Another year, another Michigan-bound international Smash spectacle. Autumn for the competitive Super Smash Bros. for Wii U scene will soon draw to a close -- and with it comes The Big House 7, the seventh installment of a well-loved tournament series.
From Oct. 6-8, 511 competitors from across the globe will converge at Detroit's Cobo Center, each set on winning one of North America's most coveted titles.
After all, if there's one thing The Big House is known for, it's delivering the best that competitive Smash has to offer. The series has had no shortage of memorable moments, with Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios' legendary losers bracket run at The Big House 5 in 2015 still being brought up to this day.
That being said, let's take a look at some of the storylines heading into the weekend.
This time last year, Leonardo "MKLeo" Perez wasn't a household name just yet. While the Mexican multi-character prodigy was already recognized as a top-level player, his inability to travel to the United States hindered his prospects back then.
This year? He has all the momentum in the world.
Not only is MKLeo ranked second on the Panda Global Rankings, but he's also coming off a victory over the likes of ZeRo and Evolution Championship Series 2017 winner Saleem "Salem" Young at last weekend's Game Tyrant Expo. Although he did go through a short tilt over the summer, his dominant GT-X performance should be more than enough to prove his recovery.
Don't count the rest out just yet, though. In an esport as dynamic and filled to the brim with top-level talent as Smash Wii U, nothing is set in stone.
ZeRo, The Big House's two-time defending champion, is having yet another stellar season. The pride of Chilean esports is as successful as ever, finishing outside of top two in three out of 17 tournaments since July. MKLeo's win over him at GT-X is in fact one of the two wins he has over ZeRo, leaving the outcome of a potential rematch this weekend up in the air.
Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey, Larry "Larry Lurr" Holland and Salem, though not as consistent as ZeRo, also pose solid bids for the championship. The quartet have had their share of tournament wins across the season and could very well win the tournament should one be on their A-game.
Expect these names to make or break the bracket in its entirety.
James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson. Ramin "Mr. R" Delshad. Tamim "Mistake" Omary. Rei "Komorikiri" Furukawa. Eric "ESAM" Lew. Jason "ANTi" Bates.
These names should be familiar to any avid Smash Wii U fan with their constant presence in the top cuts of tournaments. As the scene's metaphorical bridesmaids, they've all gotten close to securing a recent stateside championship for themselves -- some more than once -- but fell short in the end.
Each of them has been on the come-up in the weeks leading up to The Big House 7, signs that point to the possibility of a new champion entering the fold. Watch out for Mr. R, given his successful title defense at Syndicate 2017 in his home country of the Netherlands over Japanese titan Kengo "Ken" Suguki.
Over the course of the summer, several of the scene's big names fell to the wayside.
The Big House 7 might just be their redemption story.
Fans of Evo 2016 champion Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce will be hoping for a better performance than the one he gave at GT-X last week, where the Canadian Mario-main placed a mediocre 25th. With rivals like ZeRo and MKLeo present, he'll have to remain steadfast if he is to topple his demons and get back on his toes, a challenge he can definitely overcome.
For a slew of personal reasons like a growing disinterest in the game, recent showings by Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby don't align with his reputation as a "paragon of consistency." Ranked No. 1 in New York, the Rosalina main has faltered these last two months, with a peak of 4th place at DreamHack Montreal. If he can channel the Dabuz that won 2GGC: Civil War however, he may just make the comeback fans have been asking for.
This doesn't begin to scratch the level of talent present at The Big House 7. Wild cards like Jestise "MVD" Negron and Yuta "Abadango" Kawamura may just shake things up. As with any Smash Wii U tournament, the crown is for anyone's for the taking.
You can watch the tournament begin tomorrow on Twitch.