This past weekend, over four hundred Project M players traveled to Pomona, CA, for the largest-ever tournament featuring Project M, a popular—but controversial—Super Smash Bros. Brawl modification that made the game more competitively viable by emulating the physics and gameplay of Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Despite announcing his retirement in January of this year, Xayya “ThundeRzReiGN” Thammavongsa came out of the woodwork at The Even Bigger Balc to scrap his way to a first-place finish. The Northern California champion, who was ranked number one on PMRank 2017, is considered one of the game’s greatest players, and he cemented his legacy by defeating Southern California Project M god Jonathan “Sosa” Sosa in two sets of grand finals after dropping a winner’s finals set to the Wario main.
While ThundeRzReiGN and Sosa were two of the tournament’s top seeds, many other competitors entering The Even Bigger Balc with high expectations were forced into loser’s—or even eliminated—in early and shocking upsets. Most notably, PMRank No. 2 Malachi “Malachi” Covington found himself out at a shocking 33rd, getting sent to loser’s bracket by top Arizona Luigi Ilovebagelz and eliminated in a shocking upset by Tavi, a journeyman Zero Suit Samus player from Michigan.
Another PMRank top ten player who underperformed at The Even Bigger Balc was Alex “Hyperflame” Mireles, who showed his ability to defeat Project M’s “gods” by winning last year’s Blacklisted 3 over such names as Malachi and ThundeRzReiGN. At The Even Bigger Balc, however, Hyperflame failed to even make it out of pools, losing to Tavi and Massachusetts Ness player Anna “Kumatora” Mayorskiy.
Indeed, new blood was the theme of The Even Bigger Balc’s top 8, with youngsters such as SoCal ZSS Blank and Michigan Ice Climbers Techboy taking third and fourth place, respectively. New York Ike main Pete “Envy” Grieco, ranked 31st on PMRank 2017, made a surprising run to fifth place, electrifying the crowd with his jump cancel shenanigans and lightning-fast movement; he was joined at fifth by number one Project M Diddy Kong player Raseen “BaconPancakes” Khan. The tournament’s top 8 was rounded out by NorCal Meta Knight Parker “Boringman” Boring and Ilovebagelz, who tied for seventh place.
As the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate grows nearer, Project M looks to be nowhere near the death that many predicted when the game’s development team announced its dissolution in December 2015. Only time will tell if the scene will continue to see this level of success as 2018 progresses—but thanks to The Even Bigger Balc, things are as exciting as ever in the world of Project M.