Hello, everyone! Pikachu942 and I are happy to present the next part of our Top 100 Melee players of all-time. In our last posts, we uncovered the players ranked 21-30. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 11-20. 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.
20. Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni
2nd at Shine 2016
3rd at CEO 2016
4th at GT-X 2017
4th at Smash Rivalries
4th at The Big House 3
SFAT is one of Melee’s smartest and most dedicated competitors, making a name for himself in the post-DBR era of NorCal. SFAT, Shroomed and PewPewU ruled their region together, but eventually SFAT became the clear No. 1 of the land. Now living in SoCal, SFAT has become the best local-attending player on the other side of California, along with a safe pick for top eights at any major he attends.
With wins over Mango, Mew2King, Hungrybox, Leffen and Plup in his career, SFAT has reached the point of being a modern demigod. His Shine 2016 performance stands out as one where he’s come exceptionally close to victory, but winning a national in the era of the “gods” is a crossroads that only Leffen and Plup have ever crossed. Can SFAT also do it?
– Edwin Budding
19. Kashan “Chillin” Khan
2nd at C3 A Tournament in October
4th at Gettin Schooled 2
4th at Pound 2
5th at MLG Chicago 2006
5th at MLG New York 2005
Chillin’s legacy frequently flies under the radar because of his reputation as an entertaining streamer and personality. Back in the MLG era, he heavily influenced the Fox metagame as one of the character’s earliest representatives. Chillin also played a massive role in the Melee community’s growth. People remember his victory over Ken at Game Over, but do they even realize that he helped organized and run the same groundbreaking tournament, bringing the West Coast, East Coast and Midwest together under one roof? Probably not.
There’s not many players in Melee history who can say that they’ve beaten the best player in the world across three different eras. However, Chillin can. He has multiple wins over Ken, beat Mew2King twice during his well-revered prime and also took a set from Mango in 2014. Despite struggling to maintain consistency for some of his career, his peak performances certainly warrant notice and make him an obvious inclusion into Melee’s all-time top 20.
– Edwin Budding
18. Jesus “Jman” Fernandez
4th at Revival of Melee 3
4th at Revival of Melee 4
5th at Pound 4
5th at Revival of Melee 2
5th at Zenith 2012
Many newer players have probably never seen or heard of Jman, so they might be wondering why he is so high on the list. Well, the simple answer is, he was the closest person to usurp the gods until Leffen’s rise. Jman was a force to be reckoned from as early as 2008, where he shockingly took the only local set off Mew2King in the whole year. He rode this success into the following year, where he finished in the top three at APEX 2009. Jman also won a set over Mango’s Falco at a Mass Madness, a year later defeating PPMD, showing prowess in the matchup. In late 2010, Jman earned the biggest accomplishment of his career by finishing first at Don’ Go Down There Jeff: a NorCal major that featured Mango, Hungrybox and top talent from the entire West Coast.
You’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Leffen in this article, and it’s clearly an apt one. Between playing Fox and constantly knocking at the door of the gods, Jman and the Swede shared a few similarities. Jman would never be able to break that glass ceiling, due to publicly unknown personal problems that now prevent him from competing at tournaments. Despite this, Jman’s peak in 2009 to 2011 is something to be remembered, as he was effectively the No. 6 of the post-Brawl era.
17. Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel
4th at Smash N Splash 3
5th at Smash Summit 2
5th at GENESIS 2
5th at APEX 2013
5th at GT-X 2017
Shroomed, known as the greatest Dr. Mario player of all-time, was a consistent presence at national top eights, making 22 of them this decade. Continuing the tradition of NorCal Docs being prominent in the metagame, he turned out to be by far the character’s top representative, going above and beyond even what Bob$ and HomeMadeWaffles accomplished. At Genesis 2, Shroomed defeated Dr. PeePee, making his way to losers quarters at the biggest major of 2011. That marked just the beginning of his career.
