9. PC Chris
No. of years ranking in the Top 10 of RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank: 4 (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
No. of years ranking in the Top 5 of RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank: 3 (2006, 2007, 2008)
No. of years ranked as RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank’s No. 1: 0
No. of titles: 4 (MLG New York Opener 2006, FC6, MLG Las Vegas 2006, Zero Challenge 3)
If you’re a documentary kid – someone who’s watched Samox’s “smash documentary” on some of the best players to ever play Super Smash Bros. Melee – chances are that you already know PC Chris as the “revolutionary.” You probably also think of him as the cool skateboard-riding, Port Chester-raised dudebro that defeated Ken at an old MLG tournament. That’s true, but his actual impact in Melee’s scene goes further than just one upset.
Before PC became a top player, his region, New York City, was mostly led by the older members of the Deadly Alliance crew, with players like Wes, Mike G and Dave. However, by 2005 or so, those players were not as prominent as they were before. New York City – and arguably Tri-State – needed a new figurehead to represent them against not just the West Coast, but their neighbors. This included the dominant MD/VA motley of smashers, who even outside of the usual suspects (Azen, Chu Dat and Chillin) were starting to look like the next up-and-comers (NEO, Wife, Husband). Even players from New England, like KrazyJones, Hayato, UnknownForce and a very young KoreanDJ were starting to get better.
Tri-State essentially had two possible choices for which of their younger players had the potential to carry the region’s mantle. Mew2King was one of them, but back then, he was more known for his knowledge of obscure frame data rather than his skill against other players. It didn’t help that his seemingly unpredictable and sometimes standoffish personality sometimes alienated other players. To be fair, this was partially due to his lack of social awareness and relatively young age back then, but between him and the more laid back PC, who often didn’t even come across like a stereotypical gamer, the choice was frankly easy for people in the scene to predict who could lift Tri-State.
At the first tourney the two attended together, Getting’ Schooled 2, Mew2King placed a solid 17th, but PC placed fifth in singles. The high finish came as a surprise, as he finished above established players like Isai, KrazyJones, Husband, KillaOR and Eddie. As if going into MD/VA’s turf and placing top eight wasn’t impressive enough, PC did it again at BOMB 4, getting seventh, while also getting a respectable 13th at the Midwest national FC3 a few months before. He was not yet elite, but with performances that started to gain attention, PC was well on his way to getting there – particularly with a victory over Isai and a third place finish at MLG New York 2005 (ironically held in February 2006).
Two months later, PC shocked the world, double eliminating the world’s biggest Falco slayer and its No. 1 in Ken, en route to a first place championship at MLG New York Opener 2006. Unlike other spacie players, who often ran away and lasered at Ken after getting bullied in mid-ranges, PC would fight back when about to be cornered and get close to Ken, hitting Ken just as hard as vice versa, similar to how Bombsoldier approached Ken at Jack Garden Tournament. Yet instead of recklessly going in and getting shield-grabbed or sometimes having his pressure be exploited against him, PC mixed up his approaches, staying safe, but still aggressively positioning himself either just outside of Ken’s comfort zone or close enough to where Ken couldn’t breath. It was a dazzling and meta-changing performance that brought PC to the national spotlight.
By the end of 2006, he was the world’s No. 3 player (per RetroSSBMRank), but he had an argument to be No. 1 for portions of the year, if not by its conclusion. Although PC went 1-4 against Azen and relatively bombed at tournaments like MLG Orlando 2006 (13th) and Zero Challenge 2 (ninth), he also won FC6 and MLG Las Vegas 2006, the last tournament in MLG’s professional Melee circuit for eight years, as well as one that held its largest prize pool ever at the time. For the year, PC went 3-3 with Ken, 5-5 with Chu Dat, a dominant 5-0 against Isai, 3-2 against KoreanDJ and 3-0 against Mew2King. Even if Ken technically finished with one more title than PC, the Port Chester hometown hero won the year’s final and biggest event, showing that he was both Melee’s newest and sickest rockstar.
