Following a surprise upset at the hands of Solobattle in winner’s bracket, Pipsqueak tore through the rest of Europe, one by one, to finish on top of the packed field at the S.A.M.E. Finale: the final event of the entire rollback circuit. The victory earned him a guaranteed spot at Smash Summit 13, given that he was already invited for the 12th iteration later this year.
Over in Florida, Mew2King made a surprise appearance at the Juicy Monthly series in Florida, where he won the tournament over longtime state-ranked Link main Kuya. This event was the second time this year that Mew2King played a notable LAN set, with the other coming against Plup in an exhibition, which Plup on 5-2. For tournaments, it was Mew2King’s first offline event entered since Genesis 7, where he finished in 13th place.
In other news over the weekend, Zealot won Indiana’s BOPME, where he came out on top over Zamu at the Saturday tournament. On the same day, Lotfy finally overcame a long losing streak against Lunar Dusk to win Quebec’s Bigger Iron regional.
The Monday Morning Marth Official Mainstage Preview
You’ve seen me do this before with Smash Summit 11 and Riptide, so I’m going to once again do a deep dive on everyone entering Mainstage, the biggest open event the Smash community has seen since the return of offline events. Because of the unprecedented (at least within the post-pandemic era) stakes of such an event, I am dedicating this entire column to talking about not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but 32 players you should be looking out for at this tournament.
It’s worth noting that this is not a strict ranking list of the best 32 players. Like my tournament previews of the past, these are just the players I wanted to discuss in this column. I will be grouping them into different tiers of shared themes and finish the column making my prediction for who will win Mainstage.
Super Sleeper Picks
Stone is a Fox player from Northern Florida who plays with Iron and Miranda, as well as the rest of his relatively obscure region. He’s currently ranked the No. 2 in Tallahassee. I took a look at some of his results at larger tournaments, and while he lacks a lot of in-person data, he does have rollback wins over the following: Kurv, glock in my toyota, Plank, Vintage, and Switch. Mainstage is his first notable offline tournament ever, at least based on what I know.
The pandemic probably stopped Blassy from having a Top 100 resume in 2020. In the events he went to back then, the former Chile No. 1 got power-ranked in SoCal, beating Zeo, Smashdaddy, Android 0, Sora, and Bimbo before returning to South America and being mostly inactive for rollback. He’s in SoCal right now and got fifth place at Pizza Time, beating Steech on the way there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blassy take some more names at Mainstage, especially if he gets a Fox ditto.
Chances are that you recognize Nathan for being one of the head TOs of NorCal and the upcoming Genesis 8. What you might not know is that Nathan has a really good Captain Falcon. In similar fashion to how his unofficial mentor HomeMadeWaffles was frequently slept on because of his contributions outside of competing, Nathan’s quietly impressive results tend to fly under the radar – one result that I can remember is him defeating Aklo’s Link, certainly no small accomplishment, in late August.
You’ve probably heard of Wevans if you fall into one of the following categories: Samus player, Northern Florida Melee follower, or heartbroken fan of one of your favorite Falcos. In 2019, he gathered up a good resume of sets over Falco players – Magi, bobby big ballz, King Komo, Voo, and Yort all fell at his hands. Don’t be surprised if the No. 1 in Tallahassee adds a couple names to this list at Mainstage, even if we haven’t really seen much of him over the last year and a half.
Where Have They Been?
- Luigi Ka-Master
That’s right – Alex19 is returning to play Melee at Mainstage. He’s often remembered now as “Mango’s really funny friend,” but it’s easy to forget that he was formerly Top 10 in SoCal having beaten everyone else on the local PR. I doubt he’s in peak playing shape, but I’m never going to sleep on someone who once beat Crush, Silent Wolf, and Wizzrobe in the span of half a year.
