On March 16th, 2018, the final article of the Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time was released. By all accounts, it meant a lot to see overwhelmingly positive feedback and legitimacy to a project I had considered pursuing for years. For the most part, I’m still okay with how the list turned out. However, time rolls on, and Melee keeps going.
In just a year, more majors continue to happen, and legacies have shifted for several players, with many of them having a greater impact on the game than before. I thought it’d be nice to catch up on the last year of Melee and see how it’s affected the all-time structure of the game. Without further ado, I am Pikachu942, and let’s get to it!
In total, 13 majors have happened in the intervening time, with 6 being supermajors. These tournaments, in order, were:
Full Bloom 4
Smash Summit 6
Get On My Level 2018
Smash ‘n’ Splash 4
Low Tier City 6
Super Smash Con 2018
The Big House 8
Smash Summit 7
These tourneys were the most important of the year by the metrics set for the original All-Time Top 100, which included having at least three Top 5 level players in attendance, six Top 10 level players in attendance (with at least one Top 5 level player in attendance), or being otherwise extremely historically significant while nearly meeting this criteria. Supermajors are very similar, though with more strict criteria, needing the player considered the best in the world along with at least four other contenders for the Top 5, or nearly meeting this while being historically significant or with a certain level of prestige.
Other notable tournaments include Noods Noods Noods: Oakland Edition, Flatiron 3, GT-X 2018, The Mango: Homecoming and Don’t Park on the Grass 2018. There were also a plethora of notable regional tournaments that occurred, but they are far too numerous and not as significant or impactful on an all-time standing, so I will not be covering them here. The most notable of them would be Heir 5, the largest European tournament of the year, though it doesn’t quite meet the metrics with only one “god” level player in attendance.
Of these tournaments, several players have achieved a boost in their all-time standing with strong Top 8 performances. These players were:
Hungrybox: 13 Top 8’s, 13 Top 4’s, 10 Grand Finals, 8 Major wins and 3 Supermajor wins
Armada: 6 Top 8’s, 6 Top 4’s, 4 Grand Finals, 2 Major wins and 1 Supermajor win
Plup: 8 Top 8’s, 7 Top 4’s, 5 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
Leffen: 8 Top 8’s, 6 Top 4’s, 3 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
Mew2King: 6 Top 8’s, 5 Top 4’s, 2 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
Zain: 7 Top 8’s, 3 Top 4’s, 1 Grand Finals and 1 Major win
Mango: 10 Top 8’s, 4 Top 4’s and 1 Grand Finals
Axe: 5 Top 8’s, 2 Top 4’s and 1 Grand Finals
Wizzrobe: 5 Top 8’s and 4 Top 4’s
aMSa: 7 Top 8’s and 2 Top 4’s
PewPewU: 3 Top 8’s and 1 Top 4
ARMY: 2 Top 8’s and 1 Top 4
S2J: 5 Top 8’s
SFAT: 5 Top 8’s
n0ne: 3 Top 8’s
Lucky: 3 Top 8’s
Swedish Delight: 2 Top 8’s
AbsentPage: 2 Top 8’s
Rishi: 2 Top 8’s
Crush: 1 Top 8
Bananas: 1 Top 8
lloD: 1 Top 8
HugS: 1 Top 8
Gahtzu: 1 Top 8
Shroomed: 1 Top 8
Ryan Ford: 1 Top 8
Ginger: 1 Top 8
A total of 27 Players achieved at least one major Top 8, with 12 achieving a Top 4 standing, 8 making it to Grand Finals and 6different players winning at a major tournament. Notably, this is the most amount of players to win a major since 2007. Interestingly, this was also the first year since 2007 that Mango did not win a major, and the first year since 2007 that Mew2King has won a supermajor.
As you can see, this data favors Hungrybox, who has now surpassed Mango and Armada for most ever major wins at 27, four more than 2nd place, Mango, who stays at 23, with Armada just behind at 21. With GENESIS 6, Hungrybox also ties Mango’s supermajor wins at 9 a piece, though Armada remains ahead with a monstrous 11 supermajor victories.
In terms of Top 8 appearances, Hungrybox is now 2nd all-time in this regard with 80, just behind Mew2King, who boasts 86 different Top 8 placings. M2K has also attended a staggering 98 different majors in his career, so look forward to the rest of the year, when he will likely be the first to cross the triple digit barrier in major attendance.
However, sheer quantity isn’t the whole story. Some people, such as Armada, attended less events than Hungrybox, who went to every single major of the year. If you look at the win percent at majors, how many times the person has outright won a major when they attended, Hungrybox with this past year reached a strong 33.33%, or 1/3, throughout his entire career.
This has allowed him to pass the likes of Mango, who faltered this year to a 28.05% win rate, barely above PPMD’s flat 28%, and Ken’s 32.61% win rate to reach 2nd place, barely nudging out the latter. However, he is still far away from Armada’s dominant 39.62% win percentage, a feat that is likely to take a long time to reach, if ever.
Now that we’ve dealt with tournament placings on the year, let’s look at another significant metric: their end of year standing and longevity. I like to go down to Top 25 for these as a good direct comparison to other years, where there was less data to fully know who was where so far down in the ranking, so here’s the MPGR 2018 Top 25!
Some new faces have appeared in the Top 25 for this year, those being KJH, AbsentPage, lloD, ARMY and Bananas. The first 3 can put down their first years ranked within the Top 25, while the two Ice Climber mains can mark down their first Top 20 year in the game.
At the top of the pack, this is Mew2King’s 13th year in the Top 10, let alone Top 25, a truly unprecedented feat that nobody has matched. However, an often underrated representative for longevity in the scene is Mango. With 2018, he notched his 11th year within the Top 5, tying Mew2King for the most in this regard, with 12 total years in the Top 10.
Hungrybox has garnered his 3rd year at #1, though his 2010 is rather dubious due to Mango’s frequent sandbagging at the time, meaning you could reasonably look at it more as 2.5 years or so. This pushes his peak above the likes of Mew2King and puts him squarely in the conversation of players like Ken and Mango, though still solidly behind Armada. It also marks a decade for Hungrybox in the Top 5, tying him with Armada, who also reached this milestone for 3rd most years in this regard.
For non-gods, Axe reached his 5th year within the Top 10, as well as his 9th year in the Top 15, making him quite easily the longest tenured player to not have reached a Top 5 peak. However, Lucky is not too far behind, with a nearly as impressive 9 years in the Top 20. This surpassed the often vaunted longevity of Shroomed, who faltered this year just outside the Top 25. Other notables include SFAT & S2J, who have reached 8 years in the Top 20, and Westballz, HugS and PPU, who each have notched 7 years in the Top 25. Plup celebrates his 5th year in this Top 25, while Leffen has reached 5 years within just the Top 10, surpassing the likes of PC Chris and now closer to players like Azen and PPMD.
Now, of course, it’s time to address the elephants in the room. Well, more like the…green dinosaur and handsome blue-haired swordsman in the room? That’s right, the year of 2018 was huge for two players in particular: Zain and aMSa.
Zain achieved a monumental feat in winning Shine 2018 and becoming the 15th player to win a major in the history of our game. That, plus a 2nd year in the Top 25 and his first within the Top 10, gives Zain a massive standing boost, one that brings him up from the likes of #96 on the original rank, to easily within the Top 25 or even Top 20 of all-time. His legacy is now comparable to players like fellow MDVA legend Chillin, NorCal turned SoCal stronghold SFAT, and Tristate’s forgotten rascal Jman as some of the stronger “non-gods” of all-time.
Meanwhile, aMSa had his best year yet, with several more Top 8s, 2 Top 4 placements, and a Top 10 end of year ranking. Once thought to be a total gimmick, aMSa has revolutionized Yoshi and proven his staying power in the metagame. His all-time records look similar to that of players like Drephen or DA Wes at this point, solidly within the Top 35 to 45 range on the standing. If his performance at GENESIS 6 is any indicator, though, things only seem to be looking up.
Other notable players who improved their standing are ones like lloD, who now has his first Top 8 performance ever, and a really strong case for the lower end of the Top 100. Similarly, players like HugS, Wizzrobe, Lucky and S2J are now unquestionably Top 30. PewPewU continues his strong consistent status within the same range as aMSa, while Duck inches closer to the Top 50, though another Top 8 performance could guarantee it for the future.
