At the beginning of 2009, Super Smash Bros. Melee players expected to have one last hurrah at Revival of Melee before moving back to Brawl or whatever non-Melee related activity they’d otherwise do. But rather than a swan song, those smashers got something completely different.
Suddenly, the scene blew up. As the old guard of Cort, KoreanDJ, Azen, Ken and HugS dropped in appearances, new players from regions like Europe, Canada, Tri-State and Florida began to enter the scene. Melee players not only got one Revival of Melee – they even got another one later in the year! That’s not even going into GENESIS, the largest tournament ever at the time and perhaps the most important in Melee’s post-Brawl to EVO 2013 history.
2009 was the start of an entirely new era and meta: one based around the rise of Falco and Jigglypuff over Marth and Sheik, advances made in shield pressure, the rebirth of an international scene, new regional clashes and the beginning of Melee’s greatest rivalry. Catastrophe and I (with the help of SleepyK) are back again with another edition of RetroSSBMRank: this time for 2009. Let’s get into the honorable mentions.
Disclaimer: because of the lack of data regarding European tournaments in 2009 (as well as repetition in our previous HMs), we decided not to officially add amsah or Zgetto. However, the two were now among the best out of non-Armada players in Europe, with Zgetto, a rising Dutch Fox main at the time, taking a set off Armada at Smash Attack.
We also decided to enforce a minimum of four tourneys attended all year, to make sure we didn’t have the same honorable mentions of past players like KoreanDJ, Azen, Cort, etc.
Joey ‘Lucky’ Aldama
An up and coming Fox main and star of an infamous combo video, Lucky’s classic Norwalk style aggression quickly rose him through the ranks of the West Coast’s best players. Although he never defeated Mango, Lucky was Southern California’s No. 3 for sure and a player to look out for in the future.
Dustin “Darc” Hayes
The best player in New England, Darc was the world’s third best Jigglypuff, having sets over Hax and Jman in bracket throughout the year. Even with a few suspect local losses, Darc also had strong national placings, finishing 13th at GENESIS and fifth at Revival of Melee 2, along with a second place finish in GENESIS doubles.
Colin ‘Colbol’ Green
If you judge a player mainly on nationals, Colbol wouldn’t be Top 20, as his losses to KoreanDJ, RaynEX, Eddy Mexico and DEHF at two attended nationals (13th at RoM and 49th at GENESIS) severely hurt his placing. However, Colbol’s excellent 13-11 record over Hungrybox and his status as one of Florida’s three best players stand as impressive feats in 2009.
Timothy ‘Eggm’ Cody
An already up and comer from New Jersey, Eggm won Shell Shocked V over Chu Dat, went even with Hax and also boasted a set win over Jman. Later known for his tutorial videos for Fox and Falco, Eggm was one of the standout players in Tri-State, an already stacked region.
Jeff “SilentSpectre” Leung
It didn’t matter whether his moves made sense or not – they’d still hit you. SilentSpectre, a member of the DBR crew, was a hero in Northern California for going close with the very best of the West Coast and even boasted a victory over Mango. His 25th place at GENESIS sticks out like a sore thumb, but check out his performance in the GENESIS crew battle, where he took G$’s last stock, beat Pakman and then brought Hax to last stock.
Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami
Before being known for 20XX, Hax was a 14 year-old up and coming pink Captain Falcon player from New York that could hang with the big guns of Melee. Defeating the likes of Tope, Eggm, Cactuar, Kage, Chu Dat, Cort and a sandbagging Mew2King before the end of the year, Hax was clearly a name to watch in the Tri-State region – and a year later had one of the best combo videos ever.
Charles ‘Cactuar’ Meighen
Known as the “Mew2Dad” for his time as a mentor for Mew2King, Cactuar was also one of the world’s most fundamental and calculating Fox players, with wins over Jman, Kage and Eggm on the year. His stage-positioning heavy and conservative playstyle gave the community a good joke about Cactuar: that you couldn’t create a combo video for him because it would just compose of him getting slow, deliberate hits on his opponents until they die.
