Beyond The Summit Shutdown
Last Monday, the competitive Smash community suffered its biggest blow in months: the complete shutdown of operations for Beyond the Summit – arguably the scene’s definitive production studio of the last eight years. According to LD, the remaining co-founder for BTS, the company was in such a dire financial situation that it decided to shut down entirely and offer its employees adequate severance packages.
On the Future of Beyond the Summithttps://t.co/ZfsCGY3iM3
— LD (@LDeeep) February 27, 2023
BTS’ shutdown is already at the forefront of global esports headlines – it’s been especially devastating for Smash since it represents yet another company leaving the scene or being forced to close over the last few months. As the organization behind Smash Summit, the go-to streaming studio for the two biggest supermajors of every year, and the main behind-the-scenes deal-maker for the Papa Johns deal, BTS was arguably the most important organization in the community. Having already produced some of the scene’s most well-performing content, its chief contribution, Smash Summit, also brought the scene its premier invitational and its greatest streaming-performing months ever.
This is unambiguously devastating news. Over the last eight years, it had become increasingly difficult to envision what Smash would look like without BTS. It is now a sobering reality that the scene will have to accept before moving forward. But there are still big tournaments to look forward to, and the community has seen and recovered from worse times. As Ken Chen put it on his Fourside Fights appearance, nobody could have predicted the immense success that BTS had or the moments of glory that it brought to the scene.
He’s right. Smash, more than any other community, has been defined by these periods of overcoming hopelessness by discovering something no one could have imagined. Though BTS itself may not have its contributions ever replaced, something new and hopeful will come up in the future, as long as there remain people who care about the community and people inspired by groups like BTS. So in the spirit of celebrating Smash and looking at what’s coming up ahead, I’m going to look at the biggest Melee tournament we’ve had since Genesis: Collision 2023.
In today’s column, and in the same vein in which I’ve previewed tournaments in the past, I’m going to briefly talk about 16 players you should be looking out for at Collision. Remember: this is not a ranking of the sixteen best players; just sixteen people whose bracket results are worth following.
SURPRISE – BRIEF DOUBLES PREVIEW
I would feel like a hypocrite if I spent two weeks writing about doubles and then didn’t even acknowledge it before the tournament when I had the chance to. So for all 12 of you doubles fans out there – who I’d like to imagine are absolutely popping off in your office or home – who have been starving for anything resembling doubles coverage, I’m going to jot down everything you need to know. For the rest of you, just skip to the next section.
The first thing I want to note is the controversial No. 1 seed: aMSa/Axe. In the past, these two were consistently in doubles top eights, but they’d never actually won together. Most recently, they entered Apex 2022 (2nd) and Lost Tech City 2022 together (3rd). If the third time is, indeed, the charm, they’ll have to make it by Jmook/Cody Schwab, who I’d consider the favorites to win. They won GOML 2022 and The Big House 10 together, so sans for Hungrybox/Plup, they’re the best active duo in the world.
POST-PUBLISH NOTE: Apparently, aMSa/Axe are no longer the No. 1 seed in doubles. Take this preview, as far as doubles seeding is concerned, as a reflection of what the landscape looked like late last week. More changes may happen.
Beneath the two top seeds are some interesting duos. The third seed is lloD/Rishi, who are teaming for the first time in about five years. Right underneath them is another pair of brothers in Aklo/Foxy Grandpa. For whatever it’s worth, they recently flamed out of Apex 2022 at ninth place, due to running into aMSa/Axe and Spark/Polish. Following the Long Island brothers, you get an interesting combination of Krudo/Polish as the No. 5 seed. I think these two are the most intriguing team here. Both of them outright won doubles tournaments last year with different partners. Krudo/Stango won Super Smash Con 2022, Krudo/Panda won Shine 2022, and Pipsqueak/Polish won Pound 2022. Looking through Polish’s doubles history, they seem to like teaming with Sheik, and they’ve made top eights with essy and Free Palestine before. I would not be surprised if Krudo/Polish won this event.
There’s three more teams to talk about in the top eight seeds. Zuppy/Mot$ have never teamed together, yet remain a terrifying Fox-Fox team on paper. Lunar Dusk/Dawson follow them, having a ninth place finish at Mainstage – a tremendous accomplishment that only especially handsome and talented people in Melee can claim to boast. The final top eight seed is Khalid/Fizzwiggle, who I do not know anything about, but apparently the Colorado scene still cares about doubles? I’m stretching for storylines here. The only other thing I’d mention is bonfire10/Arty, the No. 9 seed. They both came up in the New England Melee scene together, went to the same school, and are a very strong team overall.
Long story short: expect Jmook/Cody to win and keep an eye out on Krudo/Polish. Anyway, let’s get to the part most of you care about: singles.
