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Melee’s Greatest Upsets: Kage defeats Mango

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Unstoppable. If there was one word I had to use to describe Mango’s run through 2008 and 2009, it would be that. The SoCal Puff main, with a hint of Falco, seemingly came out of nowhere to blaze a path that had barely been seen before. Sure, Ken was dominant, but he never did it with…such style. Such flash. With iconic moments at seemingly every tournament he went to, Mango was a walking highlight reel. An unprecedented loser’s run to win Pound 3. Dominant and flashy local showings through the following year, never dropping a serious set. This includes a famous JV4 stock on fellow Top 10 Player, Zhu…using his Captain Falcon, a character Mango did not typically use and one Zhu tended to dominate. Mango was unbelievable as he rested and spiked his way through the year of 2009 as well.

A beatdown of the East Coast at Revival of Melee firmly cemented Mango as the best in the world, above any doubt or regional bias people might’ve had. He was so on top, Mango had an entire tournament named after him: Mango Juice, which he won as well with ease. He even defeated the legendary SilentSpectre using the man’s own character against him. Even after a seismic run from Armada at GENESIS in July, Mango was still able to rally, and bring us one of the most iconic moments in the history of our game as he was able to send Europe packing.

With Brawl reaching heights far beyond what Melee had to offer, and Mango’s continued dominance of the field, it seemed as if Mango’s reign would last until Melee’s flame burned out, and he would go down as our final, lasting champion…

Enter: The Warrior.

 

When it comes to Ganondorf, the villain of the iconic Legend of Zelda franchise, there have been some top tier competitors in the past. Eddie of course comes to mind, a Top 10 level player in 2003, who continued to have decent performances all the way up to 2007. However, after him, there hadn’t been many to truly break into that tier. Florida had a startling amount of talent with the warlock, with Tipman being an early progenitor of the character. Linguini would come after, and begin to show success in 2008, notably making 17th at GENESIS. An unexpected place for the blackhearted villain to find love would almost certainly have been where our hero of today hails from: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Despite being the 2nd largest country in the world, as well as being adjacent to the most active scene for Melee, the United States, Canada had barely seen action on the grand stage. The few exceptions would be the likes of Mike and the Punch Crew, more known for their videos and entertainment value than actual skill (though MikeMonkey did show some prowess), and The King, an aggressive Jigglypuff main who ironically inspired Mango to pick up the character. Other than those rare caveats, Canada had seen practically no action prior to Brawl’s release.

This would, of course, change as 2008 rolled around, with players such as RaynEX beginning to travel stateside. While he performed admirably, there was still a lot to be desired from the land up north. That would all change in 2009, and from an unlikely source.

Kage, while a potent force locally, was not considered one of the absolute top players in Canada, or even Montreal. He consistently was seen losing locals to Vwins, a strong Peach player who would come to fame after his 13th place showing at GENESIS, defeating Lucky. While obviously a respectable loss, this dominant record Vwins had over our warrior was a clear sign that he just wasn’t up to snuff. He couldn’t hang with the top of the business, and there was no way he could score a win on a Top 10 player, let alone the almost omnipotent Mango.

Kage, however, would begin to prove others wrong, starting with Revival of Melee. While Mango easily plowed his way through the competition, Kage had an often underrated run to 5th place, defeating legend after legend in his wake. First defeating solid Midwest Falcon Jiano, Kage would then go on to make his way through quickly rising Jman, who was hot off his win on Mew2King in December of last year, and two forefathers of the game in KoreanDJ and Azen. He would lose to DaShizWiz, a player on the cusp of Top 5 level at the time, and then in a nailbiter to PC Chris, another legend. Perhaps it was just inexperience in such a strange matchup like Ganondorf, but Kage proved he could beat multiple top level threats all in a row. Still though, legends who are falling out of the game, and living legends in their prime are entirely separate matters.