If I’m going to include Alex, it’s only fair that I talk about the player who beat him at the last Mainstage. As much as we’ve seen Chillin the commentator over the last year and a half, we’ve barely seen Chillin in prime competitive form. The last event listed on his smash.gg profile is a decent fifth place showing at MUG, a Norwalk weekly earlier this year where he finished in fifth place, only losing to Lucky and Kurv.
Luigi Ka-Master is someone we’ve seen return from long hiatuses to randomly beat Top 50 players, like he did in 2018. The Utah/Hawaii/Washington Luigi main is basically the greatest Luigi player ever and he’s got a killer Captain Falcon to complement him when he needs it. In recent times, he took a set off Aura at Stomptown, where he then lost to FatGoku and dropped the runback to finish in third place.
On a similar note to Ka-Master, I want to talk about Bladewise, one of the most slept on Melee players ever (I would know; I snubbed him from the original Top 100 All-Time list). This is someone who finished Top 100 in every year of MPGR’s existence and Top 50 for about five years in a row. I’m going to assume that it’s literally impossible for Bladewise to be bad at Melee and that his time away from competing has been a result of him not caring about online results rather than him getting significantly worse at the game.
“Who the fuck is Asashi?” is something I remembered thinking earlier in the summer when I noticed a seemingly random Falco player take a set off null. If these words have entered your mind upon seeing his name, let me enlighten you: Asashi is the truth. He’s impressed me at basically every Verdugo he’s gone to and is very likely going to finish in the Top 20 of SoCal. That might not sound like much, but consider who else he’s beaten in this time: Steech, Casper, Android 0, KoopaTroopa895, and Lucky.
Other the rise of skullbro over rollback, Dr. Mario’s been in a weird spot, mostly because its best player wasn’t active. But since offline events have come back, Franz has done pretty well for himself. He lately 3-0’d Android 0 and is a lock for top eight at every Pizza Time in San Diego that he goes to. I haven’t seen how he performs within a broader field in recent times, so it’ll be interesting to see how his play translates at a national.
In the middle of 2019, we at Melee Stats had a theory that there were actually two nulls. The first one stayed in SoCal and went to locals, where he’d casually beat KoDoRiN and Lucky, also generally performing at the level we’d expect from a power ranked player. The second one went to nationals, where he’d lose before Top 64. In 2021, null has unsurprisingly remained one of SoCal’s best players amid its rapidly improving field, and his nationals have been a bit of mixed bag (33rd at Riptide and 17th at Low Tide City) in part due to unfortunate brackets. He’s a wild card at Mainstage.
It feels weird to call Smashdaddy a sleeper. He probably qualifies considering he’s not too locally active, but for what it’s worth, he does occasionally enter notable rollback events. At a Friday Night Melee in late October, he beat Eddy Mexico, Salt, and Pappi. Weeks before, he won a TMT over Eddy Mexico, PanterA, and bobby big ballz. If I were to guess, Smashdaddy seems like a solid bet against borderline Top 100 players and someone you wouldn’t count out in Top 32 winner’s side.
Although he hasn’t been very active and while he doesn’t have the volume of results for me to rationally justify this, billybopeep occupies the same space as someone like SFOP in my mind. While he didn’t have a great showing at the Smash World Tour NA West Finals, I can’t get his incredible run at the Black Empowerment Invitational out of my head, where he casually beat Axe, Shroomed, Ryan Ford, Kels, and King Momo like it was nothing.
Out of all the grinding SoCal players, Casper is the one who’s taken the biggest step forward since the summer. In addition to taking sets on nearly every player who’s been active within this tier, he’s also beaten Kurv, NoFluxes, Westballz and Lucky. Casper’s been good within SoCal’s mid-level for a long time, and right now he seems somewhere around where billybopeep was before his 2019 breakout. I fully expect Casper to stun a lot of good players at Mainstage with how good his play has been.
