Smash History: Melee’s Top 12 of 2011 and More!

If 2010, the first year of this decade, marked a transition year within Super Smash Bros. Melee’s competitive scene, 2011 was the birth of the modern era, ripe with Fox players beginning to achieve their characters’ potential, different innovations in tech skill and the birth of arguably the greatest (even if shenanigan-filled) combo video in Melee history.

Fox in particular had been number one on the tier list since 2006, but before 2011, the character’s actual impact on the meta was hotly debated, since no one had seriously focused on him at the top level and maintained sustained excellence. This sounds ridiculous now, but keep in mind that with Falco, Jigglypuff and other floaties dominating the meta, Fox was thought of like one of Melee’s what-ifs. In a way, he encapsulated the tier-list debate of potential vs. results in determining a character. Flash forward to the end of 2011 and we finally had more proof that Fox was really as good as the hype.

That’s not to say that other characters didn’t stand a chance. In fact, our RetroSSBMRank for 2011 involves a character that we haven’t seen before as a solo main on our rankings. If you include secondaries, this list also has more characters than any other list we’ve made during this series.

Catastrophe, SleepyK and I are back with our RetroSSBMRank for 2011. Now I bet you’re wondering: why a Top 12 list this time? Keep reading to find out – but first, our honorable mentions.

*For the sake of data consistency, we decided to not include Taj, whose incredible third place finish at GENESIS 2 was the only result we could find for him all year. For reference, Taj in 2010 had finished 49th at Pound 4 and ninth at Don’t Go Down There Jeff. This is like if ZoSo suddenly placed third at The Big House 6 – certainly not impossible given his established status as a regional threat and top-level Marth main, but also hard to predict.

In fact Taj abusing Hax’s inability to deal with Mewtwo ledge camping, defeating Dr. PeePee, beating MacD and the entire Falco gauntlet (including Mango) deserves an article of its own for one of Melee’s most unexpected bracket runs of all-time, with Taj’s mastery against Falco particularly showing.

We also decided not to include Lucien, SilentSpectre, DEHF and and PC Chris in this list. However, it’s interesting to note that PC Chris was quite a bit more active than the other three, defeating Jman twice at No Johns on September 3. 

Honorable Mentions

Europe

Okay, so like we did in 2009 with Canada, we’re technically cheating here, but you can see how Armada’s dominance over Europe brought relative improvements out of his competition, even if they never beat him. The continent’s finest included the legendary Sheik main Amsah, the “European Mew2King” in Ice, the Dutch Fox Zgetto, Remen and, on a lesser scale at this point, some teenage brat who notoriously trolled Smashboards and flew out to GENESIS 2.

Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni

A former Marth main who switched to Fox, SFAT’s heavy-emphasis on stage control with a freestyle West Coast swagger brought him near the top of Northern California’s best players. SFAT wasn’t quite a national threat yet, but make no mistake: we had him as the No. 2 in NorCal for 2011.

McCain “MacD” Lavelle

Once a source of derision for a few smashers because of his downsmash-heavy and aggressive playstyle, MacD shut up his doubters in 2011 with a 17th place at Pound V and a surprising ninth place at GENESIS 2. At these tournaments he beat Axe, Fly Amanita and RaynEX, additionally being ranked No. 6 in the September power rankings for Southern California – easily the world’s most stacked region at the time, arguably cementing his place as America’s best Peach.

Joey “Lucky” Aldama

Lucky was only ranked No. 9 in his region’s PR, but most of that came from his relative inactivity, as he worked during the year and didn’t have much time to practice Melee. Imagine his surprise when he 2-0’d Mew2King in GENESIS 2 pools. Even if he wasn’t as highly ranked as before, that alone showed how Lucky was still one of the world’s best Fox mains.

Charles “Cactuar” Meighen

Seventh at Pound V, and ninth at Revival of Melee 4 slightly overrate Cactuar’s year, but he deserves credit for beating Mango (playing secondaries) at Pound V, nonetheless, having now beaten Mango in the last two times they played. You would think Mango would have stopped sleeping on him by then.

