Contenders have something left to prove at Get On My Level 2018

Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman has the momentum coming into Get On My Level 2018. Gail Fisher for ESPN

While it's no question that the bulk of Super Smash Bros. competition is centered in the United States, Get On My Level has always found a way to bring the rest of the world to Canada every year. From its humble beginnings in 2014 as a year-end activity for the York University Smash Club, it has gradually become the country's flagship event. Now in its fifth year, Get On My Level returns this weekend to the International Center in Ontario, Canada, with 1,016 attendees split among the four official Super Smash Bros. titles.

"This year has, by far, our deepest lineup in terms of attendance, from ranked players to commentators and everything in between," said tournament director Joe "Toronto Joe" Cribari. "There is potential for tons of upsets and entertaining matches that will help set the tone leading into another historic Summer of Smash."

Cribari isn't exaggerating. Of the hundreds of participants attending Get On My Level 2018, 30 are on the Red Bull SSBMRank for Melee and 24 are on the Panda Global Rankings for Smash 4. The sheer talent present at the event, as well its proximity to the summer season, makes it the perfect launchpad for hopefuls looking to raise their stock.

Three contenders

Earlier this month in Los Angeles, 16 of the world's best Melee players converged at Smash Summit 6 to fight for a $22,000 prize pool. Though the invitational series has long been a hotbed for upsets and surprises, few foresaw Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman winning over his fellow "Big Six" members. This means that for the first time since the late 2000s, Mew2King returns to the top of the Melee food chain.

Smash Summit, however, didn't significantly shift the narrative moving forward, just due to Mew2King's monumental run, but also because of below-average fourth- and fifth-place finishes from top dogs Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma and Justin "Plup" McGrath. Since all three will be present at Get On My Level 2018, pressure will be on each one to maintain or improve.

Now, any Smasher can tell you that "a confident Mew2King is a scary Mew2King." He has been known to play impeccably whenever his spirits are high. Therefore, the momentum he gained from Smash Summit could be the start of another "Return of the King" era.

On the other hand, GOML is Plup's chance to secure a tournament win and end his bridesmaid curse after a disappointing Smash Summit. Since winning Genesis 5, the newest addition to the top echelon of Smashers reached the grand finals of two nationals -- namely EGLX 2018 and Noods Noods Noods Oakland -- but failed to close out the win over a surging Hungrybox.

Speaking of Hungrybox, he has the most to gain from winning GOML. After winning GOML 2015, he was denied the repeat twice, first by Joseph "Mang0" Marquez and second by heated rival William "Leffen" Hjelte. That being said, the absence of back-to-back champ Leffen this year presents a golden opportunity for the Jigglypuff specialist to step in, reclaim the title and prove that Smash Summit was but a fluke.

Two heirs to the throne

Ever since longtime Smash 4 champion Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios retired to focus on streaming, Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada and Leonardo "MKLeo" Perez have been facing off tournament after tournament for the rights to the throne. As one of the final major tournaments before Smash for Nintendo Switch is fully revealed, GOML 2018 could very well be what resolves the bout for good.

Each player has something over the other. Nairo has the head-to-head record advantage this year so far, taking ESA Battle for Vegas and NicoNico Tokaigi over the 16-year-old Mexican prodigy. On the other hand, MKLeo dominated their latest match at the 2GG Switchfest and holds more recent major tournament titles, including Genesis 5 and Evolution Japan. Both have their own merits, so it'll be a treat to see the two duke it out once more.

Another challenger, however, could very well take it all. Smash 4's volatile nature welcomes surprises, and they are to be expected at GOML given how many attendees there are.

Also joining in on the fun are several of the game's current Top 10, including a rising Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey, the ever consistent Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby, Dutch import Ramin "Mr. R" Delshad and more. Should any of these players be on point this weekend, it wouldn't be a shocker to see Nairo or MKLeo go home earlier than expected.

One united north

Of course, GOML wouldn't be what it is without its backbone: the Canadian community. The best Canada's 10 provinces have to offer flock to the event every year to showcase what they're capable of, and the best part is they're united in their mission to defend the homefront.

The sheer amount of domestic talent attending GOML makes claiming the trophy as a foreigner a difficult task. Canadian titans like Edgard "n0ne" Sheleby and Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce have proven time and time again that Canada is a strong region with stellar international results. Watch out for Tamim "Mistake" Omary as well; the 17-year-old from Ontario has been tearing up the scene lately with Top 4 finishes at Glitch 4 and Smash Masters League: Battle for Vegas.

Even with the country's diverse talent pool, however, it still isn't as well-known as other western scenes, something GOML's organizers want to fix for good.

"Canada usually flies under the radar in the community, but GOML is our annual event to show the world who we are and what we can bring to the table," said Cribari. "Get ready for the hype."