By Eli Schoop

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a smasher’s true Christmas, and it’s less than a week away. EVO has been wholly entertaining for the last 3 years and a lot of that excitement is due to how much high-level action there’s going on at any given time even if there’s no MIOM top 100 players playing. It’s a testament to the sheer power of the tournament that one can see matches you’d never see anywhere else e.g. Georgia vs Japan, British Columbia vs. Australia, and many more regions’ top stars duking it out in primetime. For this reason, it’s paramount to keep an eye on the hidden bosses. Although much depends on their bracket, these lesser-known players have huge potential to make a run or take out some big names, and I think you’ll be seeing their tags a lot more in the future.


Every tournament there seems to be another quasi-unknown ICs main that the public loves to hate. Tomber, Andrewajt62, Infinite Numbers, the list goes on. ARMY is the newest SoCal threat to that public consciousness, and his solid ground game and stable grasp of a plethora of matchups makes him a big contender to break out at EVO. In Round 2 pools, the fact that he plays OkamiBW makes the Sheik/ICs matchup winnable for ARMY. Afterwards, he could be up against Chu Dat, and the inherent shenanigans that are Ice Climbers dittos means ARMY has serious potential in his bracket. EVO’s bo3 format also gives him a big edge, as seen by the past three EVOs and their miracle Ice Climbers runs, so I believe in the up-and-comer here.


Medz slots in nicely as a Fox player primed for a big tournament here. His Arizonan background gives him a bevy of experience versus every type of player and character here, and although he hasn’t been going to many big majors recently, his bracket could be very favorable to him. Most likely playing Excel_Zero first round of R2 pools, he’d have to unfortunately play Armada after winning that matchup. However, the benefit of the #1 seed being in his pool is the relative lack of extremely strong challengers that could deter his way to the semifinals. In addition, in losers he’d most likely be up against KJH, Azen, or Tafokints, which are winnable for him. If he wins, we could be hearing more “AZ!” chants than expected on losers side of semifinals.


The absolute rarest of hidden yet not-so-hidden bosses, Erick Lui is a threat to almost any attendee for an upset. Silentspectre’s new-age stylistic equivalent appears once in a blue moon, yet his wins over Gahtzu and Kira show his Isai-esque dedication to being just as elusive yet talented in beating more active individuals. His enigmatic aura is paramount in intimidating opponents, and when he faces the likes Spark/Reeve from pool D606 into a dizzkidboogie, which his Norcal experience will prove invaluable in countering. Lord is revered by many in this community for his astounding ability to come out of nowhere and produce amazing results, and I wouldn’t doubt another singular performance wherein he shows why he’s one of the most unique people in Melee. A potential matchup with Darkrain and/or N0ne wouldn’t hurt either, at least for us viewers.


Often most commented on as a youthful representative of Melee’s draw since its’ grassroots days, Crush has become a force in his own right looking to cause a major stir at EVO this year. His quarterfinals bracket is very manageable, especially since MacD dropped out of Evo and s2j swapped out of the bracket. The sheer rate by which he’s improved shows a venerable cause for backing his ability to go deep through the bracket, and I foresee the New Englander doing very well for himself.

Captain Faceroll

A self-professed “Evo Kid,” Captain Faceroll’s rise into becoming a top player has been well-documented, having both roots in SoCal and Chicago. He’s done decently well in 2016, placing top 64 at Genesis 3, and getting 24th at both Smash n’ Splash 2, and WTFox 2, but it’s his bracket that could really showcase his potential. He most likely matches up against Gravy in the 3rd round, and while 20GX is known for having an ability to crush Sheik players, Faceroll is adept at the matchup and could pose a particular threat to the Florida falcon. If he wins that, a ditto versus Swedish Delight is in order, and whilst Swedish double eliminated Mew2King at SnS2, the volatile nature of the matchup could be critical towards the outcome. There lies a definite possibility of top 32 in Faceroll’s future.


This doesn’t even mention the loads of players who could be producing upsets e.g.

  • lloD – A Peach main from MD/VA who beat MacD at Pound and has taken sets off of DJ Nintendo, Kels, and Swedish Delight
  • Syrox – Colorado Marth that famously took PewPewU to game 3 at Genesis 3 after beating Animal, Aza, and Hamyojo
  • Zain – Another Marth, from MD/VA as well, that has won S@X as well as beat MattDotZeb and most MD/VA PR’d players
  • Squid – One of the best SoCal Falcos, ranked 13th on the SoCal PR, and has extremely impressive wins including Westballz, s2j, MacD, and MikeHaze
  • Ralph – NorCal Falco that has beaten DJ Nintendo, Laudandus, and MattDotZeb, and rarely travels leaving him a fun enigma
  • Darkatma – Missouri/NorCal dual Peach/Sheik main that has wins over ESAM, Darrell, and Shinobi in addition to being one of the top Midwest players


Although EVO doesn’t create a situation in which consistent play is most rewarded, its erratic nature makes it uniquely entertaining, and thus showcasing players who may not be known to the casual Melee watcher. Look for these names throughout the weekend, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the players they beat.