The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #71-80

Hello, everyone! Pikachu942 and I are happy to present the next part of our Top 100 Melee players of all-time. In our last post, we uncovered the the players ranked 81-90. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 71-80. Here’s a brief FAQ on our project:

What is the Smash History Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time project?

It’s a ranking of the top 100 Melee singles players of all-time, determined by both members of the Smash History research and editorial series team: Edwin Budding (myself) and Pikachu942. The project is also an expansion of what I wrote in 2016, but with even more research, having taken us half a year to prepare on its own.

How did you guys determine the Top 100?

In order to rank players, we collected a list of every player ranked within the Top 25 of SSBMRank, mentioned within RetroSSBMRank and every player who placed in the top eight of a supermajor since Game Over in 2004, what we consider the start of competitive Melee as we know it today.

After creating this initial list, we added more notable names that we felt were “outlier” players whose results and rankings may not accurately reflect their playing impact on the Melee scene, such as international players.

What did you take into account when ranking players?

The four key factors we looked at and tried our best to stay consistent to were the following:

  • How well did a player perform at the biggest majors of their era?
  • How consistent was this player during their active years of competing?
  • How long did their playing career last?
  • If this player never existed, how much does their absence impact the metagame, large major results or the greater scene in Melee history?

I’ve never heard of you or Pikachu! What makes you guys think you’re qualified to determine Melee’s best players above anyone else?

Because until someone else helps write over 300 pages of Melee history on a personal website for free, we feel like we’re about as qualified as anyone can reasonably be.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As an update to the previous note on Japanese players whose names I don’t have, I learned from Captain Jack that gamertags for many old-school Japanese smashers are secretive about their time in smash. He declined to tell me Thunders’ full name – therefore, for the rest of the series, you’ll notice that for a few players, I do not have their real names, due to what he said were different cultural expectations in Japan surrounding tags. Also, in today’s edition, I have written all the blurbs.

80. Kevin “Husband” Dassing

5th at MLG New York 2004
5th at Cataclysm 3
5th at MLG Atlanta 2005
9th at Gettin’ Schooled 2
9th at MLG Long Island 2007

The Marth main half of the Newlyweds, Husband was the best non-Azen Marth on the East Coast. Due to his heavy practice against Wife, Husband notoriously gained a reputation as  the Peach-slayer.

Husband also consistently attended several MLG tournaments. He used to travel several hours to attend regional tourneys in places like Orlando, Nashville, Philadelphia and more within the span of months. In an era where fewer players regularly traveled, Husband stood out as one of the scene’s most dedicated pros.

79. Savath “KrazyJones” San

5th at MELEE-FC3
7th at MLG New York 2005
7th at Gettin’ Schooled 2
13th at MLG DC 2005
17th at Cataclysm 3

KrazyJones is a trailblazer for the New England scene. Hailing from the Fall River crew from Massachussetts alongside players like UnknownForce and Hayato, the old-school Peach main often showed up at nationals in surprisingly dominating fashion.

His placing at FC3 doesn’t come close to reflecting the legacy of his run in the tournament’s final bracket. He had last game sets with Chillin, Ken, Oro, KM, Undisput3d, DieSuperFly and ChuDat, only losing to Ken and ChuDat. When discussing all-time greats from New England, KrazyJones certainly earned his place among his region’s Mount Olympus.

78. Adrian “Caveman” Sanchez docsheikyounglinkheadssbm

3rd at MOAST 3
5th at MELEE-FC3
9th at MLG New York Opener 2006
9th at MLG Dallas 2006
9th at MLG New York 2005

Before the rise of Dr. Mario players like Bob$ and Shroomed, Caveman represented the character on a national level like no one else. Among the best smashers within Texas, he was one of the few people to actually stay competitive against Ken and Isai at MOAST 3. He even beat Azen at FC3, the most stacked American tournament of the year.

Caveman’s legacy partially comes from doubles, in which he teamed with his fellow Crystal City smasher Rob$ to place at top eights across several majors of the MLG era. Most notably was their second place at Gettin’ Schooled 2, which featured finishing higher than teams like Chillin/NEO, KrazyJones/Hayato and even Azen/Wes.

77. Matthew “Tope” Jewell

7th at ChuDatz Final Biweekly
9th at Pound 4
13th at GENESIS
13th at APEX 2012
13th at Zenith 2013

The post-Brawl era saw Sheik with multiple top-level representatives across a variety of regions. Alongside names like Mew2King, KirbyKaze, Amsah and Lucien came Tope, known for his deadly tech chasing ability and status as one of MDVA’s best players. This was during a time when most of its previous greats had quit competing in Melee tournaments.

Tope is also rumored to be the last Sheik to have ever defeated ChuDat across a full set in tournament, though no one remembers the exact date or tourney. When combined with his victory over PPMD in Genesis 2 pools, it’s clear that Tope could hang with the best players of his time.

76. Shepard “Fiction” Lima

7th at APEX 2014
7th at CEO 2014
7th at Kings of Cali 4
13th at EVO 2014
13th at MLG Anaheim 2014

The long-time Brawl aficionado broke out in early 2014, now playing Melee. Fiction rose up the ranks in SoCal, the world’s best region, and even defeated Mew2King multiple times. A year later, after persistent hand problems began to affect his ability to compete with Fox, Fiction took a set with Marth over Mango at a local tournament.

His fundamental-heavy, patient and zoning style has garnered him much success across his smash career. Over the last year, he’s slowly returned to being far more active at local tournaments, playing Fox again and even holding wins over Crush and Westballz. It might be a surprise for many to see him claw his way back into the national spotlight, but you know what people say – the truth is often stranger than fiction.

75. Timothy “Eggm” Cody falcoheadssbm

9th at APEX 2010
9th at Revival of Melee 2
9th at Zenith 2012
9th at Revival of Melee 3
13th at Pound 3

Eggm’s contributions to the Fox and Falco metagame often get overlooked, but they’re as important as the other top spacie players of the post-Brawl era. He practically invented modern defense for spacie mains, implementing movement and shines out-of-shield in ways that none of his contemporaries did. His YouTube channel is still a valuable educational resource for both Fox and Falco players.

As part of a region that included players like Mew2King, Hax, Jman and Scar, Eggm consistently proved himself at nationals and local tournaments alike, building a brand as one of New Jersey’s best players. His longevity and dedication to playing is remarkable, particularly because the New Jersey spacie main innovated and competed during an era where Melee’s survival wasn’t guaranteed.

74. Eddie “Eddie” Howells  ganondorfheadssbmfox

5th at MLG Los Angeles 2005
5th at EVO World 2007
13th at MLG Anaheim 2006
13th at MLG Dallas 2006
13th at MLG Chicago 2006

A longtime giant of Midwest Melee, Eddie is arguably the region’s first great player in the post-items age of Melee. The Chicago Ganondorf main (and Fox secondary) made national waves even before the start of competitive Melee as we know it today, defeating Ken in a money match held before Tournament Go 5.

Eventually taking the reins of Chicago from his Marth main brother Eduardo, Eddie became his city’s greatest smasher and a Midwest legend of his own, winning several events within the region. He also won MLG Orlando 2005, a smaller major that still featured talent like Oro, Husband and the Dutch Fox MrSilver in attendance. Eddie is still occasionally active today in his local scene, but his decade-plus resume and status as a sage of the Midwest remains as impressive as ever.

73. Wayne “Tink” Gralewski 

4th at MLG New York Opener 2006
7th at MELEE-FC6
9th at MLG Anaheim 2006
9th at MLG Chicago 2006
11th at MLG New York Playoffs 2006

Tink was a member of the “Midwest Five,” a group of players that dominated the Midwest from 2005 to the end of the MLG Era. The Indiana-based Marth/Fox player also left a legacy that transcended his impact on his local scene.

During his prime, Tink defeated players like Azen and Isai, while also boasting victories over people like Eddie and Rob$. With a couple of supermajor performances and top-level wins on his resume, Tink is among the greatest Midwest players ever.

72. “Mikael”

5th at Jack Garden Tournament
33rd at Super Champ Combo

Before the age of Armada, another international Peach dominated his competition. Cited by Armada as one of the Swede’s biggest influences as a player, Mikael is also one of Japan’s greatest players of all-time, having additionally been called a “god” of his national scene by Captain Jack. He frequently won local tournaments in East Japan and became its best player shortly before Brawl came out.

Mikael moved faster than other Peach players, extended punishes in creative ways and he also infamously bragged before the Jack Garden Tournament that he was going to defeat Ken. His lack of notable results in the United States somewhat dampens his legacy, but he nonetheless remains one of the greatest international players of all-time.

71. Michael “Mike G” Gray

5th at MOAST 3
7th at MLG Atlanta 2005
9th at Game Over
25th at Tournament Go 6
25th at MLG Orlando 2006

Often referred to as the godfather of Peach, Mike G represented Deadly Alliance in the early MLG era. Notably, Mike G finished second at mid-2004’s Smash 4 Cash, among a field that also included players like Isai, Wes, Mild, Chillin, NEO, Dave, KrazyJones and Matt Deezie.