Sleeper Picks Out of Region
As a Patron of Melee Stats, Kingu is near and dear to my heart. But beyond his mere presence in the Melee Stats server, the former Jigglypuff turned Fox player is one of the top five Melee players in the United Kingdom, and he’s most recently won a tournament over max, who is the current UK No. 3. Though I don’t know if Kingu’s Fox has reached the same level all-around as his Jigglypuff, he’s had months to commit to the switch. Then again, I would not be surprised if Kingu caved in and tried Jigglypuff for this event.
I will not lie: it’s a pet peeve of mine when people complain about how nobody knows how good their region’s best players are. But with that said, Inky‘s a great Sheik player to hype up. First becoming notable through dominating Nova Scotia, Inky has had exceptional moments of promise online too. Recently, he defeated 404Cray and Dawson at a Coinbox. It would be great to see him break out, although I’m not looking forward to seeing Canadians talk about how they always knew he was secretly a Top 50 player. No, you didn’t.
Can we still call Junebug a sleeper pick? However you want to describe him, the former world No. 45 is currently in a phase of his Smash career where even his “bits” are terrifying opponents. We saw this last year when his Dr. Mario beat OkayP and alex (the Jigglypuff) en route to 13th place at Double Down. His latest magic trick, however, was his emergence as “The Champ 2” – a newly found Donkey Kong main. At a recent regional, he beat all of Khryke, mvlvchi, JOJI, and Polish en route to second place.
🐒🐒🐒 MONKEY TIME WITH JUNEBUG 🐒🐒🐒 ooh ohh AH AHHHH!!!! AH AHHHHH!!!!!🐒🐒🐒 pic.twitter.com/Oja8iEyGhI
— Melee Stats (@MeleeStatsPod) February 22, 2023
Speaking of DKs, Akir is here! This is the first time the Marth/DK/Sheik/Fox player has traveled out of the Atlantic South to go to a major. Based on SmashDataGG, this is his first time out of Florida. It’s no hyperbole to think of Akir as a “Top 50 in skill” caliber player, given his long online resume. His offline results are impressive too, as he grabbed a Top 25 win over Krudo at CEO 2022. Because all his characters are around the same level, it’ll be interesting to see who he plays and how he performs at Collision.
Potential Home Crowd Breakouts
I’ve mentioned Guava‘s results before, so I won’t repeat myself on the specific reasons on how he briefly had a stretch similar to that of a Top 50 to 60 player. I do want to say one funny story though: in the same week in which aMSa came to town, Guava was content to only go to the Nightclub – not Apex. Admittedly, his last four Nightclubs attended were not that great, so maybe he’s not grinding as much Melee as he did before. Still; I would like to see how he does here.
Foxy Grandpa‘s long been a “hidden” boss of Tristate. In spite of basically never leaving New York, he’s always been competitive with the broader region’s best players. What comes to mind is his performance at The Function 2, where he beat 404Cray and JoJo. Then again, he also had a mixed bag at a Xanadu Legends where he double eliminated Ahmad – a hidden boss of MDVA who most people know for stealing a set from Zain – but lost twice to Prometheus, a Ganondorf. Foxy seems like an interesting wild card for this tournament.
I was surprised that JoJo didn’t make the 2022 Top 100. Though he lacked attendance or strong results out of Tristate, his showings at home were quite good, and I had him at No. 95 on my ballot. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say he was robbed, given the quality of the field, I am curious to see how far he can go at Collision. Over the last year, he’s taken sets off everyone beneath Aklo and Hax$ in Tristate, and he once won a Nightclub over Wally and Guava.
Where did Rishi go? He hasn’t entered anything offline in 2023, and his results near the end of last year went under the radar. Along with winning an edition of The Nightclub over 2saint, who went on to make top eight at Genesis a month later, Rishi had won another Nightclub over TheSWOOPER and Captain Smuckers, as well as taken Zain to the brink at Apex 2022, where he still grabbed wins over Franz, Bbatts, and n0ne. The only result I’ve seen from him in 2023 was an underwhelming Coinbox showing where JSalt and Zuppy beat him. I’m inclined to view a result like that as a relative outlier.
Likely Top 8 Contenders
Is KoDoRiN another step closer to being a contender? He most recently recovered from an up-and-down Genesis with grabbing yet another set over Hungrybox in February. We know he can beat Hungrybox or any top Fox or Falco – and more or less, he’s consistent against the field, even nabbing a set over Axe last December. There’s only two real bracket-enders in his path here: Jmook and Leffen. He’s shown the ability to defeat everyone else, but he’s played enough sets against these two players to where I think he’ll need to dodge them in order to have a deep run.