Swedish Delight’s historic win on Armada definitely pushes him into the Top 60 range, putting him squarely in competition with Duck for current players. Fiction’s return could see him rise more on the list, perhaps into the Top 70 or further with his impressive Fox. Crush’s departure from the scene is saddening, but his mark on New England Melee should still move himself further through the lower-end of the list, while Canadian’s best of today in n0ne and Ryan Ford continue to strive upwards towards the Top 60. Finally, a personal favorite of mine, Gahtzu, proved himself with an impressive run to 5th at Shine 2018. His consistent performances through the year in addition to his long time within the Top 40 could land him within the lower-end of Top 100 at this point in time.
In conclusion, I will end this article with my current all-time Top 50. Now, keep in mind this is not official and purely my opinion. As you might be able to tell, it is a bit different than the official list, even in some unchanging spots. Though I do think I’m probably one of the most qualified to make a list like this, that doesn’t mean this is the “correct” Top 50 of all-time. Without further ado, here it is!
I know this article was a bit long, but I hope you all enjoy what I had to say on the structure of Melee’s all-time standing. Hope you all enjoyed it; who knows what next year will bring?
Because my Lost to History article on APEX 2015 has been taking longer than expected, I thought I should grace you all with a surprise new series looking at the biggest upsets in Melee history! These will be smaller articles, as they mainly will deal with a singular result as opposed to whole tourneys or careers, but I hope it’s enjoyed just as much! Now, on with the article!
Back in Melee’s competitive infancy, there wasn’t really much you could call “upsets”, or surprising results. Sure, people had a general idea where some people were in skill level, but for the most part, regions were still separated, and it wasn’t clear cut how good everybody was in comparison to one another nationwide. Heck, even in regions, a top player losing to a lower one wouldn’t be too ridiculous, as Melee’s scene was still just getting started.
However, despite all of that, there was still one certainty by the end of the year 2003: Ken was the best Melee player in the United States. The soon to be King of Smash, SephirothKen as he was known as back in the day was a force to be reckoned with since his debut into the larger scene at the start of the year with Tournament Go 4. After talking as if he was the best in the world, Ken proved it in highstakes money matches against Matt Deezie, Recipherus and Sultan of Samitude, before easily winning over the region’s competition in the tourney proper, only dropping one game in Grand Finals to Recipherus, considered the best in the area after his win at the previous TG. Ken quickly followed these performances up with dominating local performances, such as SoCal Inland Empire, to prove he was the clear best on the West Coast.
Despite a rivalry beginning to brew between other regions, such as the East Coast and their best in Azen, Ken once again proved his dominance with a convincing victory at Tournament Go 5 in the middle of the year, largely considered the first true national, with the best from the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast and the Midwest all coming to play. As Ken continued to dominate locally for months to come, 2003 ended with a crystal clear hierarchy: Ken, and then everybody else.
That’s not to say there weren’t still doubters. One of the biggest voices against the SoCal Marth was a man by the name of Chillindude829, affectionately known as Chillin. The MDVA Fox brought up how items were in play at TG5, something the East Coast were not used to, with their tournaments being no items, while also being quite unfair. They invited Ken to come to the East Coast to truly prove his worth in a no items affair, at Game Over in early 2004, which would become the largest legitimate tournament of all time when it drew near.
Game Over was a stacked event, with familiar faces from TG5 showing up, as well as several East Coast players such as ChuDat, Mild, JTanic and Chillin himself making their debut on the national stage. Chillin, then a young 14 year old boy, proved ambitious in his tournament hosting endeavor, securing a fairly large venue for the time, in addition to an out of state bonus for the doubles bracket, one of the main reasons Ken came, along with his partner Isai. The two easily won doubles, but singles was an entirely different matter.
Chillin was heavily focused on running the tournament as it occured, with it being a hectic experience for him. Being such an early tournament, it wasn’t incredibly organized, especially with only a couple of teenagers at the helm of the whole thing. Chillin, in addition to having to keep track of the prize pot and the players, also created what many would consider the first true in-depth seeding for an event. Smash, more than any other competitive scene it feels like, seems fixated on their seeding, and Chillin was arguably the start of that, making sure to avoid regional and crew conflicts, as well as setting up each of the top players as far apart as he could. While doing this and progressing through the tournament, Chillin didn’t seem to think too highly of his chances, jokingly stating to NEO that whoever won their set wouldn’t matter, as both would lose to Ken.
Chillin defeated NEO, and the set that would change both his and arguably Melee’s life was about to begin. I strongly recommend reading Chillin’s recollection of the event from his History of a Smasher series on Smashboards. It offers a better look into his mind on the matter than I could ever properly retell.
Chillin had immense practice against what many would say was the 2nd best Marth in the country, Azen, but even he didn’t think there was a shot he could beat Ken. In the set, though, Chillin busted out something that is now commonplace in Fox’s arsenal, and something you’ve almost definitely seen even with a casual eye: up throw into up air as a kill confirm. Perhaps this was due to Ken’s lack of Foxes in his region, with it mainly being Falcos and Sheiks in the California area, but this wasn’t something the king was used to. This technique, along with a falling up air approach with Fox, have often been called “The Chillin” at various points in Melee history, and were vital in his success. Those new ideas, along with overall solid play, allowed Chillin to score the then biggest upset the game had ever seen.
Ken had lost his first set in tournament ever, something Chillin didn’t even realize at the time. Chillin proceeded to pop off, high-fiving the many onlookers while wearing his now iconic Green Bay Packers jersey to boot. Chillin would then go on to defeat ChuDat in Winner’s Quarters, before losing to Azen, and then Ken in the runback for a 5th place finish. Ken would go on to have Melee’s first great loser’s run, defeating the likes of Mild, HellFox, Chillin, DA Dave, Isai and Azen twice to win the tournament and continue his dominance as the best in the nation. However, despite that, there was now a crack in the armor, a blemish on the previously flawless record. A kid who was more concerned with running the biggest tournament of all-time than placing well in bracket had dethroned the best in the world, if only for a brief moment. This result is still one of the most infamous in the game’s history, and truly worth a mention as one of Melee’s Greatest Upsets.
After a historic run at EVO 2018, ending Armada’s eight and a half year winstreak against non-god level players, Swedish Delight has popped into the consciousness of many a Melee player, spectator and fan. However, this Tristate Sheik’s career is one with many more highlights and intrigue than a mere victory just a few days ago. Trials and tribulations throughout the decade have led to that moment, and that’s what I’m here to cover! So, hello everybody, my name is Pikachu942, and today will be the introduction of my “Player Spotlight” series, where I look at the history and career of the Melee players of today! First up: The Armada Slayer himself, Swedish Delight!
Swedish Delight, real name James Liu, started his journey in Melee as an aspiring Falco main alongside his older brother Frank Liu, known in the community as Mr. F, a Jigglypuff main. The two trained a decent amount against each other, though in the early days Mr. F was a far more common sight at Melee tournaments than his younger sibling. While Mr. F attended large tournaments such as APEX 2010, Swedish did not enter a major until several years later. The earliest data I have on Swedish Delight for notable tournaments is his impressive Top 8 performance at the pre-APEX 2010 Tunes Monthly, which featured players such as Armada, Jman & Zhu. Swedish finished 7th at the event, over more established names at the time such as Stric9 and Prog, as well as multiple Europeans players in attendance. This prompted IVP, a Melee player from Sweden, to ask an…appropriate question. In response, there was really only one answer:
As 2010, and later 2011, rolled on, Swedish’s presence was not felt, as he didn’t attend any major tournaments with his still fledgling Falco. As 2012 rolled upon us, however, he finally took action and entered APEX 2012. Swedish placed an impressive 65th place at the event, just outside of bracket for the most stacked tournament of the year. It was at this point that Swedish began to adopt his now much more well-known Sheik, and started using it alongside his Falco as he entered Zenith 2012. He placed a meager 25th at the event, though it was due to losses from PPMD, the winner of the tournament, and then to DoH in a close Game 3 set, who then went on to make a loser’s tear to 7th place.
However, after this major tournament was when Swedish finally began to pick up steam in his career, as he finally began to imrpove his Sheik. By December of 2012, Swedish had gotten his first big win at a larger tourney, defeating Eggm at NEC 13 to send the legendary Fox main out at 7th place.