A little over a month later, Mike G finished second at MLG Atlanta 2004, just under Azen. As the United States’ first notable Peach player, Mike G was an easy choice to make Melee’s Top 100.

Thank you for reading, everybody. We’ll be back with 61-70, coming soon!

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #81-90

Hello, everyone! Pikachu942 and I are happy to present the next part of our Top 100 Melee players of all-time. In our last post, we uncovered the the players ranked 91-100. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 81-90. Here’s a brief FAQ on our project:

What is the Smash History Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time project?

It’s a ranking of the top 100 Melee singles players of all-time, determined by both members of the Smash History research and editorial series team: Edwin Budding (myself) and Pikachu942. The project is also an expansion of what I wrote in 2016, but with even more research, having taken us half a year to prepare on its own.

How did you guys determine the Top 100?

In order to rank players, we collected a list of every player ranked within the Top 25 of SSBMRank, mentioned within RetroSSBMRank and every player who placed in the top eight of a supermajor since Game Over in 2004, what we consider the start of competitive Melee as we know it today.

After creating this initial list, we added more notable names that we felt were “outlier” players whose results and rankings may not accurately reflect their playing impact on the Melee scene, such as international players.

What did you take into account when ranking players?

The four key factors we looked at and tried our best to stay consistent to were the following:

  • How well did a player perform at the biggest majors of their era?
  • How consistent was this player during their active years of competing?
  • How long did their playing career last?
  • If this player never existed, how much does their absence impact the metagame, large major results or the greater scene in Melee history?

I’ve never heard of you or Pikachu! What makes you guys think you’re qualified to determine Melee’s best players above anyone else?

Because until someone else helps write over 300 pages of Melee history on a personal website for free, we feel like we’re about as qualified as anyone can reasonably be.

90. Jack “Crush” Hoyt

9th at The Big House 7
9th at GENESIS 5
9th at Smash Summit 5
9th at Royal Flush
9th at DreamHack Austin 2017

After years of being considered among his region’s best players, the young Boston Fox finally broke through in 2016, winning the New England Invitational. Crush is unquestionably New England’s best player since KoreanDJ and has become a household name over the last two years.

With a tournament win in the Holiday Bash Invitational, alongside a slew of performances just outside the top 8, it feels only like a matter of time before Crush starts to break into Melee’s top ten. It might be too early to say, but once Crush makes a top eight, the sky’s the limit for him.

– Edwin Budding

89. “Thunders”

9th at Jack Garden Tournament

In Melee’s competitive infancy, Japan was considered the far superior region for competitors than the United States. Among its best players was Thunders, a Fox who gained a reputation for being heavily technical.

For example, Thunders is the namesake of the “Thunders combo.” The Japanese Fox also was one of the first players to consistently multishine, at one point being rumored to shine over a hundred times in a row. Although his rival Masashi is more well-known, Thunders’ impact on the Fox metagame is among the all-time greats.

– Edwin Budding

88. Jaden “VaNz” Carr

7th at Pound V
7th at Revival of Melee 3
9th at APEX 2010
13th at APEX 2012
13th at Revival of Melee

One of the more under-the-radar players in history, VaNz was a player that was well-respected, but never truly showcased a breakout performance like some of his contemporaries. He also didn’t travel often, but when majors showed up near him, he would give it his all, clearly evident by his top 8 performance at stacked national Pound V.

Outside of his one peak performance, though, VaNz still showcased consistent solid Top 16 placings across multiple years, even as he was making his way out of the game. Heck, he was even the only person to take a game off Hungrybox at Apex 2010. These accomplishments across a majority of the Post-Brawl Era more than grant the elusive Peach main a spot on the list.

– Pikachu942

87. Stephen “Abate” Abate

7th at The Big House 5
7th at Zenith 2013
9th at Revival of Melee 7
13th at CEO 2015
17th at The Big House 4

Abate turned heads with his victory over Hax at Zenith 2013. Two years later, he shocked the world again at The Big House 5, when he defeated players like Axe, Duck and S2J en route to another top eight performance.

Pittsburgh’s best player of all-time, Abate also is among Luigi’s greatest players. In fact, the two performances above were the only top eight supermajor showings by a Luigi main in the game’s history. This cements Abate’s place in Melee history not just for his own character, but for all mid-tiers.

– Edwin Budding

86. Roberto “Overtriforce” Iglesias

9th at APEX 2013
9th at DreamHack Winter 2016
17th at Pound 4
17th at DreamHack Winter 2015
25th at Revival of Melee 4

Overtriforce was already the best player in Spain and the closest threat to Amsah for being Europe’s top Sheik of the post-Brawl era. He backed up his reputation by three-stocking Mew2King’s Marth at Pound 4, though he came up just short against the latter’s Fox.

Years later, the Spanish Sheik has a slew of notable names on his career resume, including all-time greats like a young Leffen, Scar, Axe and Ice. His longevity as Spain’s greatest smasher and his contributions to the Sheik metagame make him an easy choice for Melee’s Top 100 of all-time.

– Edwin Budding

85. Miguel “Zgetto” Rodriguez

7th at BEAST 5
13th at DreamHack Winter 2015
17th at Pound 4
33rd at Pound 2016
49th at GENESIS 4

Zgetto is often forgotten by newer players, but he’s been around for years. He attended and won some of the Netherlands’ earliest and biggest tournaments around the post-MLG era.

The Dutch Fox is also part of the few smashers to have ever defeated Armada across a full set in tournament. Although it came before the latter’s rise to godhood, it remains a fascinating detail to remember when evaluating Zgetto’s noteworthy career.

– Edwin Budding

84. Daniel “Jiano” Hart

3rd at Pound 2
13th at Viva La Smashtaclysm
13th at FC SMASH 15XR: Return
17th at Super SWEET
25th at MLG Chicago 2006

Jiano is mostly known for his speedrunning, but did you know that he was also a pretty good Captain Falcon player? The Kentucky smasher was one of the Midwest’s most promising players of the MLG era. He’s most known for defeating Cort, Chillin and taking ChuDat to the limit at Pound 2, ending up in a surprising third place at one of the year’s biggest major tournaments.

Even though he’s sometimes overshadowed by his regional contemporary Darkrain, Jiano still carved his own place in Melee history. His performance at Pound 2 was the best non-Isai run by a Captain Falcon at any national for nearly a decade.

– Edwin Budding

83. Ammon “Ka-Master” Styles 

9th at MELEE-FC Diamond
17th at Pound 4
25th at EVO 2017
33rd at The Big House 7
49th at GENESIS 3

A Luigi pioneer, Ka-Master is probably who most old school smashers imagine when they think of the slippery green plumber. Originally from Washington, the Luigi connoisseur was the most dominant force in the region after the likes of the SKYPAL crew faded from the scene, regularly winning whatever locals he attended.

He rarely traveled out of region, but Ka-Master’s ninth at MELEE-FC Diamond is a true staple of Luigi’s character history and the first glimpse of true potential that otherwise laid dormant within the character. His second at UCLA V, originally intended to be the last big west coast Melee tournament, was another star showing, as Ka-Master defeated players like DEHF, Zhu and HugS, ending just one game short from winning the tournament. The Luigi legend still plays today, though he took a long national hiatus, briefly playing in Hawaii’s smash scene. Only time will tell if Ka-Master can return to his lofty heights.

– Pikachu942

82. Chris “KillaOR” McKenzie

3rd at MLG Los Angeles 2005
9th at MLG DC 2005
13th at MLG New York 2005
13th at Gettin’ Schooled 2
17th at MLG Anaheim 2006

Prior to the rise of Mango and Hungrybox, there were not that many top Jigglypuff players in the scene. Most people will remember the revolutionary King, but even before him, Deadly Alliance had a puffball of their own. KillaOR was not only a solid contender in the Tristate region during 2005, but he was the first Puff player to show off results truly worth talking about.

His third at MLG Los Angeles 2005, an event featuring all of the best players in the country, is immortalized in the MTV documentary “True Life: I’m a Professional Gamer”, where he defeated Chillin, Eddie and ChuDat to reach Losers Finals, before finally falling to Isai. Coupled with having one of the most iconic rests of all time, as seen above, it supplies KillaOR with more than enough performances and moments to deserve a spot on the list.

– Pikachu942

81. Christopher “Wife” Fabiszak

7th at MLG Atlanta 2005
9th at MLG Chicago 2006
9th at MLG Dallas 2006
9th at Cataclysm 3
10th at MLG New York Playoffs 2006

MDVA was the land of H2YL, but Team Ben was its greatest rival crew in-region. Within Team Ben was the duo of Husband and Wife: the Newlyweds. Wife in particular was known for fearing no one in bracket – at MLG Atlanta 2005, he took Ken to his last stock and even forced a switch to Fox mid-set.

Wife’s reputation today comes from his time as a commentator, doubles specialist and interviewee in the 2013 documentary “The Smash Brothers.” Anyone who played him back in the MLG era can attest to his skill and place as one of Peach’s earliest top representatives.

– Edwin Budding

Thank you for reading, everybody. We’ll be back with 71-80, coming soon!

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #91-100

Hello, everyone! Pikachu942 and I are finally back, with the first part of our Top 100 Melee players of all-time list. But before we start, we’d like to mention a few updates to our project.

