For the last month, top Melee players have traveled across the country—and the world—to compete in the marathon stretch of tournaments known as the “Summer of Smash.” It hasn’t been easy, and some competitors have fallen by the wayside due to issues with burnout. Those who hope to make it to the end have only one event left before they can rest for the fall: Boston’s hometown major, Shine 2018.
While Shine is the culmination of August’s Summer of Smash, it won’t be quite as stacked as some of the other tournaments of the season. Unfortunately, both Adam “Armada” Lindgren and William “Leffen” Hjelte will not be in attendance, with both European smashers rightly pointing out the logistical and physical issues that come with repeated transatlantic travel. However, the tournament is stacked in terms of players just outside the elite level, with 43 of 2017’s Top 100 coming out to play.
For reasons undisclosed—but likely due to an increased focus on his upcoming autobiography—Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman will also not be in attendance at Shine 2018. The New Jersey native will be missed at Shine; he captured the hearts of the Boston crowd when he won the inaugural Shine event in 2016.
Everyone loves a tournament featuring all of the Big Six, but Armada, Leffen, and Mew2King’s absences are a huge opportunity for one of the three remaining elite players—Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, and Justin “Plup” McGrath—to capture another major title.
Though Hungrybox and Plup have both won majors this year, they’ve also shown some signs of rust during the Summer of Smash, with neither Floridian able to go all the way and top the podium at either of August’s United States majors. In July, Hungrybox won CEO 2018, overcoming Plup in the second set of grand finals, but Plup hasn’t been able to put together a major-winning run since his stellar performance at GENESIS 5 in January.
Compared to his peers, Mang0 is in a more desperate position, having just celebrated the one-year anniversary of his most recent major victory at Super Smash Con 2017. To put even more pressure on the Falco main, popular Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins tweeted at Mang0 last Saturday, promising to add $50,000 dollars to the prize pool of the next tournament—that is to say, Shine—in the event of a Mang0 victory. Mang0 makes plenty of money through his own streaming efforts, but even the wealthiest Melee player would be a fool to turn up his nose at $50,000, and Mang0 will surely do his best to empty Ninja’s coffers for the sake of the community.
Hungrybox is Shine’s defending champion, but with the absence of August major winners Leffen and Armada, the field at Shine 2018 looks wide open. Tune in this weekend to see who’s going to take the final trophy of the Summer of Smash.