SoCal’s Top Level
- Android 0
- Captain Faceroll
Android 0 was once described by my dear friend Ambisinister as “American Setchi.” I prefer what Wheat and I dubbed him all the way back in 2020: “the greatest player of all-time.” I cannot explain why this running gag exists or how it started, but the point is: we’re big Android 0 believers. I’ll just link what I wrote about him earlier here.
Yep; ARMY’s going to Mainstage! He’s shown us a mix of results at the couple offline tournaments he’s been to, splitting sets with Fiction, beating Gooms and MegaXmas, but struggling against Kurv’s Luigi and Franz. Before that, ARMY casually had an incredible run at the Big One, where he 3-0’d Ginger and Zamu before having to DQ from the event.
Whatever happened to Lucky? After winning Netplay for Palestine over n0ne, S2J, Hungrybox, and Ben, he’s done nothing comparable. Lucky DQ’d from Riptide, got destroyed by Palpa and Gahtzu in a bad 17th place showing at Low Tide City, and he couldn’t make the Smash World Tour NA West Finals. For someone who looked on the cusp of being a Top 10 player, this is probably the lowest his stock has been in quite some time. Nonetheless, if he got third at Mainstage, how surprised can we say we’d really be?
The all-but-confirmed No. 2 Marth in the world had a brutal dose of reality when he got 3-0’d by his longtime bracket demon at the Smash World Tour NA West Finals, but I’m willing to attribute that to Faceroll being that good far more than KoDoRiN being in a slump. For all intents and purposes, he is the king of active SoCal, having beaten everyone that’s played him at locals and having backed it up by making top eights at Riptide, Low Tide City, and The Nightclub, taking sets from out-of-region talent like Aklo, Gahtzu, SDJ, SFOP, and Magi.
Captain Faceroll is fresh off an incredible Smash World Tour NA West Finals third place, where he beat Fiction, Kalamahu, KoDoRiN, and Medz. It was such an awesome return for the former second-placer of SCL and the eternal emperor of Irvine Melee. You might say that was just one event – and perhaps you could even point to his disappointing 25th place at LEVO in May to counterbalance any expectations of Faceroll making a deep run here. But because it’s more fun to expect an insane amount of success from a player I like than take the “safe’ route, I’m buying Faceroll stock and predicting that he makes a deep run in top eight at Mainstage.
Dark Horses for Top 8
Although she says she isn’t too big about competing any more, essy has started to show results that were of the caliber we saw from here around when she made the Top 100 for the first time. Recently, she’s defeated Drephen and Michael, also traveling to Maryland as Zamu’s coach for the Smash World Tour. How great would it be if we saw an essy run to top eight?
At this point, Krudo should be a name that even casual Melee fans recognize as one of the top Sheiks in North America. He lately defeated Casper and Android 0 en route to the quietest ninth place major performance in recent memory, but his resume’s good before that: Panda, Jflex, Kuyashi, and JSalt just scratches the surface of the list of people whom he’s beaten. Krudo doesn’t enter many big tournaments, but every time he does, he always impresses me.
Does Zealot count as a dark horse at this point? Earlier in the year, he defeated Magi and FatGoku, but winning BOPME over Zamu in addition to his other 2021 performances basically cements him as one of the Midwest’s best players, and his multiple wins over Drephen prove him to be the best Ohio player right now, as well as a pretty easy pick for Top 50 player in the world. After this event, I fully expect to read that previous sentence and roll my eyes at what a lame understatement that is.
You read that right – the 73rd best player of all-time is heading to this tournament. Since returning to competing, KJH has merely won two events over Ginger. Is it too soon to say he’s back? Nah.
I’m Pretty Sure They’re Going to DQ But They’d Be The Favorites If They Came
The closest thing we’ve seen to a vulnerable Leffen within Europe was when he was playing on a completely new controller, when he eventually blew by the rest of the continent in about a third of the year. It seems like his travel situation isn’t getting any better, so we’ll have to wait and see for how he does at a later date – most likely for Summit 12. If he was here, he’d be a leading contender to win the tournament.
