This weekend, on October 23rd and 24th, VGBootCamp will host another iteration of the Smash World Tour’s Regional Finals for Melee. This time we will see 16 of the best players from the western half of North America, such as Plup, SFAT, KoDoRiN, and S2J. Of these 16, half will qualify for the World Championships in December. With plenty of matches scheduled between the round-robin pools and the double-elimination bracket, here are five picks for matches you absolutely must watch.
#1: Plup vs. Captain Faceroll
In Pool 1 we see Irvine’s Captain Faceroll slotted to play the West Coast’s newest Sheik main, Plup. Both have had relatively quiet years; Plup fought his way into Summit Champions League Season 2 and earned a spot in Smash Summit 11, where he placed 4th, but hasn’t attended any in-person tournaments since then with the exception of his second-place finish at Riptide. Captain Faceroll was not able to follow Plup’s example and fell just short of qualifying for SCL Season 2 at two different tournaments before taking a hiatus from online competition.
While we haven’t seen Faceroll in a while, it is hard to forget his pre-pandemic performances, especially in the Sheik ditto. Dreamhack Atlanta comes to mind, where he defeated Mew2King’s Sheik in five consecutive games, forcing Mew2King’s desperate Fox counter pick in the final game of the tournament. He also has a storied history against the former NorCal Sheik Spark where he comes up with a positive record. Plup, one of the most enigmatic Melee professionals, may or may not choose to play out the ditto. Whatever the character pick, I believe this match could determine the first seed of Pool 1.
#2: Bobby Big Ballz vs. Tai
For one reason or another, BBB is one of the most recognizable players in Melee. In Pool 2 this weekend, he will be facing off against a player that newcomers to the scene might not be as familiar with: Tai, from Arizona. Behind Axe, Tai has been considered the second-best player in Arizona for multiple ranking periods. His Marth has slain top spacie players like MikeHaze and Albert in recent years to earn respectable placing at West Coast national tournaments. His online results show similar consistency, placing at least Top 32 at every tournament he entered in 2020.
It’s hard to compare this consistency to BBB, who is known to be one of the hardest players to predict his placement. His 17th place at this past weekend’s Super Smash Con: Fall Fest speaks to this. At the same time, he has taken netplay tournaments over players like Medz, JSalt, JFlex, Rocky, and Lucky in the past few months. With SFAT and Fiction in this pool alongside BBB and Tai, this could be the match either of them needs to snag the first seed. It’s also likely, however, that this match will determine who finishes with the fourth seed, and likely receives the hardest path in the final bracket.
#3: Dacky vs. Kalamazhu
Again we see a match of two players without much tournament data behind them. Dacky and Kalamazhu both gained plenty of fans with their performances in SCL Season 2, though they both failed to qualify for a Smash Summit 11 spot. Since then, Dacky has put up Top 6 placings at West Coast netplay weeklies, including winning Training Mode Tuesdays #33. He then crossed the border to Canada to place 5th at the LAN regional Pinnacle in early October. Kalamazhu, on the other hand, declined to enter anything after SCL Season 2 besides the Smash Summit 11 qualifying tournament Rollback Rumble: The Big One. He placed 5th, beating Zamu and Magi before losing to 2Saint, the second-place finisher at the event.
In this match, we will see two players face off in what might be their best matchups. Dacky, much like fellow PNW Fox FatGoku, has had plenty of experience in the Peach matchup, winning six of his last eight sets against Bladewise and being positive on Aura. Kalamazhu, on the other hand, has competed in California, one of the regions most densely populated with fast-fallers, for years. In that time he has established a positive record on Lucky, an even record on SFAT, and taken sets from Fiction. As these two competitors know each other’s characters very intimately, I believe this will be a chance for both to flex their matchup knowledge.
#4: Fiction vs. Albert
Here we see our first entry that is a projected bracket match rather than a pools match. Due to the nature of round-robin pools, it is possible that this match does not happen, at least not where the projected bracket places it. However, with only 16 players in attendance, and my belief that both players will make it deep into the final bracket, the odds that they face off is likely, in my opinion.
Fiction, since changing mains to Falco in the past year, has been reintroducing himself to the competitive Melee environment. Each week in SoCal he has been trading sets with players like Westballz, S2J, and KoDoRiN. However, due to his unwillingness to enter online tournaments in the last year, we don’t have a good idea of how he stacks up against talent across the country. We’ll certainly get a taste of it in pool play, but I believe this is the match where it is most ambiguous as to whether Fiction will win or lose.
Albert, a Texas Falco, famously broke into public recognition by beating Hungrybox at Low Tier City 7. Earning a rank of 37th for 2019 off of his Top 8 performance at that tournament, he has continued the performance one expects from him when he enters online tournaments. Albert managed to place 7th at Low Tide City last month, taking a loss to fellow Texan SDJ. It’s unclear, to me at least, where these two players sit in the pecking order for offline Melee currently, and I believe their match and their overall performances will be indicative of where they might be expected to finish next year’s rankings.
#5: Plup vs. SFAT
Plup and SFAT, as the two top seeds at this event, are on a collision course this weekend. Before their last meeting at Riptide, Plup had not taken a set off of SFAT in over two years, losing the four times they met across 2019 and 2020. However, in four games Plup managed to reverse the course of their set history at Riptide, sending SFAT to losers and to his eventual 4th place finish. I believe their rematch will be impactful, not only for its implications on the eventual World Championships but also for its implications on SFAT’s career.
SFAT has oscillated between Top 10 and Top 15 since global Melee rankings began. While he has shown the capacity to beat players like Mang0, Hungrybox, and even at times Mew2King, he’s never quite been able to put everything together at the same time and be considered a world-class player. He has held on to his status in the Melee ecosystem by being extremely consistent against players below him, while being a threat to players above him like aMSa, Axe, Wizzrobe, and Plup. With the highest tier of players looking untouchable to all but a few select players, SFAT losing his edge over Plup, a potential Top 5 player, is certainly troubling. I doubt SFAT feels this momentous pressure on his potential set with Plup this weekend – after all, he is known for keeping it loose. But for us watching at home, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start drawing inferences on SFAT’s trajectory based on how he stacks up against Plup.
The North America West 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.