This weekend, Video Game Bootcamp is hosting Double Down, the spiritual successor to 2017’s Royal Flush. Hosted in the heart of Las Vegas, many of the best Super Smash Bros Melee players are coming out to try their luck. Previous majors this year have shown the high quality of play we can expect from most players in attendance this weekend, but there are five matches in particular that you might want to keep an eye out for.
#5: SFAT vs. Skerzo
In the twelve years that the Chicagoland Melee scene has been putting out Power Rankings, only three players have topped the list: Kels, Michael, and Skerzo. Skerzo was crowned the best player in Chicago in late 2021, his first time being ranked first in the region. Since then, he’s had an impressive run at major and regional events, winning BOPME 21 over Drephen and Kuyashi and CT Gamercon 5 over SloX and Bonfire10. In two separate trips to New York City regional events, he snagged wins over JoJo, Captain Smuckers, Zuppy, and JFlex. Most recently, he demonstrated his upward trajectory by beating Ginger and TheSWOOPER to place 13th at GOML 2022.
While you might think Skerzo’s results are all well and good, I understand why it would be difficult to see the significance of his upcoming set with SFAT. Historically, SFAT consistently performs at a Top 15 level and is seen as very strong in the Fox ditto. The one reason this set stood out to me was because of a set at the original casino major, Royal Flush, where SFAT was sent to the losers bracket by Cactuar’s Fox. Cactuar beat SFAT so badly in the Fox ditto that SFAT attempted to switch to his Falco for the final game with no success. Maybe it’s superstitious, but a repeat of this scenario is not out of the question.
#4: Fiction vs. TheSWOOPER
Before his switch to Falco, Fiction had a case for multiple years as a Top 15 player. The character switch might have set him back momentarily, but in 2022 he’s risen back to the approximate skill level he had with Fox. While he’s currently on a losing streak to S2J, he has taken six sets from the Falcon main this year at various SoCal locals. He’s also dominated players like Lucky and null to either win or place highly at Verdugo almost every week. And almost everyone can remember that he knocked Mang0 into losers at Pound 2022. However, according to Fiction, there’s a character he has not had the opportunity to develop his gameplan against as Falco: Samus.
Any samus mains wanna practice before double down? Still haven’t played a single session vs that char and I apparently play swooper LOL
— Fiction | 69% Apparel (@FictionIRL) July 6, 2022
TheSWOOPER caught a lot of people’s attention in 2021 when Tri-State locals and regionals had a lot of eyes on them. If there’s a formidable Tri-State player you can name, TheSWOOPER probably has a pretty back-and-forth record with them. He was even able to take a set over iBDW, the ostensible best player in New York, at The Nightclub VIP earlier this year – though he lost the runback later in that tournament and their set at Pound 2022. TheSWOOPER might be the best active Samus with his current resume, so who better to test Fiction in the matchup?
#3: iBDW vs. KoDoRiN
Officially crowned Top 3 by the PGR: Contenders at the end of 2021, iBDW has been able to defend this title with a pretty stellar year. He is one of four players who have won major-level tournaments this year, taking Smash Summit 13 over Jmook, Hungrybox, and Plup. He’s also one of the few players that doesn’t look hopeless against Zain, the current best Marth player and contender for best player in the world. At Genesis 8 Zain just barely squeaked past iBDW in the last game of their set. Even if iBDW didn’t win, he demonstrated a high degree of mastery in the matchup. That mastery is set to be on display again this weekend against KoDoRiN.
KoDoRiN is unquestionably the second-best Marth player in the world and has a strong case for the best active player in SoCal with winning or even records against every Fox in the region. Earlier this year he did drop an online tournament to the Canadian Fox, Soonsay, but fired back at Battle of BC 4 with a convincing 3-1 victory. He also has a Mang0 win, which despite what some would say, is hard to come by even now. KoDoRiN has played iBDW twice in the past year, at Mainstage 2021 and Pound 2022. Both sets ended with a 3-1 in KoDoRiN’s favor. It’s safe to say that, despite these losses, this is a character matchup iBDW feels comfortable with from his extensive practice with Zain, and he’ll be hungry to set the record straight this weekend.
#2: moky vs. Hungrybox
Many think of moky as a player who has potential but hasn’t been able to fully realize it for the past two years. Travel restrictions and poor internet have kept moky from competing often, giving higher weight to his more inconsistent performances. That being said, he did place second at The Function 2 after a lengthy losers run, had a respectful 13th at Gensis 8, and placed 7th at both Battle of BC 4 and GOML 2022. Prior to these placements, however, he was speculatively ranked 17th best in the world by his opponent this weekend: Hungrybox.
What is there to say about Hungrybox that most don’t already know? After an odd slump over the course of the pandemic and bizarre losses to players like BZimm and Blues Clues, he has bounced back in a major way, placing 5th at Genesis 8, 2nd at Pound 2022, 3rd at Smash Summit 13, and winning GOML 2022 over iBDW and Jmook. Outside of an odd loss to KJH at CEO, he’s proven to be relatively upset-proof on LAN this year. Currently, Hungrybox is carrying a four-set losing streak against moky, all of which being online sets after his infamous ranking of moky. moky likely feels there’s something to prove in this set, as winning would propel him to Top 8 in the winners bracket, guaranteeing him his best major result so far this year.
#1: Mang0 vs. aMSa
After uncharacteristically missing Top 8 at Genesis 8, Pound 2022, and Smash Summit 13, Mang0 silenced a few of his doubters with a 5th place at GOML 2022, losing to iBDW and Zain. It’s still early to say if his first three tournaments were flukes or if his most recent performance was, but many are saying he showed a return to form at GOML. With his projected bracket at Double Down, there’s little doubt he will make it to Top 8. The next question is if he will make Top 8 in winners or losers bracket, and this set will provide the answer.
The set history between Mang0 and aMSa is one of my favorites in high-level Melee. After losing their first four sets, aMSa managed to sweep Mang0 3-0 at Genesis 6 and start his own win streak for the rest of 2019. Mang0 answered back in early 2020, beating aMSa at Genesis 7 and Smash Summit 9. The next year, aMSa took sets at Smash Summit 11 and Smash Summit 12. For each year in the past four years, one of these players has held an undefeated record against the other. If history is inclined to repeat the cycle, then 2023 would be Mang0’s turn. If Mang0 could pull it off and enter Top 8 from winners, that might just be the boost he needs to finally end his relative slump.
Double Down will be hosted by VGBC on July 8th-10th, with Melee Singles starting on the 9th. Schedules are posted on start.gg/doubledown, and more updates can be found on the VGBC Twitter account. Melee will be streamed on twitch.tv/VGBootCamp2 on Saturday and twitch.tv/VGBootCamp on Sunday.