With the Midwest’s top Falco dropping out, Chicago’s biggest tourney of the year is up for grabs
by Dr. Hunk
This weekend, the regional tournament series Hold that L will return to Chicagoland with its seventh installment. Chicago’s finest will face off with out of region players like Zamu, Ben and Jflex for some good old fashioned Super Smash Bros. Melee singles and doubles action.
Located near both O’Hare International Airport, Cumberland’s Blue Line and off of Highway I-90, the event is still taking registration until Midnight Thursday, June 2nd. Facial coverings and proof of vaccination will be required.
With over 196 attendees, the event is set to be the biggest Chicago Super Smash Bros. Melee-only event of all time. More L’s will be held than ever before. With a notable Falco player dropping, the tournament is also going without its top seed. Many of the signed-up players could feasibly step in and win now.
Luminosity Gaming’s Ginger could reasonably call Hold That L his tournament series. The top level Michigan Falco won the last three iterations of the event since winning Hold That L #4 in July 2019. Now, it appears that torch is being passed.
On Wednesday June 1, the Michigan Falco announced on Twitter that he would not be attending the event. His absence will also mean the absence of Michigan Fox KJH, who was set to travel alongside the Falco player.
“It breaks my heart because I think it’s legitimately the best regional tournament series the Melee community has to offer,” the Falco player said via a tweet.
Ginger’s absence should make for an interesting bracket. In his absence, Minnesota’s Ben, Arkansas’s Zamu, New Jersey’s Jflex, Chicago’s number one player Skerzo, Ohio legend Drephen, Prince Abu, and Socal’s Smashdaddy are just a few of the heavy hitters who could take the whole thing.
At large, HTL will bring players from 19 US States, two Canadian provinces. Puerto Rico Samus Kata will be competing. From pools to top 8. from doubles to the complimentary amateur ladder, it’s set to be an interesting and unique SSBM event.
Here are some players to look out for at Chicago Melee’s biggest event of the year.
A flock of foxes
Multiple strong fox players could feasibly leave Hold That L #7 victorious. For fans of Chicago Melee, one of the players to watch will be a California Fox.
In a streak of recent Chicago tournaments, SoCal Fox Smashdaddy has gone toe to toe with Chicago’s best Melee players. Often, he has come out on top. Smashdaddy made it into grand finals before losing to Michael in a grueling set at the May 19 Midlane weekly. After winning the following Midlane bracket over Skerzo, Smashdaddy went on to place first at the Midlane Invitational over Michael.
It has been a surprise performance from a player better known for his west coast results. Smashdaddy has family in the Chicago area, however, and competed in Chicago previously during the 2018 National Melee Arcadian.
Coming into Hold That L, it is yet to be seen if Smashdaddy will be able to follow up his strong local performances against a larger pool of players. Between offline wins over Skerzo, Shabo, Michael and more, and strong recent online performances, the player ranked 18th in Socal will be someone to watch.
A few months ago, Skerzo was solidly looking like Chicago’s best player. Currently ranked first in the region, Skerzo’s former demon Michael was inactive. He held positive records over the majority of area players.
The fox took to traveling, and has garnered an impressive resume of regional performances. He took first at BOPME 21 in February, and won regional Fair Play Series: Arcade Edition and CT Gamercon 5 in March. Even when he didn’t win an event, he would often do so in style.
Still, he’s had a little trouble lately. After finishing with a very strong 7th place over Zuppy and Jflex at The Function 2 in New York City, Chicago’s top Fox has had some uncharacteristic losses.
Skerzo lost to Arpy and Pleeba at the Midlane Invitational on May 29. The day before, at Memphis regional Lift Off, he finished third with losses to Zamu and up-and-coming Luigi MadTyro. He has an 0-2 record against Smashdaddy. If there’s one thing the fox player has shown he can do, it’s upset expectations. After finishing 13th last year at Hold That L 6, this weekend could show Skerzo overcome his regional demons.
All of these listed fox players could lose to Zamu. Known for his time competing in Champaign-Urbana’s scene, Arkansas’ number one player beat Skerzo 3-0 last weekend at Lift Off in Nashville Tennessee. He also outplaced Skerzo at the Function 2, taking the 18th seed and finishing fifth. An emotive and highly technical player, HTL #7 could be his tournament to win.
His biggest threat at the event might be Minnesota Sheik Ben, who maintains a positive head-to-head record over him.
Plenty of other foxes are also ready to dog on the competition, be they Chicago’s own GI0GOAT, Indiana’s Blue or Wisconsin’s Lowercasehero, who recently made waves in Chicago with a second place finish at Super TPS II.
With Michael absent, Chicago stakes its claim
Beyond Skerzo, plenty of others Chicago players could make a strong case for the region this weekend. That said, one notable name will not be among them. Chicagoland Jigglypuff Michael was the only CLM player to finish in the top 8 at last year’s Hold That L #6. After returning from a competitive hiatus strong as ever in recent weeks, Michael will be missed at Hold That L this weekend.
Still, plenty more Chicagoans will be ready to rise up and defend their home turf.
One of the biggest questions might be Prince Abu. Before his recent hiatus, Abu was known as one of the best Jigglypuff players in the world and a practice partner of Melee’s top players. He’s prepared for the event in part by practicing with Mang0, so expect him to take HTL #7 seriously.
