The Week in Smash: Tweek’s Consistency and MKLeo’s Return to Form

Smash never seems to take a weekend off anymore. Even after the tournament packed July, the month of August started with two smaller major events (or regionals) that divided the time of many top players. It’s the first weekend since Evo that a top tier tournament wasn’t taking place so it’s a good time to take a look at some of the smaller events.

The two main events this weekend happened in the south. Low Tier City 5, that took place in Dallas, Texas and Smash Factor 6 that was south of the border in Mexico. In terms of talent, both events had significantly smaller attendance from top players, but it allowed for the regions to display their best.

The top players that did show put on a show for those crowds. Smash 4 was the main story this weekend with many of the top 10 Melee taking a week off before Super Smash Con. Smash 4 still had the likes of Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, MKLeo, Larry Lurr, and the surprise of the weekend In Tweek competing.

The problem was the two smaller events split up the talent, but in turn it gave us a good look at Mexico’s hidden Smash 4 talents. Yes, there’s plenty of good players outside of the Afro mentioned MKLeo in the Mexico scene. It’s not a matter of “if” the Mexico scene, it’s a matter of “when” they can fly these players out to events states side.

Smash Factor 6

In classic Smash Factor form, this tournament wasn’t going to leave us without MKLeo roasting Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad for the third time in a row. Let’s remember, MKLeo defeating a beaten down Mr. R at Smash Factor 4 is where Leo first burst onto the scene. It’s only right for MKLeo to handily and swiftly take down Mr. R at the tournament that helped launch his career.

Mr. R did take a set off Leo at this tournament, 3-1, but that just set up Leo’s incredible 10 game stretch where he only dropped one game. A 3-0 sweep over NAKAT, while going 3-1, 3-0 to finish off Mr. R and win his third straight Smash Factor.

Melee

The Melee side also had a similar mix of mostly local players with some top 20’ish players. Unfortunately, the Mexico Melee scene isn’t nearly as fleshed out as Smash 4 so it’s not the same type of talent pool. While there are some talented players, the whole is severely lacking compared to most American Melee scenes.

As for the tournament itself, the games were great and it had excellent storylines all the way up to Zac “SFAT” Cordoni winning the event. After losing 3-0 to TheMoon, SFAT narrowly beat out Johnny “S2J” Kim before getting the back against TheMoon.

In the games SFAT won, it was a steamroll. TheMoon was getting fooled by SFAT’s willingness to DI out at certain moments. He made it extremely difficult for TheMoon to get any of his patented Marth combos going against Fox. Outside of that, SFAT did an excellent job staying out of range and then moving in and getting run-up up-smashes for kills.

Low Tier City 5

It’s disheartening to see a community thrown event go to the wayside because of the influx of new tournaments. The once prominent Project M major In Texas has been relegated to more of a regional.

Melee

It’s a nice change of pace when none on the top six show up. It gives viewers a chance to see matchups that don’t ordinarily happen. For example, Wizzrobe vs. Hugs in a winners Finals is something that’s never been seen. It also gives a talented, yet under appreciated region like Texas a chance to show their skill.

While Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett won the event, Bananas, an ice climbers player who took the spot of Wobbles, made some serious noise. Finishing fifth at a major the size of LTC5 is no joke. Names like MT (who beat Wobbles) and UncleMojo (who beat MT) also made another deep run. Both names popped up at LTC4 as well.

In the end, it was Wizzrobe’s tournament to lose and he did not disappoint. Despite a close encounter with Syrox, he made it through top 8 with a 9-3 record and looked dominant while doing so. Wizzrobe continues to improve and refine his craft.

Smash 4

Finally, the most newsworthy moment of the weekend: Tweek over ZeRo. Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey is redefining consistency. He hasn’t placed outside the top 8 once this season and now he has a win over Zero under his belt.

