The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #6-10

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 11-20. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 6-10. 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.

For this article, Edwin Budding has written all of the blurbs.

10. Christopher “PC Chris” Szygiel

1st at MLG New York Opener 2006
1st at MLG Las Vegas 2006
1st at Zero Challenge 3
1st at MELEE-FC6
2nd at MLG New York Playoffs 2006

PC Chris embodied Fox years before Leffen, playing a balanced style influenced by both Zelgadis and Chillin. However, it was his post-Bombsoldier era Falco that helped him win MLG New York Opener 2006, where he started off the season by dethroning Ken, the best player in the world. PC consistently battled Ken for the title of best Melee player throughout 2006, ending the year  by winning MLG’s ultimate championship at MLG Las Vegas 2006. Half a year later at Zero Challenge 3, PC defeated HugS, Vidjogamer, Drephen, Ken, ChuDat and finally Mew2King twice to win the tournament. At the time, it was Melee’s best losers bracket run ever.

It’s worth noting that along with his reputation for being a master of both spacies, he had arguably the best Peach in the world before Armada’s reign. PC frequently brought her out in floatier, slower matchups, like against Samus and Jigglypuff. His Sheik, Marth and Captain Falcon were also strong secondaries that he sometimes brought out to varying degrees of success versus KoreanDJ and Mew2King. This showed that PC’s fundamentals fit many other characters and matchups.

When Brawl came out, PC continued to occasionally compete in Melee, though playing its sequel split his time. He nonetheless finished a strong fourth at Revival of Melee and stayed well regarded as a competitor. For example, PC defeated Jman and Mango at a No Johns tournament en route to win it. You might discount this as a local, but these tourneys typically featured some of Tristate’s best post-Brawl talent. Winning one of these locals was no simple feat.

Quite a bit of his career is covered within the legendary “Smash Brothers” documentary. Though he briefly tried to return in 2015, he simply couldn’t find enough time to consistently compete any more – and today he remains retired. However, if you watch any Fox or Falco player today, you’ll catch glimpses of what PC did years ago.

9. Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez

1st at Pound 2
2nd at MLG Chicago 2006
2nd at MLG Orlando 2006
2nd at MLG New York 2005
2nd at Viva La Smashtaclysm

Life has three guarantees: death, taxes and ChuDat’s presence in the Melee community. The legend of ChuDat started in late 2002, before his name became synonymous with the Ice Climbers. Back then, he shocked many in the H2YL crew by defeating its star player in Azen, with Fox.

After 15 years, it’s become clear that ChuDat might literally transcend time. He’s made 38 national top eights, the fifth most out of any player ever. Even when the metagame started to become more punish-game heavy and technical, ChuDat remained as strong as ever. He frequently stood as a roadblock for PC Chris, Mew2King and KoreanDJ in bracket, not to mention Isai, who had a career losing record against ChuDat.

ChuDat’s career offers a lot to celebrate, but many of his sets with Ken leave a bittersweet taste in his legacy. The two sometimes split tournament winnings when they played, which made their sets feel competitively illegitimate and left ChuDat frequently on the losing end. Veteran smashers often ponder about Isai being the best if he tried, but what about ChuDat? If he could take Ken to game five with Game & Watch – or if such practices of splitting weren’t so common in the scene – would ChuDat have ever been the best player in the world? No one will ever know.

Regardless, the legend of ChuDat continues to carry on. Just last year, he finished as Melee’s No. 11 player. If there’s anything guaranteed in Melee history, it’s that ChuDat isn’t going anywhere else any time soon. Chances are, we’ll see him “surprise” us, sooner or later.

8. William “Leffen” Hjelte

1st at HTC Throwdown
1st at CEO 2015
1st at GOML 2016
1st at WTFox
1st at BEAST 5

Leffen isn’t one to care about how others perceive his legacy. From his very beginnings as a Falco main from Stockholm, Sweden, his fearless dedication toward becoming Melee’s best player helped him overcome challenges no other smashers faced.

Initially someone who often belittled his opposition and became notorious for his extremely poor behavior within the community, Leffen was temporarily banned from attending tournaments in Europe. After a period of self-improvement and harbored resentment for what he felt was an unfair process – and personal betrayal from his friend Armada, who led the charge against him – Leffen returned with a vengeance. Upon his return in early 2014, he quickly became the first player to defeat all five gods,  proving himself as Melee’s next great talent. When Leffen began to win more and more majors in the middle of 2015, the question that smashers faced wasn’t whether Leffen qualified as a “god” or not – it was if anyone could stop him

Just as he seemed destined to take Melee’s throne, the Swedish Fox received another blow to his career. Before The Big House 5, Leffen received an indefinite travel ban from the United States government because of issues surrounding his visa. For most players, this would have crushed their will to ever compete again, but even through the emotional lows he suffered from having his dream snatched from him yet again, Leffen remained resilient. Amid his ban, he had by far the most impressive tournament performance of the modern era, winning GOML 2016 in Canada by defeating Mew2King, Armada, Hungrybox and Mango without dropping a single set. Today, Leffen is back, allowed to compete in America and looking to continue where he left off.