Daniel “Chu Dat” Rodriguez
You’re probably sick of reading about Chu Dat on our lists, but he was still MDVA’s finest throughout 2009 and still attending tourneys. Along with sporting two victories over Hungrybox at RoM and Get Smashed, Chu Dat also two wins over DaShizWiz, Colbol and Cort early on in the year. If he was a little more active in travelling out of region, maybe he could be higher.
Paul “Pink Shinobi” Vang
Although most think of SilentSpectre when remembering NorCal legends, Pink Shinobi was actually No. 1 on the region’s last PR in 2009, though we couldn’t find a tourney he attended out of region. With victories over RockCrock, Cactuar and SilentSpectre on the year, the underrated NorCal Peach was still one of California’s best, even with a notoriously campy playstyle.
Canada’s best performance of 2009 clearly came from Kage’s RoM 2 third place when he double eliminated Mango – and others might even remember him for upsetting KoreanDJ, Azen and Jman en route to a fifth place at the first RoM. However, he might not have been the best player in Canada. Players like Vwins, KirbyKaze, Unknown522, RaynEX and Bam deserve credit for beating him locally, showing that the world’s most dangerous Ganondorf main wasn’t the only Canadian on the rise. The Alberta Canada legend FalseFalco was known for being a master of the Falco ditto and Toronto’s IB, a Captain Falcon-slayer was another improving player to watch.
10. Kevin “Dr. PeePee” Nanney
Coming seemingly out of nowhere in North Carolina with a really thick Southern accent, the future “god” Falco main defeated Kage, Tope, Hax, Lambchops, and Colbol before nationally breaking out at RoM 2. Here, he defeated Alukard, Lucky, Darc, Jman and an on-fire Kage en route to a second place finish. Just to prove this wasn’t a fluke, Dr. PeePee defeated Chu Dat twice at Don’t Stop Billievin, cementing his place as one of the world’s fastest rising Melee talents.
9. Christopher “PC Chris” Szygiel
Although he didn’t attend anything in the second half of the year, PC Chris’ first half of the year showed that he was still the same innovative spacies and Peach player from 2007 to 2008. He won Smashageddon early in the year, defeated Jman four times, took a set off Mew2King at GIMPED 1 and won his only set against Hungrybox at RoM, while also beating Kage. It’s hard to say how good PC Chris was by the end of 2009, but given the perception around him as one of the game’s greats and his first half success, we decided to put him here.
8. David “Darkrain” John
Darkrain wasn’t just the embodiment of Captain Falcon. He was easily the Midwest’s best player, dropping only four sets in-region throughout the whole year to Matt R twice (a hidden boss), Kels and Sliq. His seventh place at Genesis, with victories over Lambchops and Tope, isn’t even his most impressive moment of the year – his Tipped Off 4 victory with two sets over Hungrybox and another over Colbol cemented the Kansas Captain Falcon player as more than just a combo video legend. Well, either that or beating Lambchops on stream with Donkey Kong in a friendly match.
7. Julian “Zhu” Zhu
Don’t just look at his victory over Mew2King at GENESIS, which gave Zhu a fourth place finish at the year’s biggest tourney. Zhu also was easily No. 2 on the West Coast, with a 5-2 record over SilentSpectre, 3-0 against Pink Shinobi and 6-2 lead to Lucky. Even if he never defeated Mango, the Falco legend has a resume that speaks for itself. At GENESIS, he also defeated Falcomist, Vwins, Pink Shinobi and a red-hot Hax. If you were a die-hard West Coast player at the time, you wouldn’t have sounded ridiculous to put him in your top five by the end of the year.
6. Jesus “Jman” Fernandez
Already on the rise from a year ago, Jman took even more names in 2009. Notably taking Apex 2009, with two sets over Mew2King: a man considered to be impeccable versus Fox, Jman also had victories over KoreanDJ, Darc, Eggm, Hax, Cactuar, Chu Dat, Vwins, Dr. PeePee and even Mango at Mass Madness 15, though supposedly Mango had split with Jman and played the set for show. One thing was clear: Jman was the world’s best Fox main and Tri-State’s second best player.
