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Binghamton’s Melee scene makes a return, inspired by ‘Hype Waves’ veteran now on national stage

Binghamton University’s bi-weekly tournament series is, without a doubt, an outlier amongst other Upstate New York locals. It is one of the few locals in Upstate that while free to enter and lacking a prize pool, retains all of the prestige for its attendees of a paid event and is the most attended tournament in the Southern Tier.. Close tournaments in the region include City of Mash in Horseheads and the Smash Lab in Ithaca, however both are an hour away from BU, historically a hub for Smash games in the region.. While Hype Waves tends to bring entrants from the aforementioned towns, it is more isolated than not with many entrants being university students who do not play the game competitively or regularly. 

Hype Waves 56 did not deviate much from its tried-and-true formula but attracted one particularly notable entrant, Jake “Jmook” DiRado.

Photos by Ryan ‘RyanRaccoonishCalhoun

Jmook is an old favorite to the event and Binghamton University tournaments, having likely won more iterations of the series’ Melee side than anyone else over the years. After all, the Binghamton area is his home base, improving in large part through tournaments like this and in Syracuse. Still, while the event is a familiar scene to Jmook, for the attendees – this was certainly an anomaly. 

Due to weaning interest and other issues, Melee was not held during the 2021-2022 school year before making a strong return in Fall 2022 alongside Melee’s return to the regular events in Horseheads. It seems that a winning combination of hometown hero Jmook’s international success and the advent of Slippi has caused a resurgence of interest in Melee within the Southern Tier. As a result, most attendees were new to the scene, and instead of seeing the first seed player as an older member of the community, many saw him instead as the celebrity pro smasher. 

Hype Waves 56 progressed the way most attendees expected it to, with Jmook sweeping the Melee bracket without dropping a single game. 

The bigger picture here is what can happen when Jmook, or top players in general, enter local brackets: they can invigorate the scene. Old players come out of hiding, current players get a chance to learn from the best, and, perhaps most importantly, the community can bond over the excitement that one of them is making it to the biggest stages.

Hype Waves veteran and Johnson City native Jmook’s many prestigious runner-up and top 8 finishes in 2022 solidified his place as a top-of-the-top Melee player

It cannot be said that Jmook’s appearances at Southern Tier and Upstate NY locals here and there will somehow transform the community into a stronger or larger scene. What can be said however, is that the simple presence of a top player at a local does something for the community. Maybe it can energize new players with the determination to become the next Jmook, inspire the next tournament organizer, or perhaps create something completely new for the Southern Tier.

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