However, ZeRo did fall early in the bracket. A Texas Bayonetta main named Mistake who made it all the way to winners finals. Mistake went on to beat the most feared Bayo in Smash 4, CaptainZack, and finish third. It was a great run for him and the Texas crowd cheering him on.

Regardless, Tweek was the real winner this weekend. Similarly to Wizzrobe, Tweek ended top 8 with a 9-2 record and beat the best player in the world. Three tournaments in a row ZeRo has come up just short. It’s becoming a pattern. Tweek is also slowly moving up result pages so expect another win to come shortly after this one.

 

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Featured image courtesy of https://goo.gl/images/TMVXZh

BEAST 7 payout situation cannot be tolerated

The year is 2009. The Super Smash Bros Melee competitive scene is hanging on by a thread. Tournament organizers are untrustworthy and payouts at events aren’t always fully guaranteed. Due to this trend, the Melee competitive scene is nearing its end…

WAIT, it’s 2017 and the scene is flourishing. Modern tournaments are a great experience and the scene is filled with the best tournament organizers in the history of the scene. So, why are we still seeing a flux of shady dealings within some prominent organizations?

Armada via twitter.com/UGSArmada

Let’s focus on one situation that happened recently. By now, Smash fans have likely come across the video Adam “Armada” Lindgren made or the tweet sent out from Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad’s twitter account. In summary, the main organizer behind the Swedish based tournament series B.E.A.S.T. didn’t budget appropriately and is now not financially able to pay the players for an event that took place in February of this year.

This is not the first time this has happened in Smash. Infamously, Pound V paid out players five years after the actual tournament. But that was 2011 and the scene was much different back then. It was still a young community (in terms of average age) and without esports media and social media fully developed, situations like this could be slipped under a rug. In 2017, with a fully fleshed out scene, this is completely unacceptable.

For reference, there’s a major nearly every week in Smash. Players have to carefully plan out where to spend their time and money. If an event backfires, it can cost a player financially, especially if they aren’t compensated for their efforts. It’s a negative effect that’s detrimental to not only the image of the tournament but the scene as a whole.

Organizational ignorance should be met with legal action

Today, payouts should be done accordingly, and if not, legal action should be considered. Smash is out of the basement. It’s a professional scene now where players, organizers, and media members are making a living. Issues with missing finances can’t be tolerated like it was back when the spotlight wasn’t as bright.

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy topic to discuss because most of these community figures and players are all friends with history. And that’s where the leniency from players who haven’t been paid comes from, but at some point, the pleasantries need to stop and people need to take responsibility.

It’s great to see players like Mr. R speak out while the organization involved is directly telling him to keep quiet. That’s not only completely unprofessional on their part, but almost feels as if they’re extorting these players with the idea that they’ll never see the money they earned from winning. It doesn’t help the fact that the BEAST organizers are tip-toeing around the situation trying to avoid controversy. That’s a giant red flag.

In today’s context, it’s not nearly as big of a problem as it once was, but it’s still a terrible look for Smash when it happens. It’s hard for this community to be taken seriously when prominent members and organizations are acting like it’s 2009. Organizers don’t have the luxury of taking their time anymore, and as a community, more pressure needs to be placed on these organizations to pay up.


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Featured image courtesy of https://smash.gg/tournament/beast-7-1/details

Leffen Wins Second Consecutive Get on My Level Melee Title

Ice and Leffen. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evenmatchupgaming

What is it about Canada that makes William “Leffen” Hjelte untouchable? Is it the Canadian crowd that’s passion boils over into the gameplay? Or possibly, Leffen just feels more comfortable north of the border. Whatever the case, Leffen now owns two Get On My Level trophies.

 

Coincidence or not, Leffen took care of business in back-to-back years with dominating performances. At GOML 2017, Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma was the victim of another strong winners bracket run from Leffen. It wasn’t a clean sweep, but every game Leffen came out victorious rather convincingly. He had three separate three-stock wins and two two-stock wins.

