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Published May 10, 2021

After a wild first three weeks of Summit Champions League, its final iteration concluded in a return to normal: a Zain victory. On Sunday, Zain beat Gahtzu, tore his way through a slew of spacies and survived a scare from Mango to take home the gold at SCL.

Despite the second place, Mango had one of his best losers’ bracket runs. He began the event by dropping a set to Plup before making his way through Ginger, Wizzrobe, moky, iBDW and SFAT to get back to grand finals. He then reset the bracket vs. Zain before succumbing to him in the second set of grands.

While Zain and Mango dominated the headlines in North America, over in Europe, Leffen thrashed the rest of his continent at Poilon Colosseum. Like prime Shaquille O’Neal against Chris Dudley, the Swede dunked on the competition. He went a combined 33-0 in games, obliterating Fuzzyness, Mahie, MINT, Jah Ridin’, Nicki, Solobattle, Pipsqueak, Kins0, Trif, Frenzy and Professor Pro – all strong players who, simply put, got molly-whopped.

Zain, Mango and Leffen are the leading contenders to win the in-person Smash Summit 11. Barring any unexpected circumstances, alongside these three will be SFAT, iBDW, moky and Plup, with these four qualifying through making Top 6 at the last SCL. aMSa has been invited to the tournament as well.

For more news from over the weekend, follow the Melee Stats Twitter account for daily coverage of all the results you need to know.

Who Will Make Smash Summit 11?

So, outside of who we know are attending, what do we know about Smash Summit 11? We know a few things.

First, we already know the eight players who have qualified or been invited. We also know that of the eight remaining spots, one of them will qualify from being the highest-placing non-invitee at Rollback Rumble’s The Big One. Another will qualify from leading the European SAME Circuit. The remaining six will be voted in by fans.

This week’s column will break down 25 players who could make it to Smash Summit 11. Broadly speaking, I will talk about where they stand as players, their current trajectories, their “brand” to the public and, most importantly, their potential “best path” to Summit.

Remember: this is not a strict rankings list. I’ve ordered this in terms of players I find the most likely to make it into Summit, with a focus on players whose potential chances I deliberately wanted to share in this column. 

Disclaimer: In last week’s column, I wrote that this week’s column would be centered around analyzing Zain’s legacy. Upon further review, I decided that Monday Morning Marth was not the place to do this. For the few of you who are reading this; this is my way of winking and asking you to be patient for a deeper, more fulfilling breakdown on Zain’s legacy in another format.

International Dark Horses

25. Sora
24. JCAM
23. Spark

Sora is by far the best player in Australia. As I wrote previously, we’ve actually seen a bit of Sora against top American talent and he’s every bit the real deal. It would be great to see Australia rally behind him for a spot and give him an opportunity to compete against players he doesn’t get a chance to normally play.

JCAM’s results within Central America are astounding considering just how good Kata, Stiff, Dufff and Excel_Zero are. Against talent outside his region, he’s beaten Blues Clues twice, Fable twice, htwa, Forrest, Komodo and he won an exhibition match against Jmook. I wouldn’t put him above Jmook overall yet, but if you’ve ever watched JCAM play, he’s really not that far off.

Since Spark moved to Pakistan, we just haven’t seen him competing seriously in 2021. It would be great if he flew back to the United States to make a surprise appearance at Rollback Rumble to qualify for Summit. In the off-chance that this happens, or that Spark finds a benefactor who makes it their mission to vote him into Summit, I’m jotting him down here.

Fan Favorites & Outside Shots

22. null
21. Dacky

20. bobby big ballz

For someone with such a massive disparity between his regional and major results, null had an incredible breakout at LEVO #14, where he beat Captain Faceroll, KoopaTroopa895, bobby big ballz and ChuDat. He seems interesting in continuing to compete on Netplay as well. It’s also worth noting that null is recognizable because of his associations with Mango. If there’s a time to get on board the null train, it’s now.