Despite this big win, though, Swedish did not seem to increase much in activity. As 2013 came onto the scene, Swedish notably did not attend APEX at the start of the year. You see, Swedish had never taken the game super seriously at this point like some did, and was more focused on his personal obligations, such as his goals within medical school, a tough profession that requires vast amounts of effort in its own right. That didn’t stop Swedish from appearing at Zenith 2013, shockingly enough, as he placed an impressive 9th, having fully transitioned to being a solo-Sheik main. Here he defeated legendary Captain Falcon player Scar, as well as MattDotZeb, the Falco main most well-known for his modern day TO’ing abilities, before falling to Mew2King and New England deity Zoso. Swedish also took time out of his schedule to attend EVO 2013, arguably the most important tournament in our game’s history, where he made Top 64, losing only to Mango, the eventual winner, and Tristate legend Jman, while still scoring a nice win over AZ Marth main Tai.
With 2013 coming to a close, and Melee beginning to boom, Swedish began to attend many more tournaments in the scene, starting with APEX 2014. Here, Swedish was able to net his first truly huge victory, defeating Top 20 player S2J in Round 1 Pools to eliminate him shockingly early from the tournament. The New Jersey Sheik wound up with 49th at the event, losing to Harriet and Hax$, but his statement had been made: Swedish Delight was a player to look out for.
Swedish began to show prowess locally as well, emphasized no stronger than at his 2nd place finish at KTAR 9, where he defeated Zanguzen, DJ Nintendo and The Moon all in a row in a pretty impressive loser’s run. A firm #2 in New Jersey at the time behind the iconic Mew2King, Swedish was nobody to be trifled with. He came into EVO 2014 with a head of steam, and wound up placing in the Top 32, his best placing at a supermajor thus far. Here, he defeated up and coming Puff player s0ft, who just had an amazing Top 8 performance at APEX, as well as NorCal legend Lucien, before suffering his losses to Mexican superstar Javi and the meteoric rise of Japanese Yoshi aMSa for 25th. Swedish would then cap off his more active 2014 with a 9th place finish at Zenith, getting his revenge on Zoso from the year prior as well as defeating Swiftbass before losing to Mew2King and Axe.
Swedish’s slow but certain upward trend continued as he reached Top 24 at APEX 2015, another of Melee’s most important events. Here, Swedish scored his then biggest win of his career, defeating extraordinary Samus main Plup to make bracket on winner’s side, just after Plup’s amazing win on Leffen at Paragon Orlando that relegated him to superstardom. Swedish has said this is the only time he’s ever actually popped off, or celebrated his victory outwardly, as he essentially ended Plup’s career as a solo-Samus main, eventually starting the road down to the monstorous Plup Sheik we see today. Swedish then defeated strong SoCal Fox player Fiction, before losing his first set ever against Armada and then Shroomed.
After several relatively routine showings at multiple tournaments in the rest of the first half of 2015, Swedish scored his next few big wins of the year at EVO 2015, where he defeated Sheik legends KirbyKaze and Drephen to show his prowess in the ditto before being double eliminated by Top 8 placer ChuDat for 33rd. It was at this point that Swedish began to doubt his abilities as a Sheik player in the Ice Climbers matchup, and began to develop a secondary Peach for the situation. He had used it sparingly before, most notably in a close set against Delphiki at Super Nebulous 3, but now would be when it would finally come to full use against the top ICs players in the world. Swedish would immediately put this to good use, as he won the very first Nebulous Prime tournament, getting his revenge on Dizzkidboogie with the Peach after losing to him at Bad Moon Rising, as well as defeating Slox and The Moon twice.
Though Swedish had seemed to be improving at a steady right his entire career, it would all finally come to a head with his performance at The Big House 5, which Swedish Delight himself considers his first true breakout performance. Getting his other Bad Moon Rising loss back as he defeated Wizzrobe, a Captain Falcon player who had begun to really be seen as a top level threat, was just the beginning, as Swedish Delight then garnered his first ever Top 10 level win with a victory over Westballz. This would be the beginning of a long streak Swedish would hold over the Falco main that would last for the better part of a year as they faced multiple times, but the first one was certainly an upset. Swedish would then go on to defeat a character crisis’d Zhu, who utilized both Falco and Sheik, much like Swedish’s early years, before finally losing to Duck in one of the sets of the tournament to end his placing at 13th, the first Top 16 he had ever achieved at a supermajor. Because of this overwhelming performance, Swedish earned his way into the first ever Smash Summit via the fanvote.
Though Swedish in the end went 0-2 at the event, losing to PPMD 0-3 and in a heartbreaking 2-3 revenge set against S2J, the experience he gained there was valuable. The Summit level up has become something many people hope to see from the event, but you could make the argument that if it weren’t for Swedish Delight, it wouldn’t even have a leg to stand on in terms of evidence. Swedish’s rise immediately after Summit was apparent, as 2016 became Swedish’s peak year in his career, arguably to this day. Though he initially faltered at GENESIS 3 with a disappointing 33rd, Swedish quickly picked it back up, as the one-two combo of Super Nebulous 4 and Pound 2016 but Swedish Delight on the map as one of the best players in the world.
Defeating The Moon, Westballz and Hax$ en route to a 2nd place at Super Nebulous 4, followed by his astounding 4th place at Pound 2016, his highest placing yet at a major, was a feat that put Swedish in the argument for not just best in New Jersey with Mew2King gone, but possibly even the best in all of Tri-State. Avenging several losses he’s had over the years, such as double eliminating Laudandus and defeating Professor Pro, in addition to taking Mango to the absolute limit, Swedish looked like a true worldender. And while a slight stumble did occur with his 13th place at GOML 2016 and loss to Ice, Swedish quickly regained his balance and bursted forward with what is arguably still the greatest tournament of his career: Smash N Splash 2.
While not a true major in size, SnS2 was certainly worthy of large regional status, with both Hungrybox and Mew2King in attendance as well as multiple other top players. Many expected the aforementioned Gods to be in the Grand Finals, but little did they know a delight was coming their way. Swedish did what almost nobody else can attest to, as he not only defeated, but double eliminated Mew2King from tournament, sending his former statesman out of the tournament at 3rd place. Swedish would also notably defeat both S2J and Westballz, as well as infamously take a game off of Hungrybox for the first time ever in Grand Finals with his pocket Luigi. Any Swedish fan should be familiar with this run, as next to the Armada win this run is the accomplishment of his career.
Our new favorite Sheik main would soon follow this astounding run with his best performance on the big stage yet, gaining 9th place at EVO 2016. Here, Swedish defeated S2J and PewPewU, though admittedly he also lost in the return match to Mew2King, as well his streak against Westballz finally being broken to eliminate him on an insane run from Wes to discuss another time. Still, the fact that Swedish could have what many would say an expected, perhaps even disappointing performance, and still nearly make Top 8 at a supermajor is a testament to his steady but noticeable level of improvement at the game. Swedish would close out the year with a trio of solid performances: 5th at Shine 2016, getting revenge on Westballz and beating Nintendude, who just scored an insane upset over Mango the round previous; 9th at The Big House 6, defeating Prince Abu, Leffen’s Falco and Shroomed, while also taking Hungrybox to the first of many last stock Game 5 sets between the two. Finally, Swedish’s final big performance of the year came with his first Top 8 performance at a supermajor level event, with a 7th place at UGC Smash Open, where he defeated S2J and, more notably, obliterated Top 10 level player Axe 3-0 in the winner’s bracket.
As 2016 closed, Swedish Delight was ranked #11 in the world, though several argued he should’ve been considered as high as even 8th or 9th in the world. This amazing year for Swedish made him requestion his path to go down in medical school. Not getting accepted on his application in 2016, he stated “I will apply again next year.”, showing his aspirations still rang true. In the meantime, he decided to look for a professional sponsor for eSports, and eventually landed on Renegades as the year drew to a close. Now in full-on professional Smash mode, Swedish had now begun to take the game much more seriously than he had in the past.