Here’s something cool to consider: though PC is known mostly for his Falco during the MLG-era and Fox in the post-Brawl period, his other characters were quite proficient. For example, you could have argued that PC had the best Peach in the world until Armada’s rise to prominence. He also sometimes tried Marth and Falcon in tournament, each to varying degrees of success in different matches, though neither were as impressive as his spacies or Peach.
Alas, PC’s seemingly guaranteed position for No. 1 came to an abrupt close in 2007, when he had a couple of matchups that significantly hurt him throughout the year. Though he split sets with Ken and Mango, a dominant 5-1 lead over Chu Dat and even went 13-1 against the rising Cort, PC struggled with KoreanDJ (0-4) and his Tri-State rival Mew2King (3-12). The latter had gone from being a butt of jokes who was a good doubles player to being the best singles player in the world, also taking PC’s status as the No. 1 in the Northeast away from him. Even if PC was now the best in New York, when it came to playing against Mew2King, the odds were certainly against PC’s favor.
That said, he could still compete at a top five level. After consistent top eight appearances, including runner-up placings at EVO East 2007, VESTICLE and FC Diamond, PC had what at the time had to be the best losers bracket run in Melee history at Zero Challenge 3. After defeating Edrees and Forward, PC was once again sent to the other side of bracket by Mew2King, where he had to play his worst nightmare in HugS, who had beaten him multiple times before and whose patient, deliberate style of Samus was at odds with PC’s play style. Instead, he simply defeated his longtime demon, then tearing through Vidjogamer, Drephen, Ken, Chu Dat and finally his nemesis Mew2King twice, winning his last title ever.
With a second place at EVO West 2007, a fourth place at EVO World 2007, second at Super Champ Combo, third at Pound 3 and a fourth place at Revival of Melee over the next 1.5 years, maintaining his status as just about a top ten player, PC transitioned into playing more Brawl and gradually became inactive in the Melee scene. While he’s certainly had a few comeback moments, including winning a No Johns tournament in September 2011 over Jman and a sandbagging Mango, a ninth place at Zenith 2012 and even a 13th place at MVG Sandstorm last year, PC’s career is largely finished.
Without PC, the Melee community loses not only one of its most charismatic and relatable personalities, but also a top figure for three characters: Fox, Falco and Peach. Remember that at this point, even Bombsoldier, a guy who by all means was years ahead of contemporary Falcos in terms of laser pressure and his punish game, hadn’t defeated Ken, who had up to that point ruthlessly mauled every Falco he played against. PC applied the same kind of pressure-heavy, but smart positioning concepts to his Fox as well. It’s sometimes easy to forget that along with being leaders of a new generation of players, PC, Mew2King and KoreanDJ could be argued as forefathers for the post-MLG era Fox meta, each with a distinctive style.
It’s certainly not exclusive to himself, but PC also carries a good amount of what-ifs with his legacy. Because his prime came during the Golden Age of Melee, but also during its death period, PC never really had good reason to continue seriously competing during the post-Brawl era as much as he did earlier in his career. Think about it – he rapidly rose to become a top five player and contender for best player in the world in 2006, won Zero Challenge 3 in the middle of 2007 and maintained his status as a top player for a bit, but he didn’t really do much afterward to seriously improve.
You can’t hold this against PC, given how unlikely it was back then that Melee could ever be sustainably lucrative, let along be popular again, but the idea of a constantly-practicing PC with the likes of Jman, post-Brawl Mew2King, Hax, Eggm and Cactuar from 2009 onward is certainly a cool possibility to think about. I sometimes wonder how an updated version of PC would look like in today’s metagame – but then I realize that he pretty much set fundamental concepts for every relevant spacies player, while still doing his part within the Peach meta as well.
One thing for sure, with four titles, a quick rise to the top and a prime that showed that he could take on anyone, PC earned his spot as No. 9 of all-time.