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Published March 22, 2021

With the two best Melee players in the world sitting on the sidelines, S2J tore through everyone else in his path at Galint Melee Open: Spring Edition, dropping only four games in a dominant first place run. The Galint victory is just the latest entry of a whopping 11 tournament wins for S2J in 2021. What was different about this particular event was the utter trouncing he delivered to his longtime kryptonite Hungrybox, who had won their last 19 sets. In winner’s quarterfinals, S2J 3-0’d the former world No. 1 in about ten minutes before beating iBDW (twice) and moky to win the online major. It was arguably the biggest win of S2J’s career.

Although top eight of Galint featured mostly expected names, one notable exception was 2saint. Projected to finish in 11th place, 2saint instead beat Aklo, Colbol, Aura and Hungrybox en route to seventh place. Another storyline of Galint was the return of many former Top 100 players who haven’t been as active online. None of them had a better weekend than Iceman, a formerly ranked Washington Marth player, who beat Soonsay and NOOT en route to 13th place.

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  1. Smash World Tour Deep Dives: NA West

Last week, I did a deep dive into the North American East region of the Smash World tour. I briefly recapped 100 players to look out for, and for the most part, the series was well-received. A few of my blurbs were flippant, and I definitely mislabeled Slowking as West Coast before having to post-publish edit my piece, but I was relatively pleased with how everyone seemed to like it.

For today’s followup, I’m going to cover 100 players within the North America West region to look out for in the rest of 2021. Once again: 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.

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 Captain Faceroll, Spark, Fiction, PewPewU, Azel (despite his latest attendance in March), Santi, billybopeep, Nickemwit, Nut, Tai, Schythed, null, Cactuar, Kevbot, Umarth, Franz, Zack Fair, Casper, Zeo, MoJoe, CPU, Android 0, Iceman (despite his excellent Galint showing), MegaXmas, Nintendude, Theunabletable, Lego, HomeMadeWaffles, deft, ARMY, Bananas, Wavebringer, Rymo, SilentSpectre, Alan, Reno, L, Ralph, Boulevard, Moose, Phil, Bizzarro Flame, DeCoste in the Shell, Eggz, BatteryDC, Fizz (CO), squible, Hazel, Arc, Bungo, DarkKnight, Jaywalker, Tatuwah, Jake13, the entire region of San Diego 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.


  • Mango
  • S2J
  • SFAT
  • Axe

Ironically, Mango’s only appearance in a 2021 tournament was a half-sandbagged ninth place showing at Four Loko Fight Night. But come on. It’s Mango. Please don’t make me seriously think of a world in which I need to break this down any further.

S2J is the king of Rollback Rumble, a lifetime Super Smash Sundays champion, one of the few people who doesn’t crumble in the face of playing Zain and someone who practically wins a tournament every week. There is no doubt that he will make the cut for the invitational finals.

SFAT’s January was excellent. The peak was Frame Perfect Series Online 4, in which he double eliminated Hax and beat Aklo, Zain’s Roy, Forrest and Dawson on the way to first place. In that same month, he also finished top 2 at every notable tournament that he entered. His March has been a bit of a return to earth, with seventh place and fifth place showings at the last two majors, but imagine saying that this was disappointing for anyone else. He’s as safe of a bet as you can have.

We just haven’t seen much of Axe seriously competing in 2021. The only events he entered with Pikachu were I Dair You – in which he overcame an early loss to Aura to make an excellent losers run to second place – the Black Excellence Invitational, in which he finished an underwhelming fourth place, with losses to 2saint and a double-elimination at the hands of billybopeep, and seventh place at Galint last weekend, where he beat Ben but lost to moky and SFAT. There’s something to be said about how Axe still has a Zain win from the end of 2020, so for now, I’m keeping him in this tier out of respect.

Near Locks

  • Kalamazhu
  • KoDoRiN
  • Soonsay
  • Rocky
  • Lucky
  • bobby big ballz
  • Medz

I previously wrote about Kalamazhu after his third-place run at Fight Night. I won’t go into too much detail again, but he has an argument for being the best North American Peach player right now. He’s obviously earned his spot within this group of players.

KoDoRiN is someone else I’ve written about quite favorably. After a stellar February, in which he finished as the Melee Stats Player of the Month, he’s continued performing well in March. Just lately, he won Gingers Pot O’ Gold, where he beat 2saint and Zamu, adding to a seemingly endless list of names he has on his Melee resume.

