Skip to content
Published December 13, 2022

Four months ago, cliché joked about SoCal having enough players to warrant the creation of a Top 50 players list in SoCal. When I learned about it, I responded that I would help create a Top 50 for SoCal – on the condition that he brought me 10 annual Melee Stats Patrons from the region. Lo and behold, he ended up actually doing it. As a result, I suddenly had a Top 50 that I had to create for SoCal. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I reached out to Melissa Blight and s-f, who is also from the region, for help.

We needed to create a list of eligible players, by activity and results. Though difficult to create a specific guideline, we decided to with a player needing to have met three of the following criteria in the first eight months of the year as a starting point:

  • Attend at least five locals
  • Attend at least two regionals
  • Attend at least one West Coast national
  • Must not have an active ban from a major

Using this broad guideline, as determined by myself and the other two, we managed to figure out, roughly speaking, who was active and who wasn’t. I started with a list of about 100 people and narrowed it down to around 70. Following that, I collected each of those 70 player’s head-to-heads against each other in the first eight months of the year, and reached out to many different SoCal community members. I asked them if they wanted to both be part of the panel – as in having ballots to vote on players’ results – and help me with determining eligibility for SoCal. The worst case scenario and failsafe was that regardless of if someone technically qualified or didn’t qualify for the ballot, we would democratically decide three things: was this player reasonably considered “SoCal” for this ranking period, were they sufficiently active, and were they good enough to make the ballot?

The final panel ended up being myself, S-F, CommonEnemy, Spots, deez, Pipe, and Xela. Each panelist was given a sheet with the 56 qualifying players, and their head-to-heads against each other, as well as provided a link to SmashDataGG. They were then asked to rank each player on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, with 1.0 being the lowest score and 10.0 being the highest. The prompt was the following: “Based on OFFLINE data from the first eight months of the year, as well as your subjective assessment of this person’s performances, how well do you think they’d perform on average at 10 SoCal tournaments?” Everyone’s scores were normalized after being given, to ensure no inflated results (I put this off for a long time, but after one unnamed panelist had absurdly high scores relative to everyone else, I asked Chroma to help out with this), and we ended up with a final list of 50 active people for the first eight months of the year. No results after them were factored in, so if you’re wondering why X player is too low, too high, or not included at all, that’s probably why.

You will see them below, as well as self-written blurbs about them. Before we move forward though, we have one honorable mention – our No. 51.

51. Pensive

Okay, I confess that I didn’t actually write a blurb in preparation for this. Though I remembered to include Pensive on the ballot, I forgot to add him to the editorial spreadsheet. What you’re about to read on this blurb – right now – are my thoughts, off the dome, about Pensive. I’ve heard legends about how his Sheik has needle camped and ledge camped the Crimson Blur in tournament. That instantly made me like him a lot, so you can consider me a relatively new Pensive fan. I know he also has wins over Denzill and beachbum. He’s got a great tag; fits with his name (Jake Peskin) really well, is memorable, and rolls off the tongue. Congratulations to him. Sort of. – Edwin Budding

50. Badboi

Badboi, more than anyone else in SoCal, feels like he could beat anyone or lose to anyone at any given Verdugo or Lawless. The free-thinking Falco main has been a community staple since moving from the Boston area years ago. Having impressive records on Aero, Top100, and a win on deez, only a few unfortunate losses keep him from being higher up the list. With his very determined mindset and constant commitment to event attendance, I believe that Badboi’s high peaks will soon become the norm, making him an extremely scary threat. – CommonEnemy

49: Alberto

Those familiar with the UCLA scene won’t be surprised to see Alberto rounding out this list. In fact, they might be surprised to see him so low. Any time a UCLA player faces a Falcon in bracket, we don’t have to worry, because they definitely will not hit as hard as Alberto. For a long time, Alberto was a player of “almosts,” losing close sets in 2021 to strong players like maxi, Breakfast, and Q. And that’s why I and many others were ecstatic to see him build a strong resume this season, claiming wins over deez (despite my best efforts), Glasper, Aero, and John. Alberto is also my pick for “most improved since the end of the ranking season”, having since claimed wins over salami, Xela (x2), Bung, UsubGod, Pensive, and Badboi. Don’t sleep on Alberto, I have a feeling the next time he’s on a PR, he won’t be No. 49. – deez

