By Landon Crook
Of Nintendo’s legendary repertoire of games, one in particular sticks out: “Super Smash Bros.” I’d argue it’s Nintendo’s marquee series at this point, surpassing perhaps even “Mario” or “The Legend of Zelda” as brands. People who are well versed in games might say it’s due to the unique gameplay or how it’s a series that never gets boring. But I think it’s because of the competitive scene.
Competitive “Smash Bros.” has been around for a long time, but the first major publicized tournament series was in 2002, with the “Tournament Go” series, which was a tournament for “Super Smash Bros. Melee.” The scene had a rocky start, but eventually a ruleset constructed by Matt “Mattdeezie” Dahlgren was established, creating the fundamental ruleset that is still established today. In 2003, the International Video Game Federation (IVGF) held a tournament, “IVGF Northwest Regionals.” A major turning point for the competitive scene was in 2004, when Major League Gaming (MLG), sponsored “Smash Bros.” in its Pro Circuit. This started the “Golden Age” for competitive “Melee,” as not only was the scene getting a lot of exposure via MLG, but the competition was also getting better. Players like Ken Hoang, who is regarded as the best of his time, Isai Alvarado, Christopher Szygiel, Daniel Jung and Kashan Khan were all top players at the time of Ken’s dominance of the game. This lasted until 2008, with the release of “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.”
“Brawl,” while not having the long standing success of “Melee,” did have a popular tournament scene from it’s release to about 2012, when “Melee” was re-emerging. During “Brawl’s” popularity, “Melee’s” tournament scene experienced a decline in attendance and in players, as most players left for “Brawl.” Melee went through a “Dark Age” from “Brawl’s” release in 2008 to 2013. The dark age was also the rise of the “five gods” of melee, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, Kevin “PPMD” Nanney, Adam “Armada” Lindgren and Joseph “Mang0” Marquez.
After Brawl’s decline and with the release of games such as “Project M” and “Super Smash Bros.” for the Wii U, “Brawl” effectively faded from tournaments in 2013. “Melee” experienced a resurgence of old and new players alike, and “Melee” is more popular than ever before, currently in a “Platinum Age”. The times may be shifting however, as players such as William “Leffen” Hjelte and Justin “Plup” McGrath have defeated all five gods of smash (the five best players in Super Smash Bros. Melee).