However, 2017, and honestly a good bit of 2018, proved to show some sort of plateau for this Jersey Sheik’s previously unstoppable yet steady climb. Besides a few brief glimpses here and there, such as his consistent victories over Axe, taking Flatiron 2 over Lucky and fast-rising star Syrox, and his multiple close sets against Hungrybox, Swedish just seemed to…stabilize. With a ranking of 13th in the Summer of 2017, and 16th at both the final 2017 rank and Summer of 2018 Rank, it seemed like Swedish had finally peaked in his career…
…That is, until this quite frankly unbelievable victory Swedish was able to score over the most consistent and greatest player to ever touch the game: Adam “Armada” Lindgren. Swedish Delight not only defeated the wall that is Armada’s Peach, but also the fast and scary final form of the Swedish Sniper: his Fox, a character Swedish had historically been struggling against for the past year or so. This can be attributed to Swedish’s consistent work on the matchup over 2017 and 2018, with players such as DruggedFox and Hax$ guiding him along the way. Swedish became the first player ranked below 6th in the world to defeat Armada since Amsah from the Netherlands, then ranked #7 in the world per RetroSSBMRank, defeated him at Pound 4, all the way back in 2010: the same year Swedish posted his first notable result. Swedish then capped off this run by beating current demon PewPewU and making his 2nd supermajor Top 8 ever, and the first since UGC nearly 2 years prior.
Far removed from just being the little brother of a relatively well-known, solid Puff main from Tristate, Swedish Delight has grown an impressive legacy of his own, one that seems to only continue to grow as time rolls on. Now that Swedish has defeated Armada, you truly can never count him out.
Who the fuck is Swedish Delight? He’s the man who broke the streak.
In the old days of Melee, many scenes were cut off from one another, unable to interact. It was rare to see any tournaments where multiple regions would come together to test themselves, and so it was hard to properly rank the skill of people around the world against one another. However, there were a few key tournaments that were able to achieve national exposure. The MOAST series in the South would draw people from the west and east coasts, while the Snexus series out in the Midwest would occasionally bring in people as well. However, the tourney series that stands out above the rest was the Tournament Go series in San Jose, California. Thought of as the premier smash series back in 2002-2004, it brought in people from all across the nation, and, by its 5th edition, had amassed the first true national, with even some European representation. However, Matt Deezie, legendary TO of the series, wasn’t done yet, and decided he would host one last Tournament Go in August of 2004, and he would pull out all the stops. Being the first notable tournament of over 100 entrants in size, Deezie was able to bring over not only people from all over the USA, but competitors from Canada, The Netherlands and, for the first time ever, Japan with legendary smasher CaptainJack. This tournament would finally decide who the best in the world was, and was a monumental moment in the history of our game. However, many people do not know the full story behind this tournament. It’s time to change that, and show why Tournament Go 6 was one of, if not the, most important tourney prior to the modern era.
Now then, hello everybody! My name is Pikachu942, with my first article in a new series I like to call Lost to History! My first in the series? Well, if you haven’t already guessed, it’s time to jump in with 2004’s Tournament Go 6! Let’s get started!
Before we get into the actual tournament itself, we need to set the stage for the tournament’s creation. Since Melee’s competitive inception in 2002, there has always been a question of which scene in the USA was the best. The west coast housed powerhouses such as Recipherus, Justin Junio, Sultan of Samitude and of course, the duo of Isai and Ken. The east coast, on the other hand, had the crew of Ha Ha You Lose, abbreviated as H2YL (Azen, Chu, Chillin, Mild, Anden, JTanic) and Deadly Alliance, commonly shortened as DA (Wes, Dave, Kamaal, DanteFox, Mike G and more), as well as Team Ben (Wife, Husband, Oro). There were other strong regions as well, but it was really only between the two coasts of the country. After TG5 the previous year, most people thought it was all but decided who the best coast was, but the east coast had other opinions. You see, the Tournament Go series, while the premier series in the nation to many, held their tournaments with items on, potentially leading to skewed results, especially in the eyes of H2YL. Game Over in early 2004 was hosted on the east coast, without items, to truly settle this once and for all. Ken, the best on the west at the time, did win the tournament, but not without a hiccup with a loss to Chillindude. Because of this, the east coast still clinged on to potentially being the strongest region in the country heading into the tournament.
However, despite the rivalry in the USA, most thought it was quite obvious where the strongest scene as far as globally was concerned resided: Japan. Japan’s best were seen as unthinkably beyond what America had to offer, either due to the stereotype of Japanese players just being superior or from the few videos of play people actually saw. Their best: Masashi, CaptainJack, Keropi-, Thunders, RAIN and Brown Mario at the time, were seen as far above even the greatest American players such as Ken or Azen. Because of this, the USA wanted to test themselves to see if their hypothesis rang true, or if they could disprove it and bring the crown to the land of the free. Matt Deezie worked things out, and was able to bring over the legend himself, CaptainJack, who was generally considered to be in the top two in Japan alongside Masashi, to Tournament Go 6. Deezie also decided to remove items from the ruleset, and make matches 4 stocks, 8 minutes, as opposed to Game Over’s 5 stock count. In addition, Deezie also banned several unpopular stages, leaving only a handful to be selected. A hybrid of the east and west coast rulesets, TG6 birthed the modern ruleset of Melee, one that we still use today and will probably use for a long time in the future. This tournament was a first for many things in Melee: The first to bring in multiple international talents, the first to adopt the modern ruleset, and is generally considered to be the first tournament to surpass 100 entrants.
Now then, let’s get to the actual tournament, and what makes this one event so special in the eyes of many.
Another first for Tournament Go 6 was that it was the first major tournament to be multiple days, sporting two days of competition. The first day of the tourney was nothing special, however, more of a casual day at first with doubles happening later on. The only shocking thing about friendlies was when Ken and CaptainJack sat down to play. After having close games against Jack’s Sheik, his main character, Ken began struggling against both Jack’s Bowser and Donkey Kong, some of the worst characters at the time. There wasn’t an excuse for character unfamiliarity either, as Arash, one of the SoCal Elite 5, was considered the best Bowser in the country at the time. Seeing the best in America get utterly trounced as the games progressed by Japan’s elite only seemed to reaffirm what everybody thought: that the USA was truly the inferior region. Regardless, the doubles tourney began, and what’s interesting about this doubles tourney is that it sported pools into bracket, which was uncommon at the time. While we do not know the full results of doubles, we do have a handful of them.
1.El Chocolate Diablo (Ken & Isai)
2.Team East Coast (Azen & DA Wes)
3.Crystal City (Rob$ & Caveman)
4.Eddie & The Doug
5/6.ChuDat & Manacloud and CaptainJack & Takuto
As likely expected, Ken & Isai dominated doubles, making this more of a fight for 2nd place. This win proved they could even beat Japan’s elite in doubles, and cemented them as the likely best team in not just the USA, or even North America, but the entire world. Surprisingly, Team Japan themselves lost to Ken & Isai in winner’s semis and then lost once more in loser’s quarters, placing a disappointing 5th. The Crystal City crew surprised many with there 3rd placing, many saying they were the 3rd best team in the nation after their performance over well-established teams like the NorCal team of Scamp/Sultan of Samitude and giving Azen/DA Wes a struggle. An interesting result overall, but not the main event.
As Day 1 came to a close, the anticipation for singles grew. With over 100 entrants participating (winding up being a 112 total), it was the largest tournament at the time, with tons of stacked talent. The best from NorCal would be coming out of semi-retirement for this tourney, as since TG5, with the exception of Sultan of Samitude, the NorCal group barely played for months. This included Recipherus, his brother Adam, Justin Junio, JR Castillo and Matt Deezie. In fact, Matt stated that he had to basically beg for some of these people to go, especially Justin Junio. Of course, the still active NorCal players showed up as well, including Isai, DonkeyBalls, DeathSmasher00, Scamp, Jon-Jon, GERM and The SNAP. Other strong regions included the SoCal Elite 4, recently turned into the Elite 5. This consisted of the Top 5 in the region: Ken, ManaCloud, Tavo7, Pedro & Arash. The best from the Pacific Northwest also came down, including Kei, Sastopher, BaleFireBoy, 1psemet who recently changed his name to J-Dawg, Blair (who would later be known as Variety Barrage), Yagi and Stition. The Midwest’s Eddie also came out to the event, known as #1 in the region at the time, and the South’s Zulu, Rob$ & Caveman also appeared. From the East Coast, Tri-State’s finest of DA Wes, Mike G and DA Dave showed up, while MDVA brought in Azen and Chu Dat, as well as Oro. Florida even had some solid players in attendance, with Delaini, CloudStrifeX and Goldwing representing SFL. For the first time ever, vast international talent made their appearance, as The Doug, who had been both the best in the UK and one of the best in NorCal, then representing The Netherlands and quickly asserting himself as #1 in the region, made his way over, in addition to Mr. Silver and Rune from the same country. MikeMonkey and Jarrod of the Punch Crew also showed up from Canada, and of course CaptainJack and Takuto, who would later be known by his more popular tag S-Royal, were the guests of honor from Japan. This tourney was missing very few top tier players from that time, it was truly a meeting of the greats.
