By 2005, Super Smash Bros. Melee was one of the most popular competitive video games, along with Halo 2 and even Tekken 5. Rather than just being a game that your weird stepbrother played at house parties with all his friends, Melee had its own storylines, recognizable figureheads and potential for growth. Once a party game that a few people took way too seriously, Melee now had an organized MLG-sponsored circuit that was also beefed up by additional old school tournaments.
Unlike previous articles, where there was a countdown to our No. 1, spot, this one is going to be something different, due to the severe lack of head to head data and written records about each tournament. Remember the Year in Review series from Robin “Juggleguy” Harn? Here’s our Year in Review of 2005, looking at the scene’s 21 biggest tournaments. If you just want to see our rankings, scroll to the bottom!
*NOTE: As said before, we both acknowledge that a lot of the data is missing or incomplete. If you have any knowledge of these brackets, matches played or number of entrants, please contact us immediately so we can update this article – and even the rankings, if necessary.
MOAST 3 (128 entrants)
If you’re watching this now, you might not find the above clip impressive. But MOAST 3 grand finals showed a level of play and expertise never seen before in Melee history, with both players pushing the limits of the game’s combo potential at the time. What we consider bread and butter combos now is what Ken and Isai literally invented at the time.
Up to that point, Ken had only lost three sets before: to Sastopher, DieSuperFly and Chillin, with Tournament Go 6 as the only tournament he ever attended that he didn’t win. Isai, his consistent doubles partner at the time as part of the vaunted “El Chocolate Diablo,” was a legend that many in East Coast suspected was secretly better than Ken, but just didn’t try his hardest in singles.
All the tournaments’ narratives, from Isai “trying,” to his friendship and rivalry with Ken literally being tested in the grand finals of 2005’s first big tournament to Melee’s metagame itself being pushed, make it difficult to ignore MOAST 3 as one of the scene’s most important ever. It was also the first tournament that Ken was ever double eliminated by the same person at, showing that his losses weren’t just flukes – the King of Smash himself could be legitimately outplayed.
MLG DC 2005 (97 entrants):
3. Chu Dat
17. PC Chris/Dany/Husband/COMP/Muffin/Dante/SuicideFox/MeleeGuy
Two weeks later, Ken and Isai traveled to the East Coast to compete for another MLG tournament. Though the two breezed through doubles together with another first place finish, Ken was sent to losers bracket early after losing a set of Roy dittos to NEO, one of MDVA’s best players: a guy who mained Roy and sometimes played Marth. 2005 was a different time, folks.
By the end of the tournament, however, order seemed to be restored. Ken made his way through losers, defeating NEO, Chu Dat and Isai twice in grand finals to win MLG’s first big tournament of its year-long season. One other aspect to note about this tournament is Azen’s lack of attendance, as the longtime veteran deliberately chose not to seriously compete in as many tourneys in the year.
MLG San Francisco 2005 (100+ entrants)
13. Bob$/Sultan of Samitude/MikeNasty/Oro
A month later, there was another MLG tournament, but this time in San Francisco. Although it didn’t hold as many entrants as MOAST 3, this tournament also saw the national breakout of DBR combo video fiend Zelgadis, who defeated several opponents on his way to fourth place, including Isai, proving that Zelgadis didn’t just beat up on bad opponents, as many accused him of doing in his combo video.
DieSuperFly also proved that his win over Ken and seventh place at TG6 wasn’t a fluke. The SoCal Sheik main finished second at the only recorded tournament we could find that he entered after his international breakout a year ago. MLG San Francisco was additionally a solid return to form for HugS, who previously finished a disappointing 25th at MOAST 3. At this point, you could have argued him for being No. 3 in SoCal, just behind Ken and DSF.
