Some things are inevitable: Death, taxes, and the ensuing chaos of the bi-yearly Smash Summit voting season. While there’s always some form of controversy to the Summit voting process, in the end, it’s a net positive for our scene. We get more content, money towards the prize pool, and storylines to look forward to. Consider Summit the "chaotic good" of our tournament scene.
What can we expect for Smash Summit 12’s voting? Using prior data and pragmatism, here are some things to expect, and what I predict.
Smash Summit: Nomination Phase
You hear it all the time: Top players don’t want to campaign because of the amount of emotional stress, guilt, and sheer amount of work required to have a chance of getting in. Then they remember how premier of an event Summit is, and slowly start to cave in.
One player was rightfully hesitant in opting in at first — remembering how stressful it was for him last time when he barely qualified alongside Yingling, and leaving Johnny "S2J" Kim and Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett in the dust. Something changed his mind, however — and the fact is, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more top players change their mind even during the nomination phase.
The nomination phase is the least stressful phase of campaigning. As long as you’re a notable figure — whether it be through strong results, camaraderie with your region and fans, strong connections with other figureheads, as long as you’re in the top 20 — you’re fine. If not, you probably wouldn’t have made it far in the first place.
Smash Summit: Variables and Strategies
This is when everything gets interesting, where we see content popoff, deals being made behind the scenes, voting incentives and optimizations, charisma, and other creative ideas one can make in the name of votes.
Time and time again, there seems to be some indicators of what determines a candidate to qualify, and I’ll break it down to a couple variables. Which by the way, don’t include Melee skill. It’s a popularity and strategy contest.
- Sheer Fanbase - This is where established top players have a natural edge on the other candidates: Fans who will support them to the bitter end. Fans of low numbers obviously don’t do much, but they scale exponentially. Given that there are likely free votes lying around, it gives an automatic boost to candidates with the highest fanbase.
- Quantity of Whales - They are voters who have significant voting power. Say an average fan can give 20 votes, a whale can grant 2000, if not more. These are people with a lot of disposable income, who bought VIP Passes, and/or really want their favorite player in. They can easily change the tide of the voting outcome when the time is right.
- Compelling Voting Incentives - Candidates often have incentives to provide services or content where if they reach X amount of votes, they will promise their actions. Given how compelling some goals are, they might incentivize an average voter to vote for them instead.
- Region Camaraderie - Some regions ride or die with the candidate from their own region. They often band together to strategize, optimize votes, and do all they can to get their esteemed player into Summit.
- Influencer Endorsement - It can only be a good thing if say, you get Mang0 to endorse you for your campaign. You’re using someone else’s fanbase to leverage their votes to you.
- Content - The content is so good that it sways the voter, such as a subathon and skits. Used either as exposure or from voting incentives.
- Other - BE NICHOLAS YINGLING
Historically Successful Strategies
- Secure the Whales - They are often what change the tides of voting when it matters most. We saw Logan pull off this strategy when he publicly announced in Hungrybox’s stream that he locked down several of the VIP buyers primarily from auctioning, and managed to gain thousands of votes last minute to get in the first round of the voting phase. The whales don’t necessarily have to be VIP buyers, such as when we saw a significant whale vote towards MikeHaze at Smash Summit 5 to boost him thousands of votes last minute. How they get in contact with such whales is up to them.
- Extreme Voting Incentives - Hot tub streams. Feet piccs. Coaching for life. Picking up Captain Falcon. When it comes to outlandish voting incentives, some people simply want to see the world burn, and that’s what can get you votes.
- Coordinated Regional Voting - We saw all the time in New England with their wealth, coordination, and optimization to get in various players like Slox, Crush, and others, as well as SoCal generally banding together to get in S2J, Lucky, and others several times prior. We see this strategy, though, being stifled when there’s multiple players from the same region being split, so one has to be picked.
- Other - Big fanbase, kickass content, and top influencer endorsement has helped many other voters to get in.
Smash Summit: My Predictions
Keeping these variables in mind, here’s my prediction of the five people that are getting in.
Edgard "n0ne" L. Sheleby
He amassed the second highest votes from the last Summit. If he could do it in the hardest Summit to date, he can do it at the next one as well. He has the fanbase, Canadian camaraderie behind him (apologies to Miles "Soonsay" Foster), incredible content, and Golden Guardians with his many popular teammates behind him. He can probably even come up with some good incentives if he wants to. As long as he puts in the work, I have no doubt in my mind that he will make it in even without whales.
Gio "null" Rossi
The sleeper, but likely pick in my opinion. While he doesn’t have the extreme fanbase like n0ne has, he has SoCal’s support behind him. He will have Joseph "Mang0" Marquez endorse him just like he has for Joey "Lucky" Aldama and S2J several times prior which has always helped. It is even possible that he can reach out for Ludwig’s support.
He is even looking to secure his whales which can influence the tide of voting as we’ve always seen before. He has told me that he intends to stream, make content, and incentives and go all the way, which earns my confidence that he will get voted in. Plus, as his friend and fellow SoCal resident, I know the lengths fellow players will do to get their own in. They may even drop subliminal hints in their column to have people vote Null for Summit.
Sasha "Magi" Sullivan
While she unfortunately missed the cut last Summit, my recollection was due to her mistiming a crucial spirit bomb. Her fanbase is comparable to n0ne, her subathon content amassed a lot of votes, and the outlandish hot tub voting incentive is surely to garner a lot of votes, which it did last time!
There are also rumors where she lost the VIP bidding war against Logan when it came to securing the whale votes. Needless to say that Magi made a lot of mistakes last voting season, and just like she learns from mistakes as a top player, I think she will learn to swing crucial variables in her favor on top of everything she has going for her.
Joshua "Sora" Lyras
The international representative has by far the most nominations as of writing this article. While he’s not necessarily known to have a deep fanbase like n0ne and Magi (yet), he has his whole continent’s camaraderie and top influencers like Aiden backing him up to make up for it. Hopefully, he has content, incentives, and whales planned as well to help him clutch a spot when needed.
My dark horse pick. Even though he won’t have the entirety of SoCal going for him like Null, he has another weapon on his side: He plays a lovable mid/low-tier hero as a Donkey Kong main, which amasses a lot of votes across the board. Knowing Ringler myself, he’s also a naturally emphatic, charismatic guy that has potential to make great content and outlandish incentives. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ringler has whales secured, because rumor has it from a local chant: Ringler’s Rich. Maybe he can be his own whale.
That’s my overall take on who I think will make it into Summit for my reasons and variables. Of course, Summit is known for being an unpredictable mess, and honestly anything can happen. However, I can guarantee that they generally follow the variables that I listed, so let’s see what happens in yet another chaotic season of Summit voting!
Player for FlyQuest, coaches on https://metafy.gg/@kodorin