This November has been one of the most stacked periods of time for Melee. At the beginning of the month, we witnessed an amazing Smash Summit 14 that featured one of Mango’s most dominant tournaments ever. Following that, we immediately moved onto another stacked weekend where the scene saw Trif return to glory in Europe, winning HFLAN, as well as KoDoRiN qualifying for Panda Cup by winning Saving Mr. Lombardi 3. And finally, last weekend, we saw the return of Apex, which coincided with yet another major victory for aMSa.
Any hardcore fan of Melee must have so many questions right now about the state of the game. Who’s going to win Mainstage? What’s the deal with all these circuits? Is December going to be the biggest month in Melee history? Who is going to be No. 1? These are all appropriate questions, but today I’m not going to be answering any of them.
Instead, I want to take a step back. I want to reflect on this year a little bit. Believe it or not, I want to show some gratitude to people I don’t always actively give it to. Consider it a rare instance of me being swept up in the spirit of Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season. In today’s column, I’ll be bringing up 10 people whom I’m grateful for being involved in the scene. Because I want to use this column to highlight the work of lesser known community figures, I will not be bringing up top players, supemajor tournament organizers, or people who, long story short, I feel are adequately celebrated (“A-Listers”). Furthermore, I will not be bringing up any members of Melee Stats, due to the fact that doing so will ascend me into a whole other level of Shill Dimension.
This is not someone whom you might initially think of when it comes to prime content creators in the scene. But I’ve been incredibly impressed with the high quality of work that’s come from Phraser this year. The first thing I noticed was the breakdown of aMSa’s combo string on Soonsay at Big House 10. I loved everything about it. Between the music, the narration, the presentation values, and the analysis analysis itself, you can tell there’s so much effort put into it, and the content delivers.
MELEE MOMENT #3: Jmook’s flawless recovery vs Pipsqueak at Summit 14
for this entry in the series, I decided to focus on a smaller moment that made me smile. I hope it is your vibe as well o7
RTs appreciated 😎 pic.twitter.com/NE8PFYWFnS
— Phraser (@_phraser) November 16, 2022
Now, to be clear, Phraser is relatively new. He only has three videos of this series, and as far as I can tell, they’re all uploaded onto Twitter and within the last couple months or so. This is a platform which, in addition to potentially going under very soon, is not especially amazing for users looking to quickly access archived content. My one bit of advice to Phraser would be to start uploading some videos on YouTube and work from there. They’re too good to go invisible for so long.
POST-PUBLISH EDIT: APPARENTLY THE YT EXISTS! NEVER MIND! I’M DUMB!
If you haven’t heard of Poppt1, he’s an Australian Smash YouTuber with a fairly large following from his variety content on Ultimate. Although his main focus is away from Melee, I couldn’t help but give him props here for his “Becoming a Pro Melee Player” series. It’s exactly the kind of content that helps grow the scene while not being low hanging fruit. If you’re a beginner, he tells you everything that you need to know and tells an all-too relatable story about the struggles of trying to improve at something. If you’ve been in the scene longer than that, he says enough “correct” things that your enjoyment of his material is not significantly affected by any knowledge gap.
— Poppt1 (@MrPoppt1) November 14, 2022
The whole “improving at Melee” thing is one of the most universal stories in Smash. It’s one of the reasons why The Reads was so popular back when it was around. I especially loved Poppt1’s variant of telling this story; you also wouldn’t necessarily expect this kind of content to come from someone outside of North America, the central hub for competitive Melee. It’s all around really good, and I think a lot of content creators could learn from it.
I’ll be honest: I don’t know shit about art. I couldn’t draw if my life depended on it, I’m not a good photographer, and I couldn’t hold a pencil steady. With that said, even I know the bluerosetori is an incredible photographer. The photos she takes of players at events are among my favorite things to see from a tournament after they happen. It’s basically become a right of passage for a Melee Stats player to get a profile picture taken by Tori.
Fuck it, he balled
Pipsqueak kicked ass and took names in his trip to America, all in under a month
We'd like to thank Pipsqueak for being the first player under the Melee Stats Free Agent Showcase, and look forward to seeing more from him soon!
