Where: Austin, Texas
When: March 17th – 19th
- We E-Sports?
The popularity of Melee has been rising since its inclusion in EVO 2013. However, despite the strides the game and the community have made over the past three years, Melee is still relatively grassroots-based. Many tournaments are partially funded by Melee fan. Even the most recognizable streams, such as VGBootCamp and Showdown are run by people who love the game. However in 2015, Melee has started to experience what it’s like to truly be “E-Sports”. The inclusions of smash in the Dreamhack, PAX, HTC, and Beyond the Summit were the first few instances. Next was Day 3 of Genesis 3 where the packed San Jose convention center resembled that of a League of Legends or a CS:GO crowd. And now, the Battle of the Five Gods will be another taste of E-Sports for both the players and fans. With twenty of the best players invited, 25K on the line, and a stage that rivals Mount Olympus itself, this tournament can be truly be categorized under E-Sports.
- Gods vs. Demigods
The story of the Gods, [A]rmada, Liquid|Hungrybox, C9|Mango, EG|PPMD, and COG MVG|Mew2King, facing off against the new blood of Melee is nothing new. Since the start of this five Gods era in the late 2000’s, there has been a plethora of upsets, but never has there been a tournament dedicated to this, age-old, and iconic storyline! With many of the Demigods having beaten some portion of the Five Gods in past encounters this tournament could result in the end of the “Melee Gods” era. Of course Armada, Hungrybox, Mango, PPMD, and Mew2King will continue their success in future tournaments, but just maybe, after this tournament, these Gods will not seem as invincible and almighty as they once did.
- The Lack of Leffen
The supposed “Sixth God”, RB TSM|Leffen’s absence in the tournament will surely by missed due to VISA issues. This problem not only hinders him as a competitor but also offsets the balance of the tournament. His fundamentally solid, adaptable Fox has a history of dealing with two of the toughest Gods in the tournament, Armada and Hungrybox. Even with the recent rise of the “G.O.A.T.”, a.k.a. Mango, no one can doubt Leffen’s 2015/2016 successes over the two players. Having a respectful record of 8-9 and 4-3 over Armada and Hungrybox, Leffen currently seems like the best player to take down either of these Gods.
- Future Sponsorships
With Melee’s entrance into E-Sports the notion of sponsorships becomes much more important, as they allow players to travel more frequently and truly live as professional Melee players. Among the invitees, only three players are without some form of sponsorship, Lucky, HugS, and DruggedFox. For them this will be an important tournament to get their first sponsorships. It also serves as an important tournament for players who might be looking to switch sponsors. Maybe some of these questions will become apparent after the tournament, but for now these are some key questions to consider. Will another sponsor snatch Silent Wolf from Game Clucks hands? Will sponsors finally know who DruggedFox is? Finally, can Lucky get his dream sponsorship with Evil Geniuses?
- Group Stages and Key Statistics
Making predictions for the Group Stages of the Battle of the Five Gods is difficult. Each pool is hard in its own way and no player really has that free of a pool. With this in mind, here are a few key statistics when looking at each group.
When people look at this pool, many will assume that Armada will make it out. However, whether he will go through undefeated or not is the main question and will greatly affect who else will make it out of pools. Only having played Armada twice since 2013, Silent Wolf is a player that no one should sleep on. Taking Armada to a Game 3 in EVO 2015 after barely losing Game 2. The Washington Fox main might have the best chance of besting the Swedish God. With that being said, the ever-improving SFAT still can make it out of pools. Despite having a 1-4 record over Silent Wolf, 2016 SFAT is a different player since they last met at “Do You Fox Wit It” in 2014. In addition, SFAT host a 2-0 record over HugS. However, it is important to note that HugS in both sets took SFAT to Game 3 and also took Armada to Game 3 in Paragon 2015. With this in mind no one can count HugS out of the race just yet.
