July is the premiere Smash month of the calendar year, featuring an interesting dynamic with respect to turnout: its six 200+ entrant tourneys all-time (MELEE-FC6, OC3, FC-Diamond, Genesis, Genesis 2, EVO 2013) are most of any month, but its ten 100+ entrant tourneys all-time are just fifth-most of any month. This indicates the degree to which attendees congregate around one major tourney in July each year, and 2014 looks to be the same story with EVO on the horizon.
Last month, the Melee community broke all June activity records, thriving on grassroots organization while faltering on the shoulders of corporate backing. Super SWEET, SSS Lock-In, and CEO 2014 all brought in excellent turnouts in part thanks to proven community TOs and the atypical presence of Armada in the States. MLG Anaheim was the biggest disappointment of the month, bringing in 325 entrants and producing poor reviews from both in-person attendees and stream viewers.
Kings of Cali 4 comes on the first weekend of July. It has been a rollercoaster ride of announcements when it comes to this event, which was announced less than three weeks ago, then canceled and uncanceled within a one-week timespan due to a change in venue location. As a result, KoC 4 has given very little time for attendees to plan, but still promises huge potential starpower representing a SoCal regional the week before EVO. Tournament organizer TheCrimsonBlur has proven that he can round up the troops on short notice with great effectiveness; SSS Lock-In produced 120+ entrants after being announced just two weeks beforehand, and previous Kings of Cali installments have been announced on relatively short notice as well. Furthermore, the upgrade in venue to Dave & Buster’s in downtown Westchester should prove to be exciting for SoCal locals looking for a change in pace from the less-accommodating Jake’s in Pasadena. Turnout will hinge on the direction attendees sway on four key points: the July 4th weekend timeframe, the short turnaround time after MLG Anaheim, the top-player billing of Mango/Armada/Mew2King, and the two-day KoC tournament brand. The former two will hurt attendance, while the latter two will help it. This one is anyone’s guess. Prediction: 180 entrants.
EVO 2014 lands in the second weekend of July as it has made a habit of doing for the past three years. This will be the biggest Melee tournament of all-time, as registration closed this past week to an incredible 970 (!) entrants according to Tom Cannon. This shatters the previous record of 696 entrants set by EVO 2013 last year, and nearly triples the total from MLG Anaheim last month. In fact, reliable sources from the EVO camp indicated that the registration total had already surpassed last year’s total as early as mid-May. EVO 2014 is a prime example of momentum from stream viewership and exposure carrying over big time from one year to the next: the ripple effects from last year’s huge media presence and 130K max concurrent stream viewership can be seen in this year’s turnout. An interesting shift is that 75% of all Melee entrants at EVO 2014 are only entering Melee, which is up from 59% at EVO 2013; with so many unique entrants being brought to the table, it’s easy to see why including Melee was a no-brainer for EVO staff, and hopefully this continues beyond just 2014. Besides media exposure, EVO 2014 has had additional factors working to its advantage over other summer majors: the adventurous confines of Las Vegas, which represents a more fun destination than Anaheim, and the fact that it’s the final leg of the “triple crown,” further building on the public interest set by a very strong June for Smash. Just short of the first four-digit turnout in Melee history, this tournament is already one for the history books. Prediction: 970 entrants.
No major noteworthy tournaments in the two weeks following EVO 2014! The aforementioned July major hangover is real.
See you next month.
MIOM | Juggleguy