After a ho-hum GENESIS run to 17th place, the same as fellow Ganon Linguini, it seemed as if Kage had finally settled into a suitable tier for himself. While yes, he was very impressive, he wasn’t quite at that Top 10 level, and a far cry from the best of the best. That’s when the sequel to his greatest run yet began: Revival of Melee 2. Here, Kage would prove why his name deserved to be etched into history.

 

After first defeating Linguini in a Ganon ditto, in a way establishing himself as the best Ganondorf main in the world, Kage eventually found himself against Mango. While many would have predicted an easy win for the best in the world, the Warrior had other ideas. With two swift games that looked almost too easy for the French Canadian, Kage defeated Mango’s Falco and Captain Falcon to progress in the bracket. While many would dismiss this as a merely Mango not trying, context has to be taken into account. Mango’s Falco was in some ways his best character at the time, and Kage was known to be far weaker against the character than his contemporaries, notably losing 3 times to up and comer PPMD at Tipped Off 4. Mango was also known to use these characters often in earlier periods of the bracket, and sometimes even later on to great effect. His Falco had defeated Mew2King at the previous Revival of Melee, and his Captain Falcon had the aforementioned victories over both Zhu and SilentSpectre. While it was undoubtedly an impeded Mango, make no mistake, Kage’s decisive victory here was still insanely impressive.

Still though, nobody thought this victory would last too long. Mango would ride his way through loser’s and easily win the tournament, with nobody considered on his level, such as Armada or Mew2King, attending the tournament. This would seem to hold true to start, as Mango easily dispatched of Lucky, Cactuar and Jman with the same characters Kage vanquished in winner’s, seeming to hardly try as he ventured to an inevitable win. Kage, however, had lost to rising Jigglypuff main Hungrybox in winner’s, before scraping by another Puff in Darc to meet back with the reigning champion of Melee in Loser’s Semis. After another win over Mango’s Falco in Game 1, it was time. Mango had to take the weights off.

 

Mango wasn’t messing around anymore, as he brought out the puffball everybody associated with a “tryhard” version of him: him at his very best. Game 2 began, and immediately the skillgap seemed apparent. Mango toyed with Kage around Dreamland, known affectionately as “MangoLand” by some at the time, en route to a momentum halting 3 stock on the Warrior. It seemed fruitless, a mere dream that Mango could ever be eliminated from a tournament. Sure, he had a bit of a scare when he was barely trying, but when Mango wanted to, he could beat you whenever he chose.

The 23-year old Ganon main didn’t take too long as he made his way to Battlefield for Game 3. A perfect setting for a true Warrior, as Kage might say. It started much the same as Game 1, with Mango taking the first stock, though Kage proved to put up much more of a fight than before. Perhaps after over 6 prior games against top level Puffs in the tournament, he was finally getting accustomed to how the character worked. A smaller stage than the gigantic Dreamland properly didn’t hurt much, either, nor did Ganondorfs ridiculous kill potential when the size of the stage is reduced. Slowly but surely, the tide started to turn, until a fateful up smash connected, killing Jigglypuff at under 50%.

The battle was even. A fair fight, something all honorable Warriors strive for.

A flurry of hard hits slammed against the soft exterior of Mango’s character, as the percent quickly racked up. 10, 20, 50, 70, it just didn’t stop. The nerves had to be piling on for the once unmovable, arrogant kid, as the unflappable might of THE WARRIOR pounded upon him. Well, actually, Mango was the one who pounded, albeit right into a ferocious Ganondorf forward air that sent him off the stage and to his last stock. Mango felt the pressure, and knew he had to go for something, anything. He saw Kage roll out of the shield, and memories flashed back to that legendary moment against Armada. He went for explosive rest, a move that would surely turn the tide in his favor…

And he missed.

It was over, the final barrier broken. Mango would take this stock and bring Kage to his last, but most knew it was over at this point. Almost immediately, Kage hit a one-two punch of aerials to send Mango out of the stage and out of the tournament. Mango had finally been defeated. It wasn’t a fluke, there were no excuses, Mango had fallen. The culprit? One Warrior. The Warrior. Kage the Warrior.