In our last post, we attempted to reach out to more community members for joining our panel. We’d like to thank everyone who applied, but sadly, we were saddened by the relative lack of interest. Our initial goal in running this project was to create a top 100 that we thought would be reflective of what many of Melee’s leaders would consider to be an appropriate Top 100.

As people that gathered the data ourselves, we realized that the amount of effort we were putting into compiling every major top eight, determining an appropriate candidate pool and research were going to fall on deaf ears. Simply put, the task of creating a top 100 players list was a lengthy process that many notable community figures were understandably skeptical about.

In the end, Pikachu and I have decided to just use our ballots, due to our own countless hours of research and studying of Melee history (and our own egos).

We apologize to the small group of people that applied, but we’re still grateful for your interest and are confident that our rankings will nonetheless turn out fine. At the end of our Top 100 rankings, we’ll release the amount of data that we used to come up with our decision.

Here’s a brief FAQ:

What is the Smash History Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time project?

It’s a ranking of the top 100 Melee singles players of all-time, determined by both members of the Smash History research and editorial series team: Edwin Budding (myself) and Pikachu942. The project is also an expansion of what I wrote in 2016, but with even more research, having taken us half a year to prepare on its own.

How did you guys determine the Top 100?

In order to rank players, we collected a list of every player ranked within the Top 25 of SSBMRank, mentioned within RetroSSBMRank and every player who placed in the top eight of a supermajor since Game Over in 2004, what we consider the start of competitive Melee as we know it today.

After creating this initial list, we added more notable names that we felt were “outlier” players whose results and rankings may not accurately reflect their playing impact on the Melee scene, such as international players.

What did you take into account when ranking players?

The four key factors we looked at and tried our best to stay consistent to were  the following:

  • How well did a player perform at the biggest majors of their era?
  • How consistent was this player during their active years of competing?
  • How long did their playing career last?
  • If this player never existed, how much does their absence impact the metagame, large major results or the greater scene in Melee history?

I’ve never heard of you or Pikachu! What makes you guys think you’re qualified to determine Melee’s best players above anyone else?

Because until someone else helps write over 300 pages of Melee history on a personal website for free, we feel like we’re about as qualified as anyone can reasonably be.

For now though, we like our chances. So without anything else to say, we’d like to start off our Top 100 list!

100. Robert “Zelgadis” Scherer

17th at MLG Dallas 2006
17th at Super Champ Combo
25th at Zero Challenge 3
25th at Zero Challenge 2
49th at Tournament Go 6

Zelgadis is the reason many smashers play Melee. His legendary combo video “Shined Blind” paved the way for modern Fox tech skill, showcasing Fox’s toolkit in ways that people didn’t think was possible, particularly with his use of Fox’s reflector as an offensive weapon and combo move. The DBR legend was also a respectable player for his time, defeating Isai at MLG San Francisco 2005.

It’s unfortunate that Zelgadis’ reputation later took a dark turn, because his impact on the scene is among the game’s greatest. Yet it also remains a cautionary tale for mythologizing your personal heroes: even they are capable of ruining their own legacies.

– Edwin Budding

99. Paul “Pink Shinobi” Vang

9th at GENESIS

Known for shamelessly defensive and zoning heavy play, the NorCal Peach and former in-region No. 1 dominated his local scene in 2009, also taking a game off Mango at the first Genesis. Though most people remember him for infamously timing out RockCrock on the stage Kongo Jungle 64, make no mistake: Pink Shinobi was a force to be reckoned with in bracket.

Had he stayed in the Melee community, perhaps his legacy would be more well-known. Either way, Pink Shinobi was a staple of post-Brawl NorCal.

– Edwin Budding

98. Jonah “KM” Terrill

9th at MELEE-FC6
9th at Gettin’ Schooled 2
9th at Pound 2
9th at MLG DC 2005
13th at MELEE-FC3

When talking about hidden bosses in the old school scene of Melee, one of the first names that should come to mind is MDVA’s KM. Not often traveling out of the region, KM was considered a fearsome threat to any that fought him, from as early as 2005. Many thought of him on the level of players like NEO or Chillin.

With wins on the two aforementioned players locally, KM even had some set wins over players as skilled as Azen, and nationally had players such as the Midwest’s Drephen on his resume. At one point ranked as high as 11th on the Smash Panel Power Rankings in 2006, KM had an excellent prime worthy of recognition.

– Pikachu942

97. Daniel “KishCubed” Kish

5th at MELEE-FC

Considered the strongest player of the legendary Kish Brothers, KishCubed was a founding father of Sheik play, posting up solid results at the top of the Midwest as early as 2003. He competed with the likes of Eddie for best in his region and Cubed boasted an impressive performance at MELEE-FC.

Sadly, his career was cut tragically short due to complications following heart surgery, and he passed away on January 15, 2005. His final tournament was the high profile regional Flames of Bowser 3 in the previous November, where he dominated. Here, he defeated players like DieSuperFly, Eddie and Drephen without dropping a game. Nevertheless, KishCubed is still fondly remembered as one of the original greats of the Midwest and an important figure in Melee history.

– Pikachu942

96. Zain “Zain” Naghmi

5th at Super Smash Con 2017
7th at DreamHack Denver 2017
13th at GENESIS 5
13th at Smash n Splash 3
17th at The Big House 6″

Zain is the personification of every Fox player’s worst fear: a Marth main that will pivot and crouch grab everything. But Zain’s first big win wasn’t even a Fox – it was a Sheik. At The Big House 6, Zain turned heads with a stunning 2-0 victory over Plup, months before his shocking defeat of Leffen at Smash N Splash 3.

If Mew2King wrote the textbook on how to kill opponents as quickly and efficiently as possible, then Zain took what Mew2King wrote and added modern swagger to it. Edge canceling his aerials, pivoting at will and making seemingly endless highlight reels on his opponents, Zain is a marvel to watch and a terrifying force to play. Now having a bigger target on his back than ever in his career, it’ll be a treat to see how Zain transitions from being the new kid on the block to joining Melee’s Marth dynasty.

– Edwin Budding

95. Kelly “Kels” Smith

7th at The Big House 4
13th at Pound V
13th at The Big House 3
17th at Smash N Splash 3
17th at UGC Smash Open

For years, Darkrain dominated the Midwest during the post-Brawl era. But as Darkrain fell out of the limelight, Kels eventually took the reins as his region’s top representative. Hailing from Chicago, the Fox/Sheik frequently won his locals with ease earlier this decade. A veteran of the scene for over ten years, Kels’ trademark safe, low-risk and smart approach to playing gained him a reputation as the guy no one rooted for at local tournaments, despite his well-liked reputation in the Midwest.

It’s ironically beautiful that his greatest performance came at The Big House 4, where Kels defeated Axe, Wizzrobe, Bladewise and Nintendude, finishing an impressive seventh place to wild cheers among the Midwest home crowd. This tournament catapulted Kels from being a Midwest darling into someone with a national legacy of his own. Today, he’s known as the man, the myth, Kelly Smith.

– Edwin Budding

94. Wesley”FASTLIKETREE” Hunt

5th at MLG Dallas 2006
13th at MLG Anaheim 2006
17th at MELEE-FC6

FASTLIKETREE was a rare sight at nationals, but he made his present felt at his first. At MLG Dallas, he defeated Isai’s Sheik, who some considered to be superior to his Falcon, in his very first set, eventually finishing fifth.

He’s often credited as the first notable player to truly implement pivoting with Marth. This was a technique later popularized by a more modern Texas Marth known as Arc, followed by PewPewU in his win over Hungrybox at Apex 2015 and nearly every relevant Marth player today. His contributions to the Marth metagame are still felt to this day.

– Pikachu942

93. Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas

5th at UGC Smash Open
5th at DreamHack Winter 2016
5th at BEAST 5
9th at Paragon Los Angeles 2015
9th at Pound 2016

Outside of The Doug in the early years of Melee, the United Kingdom never had a top-level representative in competitive smash. Professor Pro changed that with a victory over Hungrybox at Paragon LA that brought him to the national spotlight. Months later, he then took a set from Leffen at Kickstart 7, joining an elite category of players in the modern era of Melee that have beaten two members of Melee’s Big Six.

As far as his in-game contributions go, Professor Pro has a world-class out-of-shield game, making him a pesky opponent to fight. With a few more improvements, he could not only bring the UK to a greater level of representation to the smash scene, but improve his quietly impressive all-time standing.

– Edwin Budding

92. Lucien “Lucien” Mitchell Mayo

13th at EVO 2013
17th at GENESIS 2
33rd at EVO 2014

Lucien (formerly ZodiakLucien) was ranked No. 1 in NorCal during a time when interest in Melee waned in favor of Brawl. While less well-known than other local heroes like Isai, SilentSpectre (and the rest of the DBR crew), and modern players like SFAT, Shroomed and PewPewU, Lucien was still a force to be reckoned with in 2010, continuing to be a well-regarded competitor for years after his peak.

Outside of his solid national and regional results, Lucien’s true legacy comes from not only his local performances, but his tutelage of both old and new smashers alike. His guides and tips to players who either struggled to improve in the game or whose interest faltered in declining scene helped push NorCal along in such trying times, keeping the player base alive. Lucien’s efforts were bright light that led the charge of the NorCal scene to a new era, one with players who are now household names.

