Melee: Picking your champion: EVO 2016

The biggest Melee tournament is upon us this weekend; EVO 2016. It’s hard to imagine it’s been a year since Armada won his first EVO; since Hungrybox came second… again; since the dreams of Mang0’s three-peat were destroyed. EVO 2015 was one of the most exciting events as a viewer – not just for Melee… but especially for Melee. This year’s event promises to be so much more. There’s a bigger arena, more players and a certain buzz around Melee.

Five of the top six players in the world will be attending. Ninety percent of the top 64 and thousands of others will be making their way onto Final Destination, Dreamland, Yoshi’s Story, Battlefield, Fountain of Dreams and Pokemon Stadium to battle their way through the ranks and make their own legacy. When you look through the brackets, it might be hard to pick a player to root for. How do you decide? Do you pick the best player in the world? Do you pick the bad boy of Smash? How about the most consistent player in the world? How about the all-time great? Are you a fan of Captain Falcon? So many questions, so little time. Therefore here’s a quick run-down of some of the players that you might choose to follow through the bracket.

mango

C9 Mang0 – The GOAT, the Fan-Favourite, the American Hero – Fox, Falco, Marth

He is often imitated – never duplicated. Mang0 is one of the most exciting players to watch because of how he plays. He is aggressive but not to his own detriment. In fact, Mang0 was the number one player for years; now he is in contention for the title: “best player right now”. A tournament win is likely after winning WTFox 2 a few weeks ago with three of his fellow “gods” in attendance.

The way Mang0 plays has always attracted fan attention. As a fifteen year old, his Jigglypuff helped define the way the game was played and helped elevate that character to her place in the metagame right now. Now, he plays Fox. Sometimes Falco. But mostly Fox. He plays fast and he goes hard. He pushes his opponents to play around his aggressive and fast paced play, which often catches them off-kilter. Mang0’s Fox is un-copyable; because the way he plays is so unique. With that being said, you might see him play safer against players like Hungrybox and Armada, because they are the players that – in recent history – have given Mang0 the most trouble.

Oh, and he’s started to play Marth more often, with the EVO best of threes, could be an interesting switch-up to watch.

WHY CHOOSE MANG0: You’ll be joining thousands, perhaps tens of thousands in cheering for the most popular player in Melee. He’s thrilling to watch and even though has played the game for so long, he continues to adapt. There’s also the fact that he has won two of these things before, in 2013 and 2014. With the momentum of the WTFox 2 win, he’s probably the favorite to win.

armada

Alliance Armada – The Swedish Superstar, the Swedish Sniper – Fox, Peach

Armada won this entire event last year. That’s almost reason enough to cheer for him this year. Winning for the second year in a row is something that very few people can do – unless you’re Mang0 of course. Armada is the picture of consistency, very rarely losing to someone outside of the top six players in the world. For the entirety of 2015 and the start of 2016, you very nearly had to call him the best player in the world. However, some of that consistency has disappeared this year. It isn’t bad enough that he is falling outside of the top 8, more like him finishing outside of the top 2, which is a major event of its own. His lowest finish in the last three years – outside of a forfeit – were 5th and 6th place at two events. Safe to say, Armada is pretty good.  

Armada as a player reads the play better than any other. Given time, he is able to adapt to the playstyle of any player, with either his Fox or his Peach. His Fox is seldom-seen, except in particular matchups, Hungrybox and Leffen, to be precise. Almost the complete opposite of Mang0, he plays a tight style of Melee, choosing optimal punishes over the riskier, showier plays.

WHY CHOOSE ARMADA: Don’t overlook Armada despite his 5-6th place finish at Get On My Level 2016 (GOML 2016). He might have looked a little shakier lately, but Armada’s shaky is better than most of the world. If you want to choose a player that is guaranteed to make top 4, that you can follow all the way through the bracket, then choose Armada. He might not be the flashiest player, but he’s still fun to watch.

hungrybox

Liquid’Hungrybox – The Best of 2016, so far – Jigglypuff

Hungrybox is one of the most polarizing characters in Smash. You either love him or you hate him. You love him because he is one of the best in the world; one of the most emotional players in the world. It’s not unheard of to see him leap out of his seat after a big one – if he even sits in a seat to begin with. You hate him because he plays Melee in a different way to other top players. By the way of his character, he plays a slower and more methodical – almost campy – style of Melee, which hasn’t always been conducive to fan support.

Hungrybox has made a lot of changes to his play over the past year, becoming slightly more aggressive against some players. He has become more like to force a mistake out of his opponent than to wait for one.

The winner of 8 of his last 13 major tournaments in 2016, he is – almost – the undisputed current best player of the year – statistically, anyway.

