The summer of Smash continues this weekend in Orlando, Florida at Community Effort Orlando 2016 (CEO). Originally a fighting game community event, CEO has now become one of the annual premier events for Smash. An impressive 678 entrants will be competing for the coveted CEO championship belt this year. Although the level of competition is amazingly strong, William "Leffen" Hjelte and Adam "Armada" Lindgren announced that they will not be competing at the event. Without the Swedes in attendance, all eyes are on the rivalry between Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma and Joseph "Mango" Marquez.
The Rivalry in 2016
The rivalry between Mango and Hungrybox has gone back and forth in 2016. Hungrybox started the year strong with a dominating 6-2 set advantage, but Mango rallied to win three consecutive sets at DreamHack Austin and Get On My Level to narrow down the deficit. Mango had the chance to even things up at Low Tier City 4 last weekend. However, Hungrybox quelled the storm and took two consecutive sets in dominating fashion to bring the overall set count to 8-5 in his favor. In doing so, Hungrybox has distinguished himself as the best player in the United States and also makes a case for best in the world. Can Hungrybox continue his win streak at CEO or will Mango take him down? Or will others enter the fray?
Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman's play has been an enigma in 2016. On one hand, he is perfectly capable of beating anyone in the world. In 2016, he has taken Hungrybox to game five on multiple sets and has even defeated Mango in 3-0 one-sided sweeps. Though his peaks have been high, he has seen his consistency take a dive with losses to Top 20 level players such as James "Swedish Delight" Liu and Edgard "n0ne" Shelby. Still, it's tough to write off a player as experienced as Mew2King, and he definitely has the potential to upset Mango or Hungrybox and an outside shot to even win the entire event.
With the Evolution Championship Series 2016 (Evo) just around the corner, CEO 2016 carries larger implications for everyone. A good performance at this event means a better seed at Evo. Historically, players from Florida have defended their turf very well at CEO in the past. In 2016, Justin "Plup" McGrath, Colin "Colbol" Green and Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett have been nothing short of remarkable. With full support from the local Florida crowd and no worries about travel, they have the perfect conditions to make incredible runs in the CEO Bracket.
However, players from other region want to prove themselves as well. California will come out in full force with dozens of their best players competing; the collective east coast, midwest, and southern regions will also have full representation to round out the all-star lineup at CEO. Even without Leffen or Armada, 17 out of the SSBMRank's Top 25 players will be in attendance with each player wanting to impress. Players such as Joey "Lucky" Aldama or DaJuan "Shroomed" McDaniel want to continue to build their momentum from the past few months. For other players such as Kevin "PewPewU" Toy, they want to prove that they can still compete at the top level.
The path into the Top 8 will be brutal as players have to navigate through a slew of Top 25 level players to make it into the final boxing ring on Saturday night. Who will impress and who will disappoint? Will Hungrybox win yet another major or can Mango finally step it up? The questions will be answered this weekend, so tune in starting Friday as another chapter is written in Melee history.