For the purpose of this column, I have included Soonsay as West Coast. In the first two months of the year, he was a lock for top eight at any West Coast event he entered. His best run was at the first Super Smash Sundays Online, in which he beat Kurv, KoDoRiN, bobby big ballz and SFAT en route to second place.

When LAN events were cancelled, Rocky was one of the first big names in the early 2020 Netplay era. Then, against all odds, his activity went off a cliff once rollback came around. It made no sense; I had just started to see Rocky become more well-known. Thankfully, he’s come back in a big way during 2021. He’s a guarantee for finishing in top eight at any Garbage Connection he enters, and in February, he actually won one of these (that’s a mouthful) over S2J and Shroomed.

Lucky got a brutal draw at Fight Night. His 17th place looks bad until you actually look at his losses: Mango, who was still trying at that point in the tournament, and Rocky. Other than that, his 2021 has been mostly good. His highlight was winning a TMT over KoDoRiN, bobby big ballz and Drephen, from loser’s bracket too.

For better or worse, bobby big ballz is the face of rollback Melee. The dude enters so many tournaments that you could tell me any hypothetical result he has and I would believe you. Any single set would have to be contextualized within hundreds, if not thousands, of matches that he has played. His best showings this year were winning a January East Coast Fridays over Ginger, winning a TMT over Rocky, winning Gucci Gang over Hax$ and winning Uncle Sam’s Maple Syrup over Jmook.

Initially, I thought Medz was inactive, but apparently I was wrong. Medz has been quite active in the Mexican Netplay scene, and he usually finishes near the top of their brackets. He’s also attended a good amount of Super Smash Sundays and Rollback Rumble tournaments, in which he typically makes top eight. He is very difficult to upset as well – his “worst” showing is a Rollback Rumble fourth place in which he lost to Dacky before beating Lucky, bobby big ballz and KoopaTroopa895 at the same event. How did I ever forget about Medz?

Leading Contenders for the Final Spots

  • Dacky
  • Albert
  • FatGoku
  • Westballz
  • SFOP
  • Aura
  • Shroomed

Melee Stats members have geeked out about Dacky for the last two years. 2021 is shaping to be the year where everybody learns about him. Before last weekend, he made top eight at every Netplay tournament he otherwise attended. In this year, he has wins over Lucky, KoopaTroopa895, bobby big ballz, Quaff, Smashdaddy, Medz and Azusa. His losses during that time: Zamu, FatGoku, BBB, Soonsay, S2J, Medz, and n0ne. Dacky isn’t as recognizable as some of the names around him, but trust me: he’s that good.

After a great summer from him last year, in which he won a stacked LACS qualifier, Albert has attended only three big events in 2021. In January, he beat Hungrybox and Ben in an impressive Frame Perfect Series Online 4 showing. Following that, he finished in fourth place at a LEVO tournament in which he beat S2J, a Zain secondary and bobby big ballz. I need to see Albert competing a lot more until I can put him in the tier above, but he’s good.

The person Albert won the 2020 qualifier over – FatGoku – is a good bet to do well in 2021. Unfortunately for him, March has not been very kind to him. A brief glance through his placements might show a decline, but in reality, he just lost a Fox ditto against Zamu, happened to run into the Kalamazhu buzzsaw and he dropped three sets in a row to Eddy Mexico. Before March, FatGoku had sets over the likes of S2J, Hax, Drephen, LSD and Pappi, among many others. His records are overall so solid – it’s really just Eddy Mexico that’s the problem.

Westballz wasn’t around for most of 2020. Suddenly in February 2021, Westballz had a modest return to prominence. He began the month a little slow before ending it with a bang at a Rollback Rumble which he ended up winning over Lucky. Lately, he’s been struggling with the “not saying the n-word matchup,” so we’ll see what his future in tournaments looks like.

I’m a big SFOP fan. In 2020, he was at every big tournament and among my favorite people to watch every week. 2021 looked to be another step forward for the Texan Fox, but after January, he just disappeared from competing. It’s a shame too, because he had wins over Forrest, Colbol, Pappi, Unsure, bobby big ballz, Drephen, and Aklo in that time span. Hopefully, he returns; he seemed well on his way to being a favorite for a final spot.