The Swede’s influence on the Fox metagame can’t be summarized in a paragraph. His list of supermajor victories and status as the first player to challenge the five gods of Melee bears no repeating. Leffen’s tale is one of determination, damnation and redemption: a gripping narrative to watch as he tries to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming both a world champion and Melee’s greatest player ever.

7. Christopher “Azen” McMullen  

1st at Tournament Go 6
1st at MLG New York Playoffs 2006
1st at MLG Orlando 2006
1st at Viva La Smashtaclysm
1st at MLG Seattle 2005

For the first few years of Melee’s competitive history, Azen played several characters in tournament, boasting in-game intuition, adaptation skills and early game knowledge that far surpassed many smashers of the time. In addition to his natural advantages, “the master of diversity” is often credited as the first relevant player to L-Cancel, illustrating one of the first technical requirements needed for top level gameplay.

While he stood as the No. 2 of the MLG era, it’s important to note Azen’s strange career trends. He’d frequently win a prestigious supermajor like TG6, but then have a relatively underwhelming showing at another event, such as MLG New York 2004. He’d have periods of success met with even longer disappearances, even opting to play as low tiers in bracket when he did return. Sometimes, Azen just flat out disappointed, like at FC3, where he finished ninth despite playing Marth.

Ironically, Azen showed up on the biggest stage whenever people started to count him out.  He returned from yet another break to finish fourth at MLG Chicago 2005 – defeating PC Chris, who many thought already succeeded Azen as the king of the East Coast . Following this showing, he shockingly won MLG Orlando 2006 and MLG New York Playoffs 2006, the latter of which is arguably the greatest individual tournament performance of a Melee player ever.

Following his ho-hum performance at MLG Las Vegas 2006, Azen once again vanished from the national scene. Around a year later, he finished a forgettable ninth at Super Champ Combo and then suddenly won Viva La Smashtaclysm: the final major of the MLG underground circuit of 2007. As much of an enigma within his performances as he is out of Melee, the legend featured in “The Smash Brothers” holds an unpredictable, riveting and memorable legacy.

6. Kevin “PPMD” Nanney

1st at Pound V
1st at Apex 2014
1st at Apex 2015
1st at Revival of Melee 3
1st at SKTAR 3

The artist formerly known as Dr. PeePee sported a Falco that quickly made a name for itself above contemporaries like DaShizWiz, PC Chris and Zhu. Coming out of seemingly nowhere in North Carolina to finished second at Revival of Melee 2, PPMD continued to improve, winning the series’ sequel over Mew2King a year later. Following this tournament, PPMD won Winter Gamefest VI and then Pound V, officially having beaten all four of his closest rivals in the span of months and standing as arguably the best player in the world. His Falco looked insurmountable, with lasers reminiscent of Lambchops and world class fundamentals that allowed him to control the neutral game better than any other smasher.

For the next four and a half years, PPMD stayed within the game’s elite, winning many majors and even enjoying a brief stretch of dominance in the first half of 2014, when he looked like the best player in the world. Eventually developing a legendary Marth that routinely whooped Mew2King in the ditto and helped force Armada to switch to Fox, PPMD’s peak with both Falco and Marth cemented him among both characters’ greatest players. No player came close to emulating PPMD’s legendary dash dance and positional discipline.

Personal health issues including depression and fatigue have hindered PPMD’s ability to attend as many nationals as his peers. Following his poor showing in early 2016’s Battle of Five Gods, PPMD disappeared from the national scene. To date, he hasn’t returned to a singles bracket. Currently, the scene awaits not only PPMD’s return, but his victory over his scariest opponent yet.

Yet in the middle of last year, the Melee great showed a ray of hope, attending Bad Moon Rising 2 to play in doubles with his friend LoZR. Here, the two finished a respectable fourth place, notably defeating Hungrybox and Crunch. If that marks a sign of what to expect from a fully-prepared and healthy PPMD, then make no mistake: the doctor will be back in full force.

Thanks for reading, everyone. We’ll be back by the end of the week with the final installment of our Top 100 players ever: the last five spots. See you then.

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