Monday Morning Marth: 4/2

This is part of a new series that I’m trying to do, as a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In this series, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community.

Last weekend was a bit of a retreat to normalcy after Full Bloom 4, so for the most part, this column will be short. I’ll also be discussing a few of my thoughts for some out-of-game topics pertinent to the smash scene.

1. AbsentPage is really good

Before AbsentPage overtook Slayer as Minnesota’s best player, the state was mostly known for hosting the world’s best Kirby main in Triple R. Older scene veterans would recognize Aarosmashguy for beating Scar at Event 52 in 2008.

Suddenly, AbsentPage has put his state on the map. Over the last ten months or so, AbsentPage has turned from a mega-talented, but obscure local-slayer into a dark horse threat against top 25-30 players.

He hasn’t made a major top eight yet, but the results show a player rapidly ascending the Melee ranks as one of its most promising players. Let’s take a look at how he’s done over his last ten months at notable tournaments, using both data compiled by Save above and at what’s happened since.

Smash ‘N’ Splash 3: 17th, beating Trulliam, Vro and Michael, losing to Plup and n0ne
Evo 2017: 25th, beating Lovage, lloD, KJH and Eddy Mexico, losing to Plup and aMSa
Shine 2017: 49th, losing to MikeHaze and SFAT
GT-X 2017: 33rd, losing to MacD and Crush

Super Rubicon 2: 4th, losing to n0ne and JustJoe
ASH@WIT #140: 3rd, beating Michael, losing to Kels X 2
House of Paign 15: 3rd, beating Michael, Reeve, losing to Prince Abu and lloD
The Winter Theater: 3rd, losing to Captain Faceroll and Zamu
Genesis 5: 49th, beating L, lost to SFAT and Laudandus
Full Bloom 4: 9th, beating Ryan Ford, Gahtzu, lloD and Rik, losing to Ginger and aMSa

House of Paign 17: 1st, beating Fiction X 2

Though he’s definitely struggled at times in smaller out-of-state regions, AbsentPage typically dominates Minnesota and has dark horse potential at nationals. If his last two weekends give any indication, we could see the multi-character playing prodigy’s No. 74 SSBMRank go up by the end of the year. Based on results for just this year, I’d say he should be on anyone’s top 50,

2. Is ChuDat…Back?

Let’s not mince words here. ChuDat has sucked over the last half of a year – and I think he’d agree. Whether it’s the inherent pressure to perform at a top level or more players becoming familiar at invalidating the Ice Climbers, his results against players not named Mew2King have been lackluster since his solid fifth at DreamHack Denver 2017.

However, Respawn #6 provided a brief glimmer of hope for the all-time great Ice Climbers player. Heading into it, Chu was certainly the favorite, but there was quietly a solid amount of talent that entered the event, between a competitively motivated Ice, hidden Marth talent Dart! and tons of strong European players.

ChuDat did drop a set to Ice in winners finals, but he also solidly 3-0’d Dart!, one of the most historically strong “hidden bosses” of the greater smash community, and unsurprisingly swept Overtriforce in losers finals. Following that, he then beat Ice in two sets.

Even if it’s a far cry from the days of beating Mango three times in a row, winning a tournament last weekend should help ChuDat regain some confidence. I’m not going to say that he’s anywhere close to Top 10, let alone Top 25 for this year so far, but for some of his fans who have been through tough times rooting for him, keep an eye out for how he does next major – or if he gets voted into Smash Summit 6.

3. lloD wins See Me On LAN

To end last year, lloD looked like one of the most promising players. At this point, many would consider him to be the second best Peach. But an underrated storyline for this year has been lloD taking a bit of a step back. He remains a strong player, arguably Top 25, but even he’s acknowledged his greater struggles lately, writing about this in more detail.

At SMOL, lloD enjoyed a return to form, defeating 2saint, Slox and KJH to win the tournament, while only dropping a set in grand finals to KJH. A fun fact about the second set with KJH: he actually went Fox in game three and won.

Could we be seeing more of lloD’s secondaries come out in bracket? I don’t expect it, but he’s brought out Fox and Sheik before at locals, so it’s not like lloD playing other characters would come as a huge surprise . It’d be pretty cool to see lloD pursue this strategy, though his Peach obviously looks like his best character.

4. Accountability in Melee

This isn’t a more prominent topic now than it was in the back, but sometimes I genuinely wonder if it’s possible to ever hold top figures and players accountable for their actions within the Melee scene. I’m bringing this up because of recent controversies surrounding Ninja, of the streaming/Fortnite community, and Sadokist, a commentator from CS:GO – though the hypothetical scenarios I’m worried about go beyond instances of immaturity.

For smash, we’ve seen issues of sexual assault or battery in a player’s history be a prominent topic of debate for tournament organizers. It feels gross that the community once was overwhelmingly fine with Leffen being banned for poor sportsmanship, but that when the above topics come into play in several player controversies last year, many of smash’s leaders remained quiet or reluctant to take action. Below, Tafokints sums up many of the dilemmas that face TOs in these situations.

How much power do organizations actually have to stand up and say “we will ban X player for Y action?” Looking into the details, it just feels like the onus still remains on the player to not actively harm their scene.

Let’s say a player gets accused of sexual assault, but by someone out of the community. Do tournament organizers have the right to instantly ban such a player? What due process, if there’s any, can the player expect outside of the law? Can a TO trying to protect their own player base be sued by someone for trying to ban them? How about if someone is assaulted by a TO in their region? Couldn’t anyone hold an entire scene hostage if they really wanted to?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. As controversies pile up in other gaming communities, I fear that one day Melee will have its own moment of reckoning – but we’ll be powerless to do anything about it.

What I Like:

  • Michael’s beautifully minimalist Smash Summit nomination page
  • This kickass series from Fiction
  • Heir 5 reaching a cap of 512 people in 12 hours

What I Don’t Like:

No. 5 Cinderella Run of All-Time: aMSa at Apex 2015

There’s no more beloved player than the Japanese Yoshi legend aMSa. He’s part of a small group of people that can say they’ve heard an entire room root for them against Mango. When discussing his run at Apex 2015, it’s important to understand his career leading up to it.

His rise to prominence came early in 2013, when he posted a video of himself performing Yoshi tech skill faster than anyone else. Becoming Japan’s best player years later, he demonstrated flawless execution with a character who many thought strong in theory, but far too difficult to play at the top level. In an early edition of Melee’s matchup chart, Yoshi held losing or even matchups with everyone except for Kirby.

Despite perceived notions about his character, aMSa saw a modest amount of success. He finished as the 77th best player in the world for the first edition of SSBMRank in 2013. At his first supermajor in Evo 2013, he took a game off Mew2King.

Half a year later, aMSa shocked the world at Apex 2014, his original breakout tournament. Here, he defeated Fly Amanita, ChuDat and Silent Wolf, showing the world that his character could absolutely be good enough to hang with some of the best players. Immediately, he became a stalwart of the scene.

Throughout his heavily active 2014, aMSa performed inconsistently. He often struggled in best-of-five sets, where his opponents had enough time to adjust to his character and begin abusing Yoshi’s lack of good defensive options.

While he boasted a set off Mew2King at Kings of Cali 4, eventually finishing fifth at the super-regional, aMSa also saw a ho-hum 17th showing at MLG Anaheim 2014 and a disastrous 33rd at CEO 2014, where he lost to Porkchops and Wenbo. This led many to be skeptical about Yoshi and aMSa’s skills.

Heading into Apex 2015, predicting aMSa’s performance looked impossible to do with certainty. Could he prove himself – and Yoshi – once again at the world’s biggest smash event?

aMSa breezed by the first round of pools with relative ease. Come Top 128, he then beat rising NorCal Sheik main Laudandus and a Finnish Fox player in Mayhem to make it to Top 48. His next opponent, one who aMSa defeated a year ago at the previous Apex, stood in his path as the world’s then-ranked No. 11 player: Fly Amanita.

Modern players aren’t as familiar with him as post-Brawl veterans, but Fly Amanita used to be the best Ice Climbers player in the world. aMSa defeated him in their last head-to-head at Apex 2014, but Fly came off arguably his most impressive year yet as a Melee player, due to him recently finishing as the No. 1 in SoCal, the world’s best Melee region.

After defeating Fly, 2-0, aMSa had to play Leffen, who not only knew the matchup, but also once played Yoshi himself. Unsurprisingly, aMSa fell into the losers bracket, then obliterating Zhu 2-0 before playing against Lucky, the only person to defeat him in the Apex 2014 Salty Suite.

