Evolution 2018 Championship Sunday Recap

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Image Credit: @sb_atlas
The Evolution Championship Series, or Evo, has come and gone once again, delivering another great iteration of one of the world’s biggest and best fighting game tournaments with Evo 2018. This year, Super Smash Bros. Melee earned a spot on Championship Sunday and the main stage at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. While the whole of the weekend delivered on tough matches and surprising upsets, Championship Sunday was where most of the excitement came to a head. Here, we will go over the journeys taken throughout Top 8 and where each player ended up in the end.

Top 8 Finalists

Finalist
Top 48 Run​

Liquid’s Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma
PewPewU(2-0), Zain(2-0)​
Team SoloMid’s William “Leffen” Hjelte
Lucky(2-1), S2J(2-0)​
Panda Global’s Justin “Plup” McGrath
Westballz(2-0), Wizzrobe(2-1)​
Cloud9’s Joseph “Mang0” Marquez
SFAT(2-1), Swedish Delight(2-1)​
Alliance’s Adam “Armada” Lindgren
Swedish Delight(L, 1-2), Gahtzu(2-0), Mew2King(2-1), Zain(2-1)​
Tempo Storm’s Johnny “S2J” Kim
Rishi(2-1), Leffen(L, 0-2), Duck(2-0)​
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet
Nintendude(2-0), Plup(L, 1-2), n0ne(2-0)​
OG’s James “Swedish Delight” Liu
Armada(2-1), Mang0(L, 1-2), PewPewU(2-0)​

Leffen vs Hungrybox - Winner’s Semifinals

Game one on Fountain of Dreams was a quick lead for Hungrybox, where he took three stocks in the span of a minute. It was a powerful way to start the set and Championship Sunday overall. Game two went to Pokemon Stadium as Leffen’s counterpick, where the pace slowed down a bit. Instead of the shotgun victory of game one, Leffen managed to keep the pace down and chip away the victory little by little. It all came down to game three on Battlefield. Like game two, the pace slowed down a bit, which Leffen used to find more opportunities to dissect Hungrybox’s play. In the end, he was able to adapt well over the best-of-three set, and ended the final game with a dominating three-stock lead. With that, Hungrybox was set to wait in Loser’s Quarterfinals, while Leffen moved on to Winner’s Finals.

Plup vs Mang0 - Winner’s Semifinals

Game one went to Battlefield with Mang0 choosing to stick with his Falco, and Plup going with his trusty Sheik. In an interesting contrast to the first match, game one was more of a slower methodical fight. While Mang0 kept it close, Plup held the upperhand throughout, and surgically earned the first game victory. Yoshi’s Story was chosen for game two, which started with an unfortunate self-destruct from Mang0, giving him a larger deficit to make up. Yet, Plup took that opportunity and ran with it, earning his entry into Winner’s Finals, while Mang0 was sent to wait for his opponent in Loser’s Quarterfinals.

Armada vs S2J - Loser’s Eighths

Game one was set to play on Dreamland, with Armada using his iconic Peach versus S2J’s explosive Captain Falcon. With his usual collected and targeted style, Armada widened the gap little by little, and earned himself a respectable two-stock victory. From there, S2J chose Yoshi’s Story as the next stage, hoping to use the smaller space to smother Armada. Within the first minute of the game, his choice was paying off with a significant two-stock lead, and began to slow down the pace. Using that lead, he found more opportunities to attack Armada, and managed to gain his own two-stock victory. The set came down to the final game on Battlefield, where S2J had an explosive first stock. Armada returned the favor with his own fatal punishes. What began afterwards was a series of dropped kills and punishes, as both players were fighting the nerves of last game on the big stage. Yet, Armada worked out the win due to his consistent performance under pressure. With S2J out at 7th, Armada was set to face Mang0 in Loser’s Quarterfinals.

