Countdown to The Book of Melee: The Top 100 Melee Sets of All Time Introduction & Methodology

As of today, The Book of Melee is set to launch as an ebook on May 8, 2019. It’s a bit after my planned April 20 launch date, but such is balancing a side journalism “gig” with a career. To celebrate the official release of The Book of Melee, I would like to introduce you to my latest project, “The Top 100 Sets of All-Time.”

Let’s cut everything else out of the way and get to the project and the process behind determining my Top 100 Melee sets of all-time.


Defining Terms: What is a set?

The overly academic title aside, I had to define what kind of “sets” would qualify for the list. To start off, I want to establish a few factors that went into determining my picks.

For the sake of argument, I have decided to use both the plural and Melee-vernacular definitions of “set” to create the list. In other words, some of the  sets I have listed in a spot are actually multiple sets listed together as “one set.” If you want to view this more cynically, I personally have no interest in spending effort differentiating between the quality of winners and grand finals sets of a matchup at the same event.

 

I also chose to prioritize sets that were best-of-fives or more over best-of-threes. I understand that most people will reasonably think this is unfair, so my reason for coming up with this decision is that in my mind, “the more Melee, the merrier.” This was the case for most sets, but nonetheless, keep an eye out for some of my favorite best-of-three sets.

Also, to disappoint my doubles fans per usual on this ground, I am not including any doubles sets in my list.

Determining The Talent Pool

In almost 20 years of Melee history, it’s difficult to create consistent criteria when it comes to determining the list. Coming up with this project on my own, I wasn’t sure of what to do, so before doing anything else, I asked myself, what were the best sets of each year?

Going through the Smash History databases, which are now maintained and updated by my former partner-in-crime Pikachu942, I picked my Top 10 sets of every year from 2009 to 2018. Because of the lack of recorded sets from 2008 and before,  I made a choice to include as many sets as I could think of from the MLG era and before, but as a whole, there were far less to choose from that stood over time.  It is, however, important to note that the sets which did make the cut into my list were boosted, due to their otherwise lack of representation on  the list.

By the end of my talent pool selection process, I had around 125 sets. So then came a bigger problem: how do I narrow down the list from there?

Creating the Criteria

Surprisingly, determining the top of the list was extremely easy. Without giving away any spoilers, four of my top five were no-brainers – in other words, sets that would straight up qualify or disqualify my ability to authoritatively make this list. As an aside, this is truly remarkable: that in Melee’s entire history, four sets clearly stand above the pack, though my pick for No. 1 is likely a bit out of left field and not one of the four most people would think of.

To get back to what it was like sorting the list, I had to think about differentiators per set. After much  thinking, and consultation from my Melee Stats friends, I came up with the following. Disclaimer: not all of these criteria were equally valued, nor were they quantified, but they gave me a starting point for evaluating sets.

  • Quality of Melee: how good, or notably impressive, was the quality of Melee played, relative to era?
  • Flash Factor: How entertaining is the Melee to watch for someone who has never watched a set of Melee before?
  • The Stakes: What were the consequences of each set, be it determining a winner of an exhibition set to winning a scene-defining tournament, changing a player’s legacy forever, or gaining greater cultural exposure?
  • Non-Gameplay Factors: what were non-gameplay factors (commentary, production, etc) that added to the legacy of this set?
  • Uniqueness: How different is this set from other similar sets between the two players in Melee history?

The first four factors are easy to understand, but the last one might sound odd. Basically, if multiple sets are played between the same two players, I penalized the less impressive sets and buffed the more essential sets within a head-to-head. This is to avoid a situation where the same three or four groupings of player dominate the Top 20, although there are notable exceptions within the top of my list. I am also doing this to give exposure to lesser known players who have had excellent sets of their own in the past.

A Final Note

At the end of this project, “The Book of Melee” will officially be out for electronic consumption over at Smashwords. Until then, here is the publishing schedule after today.

  • April 17: 100-91


  • April 19: 90-81


  • April 22: 80-71
  • April 24: 70-61
  • April 26: 60-51
  • April 29: 50-41
  • 

May 1: 40-31
  • May 3: 30-21


  • May 6: 20-11


  • May 8: 10-1 and The Book of Melee electronic release date

I’m currently working on printed and physical copies of my book to be completed by the late summer and fall. Until then, thanks for supporting me.

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