YungWaff announces BEMI 2023 invitees - Upcomer
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Super Smash Bros. Melee commentator and tournament organizer Brandon “YungWaff” Collier announced Sunday the invited players for the next iteration of the Black Empowerment Melee Invitational. The BEMI 2023 invitees will compete from February 24-26 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here are the first 12 invitees for BEMI 2023:

  • Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson
  • Toussaint “2saint” Turnier
  • Alexandra “Salt” Rennie
  • DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel
  • Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas
  • Kalindi “KJH” Henderson
  • Erick “Flash” Washington
  • Jonathan “TheRealThing” Clinton
  • Jeffery “billybopeep” Palmer
  • Ty “Typhoon” Hunter
  • Elie “LunarySSF2” Lomami
  • Sefunmi “Sefunmi” Ade

In addition, four more players will qualify for the event through an online Last Chance Qualifier on February 11. Although the main event features some international competitors, only black players from North America will be able to enter this LCQ.

This will mark the third annual iteration of the Black Empowerment Melee Invitational, which YungWaff created in 2021 to celebrate Black History Month. Alongside only featuring black players, the event has previously highlighted black commentators and content creators in the Smash community.

Over the past two years, YungWaff has also accepted donations during the tournament in order to raise money for black-owned businesses and Black-centric charities. He has confirmed that this year’s event will function as a fundraiser in the same way.

More about the BEMI 2023 invitees

While the past two iterations were all online, this year will mark the first in-person BEMI. Fittingly, this also means BEMI 2023 will be the first iteration to feature invitees from outside of the United States: the United Kingdom’s Professor Pro and Belgium’s LunarySSF2. Notably, this will be LunarySSF2’s first time competing at any Melee tournament outside of Europe.

This tournament’s offline format could also bode well for the prospective first seed, Axe. He generally struggled to perform well online and finished in a disappointing fourth-place at the 2021 event as a result. Then, a hand injury prevented him from entering last year’s invitational altogether.

As a result, this could be Axe’s first chance to truly shine at a Black Empowerment Melee Invitational. Even so, he could still face stiff competition from players like Salt, who defeated him at Genesis 9 earlier this month.

The BEMI 2023 invitees list also notably includes reigning champion billybopeep. After winning last year’s event, billybopeep went on a substantial hiatus from competition. Barring a small online tournament last June, the only other event he has entered since last February was With the Fishes, a Texas regional that took place earlier this month.

Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.