If you haven’t been following Melee for a long time, chances are you wouldn’t know that Minnesota even had a Smash scene. You might recognize someone like AbsentPage at a major or nearby regional, but other than that, the community may as well not exist in the minds of most casual Melee fans.
Historically, Minnesota has flown under the radar. However, it also has a history that started far before AbsentPage’s breakout. Let’s go back in time seventeen years ago.
A Brief Overview
The beginning of Midwest Melee is typically attributed to four regions: Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, with Illinois often named as the very first and biggest scene. Out west were smaller, but still growing communities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the latter which I couldn’t find documented tournaments for before 2004.
However, if there’s something Minnesota was known for, it was for being the homeland of SuperDoodleMan, the most revolutionary “frame data nerd” in Smash history. Similar to Mew2King, SuperDoodleMan studied character hitboxes, counted frames for attacks and broke down Melee to its tiniest bits. He’d frequently publish his findings about Melee on Smash World Forums, and he also became popular for his Action Replay-based video series.
A Peach player too, SuperDoodleMan held smash fests in his apartment, gaining a group of friends in players like Aarosmashguy (Falco), Chexr (Jigglypuff) and James Sparrow (Falco/Donkey Kong). The “History of the Midwest” wiki page estimates he held his get-togethers in Winona, Minnesota sometime from late 2003 to early 2004, essentially making him as the godfather of Minnesota Melee.
Throughout the MLG era, Minnesota stayed in obscurity, but as far as player skill went, Aarosmashguy was the clear No. 1. Save for the occasional challenge from Chexr, he ruled the region untouched, and when Aarosmashguy faced out-of-state talent, he typically impressed many. For example, at Handsome Jett 4, Aarosmashguy finished second and was one of the few people there who could go toe-to-toe with the visiting Tink, who was then Indiana’s best smasher and among the Midwest’s five best players.
That was just one of Aarosmashguy’s finest moments. Most notably, he defeated Scar at Event 52 in Kansas. This was during the middle of the Brawl era, when most Melee players had either transitioned to the new game or retired. Few, if any, at the event knew Aarosmashguy, and Scar was a popular player known for his devastating combo game. Legend has it that the loss set in stone Scar’s hatred for Falco, which is now a running gag for anyone who listens to his commentary or watches The Reads.
As far as the actual infrastructure of the Minnesota Smash scene goes, I couldn’t find any single document. However, thanks to Sinnyboo242, I was connected to a valuable resource: a special website/forum dedicated for Minnesota players.
Upon reading through it, I was floored by the amount of content this had since the end of the MLG era. It was eventually replaced by the Minnesota Smash Bros. Facebook page as the spot for all community discussion, but it nonetheless stands as a strangely beautiful relic of the post-Brawl era.
During this time, many of the top players of the MLG era disappeared. The scene remained somewhat in tact, but with people like Aarosmashguy and Chexr no longer attending very much, Minnesota fell off the face of the Earth. Triple R was probably the region’s most known player, due to being the world’s top Kirby main, but besides him, there was little to look out for.
Around 2013 or so came the rise of Slayer: a do-it-all Captain Falcon/Marth/Fox who started to make waves in his local scene. Eventually, he began beating down everyone in his path, including Chexr, Wake (a Peach who finished No. 1 in 2012) and even Aarosmashguy, the former king of Minnesota. By the time of Minnesota’s April 2014 power rankings, it was to no one’s surprise when Slayer finished ahead of the pack.
For just about two years, Slayer continued to breeze by everyone in his state. His showings against his peers eventually came to a zenith at The Big House 5, where he defeated Android, Alan and Toph to finish 33rd. He was never officially placed in the worldwide Top 100, but Slayer finished 2015 as a Hidden Boss in SSBMRank.
However, Slayer’s dominance of his region was about to end. A rising Sheik/Fox/Marth player finally defeated him after countless sets: AbsentPage. In April 2016, after many more won locals, AbsentPage took over Minnesota as the state’s No. 1. The rest is history.