Kage would then, in a moment of pure joy, run up to the mic and let out his immortal words: “I just beat Mango, where you at?!”

Kage would go on to lose his next set in decisive fashion to PPMD, as Hungrybox would win Grand Finals and garner his very first major victory. Kage would continue his strong performances, but never again reach these heights. Still though, this accomplishment alone gives the undisputed honor of being the greatest Ganondorf main to ever touch Super Smash Brothers Melee.

Mango wouldn’t be impeded by this loss for long, with following wins at both Winterfest and Pound 4, before his Scorpion Master phase began in 2010. For many years, this would be considered possibly the greatest upset in the history of the game, and for good reason.

Sometimes, you can’t doubt a Warrior.

 

A 10+ Year Journey: The Rise of Axe

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July 12th, 2009: GENESIS 1, Singles Bracket, Winner’s Round 2.

The young Arizona native sits down, about to enter the highest stakes match of his entire career. Having made his way through Alex19 and Everlasting Yay in pools, and defeating PockyD, Axe comes face to face with one of the greatest players in the world. Jman, a Tristate Fox main, had been making a name for himself in the past year. Taking sets off of Mango, Mew2King and ChuDat, in addition to winning the first APEX, has cemented Jman as a Top 10 player in the world. There is a strong possibility, especially during this period in Smash history, that he had no idea who this Pikachu main was.

He did, however, have to realize the giant crowd behind him.

AZ was here for their boy, including one of the best in the region, Taj. Known for his Mewtwo at the time, Taj established that strong players of unconventional characters can come from the region down south. Another Pikachu by the name of PikaChad had also been making the rounds, proving that this character does have the potential to score some wins.

Still though, a win of this magnitude had never been seen from this yellow rat, not since the days of Rori back in 2003 and 2004, long before a standardized ruleset was in place. It would be tough, perhaps even impossible, for Axe to come out victorious.


 

June 16th, 2019: Smash Summit 8, Singles Bracket, Grand Finals.

The experienced Arizona native sits down, decked out in his Pikachu hat and Tempo Storm jersey. He has risen to fight in what was more than likely the highest stakes match of his entire career. Surging through the bracket, Axe defeated Moky, S2J, Zain, Mango, Wizzrobe and Leffen to make it to the winner’s side of Grand Finals at a major for the first time in his life. Across from him is a player he had already vanquished: Wizzrobe.

Wizzy had just done the unthinkable a mere two weeks prior, winning a major as Captain Falcon for this first time since Isai in 2005. With his placing today, he was in strong contention to be the best player in the world, a feat few saw coming. Axe, however, had been lanquishing in the 6-10 range his near entire career, with consistent but not insane performances. That is, until 2019, where he has since reached Grand Finals of majors 3 times, whilst never doing it beforehand.

There was no crowd as the two sat in the empty room, but everybody who was watching could feel it: This was Axe’s time. As good friend and Yoshi main Vectorman, along with AZ Marth main and additional good friend Tai, sat downstairs watching on monitors, the two began.


 

 

 

 

Axe started his journey in late 2006, attending local school tournaments and doing decently. There, he would meet a friend that has stuck with him to this day in Vectorman, as the two began to climb to the top of their school. Eventually, they went out to more regional events, and quickly learned of their place in the scene. Throughout 2007, the two would play in various Arizona tournaments that featured the heavy hitters of the time: Forward, Wobbles and Taj. While Vectorman would initially do merely okay, Axe began to break out as a player with true potential. By the end of the year, Axe would be ranked 7th in the state. By the end of 2008, heading into 2009, he was even stronger. It was time for his first major: GENESIS.