Day 2 arrived. The anticipation at an all time high, it was time for the bracket to finally begin. Like most tournaments, the top seeds got a bye to the 2nd round. These included Ken, The Doug, MikeMonkey, Caveman, Kei, ManaCloud, Azen, Isai, Jarrod, Variety Barrage, DA Wes, Tavo7, CaptainJack, Goldwing, Sultan of Samitude & Recipherus. This definitely seemed to favor West Coast and international talent, as 3 of the SoCal Elite 5 were seeded for byes while people such as Eddie were not. Unproven best in region players seemed to be given byes as well, such as Goldwing, who the previous day was doing well in friendlies against Jack, The Punch Crew and Caveman. Overall, intriguing seeding, but not what we’re here for.
Round 1 was a rather uneventful round, as expected of such a big tournament, but there were some interesting matchups:
Jon-Jon vs. CloudStrifeX The first major match of the day, an inter-regional battle. Jon-Jon was considered a strong, just below top level player in NorCal, while Cloud was one of the best in South Florida at the time. In the end, Jon-Jon took it in a competitive set 2-1, where JJ actually gave Cloud props for the tightness of the set in one of his few Smashboards posts.
Lunaris vs. Teflon Climbers The best in Alaska in Lunaris and a top player from Minnesota in Teflon, this was a somewhat intriguing MU to look at, especially since a year prior in 2003 Teflon actually called out Alaska and Lunaris on Smashboards. Lunaris took it convincingly, showing that his home state was nothing to scoff at.
J-Dawg vs. Deathsmasher00 J-Dawg was a relatively unknown player at the time outside of his home-region of the Pacific Northwest, not helped by his recent tag change, and thus had a tough bracket ahead of him, starting as early as round 1 with the up and coming NorCal player Deathsmasher00. J-Dawg won convincingly, proving this top player was not to be messed with and he was here to play.
Matt Deezie vs. Stition A top player from NorCal coming out of a hiatus vs. a top PNW player still playing, this could’ve been an extremely interesting match, potentially an upset. However, Matt showed he still had it as he beat Stition rather convincingly. Perhaps the others who have “retired” could still show off their skills?
Rob$ vs. JR Castillo Probably the most interesting match of the first round, the Southern Falco and Top 3 his region of Texas faced off against TG1 winner and Fox main JR Castillo. JR was a bit out of his prime at this point, and that in addition to a hiatus allowed Rob$ to take this set convincingly, sending him to loser’s.
Yagi vs. Aftermath
Yagi, the founder of the SKYPAL crew and venue, was a Luigi main who was considered a strong contender in his state of Washington. However, just south of his state laid another important figure in old school melee, Aftermath, a Samus main from Oregon. An early pioneer for the Oregon scene, Aftermath was a regular contributor to Smashboards and was one of the first to truly develop Samus’s tools, creating videos such as the one seen above, as well as being the person to discover the Black Hole Glitch. Yagi won convincingly, but both these players deserve mention as figureheads in their respective areas.
As each expected player advanced into Round 2, some more interesting matches began to pop up:
DA Dave vs. Camper Bob The Tri-State Falco looked to have an easy road ahead of him to at least the 3rd round, but shockingly he nearly lost to Midwest Peach and Young Link main Camper Bob. Known for his Poke Floats camping strategy, Bob was able to take a game thanks to an SD in Game 2 by Dave, and took the final game to a close last stock. So close to a fairly large upset, but in the end Deadly Alliance prevailed.
Sastopher vs. Arash Peach vs. Bowser, a fitting match for those who are fans of the Mario series, but one not seen pretty much at all in today’s tournaments. Even back then, this rarely happened, but you would probably not find a Peach-Bowser better than this one. Sastopher, considered the 2nd best in the Pacific Northwest behind Rori, who had to back out of the tournament last second, was a solid Peach main who few considered a threat heading in the tournament. Arash was one of the SoCal Elite 5, and surely he could handle such an unknown. However, the Northwest’s best player present was able to win a hardfought match against the SoCal Bowser, defeating him 2-1, which each game going to a riveting (?) timeout.
J-Dawg vs. MikeMoney
The first major upset of the event, J-Dawg continued proving doubters wrong and was able to take down the then best in Canada, Falcon main MikeMonkey. MikeMonkey was considered the best player in his coutnry and leader of the Punch Crew, who were well known for making videos such as the one above, and being one of the first to do so on a consistent basis, giving people regular insight into others playing the game. One wonders if Mike brought out the Donkey Kong due to not taking him seriously, but all we know for now is that the old-school, even at the time, J-dawg, was able to defeat an international talent, putting PNW firmly on the map.
Mike G vs. Caveman A high-profile match where neither was the clear favorite, the best Dr. Mario in the nation Caveman went up against the Tri-State Peach main Mike G. In a hotly contested affair, Caveman was able to clutch it out, continuing on in this winner’s bracket. It was rare to see one of the non-coasts defeat those by the water, but Caveman proved that the center of the country was just as important as those on the edges.
Kei vs. BaleFireBoy An early team kill for the SKYPAL boys, Peach main BaleFireBoy fought against Kei, a Fox and Peach co-main, in a battle between two of the best players in the region. Kei was able to take a close set, but it really is a shame that they had to face off so early.
ChuDat vs. Zulu Zulu, a top player from Texas, went against Top 3 in MDVA and newly minted Ice Climbers main ChuDat. Chu stated that this was actually a rather easy win for him, a clean 2-0, which at the time might’ve been surprising given Zulu’s reputation beforehand, having defeated Recipherus at MOAST 1 just over a year ago.
Rune vs. GERM In Dutch Marth Rune’s first true test in his trip to America, he solidly defeated rising NorCal Link main, GERM. Unlike both The Doug and Mr. Silver, Rune had never come to America before, so this was a necessary win in order to prove himself as a legitimate threat to the Americans.
DieSuperFly vs. Scamp This was DSF’s first big win, as he was able to defeat staple of the NorCal smash scene and the titular Dave in Dave’s Stupid Rule, Scamp. DSF was hyped up a lot prior to this tourney for his rapid improvement, and he showed why he should be believed as he took out one of NorCal’s higher-level still active players.
Oro vs. Adam Team Ben’s Samus in Oro went up against Recipherus’ brother, Luigi main Adam, and was shockingly able to defeat him. Due to Adam’s then inactivity, it is unclear if the previously best Luigi in the nation was still in prime condition to take on such a rising star, but it is clear this was a solid victory for the East Coast and more than proved people outside H2YL and DA could compete.
Mr. Silver vs. Zelgadis
2004 was Zelgadis’s breakout year, as the release of his combo video, Shined Blind (seen above), was a monumental moment in the entirety of our game’s history. The video inspired dozens of Fox mains, and showcased Zelgadis’s technical prowess. However, he wasn’t able to effectively translate it to tournament results, as he lost to Mr. Silver, a Dutch player who came over to America more often than any other, and was one of the first people that gave us a glimpse to how strong Europe was in comparison to the USA.
As the rest of the players advanced into Round 3, more and more players were dropping into loser’s, and some interesting matches there were bound to occur:
CloudStrifeX vs. Adam (65th) Cloud began a strong loser’s run here as he was able to take out Adam in loser’s after his loss to Oro, proving Florida was not a region to be slept on. A West Coast top player being taken out by two lesser known EC players must’ve been great for the Atlantic.
Arash vs. Derilink (65th) Despite an extremely close set against Sastopher in winner’s, Arash flamed out early in loser’s, losing to Link main Derilink, considered a strong PNW player but actually failed his audition to get into the SKYPAL crew. Not a good look for SoCal here, one of their elites out before Top 64.
CloudeStrifeX vs. Goldwing (49th) An SFL team-kill, Cloud was able to continue his loser’s run by defeating Goldwing, which was definitely an either way match. Goldwing lost in winner’s to Eddie before this, and overall underperformed compared to the high seeding and impressive showcase vs. Jack he showed in the previous day.