After achieving another doubles title with his European partner Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, Leffen’s play showed a singles championship run was possible. Edging out DaJuan “Shroomed”McDaniels and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni started the run on Saturday as the momentum carried over to Sunday. Leffen only dropped one game before his matchup with Hungrybox.

Luck is always a factor

Competition breeds story lines because of the passion in which one competes. In this, characters are developed and a plot is set in motion. The famous Mango losers bracket runs, or Mango reaching Armada in Genesis grand finals is an example of this. All these patterns that develop over-time feel as if they’re scripted. How or why does life work like that?

I’m not trying to get existential over Melee, but Leffen’s performance feels as if it’s another example of certain patterns that don’t seemingly make senses on the surface. As I tried to explain earlier, the reasoning for this is unknown. It seems to be a combination of many different factors with a hint of luck.

Does the absence of Armada, Mango, and Mew2King from GOML push destiny along? Absolutely. It’s a different tournament with those names in the bracket, but here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. Leffen came to defend his title regardless of who’s registered. Luck is a factor, but he still had to go through players that have bested him in the past.

 

The Grand finals

Hungrybox is 4-1 against Leffen in 2017. Even with some success against Hungrybox in the past, it’s still a mighty difficult task for Leffen to beat a player who has much more experience playing with the stakes as high as Grand Finals. The largest advantage for Leffen being his understanding of the Jigglypuff matchup.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evenmatchupgaming

 

Facing Hungrybox is unlike any other Puff main. Yes, Leffen plays the correct way to beat the character, but it’s an entirely different thing to try and outsmart, and outperform Hungrybox. That’s what makes this performance even more special. From the start of game one, it was clear who had the advantage. Leffen built large leads and stayed committed to his solid game plan.

A year after running the gauntlet at GOML 2016, Leffen comes back off a 2017 filled with plenty of struggles and wins his first event of the year. Ironically, his last win came against Hungrybox at Don’t Park on the Grass at the backend of 2016. It’s a performance to get him back on track after failing to make Evo top 8.

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Featured image courtesy of YouTube.com/evenmatchupgaming

Echo Fox dominates Evo 2017

Echo Fox invested heavily into their fighting game team early in 2017, signing a plethora of talented players in the hope of winning tournaments. At the conclusion of Evo 2017, Echo Fox as a team walked away with four medals and two golds. The investment into the first “super team” in fighting games has paid off handsomely.

Equally important, Echo Fox landed six players in the top 8 and many more in the top 16. The next closest team is Panda Global with three. Special performances propelled Echo Fox to one of the strongest performances from a single team in Evo history.

Certainly, the play of Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi and Kim “JDCR” Hyun Jin put the 2017 squad into the discussion of best team ever. Tokido wins the marquee event in Street Fighter V, and has a dominating effort in both Injustice 2 and Tekken 7.

Tokido in Grand Finals. twitch.tv/evo

In a stroke of genius, Echo Fox bought out the Tekken free agent market before the release of Tekken 7 and have been winning everything since. Evo was no different. JDCR looked dominant taking home the gold, while Choi “Saint” Jinwoo finished second.

Everyone’s chasing Echo Fox

Panda Global is the only team that is anywhere in the vicinity of Echo Fox. Punk’s loss to Tokido was a complete heart-breaker and stole away an Evo Street Fighter for Panda Global. PG is also the only team with players across multiple games and platforms performing well. One medal and three top 8 appearances in three separate games.

SFV pools at Evo.

Not to mention, there’s only five teams with multiple players reaching a top 8. Noble, Splyce, Liquid and CLG had two each. It was Echo Fox far ahead of the pack. The Fox squad had more medals than the next best team had top 8 placings. It was a complete wreck.

In other instances, players still don’t have the sponsors. BlazBlue top 8 didn’t have one player sponsored, but that’s not much of a surprise considering the majority of players hail from Asia. The problem is that the few sponsored Asian born players all play for Echo Fox. With no more MadCatz, Echo Fox swept up all the talent.