Their first game went to last stock, with a flubbed air dodge by Lucky leading to aMSa going up 1-0. But in the second game, Lucky picked Dreamland and spent most of the game shooting lasers and forcing aMSa to approach, Yoshi’s relative weakness against a character like Fox. Though the two went to last stock again, Lucky controlled the tempo for most of the game, minimizing any openings aMSa could find and inherently making any dropped conversions by Yoshi that much more devastating.

Once again, Lucky’s ability to hold his ground posted a challenge to aMSa’s style, which was built on using deceptive platform movement to bait whiffs from opponents. Therefore, in order for aMSa to win, he needed to proactively call out Lucky’s decisions ahead of time and preemptively place himself in a position to force favorable mixups. The third game went to last stock, but aMSa eventually prevailed.

Warmed up from playing Lucky, aMSa vanquished SFAT in the following round 2-0 to make it into top eight. In terms of a supermajor on the level of the Apex series, his victory marked the first time a Yoshi main ever made top eight, making this performance already among the greatest low-tier showings in Melee history. For seventh place, aMSa matched up against Sheik player KirbyKaze.

Perception of this matchup has changed over the years, almost entirely due to aMSa. Before him, many considered Sheik to completely invalidate low-tiers like Yoshi. Beating her with a low-tier involved overcoming her guaranteed grab followups, superior hitboxes and her relative ease of use.

After trading the first two games with his opponent, aMSa never looked back. He ruthlessly three-stocked KirbyKaze in the third game and two-stocked him game four, once again adding yet another name to his career resume. Over the course of a national, he took out the No. 11, 12, 20 and 23 ranked players in the world. His next opponent was the current world No. 1 in Mango, aMSa’s toughest test yet.

Years before their epic Full Bloom 4 rematch, Mango and aMSa battled in a barn-burner at Apex 2015. Legendarily, after Mango selected the “USA!” tag in game, aMSa wrote down “JPN!” He didn’t just represent Yoshi on Melee’s biggest stage – he was fighting for his country’s pride.

The set initially looked like aMSa couldn’t hang with Mango’s speed, as his opponent both retained enough discipline to not fall for any of aMSa’s baits, also abusing Yoshi’s lack of strong defensive options against overwhelming pressure. Going down in the set 2-0, all hope looked lost for aMSa, who once again picked Yoshi’s Story for a consecutive runback on the same stage.

aMSa breathed life into his chances against the world’s best Melee player, winning a last-stock game three. In yet another match that came down to both players on their last stock, aMSa clutched out victory, tying the set 2-2.

In the final game, Mango’s composure and experience shined through. Unable to break his wall of defense and earn many openings without taking too much damage himself, aMSa finally fell at fifth place. Walking off the main stage and waving at the crowd, the Japanese earned a standing ovation and chants for his name.

Unlike what many thought would be a short-lived fad, aMSa has stood the test of time. He’s continued to be a presence at national top eights, beating Mew2King once again at EGLX 2018 and taking Mango to the brink as recently as last weekend. Just last year, he finished as the No. 24 player in the world – but this year, he holds a Top 10-worthy resume.

A lot of aMSa’s legacy remains defined by his prowess with a low-tier, but another underrated and lesser-spoken part comes from how he’s brought Japan to a greater stage of competitive Melee in the modern era. This comes from cultural stigmas and laws within Japan, which have prevented people like aMSa (and fellow players within his region) from fully pursuing competitive gaming. Nonetheless, aMSa has somehow endured to chase his dreams of winning a supermajor.

With aMSa rumored to be eyeing a move to Vancouver , the Melee community could be seeing a lot more of him. Furthermore, with a still active Japanese scene, unquestionably inspired by aMSa’s success, more Japanese players could rise to the international scene, both within Melee and other games.

Standing as a hero for his country, innovator for his character and a fan favorite, aMSa remains an immortal part of competitive Melee lore.

Monday Morning Marth: 3/26

This is part of a new series that I’m trying to do, as a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In this series, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community. Picture credit: Vish’s Twitter. Will take down, if requested!

The last week gave Melee spectators quite a bit to talk about. From the announcement of yet a “Smash 5” invitational to CT GamerCon 2 and Full Bloom 4, there’s a lot to unpack. Let’s start with the first and easiest bit of news to address.

1. The Invitational Is A Really Big Deal

Think of the largest smash-related events within the community’s history. Chances are that you’ll think of any installment of the Genesis series, Evo 2013 or the previous Apex majors. But terms of sheer exposure, there’s no question which tournament gave the scene its brightest spotlight: the 2014 E3 Nintendo invitational.

Was it the most competitively valid one? Definitely not, but the event garnered over 200,000 views at the time, more than any other Melee or Smash 4 event. Today, videos surrounding this invitational have collected millions of views.

You’d be hard pressed to find any Melee major peak at 100,000, let alone the peak count of Zero vs. Hungrybox four years ago. Unlike last time, those two players are officially the best in their respective fields, with a track record of their “rivalry” already existing. This makes the potential for returning viewers even higher.

The news of an invitational couldn’t have come at a more necessary time for the scene. Melee steadily grew in player/spectator base count for about four years after its revival in 2013, but has somewhat plateaued over the last year.

However, don’t get too excited.

2. …It Will Likely Still Suck

I’m not talking about the spectator experience being bad because the event will likely feature items, free-for-alls, etc. Those factors are practically guaranteed and frankly unworthy of contempt. Nintendo’s a business – it would be against its own interest to not show aspects of a game that appeal to a broader audience.

Whatever Nintendo puts out for the invitational will likely both look and play nothing close to the end product. People forget that the original Smash 4 build at Apex 2015, let alone the E3 invitational, looked and felt unpolished, per most of the players who actually got a chance to play it.

You might remember the Zero vs. Hungrybox timeout, but what about the comical lack of shield stun and how floaty the game felt, even in comparison to what Smash 4 later felt like?

If history gives any indication, Smash 5 could suffer similar issues.  Or at least we could be in for a ChuDat timeout victory en route to a double “yahyuz” pose with Reggie Fils-Aime.

3. A Tale of Two Marths

At last Saturday’s CT GamerCon 2, both of New England’s best Marth players in ZoSo and Kalvar put on a show for viewers, finishing in the top two of a regional that featured Northeast heavy hitters like Captain Smuckers, Slox, lint, Big Kid, a resurgent Vortex and many more. Essentially, this tournament gave players a chance to show Crush who could challenge him.

ZoSo’s victory marked his finest performance in about two years. In it, he beat bonfire10, th0rn, Captain Smuckers, SluG, Vortex and Kalvar to win the tournament without dropping a set. Perhaps most impressively, many of these sets went to last-game. For example, his set with SluG involved a three-stock comeback in game five: a strong feat considering not just the mental composure needed to make a comeback against Ice Climbers, but also against one of Philadelphia’s best players, who has plenty of Marth practice against Stango.

As someone who at least knows ZoSo on a surface level, I have to be fully transparent: he’s been vocal about struggling with personal issues outside of Melee. In mid-2016, he took a long break from competing, occasionally showing up to the occasional local in New England before disappearing again, streaming semi-frequently, but not taking the game as seriously any more. Late last year, he attended a few nationals, but saw mixed results that came nowhere close to his 2014 peak, when he finished at the No. 50 player and stood within New England as its most dominant in-region force. It’s nice to see him perform at a level that’s more indicative of his potential.

For Kalvar, CT GamerCon 2 added even more to his resume for a strong 2018, in which he looks on track to finish within SSBMRank’s Top 100. Within the first quarter of the year, he has sets on Crush, Stango, Slox, Ryobeat, Nintendude, DaShizWiz, Vortex and ZoSo. Though he occasionally drops sets within New England, this partially comes from him attending so many events, as he’s a virtual lock for any top eight at an in-region tournament.

ZoSo and Kalvar are interesting to compare for several other reasons. Where ZoSo has been in the scene for more than a decade and actually used to be the region’s best player, Kalvar is relatively new blood to high-level Melee. They also play vastly different, but similar styles. Both of them prioritize patience, mixups and conservative decision making over playing explosively, but ZoSo’s strengths mostly lie in his core fundamentals, strong dash dance game and veteran intuition. Kalvar’s come from him standing his ground stronger than many other Marth players and boasting well-feared reaction tech chase punishes on a variety of characters.

Will both of them be Top 100 by the end of the year? It’s too early to say for sure and I doubt either of them are or should be worried about it.