Timothy “Eggm” Cody

At this point a dedicated Fox main, Eggm was New Jersey’s best non-Mew2King player and a Fox guru, with a win over Zhu in the middle of the year. Going back and forth semi-frequently with Jman and Hax, Eggm was certainly one of Tri-State’s finest, though placing out of the top 32 at Pound really hurts his standing in the year.

Jesus “Jman” Fernandez

Jman might have peaked already in his Melee career, but the Tri-State Fox was still one the world’s better players, with a 3-2 record over Zhu and constantly fighting for the position for best non-Mew2King Tri-State player against Eggm and Hax. Hell – Jman could have been much higher on the list had we seen him play at Pound V or GENESIS 2.

Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami

Still a teenager who complained about his main on Smashboards, New York’s best Captain Falcon main took sets from the likes of Jman, Azen, Cactuar, Amsah, MacD and Fly Amanita in the year, placing an impressive fifth at Pound V and ninth at GENESIS 2. Although none us thought these placings were a totally accurate representation of Hax’s standing in Melee’s scenes, it’s hard to deny that he was still among the world’s best.

Before we go into our Top 12 rankings, you have to understand that while 2010 was arguably the beginning of the “god era” of Melee, 2011 was the year when they really separated themselves from everyone else. Unlike previous editions of the list, where we organized our players simply by numbers, this year’s edition of RetroSSBMRank will introduce the concept of tiers of players in our list.

Creating rankings for 2011 didn’t require any research to prove what we already know: the gods of Melee ruled the game. What was more difficult, however, was seeing who back in 2011 was the closest to entering the “god” sphere of players. Based on the results that we could find, everyone from our No. 6 to No. 12 spot were incredibly close – so please don’t bite our heads off if you disagree with the order.

Demigods

12. Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson

In 2009, you could have called his upset of Jman at Revival of Melee a fluke. We had him in our honorable mentions for 2010, but by 2011, there was no doubt that Axe  did have an argument for being top ten in the world, as he took a set off Mew2King at Zenith 2011 and never lost a set to anyone not mentioned in our Top 12 or honorable mentions list. Most impressively for Axe might be his first place doubles victory with Kage at Zenith, winning over teams like Mew2King/Hax, Mango/G$ and Tope/Cyrain.

11. Johnny “S2J” Kim

S2J, a former Super Smash Bros. 64 player who turned into a Melee fiend, had a face-to-face, proactive style that sharply contrasted Hax’s more conservative, reactive one. With wins over KirbyKaze, Shroomed, Hax, MacD, Fly Amanita and Lovage in the year, we thought that S2J, SoCal’s No. 3 in September, was the best Captain Falcon of the year.

10. Robert “Wobbles” Wright

Was Arizona’s top dog really one of the world’s ten best players? It’s hard to say given his lack of data in comparison to his fellow West Coast contemporaries. Nonetheless, Wobbles beat players like Darkrain, Mew2King, Axe and Lovage in the year, placing ninth at GENESIS 2 and being the unquestioned best from Arizona, as we weren’t able to find any losses to Axe or any other Arizona player on the year. A few losses while drunk hurt his ranking, but Wobbles was definitely one of the two premier Ice Climbers of 2011, as you can see from his stellar performance in GENESIS 2 crews.

9. Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel

It’s hard to believe in 2016, with no dedicated solo Doctor Mario main within Melee’s top players, but five years ago, the character was thought of as underrated, with Shroomed taking sets off Lovage, Wobbles and Dr. PeePee en route to sixth place at GENESIS 2, along with more victories over Zhu, MacD and SFAT in the year.  If you’re wondering why there was ever a time when Doc was considered Top 10 in the game, you can thank NorCal’s No. 1 of the year for that. Or at least Doc’s ridiculous cape hitbox.

8. Jeremy “Fly Amanita” Westfahl

We received a lot of criticism for putting Fly Amanita at No. 10 in 2010, so naturally we doubled down and increased his rank. All jokes aside though, he began the year with strong victories over Mew2King and Zhu at Winter Game Fest VI, while defeating Dr. PeePee at GENESIS 2. Although he was barely No. 5 in SoCal, frequently losing to players like MacD and S2J in bracket, his victories over two gods were enough to place SoCal’s top Ice Climbers in our Top Ten – even above those who beat him. We’re not sure if Fly would agree with all our praise for him, but we’re confident that the data proves him as a legitimate threat to any non-Peach player for the two years we put him in our top ten.

