August is the cream of the crop when it comes to Melee regionals. Coming into 2014, it was tied with January and November as the months with the most number of 100+ entrant tourneys all-time (13), and it was also one of just four months that have ever been home to two or more 200+ entrant tourneys all-time (January, February, and July are the others). With a rich history and precedent for regionals, it’s no surprise TOs have consistently successfully taken advantage of previous summer momentum by hosting in August. This year looks to be no different, as a cornucopia of regionals dot the Melee landscape.
Last month, EVO 2014 crushed the all-time Melee attendance record by producing an incredible 970 entrants, breaking its own record of 696 from just one year ago. Kings of Cali 4 garnered big numbers as well, producing an impressive 208 entrants despite a tense venue cancellation and uncancellation in the weeks before the event. As predicted, the post-EVO hangover took full effect, with Melee’s unprecedented streak of 10 consecutive weeks with a 100+ entrant tourney coming to an end in the two weeks following EVO. All in all, July stood true to form in its pattern of producing one mega-national with fewer regionals surrounding it.
Zenith 2014 makes its return to the spotlight in the first weekend of August. When this tournament was first announced in the spring, some were curious about the early August date, which came at the heels of several other mega-nationals already set to take place. However, the hype created from the summer of Smash proved fruitful for Alex Strife, crismas, and the Apex team, who have raked in an awesome 281 entrants for Melee through online registration. This turnout is more than twice as large as any previous Zenith, and already the fourth-largest of the year by number of entrants. At the end of the day, the geographic distance between Tristate and the “triple crown” of majors this summer created a perfect recipe of hunger for Smashers in the Atlantic North. This was a smartly-scheduled late-summer major in a region mostly secluded from the mega-nationals in the previous few months. Prediction: 281 entrants (registration closed)
Smash Factor 3 also headlines this weekend out in Cholula Puebla, Mexico. This event has looked outside the country to make its mark, successfully confirming huge notables such as KirbyKaze, Zero, and Ally in the multi-game lineup of attendees. Unfortunately, sources have indicated that Javi has not confirmed, so local attendance may be limited to the Mexico City area Smashers for now. Although 200+ have confirmed on the Facebook event, it is difficult to project a Melee turnout due to the presence of Marvel attendees and the relatively unknown amount of Mexican Smash crossover entry from Brawl and Project M. All data aside, the presence of huge names such as KirbyKaze should help attendance given the proper promotion. Prediction: 70 entrants.
Michigan Melee comes back into the fold on the second weekend of August with Body City 2, the summer circuit finale in Ann Arbor, MI. With the exception of the massive Super SWEET regional in June, the Michigan Smash scene has mostly taken a trickle-down approach to community-building this summer, encouraging several sub-regions across the state to host circuit events and grow the local player base. The geographic sparsity of tourneys has had two positive effects: an increased outreach to new and casual players, and a more explosive state regional potential when everyone in the state does come together. This bodes well for a tourney that represents the culmination of that summer of effort. In addition, attendees will be treated to a slightly different format at this tourney: top circuit performers get to skip pools and go straight to the final bracket, providing an Arcadian-like feel to the early pools stage of the tournament. Prediction: 80 entrants.
Carrollfest 5 takes place on the third weekend of August, hosted by PGH Carroll. The Pittsburgh scene is no stranger to giant turnouts anymore; Fight Pitt produced a whopping 170 entrants in its last installment, and even the previous Carrollfest approached triple-digits back when only a dozen tourneys a year could do so. Activity in the NEOH/PGH community is at an all-time high, and backroom-style leadership has stepped up big time to leverage that increased interest. Another key advantage for this tourney is its proximity to both Midwest and East Coast; for example, it’s no more than a 4-5 hour drive from Ann Arbor, Cincinnati, Washington DC, or Philadelphia. With Mango and legendary figureheads Wife + Husband confirmed, this tourney should be able to break one hundred. Prediction: 110 entrants.
The fourth weekend of August will be home to Mass Madness CE, one of the longest-running tournament series in the Northeast hosted by MattDotZeb. The Boston area has surged in activity recently, helped by The Melee Games this past academic year and the very favorable population density in the area. This may be the only region that can even entertain the idea of a 70+ entrant tournament on a weekday, and even more impressively, doing so in multiple locations on a weekly basis. For all the locals that do happen, Boston hasn’t seen a substantial regional since NSA 2 back in March. Look for Mass Madness to change that. Prediction: 120 entrants.
An obligatory shoutout goes to Smashing The Record, the marathon event hosted by Gaming Knights in Orlando, FL throughout this same weekend. Mango, Mew2King, Hungrybox, and VGBootCamp will all be in attendance to help the University of Central Florida break the Guinness World Record for “longest video games marathon playing a fighting game”! The crew will be raising money for charity all weekend, and the PR boost gained by this event is sure to pay dividends for the Florida Smash community in the near future. Prediction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S53fZTbKHG0
SMYM 15 takes center stage in Champaign, IL on the last weekend of August, returning for the first time since March 2013. Just how long has it been since we saw a Midwest regional west of Michigan and Ohio? To put it into perspective, the “Midwest West” hasn’t produced a Melee tourney of 100+ entrants in over three years; that’s an eternity in the platinum age. If we’ve learned anything lately, it’s that Smashers will flock in droves to a regional in the absence of any other substantial events in previous months. SMYM is the longest-running annual tournament series in the United States, and not surprisingly, the most old-school in its habits. This fifteenth installment will mark the first time the series has provided a livestream broadcast (WindyCitySmash), and the first time its lineup has featured another game (PM). Although starting to innovate, the series has again stuck to the one-day format — a missed opportunity to attract out-of-region players, especially on Labor Day weekend. However, all signs so far indicate a solid turnout of Midwest Melee heads. Prediction: 140 entrants.
The VS Gaming Big House Sponsorship Tourney also takes place on Labor Day weekend. VS Gaming has made headlines this year by hosting several “sponsorship tourney” events in which the winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the next upcoming Smash major. It happened for both MLG and EVO, and now it’s happening again, this time for a trip to The Big House 4 in October. With two previous sponsorship tourneys by already in the books, the Florida Smash community and even the rest of the Atlantic South has taken notice, especially since this installment ups the ante to three sponsorships for both Melee and Project M. It is tough to tell how many will show up, but the intangible prize incentive remains high, which bodes well for a top-heavy attendance. In any case, big thanks to VS Gaming for their continued support of the Smash community. Prediction: 80 entrants.
Last but not least, Shadowloo Showdown V joins the party on this weekend all the way out in Melbourne, Australia. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the tournament series has taken steps to broaden its Melee outreach this year by flying out Swedish superstar Armada, as well as one of SoCal’s finest, Lucky. This is one of those multi-game mega-events that is difficult to gauge on a game-by-game basis; although Australian Melee has never cracked 100+ entrants, the sheer volume of overall attendance (500+ total confirmed on the event Facebook page) could produce a decent number of crossover entries from other games. Furthermore, the confirmation of big out-of-country names should go a long way to pique local interest, especially given the fact that the Australians have never been treated to the presence of Armada. It’s a safe bet that they won’t waste the opportunity. Prediction: 100 entrants.
See you next month.
MIOM | Juggleguy