It’s only fair I mention another Fox players who’s been more active. Earlier this year, Dacky beat SluG and Colbol en route to making it to SCL and beating Aklo there. With these wins, the rest of his 2021 resume and the support of all of Washington Melee, I wouldn’t ignore the possibility of a breakout Dacky run or a campaign led by Dacky’s No. 1 fan Aiden – coincidentally the man behind SCL – to get him in.

bobby big ballz has been one of the most active Netplay grinders throughout 2021. Going through all his individual wins and losses would be worthy of a separate column. For now, his biggest strength is that he’s incredibly recognizable. bobby big ballz made it to the last in-person Summit, so I’m uncertain if he’d get voted in again, but given that he’s popular and could turn his slump around, he has a decent shot.

Wild Cards

19. Polish
18. Ben
17. Albert
16. Hax$

Polish had a stellar last month in which he beat Lucky, n0ne, Kalamazhu and so many others. Although he’s not currently as recognizable as some of the names around him, his recent rise to prominence and his results give him an opportunity to build an instantly recognizable brand within the scene. My only other doubt with Polish, unfortunately, is that he plays a floaty character, and I don’t know how that holds up in a Summit voting field.

I don’t doubt Ben’s potential. He’s absolutely capable of beating – and has beaten – some of the better players at Summit. I’ll put my hesitations bluntly; Ben doesn’t have a noteworthy persona within the community that’s as established as some of his rivals. What most potential Summit voters recognize him for, even if it’s unfair to him, is being the player who beats Hungrybox every week. In a Melee landscape where Hungrybox loses all the time, I’m just not sure how far this will get him.

I think I have no idea how to evaluate Albert. Before SCL Week 3, I had him losing to Soonsay, and then he went on to beat him. Following that, I had him as a solid underdog against Polish and what did he do? He went on to beat Polish and Gahtzu. In spite of being proven wrong by Albert twice in a row, I’m still going to say that he’s still an outside shot to make Summit because of how tough the competition is. That said, I look forward to being proven wrong a third consecutive time, either when he wins The Big One or gets voted in.

Hax$ had a disastrous 65th place showing at Four Loko Fight Night before he recovered with beating Zuppy, 2saint, Ben (twice), Hungrybox and KoDoRiN at his next two non-SCL tournaments. I still see his Fight Night performance as an outlier, but given his own public reservations about competing in non-region-locked Netplay tournaments, I feel less certain about his chances. On the other hand, the Hax$ brand is still pretty strong, and judging by everything we know about him, he would take an opportunity to compete at a LAN event way more seriously. Who knows?

SAME Circuit Qualifiers

15. Trif
14. Pipsqueak
13. Frenzy

Most people would consider Trif the No. 2 player in Europe. However, he’s a distant third on the SAME circuit. Not only does he have to win Fete Online, he needs Pipsqueak and Frenzy – the two people ahead of him in the SAME circuit – to finish outside of top six. Trif could win the event, beat both and still fail to qualify for Summit.

Winning Fete Online would be a stellar return for Pipsqueak, who’s unfortunately recovering from a rough showing at Poilon Colosseum. If we see the Pipqueak that beat Frame 1 Leffen and looked like the new king of Europe, it’s certainly doable. But if we see the Pipsqueak who gets sent to loser’s early by MINT and has to claw his way back to top eight, it’s gonna be tough.

Frenzy is the current leader of the SAME Circuit and someone who the eye test shows as a player around the same level or slightly under someone like Albert. As a result, I have him leading this tier. At the same time, Frenzy is volatile – will the Fete Online Frenzy be the one the who clutches out sets over Professor Pro and destroys MINT? Or will it be the one who loses to kins0 or Jah Ridin’ early?

Solid NA Contenders

12. Soonsay
11. Lucky
10. Ginger

9. KoDoRiN
8. Kalamazhu
7. Magi

6. Gahtzu

When I say that losing 3-0 to Hungrybox must have been disappointing, it’s with respect to the rest of Soonsay’s year. In addition to staying in SCL throughout all four weeks – lowkey something which shouldn’t be taken for granted – Soonsay has wins over Hax$, Ben, n0ne, KoDoRiN, Lucky and SFAT this year. Assuming a certain other Canadian makes it into Summit to join moky, the rest of the country is definitely going to rally behind Soonsay.