48: Cheunk

Cheunk’s originally from Colorado, but he qualified for SoCal eligibility due to him staying in San Diego earlier this year. Besides; he’s got wins over some of SoCal’s mid-level: Kopaka, maxi and Mimz. By the way, did you know that Cheunk has taken sets from Zealot and Fizzwiggle? That was totally good enough for the rest of the panel to claim him and be, like, “yeah, he’s SoCal.” Is choosing him cheating? Is it totally objective to just claim someone for your region if they happen to stay there for a little bit? Who cares? – Edwin Budding

47. beachbum

Dr. Mario. SoCal. What do you think of when you think of these two things? It’s probably Franz, but maybe after reading this blurb, you’ll learn about beachbum, the “other” Dr. Mario of SoCal. Within the timeframe of results, he took sets over Top100 and TpFox, a sentence which will mean literally nothing to you if you’re not from SoCal. Do I care enough to explain further than that? No. But on a slightly different note, there’s actually more Dr. Mario players in SoCal than you’d expect. Maybe next year we’ll see Franz, beachbum, and DP3 all here together. Imagine that. Three Dr. Mario mains on a power ranking. Horrifying. – Edwin Budding

46. Top100

Is it adventure you seek? Legend has it that if you go to the tavern only known as Trustworthy on a warm Wednesday evening, you will find a jolly and wise wizard known by many names. To most, he is known only as Top100: a shapeshifter who is known to use a variety of characters to vanquish his foes. Is he a Fox player? A Peach player? A Sheik player? No. He is but a simple Melee enjoyer and friend to all. Verdugo is his domain, where he has taken sets of Salami, Denzill, and FreeHops. – CommonEnemy

45. Bubba

I was fortunate enough to take a money match win over Bubba while I still could. By which I mean when wobbling was legal and he played Pikachu. That atrocious matchup did bring out the beta version of the Bubba we know today, a very skilled Fox that leveraged long practice sessions against top level players, especially Suf, into a rapid growth as the pandemic loomed on the horizon. He’s sort of the proto-Slippi kid if you will. And how did he finagle these lengthy practice sessions? Simple. He’s an excellent person that everyone loves being around. Some of y’all should try it sometime, it does wonders for you. – Spots

44. Glasper

If anyone out there truly believes that a rectangle controller turns mediocre players into skilled ones I invite them to play against Glasper. Initially he was someone who made a name for himself playing an extremely quick and technical Fox on a Frame1 controller, but has been continuing to turn competitors inside out at Verdugo and Lawless after having to switch back to the conch for the time being. No matter the controller, Glasper has the speed and precision to use spacies and make the game feel like it’s one player and you are but an NPC. He has taken sets off Xela, deez, and TinderMaster3000. – CommonEnemy

43. Denzill

Denzill caught my attention when he beat s-f all the way back at a Verdugo. Despite knowing that he played Luigi, I wasn’t familiar with all his results, so I was tempted to make fun of my dear friend, a Marth player, for losing to a Luigi. Then, Denzill had to go and beat ARMY the round after. He’s actually entered more tournaments in San Francisco this year, but he’s done well enough at the SoCal events he went to and he qualified for eligibility, so we’ve included him in the list. I was curious to see what his Twitter was like, and the first thing I saw was a retweet of Bernie Sanders. The second thing I saw? He’s developing a game called Potion Slingers. You know what, Denzill? You seem like a cool guy. – Edwin Budding

42. Bung

If this were a Slippi Unranked Top 50 then Bung would be top ten easily. The legendary status of Netplay Bung stretches back through the annals of SoCal lore. As a local grinder Bung is known to be a formidable threat to even some PR players, but as an online figure he is a phantom. A menace that receives due flowers from some of SoCal’s finest. And yet, this spectacular spacies specialist INSISTS that I, of all people, have taken a set off of him. Humility or foolishness? Definitely foolishness. – Spots

41. Aero

Do you believe in miracles? Aero certainly does. Known to many at Verdugo and Lawless as “The Young Link Main That Could,” he has an impressive resume and positive attitude for a character considered low tier. Unlike other players who begrudge their not-often-seen character, Aero truly believes he has untapped riches with Young Link and wants to be the one to push him to new heights, and it’s hard to discourage his confidence after wins on Ringler, Denzill, Q, and mutliple top 8 placements at Verdugo. Only time will tell how far he can go, but many of us in SoCal see a bright future for the determined low tier main. – CommonEnemy

