Smash History: Melee’s Top Ten of 2012

2012 was supposed to mark the end of the world. Instead, it was a year that had many steps forward for the Super Smash Bros. Melee community. Despite the scene’s only significant major with all five gods (Apex 2012) happening near the beginning of the year, this tournament was also the first time that top players from the Mexican, Canadian, European and American scenes were present at the same place. Also, Ken came back!

Moreover, late 2012 also saw one of the most important factors behind Melee’s rapid growth: the birth of Melee It On Me: a centralized Melee-related group of figureheads within the community that spoke frequently about issues within the scene, as well as generated content for Twitch, with weekly podcasts and streams done by its members. The story behind MIOM’s creation, however, is not so pretty, but is necessary to understand for the scene’s history.

At Revival of Melee 5, Mew2King and Unknown522 played arguably the most infamous set in Melee history during Winners Semis. With the set tied at 2-2, Mew2King counterpicked the Canadian Fox to Final Destination, despite the stage being illegal under the tournament’s rules, which, under Dave’s Stupid Rule, forbade players from counterpicking to any stage they won on during a set. After minutes of deliberation and arguing over the rules, Unknown522 finally decided to let Mew2King go to the stage anyway, almost making a four-stock comeback in what was agreed upon by the players to be the last game of the set.

(Editor’s Note: This is one of the saddest parts of the set – that last game could have marked a spectacular ending for what could have otherwise been one of the best sets of the year. Instead, the game is left in the annals of history, now replaced by the nebulous implications as seen below).

After Unknown522 unplugged his controller and left to ask the tournament organizer Alukard to clarify the rules, Alukard then forced the two to replay the match on another stage. A sulking and dejected Mew2King took seemingly forever to get warmed up, eventually losing the game and wanting to forfeit out of the tournament immediately, before getting cajoled by Hax to continue playing. By all means, this was completely avoidable had there been a mutual understanding of RoM 5’s ruleset.

The aftermath was even messier, with KirbyKaze intentionally throwing his games against Unknown522 in Winners Finals and the latter sandbagging against Mew2King in the Grand Finals rematch after the two publicly agreed to split the winnings. It was an ugly end to a tournament that now had a top eight tainted by one of its sets.

After the tournament ended, a few community members like Cactuar and Alukard said that Mew2King was to blame, claiming that he knew fully well that the stage was illegal, but wanted to put pressure on Unknown522 anyway. Others blamed Unknown522 for bringing the argument to Alukard after the Final Destination match was already finished, while some even felt KirbyKaze was in the wrong for throwing his set against Unknown522. People like Juggleguy criticized Alukard for using an uncommon ruleset, switching Eggm and Unknown522’s places in bracket, not communicating the rules effectively enough and forcing Mew2King and Unknown522 to replay their last match after it was initially played.

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Regardless of who was at fault, the RoM 5 incident prompted open dialogue within the Melee community on how to be clear about tournament rules, bracket manipulation, collusion, splitting, the power of tournament organizers and how to avoid this kind of situation again. Before Melee players knew it, Scar created the Melee it On Me Facebook page, effectively giving a rise to a new social media-driven era of Melee, away from Smashboards and toward Facebook and Reddit.

While we could talk forever about RoM 5’s implications and other notable moments of the year, let’s get back into what you’re here for: the last RetroSSBMRank before MIOM’s first attempt at a top 100 list for 2013.

Disclaimer: Because Apex 2012 was the only data point we could find, we chose not to rank Javi on our list. For what it’s worth, we both agreed that Javi defeating Dr. PeePee was easily the biggest upset of the year. If you read this thread back then, you’ll also realize that putting Javi in a hypothetical Top 10 list was actually quite defendable for most people. Consider this another example of a “Taj mention.”

Honorable Mentions

Jesus “Jman” Fernandez

No longer top ten in the world, Jman was still a force to be reckoned with on the East Coast, going back and forth with Hax during the year and also taking a set from Amsah. His lack of results out of his region hurt his ranking, though it’s interesting to note that at Apex 2012, Jman defeated Chillin, KoreanDJ and PC Chris. Four years ago, that would have been a top ten resume. Time is a bitch.

Oscar “Lovage” Nillson

Lovage was exceptionally talented, as seen from him beating Javi at Apex 2012 in winners bracket, but he was also unpredictable. Take for instance his exceptional losers run at Northwest Manifest, where Lovage tore through Sung, Bladewise, Eggz, Tope, Axe, Westballz and SFAT en route to place second under Dr. PeePee. Could you have imagined that same guy drowning in pools at Kings of Cali, losing to Vish, DendyPretendy and Rickety – even if he supposedly was there just to do commentary with Ken?

