The Talent is Stacked in Melee at EVO

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For years, Melee at EVO has seen a whirlwind of competition and fascinating storylines, and this year is no different. It is common knowledge that EVO is the premier fighting tournament of the year and likewise, top-players will be fighting tooth-and-nail to procure that much sought after first place.

But, taking a closer look we see there's a lot more going on at play than just that. There are multiple interesting narratives that are worth mentioning as we make our way into this weekend.

Clash of The Titans
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Hungrybox (left) and Mango (right) are some of Melee's best players. Photo Credit: Matt Demers via FlickrCC BY 2.0.

Armada. Mang0. Hungrybox. Mew2King. Leffen. Melee’s most accomplished players. Their talent and mastery are undeniable, and their resolve will be put to the ultimate test as they are pitted against each other this weekend.

Rarely can you expect to bring up Armada without also mentioning his impressive consistency. The seemingly unstoppable Swede is considered a strong favorite to take it, however, the recent ebb and flow of fate has seen him defeated at the hands of the some of the other top five.

At Smash ‘N’ Splash 3 in early June, he was taken out of winners finals by Hungrybox, and again in losers finals by Leffen, indicating that not only is Armada touchable, but also that Hungrybox and, more notably, Leffen, are capable of exploiting this fact.

Hungrybox will be looking to reseal his first place performance at EVO last year, even if it means facing Armada again. Leffen, on the other hand, will be looking to reverse the outcome of his last set with Armada, as he placed just second to him at Dreamhack in mid-June.

Last he left off, Mang0 suffered a 5th place performance at Smash ‘N’ Splash 3, even after coming off a hot first place and win against Armada at Royal Flush in May. He was eliminated by Leffen and Hungrybox, who, next to Armada, might be his biggest threats going into EVO. Time will tell if a month break to practice helps his odds this weekend. Is this 3-peat still possible?

Mew2King has been relatively quiet on the Melee front as of lately, having not really attended any stacked events for a month or two. By no means is he out of the running, though. We know how M2K is. He has taken multiple sets off of all of the top five, and placed a satisfactory 5th at last year's EVO. This weekend, he’ll be hoping to take home his first trophy from the tournament series.

All in all, the odds are hard to call, and whatever the

Nightmares of Plup

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Will Plup (left) finally become the second godslayer? Photo Credit: Matt Demers via FlickrCC BY 2.0.

Plup's performance last year at EVO was simply jaw dropping. He made it to winners side of top 32, where he took down Mang0 in quarterfinals right before defeating Hungrybox 2-0 in semifinals.

It will be interesting to see how he plays off that performance during this years EVO. His Sheik is incredibly versatile, and although it is unlikely he will be able to defeat Armada (he has never taken a set off him), he has taken sets off the likes of all other top five players.

Plup has proved to be a formidable competitor, ranked 6th overall in the world just after Leffen. And if he can pull off the run he did last year but with different results, he could possibly seal himself a first place finish, grandiose as the claim may sound. If his biggest threat, Armada, is taken out early, there’s no telling how far Plup could go.

The Deux Ex Machina’s
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PewPewU is one such non-god that has a chance at striking gold. Photo Credit: Matt Demers via FlickrCC BY 2.0.

The runner-ups are so numerous and talented that naming them all here would require a lengthy essay. SFAT, Westballz, Wizzrobe, Axe, Ice, PPU, S2J, Duck, Swedish Delight, The Moon, and Chudat, just to name a few. These are all players that are exceptionally competent, and in fact a majority of them have a solid chance of breaking into top eight.

Perhaps most interesting to look at in terms of character usage is Wizzrobe and S2J; the Falcon mains. S2J placed fifth at EVO last year, an astonishing feat for a Falcon main. Wizzrobe placed seventeenth, but his stock has been rising since. Can another Falcon break into the top eight at the world's most prestigious event?

The foxes, SFAT and Ice, are equally matched. Out of all of the runner ups present, SFAT is only second behind Westballz to being the most challenging to beat. SFAT placed first at GENESIS: RED, a CA regional last week, and Ice placed fourth. Which of the top-ten Fox’s will perform their way to that big stage on Saturday evening? Will any?

The talent just doesn’t stop there. Westballz will anticipate a breakout performance like he did in EVO 2016 where he placed seventh. The same can be said for Duck and Swedish Delight, who both placed ninth at last year's event. Another fierce competitor in Shroomed will be looking to do as well as he did - ninth- as well and Marth mains such as PPU and The Moon are ready to pour their hearts out once again after they placed ninth and seventeenth, respectively.

Many more top competitors will be present, Axe, Lucky, Colbol, Drugged Fox, and more. All have varying levels of chance, but all share one thing in common: determination to make waves. And this weekend at EVO, I don’t believe there will be any shortage of entertainment or shockery.
 
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William "Wncozens" Cozens

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