40. Kopaka

Ahhhhh, the slipperiest Marth in SoCal. I have no idea why PG Stats had him on their hidden bosses iceberg, so allow me to fill you in on the lore. Hailing from the skater wastelands north of the big city, he’s sought out many illustrious senseis in the scene including OkamiBW, PPMD, and Oats, learning various forms of evil from each. Over our years of clashes he grew trickier and faster and harder to hit in neutral every year while never losing his drive to be ranked – he will be miserable about being this far down this list. Little known to many is his win on Santiago, after which the Fuego shrugged his head and explained, “I don’t know what to say Chroma. I tried hard.” I’ve seen enough people sleep on him over the years only to meet their doom that I believe him. – Chroma

39. TpFox

One of my great what-ifs of San Diego: what if TpFox never took breaks and warmed up before events? The cycle of TpFox flows between “ah some old school guy entered this week” > “wow his neutral’s really tricky and how did he keep shining my moving Firefoxes?”> “how did he learn all of this techskill so fast?” > “damn, TpFox beat yet another SoCal ranked player” > “where’d he go?” This cycle has perpetuated for fifteen years or so, but my favorite moment is his slaughter of the $1000 prizepot Arcadian, SoCal’s Fastest Hedgehogs 2 – he drove three hours up in the rain, smacked down most of the PR hopefuls as the 7th seed, drove three hours right home, busted a tire, and had to spend the prize money fixing the car. That’s the cycle for you. – Chroma

38. FreeHops

I’ve seen FreeHops’ name pop up a ton in different regional brackets, but for a long time I hadn’t actually seen him play. In my head, I envisioned a Sheik that just needled camped opponents ruthlessly, Shino stalled with leads, hung out on top platform, and spammed hard-to-punish back airs in place. I eventually watched some of his matches and this was not the case. If anything, he just seemed like a solid overall Sheik – maybe even someone whose rank on this list reflects his relative lack of inactivity compared to some of the people above him. He’s split sets with MegaXmas this year, usually made top eight at Verdugo when he went, and, after this ranking period, got ranked in NorCal. – EdwinBudding

37. snake

There must be something in the water down in San Diego, because they breed space animals like no other. Unlike the rest, however, snake has won tournaments for both singles and doubles. A regular competitor in a whole host of West coast doubles brackets, snake has achieved fantastic results with both his former teammate Suf, and his more recent teammate Khalid. In singles, snake is a strong gatekeeper of his region with a strong upward trajectory. He has solid records against Arcadian-level players, and as a relatively young player, he’s on track to become a serious threat. As if SoCal didn’t have enough scary Falcos already. – deez

36. TinderMaster3000

If you’ve ever taken a stranger’s side bet at a major it was probably TinderMaster3000. And, whether you won or lost, his charming, slow-creeping smile is likely indelibly etched upon your memory. I appreciate TinderMaster3000’s presence in SoCal so very much. His charismatic, welcoming personality combined with his considerable Melee chops make him an exceptional ambassador for everything SoCal Melee is all about. If you ever make it out to one of our locals you’ll likely find him playing a very tense set for a spot in top 8. And just like his side bets, win or lose, you’re in for a hell of a show and some good sportsmanship to follow. – Spots

35. Q

I keep confusing all the different players with obnoxious tags that began with the letter “q.” There’s more of them than you’d think, “Q,” the Fox player from Connecticut, “Q?” the Dr. Mario player from Chicago, “Quote,” the Jigglypuff player from Baltimore, “Question,” the upstate New York Marth main, and “Q,” the SoCal Marth player and guy I’m about to talk about. From what I could tell, this guy seemed like a solid cut above “3-2’r,” with wins over Salami, maxi, and DonB this year. Wish his tag stood out a little more though; I can’t lie..

34. Tino

A couple of months into his Melee career, a significantly younger and shorter Tino asked me how long it’d take for somebody who knew nothing about Melee to get better than me. I played it conservatively, since by this time he was already many talented players’ worst loss. I don’t know how else to explain it: this kid’s got a knack for the game. He learned like a sponge, feels no fear, and hits fast fallers like a cement truck. Fox dittos in San Diego were pre-Tino and post-“oh my god he is doing 80+ to me off every grab I have to practice way more”. The old guard of SoCal’s PR would play friendlies with him and walk away convinced he’d be top 100 in a year. I think I barely made it to my predicted answer before he started farming me, and I lasted longer than most! I am very proud of him and am happy he’s playing again, which I feel comfortable saying here because there’s no way he can read (Oats, don’t show him this). – Chroma

