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Published May 3, 2021

Well, it finally happened. Someone other than Zain or Mango won a major tournament. On Sunday, Wizzrobe overcame a 21-set losing streak vs. Mango and he took down Zain to win Summit Champions League Season 2 Week 3. It was his first big victory since winning Smash ‘N’ Splash 5 and his second ever major win.

Before Sunday, there had been 10 straight notable events in which Zain and Mango fully competed within and won. This streak was the longest from any duo in Melee history. The previous two to dominate the scene this way were Armada and Hungrybox, who traded tournaments from Evo 2015 to right before Leffen snapped the streak at GOML 2016.

Next week’s SCL features four winners’ bracket matches: Wizzrobe vs. SFAT, Zain vs. Gahtzu, Mango vs. Plup, and iBDW vs. moky. In losers’ bracket are Ben vs. S2J, Polish vs. Albert, Magi vs. Ginger, and Soonsay vs. Hungrybox.

In other news, Fizzi has incorporated doubles into the latest Slippi build. As a result, the Melee scene will probably be seeing more doubles tournaments pop up in addition to the few that are currently around.

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

My SCL Week 4 Preview

I’m going to be honest; I could not care less about anything else happening in the Smash scene for the next week. Barring some horrifying revelation that warrants public attention, I can sincerely say that the only thing that should be on any Melee fan’s mind is the question of who is going to win SCL.

For this week’s column, I’m going to talk about each of the 16 players competing in the final SCL of the spring. I will be tiering these players and ranking them for how likely I find their chances of winning or making a deep bracket run. Any pertinent rollback head-to-head records will be placed in parentheses. Let’s jump in.

It Really Be Like That

16. Magi
15. Ben
14. Albert
13. Ginger

In spite of her historic win over Mango from two years ago, Magi’s actually not as consistent in the Falco ditto as you might imagine. Next week, she has to play Ginger (0-4), one of the worst matchups she could have had. While you can never truly count anyone out, even if she wins here, Magi will have to play the loser of Mango vs. Plup immediately afterward. Something tells me that a LAN best-of-three in 2019 and a set against a secondary in 2020 are not factors I should consider too much for evaluating her chances.

I respect Ben’s Netplay grind – specifically his ability to break Hungrybox’s heart every Friday. But if Ben’s last ten consecutive losses against Gahtzu (0-10) show anything, it’s that Captain Falcon is just not one of his stronger matchups. With this in mind, his shot at beating S2J (2-9) is probably even worse than the head-to-head shows.

To estimate Albert’s chances against Polish, I tried to take a look at how he does against other Peach players. The only set of note I could find was a 3-1 win over Aura back in January – but for reasons I’ll get into later, I don’t think this translates directly to beating Polish. Regardless, if Albert makes it by him, he could potentially steal a set from Gahtzu, who is expected to drop into that part of losers’. However, he would remain the underdog against him (0-2).

As I wrote before, Ginger is a solid favorite against Magi. I am less bullish about his chances against Plup’s Sheik (0-1) or Mango (0-2). To his credit, it’s easy to forget that Ginger actually took Mango to last-stock the once at Super Smash Con 2019. But like I said with Magi, this isn’t something to seriously consider with regards to evaluating his chances next week. Neither is beating Plup’s Fox.

Outside Top Eight Shots

12. Polish
11. S2J
10. Soonsay
9. Hungrybox

Last weekend might seem like an outlier for Polish. In just two days, he beat Axe, Kalamazhu, KoDoRiN (twice), Magi, n0ne and Lucky. However, if you had been paying attention to my columns from earlier this year, you would already know that Polish had beaten Magi, taken a set from Gahtzu, double eliminated bobby big ballz and won a tournament over Ben. With this in mind, Polish is the favorite against Albert, and if he plays Gahtzu, he’s actually got an outside shot at making top eight.

It wasn’t long ago when it felt like S2J was the third-best player in the world. Realistically speaking, he probably isn’t too far off. He’s the strong favorite over Ben (9-2), but he’s in this tier because he will have to play one of iBDW (3-6) and moky (1-1). Nonetheless, if he beats them, a potential Gahtzu (1-0) or Zain (2-5) matchup in loser’s for seventh would be doable for him. How many players can say that?

On the latest episode of Waiting for Game, Wheat and I predicted that Soonsay would make top eight in the last week of SCL. Checking out his bracket, Soonsay has a coin flip rematch with Hungrybox (0-1) and then has the loser of Wizzrobe and SFAT (1-1) into top eight. I like Soonsay’s chances against this trio of players, but the big question mark for me is how he fares against Mango or Plup. If it’s against Plup, he could do it. Against Mango, I’d be far less confident.

There’s a few ways this tournament could pan out if Hungrybox beats Soonsay. If Wizzrobe falls into loser’s, Hungrybox is done for (0-2). If it’s SFAT (4-0), then the Hungrybox run will probably continue. His next opponent after that? Most likely Plup or Mango (0-1). At the risk of sounding like an insane conspiracy theorist, doesn’t beating one of these two seem…doable? Actually, who am I kidding? Even if he somehow gets that far and beats one of those two, Hungrybox will then have to play one of Zain (0-2), Gahtzu (2-2), iBDW (2-10) or moky (0-1) – and that’s just in loser’s quarters. The Clutchbox loser’s redemption run is not going to happen, but it’s weirdly plausible enough in a bizarre parallel reality for me to place him here.

