Does Smash live in the north?
Not quite, but they don't mind being a timeshare.
With the exception of Dreamhack Austin and Battle Arena Melbourne, Smash Bros. fans have had their gaze locked onto Canadian events this month. Whether it was Leffen's return to North American competition at Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo, another clash between Nairo and Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce, or even Vancouver being the backdrop for a duel between Leffen and SFAT, it's clear that The Great White North is more than capable of being a hotspot for major Smash action.
This weekend, Get On My Level will continue that trend and dial things up a notch, bearing fruit from seeds sown in the spring of 2014.
"Get On My Level was first created through the York University Smash Club as our end of the school year event," organizer Joe "Toronto Joe" Cribari explained. "We wanted it to be a movement towards the return of national scale events to Ontario, as we were heavily lacking major tournaments at the time. So GOML was our way of helping to put Canada on the map. Our big break came when Major League Gaming was looking for an official Canadian grassroots qualifier for their Anaheim championship circuit. Solid Jake reached out to me, asking if we would be able to put on a national in Toronto. GOML was in the works at the time and ended up being the perfect fit for what they wanted."
As large as the Smash scene is, not everyone can make it to the biggest events of the year, especially the players that are looking to gain experience and see how far they can go. International players suffer the most, as they try to figure out how many meals they can skip in order to pay for entry, hotel, gas, tolls, and airfare.
The ability to attract top talent to a region that may only see their own stars the entire year creates waves among all of the local talent and even the surrounding areas. So two years ago, when folks heard that Mango, Hungrybox, and Mew2King were going north to battle and that the experts at VGBootCamp would be manning the stream for Even Matchup Gaming, the response was swift. This iteration, Canada is continuing to hold onto the spotlight it has clutched throughout May while looking to keep a couple of trophies home.
While ZeRo will not be in attendance, Super Smash Bros. for WiiU is still heavily contested.
"I feel like ZeRo brings out the best in his competition and pushes people to play their absolute peak in order to have a shot at taking him out, so I definitely appreciate the bar he has set," Cribari continued. "However, I think it's much less clear cut what the top eight is going to look like, so we're bound to have some nutty upsets and see some unlikely people step up and create a name for themselves."
With Nairo, iStudying, Mr. R, Larry Lurr, Leo, Anti and many others hoping to take that trophy through customs, eyes are on Quebec's Ally to keep it up north. The host country will be fielding many strong players, and if they have a day where everything clicks, all bets are off.
"I think Aaron 'Blacktwins' Grandison-Vargas and Kelsy 'Supergirlkels' Medeiros are two players to look out for," Cribari noted. "Both have been around since Brawl but are really finding their stride in Smash 4, as well as coming into their own as players. Blacktwins has been dominant in Ontario this season at locals but has yet to have a breakout performance at a major. Kels is coming fresh off a win at LAN ETS and a fourth place finish at EGLX. They both have a lot to prove and have the talent to shake up the bracket."
As much action as we've seen in Super Smash Bros. Melee this year, it's still astounding to think that we have yet to see an event with all of the top six players under one roof. This far in the year, you can still count the number of times five were in attendance on one hand. We won't be seeing all six this weekend, but there's still a lot of uncertainty among the five that will be attending. Just two weeks ago, Toronto was the stage for Hungrybox showcasing his consistency, Armada forfeiting due to illness, flashes of brilliance from Mew2King, Leffen struggling to get acclimated, and Mango reaching second place while making adjustments to his playstyle.
Now we'll have Hungrybox trying to get get another victory in the same city where he earned his last win, a healthy Armada that is eager to show Toronto what he's capable of, Mew2King still searching for his first big singles victory since last August, Leffen with a bit more confidence after taking home a victory in Vancouver over SFAT, and Mango returning to winning ways after Dreamhack Austin. Beyond that, the depth of the field is astounding with MacD, Westballz, Shroomed, Lucky, SFAT, PewPewU, DruggedFox, Wizzrobe, Swedish Delight, Duck, Nintendude, Hugs, Prince Abu, The Moon and others representing the stars and stripes. Even Europe is sending over a few additional stars like Ice, Professor Pro, and Alpha Dash.
With all of that, is it possible for a Canadian player to reach top eight? The road will be hard, and players like Kage the Warrior, Weon-X, IB, and Coffeeblack might be some of the safer bets for reaching top 32. But the player that's viewed as Canada's biggest hope for making it to final day of Melee is also carrying the standard for Nicaragua: his name is Edgard "n0ne" Sheleby, a fan favorite Captain Falcon and Ganondorf player.
"I don't think there is any Canadian player right now that has shown that kind of potential to take out big names in the states with as much determination and hunger to improve," Cribari continued. "When n0ne is playing at his peak, I genuinely believe he can compete with anyone in the world. His playstyle is just so crazy you can't help but root for him. He has wins over a lot of top players this year like PewPewU, Nintendude, The Moon, Colbol, Professor Pro and few other heavy hitters that goes to show the level he can play at."
The final two titles are likely going to stay in Canada unless something momentous happens. Anti and Ally have clashed many times before in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and they're the overwhelming favorites for the bracket. Anti has had no luck against the Quebecer in their previous meetings, and with both players focused on Super Smash Bros. for WiiU, many expect that to trend to continue.
At the same time, many wonder if Daniel "SuperBoomFan" Hoyt can be stopped in the grandfather of them all. The scene for N64 has been undergoing a quiet resurgence, and Hoyt's results give him the strongest argument for top player in North America. While players such as BarkSanchez, Wizzrobe, The Z and Nintendude can give him a run for his money, the best hope to prevent Hoyt from taking it all might be Joey "KeroKeroppi" Speziale.
"I think [he] has the best shot at taking out Boom at GOML," said Cribari. "He has the confidence and skill to do it, and I think a win over Boom would do wonders for his quest to be seen as the best player in the world."
With the summer of Smash quickly approaching, this event might be viewed by players as preparation for some of the most heralded majors of the year. For some, this may be their last chance to play against top contenders in the game of their choice. For the tournament organizers, it's a way of giving back to a local scene that has raised them and countless others. Now everyone just has to wait and see who can run the furthest through the "6ix."