– Pikachu942

91. Jonathan “Bum” Farley

4th at MLG Long Island 2007

Easily the greatest Donkey Kong main of all time, Bum was a New Yorker whose overall skills came from years of playing locally with Deadly Alliance and some of Tristate’s best players in the MLG and post-MLG era. However, when a major finally came to him in MLG Long Island, Bum proved his worth, defeating then top players Isai and ChuDat and taking Mew2King to his last stock in one of the greatest low-tier performances at a national in Melee history.

Bum rarely traveled, but he shocked those who played him for the first time. Legend has it that he used to beat up on lesser players while blindfolded or with his back turned to the screen. He also still defeated players like PC Chris, DA Wes, Cactuar and KoreanDJ at locals across the Tristate region. One of the more interesting and elusive players of all time, Bum truly proved what it meant to be the first member of the DK Crew.

– Pikachu942

Thank you for reading, everybody. We’ll be back with 81-90, coming soon!

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: An Update

If you saw my last post, you’ll already be caught up to date. If not, then here’s a summary:

1. Me and my Smash history partner (Pikachu942) are launching a new series detailing the 100 greatest Super Smash Bros. Melee players of all-time, with a blend of SSBMRank style blurb writing and whimsical Smash History storytelling.

2. We compiled a database of all of Melee’s largest tournaments per year, subject to our own criteria on what qualifies as major tournaments, and listed every major top eight placer in Melee history, along with every player that has been ranked within SSBMRank or RetroSSBMRank history. This made up our talent pool of over 150 Top 100 candidates.

3. We reached out to individuals within the community to join a panel, in which, similar to SSBMRank voting, each individual submits a ballot detailing their top 100 players ever. The final list would accumulate everyone’s ranking together for one averaged list.

Long story short, we were excited to start the project, but due to a few out-of-smash issues, we were unable to start it as quickly as we wanted to. Moreover, with 2017 SSBMRank coming up near the end of the year, we thought it was best to wait until the end of GENESIS 5 before continuing through with our project. This way, we could release our series at a time between supermajors.

We now have a more complete data set, updated for GENESIS 5 and for 2017 SSBMRank. However, this left us with another issue: reaching out to the people we contacted two months ago, but haven’t updated on the status of the project.

In the end, Pikachu and I have decided to entirely scrap the idea of the finalized current panel list we had reached out to. It would be unfair to remind each of them of something mentioned offhandedly two months ago.

We’ve instead created an open form for people to submit applications for voting. You can submit a form here, if you’re interested.

Both of us are looking for a final panel of about 20 voters, with an emphasis on community leaders, longterm veterans, tournament organizers and Melee analysts.  We will be inviting selected voters to a Facebook group, in which the project can continue in greater detail.

Until then, we’re sorry for the late and somewhat unsatisfying – but we’ll have more coming up. I’ll also be continuing the Cinderella Run series when I get a chance this week. Thanks to all my readers for keeping up to date!

TL;DR: Apply to be a Smash History Top 100 voter above!

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: Introduction and Methodology

When my former Smash History partner Pikachu942 mentioned the idea of making an all-time Top 100 ranking at the end of the year, I laughed. It was already a pain to make a Top 10. Continuing to balance my career with my hobby (writing) was also personally difficult.

Restarting the list-making process process for 100 players involved me putting in even more hours of effort. But as time went by, the idea was stuck in my head. We had collected so much data over the last year – for what: a year’s worth of writing? As a D-list figure in a C-list niche, I’m not quite a celebrity in the scene, but I eventually felt like this idea was something right up my alley of work.

That said, Pikachu was the one that not only had the initial idea for doing a top ten for every non-ranked year of Melee, he was the one daring enough to suggest a Top 100 of all-time. During our days of making RetroSSBMRank, Pikachu scoured through Smashboards, SSBWiki and Nintendodojo (All Is Brawl). Pikachu had even contacted old school smashers like Pacific Northwest/Japan legend Kei for local results from 2003.

If I was the executor and brains behind Smash History, Pikachu was the passion and heart. As he and I talked about the idea, it became clearer that this was something that only we could do together. But it was also something that needed to be done right.

So let’s talk about our newest project: the Top 100 SSBM players of all-time. In the next segment, I’m going to discuss how we are approaching creating this list. Each segment will be labeled by one part of the criteria that we are using while making this list.

Determining our Talent Pool: Rankings

The first problem we encountered is that we didn’t have a definitive way of figuring out who was Top 100 and who wasn’t. If we were going to make a list that went as far down as 100, we’d need to make sure that we had enough candidates that could qualify for a spot.

We created a list that included every single player that was ranked within the Top 10 of every yearly RetroSSBMRank or SSBMRank. While doing this, we expanded our definition of “ranked” to include honorable mentions of RetroSSBMRank, unlisted “honorable mention honorable mentions” and the Top 25 of the modern SSBMRank era. Pikachu and I even added those that we felt just missed the cut for our RetroSSBMRank years, just to create a stronger pool of potential talent.

To my surprise, Pikachu changed some of the ranks for certain years. This was due to a few reasons, but I’ll give a good example of why we pursued a few changes.

After having Twitter conversations with KishPrime about past years of Melee history, the Midwest legend suggested that despite being a fan of our work, he believed there was a lot to fix about our 2005 rankings. Normally, I would have rolled my eyes at anyone acting more credible about smash history than me or Pikachu but in this case, it was someone who we both agreed was about more credible as a source for evaluating 2005 players than anyone else.

This led us to another point of contention: did fixing “errors” about our past rankings matter more than ensuring a consistent standard of fairness? We weren’t sure, but we also weren’t naive enough to think this could be a perfect process. Ultimately, Pikachu and I tried to keep any changes to our rankings to a minimum.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Keep in mind that since 2017 hasn’t ended yet, the data we have for 2017 isn’t exactly complete. We used this summer’s SSBMRank as basis for 2017.

While compiling these rankings, one particular argument that Pikachu and I kept having was the merits of longevity vs. peak. These sound like simple debates, but they became extremely frustrating to have, with no clear answer.

For instance, Pikachu kept trying to tell me that Cort was a Top 20 player of all-time due to us highly grading his 2008 performances. I thought it was absurd to use that as a reason for valuing Cort’s legacy over a player like S2J, who may not have as high as a ranking “peak,” but had a far more active career in a tougher era, with more notable placings.

Pikachu’s response to this was that I had to treat players only as good as they were to the competition of their era. I then said that we shouldn’t place a false equivalency between each era’s competitive validity. These overnight debates were endless.

Both of us realized yet another problem: how do major placings get valued in comparison to opinionated rankings? What happens when a player like Lovage, who was technically ranked in our Top Ten but never made a major top eight, gets compared to a player who has placed higher at events, but may not have been actually “better” in relativee skill?

Determining our Talent Pool: Weighting Placings

Are placings, with all their flaws and misleading implications, still a practical and useful tool for differentiating all-time players? Given that we wanted to address this problem, we then created another list for major placings across Melee history.

This forced us to decide which tournaments were worthy of being considered majors. We put the following as our criteria:

1. At least three top five players in a given year should be in attendance and competing within the Melee singles bracket for it to be considered a title-level event.

2. The performance of top five players must be at a level in which the results of said tournament cannot suffer from competitive illegitimacy, due to either sandbagging, bracket manipulation, splitting or any other out-of-game anti-competitive tactics through a majority or significant portion of the tournament.

3. The tournament must take place after the start of 2004: considered to be the first year of competitive Melee directly relevant to or sharing enough qualities with the modern scene to be a point of comparison.

It’s not entirely accurate, but we believed this to be a generally true guideline for determining an event’s high-level legitimacy. Simultaneously, we knew that winning different events carries different weight. So this forced us to come up with a new solution: categorizing titles.

Championship: All five of the top five in a year are seriously competing at a given tournament
Supermajor: Four of the top five players in a year are seriously competing at a given tournament
National: Three of the top five players in a year are seriously competing at a given tournament

Initially, this idea felt bulletproof. But over time, its flaws were easily noticeable. For example, Jack Garden Tournament is arguably Ken’s most impressive tournament victory, since Japan was considered to have far better smashers than the United States at the time. By our criteria, it didn’t count for a title. We knew we had to once again make an amendment.

If not following Rule No. 1, a tournament victory in this list must feature at least two of the following to qualify as a title:

At least two top five players, along with alternative players for whom there is LEGITIMATE REASON to believe had comparable skill talent to be argued for top five at the time of the tournament, but otherwise aren’t ranked top five because of lack of tournament data for MIOM’s SSBMRank, lack of tournament data for Smash History’s RetroSSBMRank, a miniscule disparity in perceived skill with a player technically ranked above him or any other set of forgivable circumstances.

A victory over an especially dominant current world No. 1 at the time, due to their presumed extraordinary amount of success and the level of impressiveness in which merely winning any tournament over them, presuming they are seriously competing, would be considered a title-esque victory and, in select cases, enough to warrant a tournament from being a national-level title to being a championship.

