From its start on Thursday to its Sunday finale, Super Smash Con 2018 was a tumultuous experience for fans of competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee.
At its outset, the tournament promised to be one of the most stacked events of the year, with nine of the Melee Panda Global Rankings top 10 promising to compete. But by the time the round of 32 had started, top seeds William "Leffen" Hjelte, Justin "Plup" McGrath, Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett and Joseph "Mang0" Marquez had dropped out -- the first three due to illness or logistical issues and the latter after losing in a surprise upset by Ice Climbers player Charles "Flipsy" Botello in the second round of pools.
With so many twists to the event, it was almost ironic that the eventual winner was Melee's most consistent champion: Adam "Armada" Lindgren, who overcame Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman in the 10th game of a marathon grand finals. In a rematch of their 13th-place set at the Evolution Championship Series in Las Vegas, the onetime teammates traded momentum back and forth in an instant classic that featured numerous last-stock clutch situations and devastating punishes from both sides.
Although Mew2King fell just short of a Super Smash Con title for the second year in a row, the Marth/Sheik main will have plenty to be happy about coming out of the event. After losing to Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma in a 3-1 winners semifinals set, Mew2King came back with a vengeance in losers finals and delivered Hungrybox a devastating 3-0 to get his first victory over the Jigglypuff main this year.
Hungrybox, whose defeat at Mew2King's hands followed an equally one-sided loss to Armada in winners finals, was enraged as he exited the tournament at third place. In both of his losses, the Team Liquid member was forced to play through the loud cheering of a crowd practically frothing at its mouth for his defeat.
Though Hungrybox has many fans online, including popular Fortnite streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who tweeted out his support for Hungrybox late last night, the world No. 1 appeared to be the loneliest man at Super Smash Con as he walked offstage after his loss to Mew2King.
For all of his disappointment, however, Hungrybox can rest easily knowing that his performance was far better than that of the tournament's next-lowest-placing Melee "god."
Although the circumstances of Flipsy's upset of Mang0 remain somewhat unclear, there's no doubt that the Cloud9 member's loss to a player not even considered for last year's top 100 rankings is numerically one of the greatest upsets in Melee history. Mang0, once considered the best player in the world when going up against Ice Climbers, has shown a marked weakness to the character in recent memory after dropping sets to Flipsy and Armand "ARMY" Del Duca in the last month.
Or course, that isn't to downplay the talents of ARMY, who placed fifth at Super Smash Con thanks to victories over such talent as Zain "Zain" Naghmi and Rishi "Rishi" Malhotra. ARMY's warpath came to an end when he faced Kevin "PewPewU" Toy, who was in the midst of his own impressive run to fourth place, in loser's quarterfinals. On the other side of loser's bracket, Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto finished at a strong -- though not unsurprising -- fifth place, while Joey "Lucky" Aldama tied with Rishi at seventh.
Unfortunately for Armada, the Super Smash Con champion will have little time to rest on his laurels. Next weekend, he and Leffen will travel to the United Kingdom to compete at British major Heir 5. As Armada and Leffen duel for European dominance, the rest of Melee's elite will rest in preparation for Boston's Shine 2018, the final event of 2018's "Summer of Smash."
For now, however, the Swedish Sniper occupies the pole position in the race for the year-end No. 1 ranking.