7. Julian “Zhu” Zhu

Back in a familiar spot where he was in 2009, Zhu traveled between the East and West Coast, beating Mew2King twice to win the No Johns Monthly in August and also having wins over Jman, Hax, Lucky and S2J on the year. It’s interesting to note that it’s not just the results that boost Zhu’s placing for the year – public perception also holds him in high rank. Despite his relative lack of attendance in SoCal, the region’s power rankings in September still had Zhu as it’s No. 2.

6. Oscar “Lovage” Nilsson

Okay – we know we sound crazy here for placing someone who finished 17th at Pound V and 13th at GENESIS 2 at No. 6 in our list. However, Lovage wasn’t just a tech skill fiend. He 2-0’d Hungrybox in their only meeting of the year in a pools victory and has additional sets over Fly Amanita, Mango (playing Captain Falcon) and Axe. While he struggled against Shroomed and S2J throughout the year (1-7 against them), Lovage also won The Big House, finally defeating S2J in grand finals of the tournament. Given his status as the only SoCal player to beat Mango in 2011, along with his win over Hungrybox separating himself from the rest of the demigods, Lovage’s peak was so godly enough that we couldn’t resist putting him at No. 6, even if he lost to Hyuga the same event he beat Hungrybox in. Plus, he has a better record against the Top Ten of this list than our No. 5.

God of the Underworld

5. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

If you’re a fan of Mew2King, you’ve probably heard him talk about how his 2007 Marth was the best in the world. In 2011, Mew2King’s Sheik was arguably competitive Melee’s most ruthless opponent on the screen. He never reaction tech chased like modern Sheiks, but when it came to edgeguarding, Mew2King in 2011 was on an entirely different level, frequently gimping his opponents at low percents, hitting them with precise needles beneath the stage and occasionally even throwing out the chain to troll his already worn out opponents.

While it’s true that the Sheik/Marth/Fox didn’t win a big major in this era like some of the people above him, Mew2King was unarguably the gatekeeper of Melee’s gods. Despite dropped sets to demigods over the year and even Faab (a European Falco, thus solidifying Mew2King’s Falco weakness at the time even more), it’s important to remember that Mew2King still looked mostly untouchable against his fellow East Coast opponents and still had good enough national placings, with fifth place at Pound V, GENESIS 2 and a second place at Zenith 2011.

Mount Olympus

4. Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

Though we put Hungrybox as No. 1 for 2010, we acknowledge that it was easy in the year to dismiss Hungrybox’s victories as a result of gimmicks. Think about what it was like after Don’t Go Down There Jeff, when the Florida Jigglypuff player lost to Fly Amanita and Lucky. It wasn’t too unreasonable for Melee followers to expect a decline from Hungrybox heading into 2011.

By the end of 2011, Hungrybox wasn’t No. 1, but many of his doubters were wrong about how much he’d fall off by. Outside of dropping two sets to Plup, Hungrybox didn’t lose in Florida for the year, winning every local he entered and never losing to anyone at a national ranked lower than Lovage on our 2011 list. Add in a strong third place at Pound V, first place at Zenith 2011 and a fourth place at GENESIS 2 – you have a consistent force of nature in Melee, able to place highly at nationals and perhaps even win them if the bracket turned out right.

3. Kevin “Dr. PeePee” Nanney

If it weren’t for a lackluster GENESIS 2, when Dr. PeePee walked around the venue like a sick zombie and dropped sets to Taj, Tope and Fly Amanita in pools (still finishing seventh), he probably could have finished No. 2 on our list. Hell, given how epic his Pound V victory was (with the lights turning off during grand finals), you could definitely still place him higher and we wouldn’t complain, considering that was when most players began thinking of Dr. PeePee as a god of Melee.