Said tournament must have enough “prestige” and history within the scene that winning it carries a level of importance greater than even its competitors – enough to where its status as a tournament may be upgraded from a non-title to a national, national to supermajor and supermajor to championship.

To put it bluntly, we knew these changes were kind of bullshit. But the final clause in particular gave us a way of ensuring that tournaments like The Big House 4, Apex 2014 and EVO 2016 were treated with deserved respect, due to them still hosting five of the best fully active players of the time. Would anyone really consider Apex 2014 anything less than a championship-level event, just because a retired Armada wasn’t in attendance of Melee singles?

Once again, we acknowledged that there were likely going to be inconsistencies with our guidelines. But because we were unable to think of any egregious errors, we felt confident that we had effective guidelines.

The two of us moved on to our next step: seeing which players placed top eight at different title level events in Melee history.

Final Touches To The Talent Pool

When we combined the list of players we had from before with the list of top eight placers, we felt assured that we had our top 100 candidates. Just to ensure that we had an accurate pool of players, Pikachu and I added players that had neither placed top eight at a major, nor had qualified via our rankings list. These included players were believed to be fringe candidates worthy of note – people like Crush, Bladewise and Zelgadis.

It wasn’t exactly the most scientific process, but with our combined knowledge of different regions and smash history, we were sure the “outliers” were worthy additions. The final result: a pool of more than 150 people that we felt were worthy of note for being considered candidates for our Top 100 list. Each person also had additional information, including their five best major placings, mains and highest achieved rankings.

After a bit more arguing about player rankings, the two of us decided there could be only one way to solve our disagreements – by bringing others into the mix.

Determining Our Voting Panel

Similar to SSBMRank, Pikachu and I wanted to gather a massive panel of qualified voters from each region to submit their top 100 ballots, based off the data we collected. Outside of ourselves, we came up with over 30 potential voters, including community members like Tafokints, D1, Cactuar, Chillin, Juggleguy and more. I was skeptical of how many people would actually respond, though Pikachu remained optimistic about their potential interest.

Pikachu proved to be right. For half of the people, the answer was a definitive yes. Many others never responded. If you’ve been following me on Twitter for a while, you probably already know how annoyingly persistent and shameless I can be.

Those who said no to the project often gave insightful feedback to why they wouldn’t participate. For people like KoreanDJ, it was because they had been out of the scene for too long to feel qualified to talk about modern players. Players like Lovage and Plank seemed uninterested or unable to dedicate time to voting, which was certainly understandable. Yet it was particularly Wife’s answer that struck a chord with me.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Say what you want about Wife’s ability to discuss the modern metagame, but even in a Twitter direct message, his writing skills are exceptional. Having read his semi-autobiography before, I wasn’t exactly surprised by Wife’s eloquence, but it still caught me off guard.

This is one of the reasons why I did not feel it was inappropriate to publish this screenshot of part of our conversation. None of this information was sensitive, portraying anyone in a bad light or out of context – if anything, it forced me to address legitimate concerns about the list.

When I talked to Scar about the project, he offered a similar response, though he said that depending on his own time, he would perhaps be able to commit. One aspect he wanted addressed was particularly something that I was worried about as well: how can we ensure that this isn’t a bad list?

Keeping Scar and Wife in mind, I came up with the following criteria for measuring players, which Pikachu agreed provided a good basis for evaluating players. I’ve included this on each individual ballot I’ve created for the voters on the panel.

How well did a player perform at the biggest majors of their era?

How consistent was this player during their active years of competing?

How long did their playing career last?

If this player never existed, how much does their absence impact either the metagame, large major results or the greater scene in Melee history?

I’ve attempted to contact different esports platforms about possibly publishing this and providing additional resources (graphics, videos and, quite frankly, compensation) but to date haven’t heard back from any organization. In the mean time, both Pikachu and I decided to keep using my website as the holding place for this content, due to it already being a hub for much of our and my previous work.

Compiling double-digit options on the Melee Top 100 of all time will almost certainly be a logistical nightmare. And the truth is, we really can’t ensure this list goes as smoothly as we’d want.

But it’s still something that could start a conversation. Making a Top 100 players list isn’t just about the recognizable names – it’s about giving respect to the more unknown players who had their own stories worth telling. You might know who Armada is, but what about Eggm? Modern players know n0ne, but do they know Darkrain?

A Top 100 players list is about as close as you can get to making a Melee Hall of Fame (at least without taking into account commentary, frame data researchers, tournament organizers, etc). Pikachu and I think that’s worth pursuing. We know the community will ultimately agree.

I’ll keep all of you updated with the next steps once they’re completed. Until then, thanks for reading.

No. 6 Cinderella Run: Kage at Revival of Melee 2

Kage isn’t just an oaf from Canada with a charmingly dorky vocal inflection. He’s a Super Smash Bros. Melee legend and the greatest Ganondorf player of all time.

Although I’ve only selected one tournament run for the sake of making this list, in this article, I’m going to focus on an even greater theme: Kage’s rise to prominence and how it reflects the underdog story that has been his career. In no way does this discredit the sheer greatness of his run at Revival of Melee 2, but while writing, I thought it would be just as fitting to talk about another underdog run that retrospectively set the tone for Kage’s Revival of Melee 2: his run at Revival of Melee.

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Keep in mind that this tournament was named because it was seen as Melee’s first post-Pound 3 major. Initially starting off just as another local tournament in New York, Mango, the Pound 3 champion boasted that he was going to attend and win another major on the East Coast to shut his doubters up. Eventually, nearly every top player, past and present, said that they too were going. 

Mew2King. KoreanDJ. Jman. Azen. PC Chris. ChuDat. DaShizWiz. If Ken and Isai had announced their return, this would have easily been the most anticipated tournament in Melee history. Even without them, it had a fairly strong case.

Kage was relatively unknown. He was one of the better players in Canada, but keep in mind that he was arguably below Vwins when they attended locals together. Canada’s most notable player of the last few years was The King, an innovative Jigglypuff that placed well at majors, but was well past his prime. In hindsight, if you had to pick someone to put Canada on their back at a national, Kage was an unlikely hero.

At Revival of Melee, Kage did something that no one thought a Ganondorf player could do in the modern era: finish fifth. Easily dispatching of KoreanDJ, Jman and Azen, Kage lost only to DaShizWiz and PC Chris: two of the best Falco players in the world. 

People were baffled at how a Ganondorf could do so well. The last notable result by one was in 2005, when Eddie won a respectable, but nowhere near major tournament in MLG Orlando 2005.

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His supporters thought that Kage’s performance proved that the character was much better than most initially envisioned, perhaps even being top ten. In addition to Ganondorf’s exceptional punish game and needing few openings to get a kill, Kage’s fundamentals showed that the character had a few abusable tools in neutral as well.

Others weren’t convinced. In addition to players like KoreanDJ and Azen being rusty from seriously competing in melee, they could have been unfamiliar with the Ganondorf matchup, since they were rare to encounter on the national scene. 

Either way, Kage’s accomplishments didn’t end at Revival of Melee. After placing a respectable 17th at GENESIS, Kage had one more surprise in store.

Moving into Revival of Melee 2, there was no doubt about the tournament’s biggest contender. Mango had trounced every opponent on his coast and hadn’t dropped a tournament for all of 2009. Mew2King, thought to be the closest skilled competitor in the United States at the time, looked totally lost against Mango in their sets and was distracted by playing a lot of Brawl. Players like Zhu and SilentSpectre routinely were roasted and BM’d by Mango’s secondaries. Without Mew2King or even Armada in attendance, most people assumed the rest of the competition were playing for second place.

Faced against the No. 1 seed in Mango for winners quarters, Kage likely was playing an opponent who paid him no attention other than maybe surprise that someone played Ganondorf to modest success. I can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mango  didn’t know who Kage was.

If you just watch the first 40 seconds without knowing the final result, you’d probably assume that Mango was going to destroy Kage. But instead of going down further, Kage surprised Mango by catching his jump mid laser and knocking him off stage. One read on his jump later and Mango lost the stock.

This set the tone for the rest of the game, with Mango eating a brutal 117 percent zero-to-death on his second stock and falling behind. In less than two minutes, Kage had gotten into the head of the world’s best player, who quit out of the first game. With Kage up 1-0, Mango picked Pokemon Stadium, now switching to Captain Falcon as well.

Unlike the first game, which was at least competitive, this one wasn’t close. In less than two minutes, the Pound 3 champion rage quitted once again. Kage crushed Mango, without even playing a top tier, sending him to losers bracket before top eight had even started.

Though Kage lost to Hungrybox in winners semis, his Jigglypuff adventures wouldn’t end there. Facing Darc in losers quarters, a strong regional player in New England and experienced Jigglypuff player himself, Kage made it to losers semifinals, where he once again had to play Mango, pissed off and hellbent for revenge.

After Kage won a tight game one vs. Mango’s Falco, Mango then did something that very few people of his era could make him do: he switched to Jigglypuff. His Jigglypuff had lost games in bracket to players like Armada and SilentSpectre, but people at the time considered it to be on a different level than anyone else in the world. Make no mistake – Mango had taken off the ankle weights.