Wizzrobe vs Swedish Delight - Loser’s Eighths

Game one was set on Battlefield, where Wizzrobe played Captain Falcon and Swedish Delight played his Sheik. Both players are known for their technical and tactical approach, making it an interesting mirror match of sorts. Yet, it seemed that Wizzrobe was more prepared and in the zone, as he took a quick game one with a significant three-stock lead. From there, game two was set on Fountain of Dreams. Swedish seemed to wake up a bit, as he managed to keep the stock count close throughout, sometimes managing to gain a lead. However, Wizzrobe kept up the pressure, and earned a quick 2-0 for the match. With Swedish Delight out at 7th, Wizzrobe was set to face off against one of his bigger rivals, Hungrybox, in Loser’s Quarterfinals.

Armada vs Mang0 - Loser’s Quarterfinals

Game one was set on Fountain of Dreams, with a return to the classic matchup of Mang0’s Falco facing Armada’s Peach. One of the biggest rivalries in Melee history, this was the set that people have wanted all weekend. From the start, both players began an aggressive, in-your-face game, leading to an explosive bout of fisticuffs. While Mang0 made him sweat, Armada managed to win a two-stock victory. Game two went to Pokemon Stadium, where the slobberknocker continued, and Armada still managing to keep Mang0 struggling. After a few minutes, Armada came out on top, earning a place in Loser’s Semifinals, while Mang0 ended the tournament with 5th place.

Hungrybox vs Wizzrobe - Loser’s Quarterfinals

Game one was set on Battlefield, with both players choosing their mains of Jigglypuff and Captain Falcon respectively. While Hungrybox has a positive record in the head-to-head, Wizzrobe has been pushing himself to challenge the highest ranked player, and has even managed to earn some significant victories. Yet, with a strong two-stock lead in thirty seconds, Hungrybox was sending the message that he wouldn’t let this be easy. After changing the pace a bit, Wizzrobe managed to bring it back to a last stock game, but Hungrybox managed to take the win. With game two on Final Destination, Wizzrobe had to see if he could use the momentum from the last game to slowly work over Hungrybox. With a measured back and forth between the two Central Florida players, Wizzrobe managed to keep his cool and earn a victory to send the match to game three on Dreamland. The momentum of the final game shifted back and forth as the stocks continued to drop, and the game came down to an intense last stock. In the end, Hungrybox took the win through his patience and strong punishes. With Wizzrobe out at 5th, Hungrybox moved on to face Armada in Loser’s Semifinals

Leffen vs Plup - Winner’s Finals

With Plup’s Sheik and Leffen’s Fox, game one began on Yoshi’s Story. Both players started out the gate with an aggressive style, leading to a fast-paced slugfest. Almost as soon as it began, Leffen won a two-stock victory using strong punishes and an oppressive neutral. Game two started on Battlefield, and Leffen continued to use that momentum to his advantage to take a quick two stocks. With some patience and a few tricks up his sleeve, Plup managed to come back to even the game out for a tense last stock situation. Leffen squeezed out the victory, and game three began once again on Battlefield. With the momentum more evened out between the two players, the game became a close back and forth. Yet, with two missed plays at the ledge, Plup gave Leffen a shocking three-stock victory. With an impressive 3-0 match, Leffen moved on to wait in Grand Finals, while Plup moved down to Loser’s Finals to await his next opponent.

Armada vs Hungrybox - Loser’s Semifinals

Another great Melee rivalry, game one was set between Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff and Armada’s Fox on Battlefield. Unlike the previous sets with Hungrybox, there was no explosive start. Rather, both players began by feeling each other out, and trying to poke what weaknesses could be exploited. Yet, Hungrybox managed to keep himself ahead throughout the game, and earned a victory on his last stock. Game two moved on to Pokemon Stadium, as Armada tried to take a bit more time and patience in his approaches. Yet, Hungrybox caught onto the strategy, and put himself into the lead early on. From there, he used Armada’s reluctance to his advantage, and worked on keeping a decent lead while avoiding approaching himself. Armada stuck to his guns, and managed to use his patience to not only tie the game, but even gave himself an advantage halfway through. Over several brutal minutes, he pushed himself into a last stock victory with about half a minute left on the clock. It all came down to game three on Battlefield. Both players started to become more proactive, with Armada taking the first two stocks using oppressive spacing and targeted punishes. From there, the pace slowed down again, and Armada worked on keeping the lead through small pokes and defensive play. Using that approach, Armada managed to earn a three-stock victory, and move on to face Plup in Loser’s Finals, while Hungrybox finished at 4th, his lowest placement since Smash Summit 6 in May 2018.