33. Breakfast

As I do with most players I’ve barely heard of, I looked up Breakfast’s tag in the Melee Stats Podcast Discord. One of the first results I could find was him defeating Darrell, the longtime NorCal Samus player, at a TMT in 2021. Breakfast has been one of SoCal’s better players since; splitting sets with Greg Turbo and snake aren’t small feats. Neither is beating Glasper, Top100, or Kopaka, three other strong mid-level players. Combined with the fact that he and Franz defeated the legendary doubles duo of Chape and FidelCastro to make top eight at Mainstage, I’m convinced that Breakfast will make the global Top 100 in the next year and a half. – Edwin Budding

32. maxi

When I met maxi at Double Down, he seemed happy to know that I recognized his tag and results. I actually used him as the correct option in a pop quiz I gave to every SoCal panelist for this project: “Which of the following players has never lost to s-f?” Granted, that’s not maxi’s sole accomplishment. Earlier this year, he took a set from Bimbo in Mexico, which is kind of like taking a set from Hanky Panky in Ohio. His results are solidly in the higher end of “Arcadian” contending players. I have to admit though; cliché offered to up the Patron count for the sole purpose of making a PR that would exclude maxi. That goal was not met, but it’s not too late. I can make a new graphic! – Edwin Budding

31. UsubGod

UsubGod is a Marth main who got started in the Florida scene before becoming an absolute online tournament machine and making a name for himself in SoCal while he is here for school. Fun fact about Jaime, (pronounced high may) he is a math god. Was top 50 in high school competitive math you could say. In his short (but long enough to be elligible) tenure he managed to take sets off of Squid and MegaXmas. He went to no major tournaments during this ranking period and it would be very exciting to see if he could make a bigger name for himself on a national stage in 2023, but for now he is settling for beating Bubba every time they play. – CommonEnemy

30. Greg Turbo

The green beacon of light who can be seen from miles away. The keyboard warrior of both Netplay and Twitter. Steech’s Dad. The Zoomer Entrepreneur. Ringler’s Ringo Starr. There are infinite ways to describe San Diego’s very own Greg Turbo, but while most know him as the Creator of Frame1 controllers, he also finds the time to be pretty darn good at the game with wins over Khalid and cliché, as well as an impressive 17th at Smash Camp and 49th and Genesis 8. Beware of Greg Turbo haunting Netplay in the wee hours under tags like PC Chris, multi-shining honest Sheik mains until they cry. – CommonEnemy

29. deez

Out of the many people I’ve played in SoCal, only two have made me question my skill in Melee – Fiction and deez. Some might assume it’s because he plays Sheik and I play Marth, and while deez is a monster in the matchup (having even taken a game on KoDoRiN), the answer is pretty simple: he’s a goddamn menace on the sticks, a disciplined machine that is impossible to kill. It shows in his H2Hs, with overwhelmingly positive records on 21-50 range of players. This includes winning records on players like Ringler, Xela, salami, maxi, and many more. Out of the 30+ locals he’s been to during the ranking period, he’s only lost to five players not on this Top 50. In a region like SoCal, that’s just absurd. deez against the Top 20 is a bit of a different story, one of a player who just barely falls short. That’s not to say he can’t beat them – his win on Asashi stands out. It’s more to say he is a gatekeeper, for now. But considering how much I’ve seen deez work and grind, it just feels inevitable he’ll be consistently taking down those Top 20 players soon. God I can’t wait to see it happen. – S-F

28. SubTails

Oh, a PM player moved to San Diego, and started entering Melee with Sheik? Before SubTails, I would’ve told that newcomer to consider another character for their own sanity; in any given season over the past decade, half the PR’s made up of Fox mains like Steech, Casper, Greg Turbo, Mist, TpFox, Tino, Trichael Man, East Coast Jeff, Satdaddy, Santi… and that’s before you get to the Ice Climbers! People know these matchups too well, Sheik has less counterplay in this game, it’s a bad draw. After SubTails, I can’t really say anything. Dude’s a monster and earned his regional number 4 rank the hard way, scoring a Norcal PR win off blargh257’s Fox in the process. Violence would gatekeep him from his first melee major bracket afterwards… we should probably go find him more floaties to play, huh? – Chroma