4. A Tragedy in Two Axe(s)

Heading into the spring, Axe looked just about ready to ursurp Mew2King for the No. 6 spot. Between Axe outperforming him at DreamHack Denver 2017, Smash Summit 5 and Genesis 5, it felt like the latter’s performance at Canada Cup 2017 barely saved him from being overtaken. Furthermore, were it not for Axe losing to Wizzrobe and aMSa at EGLX 2018, Mew2King may have lost the advantage between the two – especially consider Axe’s latest stretch of dominance against his former albatross.

The Crimson Blur and tafokints have talked about Axe on their show, “The Commentator’s Curse,” usually mentioning the peaks and valleys within his career. Looking at Melee history, it’s pretty clear that Axe is the greatest player in the game’s community to never win a supermajor. Ironically, as a long-time “demi-god” within the scene, he’s consistently…too inconsistent to put it together for one run.

It’s hard to attribute whether Axe’s weaknesses come from playing Pikachu, a commonly seen as limited character, or inherent weaknesses within his trademark high-speed, no-frames-wasted, all-in playstyle.

Then again, maybe Ginger and Swedish Delight are actually just that good. Either way, with a consecutive underwhelming showing at a major, Axe looks amid yet another of the many slumps he has in his career. Most likely, he’ll break out of it, but if Axe ever wants to start looking like a contender to win a national, he’s going to need to find more sustainable solutions for his gameplay.

5. Hungrybox Is Literally Broken

I know it’s a beating a dead horse, but can anyone stop Hungrybox? Let’s take a look at Hungrybox’s last seven months at significant major tournaments to feature fellow members of Melee’s Big Six.

Shine 2017: 1st (beating Mew2King, Mango X 2)
GameTyrant Expo 2017: 1st (beating Plup, Mew2King, Armada X 2, losing to Mew2King)
The Big House 7: 1st (beating Mew2King, Armada, Leffen and Plup, losing to Leffen)
DreamHack Denver 2017: 1st (beating Mango X 2)
Too Hot To Handle: 1st (beating Plup)
Smash Summit 5: 1st (beating Mango, Leffen and Armada)
Genesis 5: 2nd (beating Leffen X 2 and Plup, losing to Plup X 2)
EGLX 2018: 1st (beating Plup X 2)
Full Bloom 4: 1st (beating Leffen and Mango)

  • 8 first places out of 9 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
  • 24-4 against Melee’s “Big Six” at non-local, significant events.
  • 9 consecutive appearances in grand finals.
  • No losses outside of the above.

Out of curiosity, I compared this to Armada’s run of dominance from late 2016 to Evo 2017.

Canada Cup 2016: 1st (beating Mew2King and Hungrybox, losing to Hungrybox)
Smash Summit 3: 1st (beating Plup, Hungrybox X 2 and Mew2King)
DreamHack Winter 2016: 1st (beating Leffen and Hungrybox X 2)
UGC Smash Open: 1st (beating Hungrybox and Mew2King, losing to Mew2King)
Genesis 4: 1st (beating Mango X 2 and Mew2King)
BEAST 7: 1st (beating Leffen X 2)
Smash Summit Spring 2017: 1st (beating Leffen and Hungrybox X 2)
Royal Flush: 2nd (beating Mango and Hungrybox, losing to Mango X 2)
Smash ‘N’ Splash 3: 3rd (lost to Hungrybox and Leffen)
Evo 2017: 1st (beat Mew2King and Mango X 2)

  • 8 first places out of 10 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
  • 7 consecutive first places.
  • 24-6 against Melee’s Big Six.
  • No losses outside of the above.

Here’s Mango’s record from Pound 3 to Pound 4:

Pound 3: 1st (beating Azen, ChuDat, PC Chris, Cort and Mew2King twice, losing to Vist, Plank, Sensei and Silent Wolf, the last in a sandbagged set)
Revival of Melee: 1st (beating PC Chris and Mew2King twice)
SCSA West Coast Circuit 4: 1st (beating Mew2King)
Genesis: 1st (beating Hungrybox and Armada X 2, losing to Armada)
Show Me Your Moves 10: 1st (beating Mew2King twice)
SNES: 1st (beating Mew2King)
Revival of Melee 2: 4th (losing to Kage twice)
Winterfest: 1st (beating Hungrybox twice)
Pound 4: 1st (beating Jman and Hungrybox twice)

  • 8 first places out of 9 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
  • 21-1 against the RetroSSBMRank Top 6 of 2008, 2009 and of early 2010.
  • Two losses outside of the above.

And finally, Ken’s legendary late 2004 to early 2006:

MLG Los Angeles 2004: 1st (beating Isai X 2)
MLG New York 2004: 1st (beating Captain Jack and Isai X 2)
MOAST 3: 2nd (losing to Isai X 2)
MLG DC 2005: 1st (beating NEO, ChuDat and Isai X 2, losing to NEO in a sandbagged set of Roy dittos)
MLG San Francisco 2005: 1st (beating DSF, other results not documented)
Gettin’ Schooled 2: 1st (beating Azen, ChuDat X 2, losing to Chillin)
MELEE-FC3: 1st (beating ChuDat and Sastopher X 2, losing to Sastopher in a sandbagged set as Samus in pools)
MLG Los Angeles 2005: 2nd (beating Isai, losing to Isai X 2)
MLG Atlanta 2005: 1st (beating Isai, ChuDat and Azen X 2, losing to Azen)
MLG New York 2005: 1st (beating ChuDat X 2)

  • 8 first places out of 10 attended notable tournaments where he played fellow
  • Top 6 members (9 out of 11, counting Jack Garden Tournament and the level of hidden talent at the event).
  • 22-5 against the Top 6 of 2004 and 2005, not counting sandbagged sets.

I’ll let others debate on where Hungrybox’s peak ranks among the all-time greats. Personally, I’d say it balances both dominance against the field, tournament win-rate and head-to-head records versus fellow contemporaries about as well as any player can.

What I Like

  • This absolutely killer TAS video.
  • The soothing sound of Webs commentary at a smash event in 2018.
  • Literally every Falco, except for Westballz in 2018.

What I Don’t Like

  • Forced Michael (the Jigglypuff player) number jokes.
  • Hax DQing out of yet another major.
  • Westballz in 2018.

Monday Morning Marth: 3/19

This is part of a new series that I’m trying to do, as a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In this series, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community. I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing these, or whether these will necessarily be as well-received as my history pieces, but I figured I’d give something a shot. Let me know if you like these! Picture credit: 2GG’s Twitter. Will take down, if privately requested!

Yesterday was the worst and best tournament ever in The Mango. Featuring several SSBMRank players, the 457-entrant major quickly turned from feeling like a hype sub-major into a mix between a Pat’s House 3-type major and a SoCal Foundry.

Hidden beneath sandbagged performances from Leffen, Mango and Shroomed came a surprisingly compelling event. So, what did we learn from the last big tournament before Melee’s spring season?

1. Redemption For Its Top Two

Cruising into top 16 without any concern, Swedish Delight solidly beat Westballz and Squid 3-1, swept ARMY, beat Syrox 3-1 and swept Kalamazhu en route to winning The Mango. None of these set victories are too surprising for his skill level, but consider how underwhelming his placings were for the first quarter of 2018, with individual losses to Abate, Jerry, Bananas, among others.

These aren’t bad players, but for someone who finished at No. 16 for 2017 SSBMRank, the losses certainly reflect a rough patch. Winning The Mango could lift the longtime Tristate Sheik back to the level he looked before, even if we knew he was certainly capable of beating those in his bracket.

If Swedish showed a nice return to form, so too did Kalamazhu, who finished just under him.  Kalamazhu is a respectable player, having been ranked No. 70 last year in SSBMRank, but prior to The Mango, the longtime “Midwest Buster” and current NorCal Peach hadn’t come close in years to a performance like his ninth-place breakout at The Big House 4.

That changed yesterday. Losing only to Syrox and Swedish Delight, Kalamazhu beat Mango, OkamiBW, Fiction, SFAT and Syrox at The Mango. The circumstances around the event’s Foundry-esque atmosphere might paint Kalamazhu’s success in a different light, but outside of a drunk Mango, his opponents looked like they were trying. His second place also comes as a pleasant surprise, given that he just finished 97th at Genesis 5.

2. Stop Freaking Out Over In-Region Losses

Even if you discount the presence of alcohol and the casual vibe at The Mango, people typically put way too much stock into top player “losses” to high-level competitors from their region. You’d be hard pressed to say that losing to ARMY, Fiction or Westballz mark unacceptable losses for S2J and Lucky, given how positive their career records are against the overall field, which includes those they lost against at the event. The same goes for HugS, who finished outside of top eight.