Who will be the next team to make a big move in the fighting game free agent market? The best team at Evo changes nearly every year, especially with more teams joining the fray. It will be interesting to see if Echo Fox can hold that title again at Evo 2018.

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Armada continues best year ever with win at Evo 2017

In Melee’s fifth consecutive year at Evo, the results stayed consistent. Adam “Armada” Lindgren asserted his dominance as the world’s best Melee player, winning in straight sets over Joseph “Mango” Marquez. This secured Armada his second Evo title.

Armada winning a tournament is hardly news anymore, but that doesn’t take away from his massive achievement at Evo 2017. This speaks to his consistency and work ethic. He continues to perfect his Peach play while improving at playing under pressure.

As a matter of fact, Armada has become nearly unbeatable in last stock situations since famously falling to Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma at Evo 2016. Armada had to put that loss behind him and as a result it made him stronger for this latest run of dominance. The second Evo victory for Armada not only adds another trophy to his mantle but improves his 2017 resume as the best year from any Smasher ever.

Mango vs Armada

Nevertheless, Mango was looking to finally get that elusive third Evo title after failing the last two years. His first win over Hungrybox, after two consecutive exits at the hands of Hbox’s Puff previously, finally setup the matchup fans of Melee have been waiting to see at an Evo for the last four years.

Shockingly, this is the first time Mango and Armada reached Grand Finals in the same Evo. El Classico, as it’s known in Melee circles, fizzled out the last couple years. Armada held up his end of the bargain, but Mango struggled to reach the finals through losers bracket. And after all this time, Armada did what he does best and won by simply outplaying his opponent.

Reminiscent of Genesis 4, in which Armada dismantled a mentally tired Mango, Armada wasn’t pushed like in previous years. Evo 2017 felt similar to that Genesis 4 result. Mango put all his strength into beating Hungrybox and didn’t seem as mentally prepared to face Armada’s overwhelming, punish-heavy Peach.

M2K nearly pulls it off

However, Armada did struggle in one of the most intense and pain staking sets of 2017. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, similar to Mango against Hungrybox, put his heart and soul into beating Armada. Even in a best of three, the set felt like it took ages. A seven minute game three on Pokémon stadium was a game to be remembered. Every single hit was important.

Although M2K didn’t get the win, he managed to make Armada sweat. Something that isn’t easy to do. In no other set did Armada feel that pressure or the threat of a loss. Armada went 12-3 in the semifinal bracket, and despite a small setback against Jeff “Axe” Williamson, he dominated all day.

Armada sets up a chance at the “Threevo”

I don’t want to already move on to 2018, but it’s hard not to picture what could happen in the days to come. Mango has spoken of a third Evo title, but has let it linger too long and now is in jeopardy of potentially losing the “threevo” to his nemesis, Armada.

In the event that Mango and Armada meet in another Evo grand final, the stakes will be as high as they’ve ever been. But for now, it’s Armada’s time to sit back and enjoy another Evo title. One of the hardest working players in Smash continues to separate himself from the rest of the pack. The onus is on the rest of the field to match the Evolution 2017 world champion.

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Best sets of Evolution

Evolution is known for bringing together the best fighting game players in the world and creating an environment where amazing things can happen. The prestige of the event makes every hit, combo and round extra important. This is why Evo is the holy grail in the fighting game community.

Over the last decade, Evo has been the home to some of the best matches in the history of fighting games. I picked out the 10 most revered matches since 2010 and ranked them. These are matches and moments that stick with fans and are known for their heart throbbing intensity. Without further adieu…

10. Gamerbee vs Justin Wong, 2011, USFIV

Here’s a general theme for this list: Justin Wong and Gamerbee will be featured quite a bit. Both are incredible players but more importantly have a flair for the dramatic. The 2011 set between these two was not only a heart throbbing affair, but quite possibly ended Justin Wong’s best and last chance at a Street Fighter IV Evo title. Breaking American’s hearts everywhere.

