DreamHack Montreal has some of Smash 4's finest

Panda Global's Eric "ESAM" Lew seems primed for a big tournament heading into DreamHack Montreal this weekend. Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

A $10,000 prize pool, the largest-ever payout at a Montreal Super Smash Bros. 4 tournament, will be on the line this weekend at the Montreal Convention Center during DreamHack Montreal.

With 207 entrants in this leg of the DreamHack Smash Championship, this is one of this season's weaker tournaments quantity-wise, but the quality of its attendees more than makes up for the shortage of players. Among those registered are six of the Panda Global Rankings top 50 and a slew of Canada's finest, making it a must-watch for any fan of high-level Smash 4.

Two Pandas, Two Floridians

No major tournament would be complete without Florida's Panda Global duo of Eric "ESAM" Lew and Jestise "MVD" Negron.

The pair have been a flagship doubles team since the Super Smash Bros. Brawl era and have synergy that few other teams can match. MVD's doubles-exclusive Cloud is flexible enough to adapt to whatever situation is at hand, allowing ESAM's aggressive Pikachu to do his thing and give opponents no room to breathe. Fresh off a fifth-place finish at Shine 2017 in August, they're looking like the strongest team registered outside of Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce's team-up with Larry "Larry Lurr" Holland.

Neither of the Panda Global competitors are slouches in singles, either. Both have impressive recent highs: ESAM finished fourth at Low Tier City 4, and MVD landed in the top eight at Smash n' Splash 3. They've even been consistent over the past month, something that's become increasingly difficult in competitive Smash Wii U, with ESAM and MVD finishing no lower than 13th and 17th, respectively, since the Evolution Championship Series in mid-July.

Don't be surprised to see the both of them make waves this weekend.

Which Dabuz Will Show Up?

The answer to this question might shake up the entire tournament.

If it's the 2GGC: ARMS Saga champion and EVO 2017 top-eight qualifier version of Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby, then a solid finish is all but assured. He's been a paragon of consistency in the scene, and it'd be unwise to underestimate his chances. Couple that with the fact that few people in the tournament have experience playing against his patented Rosalina and Luma, and Dabuz is even more dangerous.

If the Dabuz that placed 33rd at Super Smash Con and dropped out of Shine comes to Montreal, though, then we have a problem. That Dabuz simply won't cut it in a tournament as stacked as this, and he knows it.

Dabuz's DreamHack Montreal rests on whether or not he's bringing his A-game and feeling the weekend -- something we can't give a verdict on because this is his first tournament appearance in a little over a month.

Defending the homeland

Canada has long been filled with Smash 4 talent. From EVO 2016 champion Ally to character developers like Mason "Locus" Charlton, it is in no shortage of high-level players. But while the Canadians have typically won tournaments on home soil over outsiders, the most recent tourney showing presents a different story.

Just two months ago, Tristate legend Jason "Anti" Bates swept a laundry list of the country's best players to take its latest major, Get On My Level 2017. Anti's dominance over the bracket showed the Canadian scene has room to improve, and now he's back with more stateside threats for a second round this weekend.

It won't be remotely as easy as before, though. Ally, who was missing at GOML, is back and better than ever. Canada's sub-regions have leveled up as well, with the likes of Ontario's Tamim "Mistake" Omary and Quebec's Kelsy "SuperGirlKels" Medeiros making waves internationally as of late.

If anything, DreamHack Montreal presents the perfect opportunity for the Canadians to both avenge their loss at GOML and prove that they are near the top of the international Smash 4 ladder once and for all.