Once players in his own region who began to figure out how to beat his character, Shroomed eventually switched to Sheik, also building a secondary Marth. In the modern era, he’s added Mew2King and Mango to his list of big wins, with last year holding Shroomed’s best supermajor performance ever. Though he’s somewhat declined in terms of relative skill, Shroomed remains a constant presence in major Top 32s. His heavy emphasis on fundamentals, controlling center stage and engaging with his opponents led him to stay relevant for top-level Melee over the last seven years. If he cleans up his combo game, Shroomed could finally break through his perceived ceiling.
– Edwin Budding
16. Robert “Wobbles” Wright
2nd at EVO 2013
4th at Battle of the Five Gods
5th at Super Champ Combo
5th at APEX 2010
9th at GENESIS 2
Wobbles is a legendary figure in the community for a wide variety of reasons. His innovations with the Ice Climbers are well-documented, notably popularizing the infamous wobble technique, with it actually being named after him, and inventing the unique hand-offs that many ICs use today. His tournament results are also well-defined, spanning multiple from 2006 to his retirement in 2017. Defeating practically everybody you know from both eras, Wobbles has done all he needed to and more to inspire and wow us, regardless of the time period. His mind outside of the game is well-respected too, with his blog “Compete Complete” being a collection of some of his thoughts and a great read for any competitor. His improvement not just as a player, but as a human being through the vehicle of Smash remains an inspiring story.
Consider his humble beginnings at NorCal Tournament 2 and being hated for the widespread use of wobbling, to Mango Juice and his infamous controller throw against SilentSpectre, all the way up to his crowning achievement: Evo 2013. At the latter event, the most important Melee tournament of all-time, Wobbles defeated Eggz, Fiction, Lord, Shroomed, Mango, PPMD and Hungrybox to reach winner’s side of Grand Finals, a monumental feat for an Ice Climber that hadn’t been seen since ChuDat’s run at Pound 2 in 2007. Defeating three gods in a single tournament, including two he had never defeated before, was something no other non-god could ever say they did at the time. Wobbles has since retired from competing and moved on to commentary, where he also excels, but his years as a competitor, an innovator, and a teacher to the whole community will never be forgotten.
15. Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson
3rd at MVG Sandstorm
3rd at Press Start
3rd at DreamHack Denver 2017
4th at GENESIS 3
4th at Pound V
Axe’s sheer longevity of being at least top 15 with a mid-tier character is something nobody else has ever replicated. This is even more impressive considering Axe has continued to be one of the only Pikachus to crack the Top 100, let alone the Top 50, let alone the Top 10.
It just seems like he keeps getting better. His monumental success in the face of adversity is something to be admired, as he has consistently made top eights at even the biggest majors for his entire career. Starting with his breakout win over Jman at Genesis in 2009, Axe continued rising, and has now placed in 29 total major top eights, the sixth most of all-time, surpassing Ken, Azen, Leffen, Plup and PPMD, among others. With wins on Mango, Mew2King, PPMD and Hungrybox to his name throughout the years, as well as a longevity and peak few can dream of with top-tier characters, let alone a mid-tier like Pikachu, it’s easy to see why Axe is deserving of an impressive Top 15 spot.
14. Ryota “CaptainJack” Yoshida
1st at MLG San Franciso 2004
2nd at Tournament Go 6
3rd at MLG New York 2004
7th at Jack Garden Tournament
7th at Zero Challenge 2
CaptainJack’s skills were so legendary that he once defeated Ken’s Marth in friendlies with Donkey Kong and Bowser. In the days of Melee’s competitive infancy, as well as the early MLG era, he stood among the game’s deadliest competitors, if not its most feared, due to his well-regarded status as one of Japan’s best players – in an era where Japan was widely considered to have the best competitors. He’s also often credited as one of the first players to effectively take advantage of DI.
The Japanese Sheik boasted somewhat of a reputation for being an international mercenary, frequently traveling long distances to compete against the best of different scenes. In addition to his success in the United States, CaptainJack won @M in Australia, defeating the Australian legend Kupo. He also holds a victory at Dutch Tournament 10 over Remen and beat Ek to win RoofSM. Years later, he finished just under Amsah at the Renaissance of Smash 2, but some of you might recognize the name of the person he double eliminated: Armada.