WHY CHOOSE HUNGRYBOX: Choose Hungrybox because he is not only one of the most adaptable players, the way that he carries himself is also impressive. Amidst a lot of negativity that comes his way, he has managed to stay at the top of the Melee scene for a long time – that’s impressive. So, support Hungrybox if you want to see someone win the event following two consecutive years of heartbreaking second place finishes.

mew2king

FOX | MVG Mew2King – The Legend – Marth, Sheik, Fox, Peach

If you’ve only heard of one Smash player, chances are it was Mew2King. One of the best players for the last ten years, Mew2King has legendary accomplishments in all versions of the game. In Smash 64, Melee, and Brawl, he has won major tournaments, dozens of them in each games and has always been in the upper echelon of play. As a Sm4sh player, he hasn’t been as impressive, but he is still one of the better players, top 8 is usually the minimum.

The way Mew2King plays and views the game is fascinating. He plays in the most optimal way, in years gone by, it was frame perfect. However, as the game and the metagame has been discovered more, he has been forced to look into different ways to play. He’s still one of the best players in the world, but he hasn’t managed to pull out the kind of form that once heralded him as the best player in the world.

The other question coming from Mew2King is his mentality. In the past year or so, his loser’s bracket runs have been less than stellar, and he seemingly has issues coming from that kind of position. But it’s been improving and that is exciting for so many Mew2King fans – and for any fans of Smash.

WHY CHOOSE MEW2KING: Mew2King is legendary. If he were to retire today, he would be viewed as one of – if not THE best – to ever play the game, the franchise even. When you look through his achievements, he definitely deserves it. While he has won an EVO, that was in Brawl. He needs a Melee win. That’s why you should support Mew2King; to see an already legendary player create an even bigger legend.

SOME OTHER CHOICES

Let’s go through some other players that could be make an impeccable run through the EVO bracket.

Selfless Lucky: Lucky in 2016 is one of the most slept on players. He has potential to make big tournament runs and pick up wins off the top five. Supporting Lucky means supporting someone who plays a great Fox, and one of the nicest players in the community.

G2 Westballz: Westballz is one of the most technical Falcos in the world. His technical skill is easily top 10 but the way he reads the game can leave something to be desired. When Westballz goes off, he really goes off. Westballz is on the cusp of being one of the best of the world, and EVO is one place for him to really make his mark.

Tempo Storm Axe: The lone Pikachu player in the top 16, Axe is heralded for his ability to play his Pikachu at a level that some couldn’t even imagine just three years ago. Axe is one of the most charismatic and entertaining players to watch, and is taking his character to new heights and that’s why you should cheer for Axe.

PG Plup: Plup is one of the most interesting players to watch. His Samus was doing well for him in tournaments – especially against Leffen – and then he switched to Sheik. While risky, taking the higher tier character seems to have worked out for him. He continues to prove with every tournament and this could be his tournament to show the potential that people see in him.

S2J: When you hear the name: “Johnny,” know that they are talking about S2J. One of the players in contention for the title: “best Captain Falcon in the world,” S2J is a player that is hard not to support, with the way he plays so exciting and so – well – ballsy, you just want to cheer for him.

COG Wizzrobe: Wizzy made his name recently with his fourth place finish at WTFox 2, and perhaps more importantly, beating Hungrybox 3-0. Wizzrobe plays a more conservative Captain Falcon than S2J, while still being rather entertaining. He has so much potential, and as one of the youngest top players, has plenty of time to realise it.

PG Wobbles: Wobbles is well known for innovating the Ice Climbers. The way he plays the character is unlike any other and many try and model themselves after his play. Despite un-retiring recently, he is still close to the play that saw him take second at EVO 2013, and the Melee world will be watching what he does next.

WFX Shroomed: Shroomed is a Sheik to watch. He has been a top 20 player for the past two years and has been constantly improving. He could make a big run at EVO and boy would it be fun to watch.

CLG PewPewU and CLG SFat: Because they’re a doubles team, these two can be put together. PewPewU has seemingly fallen off since a breakout year in 2015, while SFat has improved consistently over 2016. Both of these players can make an impact in the bracket, with SFat having put up a good challenge against the gods in just the past two months.

Other Notable Entrants

If I were to write something for everyone that is going to be interesting and fun to support this EVO, we could be here all day, so let’s throw down some other names to keep an eye out for.

  • Hugs – one of the most experienced players in the game
  • Javi – the best Mexican player and can beat anyone on his day
  • Nintendude – just a really consistent player
  • The Moon – made a really good run at WTFox 2, could make moves at EVO
  • Duck – improved so much this past year
  • DruggedFox – had an impressive EVO 2015, maybe this is his tournament?
  • Ice – one of the better European players, bringing his own style of Fox
  • Swedish Delight – a surprising Sheik that can take games from the gods

With so many exciting players in the tournament, it’s hard to list them all. Melee is a fascinating game, with so many players playing and seeing the game in a different way; it’s always hard to pick a favorite. This is sure to be the biggest tournament of the year, and with many top players contending for those coveted top 8 spots – one of the most exciting.

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Brandon

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