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Published March 27, 2023

When was the last time you heard of a major in Oregon? This upcoming weekend’s Major Upset might just give the state’s Smash scene its first ever Melee major. With Zain, Cody Schwab, aMSa and Hungrybox in attendance, this is unambiguously going to be one that you won’t want to miss. Better yet, after taking the last two months off from competing, Plup is attending. Add in some of the best talents that the Pacific Northwest has to offer and you have a one-of-a-kind playing field.

If you’ve read my column before, you know what’s coming next – more or less, a breakdown of 16 players to follow at this very event. I’m going to be doing that today for sure, but with a new element: I will bring up one specific player that I want to see each player take on at the tournament.

Sleeper Picks

Am I cheating by counting Iceman? Maybe. He’s already made the Top 100 before, so he’s hardly an “obscure” name in comparison to the other three. But I’m counting him here because he’s still a sleeper pick to do well. Last year, he took sets from Chango, FatGoku and Ka-Master at a Domino Effect. He hasn’t had a big showing since, but he’s capable of taking down Top 100 players for sure. My hard call is that I think he gives null a pretty good fight if they play.

I feel like Lowercase hero has constantly been near the top of Wisconsin Melee. At the same time, he feels like a relatively new player in contention for Top 100, and outside of hardcore Melee fans, he’s probably more invisible to the general Smash population than I think. To those in the know, they might have recognized him as “Dragon Warrior,” the menace that ruled Slippi Unranked and regularly gave former Top 50 players fits. It doesn’t hurt that Lowercase hero also recently picked up a win over FatGoku at Genesis 9. It’d be pretty cool to see them have a rematch here, so that’s my pick for what matchup I’d like to see him have here.

Though difficult to stand out in a state that has FatGoku and Aura, Stiv has managed to do so. Well, at least locally. He’s part of the new generation of rising players in Oregon, but he’s yet to have a real breakout major. I hope to see him get a really big win out of region, feels like he needs that one big set to put his name on the map. Maybe it comes in the format of a matchup against SFAT.

Hailing from South Florida, MOF‘s made a name for herself as one of the hidden bosses of the scene, as well as one of the most underrated Ice Climbers players. Funnily enough, in the Melee Stats Roundtable, I actually named her as my breakout player of 2023. Last year, she nabbed multiple sets over Voo and Captain G. She hasn’t had an opportunity to travel much out of region, so seeing her name in bracket for an Oregon major is somewhat surprising, yet given her experience against Falco, I want to see how she does vs. Magi.

Deep Run Potential

Obviously, FatGoku, the home region’s top defending player, is a player to look out for here. Of all the players to ever finish No. 51 in the world, he’s probably the most dangerous one relative to the field. One amusing thing about him within this field of competitors is that he has lore with quite a few of them. I’d be thrilled to see him fight Polish or Fiction in rematches of their sets from last year, and the same goes with a Genesis runback vs. Lowercase hero, but here’s the real answer: aMSa. The two had a barnburner three and a half years ago at Mainstage 2019.

There’s never a tournament Fiction enters that I’m not interested to see how he does. He’s been a little quiet at majors, mostly due to focusing on his upcoming game release. One interesting storyline has been the development of his Sheik. I’m curious to see how Fiction does vs. KoDoRiN and Zain. But for realistic upset potential, I think you can’t go wrong with a Fiction vs. Cody set.

Soonsay’s No. 21 rank feels appropriate for his last year, but it also somehow feels like it undersells his potential. He’s followed up an incredible last quarter of 2022 with defeating Pipsqueak at Genesis yet again, so I guess he just has something out for the Swedes. I already mentioned Cody before, so if I have to pick another person whom I think Soonsay would have a great shot against, Plup seems like a pretty good pick.

Polish already had their breakout all the way back in 2021, so it’s not exactly breaking anyone’s head to imagine them having another ‘deep run” in them. Shouldn’t that just be taken for granted? Anyways, I want to see the Fox. We all know how capable the Peach is at its best, but I’m especially interested to see how Polish’s Fox fares against Hungrybox. Everything I’ve heard about it “in legend” seems to indicate that it’s the real deal. If the Fox can do great vs. Hungrybox, it might even make an appearance in other matchups as well.