27. Xela

In the Mount Rushmore of melee sibling duos, sculpted next to Llod / Rishi and Android / Armada, sits my personal favorite pair: Xela and Franz. Those in touch with the scene know Xela is a powerhouse Peach player whose clever combination of pressure and patience can give even more established PR players a run for their money, as evidenced by his two wins over Casper and his win on Venelox this season. In fact, it’s not a stretch to argue that Xela played an important role in Franz’s victory over Polish at the Ludwig Smash Invitational (and that set should be a testament to the patience Franz is used to seeing from his brother). One of my favorite memories with Xela was when he pulled 6 stitch faces, 2 bombs, and a beam sword against me, all in one set. Luckily he was kind enough to miss me with all of them, and then laugh it off with me afterwards. In all seriousness though, Xela is one of the kindest and most welcoming members of our community. I personally can’t wait to see what names he’ll be taking next, and I know I won’t have to wait long. – deez

26. cliché

We wouldn’t be here if not for cliché. Literally, this list wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t had the idea of asking Edwin to make this list. So if you like this list, be sure to thank cliché! Anyway, if you looked at how SoCal performed at Genesis 8, it wasn’t our finest showing. Only 8 players on this list made Top 64. Among them, at 33rd out of 1,552 entrants, is cliché. But there were sooo many DQ’s you might say! For plenty of other players this could’ve led to a Mickey Mouse bracket. But for cliché, no such luck. He had to play Preeminent (Top 3 in Minnesota), Mot$ (Top 5 in New Jersey), and Eggy (fresh off upsetting moky) to make it Top 64 winners side, and he easily met the challenge. His first opponent there? The eventual star of the whole tournament, Jmook, and yet still cliché still took a game??? It’s the sort of run that in most years gets a player Top 100. It was so unbelievable that cliché titled his own fantasy for the SoCal Arcadian “33rd at genesis and socal arcadian.” He ended up putting on a show in his sets against Greg Turbo and deez to make Top 8, cementing that indeed, cleesh da goat no cap. – S-F

25. Mist

The first result from Mist that I remembered, off the top of my head, was his double elimination of Alex19 at Wavedash. Mist been good for a while though. The peak of his year, in my opinion, is when he won Pizza Time No. 18 over cliché, Xela, and snake. Also, I’m pretty sure Mist would be Top 5 in many Melee countries outside of the United States. Can I prove it? No, absolutely not. But it is fun to speculate. – Edwin Budding

24. salami

Getting 3rd at the SoCal Arcadian? Oh, that’s the Salami Sweep. Tech chasing with fox’s up-smash? You mean the Salami Sweep. Getting 24th on the SoCal Top 50? You better believe that’s the Salami Sweep. SoCal has a habit of being a bunch of golf-clappers at our events. A lot of the times we watch high level matches with reverence, whispering to eachother about a sick combo we just saw as to not disturb what is going on in front of us. However, events always feel a lot more lively with salami around. He is not afraid to get the crowd going when his friends, or even he himself is playing. After switching characters many times, he has found great success with Fox with wins on Kürv, Venelox, and Gooms. – CommonEnemy

23. Gooms

Here he is folks – it’s Gooms, the guy you get to yell at about your controller. Wait; never mind. That’s Goomy, although Gooms works with him too. So maybe you can still yell at him. Anyways, Gooms is good at the game. Although he’s barely active within SoCal, he had a great Genesis where he beat both ChuDat and Casper. While it came after the ranking period, Gooms beat Logan at the Ludwig Smash Invitational. His performances were overall good enough and he qualified by the criteria – and the panel’s decision – to make the list. – Edwin Budding

22. Ringler

Ringler, both as a player and a personality, is SoCal’s knuckle-ball pitch; so uncommon and weird that even when great players come face to face with him, they don’t know what to do and walk away confused. He’s like a 70’s-cowboy-gone-Hollywood who was deep fried in nitrous oxide; an absolute tornado that unpredictably tears through both tournament brackets and tournament hotel rooms. Ringler is easily the best active Donkey Kong player on the planet, having some insane wins at majors throughout 2022. Sure, he’s also had some pretty tough losses – mostly local players who have possibly seen the knuckle-ball pitch a few too many times. However, few people ranked above him could take a set off of KJH and bobby big ballz in the same ranking period. You can never be too sure how Ringler will match up against the field on a given day but he will always, in his words, “get the rawest 49th you’ve ever seen.” – CommonEnemy

21. AJ

I first learned of AJ when he defeated top Chilean Sheik Raikin in late 2021. I had initially thought to myself, “wow, I guess SoCal’s just on another level.” Obviously, this is still the case, but AJ’s done quite a bit to separate himself from the pack. In addition to taking multiple sets from Suf and Franz this year, he also has strong cumulative head-to-heads across the field. What stood out to me was his 4-2 record vs. Venelox, his 3-2 record vs. Xela, and a 2-0 lead he had in sets vs. cliché. I wouldn’t be surprised to see AJ even higher or more nationally recognized next year. – Edwin Budding