Deathsmasher00 vs. Scamp (49th) A NorCal battle of two evenly matched opponents, the new up-and-coming DeathSmasher was able to take down the old-guard of Scamp to continue into the Top 48 of the tournament.
Zulu vs. Stition (49th) Zulu proved he wasn’t a fraud after losing to Chu, as he dismantled one of SKYPAL’s stronger players in Stition and showcased why he was considered the best in the South just a short time ago.
JR Castillo vs. Tristan (49th) In probably the biggest upset thus far, Tristan, a relatively unknown player from what I can find, was able to defeat JR Castillo, ending him at 49th place, effectively also ending JR’s Smash Career.
Camper Bob vs. Aftermath (49th) Two lesser but still high level players faced off in loser’s here, as Camper Bob stopped the Samus innovator in his tracks with his frustrating Peach and Young Link.
Back into Winner’s R3, even more high level matches were underway:
DA Dave vs. Justin Junio
The likely most anticipated Falco Ditto at the time, these two were considered two of the best Falcos in the nations, with each representing their coast. Junio, after a lot of time off from the game, was basically being forced to enter this enter this tournament by Matt Deezie, and it clearly showed. Justin lost rather decisively to DA Dave, and East Coast had taken down another West Coast member.
The Doug vs. Lunaris In the next major upset of the tourney, The Doug was taken out by Lunaris, who firmly cemented both himself and his state with this astonishing win. Few would’ve given the Alaskan Marth a shot against this former Top 10 player in the nation and the best from Europe, but he was able to pull it out!
Takuto vs. J-Dawg In another major upset for the day, the Japanese Dr. Mario main Takuto was actually taken down by J-Dawg, who continued to impress in his winner’s run. The man once known as 1psemet from SKYPAL had now taken down both Canada and Japan, what could he do next?
Caveman vs. Delaini
One of the best in Texas against the likely best in Florida, this was sure to be an intriguing matchup to spectate. A Falco main before “Floridian Falcos” were a thing, Delaini was thought of as an innovator to the character along with Lambchops and FlowinWater. However, he fell to the unorthodox Dr. Mario main from Crystal City, as Caveman solidly took the set 2-0.
Kei vs. Matt Deezie A hotly contested match between West Coast elites, Kei from the Northwest faced off against Matt Deezie, host of the tournament and a strong NorCal player in his own right. While Matt was out of his game by this point, he still put up a strong fight against the rapidly improving Fox/Peach main. However, when the dust settled, Kei was able to take it in a close set to continue in the winner’s bracket, which some may have considered an upset.
ChuDat vs. Variety Barrage After Chu already defeated Zulu, he continued his at the time impressive winner’s run with a close victory over Variety Barrage, then known by his real name, Blair. Chu gave props to Blair for the super close set, as the PNW Fox main was nearly able to take it. However, Chu took Game 3 decisively after an ill-advised “top tier” switch by Blair, likely to Sheik, who was considered better than Fox at the time and was his secondary.
DieSuperFly vs. Tavo7 Considered a potential upset at the time, DSF was being incredibly hyped up for his ability to potentially make Top 8 or even beat the top players. He was improving rapidly in his home-region, and he likely didn’t expect a fellow Sheik main to take him down. Tavo7, sometimes known as Tavo, Gustavo or Gus, was part of the illustrious SoCal Elite 5, and contended with ManaCloud for #2 in the region. He was able to defeat the vaunted DSF in Sheik dittos, likely due to the volatility of chaingrabbing, which especially in 2004 more than evened the skill gap. DSF was sent to loser’s, but this wouldn’t be the last we see of him…
As the rest of the top players advanced, in loser’s more matches were brewing:
Jarrod vs. Jeff H. (33rd) The second best of the Punch Crew and potentially #2 in Canada, Jarrod was expected to make it far in bracket, as evidenced by his high seeding. However, after a loss to Isai, he was sent to loser’s and quickly dispatched by an unknown Melee player by the name of Jeff, who also defeated Zelgadis the round before. This, coupled with Mike’s loss to J-Dawg, maybe led credence to Canada not being that good.
Pedro vs. Variety Barrage (33rd) Another potentially intriguing bout, one of the SoCal Elite 5, Pedro, was matched up against Blair after his close loss to ChuDat. Pedro had lost early to Sultan of Samitude, but had been tearing it up in loser’s prior to this. However, Blair shot him down quickly, taking out the second of the Elite 5 in the tournament.
Rune vs. CloudStrifeX (33rd) A notable match, one of the best in Florida went up against a Top 10 player from The Netherlands, and it wound up being a hotly contested affair. The two went back-and-forth, and apparently an unfortunate circumstance, likely an SD at low % while in the lead, cost Cloud the set. Rune even posted in SmashBoards how unfortunate it was that this occurred.
GERM vs. Oro (33rd) An intense EC vs. WC match, Oro the Samus went up against the best Link main in America, GERM. GERM praised Oro’s skill in the SmashBoards thread, calling him the definite 2nd best Samus in the nation behind only DA Wes. However, despite the praise, NorCal’s Hero of Time defeated the Samus main in a close 3 game set.
Yagi vs. Zulu (33rd) The host of the SKYPAL tourneys and Luigi main Yagi went up against Falco/Puff dual main and top player from Texas, Zulu. Yagi put up a decent performance in this same matchup against Samitude but ultimately lost, and a much similar thing happened here, as Zulu clutched out a close set. However, Yagi’s performance in this tournament earned him the title at the time as the best Luigi in the nation to many, as he also easily outplaced Recipherus’s brother, Adam, at the same tourney.
BaleFireBoy vs. Justin Junio (33rd) BaleFireBoy, after being sent to loser’s horribly early by his regional brethren Kei, went on a strong loser’s run, all starting with his defeat of former Top 10 Player in the nation Justin Junio. The PNW Peach main was able to take out the all-star Falco, showing that the Northwest was vastly approaching the top regions in strength, and also further hammered how the old-guard of the scene was being taken over.
MikeMonkey vs. The Doug (33rd) Quite a grand match for such an early place in bracket, one of the best Sheiks in the world and likely the best Smasher from Europe went up against the best in Canada. The Doug stated how close this set was, and how his loss here and ultimate underperformance, not even cracking Top 32, led him to retire from Melee, at least temporarily. What’s interesting to note is The Doug was the lowest placing European at the event, despite being the likely best on the Continent.
DieSuperFly vs. Rune (25th) The NorCal Sheik main was determined to show he did indeed live up to the hype, as he took down the Dutch Marth main Rune in a close set. Rune was very upset at the result, saying that DSF did not deserve to win the set, but later apologized.
Zulu vs. Mr. Silver (25th) The Texan blue bird continued his loser’s run, as he was able to fend off and defeat the final European left in the event, Mr. Silver. Silver was also very upset, like his two other European folk, about the loss, and felt he shouldn’t have been defeated. Perhaps salt ran heavy in Holland?
Mike G. vs. MikeMonkey The two best players at the time to use Mike in their tag, this set led to a vastly disappointing performance by Mike G, who lost this set in convincing fashion to end his run at 25th. The Falcon main from Canada continued to show that the country was indeed not fraudulent, as his loser’s run raged on.
Takuto vs. Delaini (25th) Takuto, after losing to J-Dawg in winner’s, was determined to show that CaptainJack was not the only Japanese player here who came to take names. He was able to take out the best player in Florida at the time, Delaini, rather convincingly, ending the state’s highest placing at 25th.
Matt Deezie vs. ManaCloud (25th) One of the best NorCal vs. SoCal matchups you could ask for, Deezie and ManaCloud faced off in what was described as one of the sets of the tournament. An insanely close set, ManaCloud nearly pulled off the win, but Matt showed he had amazing innate skill and talent as, even with his several month break, was able to take it over SoCal’s arguable #2 and knock out the third of the Elite 5.
This has narrowed us down to the Top 24 of the tournament, and thus the winner’s bracket continued.
Ken vs. DA Dave
Ken hasn’t been mentioned up until this point in the article as, due to his skill and clear stature as the best in America, breezed by most of his opponents. However, he met his first real challenge in DA Dave, who at that point was potentially even better than Wes as the best in Tri-State, having placed an impressive 4th at Game Over earlier in the year. The Falco main was able to take a game and nearly a set per Azen’s recollection, but in the end the King of Smash was able to prevail 2-1.