When you play a certain kind of opponent enough times, chances are that they’ll take sets every now and then. HugS losing to MegaXmas doesn’t mean he’s dropping off as much as it might show that MegaXmas is improving. One set result doesn’t change the underlying assumption that if HugS plays him ten times, he’ll still win the majority of sets.

More than individual losses, what becomes more problematic are negative trends.

3. The Curious Case of SFAT and the Spotlight

SFAT had the perfect metaphorical hand to win this tournament. Mango and Leffen were his biggest roadblocks to victory, but played their secondaries, leaving SFAT as the clear favorite to win The Mango. Instead, he finished only fourth, losing to Syrox and Kalamazhu.

This isn’t the first time that SFAT has failed to win a major tournament as the top seed. Though he won Battle GateWay 19 over aMSa in Japan, he finished second at the Holiday Bash Smash Invitational, fifth at Pat’s House 3 and second at Super Famicon 2017.

Conversely in his favor, SFAT remains currently the best active player in SoCal and boasts a history of dominating the top level of competition in NorCal. Moreover, he did win Smash Factor 6 and GENESIS: Red last year. But since last fall, SFAT hasn’t been as successful at regionals he’s supposed to be winning, even though his individual head to head remains strong against the field.

By the eye test, he doesn’t have an defining characteristic like the other players in his skill group. For example, Wizzrobe has a reputation for tech chasing, while Axe overwhelms his opponents with speed and precise edgeguarding.

In comparison, SFAT’s base gameplan is built around stage control, positioning and smart decision making. This gives him a good set of fundamentals that keep him consistent against significantly worse players, but it won’t be enough to push him into the top tier of play, where those strengths don’t carry the same weight.

If you gave aMSa or Crush his top seeded brackets over the last six or seven months, would they do better or worse? The fact that I’m asking this question shows that though SFAT remains an elite player, he’s looking far closer to No. 9 or 10 than he does to those above him.

4. Other Quick Musings

What I like:

  • Zain against Fox and Falco.
  • Those incredible Syrox vs. Kalamazhu sets.
  • Westballz beating Leffen’s Marth in a set where heading into it, I felt lowkey scared that Leffen was going to pull out the Mewtwo and win.

What I didn’t like:

  • Drunk Vish’s commentary.
  • Toph ragging on the all-time Top 100 list at The Mango, despite admittedly not reading the articles.
  • The below:

https://twitter.com/sp1nda_/status/975462490116108289

I understand having a “non-esports” atmosphere, but really? The humor in that kind of statement literally comes from the shock value of a swear word. Come on, commentators – don’t resort to edgy, sophomoric tactics for entertainment.

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: The Final Five

Hello, everyone! Pikachu942 and I are happy to present the next part of our Top 100 Melee players of all-time. In our last post, we uncovered the players ranked 6-10. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 1-5. 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.

5. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

1st at Cataclysm 3
1st at MELEE-FC Diamond
1st at Super Champ Combo
1st at The Big House 3
1st at Shine 2016

When you ask a person about competitive smash, chances are Mew2King will be one, if not the first, person that comes to their mind. His name is synonymous with the game series at this point, as he’s shown in prowess in every title the series has to offer. However, every story has to have a beginning – and Mew2King certainly is no exception.

M2K started his Smash career working on a detailed catalogue of frame data, one that he did by hand, that served as one of the most important tools in the early years for people who looked into the finer details of the game. Even today, they are still within a one percent margin of error, which is crazy given the timeframe, age and method Mew2King used when creating it. Outside of this list, however, people did not value his actual in-game skill, as he rarely went to tournaments and only practiced with computers. When he finally did attend a tourney, community doubts were confirmed when he disappointed. He would eventually climb up the ranks of Tristate locals, fighting against players like DA Wes and eventually placing a respectable 23rd at his first ever major, Gettin’ Schooled 2 in 2005.

As 2006 rolled around, Mew2King’s star shimed ever brighter, as his Fox began to take names left and right, defeating Chillin, NEO, KoreanDJ, Isai and later even Azen, PC Chris and the king of smash himself, Ken. By 2007, M2K had won his first major, Cataclysm 3, and slowly began to solidify himself as the best in the world with his newfound main: Marth. M2K has not slowed since, staying at a consistent top five level and tournament threat up to today, picking up characters like Sheik and Peach along the way to deal with particular matchups.

He retained a level of expertise few can say they have, and has done so for longer than anybody else, well over a decade at this point. His innovations with characters like his Marth are  to be admired, as the chaingrab combos on his favorite stage, Final Destination, are still something to this day very few, if any, can say they’ve perfected to the same level as Mew2King. His sheer length at the top, multitude of major wins, and brief period where he was considered the best in the world happily bestow upon the King of the Mews a rightful Top 5 spot.

4. Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

1st at Battle of the Five Gods
1st at The Big House 7
1st at EVO 2016
1st at Smash Summit 5
1st at Smash n Splash 3

Hungrybox’s story is one of constant struggle and pain, where he had to work for everything he has gotten in this game. From the beginning in the years of 2007 and 2008 as a young teenager with his friend Crunch, people did not take him seriously, especially when he utilized what people perceived as a harmful character in Jigglypuff. Even worse, he played in what many people considered a “lame” way, receiving ridicule from the onset of his career.

Nonetheless, he persevered and powered his way to the top of Florida alongside DaShizWiz and Colbol. At his first major, Revival of Melee, Hungrybox made it to top eight, defeating the legendary KoreanDJ, before placing an amazing third at Genesis with a plethora of previously unthinkable wins. Even as he got better, eventually winning Revival of Melee 2 over PPMD, he continued to be underseeded, as people simply did not respect his play.

Throughout the year of 2010, Hungrybox asserted himself as the best in results, with his dominant win at Apex 2010, having swept Mew2King and Armada. However, even as he was begrudgingly considered No. 1 on results, people still cited the sandbagging of Mango as the reason, further proved by subsequent friendly sessions between the two. Hungrybox then declined as the years went on, with brief glimmers of hope here and there, but nothing substantial. Some people even considered by the end of 2014 if Hungrybox was even a God anymore, further bolstered by the rise of Leffen and his first woeful ninth at The Big House 4. But, like the story goes so far, Hungrybox fought on. With his friend and newfound coach Crunch by his side, Hungrybox has innovated Jigglypuff in ways nobody has done before.

By the end of 2015, Hungrybox was a serious threat to consistently take majors, and his epic win at Evo 2016 in one of the greatest sets of all-time cemented him for a short time as the best in the world. He quickly lost the spot, but regained it the following year, and at the current day stands as the dominant force in Melee. While crowd reactions remain similar, Hungrybox’s rise in the face of adversity is extremely admirable, and you can give nothing but respect for what he’s done in the game.

3. Ken “Ken” Hoang

1st at MELEE-FC 3
1st at Jack Garden Tournament
1st at MLG Chicago 2006
1st at MLG Dallas 2006
1st at MLG Anaheim 2006

The choice between 3rd and 4th on this list was extremely close, but in the end, we had to go with the king of smash himself, Ken.   Unlike Hungrybox in his rise to stardom, instead of facing adversity from the start, Ken quickly asserted himself as the best in the nation, easily winning his debut tournament of Tournament Go 4 over its defending champion Recipherus. Following with victories at TG5 and Game Over, Ken had a slight stumble at TG6, where people began to doubt his abilities. Ken didn’t care and surged through once more, winning major after major in a seemingly endless string.

The 2005 MLG Circuit run from Ken is one of, if not the, most dominant streak we’ve ever seen in Melee history. Never placing outside Top 2 and winning nearly ever major he attended, Ken was quite simply a monster who needed to be stopped. As 2006 came around, competition grew with PC Chris, KoreanDJ and Mew2King stepping onto the scene, but still Ken prevailed, winning more majors than anybody else in the year and placing in the majority of grand finals. Ken then retired from the game after MLG Las Vegas, but later came back at Zero Challenge 3 and then won the biggest tourney of 2007, Evo World in stunning fashion, cementing his legacy. Winning the largest major of an era outside of your prime is something nobody else can really say they’ve accomplished, and Ken truly showed why he was still king.

Later returning in 2012, Ken still plays sporadically to this day, with varying success. He placed an impressive 13th at Evo 2015, and was a Top 50 level player within that same year. Top players of today still praise his mind for the game, though he takes a backseat now to stream and just live life. Ken’s dominance of an entire era is something unparalleled by anybody else in the history of our game, and as such he more than deserves a spot at #3 on the list.

