GENESIS 8 was, in many ways, a triumph. After years of waiting for this event, the tournament was packed with shocks, amazing moments, and the crazy level of gameplay we’ve come to expect from Smash games. However, while Ultimate played out in a somewhat expected manner, Melee delivered a new star of the game with the potential to crack the top five in the coming year.
His name is JMook, and it’s ironic to note that he would be the first person to advise caution when a writer like this one comes up with a spicy take.
In the days following his run to Grand Finals, Jake Dirado, or JMook as he’s known in Melee, even tweeted as much. You can see below that he expects to be downloaded, figured out, and put in his place — and that in itself is a big part of why we expect the New York Ninja to continue his rise through the ranks of the greatest platform fighter.
For those not in the know, JMook’s run to second was not your average “out of nowhere” story. For starters, he doesn’t play a low-tier or obscure character and he also didn’t have a bracket that allowed him to avoid any particular matchup, with a wide variety of players and characters falling to his Sheik. In the course of his run to Grands, which was ended by Zain, JMook beat Plup’s Fox, lloD, n0ne, and IBDW — with a 3-0 scoreline in his favor in both his winners semi versus the Falcon main and the losers final versus IBDW.
While he may have benefited from some of the upsets along the way, it’s equally fair to say that anyone capable of 3-0-ing Cody “iBDW” Schwab would have had a very good chance against GENESIS 8 Mango, who lost a match to Juan “Hungrybox” Biedma that was considerably shorter than Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett’s average pre-game drink. It should be pointed out that Zain Naghmi beat him 6-1 across Winners and Grands — but then again, Zain won the event from winners, with iBDW the only person to take more than one game off him in a set.
As we previously mentioned, it’s also not possible to write off anything JMook achieved as gimmicks or tricks, either. Sheik has been meta as long as Melee has had a competitive scene really, and everyone knows how to play against her (even if it’s not always simple to put the plan into action).
There is no doubt there are habits that may end up being exploited, but it’s important to remember that while IBDW, Plup, and the rest will have learned a fair bit about JMook, JMook will equally have learned at least as much about them — and himself — from his first-ever deep Major run.
"I will most likely bomb"
So far, things are looking good for our new hero. He’s not janking it up like an Ultimate player maining a character nobody plays. And he’s already beaten two of the best Foxes NA has to offer, proving nothing can be attributed to good matchups. In fact, even the seemingly pessimistic tweet linked above can be seen as a reason to bet on the Mook to do well at future events, and become more consistent.
Unlike some top players, JMook doesn’t appear to look for excuses as to why he lost, or feel entitled to the win, and he recognizes that this is nothing more than a start. While it’s impossible to tell from his tweets for sure, he also doesn’t seem to need to win to survive in the same way that some players do, which suggests he has a backup plan and makes decent choices generally.
With all this in mind, there is almost nothing to think JMook won’t keep on rising as 2022 goes on... almost. The one potential issue that may arise is the fact he’s a solo Sheik main. But like Plup before him, he already has a Fox, so there is a potential solution down the line. The player himself may have written off the Fox after his set versus Zain, but it’s amazing how the Melee’s King of Furries becomes more attractive as you get better at the game, and bored of losing matchups.
Making top five by the end of the year will be a challenge, but with the way the scene is currently the competition isn’t as fierce as in years gone by, and he’s beaten enough of the top ten already to believe in his own power, so the only limitations are his own ability, work ethic, and self-belief. Judging by GENESIS, we might have a new star on our hands.