Since Pound 3, no one had defeated Mango’s Jigglypuff across a whole set, let alone eliminated it from bracket. The crown on his character’s head wasn’t just figurative. Kage now had to accomplish something that not even Mew2King had figured out how to do: defeat Mango’s Jigglypuff.

And in game two, Mango showed many what they expected. Now in full “tryhard mode,” Mango three-stocked Kage effortlessly on Dreamland, setting up a game three where it looked like the uncontested champion of Melee had momentum. Yet in a twist of fate that no one expected, Kage adapted.

At the end of the set, Kage approaches the recording setup and yells one of the most iconic Melee phrases of all-time, “I just beat Mango, where you at?” 

While it may seem ridiculous to put his two set wins as a bigger underdog run than his initial Revival of Melee run, think about how impressive it was to beat Mango back then. Beating him once could have been discarded as a fluke, but twice was enough to immortalize Kage’s place in Melee history.

Even with getting beaten by Dr. PeePee in losers finals, Kage’s third place at Revival of Melee 2 is still the gold standard of Ganondorf performances in the post-MLG era of Melee. Today, it’s the highest and most impressive placing by Ganondorf at a supermajor ever.

Though Kage is no longer in the top class of modern players, he still has moments of brilliance. At Apex 2014, Kage defeated SFAT and Westballz, two rising West Coast stars at the time. A year later at The Big House 5, Kage notably led a huge regional crew battle comeback against the Northern California crew, defeating dizzkidboogie and Shroomed as the Canadian anchor. He was also voted into Smash Summit and took a game off Armada at The Big House 7.

Just earlier this year at DreamHack Montreal 2017, Kage defeated ChuDat twice and HugS to finish second place at one of Canada’s biggest tournaments ever. Perhaps more than any other player in Melee history, Kage’s legacy consists of being the ultimate underdog. If you’d like to hear more about his upset over Mango, I couldn’t recommend the following video underneath enough.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to another smash history project coming up, I have decided to make the next article about all the remaining five spots on my greatest underdog runs list. Although I wish I had enough time to give each run its own due diligence, I hope that this list remains as valuable as my other ones. If you feel differently, please let me know!

No. 7 Cinderella Run of All-Time: Westballz at MVG Sandstorm

Chances are that if you follow competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee, you already know Westballz. He’s the red, technical flashy Southern Californian Falco known for being one of the game’s most unpredictable players.

For instance, if there was ever a tournament that summarized what to expect from Westballz , it was Low Tier City 2. Here, Westballz lost to Jake13 in winners quarters (attempting to play Donkey Kong in the set) before blasting through Ripple, Hamyojo, Laudandus, Mojo and Wobbles to place second to Mew2King, even taking a game off the feared Marth on Final Destination.

Since his rise to prominence, there’s been a running joke about Westballz – that he could beat anyone on a given day, including himself. In 2015, this appeared to be the case when Westballz once again had a roller coaster’s worth of performances at Paragon Orlando (4th), Apex 2015 (33rd) and I’m Not Yelling (5th).

When MVG Sandstorm came around, Westballz looked like he was once again on a downswing, losing to MacD in the winners round of 16. Losing so early at a tournament like Sandstorm was dangerous, as the tournament boasted players like Armada, Leffen, Hungrybox and Mango. Little did anyone know that this set inadvertently launched the run of Westballz’s life.

Though it seems unrelated,  note all the flaws of MVG Sandstorm. Along with its stream frequently crashing because of inconsistent internet at the venue, there was a lack of seating, space and by most accounts, terrible scheduling at MVG Sandstorm. As you learn more about Westballz’s performance at this tournament, keep this in mind.

Beating Forward 2-1 for 17th in losers bracket, Westballz then had to play Tai for 13th. Though Tai was ranked several spots below Westballz on SSBMRank, their disparity in rank doesn’t reflect how dangerous of a matchup this was for the SoCal Falco.

Throughout Melee history, Arizona players have a reputation for beating Falco. Players like Wobbles, Axe, Taj and Tai in particular boast quite a bit of experience against Falco and at various points have beaten some of the world’s best Falco players at tournaments.

To this day many smash players in Arizona call the act of edgeguarding Falco, “flappy bird,” which refers to how easy it is to kill him off-stage. Yet with arguably the most dangerous crowd in Melee (Arizona) rooting against him in a tightly packed venue, Westballz solidly 2-0’d Tai to face Gahtzu for a chance at top eight.

Westballz couldn’t have started the set much worse, but he somehow recovered. After getting JV3’d in the opening game on Battlefield, Westballz three-stocked Gahtzu in game two on the same stage and strongly took game three to make it to losers top eight. Here, he had to play a familiar opponent in his SoCal rival S2J. Warmed up from his set against Gahtzu and especially familiar in the matchup against Captain Falcon, Westballz won 3-0.

But in losers for fifth, Westballz had to play Mango, who was angry and straight off a loss to Axe in winners semifinals. He had beaten Mango before, 3-0’ing him in pools at MLG Anaheim 2014, but defeating Mango in losers bracket, as Melee history has shown numerous times, was a whole different beast than beating him in winners bracket, let alone pools. There was reason to take their last major set with a heavy grain of salt.

Mango took their first game with a convincing two-stock. Westballz then picked Final Destination, where Westballz showed his one-of-a-kind punish game on Fox. After looking lost for moments of game one, Westballz had tied the set.

A game later, Westballz clutched out a last stock victory on Dreamland, causing a stubborn Mango to bring him back there for game four. Staying ahead for practically the whole game, Westballz beat Mango so badly that the latter side-B’d off the left side of Dreamland mid-combo to end the set with a three-stock victory for Westballz.

His next opponent? Hungrybox, fresh off a 3-1 victory over Leffen. For viewers at the time, this was surely where Westballz’s run would end, given how solidly he had lost his last two sets to Hungrybox, someone who is still thought of today as the Falco-slayer.

Before we get into the set itself, keep in mind a few external factors. For its first half, neither player set the timer on. Moreover, Westballz and Hungrybox still technically had to play their Project M sets (along with Axe, who was in winners bracket of Melee), but had to cancel them due to MVG Sandstorm running out of time to use its venue. As a result, the Project M tournament could not be completed, due to needing to finish Melee bracket.

To give further context, losers semifinals in melee wasn’t the only set being streamed.
Throughout top eight, both sides of bracket were being concurrently shown by both MVG League and azprojectmelee to speed up the tournament. Although these seem like insignificant details, keep this in mind for what’s to come later, as it reflects a greater story than just Westballz’s run.

Hungrybox and Westballz started on Final Destination, with Westballz keeping it close after going down early, but still losing. Opting to stay Falco rather than switching to Fox, Westballz then counterpicked Hungrybox to Pokemon Stadium. In an extremely favorable last-stock situation off a grab, Hungrybox somehow missed up-throw rest and quit out, being at what looked like death percent. Rather than going down 0-2 in the set, Westballz now tied it thanks to Hungrybox’s unusual mistake.

Game three on Dreamland looked similar to the first game, where Westballz fell behind early and clawed his way back for another last-stock situation. But as Hungrybox clutched another victory, the unexpected happened: he and Westballz were asked to move setups mid-set, from the side stream to the main stream. The other set, winners finals between Armada and Axe, had finished and MVG wanted to keep its primary viewers engaged rather than let Hungrybox and Westballz finish the set on their initial setup.

If you watch the end of the video above, you can hear commentator Wobbles refer to this move as “super wack” and “disappointing.” You can even see an incredulous Hungrybox shake his head and a confused Westballz smile. To date, this is a perfect example of how not to run a tournament.

Although I’m hesitant in attributing the rest of the set toward the setup change, it’s inarguable that it played a role in delaying the set. Whether through changing his own gameplay, playing better or any other factor, Westballz ended up taking the last two games of the set, both in last-stock games. It’s interesting to note that this is the only time in his career that Westballz has beaten Hungrybox, making this one of the biggest outlier sets in a career head-to-head ever.

In losers finals, Westballz had to play Axe, the local crowd favorite who had just defeated Mango earlier in bracket. Similar to Tai, but on an even grander scale, Westballz once again found himself at odds against loud “AZ” chants and wild cheers off every hit Axe got. Eventually, Westballz 3-1’d him, now facing Armada in grand finals. This was the last result anyone could have reasonably expected.

Though Westballz was 3-0’d to close his all-time great losers bracket run, MVG Sandstorm had one more surprise, to the hilarity of spectators. In the middle of a tight game three, the television cut out, ending the game with no winner. As Armada and Westballz leaned back in disbelief, the crowd behind them began jeering “MVG” before the two replayed the entirety of the game, ending with an anticlimactic Armada three-stock.

MVG Sandstorm deserves to be remembered as a cautionary tale for overambitious TOs looking to make a splash on the national scene. But it should also be known for Westballz’s exceptional losers run, which led to his highest placing at a major performance ever. For a player known for both impressing and disappointing when least expected, maybe it’s no surprise that his greatest moment came after losing to a lower seed than him at a complete circus of a tournament.

Though Westballz hasn’t been able to capture the magic of his run at MVG Sandstorm and still struggles with consistency to this day (65th at The Big House 7), he’s still one of the world’s premier competitors. No matter his ups and lows, he’s someone who carved his way into the Melee history books – and what’s even more exciting is that he’s still writing his story today.

