This weekend in the United Kingdom, VGBootCamp will be hosting the European Regional Finals for Melee’s Smash World Tour. Just like the other qualifiers, 16 of the region’s best players have been invited to this LAN event where the top eight finishers will qualify for the World Championships in December. Europe has long been considered one of the strongest Melee regions in the world, and the depth of talent at this event is a testament to that. If you can’t watch the whole event, here are three matches you definitely won’t want to miss out on.
#1: Frenzy vs. Ice
He’s big, he’s red, and his feet stick out of his bed. UK’s premier Falco player Frenzy has spent the majority of his Melee career suffering under the shadow of established European players. Especially in the past year of the S.A.M.E. circuit, an online Melee tournament series, his narrative has often been centered around his clashes with the old guard of the game. Recently, he’s begun to turn this dynamic on its head, taking sets from players like Makenshi and Amsah. He has won tournaments like the online Bagarre over Trif and the offline Myth over Professor Pro, making him one of few players capable of denying Professor Pro a UK tournament win. This past summer, he won Fête Online from losers over his opponent for this weekend, Ice.
For as long as Germany has had Melee rankings, Ice has topped them as a clear #1. It wasn’t until the second half of 2019 when he was unseated by Nicki following his underwhelming performances at Superbou 3, Dreamhack Rotterdam, and several German regionals. Ice has put up the results of a Top 10 player in Europe this past year, placing at least 5th at every online tournament he has entered. To me, this match symbolizes the old vs. new storyline that Europe will be reckoning with as we transition back to LAN events.
#2: Jah Ridin’ vs. Skullbro
Jah Ridin’, a long-time Luigi main from Switzerland, might have been relatively unknown before the COVID-19 pandemic. Never ranked internationally, he peaked at number 16 on Phoenix Blue’s European Power Rankings for 2019. He gained a lot of recognition during the pandemic for his early lead in the Poilon Arena circuit, a precursor to the S.A.M.E. circuit. At the first Poilon Arena, he showed off his dominant punish game as he double eliminated Professor Pro’s Fox to secure second place.
Skullbro is perhaps even more unknown to the average Melee player. A Doctor Mario player from the Netherlands, Skullbro has had respectable placements at online European events, including Top 8 finishes at Fête Online and Superbou Online. Interestingly, Skullbro was not on the original list of players for the Regional Finals; he was only invited when Setchi decided to withdraw from the tournament. I mention this match not only because of the novelty of Luigi vs. Doctor Mario as a matchup but because it is projected to take place in the second round of the lower bracket. In other words, the winner of this projected match will place at least 7th, securing them an invitation to the World Championships. It would be spectacular to see either of these underrepresented characters on the world stage, and I expect an entertaining match to determine who will advance.
#3: Leffen vs. Pipsqueak
As the undisputed best player in Europe, Leffen has removed himself from the competitive Melee environment for quite some time. His last showing was at Poilon Colosseum, an online invitational he won without dropping a single game. Unfortunately, Leffen seems to have run into some out-of-game obstacles; this past week he’s been complaining of migraines and hospital visits on his Twitter. For the degree to which Melee is a mental game, one can imagine the detriment this would bring to a player.
If Leffen is able to play in the event, he’s projected to face 4th seed Pipsqueak, a fellow Fox main and fellow Swede. Pipsqueak has been staking a claim as a Top 5 player in Europe this past year by winning events like Get On My Line 2021, Smash Sauna Online, and 5 Days of Melee: Europe Open. He also won Valhalla Online in early 2021 over Leffen himself, who was using an alternate ergonomic controller at the time. Many were quick to say at the time that the match was not indicative of the skill of either player due to Leffen’s choice to compete with a controller he was not fully used to. And this weekend, we may see Pipsqueak have another chance at playing a Leffen handicapped by out-of-game circumstances. For the reasons above I do believe Leffen’s results this weekend should have an asterisk attached. However, it could serve as an indicator as to how close Pipsqueak is to the striking distance of such a world-class player.
The European Melee Regional Finals will be streamed on twitch.tv/VGBootCamp on October 23rd and 24th. Bracket information can be found on the Smash World Tour’s smash.gg page and a detailed schedule of the event is expected to be posted on the Smash World Tour Twitter later this week.