Kevin “PewPewU” Toy

It sounds ridiculous in retrospect, but after taking the first game of a set against Mango during Rule 6 Regional, people went crazy for Northern California’s best Marth player. Heralded as the next Ken and even “the best Marth ever,” his results weren’t quite as good as the hype around him, but with a list of victories that include Zhu, Shroomed, SFAT, Westballz, Bladewise, Colbol and Fly Amanita, PewPewU was clearly an up and coming Marth destined for greatness.

Weston “Westballz” Dennis

Westballz had a reputation for being one of the most technical players in the world, but by the end of the year, he was Southern California’s No. 4 player on its power rankings, as he held a strong 5-2 record against S2J, 3-0 in the head to head against Zhu, a set win over Mango (sandbagging as Falcon) and victories over SFAT and Axe, along with a close set against Dr. PeePee at Northwest Manifest. However, Westballz also had a tendency to lose to people in pools, as seen from his losses against Abate, Silly Kyle and Light.

Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni

Now NorCal’s No. 3, SFAT started off the year strong with his showing at Apex 2012, defeating Chu Dat and DaShizWiz. He also went 1-1 throughout the year with Unknown522, showing prowess in the Fox ditto and gaining a reputation as one of the better Fox players on an already spacie-filled West Coast.

Jeremy “Fly Amanita” Westfahl

We could only put Fly Amanita Top Ten for so many years in a row without people calling us Fly Amanita fanboys. In 2012, he didn’t have as many signature victories, but was still one of the five best players in SoCal as seen by his 4-0 record against Westballz, as well as his strong showing at The Big House 2, when he defeated KirbyKaze and SFAT.

Ryan “Unknown522” Ford

One of three non-gods to take a set over Mew2King in the year (even if the set was shenanigan-filled), Unknown522 was also one of Canada’s best players, taking additional sets over the likes of Chillin, Tope, SFAT and Fly Amanita, while also coming extremely close to beating Hungrybox. Of course, it’s hard to mention Unknown522’s skill as a player without mentioning his personal anger problems around the time, as seen from him getting banned from the Apex series for choking Inui at NEC 13, after getting heckled. More details emerged about these issues a year later.

Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami

We know this is going to ruffle a few feathers, since Hax placed at least top eight at every tournament he entered in the year. But you have to consider whom he actually beat to place highly – based on what we found, Hax’s wins and losses record against other players wasn’t as impressive as the people we chose to rank above him. To his credit, Hax took sets over Shroomed, went back and forth with Jman, and was definitely the Northeast’s second best player after Mew2King.

Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson

You would have thought that by 2012, people would have figured out how to abuse Pikachu’s weaknesses. Somehow Axe kept proving them wrong, with an especially impressive run at Kings of Cali, where he defeated Lucky, Fiction, SFAT, S2J, PewPewU and fellow mid-tier Shroomed en route to a third place finish.

Johnny “S2J” Kim

The more we look at S2J’s record, the more we find what we like. Although S2J frequently lost to Westballz (even back then, the SoCal Falco was a monster against Falcon), he also was ranked No. 2 in SoCal’s last power rankings for 2012, having a dominant 3-0 record over Wobbles and frequently beating other SoCal players as well. While Mango was in the middle of a Melee break after Apex 2012, you could have argued S2J for being the face of SoCal.

Top Ten

10. Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel

The world’s best Doctor Mario main, Shroomed placed in the top eight of almost every tournament he entered (with a 13th place finish at FC Legacy due to losses to PikaChad and Hax). Shroomed didn’t just feast on easy brackets either – he frequently beat PewPewU in region while also sporting victories over names like SFAT, KoreanDJ, Unknown522, SilentSpectre, S2J, KirbyKaze and more, though he didn’t take a set off a god.

9. Daniel “Chu Dat” Rodriguez

We know what you’re thinking: whoa, what’s this guy doing here on a Top 10 list – this isn’t 2008 and he got 33rd at Apex 2012! But consider that Chu Dat was the only non-god player in 2012 to defeat two out of the top five players in the year, defeating Hungrybox in an epic last-stock 3-2 at Zenith 2012 and beating Mew2King so badly at at Aposl’s Birthday Bash that Mew2King forfeited his losers match against Cactuar. Although Chu Dat occasionally lost in locals to Chillin, his feat of winning over two gods in one year was impressive enough for us to place him at No. 9 in our list. He could have been even higher had he gone to more tournaments.