Group B: “Group of Death” (EG|PPMD, Tempo|Westballz, CLG|PewPewU, MYI|Ice)
While all pools have potential for upsets, no other pool looks as volatile as this one. Unlike the others, these players all have exhibited extremely high ceilings throughout 2015/2016, but also have shown their lack of consistency maintaining it. More than any other pool, the outcome will be heavily influenced on how the players are playing on that day. With that being said, looking at the statistics, PPMD has a 1-0 and a 2-0 winning record over Westballz and PewPewU since 2014. While PPMD certainly looks favored going in, the lack of his encounters versus his competitors will make it a little harder for him to download his opponents. Westballz, on the other hand, has a lot of familiarity versus PewPewU and Ice having played the two a combined total of 14 tournament sets since 2014. His record versus PewPewU and Ice is respectively 3-3 and 5-2. These statistics show the inconsistencies in his play style. Having improved this weakness recently, many are hoping Westballz plays at his peak when the day comes since it will then be very hard to stop him or question his talent. Looking at PewPewU, it seems that he has a losing record over PPMD and a dead-even record over Westballz, however, it is important to keep in mind that he last faced PPMD in APEX 2015, PPMD’s best performance to date, and took him to Game 3 in Marth dittos, one of PPMD’s best match ups. Regarding his even record over Westballz, PewPewU beat him in their last two encounters at SSS 38 and Genesis 3 with 3-1 and 3-2 victories respectively. Last but not least, is mYinsanity’s own Ice. On paper he looks to be the underdog, but many who watch his incredible Genesis 3 run know that he is not an underdog, but rather the wildcard. For one, only Westballz has played Ice in recent memory making Ice a mystery for the other players to figure out. Second, Ice has shown that he is very adept with the Marth match up as he regularly plays and beats Heir|reaper. In addition, Ice has brutally dismantled numerous American Marths, such as Liquid|Ken and SS|Colbol. In the end, take the statistics here with a little more than a grain of salt as it depends on whether “Apex PPMD”, “Genesis 3 Ice”, “Sandstorm Westballz”, or “I’m Not Yelling PewPewU” will show up on March 17th.
Group C: “Facing your Demons” (C9|Mango, Tempo|Axe, SPY|MacD, DruggedFox)
Like any other pool, there are numerous storylines in Group C. However, one story stands above the rest, and that is that everyone in this pool has beaten Mango in the past seven months. While Mango has registered very dominating wins over each of the players in 2015/2016, Axe, MacD, and DruggedFox have all showcased their ability to beat the “G.O.A.T.”. Looking at statistics from 2015 onward, Mango’s record over Axe, MacD, and DruggedFox is 3-2, 3-1, and 1-1. Examining other statistics, Axe holds a 5-2 record over MacD and has never played DruggedFox in a major. However, despite Axe’s talent, his main, Pikachu still occasionally struggles to break down Peaches and Falcos, meaning that MacD and DruggedFox certainly have their chance for an upset. In addition, there is an interesting history between MacD and DruggedFox, because MacD holds a 2-1 record over him, but DruggedFox actually had the last laugh by earning a convincing 3-1 win over MacD at Genesis 3 with his new main, Falco. Many will be expecting more from his Falco now considering that DruggedFox finished 13th with it at Genesis 3 and that it has had more time to develop. Considering Mango’s resurgence in 2016, this group could play out in numerous ways, but in the end it will depend on who remembers the Melee Commandment “Thou shalt not sleep on the kid.”
