It’s been a week since aMSa won The Big House 10 – an achievement I still stand by describing as “miraculous.” I remain floored by it, and naturally, it’s got me thinking. If aMSa is able to win a supermajor, who else could feasibly do it? Are we in the era of chaos?
In today’s Monday Morning Marth, I’m going to break down six players who I believe have nonzero chances, even if ridiculously slim, of winning a supermajor over the next year. I will be limiting my pool to anyone who isn’t in Melee’s top eight right now. I’ll also eliminate Wizzrobe and Axe from the discussion. These two have actually won big events before, so the stakes of this discussion feel significantly smaller for them.
When Armada won Evo 2017, it happened without much fanfare. For starters, it was Armada winning a tournament, so it was another day of the week. Secondly, it was literally another day of the week in that it happened on a Saturday. In hindsight though, we should have paid attention because it was the last supermajor ever won by solo Peach. Five years later, lloD has a chance to do something that only Armada has ever done.
We know lloD can beat Zain, though I’m not going to go as far as to call it a coin flip. iBDW vs. Peach certainly looks scary, but it’s not impossible to imagine him stealing a set seeing that he came pretty close to beating Mango’s Fox. Jmook and Plup are a little more difficult, and so is Hungrybox, though lloD has come heartbreakingly close. Leffen got trounced by lloD in their last meetup, so that’s doable at the very least. Strangely enough, aMSa seems to have figured something out vs. Peach, as he’s beaten lloD twice now – but I still think that it’s not impossible to imagine a lloD victory.
In my opinion, lloD’s biggest strength is his consistency. At every major he’s been to this year, he’s made it to winners’ round of 16. After that, it’s been much tougher. The lloD dream run likely involves beating aMSa in round of 16, one of his fellow “long shots” the round after (let’s say, moky, who upsets iBDW), Leffen, and then someone like Mango just to make it to grands. Maybe there, he’d outlast anyone who makes it through.
Mango, Leffen, and iBDW have defined the last ten years of their character. Beneath them have been a variety of other players: SFAT, Hax, Lucky, Druggedfox, Crush, among others. Few have reached the cusp of greatness and been around as long as moky. He brings a unique approach to Fox that seems to have limitless potential. I still think about his loser’s run at The Function 2 every now and then and wonder if that could have been a major run, at least if you flipped the names slightly out of order.
moky’s matchup spread is unusually strong among the top tier of players. He’s won each of his last sets vs. Leffen, aMSa, and iBDW, as well as taken an online set over Plup. Against Hungrybox, he hasn’t taken an offline set yet, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s dominated him online. I’d similarly say moky vs. Jmook still remains a matchup that moky could win, even if Jmook is favored, though I should add that moky won their only online set a year ago. If he can get over consistency issues, the sky’s the limit.
last tweet but for most of the year i was just depressed and was lazy with melee as a whole
been grinding a lot since ssc and happy with how much my mental has changed around competition
when i lose ik i at least did what i could and take solace in that
stoked for luds event
— moist | moky (@moky_dokie) October 9, 2022
Speaking of which, you might be tempted to discount moky’s chances because Zain and Mango have been so hard for him. The real problem, however, is moky’s tendency to buster out of winners’ early. Any future losses to players like Khryke, Eggy, Aura, and Jflex are going to be a death sentence for anyone’s chances of winning a supermajor, let alone moky. But if he can get by those players, it’s more doable than you might imagine. My hard call? By late 2024, he’ll have one. If I had to guess, it’d come from some combination of iBDW, aMSa, Plup, Hungrybox, and Leffen.
2019 to 2022 has been the era of “firsts” for Pikachu and Yoshi. It’s marked a return to glory for Captain Falcon and Marth as well. But amid talk about when a Sheik main will finally win a supermajor, we’ve discounted the possibility of an Ice Climbers beating them to the punch. After all, ChuDat was able to win Pound 2 in 2007, three years after CaptainJack won MLG San Francisco. SluG’s the best candidate to do it in 2022.
Let’s start with the good: SluG can clearly defeat Zain. He’s also taken online sets from iBDW and Hungrybox, though those two have looked way harder on LAN. If someone like Soonsay can upset Leffen, I don’t see why SluG – a similar if not stronger caliber of competitor, as well as one who plays a character Leffen doesn’t practice against – couldn’t do it. Furthermore, any top ICs vs. Mango is going to be scary, let alone the best in the world. The same goes for SluG vs. Jmook. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I have no hesitation in saying SluG has to be considered the default favorite for a matchup against Jmook. Only the two mid tier players, aMSa’s Yoshi and Plup’s Samus, seem like hard stops in the top tier.
On that note, SluG suffers from the same type of problem as moky. Making it that far in bracket has been a struggle. We’ve seen SluG lose to Salt, Axe, TheSWOOPER, bobby big ballz, as well as ChuDat in the ditto. He was working on a secondary Fox for a while to deal with the mid-tiers – and rumor has it that his Sheik is supposed to be the real deal too. But I have to see it get top-level results for me to believe it. Until then, I think the SluG run is probably some combination of iBDW into Leffen into Jmook. Then, maybe Zain or Jmook again in grands.
Discounting Jmook because his career is still relatively early, two players are in contention for the title of greatest all-time player to never win a major. The first one is SFAT, who I’ve talked about in great detail. The second one is S2J, who seems to be on an upswing in his performances. Is an S2J supermajor win in the cards?