8. Julian “Zhu” Zhu

Zhu’s relative lack of attendance keeps him from being any higher, but in terms of best wins, Zhu was just about as good as any non-god in 2012. Now NorCal’s No. 1, Zhu held a 4-1 record over Shroomed in the year and also had set victories over Wobbles, Hax, DaShizWiz, PewPewU and HugS, showcasing that he wasn’t just a locals fiend. Yet, it’s interesting to note Zhu’s negative record against some of SoCal’s top tier players for the year, as he lost to Westballz three times while also losing sets against MacD and Fly Amanita.

7. David “KirbyKaze” McDonald

Once in our Top Ten list before, KirbyKaze makes a return again this year, partially because of his Top 8 performance at Apex 2012, when he became the first Sheik in the world to take a set off Hungrybox since Hungrybox’s ascension to becoming a top four player. At Rule 6 Regional, KirbyKaze also dispatched of S2J, Westballz and Shroomed before succumbing to Mango in grand finals, showing that the Canadian Sheik legend was not just Canada’s best player – he was the world’s best dedicated Sheik solo main, though he occasionally played sets with Fox and Mario at locals.

6. Robert “Wobbles” Wright

Fun fact: Wobbles ranked fifth on the SSBPD – the Melee community’s attempt to create an ELO-esque rating system for players until the middle of the year – ahead of Mango. Although we didn’t rank Wobbles fifth on our list, the results clearly show that Wobbles has every argument to be considered one of the world’s best. Already taking a set from Mew2King (for the second time in a row) at Apex 2012, Wobbles was also consistently Arizona’s best player, with positive records over every player (this includes Axe) and dropping only one local tournament he attended seriously all year. Wobbles also had victories over Fly Amanita, Unknown522, Lovage, Westballz and Eddy Mexico throughout 2012, adding to his already impressive resume of victories.

5. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

We’ve spent the last two articles talking about Mew2King’s demise and eventual role as the gatekeeper for the Melee gods. By the end of Apex 2012, his chances of ever becoming the world’s best seemed slimmer than ever before, with a consecutive loss to Wobbles which added to his already lengthy list of losses outside of the gods, with Zhu, Axe, Lucky, Fly Amanita and even Faab taking sets in the last year. It’s funny to note that even back then, tafokints was the ultimate Mew2King skeptic – but there was reason to be.

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That said, Mew2King was still an overwhelming favorite to beat every non-god and was by far the best player in his region, never losing to any Tri-State player. He also still shined out of region, with set wins over KirbyKaze, Hax, Axe, SFAT and Dr. PeePee on the year. His record against Hax in particular stood as particular dominant, with a 5-0 record against his region’s No. 2 in serious sets. The only other sets he lost against a non-god were against Chu Dat and the infamous RoM 5 set against Unknown522.

4. Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

2012 wasn’t as successful as his last two years, but Hungrybox was still one of the world’s four best players, splitting sets with Armada, defeating Mango early on in the year and maintaining his winning streak against Mew2King the one time they played. Though Hungrybox lost two sets to Colbol at YOL4, a Florida local, dropped another to KirbyKaze at Apex 2012 and even threw his controller after losing to Chu Dat at Zenith 2012, it’s clear that he was still on a separate level from most of the competition.

Speaking of Apex 2012, how about that losers’ bracket run? After getting defeated by KirbyKaze in winners, Hungrybox went through a gauntlet of opponents, defeating DaShizWiz, Silent Wolf, Zhu, Wobbles, Shroomed, KirbyKaze, Javi, his nemesis Mango and even Armada. The last set he won this tournament, by the way, was a three-match comeback in a set where Hungrybox went down 2-0 and ended up for playing for over half an hour just to reset the bracket. Though the 3-1 loss in the second set certainly stops this from being a totally successful tournament, it certainly begs the question: how high up does this go on a list for greatest losers bracket runs in Melee history?

3. Joseph “MaNg0” Marquez

After Apex 2012, when he lost to Armada and Hungrybox for a third place finish, Mango went on a semi-hiatus, “retiring” from the game and just playing in his region, often sandbagging as Falcon against his opponents and even dropping a set to Westballz while playing as Falcon. His fans still loved him, with some refusing to admit that he wasn’t the best player in the world any more, but Mango’s competitive drive could only be held for so long.