If you’re looking for people right beneath actual supermajor champions who are just a step away, moky is a great choice. With wins over the last year on Cody, Leffen, Hungrybox, aMSa, and SluG, the only people remaining on his hit list are Zain and Jmook. What’s been especially encouraging for moky has been his noticeable improvement against the field. After initially struggling with upsets in the first half of 2022, the Genesis bronze medalist totally turned it around in the second half of 2022.
realistically won’t actually take a melee break after collision but playing almost only mario the past month was a much needed detox
rankings talk not being forced onto me in every conversation
the ability to show frustration at the improvement process without mass hate
— moist | moky (@moky_dokie) March 4, 2023
My pick for 2023 No. 1, Hungrybox, has seen worse days as a supermajor candidate. He’s also seen better days. Though he seems to be evening out an otherwise lopsided rivalry vs. Leffen, remains up on moky over the last year and a half, and remains a dominant favorite over Jmook, he’s been negative vs. most of the top eight playing field over the last year. Zain, aMSa, and Cody remain hurdles for Hungrybox to clear, and it’s not a guarantee that Hungrybox will wipe out the field either, as he just dropped a set to KoDoRiN last month. Then again, it’s Hungrybox, so I wouldn’t count him out. He hasn’t missed a major top eight since The Big House 4, so bare minimum, he’ll probably make it there.
Leffen‘s a weird guy to evaluate. He DQ’s out of events when he feels like it. He completely dismantles people I expect to be scary opponents. Then, he loses to people who I think he has figured out. When he drops sets, it’s both predictable and seemingly at random. But then he dominates everyone right after he looks totally washed. Along with Plup, Leffen is the guy who truly feels like he can beat anyone and lose to anyone on any given day.
Sometimes, the best thing you can be is reliable. Even with a relatively “low” fifth place showing at Genesis, Zain has never suffered big hurdles for long. Furthermore, he hasn’t missed a top eight in over 20 tournaments since his rise to the top. But though Zain is obviously incredible and not a surefire “loss” vs. anyone, this specific iteration of a supermajor field robs him of a “favorable” path, with Hungrybox and moky as the only people within this top eight who he’s consistently dominated. Meanwhile, Jmook and Leffen have both gone back-and-forth with him, and his current biggest obstacles are Cody and aMSa.
Let’s pretend there is such a thing as a “No. 2 curse” – if only so we have a convenient narrative to explain how aMSa could get ninth place at Genesis. Given how he won multiple majors last year, aMSa clearly should be treated as a serious contender to win Collision. On the downside, his bracket path currently has him to play moky, who devoured him the last time they played. Cody, his hardest opponent of late, is here as well. At the same time, aMSa did win the last event he entered, so technically he already had his rebound. Besides, he’s been dominating Zain, and beating Jmook, Hungrybox, and Leffen consistently. It seems more likely that Genesis was a blip rather than a sign of anything meaningful for the future.
There’s no better way to start a year than by winning Genesis. Basically insurmountable vs. players outside the Top 10, Jmook seems like a surefire bet to make it to Top 16, which already helps his chances. I note that especially because that’s a feat that none of the other top eight contending players at this event can claim to have. I’m especially floored by Jmook’s prowess vs. Fox; other than Cody, whom he’s basically gone back-and-forth with, he is dominant or positive against every other Fox player he’s gone against, even with many scares. With that in mind, aMSa and Hungrybox – two challenges present at this event, with aMSa currently seeded for winner’s finals – are pretty daunting for him to overcome. It’s not a surprise that his one supermajor victory came when he didn’t have to play either of them.
Wheat once referred to Cody Schwab as the “scariest No. 4 player ever” and I agree with him. That rank, on a surface level, hides a period of time in 2022 where Cody genuinely looked like the best player in the world. The case for Cody to win a major is usually through a combination of Zain, aMSa, and Hungrybox – three players whom you can expect to see deep in any major bracket. Though Jmook destroyed him in their exhibition and beat him at Genesis, Cody did win three sets before that. (I had previously written the last three; I forgot about Scuffed World Tour).
Won kill Roy wooo
Beat a lot of talented players
Have a new fox ditto style for bracket I was super excited to try out and I think long term it’s the wave, gonna try to flesh it out more.
Ggs, thanks for having me Indiana
— CLG | Cody Schwab (@iBDWSSBM) March 5, 2023
To be clear, Cody is not insurmountable. As I discussed last week, the Fox ditto’s been a weak point for him. moky, Leffen, and Aklo all were quite challenging over the last year, and all three players are at this tournament. But I do have to make a pick, and every top eight contender has pros and cons. I’m taking Cody at his word for what he’s done to improve in the ditto, and I’m putting my faith in his strong results vs. (mostly) everyone else. Final prediction: Cody wins Collision 2023.