If The Stars Align…

8. moky
7. iBDW
5. Gahtzu

moky’s got a tough path ahead of him in winners’ bracket. Not only is Zain (0-2) – basically the Grim Reaper for any Fox player – in his side of winner’s bracket, but the other two players there are Gahtzu (1-1) and iBDW (0-1). This isn’t to say that moky is a huge underdog against these two – they may as well be toss-ups. However, for the sake of being fair to them, I’m putting moky at No. 8.

iBDW suffers from the same problem as his aforementioned fellow Fox main: being in the same side of winners’ bracket as Zain (0-4). That said, iBDW is a bit different from moky in that I’d probably give him the slight edge over Gahtzu (1-0). Both iBDW and moky have similarly good shots against the field, but it’d be foolish to deny that both would benefit greatly from not having to play Zain.

Unlike iBDW or moky, SFAT isn’t in the same side of winners’ bracket as Zain (0-2), which helps his chances of success. With that said, he still needs everything to go right for him if he’s going to win SCL. He has to upset Wizzrobe (0-3), and, realistically, dodge Mango (0-1) as well. That’s just to get into winners’ finals. If you want to think about that universe, it’s only fair to consider the reality in which SFAT instantly loses to Wizzrobe and then gets 3-0’d by Hungrybox (0-4) for ninth place.

While Gahtzu has beaten Zain in the past, surely the Zain of 2018 is different from the rollback No. 1 who 3-0’d him last December and is a combined 10-3 against all four top Captain Falcon players in the rollback era. Nonetheless, the Gahtzu of this year is a different player as well. If he upsets Zain, he has a coin flip against iBDW (0-1) or moky (1-1) into winners’ finals. He’s only played Mango (0-1) or Plup (0-1) a couple of times on rollback, but in my opinion, his chances against them are much worse than the small bit of data shows.

Dark Horses

4. Plup
3. Wizzrobe
2. Mango

2021 Plup isn’t the same Plup as the one who shocked the world at Genesis 5, but what he has is pretty good. This year, Plup is 1-0 v Gahtzu, 3-0 vs. n0ne, 1-0 vs. Kalamazhu, 1-0 vs. Ben, 1-0 vs. Ginger, 1-0 vs. LSD, 1-0 vs Dacky, 1-0 vs Eddy Mexico and he has a sole loss to KoDoRiN. I am inclined to think Mango remains the favorite in their head-to-head, but Plup’s resume checks out as someone who’s clearly within the top ten and could potentially scare Mango. Frankly, I like Plup’s Sheik’s chances against him and Wizzrobe more than I do in his Sheik’s chances against any of the other Fox players in winners’. Better yet, all three of those Fox players have difficult roads which make it unlikely that Plup will have to play them.

As favored as Wizzrobe might be against SFAT, I find it unlikely that he would beat Mango (1-5) a second consecutive time. Moreover, if Wizzrobe somehow avoids Mango, he will still have to beat Plup. For what it’s worth, Plup is a combined 7-1 against n0ne, Gahtzu and S2J on rollback. Although Wizzrobe barely won on LAN the last time they played, that was two years ago and an outlier in a lifelong head-to-head where Plup mostly smacked him around. Still; there’s something to be said about being the only person in the world who has beaten Mango and Zain back-to-back over the last year.

When Mango won the first 2021 SCL, it really did feel like he was the best player in the world. But Plup is probably the worst realistic opponent that Mango could have drawn in round one. We just haven’t seen Mango fight against a Sheik player of his caliber in quite some time. The last set I can remember of Mango against a notable Sheik was a loss to Captain Faceroll. It’s conceivable enough that Mango could lose to Plup, but even if he wins and goes on to beat Wizzrobe or SFAT as expected, there still remains the Zain-shaped elephant in the room (2-6). Speaking of which…

Surprise – Nothing Changed!

1. Zain

I’ll be honest – my initial plan for this week’s column was to publish a huge write-up about Zain’s all-time legacy. I had even prepared a huge section about how absurd it was that Zain had won eight of the 11 major rollback tournaments he fully entered, with the eighth expected win being SCL Season 2 Week 3. While I obviously canned the column for this week, it turns out that seven victories out of 11 tournaments is still pretty damn good. One event doesn’t change the simple fact that there’s no good reason to think that Zain isn’t the the favorite to take home the gold at SCL.

Is it possible that Zain loses to Gahtzu, scrapes by Polish/Albert for top eight and then gets knocked out of the tournament by S2J for seventh? Sure. It’s also way more likely that he beats Gahtzu, blows up one of the two Fox players he’s expected to play in winners’ semifinals, and then wins two more sets against whomever else he has to play.

Here’s to next Monday, when I will be victory-lapping and finally deep-diving into Zain’s all-time legacy – or eating crow and having to write about something else. Regardless, it’s been fun writing this column. See you next week.

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