9. Ally vs Kamemushi, 2016, Smash for Wii U

2016 was a great year and Ally and Kamemushi was the match to set the tone. Kamemushi sent the overwhelming favorite in Zero home with a 3-0, but couldn’t slow down Ally who seemed destined to take the event. It was a great sight to see Kamemush’s Mega Man blow the crowd away.

8. SilentWolf vs Axe, Melee

A four-stock in 57 seconds. On game five. In front of a raucous crowd. Enough said.

7. LI Joe vs Eita, 2016, SFV

It might not be number one on this list, but for a lot of fans this is most memorable Evo set in a long time. LI Joe, an American hero, summoned the spirit of the bald eagle to take out one of Japan’s up-and-coming players. I’ve been to a handful of Evo’s and no crowd has ever been as united behind a player than they were for Joe that day.

6. Justin Wong Wins Marvel at Evo, 2014

The greatest Marvel player this world has ever seen had failed to obtain a Marvel 3 Evo title throughout the first three years of the game’s life. It felt like only a matter of time before Justin was able to get that illustrious title. During that run, he had one of the most memorable comebacks against ChrisG and ended up taking him out in grand finals which led to the famous barrel role.

5. MadKOF vs Bala, 2012, KOF XIII

The special part about Evo is at any moment a game that isn’t on a persons’ radar can absolutely blow them away. KOF XIII did that to an entire crowd in 2012. Bala’s win over MadKOF was the match of the day and brought plenty of eyes to that game. It also gave us MadKOF and his divider curtain that added to the intensity and importance of this set to all involved.

4. Xian vs Snake Eyez

Snake Eyez was a well known player, but it wasn’t until this set that we got the full scope on how good he actually is. Xian was the returning champ but Snake Eyez and the American crowd were having none of that. It took some timeouts and disciplined play, but Snake Eyez pulled it off.

3. Infiltration vs Gamerbee, 2015

As a send off to street Fighter IV, Gamerbee and Infiltration put it all out there and gave the crowd a helluva show. The intense thought between sets, the simultaneous water chugs and 90 second matches were special. This set had everything! I couldn’t have imagined a better way to end the SFIV era.

2. Dogura vs Garireo BlazBlue, 2014

Similarly to Bala vs Mad KOF, Dogura and Garireo had a similar affect. At the end of an exciting day, everyone was talking about the BlazBlue finals that started the day. One of the most emotionally charged sets ever had Garireo summoning all his focus and strength to pull off the unthinkable reset win.

1. Hungrybox vs Armada, 2016, Melee

I can’t remember a set with so many momentum changes as this one. In many instances, Hungrybox was a hit away from missing out on his first Evo title. But, he kept fighting and never gave up. In most of these games, Hungrybox went into last stock at a deficit, but as we know now Hungrybox has no conscious regardless of the set count.  Hungrybox stunned an entire crowd and kept us on the edge of our seats for 11 straight games.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

Super Smash Bros Melee Evo 2017 odds

Evolution 2017 takes place next weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in classic Vegas fashion I’m here to present the odds for Super Smash Brothers Melee. Of the 1,493 entrances, one of these players on the list below will be Evo champion. Will it be a past champion or a new name that takes the title?

9/4 Adam “Armada” Lindgren

It’s been a long time since anyone other than Armada was the favorite heading into an event. The two-time Evo champion is still amid the best year of his career. For Armada, he’s already accomplished the Melee gauntlet of tournament wins in his career. The lone achievement missing from his mantle is a third Evo title, or the “threevo.”

The 2017 tournament will be his second chance to obtain the illustrious third title that Hungrybox ripped out of his grasp in 2016. Armada will be focused and prepared. It will take an inhuman effort, like Hungrybox last year to take out Armada.

13/5 Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

Armada is the favorite, but Hungrybox has the most recent major victory between the two of them. Smash N’ Splash 3 presented another game five set and like Evo 2016, Hungrybox edged him out. If anything, Hungrybox will have the most momentum of any player. With the recent win and the fact that he’s a returning champion, Hungrybox must feel a wave of confidence.

