In the past year I have found myself getting deeper and deeper into the Super Smash Bros. scene. I haven’t been playing Smash 4, the newest iteration, but rather its ancestor Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM or Melee for short).
Melee is one of the most consistent eSports. As a mainstay at Evo with many tournaments dedicated exclusively to its play, it has an impressive roster of players, many of whom have made thousands of dollars playing the game professionally. From the almighty Ken to the ever popular Mew2King to the spontaneous Mang0, Melee has been an important game in Electronic Sports history.
Melee was released by Nintendo in America on November 21, 2001, to critical praise. The game was initially conceived as a new iteration of the ever-popular party game, Super Smash Bros. 64 for the Nintendo 64. Melee was released for the Nintendo GameCube and the popularity of the game led to the eventual beginning of tournament play. Melee began to be competitive roughly a year later without any major tournaments appearing until 2003. From that point everything originates. Breakout stars like Ken “Ken” Hoang rose through the ranks and became known as “the King of Smash,” a title that until 2006 was unshakable. At MLG New York, a major tournament and season opener for the MLG (Major League Gaming) Melee circuit of that year, Ken lost to PC Chris, a relatively unknown kid from New York. Many note that this was the beginning of the dark times for Melee as after the 2006 season ended, MLG was bought and many of the games were cut out of their professional circuit, with Melee among them.
For a period of time Melee’s place was uncertain in the world of professional gaming, until Melee was added to the Evo circuit in 2013. The game had underwent massive shifts during the nearly six years the game was out of the spotlight. New top players rose. Dubbed “the Five Gods of Smash” these players replaced Ken as the best in the world. Among them were Kevin “PPMD” Nanney, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, Joseph “Mango” Marquez, Juan Manuel “Hungrybox” Debiedma, and Adam “Armada” Lindgren. It was these five players who stand at the summit as players to beat in the modern Melee scene.
Melee still thrives, and I hope to see new players trying to pick up the game. It has a high skill ceiling and demanding executional standards, but will always stand in my heart and in the heart of many others as the best Smash Bros. Game of all time.