Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma headlined a series of qualifiers worthy of the main stage as perennial titans and burgeoning upstarts turned the event’s secondary ballroom into a a showcase of competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee’s parity.
Solitary smasher Kevin “PPMD” Nanney struggled to overcome Hugo “Hugs” Gonzalez, a Samus player. Despite Nanney’s pedigree as a champion—he won Apex 2015 just a few months ago—Gonzalez proved a staunch opponent, forcing the Smash “god” to reach into his bag of tricks for the win.
More notably, Marquez’s run at a third consecutive Evo championship took a considerable hit at the hands of young gun Justin “Plup” McGrath. Aside from a miracle comeback by Marquez in game two, McGrath made the matchup look easy, beating the repeat world champion in three games. Marquez later secured his spot in the finale, but only after a taut series with Sheik player “DruggedFox.”
Both were overshadowed by an aging smasher who secured one of the biggest wins of his career, however. Debiedma, rapidly losing interest in competitive Smash as he’s begun a more lucrative career as a Chemical Engineer, bested Hjelte in consecutive games on Jigglypuff. Hjelte, Regarded by many as the tournament favorite due to his recent run of form, looked stumped as Debiedma plied a combination of rush-down aggression and decisive finishers to secure the series and a place in the winner’s bracket semifinal.
Remarkably, the story of Smash at EVO 2015 is only just beginning. Marquez has a long history of gaining strength with his back to the ropes. Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson looked polished as ever, securing his spot finale via the loser’s bracket. And undaunted Adam “Armada” Lindgren remains a roadblock for anyone foolish enough to underestimate the seasoned Swede.
It all comes to a head tomorrow at 12pm CT tomorrow, when the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament concludes.