*5/6. Bobby “Scar” Scarnewman
Okay, so as you can probably infer, this is not our actual ranking, but Scar’s sixth place finish at GENESIS has to be one of the most simultaneously impressive, miraculous and hilarious placings of the year. After losing in pools to FalseFalco, Scar tore through winners bracket, defeating Taj and then upsetting Lambchops. However, now in winners quarterfinals, Scar beat Raistlin, a Florida Jigglypuff player that wasn’t even top five in his own state and who had to play Axe and Bob$ en route to a ninth place finish, instead of Jman and Colbol for winners round of 32 and 16, who each were upset early.
Scar then lost to Mango in winners semifinals before losing again to Hungrybox in losers quarterfinals and losing to Mew2King for the tiebreaker game, giving the East Coast’s most flashy Captain Falcon player his infamous sixth place finish. Consider this a special honorable mention, since it wasn’t like Scar was a nobody, as he had strong victories over Chu Dat, Tope, Hax and Dr. PeePee on the year.
5. Bronson “DaShizWiz” Layton
DaShizWiz was Florida’s best player in the first half of 2009, with victories over Hungrybox and Colbol, along with taking a set off a visiting Chu Dat. His third place finish at RoM came with victories over Eggm, Kage, Chu Dat and PC Chris, showing that DaShizWiz could still hang with the best of the world. Who knows – if he didn’t lose to Mew2King twice that tournament, maybe we could have seen a matchup against Mango’s Falco: a matchup DaShizWiz was more than experienced at playing.
If you thought his heartbreaking finish at RoM would be DaShizWiz’ final national tournament, you’d be wrong. His ninth place at GENESIS may look unimpressive, but at the same tournament, DaShizWiz beat SFAT, Darc and Zhu, while just losing to Hungrybox and Armada – infamously dropping a crucial game on counterpick Mute City, which played a role in smashers considering banning the stage. Not a bad year for someone who at the time was arguably the world’s most thrilling spacies player.
4. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman
He wasn’t dominant as he was in past years, but the “Zimmermanson from Cinnaminson” was still the Northeast’s best player and the world’s top Marth main. Despite his Jigglypuff and Falco problem vs. Hungrybox and Mango, Mew2King rarely lost a local tournament, only dropping sets to PC Chris, Jman and Hax (while sandbagging at SNES) out of Northeast players.
Many attributed the drop in Mew2king’s performance to his focus on Brawl – others insisted that this was just a john that took away credit from his opposition. Nevertheless, Mew2King’s second place at RoM and fifth place at GENESIS, while disappointing given the expectations headed into each tournament, still stand as a reminder for his greatness. In particular, the fourth game of losers finals at RoM, commonly referred to as Match 4 (above) was the most viewed Melee match of all time – and you could argue that Mew2King’s immortal three-stock comeback against DaShizWiz single handedly brought competitive Melee back to life.
3. Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma
Before becoming the best player of 2016, Hungrybox was arguably one of 2009’s biggest and most criminally underrated stars. The hate for his character, Jigglypuff, and his passive, patient, spacing-oriented playstyle caused Hungrybox to be given some of the most retrospectively absurd seedings. Take his seventh place at RoM, with losses to PC Chris and Chu Dat.
Nevertheless, the Florida Puff player persevered. After gaining an impressive ninth place at RoM, Hungrybox finished in third place at the year’s biggest tourney in GENESIS, despite having to play Mango as early as winners round of 16. He then beat Vwins, Darc, DaShizWiz, Darkrain, Scar and Zhu before getting eliminated by Mango in losers finals. Although Hungrybox struggled locally against Colbol, Hungrybox’s strong 4-2 record over Mew2King, his head to heads against every non-Mango player in the Top Ten and his incredible consistency gave him the edge as our pick for 2009’s No. 3 player of the year.