At IMPULSE, Mango defeated Montreal’s best in Vwins, while also defeating Mew2King, Hungrybox and his Falco apprentice Dr. PeePee twice, dropping only one set to Dr. PeePee in grand finals before a dominant 3-0 in the second set. All of a sudden, Mango was again arguably America’s best player.

“Legend” has it that his loss against Bladewise at the Rule 6 Regional, came as a result of intentionally sandbagging as Fox, just so he could eliminate Kels from bracket as quickly as possible. Mango proceeded to win the tournament from losers, causing many in the Smashboards Rule 6 result thread to chastise Mango for losing to Bladewise and dropping games throughout the tournament – despite him winning anyway.

2. Kevin “Dr. PeePee” Nanney

If you want to see the data behind our No. 2 pick, check out the data dump below, which shows Javi, as Dr. PeePee’s worst serious loss of the year – and indubitably the biggest upset of 2012. For now, let’s focus on the backstory behind the first of Dr. PeePee’s two infamous popoffs of the year: Zenith 2012.

Imagine you’re him and it’s Game 5 of Grand Finals. In Winners Semis, you got annihilated on Mew2King’s Final Destination counterpick and couldn’t pull yourself together, losing the set. You’ve now lost to the last three gods you’ve played against and have already suffered a loss to Javi earlier in the year, causing people to unfairly question your status as a Top Five player. In that set against Javi, you also had to deal with a similarly cheering group of people against you: no longer an eager up and comer that people wanted to see succeed, but a target for other competitors.

After dispatching of Jman, Hungrybox and Chu Dat, you take the first set away from Mew2King, but still keep losing on Final Destination, even trying a Marth counterpick, being jeered at by a Mew2King-cheering crowd. Even outside of this stage, every time Mew2King gets a combo, they explode. There’s no subtlety in G$’s voice: the crowd wants you to lose.

To make matters worse, Mew2King keeps asking you over and over again if he can go back to the same stage – despite already winning on it before. He’s holding up the last game of Grand Finals by asking TOs if he can select Final Destination, begging you and effectively, either intentionally or unintentionally, pulling every grimy trick in the bag to gain an advantage.

You’ve had enough. Not only do you let him go Final Destination out of spite, you also pick Falco against him, despite getting JV4’d in winners bracket in the same matchup. This time, with everyone expecting Mew2King to embarrass you on his literal and metaphorical home turf, you go up four stocks to the one. After a momentary scare when Mew2King quickly takes your first and second stock, reminding everyone just why he’s so good on Final Destination, you clutch out a victory.

Tell me – after all of that, wouldn’t you have popped the hell off?

For the rest of the year, Dr. PeePee took sets from Armada, Hungrybox, most of the West Coast’s best players, and even defeated his Falco mentor Mango twice from losers bracket, all while playing in front of a rough California crowd, leading to another pop off – this time in front of Mango and his region, in arguably the greatest Falco ditto sets ever.

1. Adam “Armada” Lindgren

What more is there to say about the world’s clear No. 1? We could bore you with the details about how he only had two losses for the whole year, only dropping one set to Hungrybox and another to Dr. PeePee, the latter whom he held a 3-1 record against for the year. Just for reference, every other “god” of 2012 had a loss outside of our top five. With the knowledge we have now, isn’t GENESIS 2 to the end of 2012 really the era of Armada: the true god of Melee?

His most important set of the year was arguably Winners’ Finals at Apex 2012 against Mango. This was when he convincingly 3-0’d the former world No. 1, twice defeating the SoCal Fox on Yoshi’s Story: a stage thought of as lopsided in Fox’s favor against Peach.

Several people johnned for Mango after the set, saying that he didn’t care about competing as much, didn’t play Jigglypuff (despite Mango’s Fox being far more trained at this point), and had better “peak play.” Most reasonable people, however, had Armada as No. 1. Think of what a turnaround this was for the Melee scene. Three years ago, Armada was a nerdy Swedish teenager who asked competitors, “Who is you?” while carrying an entire continent on his back as the biggest underdog in Melee history at its biggest tournament.

By the end of 2012, it’s clear Armada wasn’t a Cinderella story anymore – he was Melee’s most dominant player, making him our easiest pick so far for the RetroSSBMRank.

Data Dump

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cXRwW2G1u3RLoaDIPOGFkC9vJybp2TFxov24x0t9qZ8/edit

Questions? Thoughts? Agreements or disagreements? Tweet to me (@ssbmjecht) or Catastrophe (@GCH_Catastrophe)! Special thank you to SleepyK, who helped us out as an advisor yet again!

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