BOMB 3 (??? Entrants)
1. Chu Dat
This tournament didn’t feature any of the West Coast’s killers, but it had the best from MDVA and a few of the Midwest’s top players come through. As he had done in previous tourneys, Azen sandbagged, opting to play Link, Young Link and Pikachu, while Chu Dat won the tournament with relative ease. However, Darkrain was clearly getting closer to being considered one of the best in the Midwest, rather than just a local Falcon crowd favorite.
MLG Houston 2005 (32 Entrants)
Once again MLG held another tournament, but this time primarily for the South and Midwest players. Zulu, who, per ssbwiki, was notorious for popularizing the term “john,” had another strong showing with a fourth-place performance. Texas Sheik and Falco player Rob$ ended up taking the tournament – his first ever regional tournament victory.
MLG Orlando 2005 (? Entrants)
Without already knowing about this tournament, you would have probably been shocked if I told you a Ganondorf player won an MLG tournament for Melee. The drawout is still unknown to this day, but consider that Eddie won the tournament over one of the country’s best Samus players in Oro, outplaced MrSilver, then one of the Netherland’s bestplayers and then outplaced Husband, a highly ranked MDVA Marth at the time.
Is it impressive as a more stacked national? Obviously not, but it’s still an interesting tidbit of smash history – and shows that the Ganon meta was still alive even before Kage broke out on the scene.
Show Me Your Moves 3 (?? Entrants)
Think his victory at MLG Houston 2005 was a one time thing? Rob$ won once again, defeating his longtime best friend and training body Caveman in grand finals. Other than that, here’s another emid 00s alternative rock filled montage!
MLG St. Louis 2005 (32 entrants)
5. DMac/Captain Awesome
7. James (STL)/ViperBoy
Getting sick of the Midwest yet? At least you can start to notice a pattern in Darkrain’s ascent to relevancy and national recognition, with MLG St. Louis 2005 being his first ever recorded tournament win outside of Nebraska locals. That said, the relative lack of entrants at this MLG somewhat dampened its impact, similar to the tournaments held in Orlando and Houston. This because there was another major event planned for the same day.
Getting Schooled 2 (99 entrants):
2. Chu Dat
5. PC Chris/Wes
After several months of school taking over most of the top players’ lives, it was finally summer again – and everyone traveled to Maryland for a hyped up tournament hosted by Team Ben (Husband and Wife, among other members).
Notably, this was a tournament where Azen didn’t sandbag and actually played a good amount of Marth – already adding to a stacked event! You not only had the best from the West Coast, but you also had some of the South and Midwest’s best players, as well as two of New England’s heavy hitters (KrazyJones and Hayato) and MDVA showing up. With the amount of talent at this event, it’s easy to see why people chose this over MLG St. Louis 2005.
Although he didn’t place too highly, you could consider this Mew2King’s “breakout” tourney. Back then, he was just a Fox player that posted tidbits of frame data information online and constantly theorycrafted how to play different matchups. Many mocked him for being overly technical, as well as being socially awkward in several situations, but GS2 was the main start to his illustrious career. You could say the same for PC Chris, who made his first national top eight appearance ever.
However, the most exciting part of this tournament may have been the crew battle bracket, where Team Maria (Azen, Chillin, Rob$ and Caveman) beat 2 Kool 4 School (HugS, Chu, Ken, Eddie and Isai). This was especially important, not just because it showcased Chillin’s promise as a player, but also because it featured a tense last stock game where Azen defeated Chu: a former fellow member of HY2L who earlier declared himself West Coast. You can read Chillin’s account of crews here.
The Renaissance of Smash 2 (100 entrants)
3. The Doug
9. Amsah/Smash Alex/Masamune/Niam
Ek was once called the European Ken by Captain Jack, due to his excellent Marth play and the way he dominated the European scene. Both he and Helios, the two best players in Sweden were the continent’s best players, though it’s hard to find recorded evidence of their play. Until Amsah’s four-stock comeback against him at RoS 3 a year later, legend has it that Ek rarely (if ever) lost a tournament to anyone in Europe. How about that – a Swede dominating a whole continent?
