Genesis, Collision, Major Upset, Battle of BC and Tipped Off have contributed to one of the most jam-packed opening stretches of majors we’ve had in a minute. With the rest of the month featuring Wavedash, which as of now has Hungrybox and Jmook, and CEO, which has verbal commitments from Plup and Wizzrobe, it’s quite possible that we have more in the tank. Per Liquipedia, if Wavedash and CEO actually end up being majors, we’ll have the most amount of majors in the first half of a calendar year since 2017. To spectators and attendees alike: this doesn’t eliminate the long-term professional woes or damage done to the Smash community this year, but having as many notable Melee tournaments as the Evo days is a nice consolation prize.
Summer is right around the corner, and so is SSBMRank!
The Summer period for SSBMRank 2023 ends Sunday July 23, with GOML serving as the last event of the season. Check below for information on player requirements and panelist applications⬇️ pic.twitter.com/V3yMySD5V3
— wheat (@GimmeDatWheat) May 31, 2023
Just last week, Wheat announced eligibility requirements for the mid-year Top 50: “three major-level events” or a player needing “significant data through a combination of regionals and majors” by GOML 2023. Obviously, the first qualifier is more concrete, while the second one has to deal with edge cases. In today’s column, we’re going to examine some players who have had strong years, yet are arguably in danger of missing the Top 50. Consider this Monday Morning Marth a positive shout out and a friendly warning signal alike.
Pulse Gaming’s very own Blue is a player near and dear to my heart. A fellow Survivor fan, as well as someone with a similar love for following niche Melee results, Blue has taken quite a leap forward since his surprise appearance at Smash Summit 13. If you want to talk about what a “Summit level-up” looks like, Blue’s success within the Midwest this year seems to back it up. Along with his consistent activity within Indiana, he’s traveled throughout the entire region to nab sets over Ben, Smash Papi, Preeminent, Slowking, Michael, Ober, Reeve, and Mekk. When faced with them, he is consistently beating Top 100-contending to outright globally ranked players. The signs would seemingly point to him being in contention for Top 50, either on the border or within the 40s range.
However, it’s important to remember the rule that I brought up above: “three major-level events” or “significant data through a combination of regionals and majors.” As of right now, Blue has zero major appearances on his resume. I don’t think anyone who watches him or follows results will have any doubt in his ability to replicate some of these wins on the big stage, but he needs to make it there. Blue has a little under two months to do it.
Back before he made the Top 100 in 2019 – Kevin Maples showed all the signs of becoming a Top 100 player, just not in the way you’d think. Instead of having two or three “standout” wins, he had a consistent track record of dominating regionally ranked players, much like how a Top 100 player would. Four years later, he’s been doing the same thing. This time though, he’s done it to regionally ranked players that are, by the results they show, in contention for Top 100. In a region that features strong players like Khryke, mvlvchi, JOJI, Junebug, and any variant of a Zain secondary, Kevin Maples has been its obvious top dog.
Similar to Blue though, Kevin Maples’ lack of a major appearance is really killing his chances of appearing on the summer ranking. Even though the people who hardcore follow the scene will inevitably geek out about these results, the gravity of them may not necessarily give panelists a reason to place him over another contender for the list, who may have more recognizable out-of-region wins. Can Kevin Maples make his way to a major over the next couple of months and save himself?
Remember when Chem was the go-to-answer everyone had for “name a Top 100 Fox?” That was before he was officially ranked, and now that he’s actually made the list , Chem’s proven himself to be a more than just “Top 100.” It sounds crazy to say for someone who beat Swedish Delight as one of his first breakout wins, but I think he’s currently the best he’s ever been. In the few events he’s shown us, he’s traded sets with Hax$, defeated Krudo, is up in the head-to-head vs. Mot$, and has additional wins in the year over Jflex and 404Cray. There’s one major appearance, which is admittedly not too great, but a variety of locals and regionals that certainly seem significant, even if not by volume.
Still doing lessons for 15 dollars now. I bet I can still help any player up to even fringe top 100, just shoot me a dm! https://t.co/iTXxFhto15
— Andrew Khalili (@ChemSSBM) June 3, 2023
I do want to quickly mention one thing that’s a bit different than the topic: if Chem’s career ended right now, he would leave the game with a underrated legacy as one of Philadelphia’s definitive players for the decade and one of the fastest improving players in all of the East Coast. He basically went from “Top 100 level” in 2020 to gradually improving his results to “Top 75 level” in 2021 to finish 2022 at the No. 66 spot to defeating Top 25 players in 2023. I think if he attends enough regional events with top talent, he is a safe bet for the Top 50. If he doesn’t go to anything else, however, he will be in danger of not making the list. I’d like to see Chem’s story continue, so I included him here.
Rishi’s a tough player to evaluate. Because he’s not as active as he used to be, his placements on different rankings over the last few years have seemingly indicated that he’s taken a step back from competing. At the same though, he truly feels like a more complete player than he was in years where he had a higher rank. I would go as far to say that I think Rishi’s peak is as high as it’s ever been. What else could you say about someone who won a local over Hax$ and casually defeated Trif and KoDoRiN at his only major this year?
Other than Collision, Rishi has a total of three Nightclub appearances. He won one of them and finished in second place at the other two. If you asked me where Rishi should be seeded at a hypothetical major tournament, I’d probably say somewhere within the Top 25 or just outside of it. If you asked me where to place him on a ranking, I’d say he doesn’t qualify for the list right now. I truly believe he’s a dark horse for top eight at any major he attends, but if he cares at all about summer rank, I’d say he needs two more appearances at majors or one appearance at another major combined with consistent regional attendance. Obviously, he does not “need” to do any of this; I’m merely speaking as someone involved in the Top 50 and someone who enjoys Rishi at events.
