Hi, everyone. I’m happy to present my Top 100 Melee Sets of All Time, with today’s focus on the sets ranked 20-11. Here’s a brief FAQ on this project and The Book of Melee.
What is The Book of Melee?
“The Book of Melee” is my upcoming book about the history of the competitive “Super Smash Bros. Melee” community. It follows Melee’s greatest players and leaders through their collective efforts to support the scene’s survival over nearly two decades. I began working on the book in late 2016, and am releasing it for electronic consumption on May 8, 2019. Physical copies are TBA, and currently only available for those who purchased the book for a limited offer on The Big House 8 Compendium. Purchasing a physical copy will be available at a later date.
What is The Top 100 Melee Sets of All Time?
This project is exactly what it sounds like: a recap of my top 100 favorite Melee sets leading up to my book release.
How did you determine the Top 100?
As detailed in my introduction and methodology post, I went through all of Melee history and picked my favorite sets from each year and major tournament. After creating this initial list, I chose to order and cut down what I had selected, based on both the criteria I listed in my previous post and personal taste. Before anyone asks about why “X” wasn’t on the list, chances are that it could have easily made the Top 100, but just wasn’t selected. There were a bit more than 120 sets that I initially listed.
More accurately, the final project could be interpreted as “Edwin’s Top 100 favorite Melee sets of all time.” But I’d like to think that the effort I took into pursuing this project, as well as writing a book about Melee history, would be enough for this list to be somewhat of an authoritative starting resource for any newcomer to the scene, and not just some guy’s opinion.
I’ve never heard of you! What makes you think you’re qualified to determine Melee’s best sets above anyone else?
I’ve been writing about Melee news and Melee history for almost three years. I can’t say that this list is really anything more than just my opinion based on a set of arbitrary criteria that I try to be fair with, but I hope it’s an entertaining and convincing read for anyone interested in Melee.
20. Mew2King vs. DaShizWiz at FAST 1
FAST 1 loser’s finals was dubbed by many Melee players as “the new Ken vs. Bombsoldier.” Even more impressively, it happened just mere months after Brawl’s release. While the stakes were certainly not supermajor-level, this set captivated so many in 2008 – the year in which everyone expected Melee to straight up die. Moreover, it goes to a thrilling, last-stock game five, giving it the slight edge over the sequel. Sorry, Hazz. You were sadly mistaken.
19. Mango vs. Leffen at Apex 2014
Mango might be the hero of this set, but without Leffen’s much-debuted return to America, there’s not as much at stake. The self-prophesized “godslayer” and community villain had already conquered Hungrybox and even took a 2-1 set lead against Mango. It set the stage for a final two games in which Mango carried his self-described nation on his back. The set boasts too many memorable moments, like the National Anthem combo, but what will be remembered above all else is the epic game five, which features my favorite D1 call of all time: “This could be it; THIS IS IT!!!?!?”
18. Mango vs. Armada at MLG Anaheim 2014
In mid-2014, Melee was amid a renaissance. Simply put, there were more tournaments, which led to the community seeing more of its greatest rivalry on the big stage. The winners and grand finals of MLG Anaheim 2014 are two of the premier sets of 2014, as well as a stunning display of what makes Mango vs. Armada such a thrilling rivalry.
17. Armada vs. Mango at Genesis 3
There’s something about the old magic of Genesis; the former guarantee of Mango-Armada grand finals that made it such a legendary series. In fitting fashion for the time, Armada’s path to grands was a relative cakewalk. Meanwhile, Mango had overcome an early loss in winner’s through loser’s bracket. Following a two-game explosive start by Mango, in which he convincingly beat Armada in the Fox ditto, Armada switched to his trademark Peach, officially cementing the same matchup as Genesis 2 grands five years before. The end result is one of the most compelling chapters of their rivalry, and a standing ovation for the long-anticipated return of the Genesis series.
16. Armada vs. PPMD at Apex 2013
When PPMD selected Marth to start grand finals, little did the average viewer know that he had actually been developing a new weapon in the shadows to complement his trademark Falco. Before the set, he told his friend and mentor Cactuar that he wanted to try it out, given how convincingly Armada had already beaten his Falco earlier. Nearly everything about these grand finals is theatric, from the brilliant Marth-Peach play of both players to the huge pop-offs at the end of nearly every game. For years, this was held as the gold standard of Marth-Peach.
15. Mango vs. Mew2King at Pound 3
A common misconception behind Pound 3 is that its grand finals were an anticlimactic slaughter, likely a result of the storied “Arwing Rest” in set two. But in reality, the first set of grand finals absolutely goes down to the wire. The importance of Pound 3 as Melee’s “final” major before the community planned to switch to Brawl also can’t be understated, nor can the fact that Pound 3 was Mango’s first supermajor victory, a cherry on top for the greatest loser’s bracket run of all time. Its whimper of a conclusion – Mew2King dejectedly opting for a Jigglypuff ditto on Brinstar – changes nothing, and in fact added a level of surrealism that in hindsight was the most fitting way for the Golden Age of Melee to finally end.
14. Isai vs. Ken at MOAST 3
A little-known fact about this “Smash Brothers” famous set is the community tragedy leading up to it. In the weekend before the heavily anticipated MOAST 3, the community mourned the death of KishCubed, a member of the legendary Kish brothers. While the documentary portrays this set as a defining moment of Isai’s legacy – and a display of top level Melee that had never been seen before – I can’t help but think of the greater picture of these exceptional sets as beyond the game. It should be remembered in the context of a mourning scene coming together in the wake of loss.
13. Leffen vs. Armada at BEAST V
For Leffen to get the better of Armada every now and then wasn’t a surprise. But earlier at BEAST V, he had already defeated Mango and Armada, now just one set away from winning a multi-god major for the first time. It wouldn’t be easy – as the legendary game four “meditation four-stock” proved, Melee’s final boss was playing on fire. Could Leffen stay cool and finally tear down Melee’s Mount Olympus?
12. PPMD vs. Leffen at Apex 2015
While PPMD-Leffen lore isn’t as well known as other rivalries, there’s a couple of interesting differentiators. Both were top players who had come from weaker regions (North Carolina and Stockholm) to dominate the top level of the metagame. They also were originally Falco players, but now played different characters. What’s especially remarkable, however, is that this set in particular is this the most watched full set of Melee on YouTube. Upon watching it, you can see why. Nearly every match is a slugfest, with bursts of strong play from both sides and a driving narrative of the dominant godslayer – having already checked the last name off his god hotlist – against the resilient, but physically crumbling PPMD standing as the last guardian of the Era of Five Gods in winner’s bracket.
11. Ken vs. Bombsoldier at Jack Garden Tournament
This is the set that launched a new age for the Melee metagame. Whether through Bombsoldier’s devastating combo game, his high-speed lasers, technical brilliance or even Ken unveiling Marth’s chaingrab on Falco as a response, this set is an all time classic. Held between the King of Smash and a then-obscure Japanese farmboy who happened to play like a terminator sent from the future to destroy Ken, it would forever change how people perceived the game’s very limits.