Originally released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2001, Super Smash Bros. Melee has become one of the most beloved fighting games ever made – setting the benchmark for subsequent sequels Brawl, Wii U, and Ultimate.
In comparison to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Melee is faster and less forgiving, making it more appealing for many veteran competitive players.
Based on MPGR rankings, 2020 tournament results, performances across 2019, and a healthy sprinkling of personal opinion, here’s our list of the best Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the world at the year's start.
Wizzrobe secured a huge win at Smash N' Splash (Picture: Smash N' Splash)
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett has historically been one of Melee’s best players, known especially for his prowess with Captain Falcon.
Last year he secured a huge win at Smash ‘N’ Splash 5, beating Hungrybox, Leffen, n0ne, and Spark. This was followed by a second place finish behind Axe at Smash Summit 8.
His performances so far in 2020 haven’t quite matched what he’s capable of, although it would be foolish to count him out from Melee’s best.
Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami is a Fox player who looks set for his best year yet in 2020, following top four placements at both Genesis 7 and Scorpius 2020.
Hand injuries and struggles with insomnia have previously impacted his performance, but he’s proven his skills since against the biggest players – placing third behind Hungrybox and Mang0 at Mang0’s Birthday Bash last year.
Could 2020 be Hax’s defining year? We’ll have to wait and see.
iBDW at Genesis 7 (Picture: YouTube)
As a relatively new player, Cody “iBDW” Schwab is one of the most promising players in Melee – making his breakout performance at last year’s Smash Summit 8 where he beat Mang0, Hungrybox and aMSa.
The Fox player secured numerous top eight positions last year too, including The Big House 9 and third at Shine 2019.
With a close match against Zain at Smash Summit 9, finishing in 5-6th place, iBDW looks set to ascend the Melee ranks in 2020.
Fiction at Genesis 7 (Picture: YouTube)
Shephard “Fiction” Lima originally started out as a Wario player in Brawl, but switched to Melee in 2013 and now mains Fox.
After a hiatus from the title, Fiction returned in 2018 and has gone from strength-to-strength. This year has seen him take wins at DreamHack Anaheim and Saving Mr Lombardi 2, while securing strong top eight positions at Smash Summit 9 and Genesis 7.
Fiction signed with Poilon Software in February 2020, with his trajectory looking set to go upwards and beyond for the rest of the year.
Plup is on a comeback trajectory (Picture: Beyond The Summit)
Justin “Plup” McGrath originally ascended in a team with Hungrybox, where their deadly combo of Samus and Jigglypuff took tournaments by storm.
In Melee, he mains Sheik and Fox and has gone onto have many historic successes individually, from Genesis 5 in the Five Gods era to a second place finish at Big House 7 in 2017.
While last year saw Plup’s tournament rankings dip, his recent performance at Smash Summit 9, finishing second, was an exciting reminder of his capabilities.
The best active Melee player in the whole of Europe, William “Leffen” Hjelte is arguably the best Fox player there’s ever been.
His ascent took place during the Five Gods era, where he became the first player to win against every member, including Hungrybox, Mang0, Armada, Mew2King and PPMD.
His performance in 2020 so far has been mixed, ranging from wins at Valhalla III and 9-12th positions at Smash Summit 9, but he’s another player who’s shown incredible consistency over the years.
Axe is the best Pikachu player in the world (Picture: Beyond The Summit)
Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson is widely recognised as the best Pikachu player in the world and is often adorned in Pokémon attire to represent the electric mouse.
He’s put Pikachu on the map within the competitive scene, most notably at last year’s Smash Summit 8 where he took down Zain, Mang0, Leffen and Wizzrobe to claim the title.
Axe is also another Melee veteran, having first started in the scene way back in 2009.
Mang0 is one of the Five Gods of Melee (Picture: Robert Paul)
Joseph “Mang0” Marquez is another member of the Melee Five Gods, and even hosted a Smash tournament based around his birthday last year with Red Bull.
Much like Hungrybox, his consistency since he began competing back in 2007 has become historic – having won EVO two years running across 2013 and 2014.
His performance in 2020 so far has been impressive too, scoring third place positions at both Genesis 7 and Smash Summit 9.
Zain Naghmi leads the exciting new blood in Melee, making his biggest splash with a win at this year’s Genesis 7 tournament.
His first breakout win happened back at Shine 2018, taking down historic players like Mang0, Hungrybox, Lucky, and Drunksloth.
Following his win at Genesis 7 with Marth, he’s since signed with Golden Guardians and looks poised to assert his name in 2020. He’s even a master at YouTube skits, for heaven’s sake.
Hungrybox is signed with Team Liquid (Picture: Team Liquid)
Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and his tyrannical Jigglypuff is still the most consistently strong player around, with his past four tournament appearances across Genesis 7 and Smash Summit resulting in top two finishes.
He’s recognised as one of the most skilled players ever under the Melee ‘Five Gods’ banner, earning both respect and comical villain status for his dominance in matches.
Considering he started out in 2009, his consistency over the past decade is even more impressive - easily securing his status as the greatest Melee player in the world.