Close your eyes and think of what life was like ten years ago. You probably didn’t use Facebook yet, but there was MySpace and a more primitive YouTube. If you were alive, you were technically the Time Person of the Year. If you played Super Smash Bros. Melee in tournament, you could counterpick to Brinstar, Corneria, Kong Jungle 64 and other wacky stages.
2006 marked Melee’s biggest year since it entered competitive gaming’s spotlight. For reference, 2005’s largest tournament, FC3 had 186 entrants for Melee singles. In 2006, FC6 had 205 entrants. These don’t seem like big numbers, but for their respective times, they were Melee’s largest tournaments ever.
For the first time since his entry into competitive Melee, Ken couldn’t just attend any American tournament and be guaranteed Top 3. With prize pools at MLG tournaments being higher than ever, the stakes were higher than before in Melee’s history. No longer could the scene afford to let Ken clean house at almost every event – he had new challengers for the throne. The question was whether he could keep it or not.
Catastrophe and I are back (with SleepyK, of course) for our ten-year throwback to 2006 and our RetroSSBMRank for the year. You know the drill.
*Disclaimer: Due to the lack of American tournament data and difficulty in deciding where to evaluating their skill level, we were not sure where to place some of the year’s highest placing players. For example, in Europe, Amsah and EK were the two best players on the continent, with EK being called “The European Ken” by Captain Jack and Amsah having arguably the greatest Melee comeback of all time. Meanwhile, Masashi, Captain Jack, Mikael, Shu, S-Royal, Kei and Hoshino Kirby were among Japan’s best players, with a strong showing at Zero Challenge 2 from Captain Jack, Shu, Kei and Hoshino Kirby, while S-Royal had a 5th place showing at NorCal Tournament 2.
**Disclaimer II: For a similar reason to above, we also didn’t include KM on the list, though he defeated Chillin and Chu Dat locally and got ninth at his only attended national (FC6).
**Disclaimer III: We are still looking for the full FC6 bracket. If anyone has them, please contact us – we would love to clean up our data and make changes, if needed!
Drew “Drephen” Scoles
Known for his frustratingly simple, but tech-chase and downsmash-heavy Sheik playstyle, Drephen was one of the top five Midwest players, along with Darkrain, Tink, Vidjogamer and Dope. Although Drephen wasn’t quite yet a force at nationals, he still went 2-2 with Vidjogamer, while having a strong 2-1 record against Tink.
David “Darkrain” John
Thought of as the successor to Isai’s Captain Falcon, Darkrain was still one of the flashiest players of his time and the Midwest’s best Captain Falcon main. He was particularly good against Peach and Sheik, due to his practice against Vidjogamer and Drephen: both of whom he occasionally outplaced in local tournaments.
Wesley “FASTLIKETREE” Hunt
A Fox and Marth dual main from Texas, FLT beat Isai’s Sheik (his first major tournament match), Rob$ and Wife in his first major tournament appearance at MLG Dallas 2006, when he placed sixth. FLT also had wins over Chillin and Taj on the year, as well as coining the term tree-grabbing, where you grab somebody from behind while running.
Christopher “Wife” Fabiszak
Known mostly for his presence in the Smash Brothers documentary, as well as being a figurehead within the scene, Wife was still a Top 20 player of his era, with wins over Chu Dat, KoreanDJ, Tink and The King. Because of his practice with Husband, his teammate and a Marth player, Wife, a solid Peach player, was particularly proficient against Marth, despite the matchup being seen back then – and mostly still today – as heavily in Marth’s favor.
Robert “Rob$” Aldape
A year after surprising the Midwest with a first place at Show Me Your Moves 3 over Caveman, Darkrain and Eddie, the Texas Sheik and Falco player had victories like KoreanDJ, Tink, HugS and The King in 2006. At FC6, he placed a strong fifth, ahead of players like Chillin, Wife, Drephen and other contemporaries.
Daniel “The King” Hutchinson
Known as the inspiration behind a random Jigglypuff player of the future, The King was one of DBR’s most notable members, beating Tink, Dope and Darkrain in the year. His best performance was at MLG New York Playoffs 2006 in doubles, when he and Mew2King beat Ken and Isai in losers bracket, placing second.
