Three More Rising Stars in CLM

Evan “Larfen” Himes

The Power Ranking doesn’t tell the full story. Chicago is a region with profound depth of talent, and many worthy players have never been ranked before. In this article I’d like to highlight another handful of players who have been steadily improving over the last few years and are on the short list of prospects for future PR players. Especially with the Chicago Arcadian on the horizon, these are the players that you need to know.

If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out my previous article on Arcadian contenders!

Josh “Casual” Saldana – @Casual_89

Hailing from Rockford, this pink Samus has reached greater heights than ever this season. Casual has been around for a long time, but only recently has truly shown his stuff with feats such as double eliminating Killablue at the first Midlane Melee, and a ridiculous run at Midlane 11 where he eliminated Fluid, FoxCapacitor, and Skerzo from the tournament. Further still, Casual even has a winning record over FoxCap and Killablue this season.

Because of Rockford’s distance from Chicago, Casual is a player who is not as heavily integrated in the local scene as some others. It’s always impressed me how Casual is always willing to make the drive out to train and prove his worth at every local in CLM (Midlane is 80 miles away!), and because of this he is the only notable player from Rockford that I’m aware of.

Here’s how I know Casual is on the big come-up right now though: as a Sheik player I usually view an upcoming Samus opponent with relief when I’m in bracket. There are very few Samuses that I am worried about defeating, and in Chicago there was only Pleasantries, but Casual is now on that list too. After being taken to the brink in a nail-biter set at Midlane 13, I personally know that Casual is not to be slept on by any player, regardless of what you think about the Samus matchup.

Thomas “GIOG0AT” Dattalo – @GI0GOAT

Gio is a player that has been looking for his big break for a long time now. The older brother of former Chicago #2 and fellow contributor to this site, Joe “JustJoe” Dattalo, Gio never reached the heights of his younger sibling. This is by no means to say that Gio hasn’t got the wins under his belt. Besides a history of taking down former PR players like Pleasantries and Ferocitii, this season Gio has taken down the likes of Mattchu and Killablue; not to mention a killer upset over Preeminent at Hold That L 6, and a near takedown of Mango practice partner Null at Riptide.

Gio is popular. He’s probably the first person you’ll hear when you walk into a venue. Actually, you’ll probably hear him before you walk in. You can tell that Gio goes to tournaments just as much to socialize as to compete, but that isn’t to say he doesn’t put in the work. Long known as a technical player, Gio might still have the best ledgedashes in the city.

The eternal question with Gio, that has plagued himself and his fans for years, is whether he can maintain composure and stick to a gameplan while playing. Gio has always been a player that we know has the skill to do it, but not always the mentality. An emotional player, Gio can either be feeling himself or play angry and lose it. It’s this dynamic that makes his Fox so exciting to watch, though.

Alex “Frost” Ronquillo – @FrostxKnight

There’s another Samus to be worried about if you’re trying to advance in bracket: Frost from Northwest Indiana. Frost has put up some fearsome results, boasting wins over Skerzo, Killablue (who Frost is up 2-0 in sets on this season), and TechDeath. Frost has been around for a while but this season is the first time that he’s shown up in a big way like this.

Top CLM Falco Christopher “Ober” Rodbourne posted a poll on the Chicagoland Melee Facebook Group asking the group who the favorite to win the Arcadian is. Frost topped that poll, speaking to his skill and his fanbase. With a talent pool heavy in space animals, Frost and Casual have vowed to face each other in the grand finals of the event.

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