At the beginning of the year, Aura won a Garbage Connection over KoDoRiN. Given how favorably I have viewed KoDoRiN for the last two years, it blew my mind how good of an accomplishment this was. About a few weeks later, he beat Axe and bobby big ballz at I Dair You!. He’s cooled off since, but these two performances and his track record make him a player to look out for.

I think I would be more confident in Shroomed if he went to more events. His 13th at Fight Night was pretty solid, but finishing in fifth place at the Black Excellence Invitational, where he lost to Vavez, billybopeep and TheRealThing definitely hurts him relative to others in this tier. At the same time, he did beat Rishi and Soonsay at LACS 3 for a 13th place finish. Barring a complete and utter collapse or disappearance from the scene, I’m never counting out Shroomed.

Attendance Monsters & Wild Cards

  • Pappi
  • Quaff
  • KoopaTroopa895
  • Smashdaddy
  • SDJ
  • CrossFitJesus
  • Kurv

One of my favorite memories of early rollback era Melee was lurking in Pappi’s stream and seeing him balance, four tournaments at the same time. Although TOs have started DQ’ing him for pulling these kind of shenanigans, it hasn’t seemed to stop his enthusiasm for entering events. As far as his results go, he’s more consistent than what you might imagine. Before Gingers Pot O’ Gold, he had won the previous 10 sets between him and bobby big ballz. The highlight of his year was winning an Untitled over his East Coast Wild Card counterpart, Panda.

In the last year, Quaff stock has absolutely gone up. His 2021 hit-list includes Kurv, Eddy Mexico, Aura, KoopaTroopa895, Medz and bobby big ballz, the latter whom he won a TMT over. The most crazy thing about Quaff’s 2021 is that his “worst” losses during this season are Azusa and Azel’s Sheik – two opponents who would be around this tier of play if they were active. Other than that, he literally beats everyone beneath this skill group.

Last year was KoopaTroopa895’s best year as a competitor yet, with wins over the likes of Lucky and PewPewU, among others. In 2021, he’s been very solid, beating Pappi and Smashdaddy at Fight Night and additionally having wins over Eddy Mexico, Azusa, Blues Clues and Rocky. However, relative to others, he hasn’t entered that much. He’s only competed in five events.

Smashdaddy made his first real 2021 appearance at Super Smash Sundays Online 2 and he did pretty well for himself, beating Kurv and Quaff. Since then, he’s been hit or miss. Fight Night and Pot O’ Gold weren’t great showings for him, but he also has wins against Zuppy, bobby big ballz and Pappi. Wait a moment. I forgot about the results of “NoFuxGiven” – Smashdaddy’s secondaries smurf. Apparently, he beat Westballz and Aura at a Garbage Connecton under this moniker. Huh.

The first time I learned about SDJ, I thought of him as “the Jigglypuff who Bananas really hates playing against.” I assumed he had to be good at Melee. Surprise: SDJ is good at Melee! Against a larger talent pool than the DFW one I’m accustomed to seeing him consistently near the top of, SDJ has wins over Forrest, Smashdaddy, bobby big ballz, Pappi and FatGoku.

CrossFitJesus had a breakout 2020 in which he took a set from S2J and established himself as one of the new up-and-coming Sheiks on the West Coast. This year, he has a win over Pappi, a slightly positive (2-1) record vs. Kurv and has usually made top eights at the events he’s entered. The outlier performance of his 2021 was a 65th at Fight Night in which he lost to Aura and DQ’d from the event. I see him right now in a very similar position to where Ben was early in 2020.

Kurv enters quite a bit. In my mind, I think of him like East Coast htwa; someone you are quite likely to see in any given Netplay tournament, usually in Top 32 winners bracket or higher. In February, he nabbed a set over Medz. Before that, Kurv won a Stacked Thursdays over Forrest and Blues Clues.