What does SFOP have for this ranking period? There’s Redemption Rumble from last year, where he beat FatGoku, Zealot and Spark; there’s Genesis, where he beat Aklo; there’s the And Friends event he won over Zamu; and finally, there’s the most cursed 13th place of all-time at last weekend’s Tipped Off, where Zain and Jmook beat him. That’s one regional, two majors, and one sorta-kinda-not-really-but-still-notable invitational.
It’s worth noting that SFOP had a similar predicament last year. His lack of activity almost killed his chances of being ranked before his ridiculous trio of performances at Lost Tech City, DreamHack Atlanta, and then Mainstage, where he genuinely showed results that would have been in line with a Top 10 player. In a way, SFOP should get a little more credit for being active at the start of the summer ranking period, but his performances have not been nearly as dominant to earn him the benefit of the doubt in activity. Just my two cents though, SFOP wouldn’t have to go far to ensure his spot. One more stacked Texas regional showing would be enough, in my mind, to qualify him.
Forever dominant at regional tournaments, but struggling with consistency issues at majors, 2saint really reached a new high by defeating aMSa, Soonsay, and KoDoRiN at Genesis. They’d follow it up with going back and forth with Hax$ at the Nightclub for a while and defeating KJH and Flash at BEMI 2023, among other strong showings at different events. Overall, 2saint had two major performances and a plethora of in-region showings that certainly would give them enough data to give them a number for the season.
Of course, 2saint ended up suddenly retiring. Assuming that holds up, they’ll end their career as the second best Jigglypuff player of their time, which is certainly nothing to scoff at, and as a member of an elite group of people to ever make top eight at Genesis. However, it gives panelists a dilemma. What do you do when you have a player with very strong resume – one that could be argued as “Top 25” – who suddenly retires? In 2saint’s case, I think it makes sense to rank them anyway, as the voters did at a much higher scale with Armada in 2018, but I understand it could become tricky were they to personally request their absence on the ballot. Keep in mind though, a request from a player is not necessarily the end-all-be-all for whether they should be ranked or not.
You might feel as if Plup is at a relatively low point in his competitive career. But it’s worth bringing up that the actual caliber of Plup’s results at the two events he’s attended this year have been pretty good. Beating Salt, 2saint, and Hungrybox at one event isn’t something to ignore, and neither is defeating Spark, KoDoRiN, Soonsay, and aMSa at another event two months later. Assuming Plup sticks to his word and attends CEO, he would have another major or, at worst, another regional in his cap.
— Plub (@Plup_Club) June 2, 2023
It is disheartening to see Plup not attend tournaments. The only people to beat him this year are moky and Cody Schwab: a top five player and someone who’s currently in contention for No. 1. It’s likely that if Plup doesn’t end up keeping his word with CEO or attending another tournament, he will still have more set wins over Top 10 or Top 25 players than many of the people who end up making the list. This makes the prospect of him not being eligible disappointing, so fingers crossed that he keeps his word.
Similar to Plup, Leffen doesn’t look like he’s lost too much of a step with Melee. In spite of also having only two events, Leffen has performances which still solidify his existing status as a Top 10 player. He began the ranking period by defeating KoDoRiN and Fiction at Genesis, only losing to Zain and Hungrybox, and then followed up on it four months later at Battle of BC, where he beat Axe, moky and Hungrybox, falling to the two leading No. 1 contenders in Jmook and Cody Schwab.
Optimizing stuff, checking out more characters and watching top ranked replays!
Going to grind to Masters with Juri after as well 🙂https://t.co/8NOSC7r3wT
— TSM Leffen (@TSM_Leffen) June 5, 2023
The nice thing with Leffen, like Plup, is that the two events he’s had makes me think he’s as good as he was to close last year. At the same time, like Plup’s resume, Leffen’s resume has only two events. With Fete coming around within his continent backyard, as well as the other tournaments I brought up, it seems unlikely that Leffen will miss that third big tournament. I would be heartbroken if that were the case, though maybe Leffen truly just wants to prioritize events for Guilty Gear: Strive and Street Fighter. I’ll put my cards on the table and predict that he makes it over the finish line with one more major showing.
Mango has technically attended three majors, but it doesn’t feel fair to treat all of them equally. There’s the infamous 97th place with secondaries at Genesis 9, the mixed bag of a ninth place finish at Battle of BC that featured him inexplicably picking Marth vs. S2J in loser’s bracket, and, all things considered, an encouraging silver medal showing at Tipped Off. When he’s picking his mains, he’s earned wins over Salt, Aklo, aMSa, and moky, only losing to Jmook and Zain. I would actually go as far as to say that I have no reason to think his Fox and Falco aren’t Top 5 in skill right now. The problem is, when he isn’t picking his mains, he’s lost to Taj, Matteo, and S2J.
On one hand, I don’t want a player to think they would benefit from not attending a tournament more than attending and not going 100 percent tryhard. But on the other hand, I would like events – and rankings – to not lose legitimacy due to someone deciding to not play mains. So the way I’m going to treat it is this: Mango is currently eligible for the Top 50, but if the period were to end right now, I would abstain from placing him on the list. As of this moment, I’m going to treat performances with his secondaries as the equivalent of DQs. From here on out, my best guess is that one of two things happen. Either Mango is rejuvenated from his showing last weekend, plays his mains for the rest of the ranking period and finish somewhere in the Top 10 – or he decides to continue messing around with other characters and that just becomes part of his year that panelists have to evaluate. But I think Mango’s latest performance is a great sign. My prediction is that we see a return of the GOAT very soon, if not another major win by the end of the ranking period, and he follows it up with being in contention for No. 1 by the end of the year.