yet very little. Whatever he lacks in regional appearances, he has in being present at majors. All of his showings here point toward Soonsay being Top 15 to Top 20. The ‘worst’ tournament he had was probably at LACS 5, where he only lost to two potential Top 30 players. Everything else is something along the lines of Soonsay making a top eight, placing barely outside of it, or defeating a Top 25 player. Out of people in this sphere of play, I’d consider Soonsay the hardest one to catch off guard.

Hot take: lloD’s defining characteristic isn’t his consistency. The real X-factor with lloD is his ability to punch above his perceived weight class. I’ll never discount his chances vs. Zain, he’s totally had KoDoRiN’s number, he’s defeated Aklo, he’s beaten a top seed like aMSa, and he’s taken several other top seeds to the limit before, either within this year or last year.

Although Aklo placed beneath his seed at Fete, I still see no reason to view Aklo as anything other than a hard-to-upset player, as well as a threat to some of the top seeds – particularly the Fox players. Granted, he recently dropped a set to Joshman, but in my opinion, that says more about Joshman’s sky-high trajectory and the matchup volatility itself (more on this later) than it does about Aklo.

KoDoRiN once seemed not too different from a player like moky. I think he’s in a weird spot where his chances of winning a major still seem fairly minimal, but his overall ability to upset top seeds has seemed to gradually improve. With that said, making top eights is one thing. Putting it all together for one big supermajor run is another. Can KoDoRiN finally enter that echelon of play where he becomes a threat to win majors?

Leading Contenders to Win The Event

This is pretty self-explanatory. These are players whom most Melee viewers and fans would consider having solid chances to win the event. They are not necessarily the favorites, but they’re the people you should not be surprised to see make deep runs.

Only an idiot would discount the possibility of Mango winning a major. We literally witnessed this same song and dance last year. One funny thing: it’s kind of strange how good Mango’s resume stands out even if you were to count sandbagged sets with Dr. Mario and Marth. He has multiple wins over top players, and has mostly obliterated Top 25 players. Now is it necessarily great for “Mango” standards? Probably not. But the Mango of this year is a very different Mango. With enough time, it may as well become the new standard.

Until last weekend, aMSa whooped Zain and he’s continued to dominate Jmook this year. However, Hungrybox seems to be evening out their rivalry, Mango won their only set this year, and both moky and Cody Schwab have given aMSa a hard time. The way the field is shaping, it looks hard for aMSa to succeed. When it comes to this tournament, the additional presence of lloD and Zuppy make me slightly less bullish too. Then again, aMSa could easily turn it around. Intuitively, I don’t think it’s panic time.

After I predicted that Hungrybox would win Fete, he went on to make it to winners finals before losing in a bit of a surprise vs. Jmook and then being eliminated by Zain. I suspect his path to winning GOML is probably not too different from what happened last weekend, except this time he closes it out. Both Cody Schwab and Zain – his two biggest bracket demons – happen to be here, so it’s possible Hungrybox’s chances took a huge nosedive. At the same time, Hungrybox did win this event last year with that same issue, and he even beat Cody.

At LACS, moky had the unfortunate luck of running into two of his three hardest opponents. If he avoids them, or happens to break through one of them, I think he can win this event. You know what? I’d go as far as to call him favored to win the tournament in a scenario where he makes it to winners’ semifinals and none of Jmook, Zain, or Mango are in winners’ bracket. Granted, that’s not saying much. The likelihood of that happening is fairly low. But it is possible, and I don’t think it’s that crazy to imagine him finally taking a set from any of those three players, especially with the crowd behind him.

Leading Contenders for No. 1

There’s many people who can win the event. But there’s three players who have looked well ahead of everyone else for the most part this year. These are the three players who I would consider “First Teamers” for this entire decade, and they’ve more or less stood out as the greatest “documentary kid” generation Melee players. If one of these players wins this tournament, it will more or less seal the deal for the No. 1 spot in 2023. They’re also fascinating because each of their arguments for that position are quite distinct.

Jmook began the year looking hot and has looked mortal since. But amid some of the cooling off, there’s much to like about his chances of finishing No. 1. He mostly beats or goes even with everyone you need to beat in order to win majors. Encouragingly, last weekend, he snapped a long losing streak to Hungrybox. I would still say that Jmook would rather avoid Hungrybox, but clearly it’s not as hopeless as it once looked, and aMSa’s a similarly doable-but-tough opponent. What especially helps Jmook is his tremendous Fox-slaying and Falco-slaying prowess; it’s tough not to see him having a coin flip chance or heavy advantage vs. anyone who plays either of those two characters. And although he got 6-0’d by Zain last weekend, it’s hard for me to see those sets as typical of what to expect when the two play. If the summer period ended today, Jmook might be No. 1 by virtue of his two victories (Genesis and Collision) being the most prestigious.

Coinciding with Jmook’s return to Earth was Cody Schwab winning majors. I write about it in practically every column, talk about it on Waiting for Game practically every week – what more can I say about Cody’s head-to-heads? They’re by far his biggest asset in his journey to become No. 1. The one thing that I would say is significantly scary for Cody is the same thing that’s scary for every top Fox player at his level: the ditto. I would never say it’s a matchup he’s weak in, but the ditto really is uniquely volatile at the top level. Any matchup involving Cody himself, moky, Aklo, Joshman, Soonsay, and Zuppy will be extremely difficult to make a confident prediction for. I would not go as far as to say it’s exactly a coin flip between any of those players against each other – it’s just hard to be consistently dominant in the matchup.

Apparently the chase for No. 1 is actually a game of hot potato, because Zain now has two majors for the year. What’s especially great about his Fete win was the fact that it came by virtue of him defeating two players who looked like his hardest opponents in the entire field. If he can continue to do well against them while avoiding the “whack-a-mole” problem (where his matchup strengths suddenly turn into weaknesses right as he takes a step forward in turning his matchup weaknesses into strengths), Zain would be in a great spot to succeed. Out of the players in this group, Zain has the most consistency.

My Pick

I want to begin this section by acknowledging that each of those top three are probably the “correct” choices. Because he’s trending high, consistent, and lately won a tournament by defeating his two biggest bracket demons, Zain seems like a great pick. But so goes Cody, who’s been less consistent yet has significantly better head-to-heads at the top echelon. However, when you look at their current projected paths, it’s hard to not see Jmook as having the best potential path. As of right now, Jmook’s journey from Top 128 to winners’ side of top eight is Plat, Morsecode762, Soonsay and Mango. Relatively speaking, that’s exactly the kind of bracket Jmook fans want to see.

However, picking Jmook would be using my brain. Instead, I’m following my heart. My official prediction for GOML 2023 is that Mango finally puts it together for the run we all know he’s still capable of having. He makes it to Top 32 by the skin of his teeth, beats Axe in a barnburner, barely survives Jmook in an epic comeback, and then gets his revenge on Cody in winners’ semifinals. From there, his Fox stuns the world in yet another game five set with Zain, and he holds off Cody in grand finals to win the whole event.

Nah – just kidding. I think Jmook wins GOML 2023 and finishes the summer ranking period at No. 1.

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