Currently, Minnesota has two weeklies: Mead Hall Melee (Wednesday) and Melee at Left Click Lounge (Friday). The primary monthly is called The Goat, and the group Down B Collaborations typically helps run larger events and bi-monthlies. Mead Hall’s TO is Joey Donuts, while Left Click Lounge’s TO is Hafid Dabarki, and The Goat’s TO is Jake Severns.
One thing that’s pretty cool about Minnesota Melee is the presence of the Minnesota Melee League, a seasonal round-robin between different drafted “teams” of players led by the best Minnesota players (sans AbsentPage). It’s similar to the one that exists in Oregon, and the league is currently in its second season. You can see an early spreadsheet here.
At this point, AbsentPage is a household name in the Melee scene. His Fox has shades of Dark, Hax and even Mew2King. He began playing in mid-late 2014 and won his first tournament in six months. Following that, he continued to climb his way up the ladder to No. 1. AbsentPage frequently attends larger events outside his state too. Just a couple of months ago slew S2J twice to win DreamHack Atlanta 2018. One of his most absurdly impressive stats is his head-to-head against Illinois’ top three – per Tafostats, the Minnesota Fox is 8-0 against Kels, 14-1 against Michael and 10-0 against Zamu (though I’m fairly certain this data set is incomplete and that Zamu has won at least one set).
Even being able to take a set from AbsentPage is remarkable. The Sheik/Marth player is one of the few people in his state to not be counted as an automatic loss against its No. 1, having defeated AbsentPage at Smash ‘N’ Splash 4. For what it’s worth, Ben has been ranked in the “Master” class for Smashladder.
3. 100 Grand
Marth main 100 Grand burst into prominence around 2017 and has mostly improved since. He achieved his best victory against out-of-state talent when he defeated Bobby Frizz at Push More Buttons 2018, the biggest Minnesota Smash tournament of all-time.
Nakamaman is another Marth player. He finished 33rd at Smash ‘N’ Splash 3 two years ago and finished 49th last year. For victories over his career, he has wins against FireflyHI, Kounotori, Iceman and, most impressively, DJ Nintendo. Per SSBWiki, Nakamaman runs the primary stream for Minnesota’s Melee scene.
MattMog is Minnesota’s best active Falco player. Unless he went by another tag in the past, I believe his inclusion in the latest Minnesota power rankings marks his first ever.
Other notable players
- Rattigan: Playing Marth and Samus, Rattigan has solid in-region results and once beat Goomy in a money match.
- ThePreeminent: A Fox main who has victories over most of Minnesota and doesn’t travel too much.
- Golden: Not to be confused with New Hampshire Captain Falcon Golden, Jigglypuff Golden originally came from Tennessee. He used to be Minnesota’s No. 6.
- Captain Ezekiel: Similar to Golden, Captain Ezekiel is another Jigglypuff player who is among Minnesota’s mid-level, and waiting bigger national results. He is new to the state’s PR.
- Lexor: A Fox main who is a newcomer to the Minnesota PR.
Players Not Covered Above
- D. Disciple: A Pikachu player who plays other Smash games and is known for hugging top eight players on-stage at supermajors, as well as MCing major top eights.
- Will Pickles: The best Luigi player in Minnesota, though his SSBWiki page says he is from Chicago. He finished 65th at Smash ‘N’ Splash 4.
- Amanze: A Marth and Samus main who was No. 3 on the PR in 2012.
- Lil Homie: A Falco main who finished as high as No. 5 on the PR before disappearing. He is only 19 years old.
- Vanilla Bryce: Also known as Habefiet on GameFAQS, he was one of the first people to bring me into the Melee scene. Hope you’re reading this somewhere.
I would like to thank the Melee Stats Patrons for helping make projects like these possible:
- Brett Rankin
- Jorgen Stenhemmer
I’d also like to thank Neil Febel and Sam Mihelich for helping me out with this piece, as well as ETossed for supporting this report. See you guys next time.