 

An intense first game erupts against Jman, as the two trade stocks back and forth. Jman’s solid fundamentals with a markedly better character like Fox easily shines through, both literally and figuratively. While his matchup inexperience is evident, Jman can clearly be seen as the better of the two players. Consistent grabs and combos rack up percent quickly, while up airs and up smashes easily take Pikachu’s stocks. However, Axe had some tricks up his sleeves, able to end Jman’s stocks much quicker than the other way around. With multiple tail spikes in use of Pikachu’s up air offstage, Fox can find himself hurdling towards the abyss far earlier than he would like. Axe brought this out twice in the first game, before mounting a large comeback on the last stock, utilizing uncharacteristically patient play and ledge camping before he found an opening. A solid combo that wouldn’t be out of place in the modern game commences, and Axe seals Game 1. The Arizona crowd explodes, one person shaking Axe in excitement, as they prepare for the next game. It wasn’t over yet, and Axe knew it.


 

As 2010 rolled around, Axe would eventually find himself at #2 in Arizona, above many of the idols he aspired to be like, such as the aforementioned Taj. During this time, he really started to establish as a top of the line player, showing consistent top results at majors and regionals alike. This would all come to a head at APEX 2010, where he garnered 5th place, defeating top players like DaShizWiz along the way and only losing to Armada twice, nearly defeating him in one of the encounters. By the end of the year, Axe was firmly a Top 15 player, a place he would never dip below for the rest of his career.

 

 

Axe would continue his astounding performances into the following years, such as his 4th at Pound V in early 2011, that would quickly be followed by his first God level win: A win over Mew2King in winner’s at Zenith 2011. While he would eventually lose to M2K in the runback in Loser’s Finals, this was a statement: Axe was no mere gimmick, and could hang with the best of them. Axe’s 2012 would be rather quiet, save for an inspiring loser’s run to 3rd place at Kings of Cali, where he took out Lucky, Fiction, SFAT, S2J, PewPewU and Shroomed before taking eventual winner PPMD to the limit. By the end of the next year, 2013, Axe would be #1 in Arizona with Wobbles both retiring and going back to Texas. He has never been below this spot since.


 

 

Grand Finals begins, and Axe and Wizzrobe immediately get to work. Intense games back and forth as the first set roars through, both displaying why they are two of the five best players in the world. While the games are close, Wizzrobe seems to be edging out Axe this time, as opposed to their set earlier in bracket. Eventually, with a comeback in Game 4, Wizzrobe resets the bracket. It’s a wakeup call for Axe, as he needs to refocus and try his hardest. Wizzrobe was a tough opponent, but was certainly somebody he had the ability to beat. It all came down to this.


 

Destruction. Complete and utter destruction.

Game 2 between Jman and Axe was a massive shock to the system for the Arizonian who must’ve been riding high. While Jman might’ve lacked experience in this particular scenario, he was still one of the best in the world, and Axe was just a newcomer looking to make his name. After a hot start from the Pokemon on his home turf of Stadium, Jman fired up and never looked back. As an onlooker puts aptly, in reference to another classic gaming moment, “Rare footage of Jman actually angry!” Jman was relentless with his nairs, his lasers, and early up throw kills, in addition to a devastating pit situation for our hero. A dominating three stock occurs, and all hope seemed lost. Jman had figured out this gimmick, and it was time to put the final nail in the coffin. Game 3 began. It all came down to this.


 

2014 would be Axe’s best year yet, as his continued improvement showed no signs of slowing. MLG Anaheim 2014 was a breakout from Axe into a definitive Top 10 standing, with his wins over Remen, S0ft, Colbol and Mew2King in pools, in addition to once again taking PPMD ever so close. In the final bracket, he vanquished Lucky and longstanding demon Hungrybox for what would be his first and only time yet en route to a 5th place finish. EVO 2014 would be much the same, as he defeated ChuDat, Plup, and put on an iconic show against Silent Wolf before losing in nailbiters to both Mango and Armada, the best two players in the world. Despite some small falters later in the year, he would end it as the 7th best in the world, his first Top 10 ranking. For the past five years, he has never dipped below 10th in the world.

