On Saturday, PewPewU – a perennial Top 25 player in the world and one of the greatest doubles players of all-time – announced that he was taking a step back from competing in Melee. For the indefinite future, he will transition into a full-time marketing and operations-based role at CLG. While it was not an official retirement, PewPewU all but confirmed that he would spend more time in the digital space of esports and Smash rather than compete at tournaments.
My next chapter 🏆
— Kevin Toy (@CLG_PewPewU) March 12, 2021
PewPewU’s career started about a decade ago, in which he, SFAT and Shroomed quickly rose to become the three best players in Northern California. Most notably for PewPewU, he finished No. 1 in his region a whopping eight times: the most out of anyone in NorCal history, per SSBWiki. His crowning singles achievement there was winning Wombo Combo: 10 Year Anniversary over SFAT in 2018.
Before the temporary halting of in-person nationals, PewPewU made 10 major top eights, per Pikachu942’s All-Time Major Database. His highest placings ever came in two fourth place finishes: one at I’m Not Yelling and another at Super Smash Con 2018. In his singles career, PewPewU took sets from the likes of Mango, Hungrybox and Mew2King, with his most famous victory being his upset win over Hungrybox at Apex 2015. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting hiatus of LAN majors, PewPewU had mostly disappeared from online singles tournaments. Since then, he only attended Pound Online (seventh place), LACS 2 (13th place), The CLG Mixup (seventh place) and Smash Summit 10 Online (17th place).
More than his local reputation or his national consistency, however, was PewPewU’s doubles legacy with SFAT. Together, PewFat won 33 notable doubles tournaments, more than any other duo in Melee history. From Full Bloom 4 to Full Bloom 5, the two won 12 consecutive doubles majors. In the second half of the 2010s, PewFat was by far the best active team in the world. Locally, the two continued a long-tradition of premier established NorCal teams, with Rocky and Azel, as well as Ralph and Darkatma also becoming nationally recognized duos. In the last event that I could find with PewPewU, he declined to enter the singles tournament at Rollback Rumble III (NA West), but he won doubles with SFAT.
Regardless – as a Marth player who got into the scene around PewPewU’s rise to prominence, I’m happy for him. If there was such a thing as the “Melee Hall of Fame,” he would easily qualify. I wish him the very best for his exciting new career.
- The Smash World Tour Deep Dives Series Preview: An Introduction
By this point, all of you know the rules of the Smash World Tour. In place of having official online qualifiers, a panel of Melee Stats members – including myself – will select 16 players from each region to compete in their respective regional circuit finals. The highest placing players in those will be invited to the Smash World Tour Championships at the end of the year to compete for the title of Smash World Tour Champion. Okay; I made the title part up and I’m pretty sure that’s not a real thing, but now it is.
In the next seven weeks – in part to provide transparency into the thoughts of a current panelist and in part because I’m a weekly column writer looking for things to write about – I will be doing a massive deep dive into every Melee region included within the Smash World Tour. For today’s column, I am going to be covering 100 players I can think of within the North America East region whom you should be paying attention to for the rest of the year.
I’ll be honest: this is an entirely subjective process in which I am going, mostly, off of my gut feel. Please feel free to take this with a grain of salt. I won’t lie and say that it therefore means nothing – as a panelist, daily reporter of tournament results and weekly column writer, it would be foolish to absolve myself of any responsibility when it comes to assessing the scene. However, just remember that even informed people make mistakes, because they too have limits to their knowledge.
If you consider yourself a “notable” player and you don’t see your name included, it’s likely because of one or multiple of the following factors:
- I do not think you are active enough at major or regional events over the last few months to be included in this list. Examples of these players are Plup, Mew2King, Rishi, Swedish Delight, Ryobeat, Jakenshaken, Stango, KJH, Michael, Morsecode762, Slox, Jerry, Kevin Maples, Ryan Ford, Free Palestine, Cool Lime, lint, King Momo, Prince F. Abu, Sharkz, TheSWOOPER, 42nd, Captain Smuckers, Kels, Nagy, Leighton, Tiramisu, Quang, Kuyashi, Qerb, Jamrun, Matteo, Voo, Pisces, Frostbyte, Milkman, Lemonjuices, Gameboyjr., Jbash, Legend, Damian Tyson, PPMD, and a bunch of other regionally ranked people who haven’t been active enough in 2021 to catch my attention, even if I know they’re good.
- I made a misjudgment about your activity and applied an inconsistent standard to you that I did not apply to another player.
- I assigned the wrong regional label to you.
- It was a coin flip between you and someone else for a final spot.
- I genuinely forgot about you.
Let’s dive into the most stacked region of the word tour.
