While the massive Super Smash Bros. for Wii U community is eagerly awaiting the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this December, Evo 2018 will still be the game’s fifth largest tournament ever as it returns to the Evolution Championship Series for its fourth consecutive year.
In the time since its debut Smash 4 has fostered international competition and developed a sustainable community that is independent from the larger FGC and even its sister title, Super Smash Bros. Melee. With Panda Global Stats maintaining a seasonal power ranking and keeping meticulous stats it’s easy to see how fast the game and its players have progressed.
With a sequel on the way, this will almost certainly be Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’s last year at Evo. Previous years have produced three different Evo champions, ZeRo, Ally and Liquid|Salem. After finishing first on the PGRv4 ranking in January, ZeRo announced that he would no longer be competing, opening the door for a new player to claim the title of best in the world for the first time since the ranking system was introduced in Summer 2016.
The heir apparent to the throne is Echo Fox|MKLeo from Mexico. Primarily playing Marth with Cloud as a secondary, MKLeo has finished no worse than seventh in tournaments since the start of 2018. Though he has been the most consistent Smash for Wii U player of the last year, MKLeo suffered a pair of major upsets at Evo 2017, finishing in 65th place. This weekend could have been a shot at redemption and solidifying his place as the world’s best, but the #1 seed was forced to withdraw due to illness.
Sadly i wont be able to go to EVO due that i got chickenpox a week ago, i thought i still had a chance to go cuz i feel better now but this is contagious so i cant even leave home
I will be ready and fine next week for SSC hopefully!
Sorry if you wanted to see me win…
— EchoFox lMVGl MkLeo (@Mkleosb) August 1, 2018
Though the front-runner is now out of the picture, a strong field of challengers remains ready to fight for the the Evo crown. Though he had beaten ZeRo in the past, Salem’s reset and victory in the Grand Finals of Evo 2017 was considered one of the biggest upsets of the year. In the time since, Salem has solidified his return as one of the best players in North America with multiple top 8 finishes at major events. Salem, Ally and NRG|Nairo have been at the top players since the days of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and their years of tournament experience make them perennial contenders at Evo.
Tweek, who entered the scene with Smash for Wii U, has slowly but surely fought his way up the ladder to earn the second seed at Evo 2018. Once known for his unique Bowser Jr., Tweek made the transition to Bayonetta and Cloud to give himself the best chance at winning. Since the start of the year he’s earned two major wins at 2GG: Hyrule Saga and Momocon as well as two second place finishes at FrostByte and CEO.
GRV|Dabuz is one of two players to have made the Evo finals all three years, the other being ZeRo. While still considered strong, his character Rosalina employs a much more defensive, “lame” style than the game’s other top tiers, often polarizing fans. Earning major wins at Frostbyte 2018 and The Big House 7 in the past year, Dabuz has proven that he can beat the best when he’s at the top of his game.
Though the Japanese scene has gained more attention in recent years, the players do not have as many opportunities to compete at the major level. At Evo 2016 three Japanese players made their way into the top 8 playing characters that are considered mid-tier at best. While Kamemushi’s Mega Man fell to Zero in the Grand Finals, it showed that Japan could not ignored on the international stage and encouraged new communication between the Eastern and Western Super Smash Bros. for Wii U communities. Look for Abadango (Bayonetta/Mewtwo), Choco (Zero Suit Samus), and Komorikiri (Cloud/Sonic) to help carry the flag for Japan at Evo 2018.
The best characters in Smash 4 have always been pretty clearly defined, but as the level of competition increases more and more characters have been proven to be viable. Bayonetta and Cloud, both DLC characters, are the game’s “problem” characters, employing unique mechanics that defy the normal pace of the game. Diddy Kong, Shiek, Zero Suit Samus, and Fox remain common picks from the game’s earliest days, though balance patches have brought them closer in line with the rest of the cast.
Of course there are still some character specialists out there; Elegant earned the 14th spot on the PGR using Luigi, Japan’s Raito is in 23rd using exclusively Duck Hunt, and former Evo finalist ESAM is still pushing Pikachu to the top.
With Smash 4 entering its final months, Evo 2018 will be the first step in a grand send-off for the game. You can catch pools for Smash for Wii U starting at 8:00 a.m. PT/11:00 a.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 3 on Twitch.tv/Evo3. Semifinals will begin on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 4:00 p.m. PT/7:00 p.m. ET on Twitch.tv/Evo3 and continue into the top 8 Finals at 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET on Twitch.tv/Evo.