Tony “Taj” Jackson
He hadn’t quite broke out on a national level like he later did at GENESIS 2, but Taj was still a Marth main to watch on the West Coast, as he and his friend Forward frequently placed near the top of Arizona tournaments and teamed together, even becoming the first team to ever take a set off Ken and Isai in tournament, who were both thought of as untouchable in teams. Speaking of which, how about Taj’s double elimination of Ken near the end of the year in the last SoCal biweekly on December 30 (Editor’s Note: we weren’t able to find the characters both people played)?
Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez
Having finally taken over DA Wes’ previous position as the premier Samus player in the world, HugS had several spacie names to add to his list of defeated opponents, which included Rob$, Dope, Chillin and PC Chris, who infamously lost to him for 13th place at MLG Orlando 2006. HugS wasn’t just good against Fox and Falco either, as he had victories over Tink and Taj, along with other strong players like Edrees, ManaCloud and KillaOR.
Nathaniel “NEO” Eugene Owen
Remembered as a Roy main, NEO was additionally a strong Marth player who, even while playing Roy, still placed highly at nationals, including a seventh place at MLG New York 2005 and a fifth place at MLG New York Opener 2006. His wins over Isai, Chillin and Mew2King were impressive enough to warrant his place on our honorable mentions, as well as cement his status as MD/VA’s No. 4 player after the H2YL crew members.
Wayne “Tink” Gralewski
Before there was Kels, there was Tink in the Midwest as its best Fox player, getting fourth at MLG New York Opener 2006, with wins over Eddie, Rob$ and even Isai. The No. 1 player in Indiana at the time, Tink also had a slick Marth that got ninth at MLG Chicago.
10. Kashan “Chillindude829” Khan
Before he became known for being a hilarious smasher-rapper hybrid and subject of “My B” jokes, Chillin was certainly a top ten player and a prominent TO in the scene. Already one of the only Fox players to ever defeat Ken in bracket, Chillin continued his stretch of solid showings into 2006, with wins over Wife, ManaCloud, Tink and a dominant 3-0 on KoreanDJ.
9. James “Dope” Hafner
A “dope” Falco (pun fully intended) from Michigan, Dope was a consistent force at the nationals he showed up to, taking sets from Mew2King and Isai during the year. Dope’s best accomplishment for the year was arguably his first place at Show Me Your Moves 6, which he won over the likes of Drephen, Tink, Darkrain, Vidjogamer and CunningKitsune, solidifying his place as the Midwest’s best player in-region, as seen from his No. 1 rank on the Midwest Power Rankings in early 2007.
8. Jesse “Vidjogamer” Werner
Ranked No. 10 on 2006’s Smash Panel Power Rankings, Vidjogamer was slightly higher on our list at No. 8. Despite his No. 5 rank in early 2007 on the Midwest Power Rankings, Vidjo had strong records over every player in the Midwest, including a positive 2-1 record on contemporary Dope. His best tourney of the year was FC6, where the legendary Cleveland-native Peach defeated Azen (sandbagging), PC Chris and Chu Dat en route to third place. Another fun note: Vidjogamer a decade later finished 49th at Shine 2016, winning the tournament’s amateur bracket despite not playing seriously in years.
7. Joel “Isai” Alvarado
Isai could have been even higher if he – wait, we seriously mean it this time. Isai sandbagged for most of the year during singles, playing characters outside of Captain Falcon even at MLG tournaments. However, along with taking a set from Ken in one of the few times Isai actually went one of his mains, Isai was a fearsome doubles player – to such a point that when he and Ken played together, they were thought of as unbeatable, taking first at every tournament they entered except for MLG Chicago and MLG New York Playoffs.
6. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman
It’s hard to imagine now, but back in 2006, Mew2King was thought of as one of the most revolutionary Fox players for the time, frequently double shining near ledge and doing other modern Fox techniques. In 2006, he had an even record against KoreanDJ throughout the year, beat Isai three times and even took a set from the legendary king of smash himself, Ken, showing that the man who was once the butt of jokes was now beating everyone who doubted him.
5. Daniel “KoreanDJ” Jung
Documentary kids know him and love him as a model for all up-and-comers wanting to take down everyone he played through money matching. Melee veterans know him for his brilliant Sheik, Fox and Marth play. Unquestionably the best in New England during this time, KoreanDJ broke out nationally in 2006, defeating Ken three times throughout the year, going back and forth with New Jersey’s rising star Mew2King and taking a couple sets off of PC Chris.
