Winter is coming, and accompanying it is another Dreamhack Winter title that Melee competitors will be ferociously fighting for. To be hosted in Jönköping, Sweden this weekend, Dreamhack Winter 2017 is perhaps the last big tournament of December, and likewise, attendees are more determined than ever to do well so they can finish off the year on a strong note.
Adam "Armada" Lindgren and William "Leffen" Hjelte are two of the biggest names in attendance, followed by Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett and James "Swedish Delight" Lu. And although the nordic air will undoubtedly be cold, the blood of these player's will run red-hot as they battle it out for the lion's share of a $10,000 prize pool.
Let's now take a look at some narratives going into this weekend.
An ongoing Armada
Sweden native Armada is commonly cited as the most consistent player in Melee, and for good reason. Rising to prominence in early 2007, Armada maintains his status one of the most polished tournament records of all top-players to the present day. That being said, the usual first-placer has been wobbly lately.
It should be a testament to his greatness then that Smashers will jokingly ask if Armada is 'falling off' on the rare occasions where he actually doesn't place first at a tournament. But even so, there is no denying that a subtle drop-off in his recent performances has occurred.
In the last few months, we haven't witnessed an Armada quite as dominant as we're used to seeing. At the last four tournaments he has attended he's lost to players he usually doesn't lose to. Whether his small lull is just bad luck or not, there no mistaking that a first-place at Dreamhack Winter this weekend can really help Armada to solidify himself and end the year with some noise.
Close, but no cigar
On the flip side, Armada's fellow Swede Leffen has performed increasingly well. Historically, his impressive wins against Melee's best players have earned him the moniker of "godslayer," and if his most recent performances have anything to say about it, the nickname is well-earned.
If there is any way to describe those recent performances, however, it'd be "close, but no cigar." Leffen has definitely gone on some notable bracket runs lately, taking down several of Melee's most seasoned top-players at three of the latest tourneys, but in spite of all that he's still been just on the cusp of a major win.
This weekend, he'll be fighting for that win. His biggest threat going into Dreamhack is Armada, someone he often goes back-and-forth with, and it's likely that we could see an up-in-the-air grand finals between the two. But to bring home the gold, Leffen will need to take down more than just Armada. There's other talent present that can possibly hinder Leffen's quest to end his first-place drought, such as Swedish Delight or a certain Falcon main named Wizzrobe.
The nineteen-year old Falcon specialist from Florida has stirred up the pot recently. Widely considered as one of the best Falcon mains in the world, Wizzrobe's stock has rapidly risen over the past year or so, and it's no surprise as to why either. His patient and methodical play style with Falcon often gives challengers, even the upper level of professionals, a good run for their money.
Earlier this month at Smash Summit 5, Wizzrobe faced off against Armada in winners quarters. There, Wizzy hammered his way towards a miraculous 2-0 lead. He was just one good hit away from sending the favorite-to-win to losers, but in a cruel reversal of fortune, Armada won the third game and ultimately came back to win the set 3-2.
Despite his loss, the fact that Wizzrobe was just a hair's breadth away from beating the number-one ranked player should speak volumes about his capability as a competitor. There's a good chance that he'll show up this weekend in a similar fashion; maybe he'll take down Leffen, or even better, exact his sweet revenge on Armada.
Sheik main Swedish Delight is another skilled wildcard that could throw a wrench in the gears this weekend.
Other honorable mentions include: Aaron "Professor Pro" Thomas, Álvaro "Trif" García Moral, Roberto "Overtriforce" Iglesias, Amsah "Amsah" Augustuszoon, and Andreas "Android" Lindgren.