2. Joseph “Mango” Marquez 

1st at Pound 3
1st at EVO 2013
1st at The Big House 6
1st at GENESIS
1st at Pound 4

Does anything even need to be said about him? Mango, seen by many modern smashers as “the protagonist” of the competitive scene, remains the community’s most popular player. Starting from his young roots as a stubborn Jigglypuff who somehow beat Mew2King and Ken en route to finishing third at Evo World 2007, Mango then had another third at Super Champ Combo before winning Pound 3, shortly following Brawl’s release.

Since Pound 3, Mango won 22 more supermajors, ending up with a resume that boasts more titles than anyone in Melee history. Many of these tournaments are among Melee’s most important. Take Pound 3, which marked the end of Melee’s initial glory days, or the first Genesis, a tournament that happened close to the mid-point of Melee history. Meanwhile, Pound 4 brought in the new era of live-streamed tournaments and Evo 2013 cemented the start of the modern Melee renaissance. The list goes on, with many of the titles also marking different stretches of dominance by Mango. To date, his reign of terror from Pound 3 to Pound 4 is among the game’s greatest.

Without a doubt, Mango’s Fox, Falco and Jigglypuff stand among each character’s greatest and most influential representatives ever. In fact, Mango’s skills transcends each of them to where you could say they reflect a different part of Mango’s personality. Before he stopped playing her, Jigglypuff highlighted his young, stubborn and prideful tendencies. His Fox, without a doubt his greatest weapon, shows more disciplined, grounded, matured aggression. Meanwhile, Mango’s Falco embodies a mix of all these traits, but also his love of the game, having been his most-played character throughout his career.

Mango remains a threat to take any national today, but it’s hard to determine how much longer he can stay at this level for. With a Twitch stream that now has thousands of subscribers who watch him play games outside of Melee, he’s publicly contemplated retiring from competition numerous times. Will Mango soon hang up his GameCube controller or does he have anything more in the tank?

1. Adam “Armada” Lindgren

1st at GENESIS 2
1st at EVO 2017
1st at Apex 2013
1st at GENESIS 3
1st at Smash Summit

Few names evoke such admiration and fear in the eyes of competition like Adam Lindgren. The most dominant smasher to ever touch a GameCube controller, Armada has been the world’s No. 1 player for longer than anyone else in the game’s history. Here’s a fun fact to put Armada’s career in perspective: since his breakout tournament at Genesis, Armada has never missed a top eight at a supermajor he competed in.

Armada’s number of titles doesn’t even come close to capturing how exceptional he is as a smasher – had he lived in the United States instead of Sweden, he might have had even more major victories. Not only is he the most consistent smash player, but contrary to what many might claim, his “peaks” frankly make every other smasher look puny in comparison. Watch Genesis 4 grand finals, if you don’t believe that.

If Masahiro Sakurai developed an android just for the sole purpose of playing Melee, it would take years before it could catch up to Armada’s punish game, discipline and precision.  That’s not even going into two of his biggest strengths: his legendary adaptation skills and his unbreakable willpower. Even with 2017 being a relative blip in Armada’s star-studded resume, he still ended up winning three of Melee’s premier events in Genesis 4, Smash Summit Spring 2017 and Evo 2017. Imagine calling that disappointing for anyone else.

That’s the kind of dominance we consider underwhelming and sometimes even take for granted. There’s a common misconception that Armada made Melee boring through his dominance, but this couldn’t be further from the truth – he is the standard for greatness. He’s the terminator; the most terrifying opponent possible; the embodiment of unshakeable valor and our unquestionable pick for the greatest player of all-time.

I’d like to thank the Melee Stats discord, particularly ycz6, KayB and 343: a trio of three Samus players who, by sheer coincidence, have a knack for grammar, editing and writing. Organizing and running this project wasn’t easy, but you guys gave me a lot of help.

I’d also like to thank community figures like Chillin, Juggleguy, HugS, the Crimson Blur and tafokints for showing interest in our series and giving us valuable feedback and criticism. Pikachu and I love talking about smash history and consider ourselves quite knowledgeable, but making this list, like anything else, is a learning process. If we did this again in a few years, I’d personally like to make the grading criteria even more specific and follow through with creating a larger panel of old-school and modern players.

Although Pikachu and I are happy to talk about smash history at any time, we’re once again splitting apart to each work on our own endeavors. I’ll be continuing to write articles for this website in my spare time and will finally conclude the underdog run series, which has become a running gag that I know many of you have personally reached out to me about finishing. Pikachu will soon have an announcement of his own, which I won’t spoil for anyone who remains interested.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of my readers for showing an interest in Melee’s immortal history.  During the project, I received many words of encouragement from both community leaders, friends and those who just simply enjoyed my articles. You all make the community worth writing about.

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.

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #11-20

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.

– Pikachu942

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.

– Pikachu942

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.

– Pikachu942

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.

– Pikachu942

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!

Monday Morning Marth: 3/12/2018

This is part of a new series that I’m trying to do, as a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In this series, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community. I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing these, or whether these will necessarily be as well-received as my history pieces, but I figured I’d give something a shot. Let me know if you like these! Picture credit: MeleeEveryday. Will take down, if requested!

1. Sparse Thoughts on Smash 5’s Impact on Melee

Nine years after Mango won the Revival of Melee, Nintendo announced the incoming release of the newest sequel to Super Smash Bros on March 8. It doesn’t have an official name yet, but it’s planned to come out for the Nintendo Switch later this year. Many aren’t sure whether it’s just a port of Smash 4 or an entirely new game.

It’s interesting to note that Nintendo has a history of not always living up to its word with release dates. If you want an example of this, look no further than nearly ten years ago, when Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in Japan on January 31, 2008 and March 9, 2008 for North America, after being initially planned for the 2007 holiday season. Imagine how European and Australian smashers felt when the game released in their regions for late June.

It’s natural for many smashers to not just to contemplate on the future of Smash 4, but also wonder what the effects will be on Melee’s community. What if Smash 5 is so popular that its success completely dwarfs Melee and leads to the game even stealing a spot at a future Evo?

These are unlikely scenarios that would also have no effect on current Melee players. Moreover, it’s improbable that Nintendo would make a game remotely similar to Melee or what its players would specifically be looking for. Given the loyalty of Melee’s current player base, if anything, a new Smash installment could bring even more potential players, just as Smash 4 did.

Having already survived an initial sequel in Brawl, Melee has both proved timeless and turned turned an initial negative that most competitive games have (outlasting a sequel) into a positive. It’s usually attributed to the “Smash Brothers” documentary and Evo 2013, but by sheer exposure, the biggest event to feature professional smashers in any kind of public capacity is still the E3 Smash 4 Invitational from four years ago, which today has been seen by millions of viewers. Can you imagine how big a Smash 5 Invitational would be for the scene?

I think we’ll be just fine, barring Jigglypuff dittos becoming the only viable way to succeed in the metagame. Speaking of which…

2. The Revival of Puff

Many smashers malign Jigglypuff as a character. Her innately slow ground speed, zoning-heavy traits and floatiness stand in contrast to what most smashers find exciting about Melee. If you don’t believe me, just ask Armada.

Last weekend proved to be a nightmare for these players, but not just because Hungrybox won the first post-Genesis 5 major of 2018. Shortly afterward, Michael, the current No. 2 of Chicago Melee and notable Netplay grinder won the first ever National Melee Arcadian in dominant fashion.

Though no Jigglypuff is anywhere near close to Hungrybox’s level of success at the top-level, her mid-level representatives have given the character quite a bit to look for in the future. Alongside Michael’s performance at the National Arcadian came the following from fellow Jigglypuff players at the same event:

  • Third from Ohio’s Fizzle_Boy
  • Ninth from New England’s dudutsai
  • 17th from South Carolina’s SmashBob SquarePants and Tristate’s 42nd
  • 25th from Tristate’s Big Kid

While the National Arcadian is still only one event – a mid-level one, at that – the consistent presence of Jigglypuff highlights a positive trend for the character. Soon we’ll see how high these players can reach with someone that still currently has only one top-level representative. In a worst case scenario, they can make a modest living out of warming up top players for Hungrybox.

3. The Budding Crush and aMSa Rivalry

That’s not just a bad pun in the title. Boston and Japan’s respective best players each have played three times over the last three years, with each of their sets going to game five. Their last one ended in relative disappointment because of a few technical flubs from Crush, but these two aren’t just fighting for a chance to advance in bracket. Both of them genuinely look like potential Top 10 players.