2. Smash World Tour Deep Dives: NA East
I won’t spoil too much for next week’s column, but take it from me: I wouldn’t be able to list 100 notable players for any other region. In the next few sections, I am going to be listing out the “tiers” of players along with which players I see in each tier.
The only possible doubts I have with the last two are that neither Wizzrobe or iBDW have been too active in 2021. The only event iBDW has seriously competed in this year was a Saturday Night LEVO in which he won, coming out 2-1 in sets with S2J and beating Westballz, Albert and Ben. Meanwhile, Wizzrobe’s 2021 resume is limited to one event: a fifth place showing at Four Loko Fight Night in which he beat rocky, Aklo and Hungrybox, losing only to moky and Zain.
Given how solidly the two performed in 2020, I’m gonna give them a pass. Barring medical emergencies or unforeseen life-changing events, I would quit Melee Stats and begin solo maining Bowser if none of them qualified for their regional finals.
By 2021 performances alone, moky would be in the first tier. In addition to winning Hax’s Night Club over Ginger, Polish, Bones, Joyboy and Matteo, he also took home the gold at a Xanadu, where he beat Ginger again, bobby big ballz, Drephen and Jflex. His latest showing, a fourth-place finish at Fight Night, saw him nab wins over the likes of Jmook, Wizzrobe and Gahtzu, as well as Jflex again. My only concerns with moky is that he hates his internet, and that in the last event of 2020, he did DQ at 49th place after an early loss to MoG. I want to see him continue attending tournaments because his 2021 has been nothing short of superb.
Hungrybox’s name here going to ruffle a few feathers, but it’s easy to forget that Hungrybox actually did win a major earlier this year. It’s not impressive by LAN Hungrybox standards, but beating SFAT twice and staving off the newly ascending Kalamazhu shouldn’t be taken for granted. His “worst” losses of this year are to Albert, Hax and BZimm: two players who will likely make their respective regional finals, and another who is a dark horse for one of the final spots. At the very least, he’s made top eight at every tournament he’s entered in 2021. It could be worse.
It’s funny to think of n0ne “slumping” lately, but if you look at his losses, they aren’t really “bad.” iBDW, Magi, Aklo, Gahtzu, Jmook and Colbol are players all well in contention for an invitational spot. Considering that he won GOML 2020 Online last year and was basically a lock for top eight at every online tournament he entered in 2020, it feels more likely that his recent 25th at Fight Night was an outlier and a result of an unusually tough bracket.
There are few constants in life as guaranteed as a “Ginger wins X, beating A, B and C” tweet on the Melee Stats Twitter each week. I don’t think he has as high of a ceiling as some of the players above him – or even some of the people beneath him – but Ginger’s consistency is uniquely strong. Any doubts about him would come from the field become that much better than it is right now. Among this tier of players, he is easily the most reliable.
Aklo basically only loses to Top 30 players. I went through his resume and the only things I could find as “negatives” were split sets with Jamrun, a hidden boss Ontario Peach who I remember for 3-0’ing Prince Abu and scaring Mew2King off Marth in 2019, and a dropped set to SFOP in a head-to-head that favors Aklo. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that splitting sets with Jmook – the only Sheik who has ever beaten Aklo – tells us far more about Jmook than it does Aklo.
Few question marks; will likely make it
lloD’s last performance was a relatively disappointing one. 25th place at Fight Night is a far cry from the cherry on top of his 2020, winning a cross-country Xanadu over SFAT, Ginger and Hungrybox. But lloD also lost to Aklo and 2saint, two players I’d hardly see as “bad” losses for the best Peach player in the world. If he enters more, I’d move him up a tier.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of LSD, so I’ll speak bluntly. The only red flags with LSD have less to do with his talent and more to do with him incomprehensibly throwing sets at random. Whether he makes the invitational or not depends on which LSD we get on any given day. Do we see the LSD who chews up Top 20 players and double-four stocks Ben? Or do we see the LSD who loses to Unsure because he intentionally forfeits games on Fountain of Dreams, Yoshi’s Story, or whatever other stage with hazards that he doesn’t like?
For a long time, Gahtzu was constantly called “underrated” to the point of just being “properly rated.l Right now, you’d have to be foolish to not include Gahtzu as one of the most active and strong players on the East Coast. In my head, I think of him as “Captain Falcon lloD” – a lock for Top 16 and 32 at any given event. He even has solid wins like n0ne, Kalamazhu and LSD. If I had to name one reservation I have with Gahtzu, it’s the continuation of his heavily negative record against Colbol and his penchant for struggling versus the top spacies.