Top 8 Contenders

It feels like KoDoRiN is seen as a ‘known’ commodity in spite of him gradually making adjustments to his game and showing clear signs of improvement. At first, we doubted if he could beat any of the supermajor contenders, right before he beat Plup. Then, it was asking ourselves if he could beat any of them offline, and he then grabbed sets over the top spacies and Hungrybox,  even beating the biggest demon for his character ever. On that note, I would love to see if KoDoRiN could show that his set over Axe at Mainstage wasn’t a fluke.

Between Axe, SluG, and lloD, I really felt like you could have ordered them in any fashion from No. 9 to No. 11 in 2022 and I wouldn’t have had too much to disagree about. lloD’s last tournament, in spite of an upset loss to Zuppy, was still all around excellent too, with him taking sets over 2saint, Aklo, Axe and aMSa. Honestly, among the top players, the person I want to see lloD compete against the most is S2J. These two had a great set at Scuffed World Tour and they also have history from back when lloD won The Even Bigger Balc over S2J in 2018.

If the second half of Axe‘s 2022 was all about reclaiming his spot in the Top 10, the next goal for this year would be for Axe to make it back into the Top 5. Is it likely though? It seems tougher than ever now that the Marths – plural, not just Zain – are no longer an auto-win. At the same time, when you see something for just under a decade (as in Axe winning 70+ sets in a row vs. top Marth players), it’s hard to believe that it’s now gone. For that reason, I want an Axe vs. Zain rematch as soon as possible.

For someone who hasn’t really been around, Plup had a great rebound performance at Genesis. If it was anyone else, it’d be treated as a comeback, but because it’s Plup, him getting Top 4 just went completely ignored. If I have to pick someone I’d want to see him against here, the first name that came to mind was aMSa, since some part of me refuses to believe that he can replicate “25-2” level dominance vs. aMSa in a serious offline setting. However since I already picked aMSa for FatGoku, I’ll go with Skerzo for Plup. On the surface, their Riptide set was a 3-0 for Plup, but given Skerzo’s upward trajectory, I think he’ll come back more ready in the rematch. That could make for an exciting set.

Leading Contenders

The clear “weak” player out of the top four here is obviously Hungrybox. I took a look at his records from 2022 to now vs. Zain, Cody and aMSa, and the cumulative offline total stood at 6-17. Hungrybox has been reliable as a top eight pick, but to take his major-winning chances to the next level, he’s going to need to show more reliability against the top level. Furthermore, there’s people in the field who can push him to the brink. One such player is Spark. This might sound completely crazy, given that Spark has never beaten Hungrybox offline and is sitting at a paltry 1-6 record online. But where else are those numerous sets against CPU0 going to come in handy for?

Let’s be real: this is not the field that aMSa wanted. Although Zain and Hungrybox are favorable matchups within the top four, there’s also Cody, who’s been aMSa’s toughest opponent. Beneath him, you have Mr. 25-2, lloD, Polish and Spark – all people who have shown the capability of defeating aMSa before. One player whom I’m fascinated to see aMSa match up against is Salt, which may sound random, but Salt is partially known for her mastery of the whole cast. She also plays a character whom aMSa has talked about being quite hard for Yoshi.

This is a hard tournament for Zain. Even though he’s beaten Axe thrice and has to be considered the favorite against him, that’s still a terrifying opponent. I also think lloD and Plup are pretty challenge, and though Zain finally snapped a losing streak to Cody, he remains scary, as does aMSa. Then again, it is Zain. It’s hard to find someone who I haven’t mentioned yet as a “fun” opponent whom I’d like to see him play, but I was intrigued by the not-entirely-real set he had against Fiction’s Sheik at Redemption Rumble. Let’s see how that plays out here, even if it ends up being a wash.

Conversely, Cody Schwab’s matchup spread in the top four is pretty strong, and that goes a long way in making a successful prediction. There’s a few people beneath that group who I think could give Cody a hard time on the right day (KoDoRiN, Magi, Fiction and Soonsay), but all things considered, he seems like a pretty uncontroversial pick to win the event. But how’s this for a fan fact: lloD and Cody haven’t played offline since 2018. Back then, they split sets, with lloD beating Cody at Genesis 6, but Cody winning the runback at Omega II. I’m super down for them to play for the first time in years here.

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