The key match will not be with Armada, but with Mango. The play of Mango’s Fox could be a potential hurdle en route to another championship.

Armada and Hbox, Evo 2016. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

15/5 Joseph “Mango” Marquez

Mango has had two disappointing Evo performances in the last two years. After scraping out two Evo titles previously, much was expected of him the last couple of years and in both instances Hungrybox ended his run. It was a despairing couple of losses due to the anticipation of the “threevo,” which is a title not many fighting game players hold.

The reality is that Mango still has another Evo run inside him. His talents still show up, not as often as in previous years, but the potential to win is there. This aspect makes Mango such a dangerous player heading into this weekend.

6/1 Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

M2K is the one of the top four that has failed to win an Evo. Historically, Evo has been M2K’s worst major of the year. Some of his worst career performances have taken place at Evo. He’s never made it past a fifth-place finish. It’ll be another difficult year to break through for M2K, especially if Leffen plays up to par.

6/1 William “Leffen” Hjelte

Leffen is the wildcard once again. Recently, he’s given Armada some trouble and has pushed players like Hungrybox to their limits. Leffen rarely wins the tournament, but on any given day he’s capable of beating anyone. There’s not many players with the matchup prowess and understanding of Leffen.

18/1 Justin “Plup” McGrath

Plup is coming off a third-place finish at Evo 2016. A performance in which he took out Mango. Well, guess what? Plup will play Mango and his tournament success could ride on that matchup and if he can rewrite the history between him and Hungrybox.

25/1 Zac “SFAT” Cordoni

SFAT has cooled off a bit in 2017 after a breakout 2016, but the Fox player still has enough winnable matchups to get him over the top. SFAT avoids his problem matchups in M2K and Armada and will get ChuDat, Hungrybox and Mango. All players he’s had mild success against. If he can somehow get a win over a couple of these players, he could carry that momentum into the top 8.

30/1 Weston “Westballz” Dennis

The return of the extreme punish heavy Westballz has seemingly returned in 2017. The defense is still there, but now he’s starting to hit harder again with his Falco. He matches up with Leffen, who he has had close sets with in the past, but could run into some problems down the line.

30/1 Jeff “Axe” Williamson

Axe will have his hands full with Wizzrobe and Armada in bracket. He’ll have to play extremely well to have a shot at top 8 winners. The secret advantage Axe possesses is having the raucous Arizona crowd, which is in close proximity to the Vegas area, cheering for him.  Let’s see if Axe has the Evo main stage magic once again.

35/1 Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett

Wizzrobe could be the one underdog to place your money on this weekend. It feels like a matter of time before he has another breakout performance. He can compete with the upper echelon players and he’s starting to win more of the 50-50 matchups. Wizzrobe now has the tournament experience necessary and is a threat to win an Evo.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

Evo 2017: Attendance drop is just returning to the mean

Evolution 2017 has seen massive drop-offs in terms of entrances. Street Fighter V is down nearly 50% from 2016, both Smash games lost almost 1,000 unique entrants, and the newer released games failed to reach their expected marks. So, what’s causing this?

The game to focus on here is Street Fighter V. SFV was wildly successful in its first year as players seemed ready to move on from Street Fighter IV. This caused the spike in attendance from Evo 2015 to Evo 2016. The extra 2,800 players created a trickle down effect for the rest of the games as there were the most crossover entrances in Evo history.

The fighting game community was buzzing around the time Evo 2016 rolled around. SFV was still a new game and no one wanted to miss out on the first Evo featuring the newest Street Fighter game. Evo 2016 had the most first timers in its history. While first time attendees are a good thing, it’s fleeting and not sustainable. It created unreasonable expectations for the follow-up year because the numbers exploded.