As my good friend Wheat covered for Panda Global, Hax was in the best playing shape of his career when offline events were around. His online resume is pretty good too. Along with beating Hungrybox, he had strongly positive records against the likes of Aklo, LSD, Gahtzu, Rishi and bobby big ballz throughout 2020 to now. Were it not for his last two performances, a brutal 65th place at Fight Night in which he lost to Jflex and Neologism, and fifth place at Xanadu, where he lost to Chem and Pappi, I would have had Hax a whole tier higher.
It’s no longer cool to know Jmook – everyone knows who he is now. In addition to becoming the only Sheik player to ever beat Aklo, he double eliminated Ginger and beat n0ne and Polish at Fight Night. Earlier in the year, at Hax’s Night Club, he took down Magi, bobby big ballz and Zain’s Fox (which I’d establish within this tier or slightly under). The one hesitation I’d have about Jmook is the Problem of Jigglypuff: a common bane for every rising Sheik player. He’s lost his only sets against Komodo and 2saint in 2021, so I want to see how he fares long-term when given “Anti-Sheik” brackets.
When Magi beat the brakes off Plup and SFAT at Smash Summit 10 Online, as well as beat Hax and n0ne at LACS 3, it felt like Magi had taken a huge step forward in her play. In contrast, her 2021 started relatively slowly, with a ho-hum 5th at Xanadu, 17th place at Hax’s Night Club, and a DQ out of Fight Night. Just yesterday, however, she took another set from SFAT, beat Rocky and eliminated Ben at LG Gingers Pot O’ Gold. I initially had her in the tier below, but this was too good of a performance to ignore.
Leading contenders for the final spots
Outside of Jmook, two other Sheiks have carried their character’s national mantle in place of Plup, Captain Faceroll, Spark and Swedish Delight going inactive: Ben and Drephen. I mention them together because in a strange way, they both have distinct results from each other. Ben more hit-or-miss, going from a horrendous 97th place finish at Fight Night to winning three stacked locals over the likes of LSD and bobby big ballz. Meanwhile, Drephen’s experienced a slight rebirth in 2021 in which he hasn’t outright won notable events the way Ben has, but he’s performed consistently. So far, he’s taken sets from Ginger, bobby big ballz, Gahtzu and SluG, among others.
Speaking of which, I previously called SluG the Ice Climbers player to watch out for 2020 and he lived up to it. Briefly looking through his recent performances, I was quite surprised at how consistent they were. Unlike the highs and lows you’d expect from an Ice Climbers player, SluG has been remarkably steady. His only losses in 2021 have been to players I’ve already mentioned so far: Zain, Drephen, Gahtzu, Ginger and Hax$. In that same span of time, he’s beaten bobby big ballz, Ben, Gahtzu, Ginger and 2saint.
If you’re 2saint, you have to like how you’ve shaped up since the start of the year. In addition to thrashing Axe at the Black Excellence Invitational, he nabbed victories over billybopeep, lloD, and LSD. Though he has a few losses and negative records with players considered beneath this tier, 2saint also won an entire local over Jmook, which we shouldn’t take for granted.
Colbol gets a mention here because in almost every week in which he enters, he wins Polarity, a local which typically features one or some of Gahtzu, Ben, Kata and a Zain secondary. However, there’s only so much you can prove by beating the same people over and over again. Beating n0ne, TheRealThing and Bones at Fight Night en route to 17th place was a great sign that he wasn’t just farming a limited talent pool, but I need to see more to move him up a tier.
For someone who plays a character most associate with consistency, Polish is all over the place. How does someone beat Gahtzu – someone known for being hard to upset – and then get thrashed by Erik’s Captain Falcon at the very next event? How can you win a tournament over bobby big ballz and Ben before you lose to Panda for 49th place at Fight Night? If Polish played Fox or Falco, I feel like I would be less confused than I am looking at his current resume.
Funnily enough, Panda, is another unpredictable player. Wheat and I have a running gag that Panda, as a competitor, can be best described with the tongue-sticking out emoji. He had a great run at Fight Night, where he also beat Forrest, but as a big Panda fan, take it from me – sometimes, he just flames out. I really have no idea what to expect from him. He’s just as likely to 3-0 SFAT as he is to drown in pools if he were allowed to enter the New Jersey Arcadian.
Forrest seemed destined for an incredible 2020. He began the year with a bang, beating moky at Genesis 7 and later on winning Quarantined Rapport over Rishi. Don’t get me started on one of my favorite “revenge” sets ever: a 3-0 over Michael…with Mr. Game & Watch. All signs pointed upward for Forrest, but unfortunately, he’s dealt with some scary health issues in recent times. As a result, his tournament results have been less consistent and he wasn’t able to remain in playing shape for large swaths of the rollback era. Nonetheless, he seems to be turning it around. In the last month, he finished in a modestly impressive 25th place at Fight Night and has wins over LSD, bobby big ballz and SFOP.
