With the third stop of the MLG Smash Series just underway, we bring you an in-depth look at the event.

The largest tournament in Smash history is about to arrive in the form of Melee-FC Diamond. With it, over 200 Smashers will congregate from all over the country, ready for the experience of a lifetime as they compete for prizes, fame, and fun. First place at an FC is equivalent to being the National Champion of Smash for a year. Last year’s champion, PC Chris, went on to win the 2006 MLG Championship in Las Vegas and the 2005 FC Champion, Ken, went on to win the 2005 MLG Championship in New York. This year, with MLG sponsoring FC, things are starting to look better than ever.

Melee FC will feature a special system designed to have the most accurate placements possible. Things will start with several rounds of pool play, with the top four players advancing from round to round. Bracket play begins once the Top 32 players have been determined through the use of these pools. These 32 players will mix it up in a double-elimination bracket. After the bracket is played out, the Top 8 players will all compete in a final round-robin pool, meaning each of the players will compete against each of the other finalists. The player with the best record will be crowned the champion of Melee-FC Diamond.

In addition to the use of this system for singles and doubles, Melee-FC will feature what has become a tradition in the Smash community: regional crews. Crew battles have happened before at MLG tournaments, in particular the All Star Crew Battle at both the 2005 and 2006 Championships, but a crew battle such as the one at FC has never before occurred at an MLG event until now. The Top 10 players from each region will be pitted against one another, with each player receiving four stocks. Stocks remaining from the end of one game transfer over to the next, so if ChuDat wins a game with three stocks remaining, he gets to use those stocks in his next game. Of special note, though, is a lack of West Coast presence at this and last year’s FC. The West Coast is gearing up for their own large tournament, one week after FC and, as a result, many of their top players simply do not have the money and energy to travel from one tournament to the next. Aside from West Coast and maybe the International crew, each of the other crews will have a full entourage of players ready and willing to defend their region’s pride.

The Melee-FC experience is unlike any other in the competitive gaming world. Smashers are all invited to sleep in the venue for the evening with full use of TVs all night long. In addition to main events – Singles, Doubles, and Crew competitions – there will also be side events such as dodge ball and a Smash 64 tournament taking place. Finally, included in each Smasher’s entrance fee are seven meals and entrance to all competitions taking place over the three-day period.

With all this in mind, let’s take a brief look at the players to watch. Making Top 32 at FC is considered a great honor, but making Top 8 will be for only the most elite players. Here is a run down of whom you can expect to see in the final cut in singles and teams.

Singles

Mew2King (New Jersey – Marth, Fox): He was the favorite to win Pound 2. An off day and some really amazing play from ChuDat led him to a disappointing second-place finish. A big win following Pound 2 is all he needs to get himself back on track to being the best player in the country. Consider him the favorite to win, once again.

ChuDat (Virginia – Ice Climbers, Pikachu): If he manages to duplicate his play from Pound 2 we could very easily see a repeat victory for ChuDat. Without Ken or Azen in attendance, there won’t be anyone he can’t beat, the question is whether he’ll have the same consistency round to round as he did at Pound 2.

PC Chris (New York – Falco, Fox): As the defending FC Champion it will be hard to put someone ahead of him as the favorite, but Mew2King has just been too dominant lately. PC Chris should make Top 3 and be a tough challenge for anyone looking to place near or above him.

Isai (California – Falcon, Sheik): He did well at Farmingdale but was absent at Pound 2, so this event should serve as his chance to prove he is still among the top players in the country. History favors many of the players above him, especially PC Chris and ChuDat, but if he brings his A-game no one is safe.

Forward (Arizona – Falco, Sheik): The traveling star of the Smash world is shooting for Top 3 and won’t be happy with anything less. He finished ninth at Pound 2 after losing to ChuDat and Drephen. It is likely he won’t allow himself another loss to the latter, but beating the former is going to be what gets him to the top.

Drephen (Ohio – Sheik, Luigi): He’ll represent the Midwest and will have plenty of support with over 40 other Ohio Smashers in attendance. He should make Top 8, but after that it will be a struggle for every win.