We’ve just seen iBDW fresh off winning Riptide over Hungrybox and Plup, as well as right after a massive loser’s run to second place at the Smash World Tour NA East Finals. He would be up there as a dark horse to win this event were it not for the fact that the three people who iBDW wants to play the most – Mango, Leffen, and Zain – are more than likely not going to compete at Mainstage. Based on how iBDW has talked about his own motivations for traveling in the past, I’m going to assume that he’s going to skip this.
Zain would be my pick to win this event if he goes to it. I find it unlikely, given his concerns about COVID-19, the fact that Mango’s not competing, and Leffen’s absence. It’s a shame, but in all seriousness, you can’t blame him.
Contenders In The Expected Field/Dark Horses If The Above Tier Goes
After looking like the third best player in North America earlier this year, S2J has had it rough. SFOP and Gahtzu sent him out of Low Tide City – an event in which S2J was favored to win – at seventh place. He then had a disappointing fifth place showing at the Smash World Tour NA Finals, where SFAT and Fiction both convincingly beat him. But at the same time, it is S2J, the same person who won a TMT over Hungrybox to close out August; the same person who’s among a few players that can beat Zain and a perpetual Top 10 to 15 player of the last five years.
I don’t think I’m being too harsh when I say that Wizzrobe’s basically disappeared since he won The Big One in July. He’s had mostly forgettable (for his standards) showings where he’s finished a relatively ho-hum fifth place at three consecutive events (Summit, Riptide, and Smash World Tour NA East Finals). It’s not a bad trio of performances, but it’s certainly miles away from the Wizzrobe who we saw ferociously pop off upon winning a week of SCL over the two best players in the world.
Finishing in ninth place at the Smash World Tour NA East Finals had to have been a disappointment for n0ne, but for what it’s worth, it did come with a set over Wizzrobe. Other than that though, n0ne’s been a bit quiet. He did finish second to moky at Pinnacle 2021, beating Zuppy and Soonsay on the way, which should speak to his ability to still beat some of rising Top 50-caliber Fox players at the very least.
SFAT’s spread against the field is so rock solid. In addition to beating S2J in their last set en route to second place at the Smash World Tour NA West Finals, he also took a set from Plup, beating Fiction and Captain Faceroll as well. That was just one event too; at Riptide, SFAT nabbed additional wins over Wizzrobe, Gahtzu, and Axe. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t particularly surprised by these results as much as I was of SFAT winning the CLG Mixup 2 over Rocky, a longtime personal demon. The only issue I see in SFAT’s bracket path is a potentially brutal showdown with either Zain or, more likely, Hungrybox, who’s beaten him in their last 19 sets. Speaking of which…
The Monday Morning Marth Pick
It’s safe to say that while the Hungrybox of 2017 to 2019 isn’t back, offline Hungrybox still remains a beast. A sole loss to Polish – the same player who would go on to defeat Ginger, lloD and iBDW – says a lot more about the player who beat him than it does show any limitation to LAN Hungrybox. The only other people who have beaten him on LAN this year are four of the best players in the active competitive field: Mango, Zain, iBDW, and Plup. In the same time, Hungrybox has beaten Ginger, Magi, n0ne, Ben, Zamu, 2saint, KoDoRiN, aMSa, moky, Wizzrobe, and iBDW.
In general, I really like Hungrybox’s chances against the field at this event. In addition to boasting a dominant lifetime vs. SFAT, I’m not convinced that S2J’s in the same shape he was earlier in the year, while I’m fairly confident that the Hungrybox of November 2021 is very different than the one moping on stream about playing Ben in March 2021. I would continue to favor Hungrybox over n0ne, and while Wizzrobe is probably a slight favorite if they play, we just haven’t seen prime Wizzrobe come out since he won The Big One.
Unless one of Zain, iBDW, or Leffen attends this event, I think it’s a perfect time for Hungrybox to win his first offline national since Smash Summit 9. Expect a monster popoff.