No. 8 Cinderella Run of All-Time: Hax at Pound 2016

How often is it that you’ve had your favorite hobby taken away from you? Chances are the answer is not that much, unless you’re Hax, New York City’s most recognizable Super Smash Bros. Melee player and one of the most enigmatic figures within the smash community. Before analyzing his run at Pound 2016, let’s do a quick recap of Hax’s practically Shakespearean career.

Early in the post-Brawl days, Hax was known as the young, up-and-coming Captain Falcon main, who was also thought of as just a tier below Melee’s best players. Although many argue over exactly how good he was, Hax was voted as the No. 6 Melee player of 2013. After announcing his switch to Fox, many people thought it was only a matter of time before Hax became the world No. 1.

Despite a few struggles with transitioning to a new character (including dropping down to No. 8 at the end-of-the-year SSBMRank), Hax achieved significant progress. He had won his first major tournament in Do You Fox With It, also winning sets over Mango, Mew2King and Leffen during the year. In one of his last notable performances of 2014, Hax battled Armada in thrilling winners and grand finals sets at Justice 4, even three-stocking him in a game.

On January 1, 2015, Hax announced that he was taking an indefinite hiatus from playing Melee. This was both due to his insomnia, as well as hand problems that sidelined him. Though Hax claims to this day that the latter came as a result of a “freak accident” from when he attempted to backwards waveshine a Jigglypuff after WHOBO (in the middle of 2014), keep in mind that Hax was considered one of the game’s fastest, most reactive and technical players.

While Hax was still a talented player, 2015 was certainly a down year for his perfectionist standards. Along with placing a ho-hum fourth at Super Nebulous 3, Hax finished only 13th at Press Start (partially due to playing a DQ’d Mango in losers), second at GOML 2015 and 17th at EVO 2015, not entering a major tournament for the second half of the year.

By the time Hax returned, he still needed time to adjust to the shifting metagame. The New York Fox main had a series of up-and-down performances over the next month, dropping sets to players like The Moon, DJ Nintendo and Swedish Delight (but also beating Westballz). Forget asking if Hax could return to his previous level of play – at this point, it was unclear if Hax could become the best in New York City again. With Pound 2016 coming up, Hax had his biggest challenge yet.

After making it through his round one pools and defeating DoH to start round two, Hax had to play ChuDat, who not only had home field advantage, playing in Virginia, but also boasted impressive wins over the last year and a half, even finishing seventh at EVO 2015. ChuDat also had quite a bit of experience against Fox, having Chillindude as a training partner for nearly a decade, along with players like Milkman and Redd in-region to play against. Hax held on to win the set, 2-1. His next opponent was SFAT.

Keep in mind that earlier in 2016, SFAT had top eight performances at GENESIS 3 and PAX Arena. During Hax’s time away from the game, SFAT had emerged again as a rising player knocking on the door of the Melee “gods.” This set between them wasn’t just a Fox ditto – it was a clash between two different styles of Fox players, with one whose stock was rising and the other who looked like he was on his way out of Melee.

Initially, SFAT looked just a step ahead of Hax, grabbing an early lead and maintaining it throughout all of game one. However, Hax adapted, three stocking him on Yoshi’s Story in their next game, once again looking like the 2014 star that everyone knew and loved. He then won a convincing game three on Pokemon Stadium to make it to winners quarters, where he faced Nintendude.

You might be wondering how this could even be considered an upset, given how thoroughly Hax destroyed Nintendude in this set. Remember that two years prior at Civil War VI, Nintendude eliminated Hax from the tournament, with the New York Fox main even trying a desperate Captain Falcon counterpick to defeat him. Their rematch at Pound 2016 isn’t just notable for displaying some of the highest level Fox-Ice Climbers play ever seen – it’s one of the greatest and most ruthless revenge sets ever recorded.

Now in top eight, Hax had to play his rival Mango, who at this point had a reputation for beating Hax with any character he wanted. Take their set at The Big House 4, in which Mango defeated Hax with Captain Falcon and Marth. Losing to his secondaries was humiliating for Hax, especially given that Mango and his more laid back Melee philosophy stood in sharp contrast to Hax’s opinionated, serious and methodical approach to improvement.

Though Mango played Marth again, this time, it wasn’t out of disrespect. Instead, as Hax said in his post tournament interview, this was a smart counterpick, due to Hax’s proficiency against both of Mango’s main characters (Fox and Falco, having just defeated SFAT and Westballz earlier in the year). Consider Hax’s recent struggles against The Moon. Moreover, Mango had been working on a Marth to bring out more frequently in tournaments. Their matchup was an eagerly awaited showdown.

Hax and Mango took turns destroying each other, with Hax taking a dominant game one and Mango returning the favor game two. Splitting games on Dreamland, the two then battled on Final Destination for game five, with Hax quickly going up three stocks to one. Yet just as the game looked over, Mango’s explosive Marth brought it back to a last stock situation, one which looked increasingly difficult for Hax to win.

Eventually, Mango managed to hit Hax off the stage, forcing him to recover at a lower angle. Mango came down and reverse up-B’d him as the final exclamation point to the set – only to drop too low and miss the ledge on his recovery. As both of their characters fell, Mango’s hit the bottom of the screen first, giving Hax one of the most bizarre victories in Melee history, along with revenge on Mango for their Big House 4 set. Hax was now in winners finals, with a puncher’s chance of taking down Hungrybox and perhaps even winning the tournament.

In hindsight, I don’t think even Hax ever truly expected to make it this far. Though he fought valiantly in winners finals against Hungrybox, he seemed to be running out of steam, still losing 3-0. By the time he and Mango were set for a losers finals rematch, Hax was both physically exhausted and mentally drained, getting swept in Fox dittos to end his epic tourney run.

As he wrapped up his controller and walked off the stage to end his tournament run, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name. Hax made his mark on Melee history, forever leaving Pound 2016 as its hero and having what is without question the high point in Hax’s Melee career.

For the rest of the year, Hax didn’t enter a major. By the end of September 2016, Hax released a particularly ominous blog post, in which he acknowledged the possibility of never playing Melee again and possibly needing to remove one of his tendons. All hope seemed lost for Hax to ever come back to playing the game he loved more than any other hobby.

If you’re a part of the Melee scene today, you know that Hax has returned to competing, but not in the way that people anticipated. Now sporting a new “B0xx” controller – part of a new wave of alternative Gamecube controllers – Hax has taken a clear step backward in his results, but still competes at a high level, placing highly at Nebulous locals and having taken sets from players like Crush, Syrox and Captain Smuckers. At EVO 2017, Hax even took a game off Hungrybox to start their set, before losing game two and having to forfeit game three due to a controller malfunction.

His chances of returning to where he was before seem low, both due to the innate difficulty in achieving such a goal and the ongoing controversy around the legality and ethics of using “box” controllers in tournament. But if Pound 2016 taught us anything, it’s that you can never fully count Hax out.

No. 9 Cinderella Run of All-Time: Sastopher at FC3

The Pacific Northwest is one of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s most historically slept on regions. Despite not having the same kind of star power as California, New York, Maryland or Virginia, the area sported a few top players of its own throughout Melee history. One of these players was Sastopher, a Peach main.

Remembered today as the man who sent Ken to losers bracket at Tournament Go 6, Sastopher’s legacy and greater accomplishments are often forgotten. Along with players like Rori and Kei, Sastopher was one of the best players within the Washington Melee scene, frequently placing highly at locals, but not traveling to as many larger events as his contemporaries.

In contrast, players like Ken, Azen, Isai and ChuDat became more well-known, not only improving their games, but getting tournament experience at supermajors and nationals. When FC3 was announced, nearly every single notable American player came in attendance for what would be a championship-level event. For the first time in nearly a year, Sastopher came to test himself against the Melee elite.

Not only were the members of each main coast attending (Ken, Azen, Isai and ChuDat) to battle the Midwest’s best, but so were the top representatives from other American scenes. The South had players like Caveman and Rob$, while the Northeast also had players like KrazyJones, PC Chris and DA Dave. FC3 also featured some of the scene’s greatest crew battles, which you can watch above.

If you held it relatively to other tournaments in smash history (not just Melee), FC3 holds up as arguably the most stacked singles tourney of all-time. This becomes more apparent when looking at the tournament’s pools, which were loaded in talent from all regions.

In particular, Sastopher’s pool is still remembered as “the death pool,” in which his opponents were Mike G, The Doug, Eddie, Ken and Azen. This involved the best of New York, California, the Midwest and MD/VA regions, giving Sastopher several different matchups, play styles and regions to confront. For a modern equivalent, this is like if a pool at The Big House had Armada, Mango, n0ne, Laudandus and MacD.

To everyone’s surprise, Sastopher emerged, winning every single set. His performance put the Pacific Northwest back on the map and highlighted him as a tournament contender. To put into context how surprising this is at face value, keep in mind that around this time, a rumor started about Sastopher losing to Azen’s Pichu in a friendly.