With continued top level performances as the years went on at tournaments such as Sandstorm in 2015 with wins on both Mango and Leffen, or Smash Rivalries in 2017 over Mango and Mew2King, Axe has been a consistent force in Melee for the past decade. But, it never looked like he could win the big one. Scary matchups such as Ice Climbers or Jigglypuff, where he would sometimes feel cornered and be forced to use characters such as Falco, Fox, Marth or even Young Link, would often show up. These would often end poorly for our Pokemon master, and keep him from accomplishing his ultimate goal. Perhaps it just…wasn’t possible.


 

It just wasn’t possible. Jman continued to beat down on Axe for Game 3, easily taking the first stock as he looked to have this in the bag. When Axe attempted to fire back, he just couldn’t seem to end the stock as Jman continued to crawl back and rack up the percent.

Hope was fading….until the backthrow.

A quick and early stock brought the crowd alive once more, as screams of “He’s nervous!” ring out from behind the two players. Axe played with a new sense of vigor as he began to open up a lead, and suddenly Jman was on the backfoot. With nerves pounding, and every move catching everybody’s breath, Axe finally performed another backthrow. The ensuing sequence wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. A point-blank thunder jolt, a tail spike that went in the wrong direction, followed by a nervous up b back on stage from Axe…and a nervous up b under the stage from Jman. It was over. Axe had won.

Axe leaped into the air as a person in the crowd rose his arm. Some chants of “Axe!” could be vaguely heard, but it was more indecipherable screams of joy from this travelling hometown crowd. Taj, a hero and mentor to Axe, rose him above his head, as he crowdsurfed for just a moment before coming back down. It had to be the height of his career.

Axe would then go on to lose to two Floridians: Raistlin, a Jigglypuff, and Linguini, one of the all-time great Ganondorf players. He would finish 33rd at the event, tying PikaChad for the highest placing Pikachu. For the next 7 years, Axe would be the highest placing Pikachu at every major he went to, and would continue to be after one freak performance in 2016 to this day.


 

It couldn’t be possible, it just couldn’t. A Pikachu winning a major? That’s nonsense! Pikachu was not a top tier character, confidently considered roughly 9th best in the game by many. Sure, Axe was amazing, but there is no way he could ever reach the top while championing such a lower character…could he?

With every game, it seemed more doable. With every stock, more realistic. With every victory screen, the truth entered our brains. Axe was going to win this. He was going to win Smash Summit 8.

An awe-inspiring performance at GENESIS 6, where Axe scratched and clawed his way through tight sets against Legend, iBDW, S2J, Kalamazhu, Rishi, Zain, Ginger, PewPewU, aMSa, Plup and Hungrybox towards a 2nd place finish, with nearly all of these sets going to last game.

A dizzying display at GOML 2019, defeating S2J, Zain, SFAT, Wizzrobe and Leffen before falling just short to a hungry Mango, proving his GENESIS performance was no fluke, and that he truly has ascended to a higher level.

And now…this run. It all came down…to this.

It looked beautiful, absolutely perfect. On Final Destination, at over 150%, Axe delivered a near picture-perfect 0 to death on Wizzrobe. Using the chaingrab to high percents masterfully after an open up with up air, he sent Wizzrobe offstage, and used perfectly timed tail spike and a divine angle to the ledge with his recovery to snuff Wizzy out and send him to the bottom of the stage. At 169%, Axe had done it. You could place it in one of those art museum picture frames used in The Axe Effect combo video made all those years ago. It was a moment where time froze, and everything…seemed right.


 

Axe jumped up in joy, as Wizzrobe, in a rare display of outward emotion, hugged Axe in recognition of his unprecedented feat. However, shortly after his explosion of utter satisfaction…Axe sat down.

He reflected.

He recomposed.

And he internalized his accomplishment.

Before he could do anything else, a familiar face comes in: Vectorman. The longtime friend who has been with him from the beginning hugs Axe, as they both begin tearing up. Another decade long friend in Tai begins crying over the microphone, as eventually, Axe makes his way downstairs to the people awaiting him.