Group D: “Hurdles” (COG MVG|Mew2King, PG|Plup, MIOM|S2J, SPY|Nintendude)
This group is unique as each competitor has one or two other players that they have shown to really struggle against in their past sets. Starting with Mew2King, he boasts a 5-1 record over Plup since 2014 with each being a best of 5 and with none of those games going to game 5. Similarly, the same can be said about his record over S2J, with a convincing 2-0 record over him. Note however, they have not played in a tournament major since 2014. Mew2King however is currently 1-1 with Nintendude after losing to him badly in Genesis 3, 3-1. This might just be a temporary blunder because recently at PAX Arena, Mew2King showed the crowd that he can take down Ice Climbers with both Peach and Marth as he dominated over Wobbles 3-1. For Plup, victory over S2J with his Sheik seem likely as he hold a 2-1 record since 2014 with the last two encounters being swift 3-0’s. Surprisingly, Plup seems to have very little experience versus Ice Climbers, having never faced Nintendude and only playing against ChuDat in CEO 2015 pools and Paragon LA. However, with the help of Samus’ match up advantage over Ice Climbers, Plup beat ChuDat in both encounters and the same can be expected versus Nintendude.With that being said, the cancelled Salty Suite match vs HugS at Genesis 3 gives Nintendude a chance to show his proficiency in the match up. Looking at S2J: he may have had the worst draw out of the 20 players at the Battle of the Five Gods. It is no secret that he, like many other Captain Falcon mains, is not a fan of the Sheik match up. Calling “playing against Mew2King’s and Plup’s Sheiks” a challenge is an understatement, but after the world saw his best “Johnny Stock” to date versus Lucky many can be hopeful that we will see the same thing from the “Most Electrifying Falcon”. Nintendude’s draw also looks unlucky as he holds no winning record over his opponents, but that is also because there is very little head to head data on him. Considering this, Nintendude can still make it out of pools. Having gone 1-1 versus Mew2king is certainly a promising start. In addition despite having a losing record (1-2) over S2J, he has shown dominance over him with his 2-0 win at Paragon LA. However, he did lose 3-1 and 3-0 to S2J in the other two encounters, Super Nebulous 3 and Big House 5. With this in mind, each player has some past history that they surely will want to start changing on Day 1 of Battle of the Five Gods.
Group E: “Close Encounters” (Liquid|Hungrybox, WFX|Shroomed, Lucky, PG|Wobbles)
The final group is one that is riddled with close sets, upsets, and last stock situations. Starting with Hungrybox, he holds a 2-2 record with Lucky, a 2-0 record over Shroomed, and a 1-1 record with Wobbles since 2013. Making vast improvements in his gameplay in 2015, Hungrybox is still a very difficult opponent for the other three smashers to overcome, however, only a few of his victories could be considered a blow out. With that in mind, let’s continue on to Lucky. His even record versus Hungrybox is certainly a feat in itself, with wins at Press Start and Big House 4. Their most recent match was at Paragon LA where Lucky lost 1-3, however, each game lost was down to the last stock. Since 2014, Lucky has had the upper hand over Shroomed beating him 3-2 and 2-0 at Pat’s House 2 and Press Start. Versus Wobbles, Lucky has a losing record of 1-2, but take it with a grain of salt as they only met in one tournament, DIME 13, where Wobbles lost in Winner’s Finals but reset the bracket to win in Grands. This result certainly shows that Wobbles can go toe to toe with the best smashers even after his long hiatus. With his new sponsor, Panda Global, and his resurgence in the scene, many will be hoping that he creates upsets like he did back at EVO 2013. One example of his resurgence was his match versus Shroomed at PAX Arena. After losing the first two games, Wobbles mounted a three game comeback over Shroomed’s Marth. However, this game also went to last stock several times which means that Shroomed is not certain to lose next time around. Shroomed may have the most to prove in the group considering his losing records over the other players but he may be the one player who people can count on to perform under the spotlight. Having numerous Top 8 finishes under his belt and having taken Hungrybox to Game 5 at Apex 2015 with Sheik, Shroomed has proven to be a very consistent player under pressure. The Austin Convention Center stage might possibly be the best setting for Shroomed to dominate.
Be sure to cheer on mYi.Ice and your other favorite Smashers on March 17th-19th here.
Special thanks to TafoStats 1.0, which helped me, find all the information between the players. You can donate here if you want.