20. Venelox

Of all the SoCal players with the largest gap between their talent and their national recognition, I think Venelox might be No. 1. I have to confess that when I first saw his name pop up a bunch in weekly brackets, I assumed he was some randomly ‘good but not great’ SoCal Fox player. Wow, was I wrong. Here’s some notable head-to-head stats from the period of results I set for the Top 50 panel: 5-1 vs. Asashi, 4-4 vs. MegaXmas, 3-1 vs. Ringler, and 4-0 vs. maxi. At some point in the next half a year or so, he’s going to have a national breakout. That is, if he attends enough. Mainstage was his only attended major in 2022, where he finished in 65th place. I’d be shocked if he didn’t rebound at his next one. – Edwin Budding

19. MegaXmas

MegaXmas is an enigma. He’s in a weird position of having basically always been good in SoCal, but also being the one who’s so clearly crossed into the highest level of local play despite being relatively obscure on a national level. It’s kind of crazy that this guy has just casually beaten Top 100 players from his region every year and he’s still out here, somehow both nationally under-the-radar and regionally well-established. In the time span we chose for the PR, he beat Franz, Kürv, and ARMY, among others. – Edwin Budding

18. Zeo

My favorite moment as a player of this beautiful game was getting my ass absolutely handed to me by Zeo on stream at Wavedash. I knew exactly what I signed up for and I could not have been more pleased about it. After being dealt a quick four-stock in game one, I dug deep and BARELY eked out a stock in game two. I yelled in his face. We hugged. It was the best. There’s a reason Zeo’s lore and notoriety run so deep among so many, and it’s not just because his Captain Falcon is one of the most cracked you’ll ever see. It’s because the man is an absolute delight and to see such a good soul be such a relentless, brutal player… it’s everything that makes Melee great as both a game and as a community. I love Zeo so damn much, dude. – Spots

17. Squid

It’s pretty wild how Squid is still as good as he is at Melee, isn’t it? I must admit that I was surprised to end up including him on the list because I had assumed for the longest time he wouldn’t qualify for eligibility, when in reality he met the criteria and consistently succeeded. How long has it been; seven years of being notable within the world’s hardest region? Squid has made the official SoCal Power Rankings so many times now, finished in the scene-wide Top 100, and in recent times, he’s earned wins over Suf, Steech, nut, and Casper. It was more than enough to justify where he landed on the final list. – Edwin Budding

16. Steech

On March 8, 2021, r/ssbm was graced with a post by one self-flagellate about how region locking in netplay events should work. In this poster’s mind, it seemed egregious that in the East Coast region, Zain had to play Ryobeat to make Top 64, whereas Mango had to play someone named Steech, who the poster said “no offense to them but idk who that is.” Well Steech took offense, and has made it so anyone who’s paying attention knows who he is. His crushing victory at this year’s Arcadian is indicative of his overall year, dropping zero sets to players ranked below him. For everyone ranked above him, he’s nipping closely at their heels, taking sets on Franz and Suf and boasting a resounding 9-3 record versus Khalid. All of this to say, we need to get the Steech vs. Ryobeat salty suite ASAP. – s-f

15. Casper

Nobody is more cracked at Melee than Casper near the right-side platform on Pokémon Stadium. That is the legendary locale wherein he hit a shine up-air (yes, with Fox, OBVIOUSLY) and survived a Falco bair at 211% (yes, and recovered, OBVIOUSLY). But don’t think you’re safe against him just because you’re on the left side of the stage or, you know, on… any other stage. Because Casper is still a perennial SoCal PR member and a threat to anyone brave enough to pick up the sticks in Melee’s most competitive region. Especially those poor suckers at Venice Beach. Type “Melee Venice” into YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about. – Spots

14. Kürv

In the last six years a trio of Foxes emerged from the Santa Clarita area, rapidly improving and becoming SoCal PR mainstays for years to come. One member of this trio, however, has a very unique aspect to him. He used to main frickin Luigi. Kürv is nothing if not a hard worker. He hits every local he can and grinds like a proper mad lad to keep in top form and these efforts have been rewarded well overtime. He was the first of the trio to taste the Top 100 and his switch to Fox was about as seamless as a character swap can be, removing the limits of a mid-tier and helping him flourish even further. While he may no longer be the darling of the Luigi-pilled among us, he remains a scrappy and, hell, downright scary young talent that will only continue to hone what is already a razor sharp punish game and a speedy and nuanced neutral. – Spots