Who is better right now? It’s tough to say. Crush holds a more balanced matchup spread, having won the Holiday Bash Smash Invitational with wins on Rishi, The Moon, S2J, Westballz, SFAT and n0ne. He also has wins over HugS – something aMSa doesn’t have yet – Druggedfox and Plup’s Fox via his run at Too Hot To Handle.

Intuitively, Crush is a more safe pick. Unlike aMSa, who can struggle against players that know how to abuse Yoshi’s lack of an answer for strong defense, as seen through losses to Bladewise, HugS, S2J and MacD, Crush looks far less susceptible to losing to such players, though he isn’t immune to upsets.

Simultaneously, aMSa’s peak wins are currently higher than Crush. He boasts sets over Mew2King, Plup’s Sheik, Axe and Wizzrobe, while also holding a 2-1 lead in their head to head. Moreover, aMSa has been more present in the scene as a top player than Crush, since he’s been among the scene’s best players for about four years.

Since their first meeting at Battle of BC 2, they’ve taken turns outperforming each other. At the former tournament, aMSa outplaced Crush, then having a better Evo 2017 and GT-X 2017. Since then, Crush had his revenge against aMSa at The Big House 7, outplacing him there, and Smash Summit 5 before tying with his rival’s placing at Genesis 5 and ultimately dropping their last head-to-head, finishing lower at EGLX 2018.

If I had to choose between the two right now, I’d probably say aMSa has a slight advantage, but we could be seeing them face off quite a few more times before the end of the year. Either way, spectators should be in for a treat.

4. The Decline of Mew2King’s Sheik

It’s a question that’s plagued even casual Melee viewers for years: why does Mew2King play Sheik instead of Marth and/or Fox? His defenders will say that his Sheik gives him an advantage in matchups where those two characters don’t, while detractors claim it’s Mew2King being lazy and not wanting to learn certain matchups with Marth.

Though Mew2King’s Sheik still gives him an advantage over far worse players, it’s clearly lost its edge against the 7-10 group of ranked players. He now goes primarily Marth against SFAT  and has lost his last four sets against Axe with Sheik. Out of that tier, only Wizzrobe and S2J stand out as opponents that Mew2King’s Sheik holds a significant career head-to-head lead over, but both of the two Falcons have each split their last sets against him. That’s not even going into a much lower ranked n0ne taking three sets from Mew2King over the last two years (though their last two sets have finished solidly in the latter’s favor).

There is one point in favor of Mew2King’s Sheik. Within the lower end of Melee’s Top 25, Mew2King Sheik has seen success against fellow Sheiks and Samus players, as he has mostly remained strong in those matchups. As many say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

After years of successfully playing Sheik in matchups like the ditto, against Captain Falcon and versus mid/low-tier characters, it might also be too late for Mew2King to suddenly drop a character that in a vacuum still brings him a high rate of success against worse players. You could argue that some of his recent losses aren’t indicative of a problem with his Sheik as much as they show the lower end of Mew2King’s skill curve, which has still remained in Melee’s top echelon for about a decade now.

However, Mew2King’s Marth and Fox have seen such a low amount of meaningful data against them that it’s impossible to draw accurate conclusions about how much of a dropoff he’d see were he to learn those matchups with either of them. What frame of reference do we have to be confident that Mew2King’s other characters would straight up lose to Shroomed or Duck across a set in bracket? It’s not as if Marth or Fox can’t win those matchups.

Furthermore, with aMSa taking another set off him, Axe in the middle of a new streak of head-to-head dominance and top level Captain Falcons taking sets, it’s clear that  Mew2King isn’t as untouchable against lower tier characters as many initially thought. HugS has said on stream before that he thinks that beating Mew2King is still doable for him. How much longer can Mew2King’s 50/50s of downsmash/grab and holding shield with his back to the ledge carry his Sheik to victories over tougher competition?

Against most of his Big Six contemporaries, Sheik gives him little to no benefit. He typically plays Fox against Hungrybox, rarely brings her out against Mango and has no reason to switch from Marth against Leffen and Armada. Among the Big Six, only Plup stands out as an opponent that Mew2King’s Sheik might offer him a meaningful advantage against. Even then, Mew2King’s 5-3 record since the start of 2017 is misleading.

One of those victories came in a set where Plup played Luigi and even beat Mew2King’s Sheik. Another came from, you guessed it, Mew2King Fox and Marth defeating Plup at Smash Summit Spring 2017 after the former lost two Sheik ditto games. When viewed through this lens, suddenly the two look a lot more even. Account for recency and Plup might actually hold the edge, being 3-1 against Mew2King in their last four sets (though the two tried Fox dittos to start EGLX winners semifinals) and quite frankly looking like the superior player in the first quarter of 2018.

It can be difficult to keep multiple characters ready through bracket. Though Mew2King used both his Sheik and Marth to success at Canada Cup 2017, it remains unlikely that he can play both characters effectively enough in a field where Mew2King also needs his Fox warmed up for Hungrybox: a consistent enough force within supermajors to where Mew2King will almost assuredly have to play him in bracket if he wants to win.

If Mew2King wants to secure his status within Melee’s Big Six, he’ll either have to increase his level of play with Sheik, find a way to stay warm with all of his characters or drop one of them. Right now out of the three characters, it’s looking pretty clear as to which of them is lagging behind.

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #21-30

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 31-40. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 21-30. 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.

30. Johnny “S2J” Kim

3rd at Shine 2017
4th at DreamHack Denver 2017
5th at EVO 2016
7th at GENESIS 2
7th at The Big House 7

S2J earned himself a spot on SSBMRank’s most recent Top 10. However, his legacy started many years before. He rose to prominence in 2011 and finished in the top eight at Genesis 2. Since then, he’s always been among SoCal’s five best players per ranking period.

His staying power within the Captain Falcon metagame illustrates his seemingly timeless consistency across a variety of matchups. S2J somehow combines the strengths of old-school fundamentals and a revamped, modern punish game based around both reads and reactions. Though his edgeguarding ability used to come under question, quite frankly, it’s an overplayed weakness that he’s worked on over the years. Now at the height of his playing skills, S2J has to show us if he can consistently stay in the “demigod” tier of play.

– Edwin Budding

29. Jose “Lucky” Aldama

4th at GOML 2016
4th at Kings of Cali 4
5th at The Big House 4
5th at EVO 2017
5th at GENESIS 5

Prior to his exceptional run at TBH4, Lucky was known for being Mango’s best friend and doubles partner. It’s said that the two once entered a SoCal doubles tournament late, only to be told by the tournament organizer that they could just take the first prize money, due to nobody wanting to play them.

When it comes to singles though, Lucky still isn’t a slouch. He boasts a Fox that has a bit of Norwalk swagger, but also a lot more grounded of a style, often holding position stronger than other Fox players, but still being close enough to opponents to pressure them. At Genesis 5, Lucky finally vanquished a career-long demon in Mew2King. Moving forward, can the longtime Norwalk legend increase his all-time standing even more?

– Edwin Budding

28. Julian “Zhu” Zhu

4th at GENESIS
4th at Winter Gamefest VI
5th at Canada Cup 2016
7th at Pound 4
7th at APEX 2010

The creator of the “Happy Feet” combo series was one of Melee’s most feared players in his active days. A longtime West Coast legend, Zhu stood among the best of both NorCal and SoCal, even beating Mew2King at Genesis and in on the East Coast before. Of note, Zhu grew a reputation for being a “Falcon slayer,” as he frequently beat the character’s best players quite a bit in bracket, particularly Hax.

Years after many thought his prime was over, Zhu made an epic run to ninth place at Evo 2016, where he beat Darkrain, ChuDat, Lucky and Laudandus. Though he doesn’t compete as much as he did in the past, his status as one of Melee’s top 10-15 players of the post-Brawl era makes him an easy selection for the game’s top 30 of all-time.

– Edwin Budding

27. Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett

2nd at Smash Rivalries
4th at WTFox 2
4th at DreamHack Austin 2016
5th at DreamHack Austin 2017
5th at CEO 2014

A prodigy across numerous smash games, Wizzrobe already holds an impressive resume. For example, his second place showing at Smash Rivalries is the best performance by Captain Falcon at a major since Isai won MLG Los Angeles 2005. Having defeated Hungrybox, Mew2King and Leffen in tournament, Wizzrobe is the antithesis to skepticism surrounding his character, ironically most brought up by Hax, a player many previously thought had pushed Captain Falcon to his limits (though Hax has lately shown more optimism regarding his former main).