FC3 (186 entrants):
3. Chu Dat
7. DSF/DA Dave
13. Husband/PC Chris/KM/Takagi
If you know anything remotely important about Melee history, you’ll probably know about this tournament already – but, just in case you don’t, let’s get into it.
At this point, Smashboards had given a medium for the top players and leaders of every region to talk to eachother. But even with a select group of players traveling to see eachother like Ken, Isai, Chu Dat and Chillin, there was very rarely one tournament that sported heavy hitters from every single established region in America.
Held by the Ship of Fools team in South Bend, Indiana, FC3 was essentially The Big House of its time: providing a middle battleground for the best of every region to come face each other. With 186 entrants, it was the largest Melee tournament of all-time – and perhaps the highlight of FC3 came from its legendary crew battles. Without spoiling anything for you, please watch them.
As far as singles bracket goes, the West Coast held three of the top four spots, with Pacific Northwest legend Sastopher defeating Ken (in pools), Mike G, The Doug, Azen, Eddie, Tavo, Dope, DSF, Caveman and Chu Dat en route to a runner-up second place for the tournament. Other results include New England Peach player KrazyJones defeating DSF and Chillin, DA Dave defeating Azen (circumstances unknown), Midwest’s Dope defeating Chillin, Caveman defeating Wes and more.
MLG Philadelphia 2005 (?? Entrants)
2. PC Chris
3. NEO (according to Chillin)
4 or 5. Azen/??? (Azen played Link, according to Chillin)
Unfortunately, there’s next to nothing that we could find online about this tournament’s results – and when I discussed this with Chillin, even he wasn’t sure about the placings outside of the top two. For now, enjoy this 2005 MLG interview with Chillin.
MLG Las Vegas 2005 (?? Entrants)
Similar to MLG Philadelphia 2005, we couldn’t find much about this tournament, other that it held another set of grand finals between Caveman and Rob$ – adding to their history together as best friends and tournament rivals.
Jack Garden Tournament (116 entrants?)
7. Captain Jack/S-Royal
13. Hoshino Kirby/Smasher/DISK/Farce
Jack Garden Tournament was the catalyst for top American players like Ken actually traveling across the world to prove their global dominance. It was also the first time that the best from East Japan and West Japan were in the same area for a tournament.
Moreover, there was a tremendous amount of hype from both ends on who was going to actually win the tournament. Would it be the American legend Ken, like he did at almost everything else he entered? Or was he going to lose to Isai? There were concerns from either of the two struggling from jet lag and facing an unfamiliar Japanese style of gameplay. Before the tournament, East Japan’s Mikael, a Peach main, boasted that he wasn’t impressed by Ken.
These three weren’t the only contenders. Take its host, Captain Jack, who had won major events as recently as a year ago, or longtime Japanese legend Masashi, arguably West Japan’s greatest player. You also had Aniki, who in addition to being maybe the best Link player in the world also had a series of public friendlies with Ken, where he defeated the American legend. Hell, you could have even argued at the time that this was going to be the tournament where Thunders, a Japanese Fox famous for creating the Thunders combo,could finally get over his consistency issues and realize his true potential.
Instead, we only got one of the most incredible and meta-changing sets of Melee ever recorded (as well as an early exit from Isai, who lost to a Japanese Doctor Mario main named Farce and sandbagged his way out of the tournament).
If you’d like to read more about Bombsoldier’s impact on Falco’s metagame and the Melee scene, please read this excellent blog post covering his immortal legacy. Even then, words can’t even come close to describing how his Falco play inspired countless players to push the limits of their characters.
MLG Nashville 2005 (?? Entrants?)
1. Chu Dat
Like the other MLG tournaments, the results for MLG Nashville are largely incomplete, if non-existent. What we have above is unfortunately all that we know – if anyone has data to add, please tell us.