— Forrest (@ForrestSSBM) March 11, 2021
Zamu’s always been one of Melee Stats’ favorite players, but it seemed like he had disappeared from the scene. Thankfully, he’s started regularly competing at Netplay tournaments and he’s done quite well for himself. Last weekend alone, he beat SFAT, FatGoku, Jflex and Dacky. Before that, he had beaten Pappi, Zuppy, Krudo, Unsure and Chem – players who had seen their stocks shoot up over the last year.
JSalt has all but proven his skills against a variety of opponents. His 33rd place at Fight Night is somewhat misleading, as it came with victories over tough opponents like Ryobeat and Whiskers. Plus, he is usually the favorite or a top seed at both Bristahood Brawl and Southeast Saturdays, where he usually beats people like Pappi and Komodo. Look out for him.
TheRealThing is already one of my favorite players for having existed in Ohio during the “Hanky Zone” era. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as active, but winning the Black Excellence Invitational by beating 2saint, Shroomed and MoG shouldn’t be ignored. For the impressiveness of this accomplishment, he warrants mention in this tier of play.
It feels like yesterday when BZimm won the MD/VA Arcadian. Back then, he seemed like the kind of player to look out for in the future. Now, he has wins over LSD, Hungrybox, JSalt, and so many others over the last four months. Right now, it’s really close between him and Whiskers for being the best active North American Yoshi player. Because he attends so much, I’m giving BZimm the nod.
- Whiskers: Took a set from Hungrybox in 2020, started 2021 by beating Kalamazhu
- Zuppy: Consistent Top 48 presence at every big Netplay tournament, recently beat 2saint, bobby big ballz and Drephen (again)
- Komodo: consistent top eight presence at Polarity; high upset potential against any spacie or Sheik player
- Mot$: Best active player in New Jersey right now; lowkey a really impressive accomplishment
- Krudo: Go-to example of a solid, all-around Top 100 caliber player
- Chem: Krudo, but Fox
- Lotfy: Chem, but Canadian
- Grab: Current best player in Tennessee/Kentucky, beat Komodo and Lotfy recently and won a East Coast Fridays over Golden
- Golden: Beat Hungrybox in 2020, very technical Jigglypuff player (you read that correctly)
- Reeve: Probably the best player to never make Top 100 and lately hasn’t been as active as he was in 2020, but he beat Zamu at Fight Night
- Joyboy: Best active player in New England right now, beat Gahtzu earlier this year
- Jflex: Recently has beaten Hax, stalwart of the New Jersey scene
- Bones: Namesake behind Ambisinister’s Bones Theory, in which a player becomes more powerful by proximity to their computer
- E-Tie: Has like 7 different characters who are all at the same “ranked in New Jersey” level
- Tyler Swift: Zain’s main Pikachu practice partner who also has a good Fox; beat Ginger, Golden, Chem and Kevin Maples in 2021
- Unsure: Floaty destroyer and one of the few good people who have played PPMD in a real set (he lost 0-2, but hey – it’s literally PPMD)
- Skerzo: “Unsure’s Twin” (I’m joking; it’s funny to think of the post-Kels Chicago era as being defined by Michael and these two Fox players)
- Slowking: Iowa No. 1; was really active in 2020 and just finished 17th at Ginger’s Pot O’ Gold
- Juicebox: Won a tournament over Drephen in 2021, go-to-example of a Sheik player destined for a breakout, just hasn’t done it yet
- Dawson: Infamously won a local over Hungrybox in 2020; usually a lock for Top 32 at your average notable Netplay event
- MoG: Not too active in 2021, but has a moky win from LACS 3; and he also beat billybopeep and Kels at the Black Excellence Invitational
- htwa: Former Top 100 player who’s usually a safe bet for top eight at locals they enter
- Faust: Slightly worse Komodo; has taken sets from S2J and Ginger before and has been working on his Fox
- Skittles: Fox player with a bunch of top tier secondaries – has beaten Drephen and is the Louisiana No. 3
- Neologism: Canadian Fox and Falco player with wins vs. Hax, Dawson and bobby big ballz in 2021
50 Sleeper Picks In No Order
- Willy P
- John Llawless
- Captain G
- My dear friend Ambisinister
I’m sure that I missed a few borderline people who have technically been active enough to qualify for this list. In fact, I would be stunned if I didn’t outright forget people, let alone mislabel someone as active or incorrectly NA East. But for all everyone talked about wanting Top 100 rankings, no one did it. As of right now, I doubt you’re going to find a better potential “East Coast regional primer” than this one.
Next week, it’s the West Coast’s turn.
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