All year, the best Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the world have traveled from one end of the United States to the other in a bid to achieve the coveted No. 1 position in the year-end Melee Panda Global Rankings. That quest is now over. With a victory from winner’s side at last weekend’s Smash Summit 7, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma has all but ensured that he will spend a second consecutive year on Melee’s highest throne.
Though Hungrybox didn’t lose a set at Smash Summit 7, he did have to withstand a few difficult tests in his path to victory, including a tight five-game set against Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and a last-minute comeback victory in the fifth game of his set against Zain “Zain” Naghmi. Even Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett looked strong against the Jigglypuff main, starting off their set with an emphatic two-stock on Dreamland. Nevertheless, it was Hungrybox who lifted the trophy after defeating William “Leffen” Hjelte 3-1 in grand finals.
Despite his impressive second-place finish, Smash Summit 7 was a roller coaster for Leffen, who found himself on the losing end of a 3-2 set against Wizzrobe in pools. After losing to Joseph “Mang0” Marquez in winner’s a side of the bracket, Leffen composed himself in losers and avenged his losses to both Wizzrobe and Mang0 on his way to grand finals.
Mang0 finished in third, taking a rare win over Justin “Plup” McGrath in winner’s quarterfinals; in order to achieve this solid placement, he used both his trusty Falco and his Fox, a character that the Californian has said is more of a secondary to him than a main in recent months. Regardless, even Fox did not allow Mang0 to defeat Hungrybox, who vanquished the Cloud9 member in a 3-1 winner’s finals set.
The event’s top-6 was rounded out by Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson and aMSa, whose impressive fifth-place finish came on the strength of wins over Plup and Rishi “Rishi” Malhotra. For his own efforts, Rishi placed seventh, tying with his fellow Marth main Zain.
The story of the tournament was the run of one of the ninth-place finishers: Connor “Bananas” Lamb. Ranked No. 1 in Central Texas, the Ice Climbers main belayed his way into Smash Summit 7 after a stunning fifth-place finish at October’s The Big House 8. Last weekend, he kept the momentum going, defeating both Mew2King and Mang0 in pools before just barely losing to Leffen in winner’s bracket. For long stretches of both sets, Bananas outplayed his opponents using only his solo climber, and he clearly relied more on his strong fundamentals to earn his wins than he did on wobbling. Ninth-place finish notwithstanding, the Ice Climbers main looks poised to accomplish great things in 2019.
Smash Summit 7 was not the only Melee action of the weekend; in Atlanta, Charlie “AbsentPage” McKinley won a Dreamhack event, defeating Johnny “S2J” Kim 3-2 in both winner’s finals and grand finals.
There is still one more major-level event left in the year: December’s Don’t Park On The Grass, the next iteration of a popular Seattle tournament series. But it is unlikely that all of Melee’s active “gods” will make it out to this event, and after his dominant victory at Smash Summit 7, Hungrybox’s grasp on the year-end No. 1 ranking is likely unbreakable.