Earlier this month, many in the Smash 4 community were forced to confront the fact that registration numbers at GENESIS 5 were down from last year—way down. This year’s GENESIS Smash 4 event drew 676 attendees, only slightly more than half of GENESIS 4’s 1,012. Community members threw around a number of theories about the cause of this decrease; some blamed Bayonetta for saturating the Panda Global Rankings with many players of the same character, while others posited that Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios’ dominance had put a damper on other players’ motivation to become the best.
Frostbite 2018 is an enthusiastic rebuttal to the doomsayers of the Smash 4 scene. The tournament, which will be held in early February in Dearborn, Michigan’s Edward Hotel & Convention Center, will be the largest Smash 4-only tournament of all time. At the time of this article’s writing—seven days before the final registration deadline—Frostbite 2018 is capped at 846 Wii U singles entrants, 93 more than the previous record-holder, March 2017’s 2GG: Civil War. Furthermore, the tournament is the biggest Smash 4 event ever held in Michigan, topping the 777 entrants of October 2016’s The Big House 6.
Undoubtedly, the success of Frostbite 2018 is due to a multitude of factors, but it doesn’t hurt that last year’s Frostbite event was one of the most exciting Smash 4 tournaments of 2017. At Frostbite 2017, the previously-underrated Japanese player Tsubasa “Tsu” Takuma went on an all-time great bracket run, defeating James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson, Takuto “Kameme” Ono, Saleem “Salem” Young, and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios in consecutive sets to earn himself a spot in winner’s side of grand finals.
Though the Lucario main eventually fell to ZeRo in grands, his play captured the hearts of many in the Smash 4 scene; his grand finals sets versus ZeRo were deemed the best of the year in a community poll.
Many Smash 4 fans will tune into this year’s Frostbite in hope of seeing more breakout performances from underrated players, but Melee players will have reason to spectate the event as well. Two of Melee’s “gods,” Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, will be in attendance. Though both of these competitors focus their energies on Melee, each of them is known to be a threat in Smash 4, and it will be exciting to see what they can do at a Smash 4-only event without the distraction of Melee spreading them thin.