13. nut

nut is such an insanely chill guy it’s amazing that he has the competitive spirit in him to make it up this far up the list at all. His vibe is what you’d expect a SoCal player to be. The skater-like zen mindset he has is insanely inspiring. You can ask him how he’s feeling at any given tournament and his response is always the same: “I just want to play some good games.” And good games he has had, with wins on S2J, null, and Kürv. I am a die-hard Mango fan like everyone else, but whenever I’m asked, I always say my favorite player is nut. His Sheik is unlike anyone else. It is not at all “optimal” and shockingly, one of his worst matchups is Marth. He has a backround in trick scootering and if you watch him play it’s extremely clear. He is extremely freestyle and extremely fast. If you ever face him, brace yourself for the fastest nairs out of shield you’ve ever seen in you entire life. Sheiks shouldn’t use him as a guide book, because you will never be him. Instead, I instead recommend watching him like you would a jazz musician. Use him as a source of inspiration as he plays on a knife’s edge after psyching himself up by doing pushups in the venue bathroom. – CommonEnemy

12. Asashi

The prospect of the first Verdugo since the pandemic was thrilling – Fiction’s first LAN event as a Falco main against many pre-quarantine SoCal PR players. I couldn’t help but be excited. Within an hour, I was already shocked, with Fiction sent to losers by a player I had never heard of – Asashi. It would be easy to shrug that off as a one-time upset, but Asashi has proven it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Instead, Asashi established himself as one of the most electrifying players to watch in SoCal. His run at Lawless #9 was incredible to watch live, and his set vs Joshman is my pick for one of the best sets of the year; the best if you were there in person. The whole crowd going wild at every combo he did, cheering for Fuck Truck, was intoxicating. And don’t get me started on his barnburner Game 15 with S2J. It’s only a matter of time before he cracks Top 10 in SoCal, and from there who knows. All I know is that he’s gonna deliver some damn amazing Melee along the way. – s-f

11. ARMY

ARMY. Zack Fair. Jago. Dr Fuck. Long ago the four SoCal wobblers lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Axe nation attacked. Something something; yada yada; ICs fell off. But in the post-wobbling, post-quarantine age, ARMY has stuck it out and is putting the pieces back together. While the wobbling ban certainly affected his results, he did not have the precipitous drop off into utter irrelevance and obscurity that some of wobbling’s harsher critics had predicted for him. Look, long story short, any ICs that can beat DD without wobbling is damn good at the game, and that’s all there is to it. That’s it. What? Expecting something? … Okay, fine. Woo. – Spots

10. Khalid

The year is 2017. I’m doing my first “big” commentary gig, a 59-entrant arcadian. I got mutilated in bracket and my commentary has been routinely roasted. Too annoying. Too loud. On one side of top 8 a player yells at me mid-set to keep my voice down. On the other side of top 8, a Jigglypuff named BlueBuddy, on the loser’s run of a lifetime, is cracking up as I tell the chat how stoned he is. That was how I met Khalid. And every time I see him he gives me the same welcoming smile he always has. As a competitor he is fiery, even vicious, but he never allows that side of himself to bleed into the way he treats people face to face. A homie to everyone and a face that I love seeing at every event, whether it’s a stacked regional or an Evo watch party at a small game store off the Vegas strip where he bodies me with his Falco for like an hour. You know, just as a random example. – Spots

9. Franz

Alright, before you hunt down the panel to enact vengeance on behalf of the world’s best Doctor Mario player, double check the ranking period for this list and come back. Yeah. Is it our fault Franz’s recent INSANE results weren’t considered? No. It’s clearly cliché’s fault for thinking of this wonderful idea too soon. Nice going, Cleesh! Well, consider this placing as a testament to Franz’s incredible upward mobility. He’s been taking names with Doc for years and he still has a lengthy and bright career ahead of him. Nobody can truly say what the future holds, but one thing is clear; Franz will continue to shock the world and prove that you can’t just “solve” a mid-tier. Unless you’re Shep. – Spots

8. Suf

Back when Suf was simply known as “Android 0,” I used to have a running gag with my friends that he was simply the greatest Melee player of all-time. Why was Suf the subject of this joke? I couldn’t tell you. This was during the early stages of the pandemic, before rollback was a thing and around the time when you would see Suf totally obliterate a random West Coast Netplay bracket. Since then, Suf’s obviously become a force to reckon with, having finished Top 50 in the world on the summer rankings. Sidenote: Suf’s a great player to imagine a “time travel” scenario for, probably because of his old tag. I’m fairly convinced 2022 Suf would win Genesis 5. – Edwin Budding