— Melee Stats (@MeleeStatsPod) May 21, 2022
I want to mention that there’s a ton of amazing photographers in the scene who generally don’t get credit. I could put a bunch of them in this spot, but I’ve chosen Tori because she’s the one who took incredible photographs of players near and dear to my heart. Am I going too far by calling these photos iconic? Does this count as nepotism? What am I even talking about? Let’s move on.
This is a pick that kind of extends beyond just Melee, as meleesadposts has been a big community leader for Project M as well. With that in mind, I’ve really enjoyed their contributions to the scene this year. They have been a really fun streamer to follow, as well as a content creator. It might sound stupid, if not incredibly low hanging fruit to compliment someone for this, but their Meme Game is impeccable.
new combo vid in replies pic.twitter.com/YEKYeeAyr7
— mackey for IN Summit (@meleesadposts) November 14, 2022
If you’re not following meleesadposts on Twitter, you’re going to miss out on some awesome memes. Their YouTube is great too – in particular, I loved their first episode of the “Why You Should Play DK” series and hope they make more videos like that. It was enough to get me, a former Donkey Kong hater, on board with the idea that this character is kind of cool. Imagine that. Me changing my opinion on something.
For my many criticisms of tournament organizers – as well as unflattering analogies to restaurant owners – they obviously play a crucial role in keeping the Smash ecosystem healthy. One TO whom I can say is ubiquitously a net positive for the community is Kadence. She took a concept like an “0-2’r” bracket and, rather than rest of the laurels of this idea’s existence, she consistently drives a high amount of entrants to the Only Noobs tournament series. By volume, it’s still one of the largest weeklies in the entire scene, which is quite remarkable because it’s not the one that might grab sponsors or broader attention like, say, Training Mode Tuesdays or The Salt Mine. It’s clear that she’s primarily dedicated to ensuring that her tournaments are fun to enter and that people who enter them continue wanting to do that.
Good Afternoon, “OnlyNoobs”, and later named “MooseJuiice”, was a 24 month psychological study conducted by Harvard University. We are now complete with our study. Thank you for your time. https://t.co/Pca0Uv4RYE
— Kadence (@Kadence_Plays) November 4, 2022
I especially appreciate Kadence’s no-bullshit approach to understanding where her contributions actually fit into the scene. It’s good for people who do things to understand how they can make them better and focus on that instead of just trying to do more (although I’ve also enjoyed Kadence’s YouTube channel also). In that sense, Smash could use more people like Kadence. It is kind of funny that I gave her a separate section though, because she technically qualifies for the next one.
The Entirety of Chicagoland Melee
Here comes the first of my “grouping multiple people as one collective unit” selection, and I may as well begin with the most egregious example. Everybody constantly talks about New York City – for good reasons – as a premier local scene. The same goes for SoCal. However, in 2022, no region has seen a larger jump in national status than Chicago. I cannot front. It has totally captured my heart.
NEW VIDEO IS OUT!!!
It's a journalistic dive into the history of Chicagoland's unusual love for Melee Donkey Kong.
— DЯ.HUNK (@wusstunes) August 18, 2022
If you like watching the Nightclub every week and enjoy watching Verdugo, there’s no reason for you not to equally follow what’s going on in Midlane Melee. Thanks to Tenacity and Oval, this weekly has casually been running brackets with multiple Top 100 or Top 100 ballot-level players, seemingly with no national attention. Besides, the work these people put into sustaining their little community is awesome. The power rankings look great, the Chicagoland Melee website rules; what else could you want? If I have to name individuals from this region to give props to, it would go beyond Tenacity and Oval – I’d have to mention Unsure (the grandpappy of modern Chicagoland Melee), Matpopa, Larfen, Dr. Hunk, Fluid, and wusstunes, who has one of the best Smash YouTube channels around.
POST-PUBLISH: WUSSTUNES AND DR. HUNK ARE THE SAME PERSON WTF LOOOOOLLL
Going back to Smash YouTube for a second, I have to give big props to Chaler. I talked to him for a bit about content, our approaches to it, and what he finds cimpelling, and one thing I came away thinking was that he truly believes in the idea of niche stories in the scene often being the most compelling. I really love the earnestness he brings to his work and have just generally been very impressed with his videos.