With Michael absent and Abu only recently returning to competitive Melee, it will be interesting to watch how the Chicago-based puff manages the field. Hold That L #7 will be his first big regional tournament since his third place finish at Hold That L #5 back in February 2020.
Chicago’s sloganeering Captain Falcon Mekk will be trying to build on a year that has seen his star rise. Mekk’s second place finish at Texas event Lowtide City 2022 showed that the push-up prone Falcon was able to go toe-to-toe with great players. He beat Skerzo, BobbyBigBallz and Axe at the event in a series of exciting upsets. Following his charismatic appearance at Smash Summit 13, HTL #7 could show Mekk unleash his newfound power.
Shabo has been making strong performances lately, following a Top 64 finish at Genesis 8 and a third place finish at Midlane Monthly. The hardworking and studied Falco Ober is a top threat too. Chicago’s rank 4 player is a regular in the grand finals of any local he enters for a reason, after all.
Those who prefer picking turnips to shooting lasers need not despair. Chicago Peach Eggy turned heads with his victory over Moky earlier this year at Genesis 8, and has continued to take strong wins at home and out of state. Meanwhile, Fudds veteran Ferocitii has returned after a hiatus with a box controller and some of the most creative Peach movement in the game.
Even Chicago’s mid tiers could fly high this weekend. CLM’s Villain and/or Antihero NoFluxes could again upset expectations like he did at last year’s Smash Con Fall Fest. Q? and Dz could also get some upsets with their technical takes on Doctor Mario and Yoshi respectively.
Ranked CLM players including Marth Arpy, Falco Azzu, Falcon ORLY and Falco Mattchu could also bring the pain.
Will the year of Sheik continue?
Any amateur Melee analyst could tell you that Sheik is having a great year. Be they Jmook, Plup, Krudo, Jflex or even Fizzwiggle, Sheik players have been pushing the character to new heights in recent months. From Zain to Mango to iBDW, players known for losing to few if any Sheiks have been dropping sets to the enigmatic ninja.
Of these players, none are as built as New Jersey’s JFlex. The Allchat eSports Sheik has taken sets this year over Moky and 2Saint, and has a 2021 Smash World Tour set win over Melee’s fastest rising star, Jmook, in the Sheik ditto. He may need those Sheik ditto skills too, given the competition.
The Sheik known simply as Ben needs no introduction to Midwest players. The young Minnesota Sheik has risen fast, with wins over Polish, Wizzrobe and Ginger offline over the past year. He even has a strong online record versus Melee God Hungrybox. The Impulse Esports Sheik finished second at Hold That L 6 in August of 2021 losing only to Ginger. With no Ginger present this weekend, HTL #7 may be his tournament to win.
Ohio’s Drephen has been playing competitive Melee since the mid-aughts, remaining one of Ohio’s best players through his unique approach to Sheik and her underrated Down B. He finished fourth at Hold That L #6 last year, so expect him to again be showing the youngsters how it’s done.
Free Palestine is a player with sporadic tournament activity, but some notable performances nonetheless. As a Smash Summit 12 vote-in, the Sheik main was able to take a set off of Kodorin, the second best Marth player in the world. Considering that he finished fourth at Super MEAT last December and 9th at Smash Camp 2022, his run has plenty of potential.
Chicago’s local Sheiks are nothing to sneeze at either. Pleeba has shown that he can beat just about anyone in Chicago, and he made a strong performance at last year’s HTL, finishing 9th and beating Reeve. He admits that his out of region performances are not always as strong. A devastatingly close set against SloX at The Function 2 showed just how good the Sheik is, even if he did not leave it victorious.
While the player says he’s still working on his mentality for performing out of region, the home field advantage might help him soar to new heights this weekend.
Pleeba may be sharing the CLM Sheik spotlight with Larfen and Tranimal, two other CLM Sheiks who have made waves locally. The players tend to trade strong placements week for week. While Pleeba’s results are usually the strongest, especially against Fox, any of them could potentially outshine the other.
Finally, Seal may be a dark horse pick to make a deep run at the tournament. While his work schedule limits his ability to attend tournaments, the Chicagoland and Wisconsin Sheik garnered attention in April when he finished 49th at Genesis 8, all while being the event’s 269th seed. Perhaps another miracle run will be in order.
The Midwest sends some of their best
Plenty of threats are lurking just out of state. Iowa’s Slowking will be ready to build on strong performances like this year’s at Genesis 8, where he notably beat Shroomed.
Minnesota’s second best player, Fox player Preeminent, will make his first big appearance since Mainstage 2021. Ohio Falco TheRealThing finished 9th at Hold That L 6. This weekend, he could be the bird that fills Ginger’s shoes.
The number of strong players beyond this are too many to name, but by no means unworthy.
Hold That L #7 will be a strange and exciting tournament to watch, bringing together local talent, regional threats, the new school, the old school, and everyone in between. How this will play out is soon to be seen.
The bracket runs throughout the day on Saturday, so those looking to compete or spectate in person should register before Friday. Registration for the event closes Thursday night at 11:59 p.m.
To watch at home, be sure to follow ChicagoMelee on Twitch and tune in Saturday starting at 11 a.m. CST.