Outside of GENESIS 2, Dr. PeePee’s only losses are to other gods, with an even 2-2 record against Armada, a 2-2 record against Mango and a 4-2 record against Mew2King (though his losses came as a result of trying out Fox instead of Falco against Mew2King). Combined with his strong placings across the board, Dr. PeePee’s consistency and positive records against the highest level of competition definitively at least put him at least top three on the year. Just don’t be surprised at some hilariously cringe-worthy trash talk if you get him riled up enough.

2. Joseph “MaNg0” Marquez

As you might know from our 2010 rankings, we docked Mango a spot in our rankings for not trying his best for most of the year. Starting off 2011 with a 17th place at Pound V while playing Mario and Captain Falcon wasn’t exactly a great beginning, but by the end of the year, it seemed pretty clear that the former Jigglypuff, now-spacies dual-main had a pretty good argument to be America’s best of the year.

Consider just how untouchable his Fox looked against Taj, the third-place finisher at GENESIS 2, four-stocking him so badly in the second game of losers finals that Taj forfeited the next game out of fear. This is the kind of effect that Mango used to have against his opponents whenever he tried – and in the case of Taj, an example of brutal revenge for sending Mango to losers bracket earlier. Even during his Winter Game Fest VI losses to Dr. PeePee, he went down 2-0 in Grand Finals as Captain Falcon before bringing the set to game five as Falco and barely losing in a last stock situation.

You could try to dock Mango points for sandbagging, with losses to Mew2King, Silent Wolf, PC Chris and Lovage on the year while playing secondaries. But are these losses really any worse than Dr. PeePee’s at GENESIS 2, especially considering both lost to Taj? Moreover, Mango won the only two serious full Falco ditto sets Mango ever played against Dr. PeePee, showcasing his mastery at the time in the matchup. Who knows – a different placing at GENESIS 2 and a more serious Mango for the year might be No. 1.

Lord of the Light tier

1. Adam “Armada” Lindgren

Armada literally only lost to Dr. PeePee twice at Pound V for the whole year. He won every single other set he played and won every other tourney. But rather than focus on the data behind why he’s No. 1 (should be fairly obvious), let’s take a look back at Pound V winners semifinals and just how historic and symbolic this set was for him.

Imagine the setting: you’re a competitive Melee fan and at this point, you’re a believer in Armada being a “god,” but you’re not quite sure about his ability to overcome Hungrybox, given how badly his Peach lost to the Florida Jigglypuff a year ago. Maybe you thought that Armada would reveal a Fox secondary, but when he tried that at the first GENESIS, it got humiliated by Mango’s own Jigglypuff. By the time the first game of the set starts, it hasn’t sunk in yet, but the stone-faced Swede is playing Young Link. This is the first time a player of Armada’s caliber has seriously picked a mid-low tier in tournament.

Four minutes pass by in the match and at this point you’ve realized the Young Link character select wasn’t a joke or a sandbag attempt – it was a brilliant counterpick that led Armada to a two to one stock lead over 2010’s most successful player. Eight minutes later and Armada completes a double-two stock set victory, with a simultaneously baffled, excited, bored, yet cheering crowd.

He doesn’t end up wining the tournament, losing two sets to Dr. PeePee to continue the curse of never winning an American national, but Armada doesn’t give up. Months later at GENESIS 2, after defeating Dr. PeePee in the Pound V rematch, Armada has to play Hungrybox again in winners semifinals, Armada tries out the Young Link again, but loses by one percent in a timeout to Hungrybox in the first game.

Unfazed, Armada three-stocks him the next match on Dreamland again, mercilessly times him out Kongo Jungle 64 and wins last stock on Yoshi’s Story in an over 30-minute set that commentator HomeMadeWaffles referred to as the “wackest fucking set in the world.” Not that it mattered after Armada’s additional set wins over Taj and Mango – it was just further proof that the determined Swede was willing to think outside of the box (no pun intended) and do whatever it took to win.

No longer was Armada a final stepping stone for America’s best – he was now the guy to beat heading into Apex 2012.


Data Dump

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1spcV9mVMzOA_fywjaw2PzbtLWALyTeWMYzNtWFNq-e4/edit

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