MLG Seattle 2005 (?? Entrants)
3. Chu Dat
After not winning any tournaments in the year, Azen finally got his turn to win at MLG Seattle 2005, where he defeated the Japanese legend Kei (Peach, Fox, Ice Climbers and both Links) in grand finals and outplaced Chu Dat and the hometown favorite Sastopher. This was important because it showed that Azen could still hang with some of the game’s best, even if he wasn’t always active or trying his hardest in tournaments.
Show Me Your Moves 4 (73 Entrants)
2. Chu Dat
9. Darkrain/Iggy/Eddie/Mike Falco
All of a sudden, Azen’s one tournament back didn’t seem like a temporary revival – it felt like the next step of a comeback tour, with the MDVA legend taking another first place at this tournament. After previously finishing with a disappointing 44th place at GS2, NEO also made his way into the tournament’s top eight as well, showing that the Roy main still had what it took to make it far in bracket. SMYM 4 was also Vidjogamer’s highest placing at a tournament since FC1 a year ago, putting his name back into the discussion for who the world’s best Peach players were.
MLG Los Angeles 2005 (32 entrants)
Isai and Ken’s first tourneys back in the United States since the summer, the two took the top spots of the tournament, with Isai coming out on top. This tournament somehow took three days to finish, despite the small number of Melee entrants. I guess more people were playing Halo 2 back then. Maybe that would explain Azen’s disappointing fifth place finish.
BOMB 4 (105 entrants)
1. Chu Dat
4. Mike G
7. PC Chris/KM
The East Coast held it down this tournament, taking all the top eight spots, with Vidjogamer, Drephen, Dope and other Midwest smashers all being eliminated relatively earlier than expected. Perhaps most impressively, Mew2King and Vidjogamer won the doubles tournament together, showing that Mew2King, once the joke of Smashboards, was well on his way to becoming an elite force within the Melee scene.
MLG Atlanta 2005 (34 entrants)
3. Chu Dat
7. Mike G/Wife
Need to read some spicy drama and beef between players from 2005? Check out this Smashboards thread for MLG Atlanta, which featured moments like Ken calling Team Ben overrated, several smashers calling Ken a jerk, etc, Here are a few highlights.
Some other notes about the tournament itself:
– Wife beat Mike G early in winners bracket.
– Ken beat Wife 3-2 in winners quarters.
– Chu Dat beat Isai in winners semis.
– Azen beat Ken in Marth dittos, 3-1, in winners semis.
– Isai beat Husband in losers quarters.
– Ken, now playing Fox for the rest of the tournament, beat Oro in losers quarters.
– Azen beat Chu Dat in winners finals.
– Ken beat Isai in losers semifinals.
– Ken beat Chu in losers finals.
– Ken beat Azen twice in grand finals, including a tournament-deciding final game on Kongo Jungle 64, his Fox vs. Azen’s Peach. Counterpicks back then were weird.
MLG Chicago 2005 (?? Entrants)
While we still aren’t quite sure about the data from back then, this was another tournament victory for Ken. However, NEO also took a game off him with Roy, thought of at the time as unbelievable.
2005’s Top 10
DISCLAIMER: We deliberately chose not to include Japanese or international players, due to lack of data and precedent for most of them. We also acknowledge that these rankings are pretty flexible, given the lack of head to head data we have.
2. Chu Dat
HM: Rob$, Darkrain, Husband, Wife, KillaOR, Mike G, Eddie, Wes, HugS and PC Chris.
Just out of curiosity what work have you done for Deadspin?
I’d love to see you expand on specifically why the top 10 are in the order that they’re set in.
The “circumstances” of IK_GOST/DA Dave beating Azen at FC3 was that he picked an illegal stage for the third round (Pipes), but when I told them that, Azen said he didn’t care.
Not like Dave wasn’t an exceptional player in his own way, we was a legit Top 5 or 10 player in 2003/2004 and had taken some time away prior to FC3. It wasn’t a shock for him to win.