Sastopher vs. Lunaris Lunaris strived to continue his impressive run so far, as he faced off against the Northwest’s best attending player Sastopher. Alaska’s #1 was indeed a fearsome foe, and these two unknowns on the grander stage were an intriguing bout. Sastopher was able to take it to continue on into Winner’s Quarters.
J-Dawg vs. Caveman J-Dawg continued his unthinkable at the time winner’s run, as he defeated not just Canada and Japan, but also one Texas’s best players, as he was able to take out Caveman in an intense set. PNW was separating itself at this point from other high level regions and really cemented itself as a place on par with Cali, Tri-State and MDVA.
Recipherus vs. Sultan of Samitude The NorCal classic, these two were at one point considered some of the very best in the country, and though they were out of practice, were still able to effectively hold their own. Sam wound up taking the set, as he tended to do, having the head to head on Recipherus most of the time, and would continue on in winner’s.
ChuDat vs. Isai The legendary match that kickstarted Chu Dat’s career as one of the legends of the game, Chu was thought of as a massive underdog coming into this set. Isai had within the past year defeated a Recipherus in his prime, Azen, Wes, won Smash 4 Cash over most of East Coast’s best and even took a set off of Ken at MLG Chicago 2004. These were all accomplishments Chu Dat had not achieved in the past year, not defeating Wes in tournament and it being nearly 2 years since his last win on Azen. However, the unthinkable happened, as not only did Chu defeat the NorCal Falcon, he did so convincingly, never going down to last stock in the entire set. This brought several eyes to Chu: Could he win this tournament?
And at this point, Winner’s Quarters was set. Four matchups would decide who would be in winner’s top 8, and one more round of loser’s would decide the final Top 16:
Kei vs. Variety Barrage (17th) A PNW mashup, these two were considered roughly equal in skill at the time, and as such it was a close set. Blair was able to take Kei out, ending the Japanese Washingtonian’s run at 17th.
DieSuperFly vs. Caveman (17th) DSF continued his strong loser’s run with another upset over one of the best in Texas, Caveman. The Doc main had just suffered an upset loss to J-Dawg, and another one to DSF ended his run, a vast underperformance all things considered.
DA Dave vs. Zulu (17th) Two Falco mains known as the best in their respective regions of Tristate and Texas, Dave and Zulu faced off in an overall underwhelming encounter. Dave took the match solidly, ending Zulu’s run at 17th, and showed why the coasts are the regions to truly be feared.
Lunaris vs. Rob$ (17th) After his win on The Doug earlier in the tournament, Lunaris was likely looked at as the favorite for this matchup. However, the final of the Crystal City trio emerged victorious, and Rob$, then known as RobFalco, was able to take a close set over the best in Alaska. Rob$ noted that Lunaris was the one who taught him the most of the entirety of people at the tourney, and considered Lunaris one of his toughest opponents.
Recipherus vs. BaleFireBoy (17th) In what was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, the Northwest Peach main clutched it out over the once best in NorCal and arguably the nation at a point, 2nd seed in the tournament Recipherus. This must’ve been unthinkable at the time, as people back then likely thought that, even with the rust, Recipherus must be able to make Top 8; but he couldn’t even make Top 16! This truly symbolized both PNW’s rise and the old-school’s fall.
MikeMonkey vs. Eddie (17th) The last time MikeMonkey attended a large tournament, it was Snexus 2 in the Midwest, where Eddie placed 3rd and Mike placed just outside Top 8, a decent performance but nowhere near the level of what Eddie was capable of. In the past year, Mike had leveled up considerably, and at this point had built up a head of steam with wins on both Mike G and The Doug. Mike was able to take it over Eddie, showing his marked improvement and also showed the potential of his country.
Takuto vs. Tavo7 (17th) While most eyes were on CaptainJack when it came to Japan, Takuto was calmly making a loser’s run with his impressive Doctor Mario, defeating arguably the 2nd best in SoCal behind Ken, Tavo7, in a close contest. Takuto had reached Top 16 and outplaced the best Doctor Mario in America, Caveman, showing that even Japan’s lower level players were not to be messed with.
Top 16 had finally approached us, and the tournament was finally revving into its final gear.
DieSuperFly vs. Variety Barrage (13th) Blair had at this point proven himself as one of the best Northwest players in attendance, while DSF was still struggling to show the potential people said he possessed in the lead up to the tournament. A win here would prove he was one of the nation’s premier Sheik mains, and he did exactly that, defeating Blair and progressing to the Top 12 to wait on the loser of Ken and Sastopher.
Rob$ vs. DA Dave (13th) In a shocking upset, Rob$ defeated DA Dave very soundly to progress on in the tournament in Falco dittos. After defeating both Justin Junio and Zulu rather convincingly, one would think DA Dave would have this in the bag. However, the final representative from the South had more to say, as by all accounts it was a massacre. A shocking loss from one of the East Coast’s finest.
BaleFireBoy vs. MikeMonkey (13th) Two incredible loser’s runs, and one had to come to an end here. BaleFireBoy had taken down the old-guard of Justin Junio and Recipherus, while MikeMonkey powered through current contenders like The Doug, Mike G and Eddie. In the end, BaleFireBoy was the one reigned supreme, further pressing on into the Top 12, knocking Canada out of the running.
Isai vs. Takuto (13th) A monumental moment happened here, as Isai was able to soundly defeat Takuto and eliminate the Japanese guest from the tournament at 13th place. While it may not seem like much, being able to truly eliminate a Japanese player of any caliber has to be considered an accomplishment for the western scene.
In Winner’s Quarters, the best of the best were waiting to duke it out.
Azen vs. J-Dawg Azen has been sweeping by the winner’s bracket with ease, defeating strong players like ManaCloud and Kei with little to no effort, before coming across the miracle worker J-Dawg from the Pacific. Having vanquished many in his winner’s path, be it Canada, Japan or the USA, J-Dawg was looking to add one of the nation’s finest to his hitlist. However, it was not to be, as Azen easily dispatched of him and progressed into Winner’s Semis unscathed.
CaptainJack vs. Sultan of Samitude Jack had been cruising through as easily as Azen had, easily dispatching of players like Eddie and Rob$, who had been putting on quite a show in the loser’s side. He continued his dominance, easily defeating the former best Falco in the nation Sultan of Samitude to progress into Top 8 without dropping a single game.
ChuDat vs. DA Wes While Chu had defeated Isai convincingly, that was the first time they had met, and thus it was a relative unknown what the result would be. However, against DA Wes, they had played numerous times, and Chu had not defeated him a single time in any of their fights. They had an infamous scuffle at a DCSS, where Wes won due to a controversial timeout rule, but here, it was finally Chu’s time to shine. He defeated Wes in a close set to progress into Winner’s Semis, a ridiculous feat to be considered previously. Chu considered this win even more important than his victory on Isai, as he finally overcame a longstanding demon.
Ken vs. Sastopher In an upset superior to even ChuDat’s victory over Isai, Sastopher, somebody considered of a generally lower level to most high level players around him at the time, defeated the King of Smash Ken, sending him to the loser’s bracket for only the second time in his career. Ken likes to say that he was too focused on the Directional Influence, or DI, that CaptainJack showcased to him in friendlies the previous day, and allowed himself to be sent flying to practice it, but regardless, a loss is a loss, no johns. Somebody who had lost to Azen’s Pichu in friendlies had now beaten the best player in the country. At this point, it seemed all hope was lost to stop CaptainJack and the Japanese invasion. But, surely, Ken would come back in loser’s right?
No, no he would not.
Ken vs. DieSuperFly (9th)
In one of the biggest upsets of all time, DieSuperFly realized his potential, and defeated Ken in a thrilling Game 3 last stock scenario to eliminate Ken for the first time ever. For the first time ever, Ken would not win a tournament. For the first time ever, Ken would not Top 8 a tournament. For the first time ever, the King of Smash had been dethroned. A Sheik player who had just barely started taking the game seriously, and while hyped had no results, defeated the greatest Marth player in the world. DSF, who had barely squeaked out a win over Rune, an inferior Marth main, just a couple rounds before. DSF, who had lost in winner’s to Tavo7, only the second best in SoCal to Ken’s first in the region. DieSuperFly shocked the world, Ken, and himself, as he progressed into Top 8 of one of the most important tournaments of all time.