2. Adam “Armada” Lindgren
Although it seems ridiculous now, it’s important to understand just how big of an underdog Armada was heading into the world’s biggest tournament. Many were impressed by how devastating his Peach’s punish game was, leading to his status as the unquestioned No. 1 in Europe, but others were sure that Armada was overrated due to the relative lack of high-level European players and one dropped set to Zgetto in April. Some even thought that the caliber of competition in the United States was so much higher that he would lose in pools at GENESIS. A close call in a 2-1 pools victory over WhatIsFear, a NorCal Ganon player who two-stocked him game one, seemed to back up the skepticism.
It soon became clear just how wrong that was. Armada destroyed everyone in his path on the way to winners quarters, beating players like Lunin and Lucky (who successfully counterpicked to Poke Floats in game two and got three-stocked in game three). By this time, people knew that Armada was beginning to warm up, but nobody could have predicted his 2-1 set win over DaShizWiz nor his 2-1 victory over Mew2King: the first time the world’s premier Marth player lost on Final Destination against Peach. All of a sudden, the Swedish Peach nobody expected to go far was in winners finals. Imagine their surprise when Armada two-stocked Mango’s Jigglypuff, scaring him into playing Falco for the rest of the set: a 3-2 victory for Armada, shocking the world.
Without Armada, there is no legacy behind GENESIS and no rival to immediately challenge Mango’s post-RoM throne. Coming out of seemingly nowhere and beating three top five players in the world, he paved the way for international players to come in the post-Brawl era and beat the Americans at a game that people thought only they could dominate. You could have dismissed this run as a fluke back then, but think about the context behind him getting to grand finals: in one swift tournament, Armada had turned from a barely English-speaking Swedish teenage underdog into Melee’s final boss.
1. Joseph “Mang0” Marquez
Was Mango flawless or unbeatable? Of course not. Anyone who watched RoM 2 can tell you just how brutal his double elimination was, especially at the hands of a player like Kage (THE WARRIOR). Mango also dropped other sets throughout the year, including a loss against Fly Amanita in January while playing Captain Falcon, another set to SilentSpectre with Jigglypuff and Fox in April, and another to Jman in the same month at Mass Madness 15 as Falco, after forfeiting winners finals and agreeing to split before playing “for show” in a grand finals set Mango didn’t take seriously.
By the end of the year, Mango had won two (RoM and GENESIS) of the three biggest nationals of the year. He held a combined 14-1 record against Armada, Hungrybox and Mew2King, never losing to the latter two. In fact, Mew2King was so scared of playing against Mango in bracket that he often begged Mango not to play Jigglypuff, only to lose to his Falco anyway.
If that wasn’t terrifying enough for his opponents, Mango also never lost a tournament that entered for singles in the West Coast. He ended the year with a combined 35-1 tournament record against Zhu (15-0), his biggest training partner Lucky (10-0), SilentSpectre (7-1) and Pink Shinobi (3-0). His dominance against Zhu is particularly hilarious, as he even embarrassed our No. 7 in the world as Captain Falcon. Imagine if this year’s Hungrybox won 15 straight sets against SFAT and routinely took sets off while playing secondaries. That’s how game-breakingly good Mango was.
Furthermore, there also used to be a misconception that his success came from Jigglypuff – or that his spacies weren’t as good. Mango played Falco and Fox in matchups that he didn’t like playing, like against Captain Falcon. For example, SilentSpectre often looked better against Mango’s Jigglypuff than he did against his Falco. In another case, Hungrybox beat Mango once in a Jigglypuff ditto game, though Mango still won the set 3-1, winning the runback 3-1 again with his Fox.
Claiming that Mango’s Jigglypuff was somehow a cut above his other characters tremendously understates his brilliance at the game. By the end of 2008, you could have argued that Mango’s Pound 3 run was fluky and that it came as a result of unfamiliarity with Jigglypuff, but there’s no such argument against him as No. 1 in 2009. Armada may have been the most important player of the year, but its best player wasn’t Mew2King, like everyone still believed even heading into the year. Mango was unquestionably competitive Melee’s hero, its savior and true champion.
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