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Published July 5, 2021

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Smash Summit 11. The tournament series saw its latest iteration raise over $100,000 for its prize pot – the largest ever in Smash history – and yet it all but confirmed that one of its most anticipated attendees, Leffen, would not be able to attend.

In the same few days in which returning Summit champions like Hungrybox and Axe, as well as rising stars like LSD and Aklo were voted in, Leffen that COVID-19 restrictions related to United States travel policy prevented him from legally traveling to and competing within the United States. This isn’t the first time where travel-related issues have stopped Leffen from being able to pursue Melee more seriously. Most notably, in late 2015 and following a stretch of months when the Swede dominantly won national tournaments within the United States, he was unable to compete at The Big House 5 due to a visa ban and could only return a year later.

Finally, for the biggest news of today – the last two vote-in attendees of this iteration of Summit are n0ne…and Yingling, the recipient of the most amount of votes in Summit history.

Follow the Melee Stats Twitter account for daily coverage of all the results you need to know.

The Greatest Smash Summit Campaign of All Time

Disclaimer: I spent my Summit votes for LSD and Yingling.

Melee history is filled with underdog stories. Some of them have come in our game’s strangest sets, the most unexpected careers and in our most forgotten. However, when it’s all said and done, there may not be a greater out-of-game underdog story than the campaign of getting Yingling into Summit.

For those of you who hadn’t heard of Yingling before today, Yingling is a local tournament organizer from Arizona, most notably for running the Smash Camp series. For the more of you who aren’t familiar with his tournament results, he’s been ranked in Arizona for a while – certainly not Top 100 on its own, but a relatively impressive achievement for someone who lives in one of the strongest statewide Melee regions in the United States.

I have to admit that I’ve never seen anything like this campaign before in my life. From the profile picture changes of people on Twitter to the “Air Yingling” meme posted in response to random tweets to everyone, the marketing campaign to get Yingling into Summit was a master class in how to start and spread an online movement. As much as people would like to discount it as a “meme” pick – it only worked because people bought into the brand, found the player and his following likable and wanted to be a part of something special.

I’ll let you guys in on something that I should be frustrated about, but honestly can’t get too mad, all things considered. What I had originally planned for this column was a last-minute reflection piece by The Cheat – but what I hadn’t realized was that today was the last day for voting and the campaign. As a result, it couldn’t happen, but who knows? Maybe in a future piece, we can delve into the mind behind the greatest Smash Summit campaign of all-time. For now, the Smash scene got ratio’d by Air Yingling and honestly? It’s awesome.

Players to Watch at The Big One

While I’m not quite clear on how Summit will fill in the spot previously reserved for Leffen, what I do know is that we have as big of a tournament as you could possibly have without featuring any of the people at Summit. Any Melee player who cares about tournament results is going to be tuning in this weekend.

For this part of the column, I’m going to select a few players who have the potential for a big return to form The Big One. I will briefly discuss their 2021 in terms of results, why you should pay attention to them this weekend, and make a prediction for how they will perform at the event.

Cactuar: The Returning Veteran

When I saw Cactuar’s name in the attendance list, I legitimately yelled out loud. The last time I remembered him showing up to an event was Genesis 6. I checked to see how he did; he finished in 49th place, beating TheSWOOPER and only losing to Bananas and AbsentPage. While looking this up, I ran into another showing of his at an older “Rona Rumble” before rollback was introduced to the scene. He ended up going 2-2, losing to Chillindude and Zeo.

With that said, I wouldn’t sleep on Cactuar. He’s been in the scene for a little under a decade and a half and there was a time when you could pretty much guarantee that he’d be in Top 32 at whatever national he went to. It seems like he doesn’t really leave the West Coast any more. I’m not going to act like I have any idea how he’ll perform, but that’s also part of what makes him someone I’d excited to see show up.

Kalamazhu: Returning Late 2020 Star

I’ve written about Kalamazhu before in this column, so I’ll try not to repeat too much of what I’ve already said. Earlier this year, he seemed like by far the best Peach main. He was one of the only people in the world to have beaten moky, iBDW and Mango in the same year. How quickly did we all forget about his incredible third-place finish at Four Loko Fight Night?

Unfortunately, the reason we forgot is very simple. Kalamahzu hasn’t entered anything since this tournament. Like, nothing at all. Based on the Kalamazhu we saw earlier in the year, he should absolutely be in contention for winning the event. We’ll see if he still has that same level of play in him for his grand return.

Fiction: The Returning X-Factor

Fiction’s results in the first few months of 2020 were absurdly impressive. In addition to placing in top eight at Genesis 7, he nabbed wins over iBDW, Ginger, ARMY, Westballz, Magi, Pricent, aMSa, Hax, Wizzrobe, S2J and FatGoku. It would have taken an world-changing event to have stopped Fiction’s rise. Turns out that life’s a bitch.

We haven’t really seen much of Fiction on rollback; or at least not his Fox. In recent times, he’s been playing Falco. The only sets he has in the last three months is a sole 3-0 victory over Melee Stats member Ovenn, which came at an event where Fiction slept through his scheduled winners’ bracket match, beat Ovenn, and then decided he didn’t feel like playing through loser’s. In hindsight, it was probably revenge for him not being ranked Top 10 in 2019.

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