Additionally, Evo made the jump from the Westgate to the Las Vegas Convention Center while moving championship Sunday to the Mandalay Bay Sports Arena. It was a perfect combination of Evo taking strides to enhance the experience and a new game that brought extra attention to the tournament. It all culminated into the biggest Evo in its 14-year history.

evo 2017

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters

Fast forward to today, the buzz from last year has died off. In some respects, players now consider SFV to be an under-developed game that was rushed to market. Even with an influx of other fighting games being released in 2017, the sour taste SFV left in players mouths might have dissuaded them from attending Evo.

The direct result of SFV’s lackluster year is what we’re seeing now. Attendance is down across the board, with a few exceptions. SFV took the biggest hit. It’s not the sole reason attendance is down, but the larger player pool provided by SFV facilitated growth for nearly every other game.

Was 2016 an outlier? 

On the other hand, 2016 could be considered an outlier. Before 2016, Evo had never reached over 10,000 unique entrants. The numbers have been skewed by new releases and don’t provide an accurate estimate.

Take the release of the new Super Smash Brothers game for example. Three years ago, the popularity spiked and broke the record for the second most entered event in Evo history. Then the release of SFV started the trickle down and Smash re-broke their same record.

Returning to the present time, the Smash 4 numbers have dropped significantly. Is it because the community has shrunken in size? No, it’s just coming back to the average. Evo had doubled the entrants of most Smash majors last year. It’s no surprise to see the Evo numbers coming down.

As for Melee, the lack of a Sunday slot seemed to hurt the overall total. Part of the draw of Evo is having your favorite game on the main stage Sunday afternoon. Melee’s numbers dropping are correlated to the move to Saturday’s night. The trickle down hurts melee as well but not nearly as bad as Smash 4. It’s Evo’s lowest number of entrants for Melee since 2013.

In reality, the combination of factors when realizing that last year was a total outlier and not indicative of actual Evo numbers explains the drop. It’s still the third largest Evo in the tournaments history and will bring the same level of competition as ever. The general fan decided to stay and watch from home this year.


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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters

CEO 2017: Five sets, five game fives during exciting Melee top 8

For what it’s worth, CEO 2017 had one of the better Melee top 8s of the year. The lack of high-level players didn’t stop those who showed up from putting on a show. It all culminated into Juan “Hungrybox” Debiebma’s first career CEO belt, after running the gauntlet.

Hungrybox after beating Plup in Grand Finals. http://twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Hungrybox went to two game fives against non-gods, which is extremely rare. He even fell to Justin “Plup” McGrath in Grand Finals, but, fortunately for him, he was playing from the winner’s side so he had the reset in his back pocket. The other player to push him to the brink was Jeff “Axe” Williamson, and it took a clutch on Axe’s counter-pick for Hungrybox to pull it out.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there were plenty of game five, last stock, last hit games on Saturday night. In fact, the first five matches of top 8 were exactly that. From Michael “King Momo” Morales’s self-destruct against Colin “Colbol” Green to Colbol pulling off the upset over Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet, every single set was going to the last hit.

Even with a rather disappointing amount of entrants and top players showing up, it was good to see a lively crowd witness what turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining top 8. Yes, the predictable win for Hungrybox took out some of the drama, but players like Plup and Axe, who both have a huge deficit in terms of losses, seemed to give him a rougher go this time around. The sudden reemergence of what looked like 2014 Colbol was a welcomed surprise. He finished in fourth.

King Momo makes top 8

Melee majors, historically, have been incredibly difficult to break into a top 8 as a player outside the top-50. That makes what King Momo did this weekend special. Momo has been a rising star in 2017 with his second strong performance. Placing seventh was not only his best finish ever, but he achieved his greatest win with a victory over Ryan “The Moon” Coker-Welch.

Unfortunately, his run ended immediately in top 8 but not without showing the world his excellent neutral game and ability to move in and out of his opponents spacing. He is clearly a player to keep an eye on moving forward.

