A few weeks ago, Major League Gaming announced the 2007 Smash Series to the excitement and pleasure of the underground community. The first event in this series will take place in Long Island, New York this weekend, where Smashers from all over the country will convene to compete in the season-opener for the Series.

The 2007 Smash Series will offer something different than the 2006 Smash Circuit. Smashers will no longer compete for seasonal points, so each tournament will stand as a separate contest with its own individual champion. At the start of the tournament, pools will be seeded based on the final rankings from 2006. Some perks will remind players of last year’s circuit. Players in the top 16 of singles or doubles competition will receive free meals during each day of the event. In addition, Red Bull will attend the event and hand out free drinks and merchandise to everyone.

The long off-season is finally over for Smash and most of the top players from last year will return to the spotlight for another season. We take a moment to catch up with the players and teams who are likely to make an impact this weekend:

Singles Standouts

PC Chris (New York – Falco, Fox): He took home the grand prize of $10,000 in Las Vegas last November after defeating KoreanDJ in the finals. PC Chris continued to dominate most of the competition during the off-season, but struggled against KoreanDJ and Mew2King. Consider PC Chris the front-runner, especially on his home turf.

ChuDat (Virginia – Ice Climbers): In Vegas, ChuDat made up for a disappointing seventh-place finish with a season-best second place in doubles. Since then he attended tournaments on an almost weekly basis and reestablished his consistent Top 3 placement. His toughest matches will be against PC Chris, KoreanDJ, Mew2King, Isai, and Chillin, but with Ken and Azen not in attendance there will be no players ChuDat cannot defeat.

KoreanDJ (Massachusetts – Fox, Sheik): Last season KoreanDJ stunned everyone by playing against PC Chris for the 2006 title after defeating Ken. During the off-season his skill continued to improve and he even netted underground tournament wins over rivals ChuDat and PC Chris.

Mew2King (New Jersey – Fox, Marth): During the off-season Mew2King continued to polish his Marth, whom he used during the 2006 all-star event to take home the MVP award. In particular, his new character should come in handy versus ChuDat’s Ice Climbers. Mew2King should place in the Top 5 but is capable of accomplishing much more; do not be surprised if he wins this event.

Isai (California – Falcon, Sheik): While Isai may not be the dominant singles player he once was, he is still capable of taking out just about anyone on any given day. His real prowess will be displayed during the doubles portion of the event, where he and Mew2King look like early favorites to win.

Neo (Maryland – Sheik): Neo was largely absent during the 2006 Smash Circuit and was considered retired by the end of 2006. After so much time away from the game, some question whether he is still the dominant player he once was. With a little preparation he should be able to crack the Top 9, but his 2006 season point deficiency may mean he could face a tough pool in which to make the bracket.

Chillin (Virginia – Fox): Chillin has probably made the most improvement of anyone in the top echelon in the off-season. He managed to defeat ChuDat at several underground tournaments and has also shown he can keep up with the other top players by recently defeating Mew2King. He and Neo will be the x-factors at this tournament.

Doubles Standouts

Isai and Mew2King (California and New Jersey – Falcon/Sheik and Fox/Marth): Any team with Isai is usually considered the favorite to win a team event. New York will be no different, especially with a strong player such as Mew2King for a partner. It would be an upset for anyone to beat them.

ChuDat and Chillin (Virginia – Ice Climbers and Fox): Virginia natives and former crewmates ChuDat and Chillin have played against one another for the better part of 3 years. Their chemistry should benefit from such a deep history and they should hopefully mesh from the start. Coupled with their great individual skill, these two will not be an easy team to beat.

PC Chris and Wes (New York – Falco and Samus): The New York counterpart to Virginia’s ChuDat and Chillin, except these two players have significantly more experience playing together in addition to playing against the other. Last year they took second in New York against Ken and Isai, sending the then-undefeated doubles team to the Losers Bracket for the first time.

Husband and Wife (Maryland – Marth and Peach): Coming from Maryland, these longtime friends have made doubles their specialty and come into this tournament looking to make an impact. In Vegas last season they beat PC Chris and Wes, as well as Chillin and Azen, en route to taking fourth place. If they have an on-day, they could be unstoppable.

Other Factors

Bum (New York – Donkey Kong): He made a splash by using Donkey Kong to defeat some of the top players in his area but has not had the national presence many of the top players have. Most consider him the best DK player in the country, using a traditionally lower-tiered character to take people off guard.

Azen (Virginia – Marth): Most should remember Azen from last season when he came out of retirement to win the Orlando and New York Playoff event. Quite possibly the biggest news in the off-season is his re-retirement. Since Vegas he has only been to a couple local tournaments and will not attend New York.

Ken (California – Marth): Ken still plays Smash actively in California and has attended tournaments nearly weekly. He lost only once since taking third in Las Vegas and looks like he is in top shape. He will not attend the New York tournament, but look to see him later this year in dominant fashion.

Be sure to check mlgpro.com this weekend for updates and results from the season-opener of the Smash Series.

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