– Edwin Budding
13. Daniel “KoreanDJ” Jung
1st at MLG Long Island 2007
2nd at MLG Las Vegas 2006
2nd at Cataclysm 3
3rd at MLG Orlando 2006
3rd at Viva La Smashtaclysm
“Now, he will try.” These immortal words remain part of the New England great’s legacy, partially chronicled within the “Smash Brothers” documentary. Sporting a heavily aggressive, in-your-face, proactive and punish-game heavy style, KoreanDJ eventually grew a legend of his own, becoming New England’s greatest player of all-time. His Sheik is often attributed as being the first to go deep off stage for edgeguards, while his other characters were just as impressive.
At MLG Las Vegas 2006, KoreanDJ became the first player to ever defeat Ken three consecutive times. He’s also one of two players in 2007 to hold a winning record over Mew2King in the year. Many today viewing him as one of the great what-ifs in Melee history, due to his academic responsibilities keeping him from competing as much as many initially expected. KoreanDJ enjoyed a brief comeback period from 2012 to early 2015, where he stayed as a constant Top 50 level player and even garnered a Team Liquid sponsorship before eventually retiring for good, due to hand pains and a lack of competitive motivation. Occasionally, he plays Melee with his close friends and has attended both installments of the Shine series, finishing a respectable 33rd at Shine 2016.
– Edwin Budding
12. Justin “Plup” McGrath
1st at GENESIS 5
1st at DreamHack Atlanta 2017
2nd at The Big House 7
3rd at EVO 2016
3rd at Super Smash Con 2017
When Hungrybox deemed Plup the best Samus in the world all the way back in 2011, it felt like hyperbole. Yet Plup quickly rose up the ranks, being ranked in the Top 30 for 2013, Top 20 for 2014, Top 10 for 2015 and trending upward ever since. Between his blazing fast platform movement, punish game conversions, shield drops and a seemingly endless amount of character knowledge across different matchups, Plup has the entire package for being a top player. During his fifth place run at Paragon Orlando 2015, Plup gained the first big set win of his career when he defeated Leffen in winners quarters.
For years, many wondered if he could ever overcome perceived mental barriers, as smashers postulated on his habit of laughing mid-set. The reality was that this remained speculative nonsense. Having beaten everyone in his path and earned himself two supermajors over the last year, it’s clear that Plup has what it takes to not only possibly become the best player in the world, but also etch himself as one of Melee’s “new gods,” not that he particularly cares about such titles. At his current rate of improvement, Plup could not only become the best player in the world – he could just as easily leapfrog ahead of the names above him.
– Edwin Budding
11. Joel “Isai” Alvarado
1st at MOAST 3
1st at MLG Los Angeles 2005
2nd at MLG New York 2004
2nd at MLG San Francisco 2004
2nd at MLG DC 2005
Widely known as the greatest Captain Falcon main of all time, Isai was a true star of the old school era of Melee. Starting as a 64 player back when the game first game out, he transitioned to Melee around 2003 under the tutelage of Ken. With Ken, they were known as the greatest doubles team of all-time, but without Ken, Isai was still a force to be reckoned with. His doubles legacy is one of the greatest, but his singles legacy is nearly as strong, being a Top 5 player for multiple years and winning several majors, like MOAST 3 and MLG Los Angeles 2005, both over Ken. He was the only one to pose a consistent challenge to the king of smash during his prime.
Legend has it that Isai would practice haxdashes and shield drops in basements of 2005 tournaments, years before Hax was even done with middle school. Isai cared less and less for singles as years passed, and by 2007 would often sandbag in multiple tourneys and prefer to focus on doubles where he continued to post solid results, including even as late as 2011, where he placed 13th in doubles with S2J at GENESIS 2. While the myth of Isai being the best in the world “if he tried” Isai remains somewhat exaggerated, the truth is people actually believed it during his prime. The skill he showed during MOAST 3 Grand Finals, an iconic set that pushed the entire metagame, showed many what he was capable of. A true pioneer for his character, Melee and Smash as a whole, Isai is one of the most legendary figures our community has ever known.
Next time, we’ll be back, but with a twist: we’ll be covering the players ranked 10-6, with slightly longer sections dedicated to them. Thanks for reading!