Plup vs Armada - Loser’s Finals

With the tournament down to the last three, Plup’s Shiek faced off against Armada’s Fox, with game one going to Yoshi’s Story. It was a fast-paced, but cerebral, back-and-forth fight. Each player tried to target each other’s weaknesses, and it came down to a tense last stock victory by Armada, earning him an early counterpick advantage. Game two went to Battlefield, where Plup seemed to struggle to hold the momentum early on. Armada used that to keep himself ahead by a decent margin, punishing Plup’s less precise approaches. Still coming down to a last stock game, Armada took a single opportunity, and won out with a strong punish off the top. Game three came back to Battlefield, and Plup seemed to be losing the momentum little-by-little. Armada, becoming aware of Plup’s reluctance and second-guessing, abused that weakness to earn a decisive three-stock victory. Plup ended Evo at third place, and Armada, who started Top 8 in Loser’s Bracket, managed to push himself all the way to Grand Finals. The stage was finally set for the last match of the day, between the two best players from Sweden: Armada vs Leffen.

Leffen vs Armada - Grand Finals

Both compatriots and rivals, this was a set with a lot of emotion behind it. Leffen was aiming to gain his first Evo victory, while Armada was aiming to be the first Melee player to earn the 3vo(three Evo victories). Game one went to Dreamland, with both players choosing to play Fox. Both players are familiar with each other’s style and approaches, making the game fast-paced and punish heavy. Leffen, using the momentum that had carried him all day, worked Armada over to earn a quick three-stock victory. Game two went to Battlefield, with neither player slowing down their pace. Abusing some significant mistakes on Armada’s end, Leffen gave himself an early lead. While Armada fought hard to keep the game in his favor, Leffen kept the pressure up, and gained a solid two-stock victory. Trying to shift in his favor, Armada made a character swap to Peach, and game three went to Final Destination. Early on, Armada seemed to have the momentum, but by stock two, Leffen got the game his way. After a tense back and forth, the game went down to the last stock. Finally, the tournament ended with Leffen gaining his first Evo victory, and Armada getting second. A dominating 3-0 set, and a dominating run throughout, Leffen had managed to come out on top from over 1300 competitors.

An amazing Champion Sunday, and another amazing Evolution. Since 2013, every Evo champion has been a member of the Melee gods, but that has been changing. 2018 has been the year where new champions are being crowned at some of Melee's biggest tournament series, and Evo is another to fall to this new tide. Come Evo 2019, the landscape of high level Melee may be very different from what it is today.

All VoDs from Evo can be found at vods.co, and the finalized bracket on smash.gg.
 
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Austin "Verity" Karn

Comments

#2
Definitely one of Leffen's crowning achievements of his Smash career. This was insane, especially considering how dominant he was in this top 8. After losing game 1 to Hungrybox, he didn't drop a game, and some games were as far as a 3 stock victory.
 
#5
Leffen seemed like he was sleeping on the wheel during his first game against Hbox, but he suddenly turned on the jets during Game 2, damn.

Really impressive victory from Big Leff. If he could consistently manage his peaks, he can definitely win another supermajor.

However, BIG SHOUTOUTS to Armada for that insane losers gauntlet. He definitely was not playing up to par in many of his sets, but Armada's iron mentality and insane gameflow-sense was able to clutch out almost every set. Armada is definitely the GOAT and the BOAT of Melee. Hopefully, he can take the next tournament over his 2018 personal demon, Leffen.
 
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