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Published November 7, 2022

Melee’s arguably the best it’s ever been. In addition to the closest race for No. 1 the scene has ever had, we have so much character diversity at the top level. Marth, Fox, Yoshi, Falco, Sheik, Peach, Pikachu, Ice Climbers, Jigglypuff, and Captain Falcon have all had the spotlight at one point or another this year. For the most part, the head-to-heads in the top level between these characters have been unpredictable and volatile too.

Want to know the crazy thing? We still have more events to go in November, let alone the rest of the year. Per the Melee majors website, we have seven left in 2022. I would say that I’d be surprised if something else randomly popped up, but at the rate 2022 Melee is going, it’d be right on cue. Anyway, for today’s column, I’m taking a look at what big tournaments to watch for the rest of the month. Consider this something of an early preview.

HFLAN 2022

Before it became a premier annual European Melee event, HFLAN had humble beginnings as a multi-game LAN event held in Paris. In 2011, the series had just 22 entrants for its Melee bracket, all French, and the country’s No. 1 player Tekk came out on top. HFLAN initially stuck around as a small regional of sorts relegated to French players and a few travelers out-of-region before Armada made his debut at the fourth edition in late 2012. It eventually grew to have its own separate “Melee edition” iterations. Nowadays, it’s just under Fete and DreamHack for being the largest recurring European event each year.

This year’s edition – set for November 11 to 13 – is going to be especially big. The current front-runner of the event is Pipsqueak, who is the best active player within Europe. Behind him is Professor Pro, fresh off his Summit performance, Frenzy, who’s had a Top 50 year, and Trif, who in what little we’ve seen of him this year, has still looked like a Top 50 player when he’s tried. After that, you can go with any selection of your favorite obscure European players. There’s Abbe, who took sets from Wally, Bbatts, and Captain G at American locals this year (as well as won Myth 3). There’s Sharp, who beat Khryke at Riptide. Then, you have Jah Ridin’, the best Luigi in Europe, max, the No. 3 in the United Kingdom, kins0, who was a hair’s length away from beating Leffen, skullbro, the Dutch No. 1 and top Dr. Mario of Europe, Renzo, Europe’s very own version of Asidyx, and the returning French top dogs in Tekk and Mahie. Curiously, codeman, the best Pichu main in the world, traveling all the way from New York to attend. And how could I not mention Savestate, the coolest Link in the world?

So, why should you care? For starters, Smash World Tour points are on the line. To reiterate what I’ve already said before, making top eight will get you anywhere from 70 (seventh place) to 400 (first place) points. Pipsqueak and Professor Pro are basically locks for the Smash World Tour Championships. In all fairness, Frenzy is in a good spot also, but winning this event would bring him into the safe zone for being invited. Outside of that, HFLAN could add to Abbe or Sharp’s respective annual resumes, placing them in contention for Top 100 by the end of the year. Furthermore, if Trif does well, it could help his eligibility case for this year’s MPGR.

Saving Mr. Lombardi 3

Back in 2019, when “regionals are more fun than supermajors” was all the craze, EndGameTV ran the first edition of Saving Mr. Lombardi in SoCal. This featured nearly all the West Coast’s heavy hitters and had a bunch of great exhibition matches – most notably Fiction, the eventual winner of the event, vs. Ginger. The event happened again a year later, this time featuring even more international talent, like Trif, Professor Pro, Ice, Joshman, and Blassy. After the pandemic put a halt to its future, the series is coming back on November 12 in SoCal yet again.

If there’s an event to define SoCal, it’s this one. S2J, KoDoRiN, Fiction are all coming to fight for the gold. Lest you think this is a slightly more stacked Lawless, null and Franz will be there too. Joshman is also making his grand return to SoCal, and he won’t be alone. SFAT, Spark, and Eddy Mexico will attending as well. Other than that, this is going to be the most stacked SoCal tournament of the year. Pretty much every subregion of SoCal will be represented here, as will the vast majority of its best players.

Similar to HFLAN, there’s Smash World Tour points on the line from this tournament. As I’ve written before, doing well here could make or break the chances of getting invited if you’re SFAT or Spark. Furthermore, this event has Panda Cup Finale implications. The player who wins this event, or places highest out of players who haven’t already been invited, will get a guaranteed spot. If you don’t care about either circuit, think of this event like a nice throwback to events like Super Smash Sundays or, in a more modern analogy, a variant of something like The Town Throwdown, but for SoCal instead of NorCal. Who knows? There’s still enough time for someone like Axe to register. Maybe even someone like Mango or Leffen will compete. Actually, who am I kidding? Let’s move on.

Apex 2022

From November 18 to 20, and in Secaucus, New Jersey, the world will see the return of one of Smash’s oldest major series in Apex. This has understandably received mixed feedback within the entire community, given the toxicity of the brand’s place in the scene’s history. I hate to sound negative, but I can’t lie. Apex was historically a terribly managed event. Its association with someone kicked out of the scene for “sexual misconduct” (to put it in the most grossly mild terms) and the failed attempt to revive it in 2016 remain fresh in my mind. When the announcement first came out, I couldn’t help but wonder why the brand couldn’t just stay dead. Why it couldn’t be renamed to something else?

Keeping that in mind, none of the original Apex team is returning. Any hesitation you might have toward the series today would be – I mean this quite literally, without judgment – symbolic toward the name. The current staff running Apex have run successful Smash events this year and the previous owners of the series are basically totally irrelevant at this point. Besides, with iBDW, Hungrybox, aMSa, Jmook, and Wizzrobe in attendance, this is a bonafide major, and that’s assuming no additional entrants.

The sheer fact that Apex has four of Melee’s “top eight,” as well as Wizzrobe, immediately makes it a major. As far as Smash World Tour’s concerned, Axe, Aklo, Spark, Zamu, Polish have the most to gain from this, at least if they end up attending. It is also the final Gold event on the circuit. The last thing I’ll say is that while I have my own personal reservations about bringing back the Apex brand name, I am curious to see how this event will go. If this tournament does happen, it would clearly be better for the scene to have a “good” version of Apex rather than a “bad” one.

DreamHack Atlanta 2022

The other last big event of November will be happening in the Atlantic South from November 18 to November 20. It’ll be the third Melee DreamHack event of this year after DreamHack Dallas 2022 (which bobby big ballz won) and DreamHack Rotterdam 2022  (which Leffen won). This year’s DreamHack Atlanta will also be the first one held in Atlanta since 2018. You might remember that tourney as one of the last memorable AbsentPage victories before he eventually retired; he won it over S2J in fairly convincing fashion. The year before that was a legit major – and those of you who were around back then will remember that it was Plup’s first ever major victory, and that he immediately broke the trophy.

When I initially wrote this, I couldn’t actually see the attendees on the official page. Now that it’s available, I can confirm that as of right now, this event will have most of the Atlantic South in attendance. Krudo is going, as are Panko, Panda, Wevans, Voo, Captain G, and htwa.

Either way, this event will be the last qualifying event for the Panda Cup Finale (not counting the Last Chance Qualifier). The top two finishers who haven’t been invited yet will fill in the last slots for pre-LCQ invites. It will very likely also be the largest event of the year within the Atlantic South, a region that has a surprising group of people who are borderline Top 100 or a big performance away from being in contention for placing on the ballot. For that reason, it’s worth following.

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