Another Florida player who seems to be improving is Colbol. As I mentioned, it looked more like peak Colbol this weekend than the player who’s had consistent average performances the last few years. The wins were over fellow Florida players, but placing fourth at a CEO is no joke.

Axe and Plup put Hungrybox on upset alert

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Fox has been the one answer for Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff and he finally forced Plup off his Sheik for the matchup. Based off the matchup history, Plup’s Sheik hasn’t fared well but he’s built up the necessary experience to bring out the Fox in finals. He even got his first win over Hungrybox with his Fox on Saturday. But it was only a matter of time before Hungrybox landed more rest setups and he had two full sets to find those openings.

The set with Axe was similar with Hungrybox forcing Axe to play differently than normal. Axe spent his entire neutral game focusing on keeping tight dash dances to eventually whiff punish with up-smash. If only Axe could have kept it up for one more stock, I’d be writing a different story.

Moral of the story: Hungrybox doesn’t lose to players outside the top-five. The top players don’t have a handle on the Jigglypuff matchup and coupled with Hungrybox’s rare and special abilities, it makes it really difficult to pull off the upset. It’s a mental grind and most don’t have the fortitude to see it through to the end. It’s the most central aspect to Hungrybox’s successes. The win at CEO 2017 marks his second consecutive win.


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Smash N’ Splash 3 Looks to Kick Off Summer of Smash in Style

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/File:Sns_3_better_logo.jpg

The Smash N’ Splash series, located at the famous Wisconsin Dells water park, has amped it up to a completely new level this year. On top of a loaded talent pool, Smash N’ Splash 3 has 850 players registered for singles, which nearly doubles last year’s attendance.

Furthermore, four of the gods and eight of the top 10 players will be making an appearance. The number of story lines heading into this weekend is overwhelming. Is Joseph “Mango” Marquez going to repeat? Can Adam “Armada” Lindgren rebound? Will Justin “Plup” McGrath finish above fifth place?

After all, Mango opened Pandora’s box by taking out the seemingly unbeatable Armada at Royal Flush. Armada bleeds and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds and adjust. The run of tournament victories ended at Royal Flush but he’s still the likely favorite to win in Wisconsin.

Mango going for back-to-back wins
It was a nice surprise to see Mango return to prominence a few weeks ago. His movement was crisp and he seemed to have all the answers against Armada’s Peach. Mango was dialed in that day.

Mango and Hungrybox. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

However, Mango hasn’t repeated at a major since 2014 (Kings of Cali 4 and Evo 2014). History is not on his side but Mango does seem looser in the past few weeks. His mindset is clear and his playing more freely.

It won’t be an easy task considering the gauntlet of potential matchups, but Mango’s clearly got the best chance against Armada. The biggest obstacle to get to Armada will still be Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and his pesky Jigglypuff. Mango is 3-0 against Hbox in 2017 but is tied 11-11 in their last 22 matchups.

Plup looking for his breakout performance

Plup’s been on a clear rise since Evo 2016 and after winning Runback recently he’s got momentum behind him. The breakout performance is coming. He’s plateaued at fifth place but he’s getting more confident at each tournament.

Fortunately, Plup will avoid the top three and get a shot at William “Leffen” Hjelte who’s on somewhat of a cold streak. The potential upset is possible. He’s also had a even record against Leffen and has proven they’re close in skill.

The last victory for Leffen came at Don’t Park on the Grass so he’s been in a minor slump. Outside of a third place finish at Smash Summit, he’s placing well below average. The winner of Plup vs Leffen could be the spark for the winner.

Lastly, players like Weston “Westballz” Dennis and Sami “DruggedFox” Muahana will look to build on their last tournaments. The return of optimal combo Westballz could put pressure on higher ranked opponent. He matches up against Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett and the tyrant Armada.

The field feels more open and that will allow for unpredictability. Armada and Mangno seem primed for a rematch but getting back to that point will be a grind. Smash N’ Splash 3 will be a good precursor to upcoming events.

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