Barring a character switch, if the 20GX wizkid can put it all together for one great dark horse supermajor run, then not only will he have proven Hax wrong, but he’ll have shown himself worthy to take Isai’s throne of being Melee’s greatest Captain Falcon ever. Wizzrobe currently stands as one of the ten best players in the world. His next task: prove that he can win a national and succeed where almost every Captain Falcon before him couldn’t.

– Edwin Budding

26. Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez

2nd at EVO World 2007
5th at EVO West 2007
5th at Winter Gamefest VI
7th at MLG Orlando 2006
7th at GENESIS 5

HugS is the ultimate blue collar smasher. He’s played Samus for longer than any other mid-tier main in history, yet he’s still force to be reckoned with.  A constant presence in MLG era top eights and just a stock away from winning Evo World 2007, HugS just finished an amazing seventh place at Genesis 5, more than a decade later. Today, he’s also one of Melee’s most entertaining and successful stream personalities.

One of HugS’ greatest accomplishments didn’t even come at a national. At UCLA V, he carried SoCal on his back, defeating the invading Ka-Master to win the tournament after going down early in their long, grueling, but epic grand finals set. Make no mistake: HugS’ stubborn resistance to career fatigue embodies what he is to the very core: a tireless competitor.

– Edwin Budding

25. Amsah “Amsah” Augustuszoon

3rd at Pound 4
5th at BEAST 5
9th at Pound V
17th at DreamHack Winter 2015
33rd at EVO 2017

While Ken dominated the United States and most of the world throughout the golden era, there remained one player he didn’t face in bracket: Amsah, the legendary Dutch Sheik. Initially breaking out in Europe as a result of his four-stock comeback on Ek at the Renaissance of Smash 3, Amsah became the continent’s best player, dominating tournaments from the middle of 2006 to the start of 2009, considered to mark the rise of Armada. During this stretch, he notably defeated CaptainJack multiple times.

Years after his prime, Amsah impressed many at Pound 4, as he beat Armada, Jman, Zhu and Tope to finish third at what was then Melee’s biggest tournament ever. He’s continued to be a notable player in the modern era, standing as the current Dutch No. 1, as well as one of Europe’s finest players. Had Amsah played within the United States during his prime, maybe he’d be higher on this list.

– Edwin Budding

24. Jeremy “Fly Amanita” Westfahl

2nd at Press Start
3rd at Winter Gamefest VI
5th at Kings of Cali 4
7th at EVO 2014
9th at I’m Not Yelling!

Fly Amanita is, in my book, the most underrated player of all time. A SoCal Ice Climbers known for a lack of wobbling in his play, Fly did not travel in his early ventures, staying close to home and only attending big tournaments like GENESIS. He never really had to chance to show his stuff nationally, though a win on Mango’s Falcon in early 2009 proved he was the real deal. When competition finally did come, Fly did not disappoint, defeating Hungrybox in winner’s bracket at Don’t Go Down There Jeff.

Later defeating Mew2King at Winter Gamefest VI and then PPMD at GENESIS 2, Fly has defeated every god except for Armada, and was a definite member of the Top 10 in his peak, arguably being only just outside the Gods at the time in 2011. His career continued, however, and in 2013 to as late as 2015 Fly showed impressive major results, including a top eight Placing at EVO 2014 and an astounding 2nd place at Press Start, outplacing Leffen, Mew2King and Hungrybox. His innovations of handoffs as well provided Ice Climbers with an insight into a meta of the character that didn’t rely so much on the infinite, breathing new life into the once one-dimensional character. While he is retired, Fly’s amazing resume is more than enough to grant him a Top 25 position.

– Pikachu942

23. David “KirbyKaze” McDonald

3rd at Revival of Melee 3
4th at GOML 2014
4th at Canada Cup 2016
5th at APEX 2012
5th at IMPULSE 2012

The Toronto Sheik is one of Melee’s most knowledgeable players. Along with Druggedfox, Cactuar and many other players, KirbyKaze was known for being a Smashboards guru, frequently helping smashers improve and giving them tips on how to use their character. He also had an aggressive, read-heavy and flashy style, which contrasted what many assumed were Sheik’s inherently defensive characteristics.

KirbyKaze’s legacy is backed up by a long history of impressive supermajor results, including nine top eight showings. At Revival of Melee 3, he defeated Mango (Scorpion Master) and PPMD en route to a strong third place finish, as many wondered if he was destined for godhood. Years later at Apex 2012, KirbyKaze became the first Sheik in years to defeat Hungrybox in a significant set. This was a matchup that Mew2King once dismissed as a waste of time to learn; and it’s just one chapter of KirbyKaze’s hall-of-fame-worthy career.

– Edwin Budding

22. Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami

3rd at Pound 2016
5th at Pound V
5th at The Big House 4
5th at Zenith 2013
5th at SKTAR 3

Not even Shakespeare could have written Hax’s career. The New Yorker started as a community loved Captain Falcon main, but became a “traitor” to his character for switching to Fox. That’s just the start – Hax then gained a reputation as the beloved prophet of “20xx” before having his career temporarily halted by a plethora of hand issues that threatened his career, making him a tragic figure. His most recent development is arguably the most fascinating: he’s the face of a new, controversial movement surrounding alternative controllers, as well as in-game modifications to Melee itself. He is an enigma in every sense of the word.

A highly technical, perfectionist, noncommittal movement-heavy competitor, Hax boasts one of the scene’s most creative and ruthless combo games. He is also an innovator for how to effectively use the ledge: a necessity for top level competition today. As a forefather of two characters’ modern metagames, the longtime demigod already has a storied legacy, but he’s nowhere close to finished. The odds are against him to ever become the game’s best player, as many thought he looked destined to be earlier in his career, if there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that Hax never gives up.

– Edwin Budding

21. Weston “Westballz” Dennis

2nd at MVG Sandstorm
3rd at PAX Arena
4th at DreamHack Winter 2015
4th at Paragon Orlando 2015
4th at CEO 2015

Early in his career, Westballz became synonymous with “technical,” playing fastfallers at unbelievable speeds and demonstrating how devastating their combo potential could be in the right hands. After years of looking like one of SoCal’s best talents, even taking games off PPMD in the Falco ditto as early as Northwest Manifest, Westballz finally had his first big victory. At MLG Anaheim 2014, he swept Mango in pools, in a matchup many thought to be Mango’s best. Since then, Westballz has beaten Hungrybox, Leffen and PPMD in bracket, marking him as one of the scene’s demigods.

He’s struggled lately, due to improved defensive advancements within the metagame, but Westballz remains a threat to make national top eights. With a few adjustments to his game, Westballz could not only return to where he looked before, but perhaps break out on an even greater level.

– Edwin Budding

Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll be back soon, with 11-20.

The Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time: #31-40

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 41-50. Today, we’ll be going over the players ranked 31-40. 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.

40. Drew “Drephen” Scoles

4th at MELEE-FC Diamond
5th at Viva La Smashtaclysm
5th at Zero Challenge 3
5th at Pound 2
9th at Pound 3

When Drephen defeated Mew2King at Viva La Smashtaclysm, rumor has it that the latter was so angry, he dismissed the loss as a total fluke and briefly complained about his opponent being carried by Sheik. Regardless, the Ohio legend holds a legacy as one of the best Midwest players ever, ruling the region along with Darkrain, Vidjogamer, Tink and Dope during the golden era of smash.

Years before Borp became a heralded fan favorite and before tech chasing became standardized, Drephen somehow combined both traits to become among the world’s best Sheiks. His smart, but extremely straightforward and frustrating style made him formidable, as he also has two sets over Azen for his career. He still plays today, having just finished an impressive fourth at The Gang Hosts A Melee Tournament, additionally winning the regional doubles tournament with Boyd.

– Edwin Budding

39. Roustane “Kage” Benzeguir

3rd at Revival of Melee 2
5th at Revival of Melee
5th at Canada Cup 2017
5th at Revival of Melee 4
7th at IMPULSE 2012

Most people remember Kage for the biggest upset in post-Brawl Melee history, when he double eliminated Mango at Revival of Melee 2. Just earlier in the year, he defeated Jman, Azen and KoreanDJ at Revival of Melee. A Ganondorf revolutionary whose strong fundamentals and discipline made him a warrior who feared no one in bracket, Kage has a knack of surprising people when they least expect it.

