There might never be another Smash Ultimate event like the Ludwig Smash Invitational this weekend. Even if you don’t care much about Smash esports, you’re going to want to check this out.
It seems like every weekend there’s a big Smash tournament of some sort and while some draw a lot of top-level talent, the number of international attendees is often limited.
When Smash Ultimate was unveiled, it used the tagline “everyone is here” to hype up its massive returning cast of characters. The Ludwig Smash Invitational is basically that, but for the best of the best when it comes to Nintendo’s platform fighter.
This weekend, 32 undisputed elite threats from North America, Europe, and Japan will face off under one roof in what could be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here are but a handful of storylines going into such a spectacle.
A format for dream matches
The event will kick off on Friday with a last chance qualifier to determine the final eight entrants into the tournament and it alone could honestly make for a very stacked event.
With the likes of Luis ‘Lui$’ Oceguera Ramos, Moist esports’ Alexis ‘Goblin’ Stennett, Jestise ‘MVD’ Negron and Incineroar main Juan ‘Skyjay’ Pablo being just a few of the names partaking, the LCQ is going to be hype.
However, in the group stage on Saturday, things are going to be wild and this is where we could see an assortment of dream matches that are often just fantasies held back by travel.
Using a Swiss format, players will only be eliminated once they’ve lost three times while those with three victories under their belt will advance to the final bracket.
Just to give you an idea of what kind of must-see matches this format will produce, take a look at this projection by Redditor ‘SelfDestructGambit.’ Some of these matches could be off the charts and this is still the group stage!
ROB specialist Salvatore ‘Zomba’ DeSena vs the return of Japanese star Sota ‘zackray’ Okada? Are you kidding me?
Asimo, the world’s best Ryu possibly taking on upstart Ken main Christian ‘Jahzz0’ Ramsay in a Street Fighter shoto showdown? Sign me up.
The top 16 will be a traditional double-elimination bracket and I honestly cannot contain my excitement. The only question is, who will win?
The Ludwig Smash Invitational participants
With the exception of Double Down and Ultimate Summit 5 winner Naoto ‘ProtoBanham’ Tsuji, and Japan’s top Yoshi, the appropriately named ‘Yoshidora,’ the best players in the world are here.
Yes, including the world’s number one, Leonardo ‘MkLeo’ Lopez Perez.
Going against the advice of his doctor, Leo decided to travel by plane to this event, but noted it would be his only tournament until late November.
MkLeo is and always will be a superstar, but this tournament could be his finest hour. Yes, he’s won EVO, but that was back in 2019. Ultimate has changed a lot since then.
To have this level of competition together is a rarity and if Leo is going to pull it off, he’s going to need to level up beyond his already god-tier state. There is one match in particular that fans have been waiting to see: MkLeo vs Acola.
Chances are you’ve heard that Steve from Minecraft is in Smash and chances are you’ve heard that he’s a controversial addition to the roster, so much so that some players even want him banned.
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Mashita ‘acola’ Hayato is the best Steve player in the world and has taken Japan by storm, winning countless tournaments including the recent Smash World Tour Platinum Tier MaesumaTOP #10.
The Steve legend will be looking to add yet another title to his growing legacy and if he’s able to pull it off, no doubt the calls to ban his character will intensify to deafening degrees. I’m all here for it.
The sleeves are going to be rolled up all weekend for Paris ‘Light’ Ramirez Garcia as he pilots Fox through this asteroid field of foes.
Light has been so consistent for so long as a Smash pro, finishing no less than third at every event he’s attended since Pound 2022.
The man is simply on another level at the moment and victory here would cement him into the upper echelon of Smash greats, beyond just Ultimate, but the franchise’s esports history as a whole.
FaZe’s first Smash pro, Edgar ‘Sparg0’ Valdez is making his return to Smash having taken a hiatus, only briefly coming back for Ultimate Summit 5.
Before his absence, Sparg0 looked like the only North American prospect capable of dethroning MkLeo, but his time away from Smash has raised some major doubts.
The Cloud icon can reverse course by winning the Ludwig Smash Invitational and reassert himself as a true contender for the title of world’s number one.
To do so, he’s going to need to break his limits and overcome some mental barriers. If he does that, then just like Gohan in the Cell Saga, we’re going to have a beast on our hands.
The rest of the story and the wild cards
It really is anyone’s game this weekend, especially if the bracket stars align and some difficult matchups are avoided.
William ‘Glutonny’ Belaid, for instance, has an amazing tournament record outside of his home contingent of Europe and will be looking to strike back after his abysmal performance at L’Odyssée.
Team Liquid’s Samuel ‘Dabuz’ Buzby is still searching for his big tournament win and what better way to pop that cherry than with a W in Las Vegas of all places.
There are simply too many big names in attendance to possibly go over each of them. Tweek, Riddles, zackray, Tea, Kola, the list goes on and on.
There is no doubt in my mind that this weekend will be something special. It’s an invitational of epic proportions if you’re even remotely interested in Smash esports, you need to tune in to the Ludwig Smash Invitational.