This was particularly surprising, because the Melee scene already had a hierarchy of established top players – a guy like KoreanDJ to come out of nowhere and eventually start beating them in tournament was virtually unheard of. Think of KoreanDJ in 2006 like Leffen in 2014, unafraid and ready to take down the game’s giants in his race to become No. 1.
4. Daniel “Chu Dat” Rodriguez
Though we didn’t agree with Chu Dat’s No. 2 in the world reputation from his place on the Smash Panel Power Rankings for the year, Chu Dat was still No. 4 on our list, with an Ice Climbers, Young Link, Fox and Pikachu whenever he needed to use them in tournament. Say what you want about his somewhat regional allegiance being to the West Coast while still coming from MD/VA, but you couldn’t deny Chu Dat’s results.
Although his only tournament win of the year was the first Pound, Chu Dat still had a high number of top-level wins. In 2006, he went back and forth with PC Chris, while leading an incredibly lopsided 11-0 record against both KoreanDJ and Mew2King combined. That’s the equivalent of someone like Mew2King today never losing to Plup or SFAT for an entire year.
3. Christopher “PC Chris” Szygiel
PC Chris shocked the world when he defeated Ken twice at MLG New York Opener 2006, becoming the first Falco player to ever defeat Ken in bracket, aggressively calling out his movement with Falco’s aerials and shooting smart lasers to halt his dash dancing. This was particularly revolution at the time because most space animal players were too afraid to fight Ken head on. He even forced the vaunted SoCal Marth to switch to his secondary, Fox.
PC Chris wasn’t quite done yet, taking first at FC6 and winning MLG Las Vegas 2006, garnering himself $10,000 and one of the most iconic photos in professional smash history. Inspired by Bombsoldier’s combo-heavy, fast Falco for the time, he brought a new level of calculating aggression to the Falco metagame, with technical skill that hadn’t been seen in the United States for a Falco player before.
In particular was PC Chris’ proficiency in faster matchups, as seen through his 10-0 combined record against Mew2King, Isai and Chillin. Furthermore, not many people know about PC Chris’ Marth secondary, which he sometimes brought out in tournament against players like KoreanDJ.
2. Christopher “Azen Zagenite” McMullen
In 2006, Azen didn’t go out as much, preferring to play locally and sandbag with low tiers when he did attend national tournaments. This is evident from his 13th place at FC6 and ninth place at MLG New York 2005, which would normally put him a lot lower on our list. But consider how good Azen was when he actually played seriously at tournaments. Against our top 10 for 2006, Azen had by far the most impressive head to heads, standing at 15-3 for the year, with an 11-2 record against other top five players.
Azen’s best performance came at MLG New York Playoffs 2006, when he made a miraculous three to one stock Marth ditto comeback against his longtime nemesis Ken, eventually winning the tournament after dispatching of KoreanDJ and PC Chris twice. The victory against Ken is often thought of as one of the greatest comebacks of all-time, especially given how much Ken had defeated him in the past, though most of their sets were extremely close.
1. Ken “SephirothKen” Hoang
Out of his contemporaries in PC Chris and Azen, Ken won the most amount of national titles between the two of them, holding a more dominant record against the rest of our top ten. Unlike previous years, Ken wasn’t unchallenged, but he entered the year having proven himself already to be the world’s best player.
That’s not to say that Ken couldn’t lose. Along with struggling against KoreanDJ’s Sheik, Ken went even in sets against PC Chris and Azen, even being double eliminated from the last SoCal biweekly of the year by Taj in their only head to head (though we are unsure of which characters Ken played). However, you also have to consider his wealth of title wins against the entire field. For example, look at OC2, where he defeated Sastopher, Captain Jack, KoreanDJ, Mew2King and Chu Dat en route to winning the tournament.
Moreover, Ken’s greatest skill wasn’t his revolutionary dash dance or his combo game – it was his ability to adapt to his opponents. After losing to PC Chris twice early in the year, Ken began adapting to his aerial-heavy approaches by stuffing them with counter: a move that most Marth players had abandoned in favor of dash dancing and trying to imitate Ken or Azen. This was the kind of resilience and innovation that Ken consistently showed in the face of great competition. Given his results, we found it quite defensible to put Ken as No. 1 for the year.
Get used to seeing his name here a lot.
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