Years after his prime, he suddenly turned the clock back to beat SFAT and Westballz in Apex 2014. In 2015, he lead a stunning comeback at The Big House 5, in which he anchored Canada’s victory over NorCal in the regional crew battle bracket. Just last year, he beat ChuDat, KirbyKaze and HugS. It’s clear that Kage’s impact on the scene over the last decade is among the game’s greatest.

– Edwin Budding

38. Antoine “DA Wes” Lewis-Hall

4th at MELEE-FC
5th at Game Over
5th at Gettin’ Schooled 2
7th at Tournament Go 6
7th at MLG DC 2005

Even before old man Hugo burst onto the scene, there was one other notable Samus, known as DA Wes. Wes was known for his consistency, where it seemed almost every tourney he would only lose to the top players such as Ken and Azen. This was impressive at the time, due to the volatile and uncertain nature of many players in the old-school era – yet somehow, Wes would manage to stay at the solid lower end of top eight. He never had a breakout performance at any national, but his ability to be just below the top players at any given tournament was quite the feat.

Wes also pioneered several advanced techniques for Samus, then known when Wes used them as “illegal moves,” such as the extender grapple. He was the starter for the East Coast crew during the important FC3 Crew battle, defeating Variety Barrage and going 2-1 in stocks with HugS in the Samus ditto before being taken out. For his importance as the original Samus and consistency across the early era of the game, Wes more than deserves a mention.

– Pikachu942

37. Tony “Taj” Jackson

3rd at Genesis 2
5th at MELEE-FC Diamond
7th at Pound 2
13th at Evo 2013
13th at Super Champ Combo

The creator of the famous Shadowclaw combo video series, Taj is an important figure in both Arizona smash and the smash scene as a whole. Showing strong results as early as 2006, notably with a double elimination of Ken at a local late in the year, Taj really started proving himself in 2007 with his trusty Marth and Mewtwo combination, placing highly at majors. However, his best performance came at the legendary Genesis 2.

Here, despite being considered past his prime, Taj defeated Mango and PPMD to make winner’s finals, becoming the first non-god to defeat multiple gods in a single tournament and cementing himself as the best Marth against Falco, something even Mew2King credited Taj with at the time. While he is relatively inactive in the modern times, he still can prove to have solid results, such as his win on Colbol at The Big House 6. The greatest Mewtwo of all time and a Marth who showed the potential of gimps and edgeguards against the spacies, Taj is more than worthy of such a high spot on the list.

– Pikachu942

36. Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno

3rd at HTC Throwdown
7th at Evo 2014
7th at Battle of the Five Gods
7th at Zero Challenge 3
9th at Evo 2013

The star of “Attack on Top Tier” is one of the most influential Fox players ever, with revolutionary tech skill, creative ideas and performances that transcended era. Following Ka-Master, Silent Wolf became Washington’s top representative, especially showing a streak of dominance in matchups against Sheik, Marth and Peach.

He holds numerous victories over Mew2King and a win on Leffen at Evo 2014. finishing as Melee’s No. 11 player of 2015 and taking a game off Armada. Earlier this year, Silent Wolf announced that he was retiring from Melee, after disappearing from national competition in 2017. Nonetheless, he remains among the scene’s all-time great players.

– Edwin Budding

35. Jesse “Vidjogamer” Werner

3rd at MELEE-FC6
5th at Pound 3
5th at MELEE-FC Diamond
5th at MELEE-FC
7th at Zero Challenge 3

Standing among the top Peach players and Midwest smashers of the MLG era, Vidjogamer has been in the scene since 2002. As a result of his success, the namesake behind “Vidjo-dropping” and “Vidjo-cancelling” enjoyed a status of influence shared by few others.

However, earlier this year, smasher and artist Jacqueline “Jisu” Choe wrote a lengthy account of abuses she endured while working under her former business manager. While legal risk prevents her from naming the person in question, it’s public knowledge that her former manager at JisuArt was Vidjogamer. Her public account reflects a changing social climate where problematic behavior is increasingly and rightfully being brought to attention. It’s critical to ensure that those in positions of power remain accountable for their potential actions, even within the smash community.

– Edwin Budding

34. Bronson “DaShizWiz” Layton

3rd at Revival of Melee
5th at Zenith 2013
7th at MELEE-FC Diamond
7th at Pound 2
9th at Genesis

Before the rise of PPMD, another southern player took the reins of Falco’s metagame, refining ideas from Bombsoldier and polishing their execution. DaShizWiz boasted Lambchops-esque lasers and an in-your-face, aggressive, mixup heavy playstyle that eventually made him one of the five best players in the world during the early post-Brawl era. In an age preceding Hungrybox’s rise to godhood, Shiz was Florida’s top representative, known for taking Mew2King to the limit at FAST1 and Revival of Melee.

Shiz struggled with out-of-smash issues for the middle part of his career, having run-ins with the law and even being arrested for assault. After completing his mandatory time in jail and sanctioned anger management courses, Shiz returned to the smash scene, though there remains controversy over his past. He currently streams and still competes at nationals.

– Edwin Budding

33. David “Darkrain” John

5th at MELEE-FC6
7th at MELEE-FC Diamond
7th at Pound 3
7th at Genesis
9th at MELEE-FC

A Midwest legend and real-life version of Captain Falcon, Darkrain is an iconic figure of old-school Melee, and one almost everybody knows. Showing solid results from as early as 2004, Darkrain slowly rose up the ranks of the world’s elite, getting better and better with each year, until peaking in 2008 and 2009. Defeating PC Chris at Pound 3, Darkrain later went on to win Tipped Off 4 over players like Colbol, PPMD and Hungrybox, and then went on to place an incredible 7th at the all-important Genesis.

He was the first amazing Falcon after Isai, and yet somehow he still has carried on into the modern era, showing respectable placings at multiple Evos and wins on players like Silent Wolf and Wizzrobe. His jaw-dropping combos he seemingly performed on the daily, known as “Darkrain Combos” are a fixture of Midwest lore, and moments his quintuple knee on SFAT at MELEE-FC10R are of legend. As cool in the game as he is in real life, Darkrain is a name to be remembered.

– Pikachu942

32. Paul “Cort” Rogoza

4th at Pound 3
4th at Super Champ Combo
4th at Evo East 2007
7th at Cataclysm 3
9th at Viva La Smashtaclysm

Only a handful of players of really broken into that top echelon of play in the years Melee has existed. While it was more uncertain back in the years of 04 and 05, by 2008 the hierarchy seemed to be fairly set in stone as Melee’s lifespan was coming to an end with the relase of Brawl. However, one man was able to break through into that Top 5 level that many don’t seem to remember. Cort was a New England Peach main who saw great success in 2007, notably placing 4th at Super Champ Combo.

However, his true success would come in 2008. Turning the corner on his regional rival PC Chris, he ended the year positive on one of the world’s greatest, who just the year before had rarely if ever lost to him. Cort placed 4th at Pound 3, notably defeating Azen, who just won Viva La Smashtaclysm and was arguably the favorite to win the tournament. He also defeated Mew2King multiple times in Falcon dittos at tournaments like FAST 1: something few people can say they had the skill to accomplish, even it was a secondary. Due to the lower amount of tourneys back during this time, Cort was never able to truly show off just how good he was on a larger scale, which is why he places low on the list. Rest assured, however, that one of the legends of the East Coast was a worldwide threat in his prime.

– Pikachu942

31. Christopher “Sastopher” Rollock

2nd at MELEE-FC3
4th at Tournament Go 6
4th at MLG Seattle 2005
13th at MLG Los Angeles 2005
13th at Zero Challenge 2

Most probably recognize Sastopher from the “Smash Brothers” documentary, due to rumors that he lost a friendly to Azen’s Pichu. However, this paints Sastopher in far more negative light than how strong he truly was in his prime. One of the best in the Northwest region, Sastopher traveled to Tournament Go 6 a relative unknown to the greater scene, but shocked the world by being only the second person to ever defeat Ken in winner’s bracket. This wasn’t Sastopher’s only highlight however, as he went on to have one of the greatest underdog runs in Melee history, garnering 2nd at MELEE-FC3, arguably the most stacked Melee tournament of all-time.

Defeating Eddie, Mike G, Dope, DieSuperFly, Caveman, Azen, ChuDat and Ken once more, Sastopher beat almost the entire top echelon of players. Boasting amazing results at practically every national tournament he attended in 2004 and 2005, Sastopher was the first to provide true top levels of Peach play, years before Armada burst onto the scene.

– Pikachu942

Thank you for reading! We’ll be back next week with our 21-30.