25 Outside Shots

  • Vish: Yes; it’s that Vish – his mid-winter stretch with wins over Vincessant, Aura, Kurv, SFOP and Pappi was exceptional, and if he went to more, he’d be in the tier above.
  • ycz6: Current Melee Stats No. 1 and longtime Samus player with recent wins over KoDoRiN, MikeHaze, Justus, Lotfy, Zeeker and deft.
  • Justus: Big-time tourney fiend Fox from Texas; has a 2saint win and is constantly in Top 48 of big Netplay tournaments
  • Palpa: Strong Texas Jigglypuff and Fox player who recently beat Komodo, Pappi, Neologism, Panda and NoFluxes in a crazy loser’s run to second at an Uncle Sam’s Maple Syrup weekly.
  • $limchang: A West Coast Mario and Luigi player who caught me completely off guard by how good his list of wins was – Justus, Lotfy, Blues Clues, Unsure.
  • Typhoon: A Marth player who beat Neologism, Vincessant and DD earlier this year; also 3-0’d Pappi last weekend.
  • BluesClues: One of the best players in Texas; a very technical Peach main with positive records against everyone in this tier.
  • ALP: All around solid Texas Fox with wins over Kurv, Pappi and Jbash.
  • CPU0: Recently beat Gahtzu at TMT; usually one of the stronger players at Arizona’s WWW event.
  • NOOT: Won an Untitled over Pappi and Westballz in February; one of the best Falcos in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Traplord: NorCal Falco with wins over CFJ, NOOT and Blues Clues.
  • Elliot: British Columbia’s best active player; strong Falco with wins over Pappi, Egg$ and Polo.
  • Anchovy: Rising Peach player who has sets on Neologism, Darrell, Polo and LAG.
  • Yingling: Seasonally ranked Arizona Falco player who has 2021 sets over Elliot, Conman and SK92.
  • Elysian: Recently finished second to Medz at a Jugaos Netplay that featured a ton of top Mexico players; very quietly impressive Fox player.
  • Vincessant: Philadelphia-turned-Washington Peach who hasn’t been super active in 2021 but was usually in Top 48 of 2020 Netplay brackets.
  • Snap: Borderline PR Norcal Fox and Game & Watch player who has been around for a while and has stayed active in 2021.
  • Darrell: Former Top 100 Samus player from NorCal making a modest comeback with wins over NOOT, Egg$ and Pappi in 2021.
  • OkayP: Utah No. 1 and the best West Coast Pikachu who isn’t Axe; beat N3zModGod, LAG and soccermom69 at his last event.
  • Egg$: Albert Yoshi player who recently beat KoDoRiN and Vincessant.
  • Krizski: Another strong Alberta player – Fox main – who beat Traplord, Bbatts and Yingling earlier this year.
  • Toph: TOPH (!!!!!!) beat Kriszki at Fight Night and was pretty active in 2020, having a chance for a big Galint, but he instead DQ’d.
  • Conman: Colorado Marth player who beat Blues Clues and Justus at a Super Smash Sundays earlier this year; Top 5 in his state.
  • Soccermom69: Sacramento Marth player who beat TheSWOOPER at Genesis 7 last year and finished in ninth place at the two big Netplay events he entered in 2021, where he grabbed a win over Pappi.
  • N3zModGod: Beat Azel’s Sheik en route to 25th place at Fight Night and at the end of 2020 had wins over Fiction’s Falco, ARMY and ycz6.

50 Sleeper Picks (In No Order)

  • Dova
  • Depp
  • DarkSilence
  • Peachy Keen
  • Salt
  • DD
  • Light
  • GalenTheWise
  • Polo
  • Steech
  • Ringler
  • SK92
  • Rawk
  • FunRock
  • leroydankins
  • SpacePigeon
  • Pipe
  • Tuesday
  • Hestoned
  • CeeLew
  • Yamasaki
  • SquidTheCat
  • Odin
  • Anjo
  • AlyJ
  • zhyrri
  • Goomy
  • Midnight Blue
  • Noops
  • Omar
  • BakuGoToThePolls
  • Max
  • Robs
  • Jace
  • Pops
  • Morrito
  • Pena
  • Redcoat
  • Megaman
  • Chubbz
  • Zamorita
  • Noc
  • Verdo
  • WRLD
  • Wombat
  • Ribboned Ace
  • Oreo
  • Solomon
  • Mootook
  • Cyan

Just like last week, I’m sure that I missed a few borderline people who have technically been active enough to qualify for this list. And again, I would be stunned if I didn’t outright forget people, let alone mislabel someone as active or incorrectly as NA West. For now, this is the best you’re gonna get.

Next week, I’ll be picking 100 players in Europe to look out for.

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