This article is part of our Super Smash Bros. series.
Super Smash Bros. Melee might have been released 17 years ago, but that didn't stop it from pulling in 1,351 entrants to the latest iteration of the Evolution Championship Series. That's a couple hundred fewer than than Evo 2017, but it was still enough for fifth place in attendance to this year's event. Not only that, but Melee has made its way back into Sunday's lineup at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the grand finals. With so many players heading out to the event, there will be no shortage of sparks flying throughout the bracket.
It seems fitting to start off where we finished during the grand finals of Evo 2017. Adam "Armada" Lindgren took home the top prize over Joseph" Mang0" Marquez in a pretty lopsided 3-0 set. While the win was certainly the high point of 2017 for Armada, he has had a bit of a quiet year in 2018. He has attended just three tournaments this year, but he has made the top four at each. He finished fourth at GENESIS 5, second at Smash Summit 6, and finally picked up a win at Smash 'N' Splash 4 in June. Given that he has never placed outside the top four at Evo, you can expect him to show up in force this year.
Mang0, Armada's grand final opponent from 2017, has had quite the rough year, however. He has attended four tournaments -- GENESIS 5, Full Bloom 4, Smash Summit 6, and Smash 'N' Splash 4 -- and managed to crack into the top four only at Full Bloom. He does have three other top-eight finishes, though, and can never truly be counted out.
Despite not making it to the grand finals in 2017, Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma is in prime position to climb back this year, after securing an impressive five wins in eight tries in 2018. His most recent win came at CEO 2018 where he took out Justin "Plup" McGrath in a rematch of the GENESIS 5 grand finals. Some fans may have grown tired of Hungrybox's defense-heavy strategy with Jigglypuff, but you can't deny its effectiveness, as he has laid waste to the field this year.
While Armada and Hungrybox are certainly the favorites given that they've faced off in the grand finals of the past three Evos, there are a few others to keep your eye on next weekend.
Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman is a name that hasn't been at the forefront of conversation for some time. Despite being named as one of the five gods of Melee, his relative worth has been sliding after managing only three wins at major tournaments since 2014. That all came to an end when he defeated Armada at Smash Summit 6 and managed a third place showing at CEO last month. He'll be hoping to build on these top finishes with another solid performance in Las Vegas next week.
While not one of the gods, Plup proved his worth with a massive, crowd-pleasing win over Hungrybox at GENESIS 5 in January. He has since fallen to Hungrybox in the grand finals of four other events this year, but three of those have gone the distance in the form of bracket resets, which suggests this matchup is more even than the record indicates. He has never placed higher than third at Evo, but he's one to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.
William "Leffen" Hjelte has had quite the interesting year thus far. While mainly being known as a Melee player, he has turned into a multi-game player with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ. He has spoken at length about the struggles of balancing these two vastly different titles but has nonetheless managed to stay near the top of the Melee table. He has made the top six of all five tournaments he has attended in 2018, picking up three top-three finishes and one win.
While there might be over a thousand players in attendance next weekend, every major tournament this year has been won by one of the above players and there's no reason to expect Evo to be any different.