Rob$ vs. J-Dawg (9th) Despite the shocking revelation that Ken was out of the tournament, there were still more matches to be played. J-Dawg’s cinderella run was cut short here by Rob$, who continued to surge into Top 8 and put the South on the map. This would be 1psemet’s final lasting performance, and what a performance to go out on, defeating players from all across the globe.
DA Wes vs. BaleFireBoy (9th)
Another miracle run was short-lived here, as DA Wes showed he hadn’t lost a step from his loss to Chu and defeated BaleFireBoy in a close 2-0 set. Only one Northwest player remained in the running, and that was Sastopher, who was comfortably waiting in Winner’s Semis. Perhaps Wes used one of his illegal moves to secure victory…
Isai vs. Sultan of Samitude (9th) A fight between NorCal’s best, Sam was still trying to show he was a powerhouse to be feared, but Isai easily stomped to prove who was #1 in the region. Rob$ was now the only Falco remaining, and it seemed clear who the best with the bird was at this point. Top 8 was decided, and the final stages drew near.
Top 8 for the largest Melee tournament of all-time was underway, and the best in the country wasn’t even a part of it. It seemed some unlikely contenders would have to be the ones to defend the homeland from the monstrous CaptainJack, but could they do it was the question. First, loser’s had to go underway
DieSuperFly vs. Rob$ (7th) Perhaps it was the shock of such a momentous win in his career, or the nerves of being so far in the tourney, or maybe Rob$ was just the better man on this day, but DSF fell just as he reached the top of the mountain. Rob defeated DSF and progressed to Loser’s Quarters, as DieSuperFly was left with a bittersweet ending, showcasing his potential but still stumbling as he reached the finish line.
Isai vs. DA Wes (7th) One of the more one-sided matchups between top players, Isai seemed to always have the upperhand on Wes, utterly destroying him in their confrontation at Game Over. The story was no different here, as the NorCal Falcon easily dispatched of the New York Samus main, ending Tristate’s finest just within Top 8. It would be up to MDVA to defend the East Coast’s honor from here on out.
Winner’s Semis approached, and would decide who would be the final 2 left standing on the winner’s side of the bracket.
Azen vs. Sastopher Just after his astounding win over Ken, Sastopher went face-to-face with his closest contemporary, Azen Zagenite, the best from the East. Azen won rather decisively by game count, though the games were fairly close. It was clear Sastopher was a player of the highest caliber, and likely the best Peach main in the world at this point, but Azen persevered and made it to Winner’s Finals.
CaptainJack vs. ChuDat
In a shocking move, Jack switched off of his usual Sheik to instead use a different character: Ganondorf against ChuDat. Ganon was considered a weaker character, but one with a more favorable matchup against the eskimo pair. Jack proved this with an impressive 3-0 over ChuDat, ending his winner’s run just short of the end. Jack had now reached Winner’s Finals without dropping a single game, could he be stopped with Ken no longer in the running?
Sastopher vs. Rob$ (5th) Before we could decide that, loser’s had to be seen first. Despite Winner’s Semis being Best of 5 sets, the Loser’s Quarters matches wound up being a Best of 3 competition. This led Sastopher to take a close 2-1 victory over Rob$, ending the South’s pride and joy at a very respectable 5th place. Only those on the coasts and Japan remained, as Azen, CaptainJack, Sastopher, ChuDat and Isai were the final 5.
ChuDat vs. Isai (5th)
In a rematch from the shocking result from winner’s side, ChuDat and Isai faced off once more. People were sure Isai could pull through when they needed him, and had figured out Chu’s tricks with a then highly underutilized character in the Ice Climbers. However, if anything, this set was even more dominant in Chu’s favor, as he quickly dispatched of Isai to move into the Top 4.
Winner’s Finals had finally come. Azen vs. CaptainJack, USA vs. Japan. Could Azen reign supreme over Japan’s best, or would the country from the east reinforce their dominance?
Azen vs. CaptainJack
The answer was a resounding yes to the former, as Azen won a shockingly convincing 3-0 over CaptainJack to reach Grand Finals. His utilization of the chaingrab in the Sheik ditto, something players in Japan were vehemently against and refused to use, led to Azen winning quite soundly, though some argued it was a dirty victory and not a true test of skill. Regardless of the circumstances, Azen prevailed, and showed America could compete with Japan’s best.
ChuDat vs. Sastopher (4th) Both of these players performed monumental upsets in their path to Loser’s Semis, but in the end, only one could prevail. In a matchup considered even worse back then than in today’s meta, Sastopher used his dangerous Peach against ChuDat’s Ice Climbers. It went down to a riveting, last stock Game 5 scenario, and somehow Chu was able to barely take it over one of the Northwest’s best. Arguably the best win of his entire run at the tournament, Chu showed he could overcome any odds, even in the face of a nigh-unwinnable matchup. This performance single handedly pushed Ice Climbers up the tier list a significant amount, no longer considered a low or even mid tier, but a high tier, viable character.
ChuDat vs. CaptainJack (3rd)
However, this is where ChuDat’s run would end, as Jack would once again defeat him to send him out of the tournament. CaptainJack shockingly lost Game 1 using his Sheik, showing Chu’s prowess in the ICs-Sheik matchup that is a cornerstone of his career even today, but a quick switch to Ganon Game 2 easily undid all of ChuDat’s momentum. He even tried a switches to both Jigglypuff and Sheik himself, but to no avail as Jack triumphed 3-1.
Azen vs. CaptainJack (Grand Finals) Grand Finals was upon us, but it seemed many expected it to go much the same. Jack would attempt to use his Sheik again, only to be chaingrabbed relentlessly by the East Coast champion and lose the tournament. However, Jack had one more trick up his sleeve, as he highlighted his cursor over a certain plumber with a PhD. That’s right, he decided to use Doctor Mario.
Dr. Mario was considered a lower tier character, similar in vein as to when somebody like aMSa burst onto the scene many years later with his Yoshi. While there were a few Doc mains, like the aforementioned Caveman, nobody thought a Doc could realistically take down one of the nation’s best. However, that’s exactly what transpired, as CaptainJack went up 3-1 on the now Best of 7 Grand Finals set with his Doc against Azen’s Sheik.
However, Azen wasn’t finished yet, as he quickly began using his iconic blue Marth against the doctor, defeating it and forcing the Sheik back out. Jack’s Sheik won the game, resetting the bracket 4-2 and making it a do or die scenario for Azen. Azen decided to switch to his Sheik for the next game and was able to defeat the Doc and, perhaps scared of the dreaded Sheik ditto, Jack opted to stay Doc for the remainder of the set. Azen had won the mental war, scaring Jack off an entire half of his arsenal, as he eventually won 3 straight games with Marth over the Doctor Mario to take the tournament, winning Grand Finals Set 2 4-1 in decisive, awe-inspiring fashion.
The results were in: America had won. Azen stood tall, one of the few times he had seemed genuinely happy about Smash in a long time, as he triumphed as the USA’s hero and proved the East was not the clear-cut best. Sure, they didn’t have everybody there, but one of their top 2 was in the end defeated decisively by America’s long-considered #2. Azen had won a tournament not just over Japan, but over Ken as well, and several players such as Chillin crowned Azen the new best in the world. While Azen himself disagreed, only with many others, he still relished in the moment, as for the brief time, he was on top of the world. One of the most important tournaments of all time had come to a close, and Azen was the one standing there with his trophy when the dust settled. The sheer chaos of it all caused Matt Deezie to close up shop on the Tournament Go series and move on to other endeavors, later joining Capcom and being a high profile worker there dealing in the Esports scene for games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. Several other players, such as Recipherus, retired from the scene after this tournament, and other players like Samitude not long after. Ken, Azen, ChuDat, Isai and Jack became legends of the game and the clear Top 5 by the end of the year, with Ken late reclaiming his throne and solidifying himself as one of the best of all-time. The tournament was a pivotal point in Melee’s history, as a meeting of the old and the new, the West and East, a rise of many new scenes, and a worldwide battle that many were anxious to see. TG6 may have happened nearly 15 years ago today, but it’s legacy and importance will live on forever.
9.Ken, J-Dawg, BaleFireBoy, Sultan of Samitude
13.Variety Barrage, DA Dave, MikeMonkey, Takuto