7. Lucky

Lucky needs no introduction. SoCal was blessed to see Joey mixing it up at locals this season, and although his results may not be as extraordinary as other seasons in the past, I’m happy to see Joey listed among SoCal’s finest. He’s an absolute pleasure to have around (except when he’s four-stocking you on stream) and one of the easiest players in the world to root for. Joey, if you’re reading this, thanks for all you’ve done. We can’t wait to see what you do in the future! – deez

6. Smashdaddy

A man of many names: Smashdaddy, Smash Luis, and Smash Papi. These names inspire fear in the hearts of “top players” everywhere. No matter how long you’ve been dominating your locals, there’s a good chance Smash Luis just shows up and takes your money (sorry Chicago). Smashdaddy has been an absolute powerhouse since he entered the scene over a decade ago, and his results this season more than earned him spot No. 6 on this ranking. Who wants to place bets on which region Luis will farm next? My money is on Texas. – deez

5. null

As I’ve done to many people, I tricked null into becoming a Patron of Melee Stats through side-bets. But I have one memory of him that especially stands out. You see, the bet we were supposed to have was Fiction vs. Suf at Smash Camp, and I had taken Fiction. However, when it became clear that Fiction was drunk, null told me, “Nah don’t pay me; this one goes into the alcohol clause. Can’t bet against the homies when they’re drunk.” He then lost our subsequent bet. Did I feel bad? No. – Edwin Budding

4. Joshman

At Genesis 8, my dear friend s-f had forgotten his backpack at a bar. I couldn’t bear the thought of him walking alone, and I was quite drunk, so I went with him to get it. As we’re mid-conversation on the way there, a guy we notice coming toward us says ‘how you doing?’ He was Joshman, someone who I’d done a podcast with. However, I didn’t recognize him because I was too lost in the sauce, so I just gave him a weird look. Two nights later, I saw Joshman again, but I didn’t realize he had previously tried to talk to me. After I introduce myself and tell him how happy I am to see him here, he unloads on me for “big-dogging” him Friday night. The last words I remember him saying are, “You’re banned from Australia, cunt. It’s on sight.” – Edwin Budding

3. Fiction

Some (Verdugo West TO Pipe) may call him the “greatest gas-lighter of our generation.” Others debate whether his Twitter is God’s gift to Earth or a reason the website should be purged from existence. To me, Shep’s just the GOAT; a player beloved by his local scene and shapes the culture around it so much. I suppose it’s natural with how much he attends. After getting Top 8 at The Big House 10, Shep took the five hour flight home the next morning only to win yet another edition of Melee @ Verdugo West. I think he does it partially for the little bit of money every week, but also to spend at least an hour talking about the latest chapter of One Piece. Some may think it gets exhausting seeing the same player win and win and win, but for me, it’s kinda amazing! And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. I don’t know of any other top player who will attend their Halloween local, let alone have 16 different people dress up as said top player for Halloween, and yet that’s exactly what happened for Shep at Verdugo. So yeah, Shep’s the GOAT. – S-F

2. KoDoRiN

I once wanted to get better at Melee, so I reached out to KoDoRiN for lessons. In one of them, we spent 20 minutes reviewing how to properly juggle Sheik. When looking over my gameplay, KoDoRiN asked me approximately 10 questions about the differences between Marth’s forward air and up air. I answered some of his questions correctly. I answered some of his questions incorrectly. But I walked away learning that forward air covers Marth’s hand, and up-air doesn’t. That one detail was my chief takeaway from one hour with KoDoRiN. Wanna know what he named our lesson? “Why Grab is Bad – Overthinking Ego.” Come on, dude. – Edwin Budding

1. S2J

In the last decade of Melee’s existence, the competitive scene has seen countless people come and go. But if you were looking for one consistent through-line, S2J’s mere presence is a great pick. The perennial Top 10 to 20 player was the clear top choice among panelists for this ranking period, boasting winning head-to-heads over the rest of the top five (5-3 vs. KoDoRiN, 10-4 vs. Fiction, 5-1 vs. Joshman, and 8-2 vs. null) . While he’s no longer in SoCal, S2J consistently set the standard for greatness that SoCal’s known for and finished No. 1 on five of the seven ballots. Congratulations to S2J for finishing No. 1 on these rankings. – Edwin Budding

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.