Following abrupt schedule changes, a COVID-19 scare, three competitors having to drop out of the tournament, and the two best players of last year being eliminated early, iBDW won Smash Summit 13 in dominant fashion. He beat Plup, Jmook, Hungrybox, n0ne, and Frenzy – a strong turnaround from his previous ninth place showing at The Function 2. By winning Summit, iBDW became only the second player ever to win multiple iterations in a row, with the first being Armada.
In second place came Plup, who didn’t play on Saturday due to feeling unwell and COVID related concerns, but returned once he had multiple confirmed negative tests and said he felt better. His Summit experience was a return to form where he beat Zain, lloD, Jmook, and Hungrybox en route to grand finals. It was Plup’s best performance at a Summit since Smash Summit 9, another event where he finished in second place.
The fact that this Smash Summit 13 completed at all will continue to drive public discussion about how Smash tournaments continue to handle COVID. With Blue, Sora, and DarkGenex, among others, testing positive for COVID or reporting similar symptoms to the event, Summit ended up kicking out (and partially refunding) attendees dubbed non-essential to the event. For event staff and competitors, it requires negative tests for entry. Moving forward, it’s likely that tournaments will use this as a standard to build from as tournaments continue to happen during the pandemic.
What Have We Learned from Smash Summit 13?
I’ve been previewing big tournaments within numerous formats for about six years. However, Summit’s been one of my favorite series to deep dive into because there’s usually just sixteen competitors. As a result, my previews on each attendee’s chances tend to be a good mix between concise, but also detailed enough to give you a good idea of what their histories are and how well they can perform at the event.
Very rarely though, do I revisit those predictions or give an immediate takeaway for how my evaluations for players have shifted. While I’ve done “quick takeaways” from majors before, today, I’m going to do something a bit more ridiculous. I’m going to lean into my inner Bill Simmons. Not only am I revisiting my player-specific predictions for Summit, I’m also putting up a cheesy pop culture reference that encapsulates their experience at the event and sharing a few thoughts on where I see them trending now.
Although the numbers don’t necessarily show that this event was a positive step for Blue (he lost every set), watching game tape tells you a better story. For someone who comes from a relatively obscure region, he held his own against two of the biggest rising mid-level stars of this year, not to mention KoDoRiN. If he didn’t get COVID, we could have potentially seen a rematch between him and one of the Falcons, though taking a set from one of these players is still ultimately a different accomplishment than bringing it close.
I feel bad for DarkGenex. In addition to just, you know, wanting a friend to do well, I thought he was an incredible heel for the Smasher’s Council series. It’s a shame that he had to drop out because he had COVID; if he didn’t, we could have seen even more of him on commentary, in a content capacity, or even just seeing him take lloD close on a stage where, all things considered, lloD trounced the best Fox-Peach player of all-time.
Sora‘s second America trip has had its highs and lows. He had a lackluster Genesis trip, returned with a solid Pound, won a big local over Pipsqueak, and had a good showing at Emerald City X before leaving on a somewhat sad note at Smash Summit 13. As far as the last event is concerned, we didn’t get a chance to see him compete against anyone he wasn’t already a big underdog versus. Here’s to hoping we see him back soon, and hopefully without a COVID scare.
If I’m going to give credit to Blue for taking people close, it’s only fair that I do the same with Mekk for briefly scaring Jmook. As far as other sets at Summit go, Mekk beat Blue, only losing Mango, Jmook, Frenzy, and, most surprisingly, Salt, whom he still has a 11-8 record against for the year. That does seem like a lot of sets, but it’s also Summit. I fully expect to see Mekk pretty deep into bracket at his next big event.
Someone once referred to Salt as Melee’s equivalent of a “five-star” recruit, and after watching his matches I find it hard to disagree with that. The above clip I think summarizes Salt’s thought process when he plays matches. He’ll leave this tournament as its respective Swift – someone who took the world’s best players to game five and, by all accounts, seems like a future Top 25 player.
It’s a treat to watch Frenzy play Melee. Although he didn’t make top eight, which I thought he would, Frenzy came pretty damn close. By the end of the tournament, he had sets over Mekk and Salt, as well as Blue. I don’t think it’s too soon to call Frenzy a Top 50 player in the world. He might have the best laser game out of any active player.