The story of Lucky’s career is usually that for every great performance he has – like winning LEVO 14 over n0ne and Polish – there’s a small chance that he’s gonna get 2-0’d in pools. Ironically, he’s been a lot more reliable in recent times, winning a tournament over KoDoRiN, as well as taking sets from Captain Faceroll and Albert.

Outside of a dropped tournament to Kuyashi, Ginger has been pretty consistent, for better and worse. In 2021, he’s mostly beat up the field before running into a hard stop against someone like Gahtzu, n0ne or Plup. It’s not an insult to Ginger to say that in this tier of play, the expectations become just that much higher. We’ll see if he can break through.

For about the 99th time in this weekly series, I have to disclaim that I am a Patron of KoDoRiN’s. But there’s good reason to be. He’s the favorite at most TMTs he enters, a rising star of the scene who defeated Plup, and as of lately, KoDoRiN’s been on his content grind, both at SSBM Tutorials and his own stream.

Kalamazhu has a good claim for being the best Peach main in the world. Everyone remembers him for beating Mango’s Captain Falcon and iBDW, but nobody remembers the rest of his insane run to winner’s finals at Fight Night and how he was just a stock away from grand finals. His 2021 has been awesome and if he enters The Big One, he’s definitely within the tier of players who could outright win it.

This spot sounds crazy, but hear me out. In three non-SCL events, Magi has beaten Elliot Aklo, Pappi, null, Krudo, Ben, Rocky and SFAT. Three tournaments! Her “worst” performance of the year was a 17th place at Hax’s Night Club in which she lost to Polish and Jmook. When you consider what matters for Summit – specifically a combination of a player’s results and their name recognition – Magi is such a strong contender.

As far as Netplay is concerned, Gahtzu has become the East Coast S2J. Starting with his mid-March TMT win over Ben, Gahtzu has won 11 tournaments. With additional victories over Drephen, Panda, bobby big ballz, Hungrybox, Ginger, SFAT, KoDoRiN and n0ne, Gahtzu has to be considered one of the favorites to win The Big One in. I only wonder if he would care enough to actively campaign for Summit if he didn’t make it in through competition. Sidenote: part of me really wants another Gahtzu Fun video.

Leading Favorites

5. Axe
4. n0ne
3. S2J
2. Wizzrobe

If it weren’t for a mysterious other Pokemon main, Axe would be the player whose Netplay decline would be the most notable. At the same time, Axe’s brand is untouchable, and that goes a long way in campaigning for Summit. Worst case scenario; he could just advertise himself as the only player who can consistently stop Zain/Marth and he’ll get the Fox main delegation’s vote.

Despite missing a chance to re-qualify for SCL at LEVO, n0ne had a pretty good last couple of months. He won stacked regionals over the likes of Ben, bobby big ballz, Ginger, Hungrybox and KoDoRiN. Even if he didn’t qualify through a tournament performance, n0ne looks a lot more like his old self.

The fact that S2J had to play iBDW for top eight at SCL – not even to qualify for Summit – says so much more about the stacked nature of the series than it points to any sort of decline. He’s won 12 tournaments this year and is one of the most popular Melee players in the world. I would be stunned if S2J didn’t make it to Summit.

Wizzrobe won SCL Season 2 Week 3. Wizzrobe is the only person in the world to beat Zain and Mango back-to-back at the same event over the last year. Wizzrobe is popular. Wizzrobe will make it to Summit.

1. Hungrybox

Hungrybox has over 10,000 subscribers on Twitch and almost 400,000 on YouTube. It’s inconceivable that Hungrybox – the reigning LAN No. 1 and the player whose online decline might be the most incredible competitive fall from grace in esports history – would decline a chance to redeem himself at the in-person Smash Summit 11.

At the rate Hungrybox is going, my dearest of dear friends Ambisinister could 3-0 him in the next month. But guess what? It would not sway my opinion at all. Hungrybox at Summit is too much free content for him, the series or his fans to pass up on. He’s making it in.

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