Meteorologically speaking, the summer doesn't begin until June 21: the Summer Solstice, when the days are longest and the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky. Despite the warm weather and sunny skies that have rolled across the nation over the last week, it is, at least technically, still spring. But this weekend, the Smash community will throw the rules out the window, kicking off 2018's "summer of Smash" with a bang at Smash'N'Splash 4.
At Smash'N'Splash, thousands of competitors will walk through the doors -- and slip down the slides -- of the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, for the fourth iteration of the only combined Super Smash Bros. major and waterpark experience in the world. With 2,217 individual attendees, Smash'N'Splash 4 looks to be the largest edition yet of Wisconsin's most popular tournament series.
It won't all be fun and games at Smash'N'Splash: thanks to the $5,000 pot bonus in Melee singles, five of the world's best Melee players will be duking it out for a sizeable wad of cash.
That Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma is the event's first seed is no surprise. Though the Team Liquid-sponsored Jigglypuff main stumbled at May's Smash Summit 6, he quickly quashed all speculation that his fourth place showing at the invitational signaled the beginning of a slump by winning his next three tournaments, including the Canadian major Get On My Level 2018.
Despite this string of victories, Hungrybox has not been invincible, with Justin "Plup" McGrath handing him a dominant 3-0 in winner's finals at Get On My Level. Plup has arguably been the biggest thorn in Hungrybox's side in 2018; however, he is the only top-six player who will not be in attendance this weekend. At Smash'N'Splash, it's up to his fellow gods Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Joseph "Mang0" Marquez, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman and William "Leffen" Hjelte to put an end to Hungrybox's reign of terror.
The last man to defeat Hungrybox before Plup was Armada, who eked out a set over the SSBMRank No. 1 at Smash Summit 6. Since then, the Swedish Peach main has only attended one tournament: the Australian major Battle Arena Melbourne 10, where he outclassed all the competition on his way to an easy victory. At Smash'N'Splash, Armada's skills will once again be put to the test against elite-level competition.
Mew2King is the biggest enigma of the weekend. Though the veteran player used his Marth to great effect during a victorious Smash Summit 6 campaign, his subsequent efforts have been less triumphant, with the New Jersey native attempting to bolster his increasingly obsolete-looking Sheik play with a rotating roster of secondaries during losses to Jeffrey "Axe" Williamson and Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett at Get On My Level 2018 and Momocon 2018. At both of these tournaments, Mew2King failed to take any sets off of the rest of the top six.
Bad losses notwithstanding, Mew2King has shown time and time again that he should never be counted out. After all, prior to Smash Summit 6, he hadn't taken a single set off of the top six in all of 2018. The EchoFox-sponsored veteran is more than capable of another run at Smash'N'Splash.
Leffen's status is similarly mysterious. Though the Team SoloMid-backed Swede announced in March that he would be stepping back from Melee to focus his efforts on Dragon Ball FighterZ, he still performed relatively well at Smash Summit 6, placing fifth and defeating Plup in pools. Conversely, he failed to make Top 8 in Dragon Ball FighterZ at Combo Breaker 2018, ending his run at 13th place. Whether or not Leffen's innate Melee talent will pull him through once again this weekend is yet to be seen.
After a riveting Smash Summit 6 performance, all eyes will be on Mang0 this weekend. At the invitational, the fan-favorite Californian pulled out his Falco to take sets off of both Hungrybox and Armada in pools, only to finish his bracket run at a disappointing seventh place. After Smash Summit, Mang0 retreated back to the world of Twitch streaming, eschewing larger events such as Get On My Level 2018 in the interim. At Smash'N'Splash, Mang0 will likely go Falco once more-and this time, he'll look to use the bird to win it all.
Beyond its top seeds, the bracket at Smash'N'Splash will be stacked indeed, with 39 SSBMRanked players currently registered to compete. There are some caveats to this impressive statistic -- for example, Axe will be playing Young Link rather than Pikachu for the duration of the tournament due to a struggle with family issues -- but they are more than counterbalanced by the sheer depth of talent in attendance. Until the winner stands up on Sunday, nobody, not even Hungrybox, is safe.