In late 2021, the Melee Stats All-Time Top 100 ranked iBDW a bullish No. 22. It was one of the most controversial decisions of the entire list, receiving criticism from prominent community members and even iBDW himself. At the time, I stayed steadfast in my panel’s assessment. I was sure that this spot would translate well over time. Also, I just knew that it was the correct call.
We’re about half a year after this list came out. Since then, iBDW has won two Smash Summits and finished in third place at another supermajor, also finishing in the top three for a whole year. It’s possible that this year could end with iBDW having the No. 1 spot. On the last episode of Waiting for Game, Blue concurred, mentioning that we should start thinking of IBDW in terms of being one of the greatest Fox players ever.
This column is my attempt to put iBDW’s resume to the test. Where does he stand right now in Melee history?
What is the value of winning a major?
Using a roughly modified version of the Melee Stats All-Time Top 100’s criteria for what constitutes a major and what doesn’t, iBDW has won precisely three majors: Riptide, Smash Summit 12, and Smash Summit 13.
NOTE: I didn’t count Wizzrobe’s Mainstage 2021 as a major, but maybe I should have.
Winning a major already places iBDW in unique company. But if that was the only way of putting you in the Top 20 all-time, CaptainJack would have finished there. What’s more important than putting your hand on the ceiling is getting there multiple times. In terms of this, iBDW clearly stands out as having maintained his spot as someone capable of winning majors. For this reason, he’s definitively above peers like SFAT, aMSa, S2J, Wobbles, and Hax, as his best accomplishments outweigh their longevity.
It’s not like iBDW’s been winning Mickey Mouse majors either. He’s won two iterations of the community’s most storied invitational series. For the purpose of this column, I’m treating these wins as equivalent to “supermajor” victories, just as I did for the Melee Stats All-Time Top 100 project. Perhaps this will ruffle a few feathers, but Summits are functionally in the same sphere of prestige or impressiveness as winning Genesis or The Big House. I wouldn’t deny that winning them is a distinct skill from winning an open supermajor – but I think it’s in our interest to treat it as one.
What is the value of being Top 5?
iBDW has, more or less, been Top 5 for the last two years. It’s extremely likely that he’ll have a third consecutive year where he’ll cleanly finish here again. Where does this position him? Looking at RetroSSBMRank, SSBMRank, MPGR, and the five people who won big tournaments in 2021 (Mango, Zain, iBDW, Plup, and Wizzrobe), I’ve compiled the stats behind every Top 5 player since 2004, specifically how many times they have finished there.
NOTE: Although 2020 did not have an official ranking, for obvious reasons, I’ve decided to treat it as a “Top 5” year for Zain, Mango, iBDW, Hungrybox, and Wizzrobe. This is admittedly arbitrary, and potentially unfair to Leffen or Plup. However, in the context of assessing iBDW’s legacy, I did not think the difference between Wizzrobe and those two really mattered.
Remember – this doesn’t account for how 2022 will turn out. Functionally speaking, iBDW and his contemporaries (Zain, Plup, Hungrybox, and, as of right now, potentially a newcomer to the top five like Jmook or aMSa) could have another number in this field. Speaking of which, let’s talk about how iBDW compares to his fellow teammate.
iBDW vs. Plup: Is This A Real Debate?
If you told me a year ago that I’d be writing this, I would have told you to pump the brakes. However, the more I sit on it, the more convinced I am that this is worth breaking down. Given that Plup finished 2021 as the No. 10 player of all-time, the stakes of this discussion seem pretty big (or at least as much as you care about this stuff). I’m going to split this debate into three different categories: longevity, peak, and metagame impact.
— Panda (@PandaGlobal) May 16, 2022
Longevity: Plup has roughly one more year of being a Top 5 player. He also has 45 top eights to iBDW’s 18, and he has been a Top 10 player since 2015, while iBDW’s been there since 2019. Add in the fact that Plup has 8 second places at majors to iBDW’s one, and the answer is pretty clear. Advantage: cleanly Plup.
Peak: There was a time when Plup was No. 4 in the world for a whole year; and in the middle of it, he finished at No. 2, iBDW finished last year as the unofficial No. 3 player. If there were there a ranking period for the last two months, he’d be the world No. 2 also. This might make this seem like a draw, but I have to say that iBDW’s Smash Summit 12 victory is the best tourney performance of this decade. Just as Leffen vanquished four of the best players within his era six years ago at GOML, iBDW arguably beat the four best players of the last few years at Smash Summit 12. As great as Plup’s highs are, he’s never had a performance like this one. Advantage: slightly iBDW.
Metagame impact: iBDW has probably impacted the Fox metagame more than you’d think. To use Leffen as a very broad comparison point, iBDW’s neutral game is a bit more deliberately aware of the inherent risk in messing up execution across all his top tier matchups, and he’s uniquely pushed Fox’s combo game. However, Plup completely shifted everyone’s idea of what a Samus player could do in the modern era before doing the same with Sheik in the latter half of last decade. It helps that Plup made history with Luigi – for fun. When you start reaching the “Top 10 player of all-time” territory, the bar to clear in this category is so damn high. Advantage: cleanly Plup.
As you can tell from above in these three categories, it’s actually pretty damn close. This could just be my millennial bias, but I’m cautiously sticking with Plup. But finishing No. 11 of all-time isn’t too bad is it? In half a year, iBDW jumped up twice as high as he was before. It’s time to start seeing him as one of the best to ever do it.