Though his pools showing was impressive, at the time, it was easy to dismiss them as not entirely legitimate. Keep in mind that this was 2005 Melee – top players frequently sandbagged in pools once they were guaranteed to make it to final bracket. For those practically guaranteed a way into bracket, these sets weren’t always competitively valid. Two years ago, Sastopher wrote that Ken went Samus in their FC3 pools set.

For another example, players like ChuDat were notorious for playing secondaries against players considered worse than them in pools. Even if they lost, those who sandbagged and still advanced were only punished via having a lower seed for the main bracket. In some cases, this is because they just didn’t care. In others, this was because they wanted to avoid certain players in bracket, leading to them deliberately playing worse in order to get more favorable matchups.

Either way, Sastopher’s wins in pools were not entirely as legitimate as bracket victories would be. Little did doubters know that Sastopher – now having won two straight sets over the world’s greatest Melee player – had more to prove.

To start Top 32, Sastopher had to defeat Tavo, a solid SoCal player and friend of Ken. After defeating Tavo, Sastopher then faced off against Dope, then considered one of the Midwest’s best players and one of the country’s rising Falco mains. Perhaps due to his experience against Falco players in his own region, such as Rori (who played Falco in addition to Pikachu), Sastopher clutched a 2-1 victory, moving onto winners quarters.

Here, Sastopher had to play DieSuperFly, one of SoCal’s most promising players and a fellow Ken-slayer. Outside of his noteworthy Tournament Go 6 performance, DSF was still intimidating to play against, having placed second at MLG San Francisco 2005. Moreover, he also played Sheik: a character thought to be the best in Melee, as well as a strong counterpick against Peach, Sastopher’s character.

Yet Sastopher once again won in a tight 2-1 victory, now having reached winners semifinals. In it, he faced off against Caveman, who was the best player in Texas and one of the premier Doctor Mario mains of the world.

Caveman was in the middle of his best national performance yet, having defeated top players like DA Wes, Undisput3d and even Azen himself. Taking him down was going to be quite a challenge – and Sastopher came through, winning yet another close 2-1 set.

In winners finals of the biggest American tournament in Melee history, Sastopher was set for a rematch with Ken, the world’s best smasher. Having beaten him in their last two sets, Sastopher had a real chance to put his name in the pantheon of Melee players, but he lost 3-1. Waiting in losers finals was the East Coast’s last representative in bracket, ChuDat.

Their match was heavily anticipated, both because 2005 was Chu’s breakout year and also since Chu defeated Sastopher before at Tournament Go 6. Sastopher eventually won their runback, 3-2, but ended up placing second after a quick 4-1 loss to Ken in grand finals.

Little to no footage publicly exists for FC3’s singles bracket, but think about how important it was for the scene. Not only was there talent from every region, but FC3 also was the largest Melee tournament at the time, having 186 entrants.

Who could have ever predicted a little-known top player from another region to come into the event and defeat three of the game’s greatest players at one tournament? Even if Sastopher’s contributions sometimes get overshadowed by his individual victories, his second place performance at FC3 was the best showing by a Peach at a massive event until the Armada era.

To date, Sastopher has mostly retired from Melee, though he dabbled in Project M for a little bit. Last year at Shine 2016, Sastopher placed a respectable 129th in Melee, just below an exceptional and handsome Marth player who will remain unnamed.

He now works in Boston as a software engineer. Although it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’ll never reach the same heights again in his Melee career, Sastopher is currently attending Shine 2017. How cool would it be to see one of Melee’s ancient greats make a comeback?

No. 10 Cinderella Run of All-Time: HugS at EVO World 2007

Just barely old enough to drink, HugS was in grand finals of EVO World 2007, facing the game’s unquestioned greatest player of all-time in Ken. The two couldn’t have been any more different. Ken was a veteran used to the pressure of competing at the top level. HugS was in his first ever grand finals of a major. It was old school vs. new school on the biggest stage Super Smash Bros. Melee had ever seen.

At the time, Ken was coming from losers bracket, ready to put a crown jewel on what would likely be his final year of competitive Melee. HugS had already lost the first set of grand finals, but had a crowd of around a thousand people chanting his name, eager to see the SoCal up-and-comer take the crown from Ken.

A HugS forward smash later, the two were on their last stock, at zero percent each. One of them was about to win Melee’s biggest tournament ever. The man challenging Ken wasn’t Mew2King, PC Chris or anyone who most could have expected. He was a salmon-colored Samus main that often looked like he was playing Street Fighter and not smash. At a tournament that featured traditional fighting games, his success was ironically fitting.

How did he get there?

After finishing top ten in the MLG point system in 2006, HugS continued his solid streak of performances across 2007. Locally, he finished in the top eight of nearly every SoCal tournament he entered, but he could never defeat Ken. On occasion, HugS lost to players beneath him, like Mango, Edrees and EzynJay, but for the most part, he was an unquestioned No. 2 in his region.

It’s important to mention HugS’ rise because he wasn’t part of the old SoCal guard. Players like Ken, Manacloud, Tavo and Arash were unquestionably among the best in his region. To break through those players was an impressive feat – particularly because HugS also played a character who had only one previous top national representative (Wes) in Melee’s short history. HugS was both a representative of the new generation of players and a counterpoint to the commonly held belief that only top tiers could win.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It was also common back then for players to frequently split, sandbag or boast about how little they cared about tournament placings. HugS was remarkably different in his approach to Melee, often talking about how hard he worked or prepared for a tournament instead of making excuses for why he did or didn’t do well. Most of the previous generation of SoCal players were frequently content with their approach to Melee and trash talked newer players for being “tryhards.”

Nationally, HugS was on the cusp of greatness, defeating players like PC Chris, Dope, Chillin and Tink in 2006. Simultaneously, he also lost to players like JBlaze, DSF, Rob$ and Caveman. It was hard to gauge HugS’ potential, outside of him being just outside the the Melee elite. He looked excellent against Fox and Falco, but far more vulnerable against the likes of Marth, Peach and Sheik.

In late July, he finished a strong, but still underwhelming ninth place at Zero Challenge 3, his first major of 2007. Here, he defeated SilentSpectre and Edrees, but lost to Taj and PC Chris, who HugS had defeated a year ago. Just a week later at EVO West, HugS finished fifth, but only beat Mango, while also losing solidly against Mew2King and ChuDat.

No one – outside of maybe HugS himself – could have ever envisioned him getting second place at the biggest Melee tournament of all-time.

It’s also easy to forget another factor working against him: the sheer absurdity of EVO’s ruleset before top eight, in which players selected their character and played one match on a randomly selected stage. Although you could certainly argue that this helped HugS’ placing more than it hurt, keep in mind that he was also playing a mid-tier character in Samus.

When combined with the crazy stagelist used at the time, it’s a miracle that HugS even made it into top eight, let alone grand finals. Think of it this way: he may have been one Green Greens pick away from being sent to a stacked losers bracket. Nevertheless, at an event that featured nearly all of the Melee player elite, HugS managed to make it to top eight.

In winners semis, HugS played PC Chris, someone who had seemingly figured him out at Zero Challenge 3. While HugS seemed to hold an advantage over most Fox and Falco players he faced off against, he tended to lose sets to Peach, who PC Chris started to play against him. Not only was HugS playing a “god” of his era, but he had to overcome a personal weakness of his own.

Their first game was extremely close, lasting over five minutes. In the final closing seconds of the match, HugS whiffed a grab, only for PC Chris to hesitate just long enough for HugS to shield the punish. Seconds later, HugS landed a forward smash to go up 1-0.

On PC Chris’ counterpick in Final Destination, the two played another grueling match of nearly five minutes. Though HugS managed to bring his opponent to last stock, he was too far behind in percent to make a comeback. Game three was on. This time, HugS built an early lead and never let up.

HugS was now in winners finals, ready to play his nemesis Ken. But instead, he had to play another SoCal player who was having a run of his own: Mango. HugS not only had to beat a fellow SoCal rival, but he had to overcome someone who had already taken out Ken and Mew2King.

Like the older generation of players before him, Mango was far more laid back than someone like HugS, often boasting about not practicing but still having moments of brilliance in tournament. Mango also played Jigglypuff, a matchup that HugS, and many others at the time, hated playing against.

Nonetheless, HugS beat Mango 2-0, even defeating him on Dreamland, a stage in which people at the time claimed was extremely good for Mango. In the second game, HugS overcame a large percent deficit to clutch the set out with a final back air. The result was clear: someone outside of the traditional Melee elite was sitting in grand finals of the biggest Melee tournament ever.

Although HugS ended up losing the last game against Ken, think about his success for a moment. Had HugS outplayed Ken for one final stock, he would have became the first and only ever mid-tier player to win a Melee title. To this day, his EVO World 2007 run is still without question the greatest placing ever done at a significant Melee tournament that wasn’t by a top tier. Ten years later, HugS’ second place still doesn’t lose any of its luster.

Unlike other legends of Melee’s past, HugS has continued to write his own story. Still ranked within Melee’s top 30 in 2017, with a chance to be top 20 by the end of the year, one last major run for HugS isn’t out of the question, though he’s coming off 33rd at EVO 2017. But for my readers, I have but one question for you: do you still have faith that he can get back to the big stage?