Remember the Summer of Smash? 2022’s fall season is set to be the “Autumn of Smash.” It starts with this October – perhaps the most stacked month in Melee history. Between last weekend’s Lost Tech City, The Big House, the Off-Season, DreamHack Rotterdam, and the Ludwig Smash Invitational, you can barely get a moment’s notice to breath before another big event happens. By the way, did I mention that Summit is returning at the beginning of November? Be ready for campaigns to start.
An update regarding the Summit voting process…
from the office of @thecheatdotcom ✍️
Thread of new info in the replies below ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/qF0ZNmgvOo
— Beyond the Smash (@BTSsmash) September 28, 2022
Today’s Monday Morning Marth is dedicated to everyone’s favorite open event of the fall: The Big House 10. Similar to what I did for Double Down, I’m going to dive into the eight players who could feasibly win The Big House. More specifically, I will be making the case for – and against – each of them to win, as well as giving my “guesstimate” odds.
NOTE: I have not accounted for seeding or projected brackets in this column for odds. Those typically change during the week of the event, and there would be too much to adjust for. Treat my “odds” here as general ballpark numbers.
The Case For and Against aMSa
Outside of aMSa, not many people can say that they have beaten each of Zain, iBDW, Jmook, Hungrybox, and Leffen in their career. Historically speaking, aMSa’s more or less, trended upward. In 2018, aMSa made multiple top eights, finishing No. 7 in the world in the following year. He then withstood a whole pandemic to place in the Top 6 of the 2021 PGRContenders list, and maintained the No. 6 spot on the most recent Summer MPGR. In July, he got his first ever major second place, and in August, he won Fete 2, the biggest tournament win of his career. Isn’t winning a supermajor the natural next step?
But it’s not enough that aMSa ‘can’ beat people in the top level. To win a major, he needs to beat all of them in a row. That’s still a long shot considering he still has career losing records vs. Zain, Hungrybox, iBDW, Leffen, Plup, and, yes, even Mango, whom he’s beaten in their two most recent sets. I’m not even sure we should expect aMSa to beat Jmook again given how it took one day for Jmook to win a runback with Axe. By the way, this is assuming aMSa gets that far. This is the closest he has ever been to winning a major, and it’s still incredibly unlikely. Truthfully speaking, aMSa winning The Big House 10 would be the most miraculous feat in the history of Melee.
The Edwin Odds – 50:1
The Case For and Against Plup
Other than Genesis 8, where he lost to the greatest underdog run to second place ever and Ginger, Plup has shown a lot of promise. In his other events, he’s beaten Zain, held off aMSa, whooped lloD, and gone back-and-forth with Hungrybox (4-3 in tournament sets in 2022). What I remember most, however, fondly is Plup Showdown. Here, he gave Mew2King (for whatever it’s worth), iBDW, and Hungrybox the hands. The last part warrants further mention. Historically speaking, Hungrybox has been the guy that’s ruined Plup’s chances the most. This year has told a different story. If Plup can maintain an advantage against his career kryptonite, the sky’s the limit.
The thing is, Plup’s the player whom I trust the numbers least on. It always feels like something random happens that I can’t draw a conclusion from. After I predicted him to win Genesis, he lost to Ginger for 13th place. He then randomly dropped a set to Magi at CEO before obliterating her in their next three sets. It’s as if his upset losses just happen in a vacuum, having no predictive value whatsoever, but existing for two reasons: to infuriate anyone trying to guess how well Plup will do and to stop him from winning a supermajor. For whatever it’s worth, The Big House has also typically brought heartbreak or disappointment to Plup. He flamed out of top eight at The Big House 9 (losing to SFAT and Fiction), he was upset early by Bananas at The Big House 8, he had a potential coronation ruined at The Big House 7, he fell at the hands of Zain and Shroomed for 17th at The Big House 6, and he exited The Big House 5 at 13th place. Granted – all of this is totally irrelevant to Plup’s chances in 2022. But what isn’t?
The Edwin Odds – 9:1
The Case For and Against Leffen
Nobody returns with a statement performance quite like Leffen. You don’t have to look far back to find one – watch Leffen utterly beat down Joshman, aMSa, Hungrybox, and Zain at Battle of BC 4. It was one of the most incredible tournament runs in recent memory, and it came after a relatively terrible two-event stretch for Leffen where he looked totally washed. With a peak like the one he showed in Canada, Leffen is always going to be a threat at any tournament he enters. I’ll go a step further: it was the best singular major performance that anyone has showed all year.
Unfortunately, one tournament doesn’t define a player. The fact of the matter is that Leffen’s only given us three events this year. If the case for Leffen involves saying that he does well vs. Zain and Hungrybox, we have to admit that we have no reason to expect him to just as convincingly beat everyone else in this group of players. The last time I can remember something comparable to precedent for Leffen winning this upcoming Big House would be PPMD winning Apex, going AWOL from majors for five months, and then winning SKTAR 3 five months later. I find it hard to believe something like that could happen in 2022, let alone for someone who has never won a Big House and hasn’t won multiple majors in a year since 2016.
The Edwin Odds – 9:1
The Case For and Against Jmook
There is no greater story at the top level of 2022 Melee than the rise of Jmook. In half a year’s time, Jmook has become a fan favorite with competitive results across the field. Who else is 4-3 with Zain, 1-1 vs. iBDW and Plup alike, 2-1 vs. Mango, and up 1-0 over Leffen? The one “upset” loss that Jmook suffered this year before winner’s top eight was to Axe, whom he soundly beat in the runback at the same tournament. A Jmook major victory seems inevitable.