Let’s look at some numbers. The Mango we’ve seen on LAN so far is 1-0 vs. Jmook 1-0 vs. Axe, and 1-0 vs. SFAT, but 0-2 vs. Hungrybox, 0-1 vs. KoDoRiN, 0-1 vs. lloD, 0-1 vs. Fiction, and 0-1 vs. Fizzwiggle. If we excluded the Fizzwiggle loss, and treated everything else as “Mango vs. Top 25 players,” he’d be 3-6. Do I think Mango is still a “Top 10” player? Of course. Do his results show it? Maybe not.
I was bullish on Leffen’s chances of winning Smash Summit 13, but this is undeniably a step backward. It warrants note that as more people are able to take sets from Mango and Zain, Leffen’s once “unique” head-to-head spreads don’t stand out as much. To make matters worse, Leffen just got creamed in a matchup he previously looked invincible in. On the plus side, he beat Hungrybox harder than he’s ever beaten him.
Smash Summit 13 might has well have been renamed “The Gauntlet” for KoDoRiN. Similar to what I predicted, he had to play every single one of the scary Sheiks and he got beat up by them. Nonetheless, he was able to pull it together to eliminate Mango early, also holding off Salt and Frenzy. I don’t know what this tells us about KoDoRiN that we didn’t already know – he’s a borderline Top 10 player with one very obvious problem matchup.
n0ne had one of the more impressive “sleeper” performances hidden underneath his seventh place. Though he ended up losing their most important set, he did go 2-1 vs. lloD, which speaks well for n0ne’s chances in the future. As far as other matchups go, he’ll need to figure something out vs. Zain, whom he’s now 0-11 against in lifetime Captain Falcon-Marth sets, and iBDW, whom he’s dropped six in a row against.
I don’t understand how lloD played double-digit sets at this event without collapsing. He somehow casually split sets with Zain (making me a lot of money in the process), solidly beat KoDoRiN, and spanked Leffen. I wrote before the event that we could see lloD take the jump toward having a non-zero shot at winning a major, and he seems to have made it. He’s one of the scariest opponents for anyone.
After winning three majors (two LAN) in a row, it made sense that Zain was eventually going to lose. I see no reason to think too differently of him now. Part of me is, however, relieved that lloD, Plup and Jmook were the ones to do it and not just Leffen, iBDW or Mango. Similar to how past versions of Hungrybox used to take non-spacies matchups for granted and regularly gain more experience beating spacies, it had been a while since we’d seen Zain challenged by other characters (ones who, literally and figuratively, slap their opponents).
Just as I thought, Jmook was the real deal. Along with handily beating KoDoRiN and spoiling Leffen’s winner’s bracket, he merely became the first person of the year to eliminate Zain from a tournament. There’s no one in the world that Jmook can’t beat. Also, thanks for making me a lot of money.
Hungrybox‘s pop off against Plup was legitimately one of the most frightening celebrations I’ve seen from him, and that’s a long list. Given how vulnerable the entire field of Top 10 players seems, I have to admit that my bearish evaluation of Hungrybox’s chances of winning a major probably warrant a slight re-examination. At the LAN events we’ve seen him in, he’s consistently making it to winner’s side of top eight, defeating people like Plup, aMSa, Mango and lloD in that time span, only losing to Zain, n0ne, Plup and IBDW.
I previously predicted that Plup would win Genesis 8. He ended up not doing that. I kept faith in him that he’d do well at this event, and lo and behold, he did. On the way to second place, he split sets with his career demon, stunned the best player in the world, won a rematch with the guy who sent him to loser’s bracket, and went 2-0 against lloD. What’s there not to like?
iBDW has consistently looked great in the community’s most prestigious invitational series. By winning Smash Summit 13, he took home his third ever major, tying him with Plup for the 10th most of all-time. Now, it’s too soon to say for sure – I’d have to look into the historical data – but my gut tells me that a third victory for iBDW easily places him in the Top 15 ever. People, including the hero himself, got on my case for putting him at No. 22 before his Smash Summit 12 victory, let alone his most recent one. It’s been a long time coming to start thinking of iBDW as an all-time great; and if you weren’t on this train before, you better be now.