Would An Airtime Limit Have Saved Leffen?
Ran the numbers to find out what an airtime limit would look like and if it would have helped Leffen against Hungrybox god I hope I didn't get any of the numbers wrong in this https://t.co/YP3mVYNsYB pic.twitter.com/NVWFapjE5w
— Chaler (@Chaler_) October 31, 2022
The first bit of work I noticed from him was his video on UK’s premier rivalry, Professor Pro vs. Frenzy. It’s a great primer for anyone interested in the dynamics behind two Top 50 players from the same region. I additionally enjoyed his breakdown of aMSa’s run at The Big House 10, but what I loved most was his analysis of a hypothetical air time limit and how it would apply in Leffen’s set vs. Hungrybox at the Ludwig Smash Invitational. That came out during a time when people were arguing over the rules again, which is normally one of the most mind-melting topics of discussion in the scene. I appreciated Chaler’s willingness to take some semblance of empiricism and try to apply it to the discussion.
contra and Jayde
Number two for my “I pick multiple people as one” segments: contra and Jayde. If you’ve ever been to a supermajor, chances are that you’ve seen these two running around the venue. Usually, they’re trying to get people to their matches or making sure the brackets run on time. If you’ve ever watched a supermajor, chances are that these two have been involved behind it, working on bracket logistics, seeding, or generally doing administrative work for the event. When it’s all said and done, these two are probably two of the most important behind-the-scenes people in Smash. I’ve included them together.
— Level1 | contra (@connrokelt) October 23, 2022
Jayde in particular is one of the most important people in the NorCal scene. Pretty much no big tournament in this region runs without their support or management. Although contra recently moved to NorCal from Oregon, I really admire their dogged dedication to remaining an active part of the Pacific Northwest scene. I sorely regret not going to Smash Camp: New Lands (it happened on my mom’s birthday weekend) and would gladly go out of my way to go to another contra-ran event.
Four Side Fights
Okay; so this does include a member of Melee Stats (Chroma), as well as two other head people in The Cheat and Jackzilla. For the sake of argument, I’m just going to include them as one collective unit. These three are obviously known for other contributions, but I have really loved watching Fourside Fights every week. It’s an awesome roundtable show in the format of Around The Horn. They get amazing guests, Jackzilla does a great job hosting, it’s a blast to watch Chroma and The Cheat share their Melee opinions seemingly every week, the production is well-done, and there’s a surprising amount of catharsis provided with the free-for-all at the end of each episode. I’m proud to have Four Side Fights exist as a younger sibling show to Waiting for Game.
please follow please retweet please like and please subscribe pic.twitter.com/yvi9Q8pYq2
— Fourside Fights (@FoursideFights) October 18, 2022
Fittingly, for this next segment, I’m going to be the bitter, older, and less handsome sibling. Am I still secretly jealous that I’m not hosting Fourside Fights, speaking from the standpoint of once running the Edwin Budding Stock Exchange? Yes. Do I still think I would be the ideal host of the show? Also yes. Am I mad that this show’s official Twitter does not follow me? Yes. Is it true that this show, in four episodes has captured my heart? Yes. Is it telling that this show has more live viewers already than Waiting for Game?…Maybe.
I’ve loved following DarkGenex this year. He’s been worth paying attention to in a variety of ways. Obviously, he was a vote-in player for Smash Summit, as well as the most dominant Summit campaign manager ever. But he’s also made incredible memes for Twitter (again – this is a real thing worth celebrating), TikTok, and YouTube. It additionally goes without saying that DarkGenex is one of the most important regional leaders in the scene. He’s undeniably a community giant of New York City and New Jersey Melee. Did I mention that he’s commentated major top eights?
— DarkGenex (@DarkGenex) November 7, 2022
I, for one, love the variety of ways DarkGenex has been involved in the scene. It may seem weird to include him on a list of underrated community figures, as if you’ve been following Melee and seen his name pop up, you probably recognize him already, but putting all of it together, he’s really done so much. I’m curious to see what he does in the future.