Chillin (Virginia – Fox): He suffered a disappointing loss at Pound 2 to Jiano, where a win would have secured him his first Top 3 finish at an MLG event in over a year. Chillin is always at the top of the Smash scene but usually competes for the a spot between fourth and eighth; with an upset here or there he could significantly improve his performance, especially in a round-robin system where he can make up for a few bad games.

Vidjo (Ohio – Peach, Fox): He’s considered the best Peach player in the country and took Top 3 at last year’s FC. When he is on he is nearly unstoppable, having to focus through seven best-of-five round-robin matches using Peach will be difficult.

Other Players to watch: Dope, Jiano, Darkrain, Tink, Taj, DaShizWiz, KeepSpeedn, and Cort.

Teams

Husband and Wife (Maryland – Marth and Peach): They had a disappointing finish at Pound 2 and should make up for it at FC, where their consistent play will at least get them through the pools.

Mew2King and Isai (New Jersey and California – Fox/Marth and Sheik/Falcon): They won Farmingdale thanks to their tremendous talent and a little luck. If they drop a set it won’t be to anyone who isn’t already competing for Top 3.

Chillin and ChuDat (Virginia – Ice Climbers and Fox): They narrowly lost to Isai and Mew2King at Farmingdale. Then they didn’t even make it to the Top 6 at Pound 2, where a forfeit and an unexpected loss to Xif and Green Mario of Florida meant their lowest placement ever as a team. Similar to Husband and Wife, the pool system should benefit them greatly, as bad matches can easily be made up by playing well against the rest of the competition.

Taj and Forward (Arizona – Fox and Falco/Sheik): They took fourth place at Pound 2, after forfeiting a match in the opening round and then losing to Mew2King and PC Chris. They aren’t likely to run into the same scenario again at FC, meaning anything less than Top 3 for them will be unexpected.

PC Chris and Cort (New York and Connecticut – Falco and Peach): Cort is one of the rising players in the Smash community. He made it into the Top 8 in teams at Farmingdale and he took 13th in singles at Pound 2. The experience that he will gain teaming with PC Chris will be vital, but so will his ability to learn and adapt to PC Chris at the highest level of play.

Finals Notes

Ken (California – Marth): Still staying on the West Coast and with good reason. He has put together his own successful tournament series which will see its third event one week after Melee-FC. Hopefully we’ll at least see him play in his own tournament to see if he is still up to par with the best of Japan and the US, as many of the players at FC will make an immediate trip to his tournament, including PC Chris and ChuDat.

Azen (Virginia – Everyone): Sadly, still retired.

KoreanDJ (Massachusetts – Sheik/Fox): While not retired, he seems to have let Smash take a back seat to other priorities in life; hopefully we’ll see this incredibly driven player again before the year is out.

New York: Where are they? They put on quite a show at Farmingdale, but have holed up in their home state. New York only brings four players to FC, the fewest ever, with most of the Deadly Alliance not making the trip. At least the Californians have Johns.

Best of luck to all the competitors this weekend and stay tuned for post-event coverage and interviews in the coming weeks. I’ll leave everyone with the pre-event numbers for Melee-FC Diamond!

$8,000: Minimum prize money
256: Players ready to brawl
110: maximum games the Top 8 players will play in singles
71: Minimum games the Top 8 players will play in singles
43: Players from Ohio, the largest number of participants from a single state
31: Different locations being represented, including Canada
21: Players from Indiana, meaning 91% of the participants are from out of state
17: Players from Florida, the fourth-most from any state
14: Minimum games each and every participant will play in singles
10: AM Thursday July 12th, the official opening time of FC
9: AM start time on Friday and Saturday
8: Time limit per game
7: Meals for each Smasher
6: Canadians
5: Crews – East Coast, West Coast, South, Midwest, and International
4: Tournaments to play in: Crews, Singles, Doubles, and Smash 64
3: Days of Smash
2: Nights in the venue
1: Melee-FC Diamond Champion