In January I’ll be flying into San Francisco to stay with a friend for a week, and I’ll be spending three of those days holed up in the sweaty San Jose Convention Center watching an incredible number of people play Melee at Genesis 3. I haven’t been to a major since EVO 2011 and I’m really looking forward to it. Here are some of the players I’m most excited to see play at the first major of 2016:
Westballz has always been one of my favorite players because of his unparalleled shines per second and being just slightly scary sometimes, and the dude has been on a tear lately. After an already successful 2015, he nabbed 4th place at DreamHack Winter and convincingly took out Mango and Leffen in the process. He seems like he’s finally spending a little less time Phantasming off the stage and a little more time killing it in the neutral–hopefully he keeps it that way in January, and hopefully I keep my cool when I see his outrageous shield pressure in person.
Maybe it’s a weird Midwest bias thing, but I definitely think Duck has it in him to go far at Genesis 3. Though the Michigan Samus is no stranger to performing impressively, he has really stepped it up this year and done well at almost every tournament he’s attended, especially when compared to his performance in 2014. He’s definitely my favorite Samus to watch, and these recent victories against Leffen and Swedish Delight (set unfortunately cut off just before the end) show off the improved fundamentals he’s been incorporating into his flashy style of play.
It’s hard to not get excited about a guy whose biggest claims to fame are inexplicably SDing at critical moments (admittedly he’s made great progress in distancing himself from this) and getting Wombo Combo’d (which he will never escape). He may have gone 0-2 at The Smash Summit, but during his set with Mango Zhu played like he had figured some things out and managed to keep the games close. Had he not been Pokemon Stadium’d in the last stock of his awesome set with Axe in Losers, I think he definitely had it in him to go further in the bracket. If he spends some hours in the lab between now and Genesis, I could see him showing everybody what’s what. I’ll certainly have my eye on him, and not just because he’s the best-dressed Smasher (sorry Prog!).
Silent Wolf has been one of my favorite players for a long time, and I do everything I can to try and not think about that one match with Axe because he really is one of the crispiest and most technical Fox players out there. His tournament attendance in 2015 has been sparse (somebody sponsor this dude), and so more than anything I’m curious to see how his run in 2016 will look. If his victories over the likes of DruggedFox and Bladewise at Northwest Majors: Drop Zone and various Top 10 players at HTC Throwdown are any indication, he’s got the potential to do well at Genesis. But the lack in data makes it hard to say for sure – he could also go out like a buster.
Speaking of going out like a buster, what’s been up with this guy this year? Whatever it is, it ain’t good as he’s been losing sets left and right to people he has historically obliterated. I’m hesitant to be wildly reactionary and say The Kid is obsolete, but for the first time in years the tournaments where he brings home the gold feel more like anomalies than business as usual. Given his concise apology tweets and medal toss at EVO this year, he’s obviously pretty torn up about it. Will he continue down this path going into the new year, or will he make the necessary adjustments to get back on top? Regardless, I am sure his performance will be upsetting one way or another.
I realize that this is a pretty spacies-heavy list, but hey, it’s a spacies-heavy game. Of course I am excited to see some of my favorites like s2j and Eddy Mexico hop in the ring, but these are definitely the guys I’m most curious about. Here’s hoping I don’t eat any of my words.