Chants of “AZ!” and “Pikachu!” ring out as Axe embraces Tai, before a tearful victory speech commences, and Axe is handed his trophy. He had finally done it. For himself, for his friends, for his state, and for his character. Axe had won a major.


 

Axe is a player that has shaped Melee’s history in so many ways, I don’t know how to properly put it into words. He took this…looked down on character, somebody nobody gave a shot to truly accomplish great things, and continuously pushed it to the absolute limits to bring out his best. One of the most technical players in the game, Axe not only shows what Pikachu is capable of, but what Melee is capable of too. A truly beautiful game that anybody can play, and anybody can get good at, with enough time, effort, and perserverence.

Axe was just a kid from Arizona, and with the support of everybody that gave it to him, be it his friends like Vectorman and Tai, his mentors like Taj and Wobbles, or even the fans around the world, he was able to achieve his dream. Of course, Axe himself is no slouch either, being one of the nicest and most caring individuals in the scene. He is somebody any of us should strive to be: A true hero.

Long Live Axe. Long Live Melee.

Image result for Axe smash

All-Time Melee Top 100: One Year Later

     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:

  • EGLX 2018
  • Full Bloom 4
  • Smash Summit 6
  • Get On My Level 2018
  • Smash ‘n’ Splash 4
  • CEO 2018
  • Low Tier City 6
  • EVO 2018
  • Super Smash Con 2018
  • Shine 2018
  • The Big House 8
  • Smash Summit 7
  • GENESIS 6.

     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, making it to Grand Finals and 6 different 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!

1.Hungrybox

2.Armada

3.Leffen

4.Plup

5.Mango

6.Mew2King

7.Zain

8.Wizzrobe

9.aMSa

10.Axe

11.S2J

12.SFAT

13.Swedish Delight

14.Duck

15.PewPewU

16.n0ne

17.Crush

18.Lucky

19.Bananas

20.ARMY

21.lloD

22.Westballz

23.HugS

24.AbsentPage

25.KJH

     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!

  1. Armada
  2. Mango
  3. Hungrybox
  4. Ken
  5. Mew2King
  6. PPMD
  7. Leffen
  8. Azen
  9. ChuDat
  10. PC Chris
  11. Plup
  12. Isai
  13. KoreanDJ
  14. CaptainJack
  15. Axe
  16. Wobbles
  17. Shroomed
  18. Jman
  19. SFAT
  20. Chillin
  21. Zain
  22. Westballz
  23. Hax$
  24. Wizzrobe
  25. KirbyKaze
  26. Fly Amanita
  27. S2J
  28. Lucky
  29. HugS
  30. Amsah
  31. Sastopher
  32. Zhu
  33. Cort
  34. PewPewU
  35. DaShizWiz
  36. Darkrain
  37. Vidjogamer
  38. aMSa
  39. Drephen
  40. DA Wes
  41. Taj
  42. Silent Wolf
  43. NEO
  44. Kage
  45. Lovage
  46. SilentSpectre
  47. Javi
  48. Masashi
  49. Bombsoldier
  50. Duck

     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?

Melee’s Greatest Upsets: Chillin defeats Ken

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.

Image result for chillindude829 packers
Chillindude829, wearing his trademark Green Bay Packers jersey.

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.

Player Spotlight: Swedish Delight

Image result for Swedish Delight melee

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:

Swedish

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.

Image result for Swedish Delight #11 MIOM

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.

Lost to History: Tournament Go 6

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!

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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.

H2YL
Azen, ChuDat and Chillin, three members of H2YL, along with Rickety.

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.

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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.

Image result for Ken and Isai
Ken & Isai, also known as El Chocolato Diablo, the winners of the doubles tournament.

Doubles Results:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Results:
1.Azen
2.CaptainJack
3.ChuDat
4.Sastopher
5.Isai/Rob$
7.DA Wes/DieSuperFly
9.Ken, J-Dawg, BaleFireBoy, Sultan of Samitude
13.Variety Barrage, DA Dave, MikeMonkey, Takuto