Some of Melee's most robust competitors came to Boston to compete in Shine 2017 last weekend, the second edition of Big Blue eSports' Shine series. Outcomes and set count varied wildly, but high level play was abundant that led to some memorable moments.
Throughout the tournament, predictions were shattered and expectations surpassed. Emerging as the winner was Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma, whose play proved too much for Joseph "Mang0" Marquez during the grand finals. Below we take a look at some of the most intriguing storylines leading up to this moment.
To commence losers top 8, Daniel "ChuDat" Rodriguez and William "Leffen" Hjelte both squared up to defend their own tournament life. Initially it seemed as though the talented Swede had the upperhand on ChuDat as he began to establish a 2-0 lead.
That quickly changed as ChuDat fanned the flame within him into a roaring fire and snatched the next three games with ease, declaring himself the winner and pushing Leffen out of the tournament -- or so we thought.
Leffen took to Twitter to announce that UCF (Universal Controller Fix, essentially a supplement to the game to make it more fair for both players to perform tech-skill) was off for his set against Chu, breaking a precedent that had been set for the entire tournament. This prompted an apology, as well as a rematch, from the tournament organizers.
Leffen won the rematch, but not without many complaints from the community, who deemed it unfair to ChuDat. Nevertheless, Chu was cast out of losers and Leffen advanced further only to be beat by Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman in losers quarters.
Last year at Shine, it was Zac "SFAT" Cordoni who had the Cinderella run. This year, it was none other then Falcon main Johnny "s2j" Kim, whose domineering performance -- and stoic resolve -- paved the way for a spectacular 3rd place finish.
s2j got knocked out early on in winners bracket by Hungrybox. Still, he wasn't demoralized by this loss in the least; it may have even emboldened him as he ripped through his opponents in losers. He rooted out three top-players -- SFAT, Hugo "HugS" Gonzales, and Mustafa "Ice" Akcakaya -- before continuing his rampage in top 8.
There, he hammered the final nail in Dajuan "Shroomed" McDaniel's coffin, catapulting him out of the tournament with a 3-0. Waiting for s2j was in losers quarterfinals was Justin "Plup" McGrath. Plup, looking to build upon his recent tournament placings of 1st and 3rd, was stopped short after s2j handed him a 5th place finish. This allowed for a highly-anticipated set in losers semis: Mew2King vs s2j.
The fact that he has never defeated a top-five player didn't seem to loom over s2j's head as he, with utmost style, ended M2K's tournament run. With a humble pop-off, and an even more humble walk off stage, s2j was poised to fight Mang0 in losers finals. Mang0 decimated his fellow SoCal friend, but s2j's performance up to that point was still nothing short of excellent.
And as one could gauge by the loudness of the 's2j' chants from the crowd at Shine, it's safe to say that he highlighted the event for everyone.
After struggling with his placings lately, Hungrybox finally stands tall with a win clutched in his hand. This is his first major win since Smash 'N' Splash 3, and likely grants the Puff main some much needed confidence going forward with the remainder of the year.
Mang0 put on a great show for fans with his Falco, which he rather unusually opted to use against Hungrybox in winners finals and a bit of grand finals, as opposed to sticking with his tried-and-true Fox. Although Hungrybox both sent him to losers and eventually, shoved him out of the tournament, Mang0's combos and movement were still enough to make any fan content.
Going forth, we'll see if Hungrybox continues to regain his footing, or if another god (or godslayer) can supplant him.