Having taken sets from Zain and Hungrybox in the last six months, S2J is one of the few people who could feasibly make it to winners’ semifinals at a major even if he draws one of the top seeds. As crazy as it may sound, I would also give S2J an underdog shot vs. aMSa. “Supermajor winner aMSa” is such a new beast in the world of competitive Melee – one that’s now beaten his former kryptonite, Wizzrobe, twice in a row – so maybe I should pump the brakes on S2J’s feasible chances, but we’ve seen how brutal Yoshi vs. Captain Falcon has looked before. Is it truly impossible to envision S2J taking a set?
the top 5 best melee players right now are
5. Zain / Ginger
and it's not up for debate
— Pipsqueak (@Pipsqueak_TV) September 12, 2022
It’s a little more difficult to envision an S2J supermajor win that goes through Leffen or iBDW. Forget those two; S2J has struggled vs. Soonsay and SFAT in recent times. Because of matchup dynamics, it very well could be the case that stylistic differences could play a larger role than an inherent “skill gap” between an opponent and himself – but I still think two better Fox players would be hard. Similarly, two top Sheiks in Jmook and Plup would almost certainly put an end to S2J’s run, as they did at Riptide 2022. I also obviously think that Mango would remain quite difficult. So all in all, there’s three opponents who S2J would prefer not to see in tournament, two very tough draws, one coin flip, and two relatively “favorable” opponents.
Fiction has a strange Smash career. He started off as a top Brawl Wario, of all characters, and then immediately began making major top eights in Melee, rising near the top of SoCal with Fox. Fiction then took a bit of a break, came back not too long after, rose to the same Top 15 level he was before, and at one point looked Top 10 before he suddenly switched to Falco…only to get to around the same level he was with his Fox.
Curiously, Fiction’s ‘bracket strengths’ with Falco have been very different than with Fox. Where he used to sometimes buster out against the mid-level and take sets from the top tier of players, he now basically obliterates everyone he’s “supposed” to beat. I remember examining his record against fellow “11 to 25” players within the Summer PGR and was blown away by how consistent he was. I went so far as to actually rank him No. 10 on my ballot. I’d add that he has a pretty good “underdog” shot against iBDW, Mango, and Leffen. His Falco came pretty close to beating iBDW at Genesis and he straight up split sets with Mango this year. Another potentially favorable opponent for Fiction could be Plup, whom we’ve seen show a glimpse of vulnerability vs. Ginger and Magi. Granted, Fiction plays a different style, so it’s not a direct 1:1 analogy but he’s also beaten Plup before, albeit with another character.
I will say – according to my dear friend and protege, self-flagellate, “Shephard Lima Is the best Melee player in the world and will never lose to anyone except for Zain, Hungrybox, and John Ko.” The first two are opponents whom I think are as hard as anyone that could be in Fiction’s path. Not too far behind them are Jmook and aMSa. It’s not impossible to imagine Fiction taking a set from either with enough attempts – but strictly for his chances of winning a supermajor in the short-term, they’re a tall order. Any Fiction dream run will probably necessitate that Zain and Hungrybox not be on his side of bracket and that he gets any combination of spacies or maybe another member of the “11 to 25” group that he has on lockdown.
It feels like yesterday when PPMD and Mew2King were the two best Marth players in the world, and all things considered those two weren’t even fully dedicated to Marth. We’re living in the good times now, when Zain and KoDoRiN are not only the two best representatives of the character, but they’re not playing Falco or Sheik or Fox in tournament. There’s no longer a question of “solo Marth” being able to win a supermajor, as we’ve literally seen it happen. But now we dive into a more personal question: can KoDoRiN win a supermajor?
There’s two things to consider as positives. One of them is his commitment to entering tournaments. It sounds really obvious, but you’d think that being able to endure a lot of travel and go to events is naturally going to make you a stronger and more experienced player. In 2022 alone, KoDoRiN has gone to several out-of-region events, which is more than a lot of his contemporaries within this tier have gone to. As he continues to go to more events, he’s going to continue breaking through walls and improving as a player to the point where many of his head-to-heads are going to quickly become outdated. So far, KoDoRiN’s won his only set vs. iBDW, he’s stole a set from Mango at Smash Summit 13, and he finally defeated Hungrybox at Wavedash. The KoDoRiN supermajor dream run is probably through these three players and, if I had to guess, someone like S2J or n0ne before any of them. Maybe he holds off Mango again in grands.
I want to be clear about why KoDoRiN – a player who I respect and think has future Top 5 potential – is this low on my list of underdog shots to win majors. For starters, it’s because of the three Sheiks: Plup, Jmook, and Leffen. Those three are hard draws for every single Marth player in the world, let alone KoDoRiN. For the purpose of evaluating KoDoRiN’s chances, we have to be honest and say that we’ve seen nothing to indicate that they aren’t immediate bracket enders. I feel similarly about aMSa and about Zain. Both of them are opponents whom I think KoDoRiN would fare better against than the Sheiks, but they’re still long shots. KoDoRiN’s in a weird spot where he’s attended a lot, been fairly consistent, has shown glimmers of promise against the top level, has had a better year than basically everyone but 9 or 10 people. Breaking through to the next level – raising your ceiling that much higher – is so difficult.