Dr. K raided my stream today POG pic.twitter.com/V9eI8rrh86
— FLY | Jmook (@jakedirado) September 19, 2022
With this in mind, there is also one head-to-head that every Jmook fan has to acknowledge: 1-7 against Hungrybox. Save for an unusually convincing sweep at Shine, Jmook has been handily trounced by Hungrybox the entire year. One losing head-to-head obviously doesn’t disqualify someone, but it’s practically stopped Jmook from winning a major multiple times. If he keeps running into him, at what point does it become essential for him to be able to defeat him in order to win? Another challenge is that while I think his head-to-heads are very good, I don’t think Jmook has an especially ‘reliable’ path to first place in the way that other people in his caliber do. There’s no one he dominates; even his favorable matchups still feel like coin flips.
The Edwin Odds – 9:1
The Case For and Against Mango
For starters, we just saw Mango win Lost Tech City. About a month and a half before that, he won Smash Con. Even more promising has been his recent stretch of success vs. Hungrybox; as Mango has taken three of their last four sets. Those who are especially attentive will also know that Mango’s won each of his runbacks vs. players who had beaten him earlier in the year: KoDoRiN, Fiction, and lloD. Is The Big House 10 the official revenge tour for the reigning Big House champion; for the guy who has won more Big House tournaments than anyone in Melee history?
In all likelihood, probably not. For starters, Mango vs. Zain this year has looked hopeless for Mango fans. He’s is 0-3 in sets and 0-9 in games against his rival. Being mincemeat for the current world No. 1 surely drops your odds at winning The Big House. A 1-2 record vs. Jmook and another loss to iBDW in their only also doesn’t inspire much confidence. Put together, Mango is 6-10 against the eight players I’m discussing in this column. He will likely have to win three sets against this tier of players to win any supermajor, let alone this one. To be fair, he literally did that last weekend, but it’s worth pumping the brakes on expecting it happening again.
The Edwin Odds: 6:1
The Case For and Against Hungrybox
There is a real possibility that Hungrybox will end No. 1 again for a fourth time in the modern era. As I mentioned before, being 7-1 against Jmook has played a huge role in Hungrybox being tied for the lead in winning big events this year (GOML, Wavedash, and Riptide). So has having a winning record vs. Mango (4-3), aMSa (2-0), and, undeniably, Hungrybox’s commitment to attending majors. With so many events he attends, he also has individual sets over iBDW, Zain, and Wizzrobe. Even vs. his demons, you can’t count Hungrybox out.
I want you to note that 7-1 record vs. Jmook down though. When Hungrybox hasn’t had a path with Jmook in it this year, he hasn’t seen the same kind of success. Take, for instance, his ho-hum Genesis, where n0ne and iBDW eliminated him, or his even worse CEO 2022, where KJH and Plup sent him home. I’d add that while you can’t totally count Hungrybox out vs. iBDW or Zain, those two are still strong favorites to beat him. Both are up 4-1 in each of their last five offline sets vs. him. That’s not even going into Leffen, who has thrashed Hungrybox seemingly on command for the last two years. It’s not impossible for Hungrybox to beat Leffen, but even if he does, having to deal with a field that isn’t just “Jmook and person who Jmook beats” is going to be significantly more challenging; a feat more like his GOML victory. Could he really repeat that again?
The Edwin Odds: 5:1
The Case For and Against iBDW
Earlier this year, I wrote that iBDW was “the one Fox player who’s not a heavy underdog vs. Zain.” Want to know what happened after that? He won Double Down and then kicked the crap out of Zain to win Phantom 2022. Merely remaining competitive with Zain, let alone destroying him like he did in Australia, is a huge boost to iBDW’s chances of winning any major. The same goes for if iBDW can maintain winning records over Hungrybox, Mango, aMSa, and Plup.
As strong as iBDW (mostly) looked in his run of four majors from Summit to Phantom, we’ve also seen him drop the ball vs. the field this year. You can’t totally dismiss real losses he’s had to the likes of Aklo, KoDoRiN, Joshman, and Krudo this year. It’s also worth noting that The Big House 10 is iBDW’s first event back after three months, due to his health issues. Like I said with Leffen, I don’t think it’s as probable as it used to be to take a break from competing and return with an immediate win.
The Edwin Odds – 5:1
The Case For and Against Zain
It’s not rocket science to say that Zain could win The Big House. Holding victories at Genesis, Pound, and Shine, Zain arguably won three of the four most prestigious open events of the year, tying him for highest number of wins with iBDW and Hungrybox. Better yet, he’s just won two sets in a row over his career demon. What else does he need to do to get the benefit of the doubt?
— Zain (@ZainNaghmi) September 19, 2022
Well, he needs to win more. When the stakes are potentially winning one of the largest majors of the year, the margin for error becomes that much more slim. Though Zain broke his slump by winning Shine, it’s worth noting that his stretch of not winning events wasn’t solely attributable to Leffen, Jmook, and Plup. In the six consecutive events he didn’t win, lloD, iBDW, SluG, Wally, and S2J all took sets. The truth about Zain is that even his “good” matchups are not a guaranteed win for him.
The Edwin Odds – 4:1