Filling Out My Smashies 2022 Ballot
By Erik Thorson • August 3, 2022
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VGBootCamp’s Super Smash Con is returning in full on August 11-14. Already boasting over 3600 entrants, the East Coast supermajor will run brackets for all main-series Smash titles, in addition to multiple side events throughout the weekend. One event is their “Smashies” award show, meant to recognize players and community members for their performance each year. The Smashies are awarded by open nominations, so anyone is able to fill out a ballot on the Super Smash Con website for any of the games. Here, I’ll be going over my picks for the Super Smash Bros Melee categories, including “Best Combo,” “Best Doubles Team,” “Best Comeback,” and “Most Improved Player.”
I decided to limit my decision for this category to tournament footage. If anything else, this is for ease of picking a combo – with the prevalence of Slippi and so many hours of Melee on Twitch, it would be impossible to scan through every combo Mang0, n0ne, or BBB have done this year. I started by going through tournament matches for those three players, as well as S2J, Plup, and Zain. My reasoning was that these players are the heavy-hitters who are thought to have the most creative combos in the business. I was considering a few combos, but nothing quite clicked with me as the absolute Best Combo, that was, until I remembered another player: Jmook.
A lot of people knew Jmook was good before this year, but now no one will even question it. What really catapulted him to his status as a Top 5 player right now was his second-place finish at GENESIS 8, where he beat Plup, lloD, n0ne, and iBDW before losing twice to Zain. Along the way, he got this clip to close out a four stock 3-0 on n0ne:
What I really love is that this combo tells a story. This set-ending combo propelled Jmook into Winners Finals and showed he can absolutely dominate an established top player like n0ne. Many techniques that are now signatures of Jmook’s playstyle are on display: his reaction tech-chasing after grab, his needle usage in edgeguarding, and his use of the “J-walk.” This combo cemented Jmook as a major tournament threat, and for that reason, I have it as my Best Combo of 2022.
Best Doubles Team
I love playing teams in Melee, and it saddens me that many others don’t. This includes some top players, as we’ve seen static teams and participation in teams decline over the years. There are very few teams like PewFat or UGS that really dedicate themselves to the format. I considered giving this category to Tempo and xRunRiot, seeing as they are some of the last teams specialists. Unfortunately, with Tempo on an extended break to finish school, the two haven’t been able to enter much this year, having only won an online Garbage Connection doubles bracket and teams at the New Jersey local Stage Select.
After looking through a few other doubles brackets from this year’s majors and re-watching tournament footage, I found an unorthodox pick for “Best Doubles Team”: Polish and envy, playing under the team name “The Swag Criminals.” The pair teamed at GENESIS 8, placing 13th. While this sounds underwhelming, for a tournament like GENESIS this is a respectable placement, tying with teams like DSJ/Conman and Jmook/Joshman. Months later, the two won the Australian major Phantom 2022, beating mostly Australian teams before facing Americans Jada and Khryke in Grand Finals.
While they’re certainly not the “best” team by results, they’re getting my nomination for being the Doubles Team with the most potential. Polish’s doubles playstyle is something to be admired – unfiltered aggression, dominant edgeguards, and target switching nearly on par with Armada’s. It wouldn’t be a controversial statement to say Polish is the better of the two players, but, for his part, envy plays the support role as Falco masterfully. His positioning in neutral is always such that he can support Polish’s aggression, and while he’s not a stock tank like PewPewU was, his survivability is genuinely impressive. Hopefully, the Yard Patreon can stay healthy enough for these two to continue going to events because I’m excited to see what they can bring to the table.
Melee has had a few memorable comebacks this year, especially in teams. Justus had a spectacular 2v1 comeback against SFAT and Azel at Double Down and iBDW won an even more one-sided 2v1 against Duck and aMSa at GOML. But since I just wrote three whole paragraphs on teams, let’s bring things back to singles. I was struggling for a minute to remember any significant comebacks at majors, until I remembered this tweet by ycz6:
Ralph won this set pic.twitter.com/ZbHrL0GaUS
— ycz (@ycz6) July 17, 2022
Ralph came back from a three-stock deficit at high percent against Marth on FD to keep this set going. For more context, this was the 4th game of Ralph’s eventual reverse sweep on Umarth. For even more context, Ralph pulled off another reverse sweep in the second set of Grand Finals to win the whole tournament. I encourage everyone to watch the vod from this Grand Finals as it demonstrates some of the most cool, calm, and collected gameplay I’ve ever seen from someone so far down in a game or set.
I had a few different ideas for where I wanted to take this category. At first, I thought about giving it to Hungrybox. He’s certainly had a come-up in the past year. Compare his 2021 online performances when he would lose to Blues Clues, Fable, and Harry Pogger, to his 2022 performances where he has not missed a major Top 8 and has wins on Mang0, Jmook, and iBDW. Then, I thought about Fiction, who has risen to his prior level of play with Fox with his new main, Falco. Considering the deficit he started from with a new main, his 3rd place finish at Double Down is all the more impressive and shows real improvement. Finally, Jmook is an obvious answer – going from the 22nd seed at GENESIS 8 to placing 5th or higher at multiple majors and supermajors. Any of these three would be reasonable answers; however, I don’t think they quite follow the spirit of the category. The “Most Improved Player” shouldn’t be a player we knew to be good and are now seeing them prove it. In my opinion, it should be a player who has made huge strides and reached new heights in 2022. With this in mind, my “Most Improved Player” nomination would be Bbatts.
Bbatts is a player many people didn’t know before the online era. Since 2020, he’s been a staple of East Coast netplay brackets like Salt Mine, ECF, and Rollback Rumble. His debut on the New Jersey Power Rankings at #10 came during their 2020 rollback rankings. The next year he sat comfortably at #8 until he skyrocketed in 2022 to #4. What really propelled him upwards were his outstanding performances at New York City’s local, The Nightclub, where he picked up wins on TheSWOOPER, JFlex, 2Saint, Captain Smuckers, and even Pipsqueak during Pipsqueak’s trip to North America.
Bbatts has since been able to demonstrate his prominence at majors: he placed a respectable 17th at GOML 2022 and Pound 2022 and picked up wins on KJH and Heartstrings to place 25th at the extremely top-heavy Function 2. And just last weekend, Bbatts took Europe by storm, placing 4th at Fête 2, beating Skullbro, Rikzz, Jah Ridin’, Fat Tino, and Spark. Bbatts is on a strong upward trajectory this year that I don’t expect to slow down, making him an easy choice for “Most Improved Player.”
The Smashies will be hosted by VGBC during Super Smash Con 2022 on August 11-14. While the tournament schedule has been posted, the events schedule has not been, so keep an eye on VGBC and Super Smash Con on Twitter so you don’t miss any of the action.
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