Many Super Smash Bros. Melee players would tell you that their game is a singular achievement. A confluence of semi-rushed development choices and rock-solid game design that birthed one of the most long-lasting and popular fighting games of all time. To some extent, this is true. Subsequent iterations of Smash seemed to lack some of the spark that made Melee special. Super Smash Bros. Brawl had advanced movement options, but its lack of hitstun laid waste to Melee's freeform combo game; Smash 4 had combos, but its movement and advanced tech were relatively one-dimensional compared to its predecessors.
With the release of Smash Ultimate, the Super Smash Bros. design team has returned to form in a big way. The game's decreased aerial landing lag and improved run cancel mechanics have heightened its punish game and movement options, bringing it closer to Melee than either of its more recent precursors. And thus, enticed by Ultimate's faster pace and cavalcade of characters and content, all of Melee's elite players will be crossing over into the newest Smash title this weekend at Genesis 6.
The former world champion, who retired from Melee singles competition last September, announced in December that he would enter Smash Ultimate singles at Genesis 6. Adam "Armada" Lindgren has been a prolific streamer of Smash Ultimate since its release; his development of Inkling's kill confirms was one factor behind the character's popularity in the early metagame. This will be his first Ultimate tournament, and he has shown great promise on his stream against top European Smash 4 players such as Dennis "iStudying" Kwarteng.
Armada has already proven his mettle in non-Melee Smash titles. During the halcyon days of the Project M scene, Armada's Pit was a forced to be reckoned with. On the strength of his Melee-hardened punish game and blisteringly accurate arrows, he topped the podium at national tournaments such as Apex 2014 and Super SWEET. Before retiring from Smash 4 competition, Armada was an early innovator of Diddy Kong play, achieving a top-four placement at B.E.A.S.T. 5. Armada's natural talent and prodigious work ethic give him the potential to be a top player in any game he touches, and Smash Ultimate is no exception.
Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman is the only elite-level Melee player to have a serious claim to godhood in another Smash title. For years, the New Jersey native utterly dominated the Super Smash Bros. Brawl scene, placing no lower than third at any event for nearly three years. Though he largely prioritized Melee during Smash 4's competitive lifespan, he notched impressive results in that game as well, earning the 69th spot on the Panda Global Rankings 100.
Mew2King played Smash 4 alongside Melee for years, but the Echo Fox member has not yet determined if he will take the same approach to Ultimate.
"I have not decided what I'm doing with Melee," he said. "I will enter Genesis, but I have not actually played anyone in Melee since Smash Summit in November."
Mew2King has streamed Smash Ultimate heavily, but his only tournament thus far -- Smash Conference United in early January -- ended in a solid but undistinguished 25th place finish. Long known for switching between multiple mains in Melee, Mew2King has had trouble picking a main character in Smash Ultimate.
"I'm messing with a few characters right now, but I have not found a top tier that I like," said Mew2King. "All of the characters that are considered the best in the game, I haven't really liked that much."
If Mew2King is able to find his main before Genesis, his fundamentals could carry him far. "I'm not sure if I'm playing to my full potential yet," he remarked.
Armada's countryman William "Leffen" Hjelte is the ying to his fellow Swede's yang. Leffen's brash and outspoken demeanor, which has gained him legions of fans in both Melee and Ultimate, provides a heavy contrast to Armada's level-headed coolness. Less than two months after Smash Ultimate's release, Leffen sparked controversy by proclaiming that the European Ultimate scene was "far behind" both Japan and the United States in skill.
When challenged by top European players such as iStudying, Leffen doubled down on this claim-and so far, there is reason to believe that his word holds value. At his first large Smash Ultimate tournament, Valhalla II, he used Pokémon Trainer to make Top 8, nearly defeating No. 1 French player William "Glutonny" Belaid in winner's bracket. Following this set -- a reverse 3-0 comeback by the Wario main -- many members of the Smash community hailed it as the most entertaining high-level Smash Ultimate set so far.
Like Armada, Leffen has a short but impressive resume of Smash 4 results, including a third-place finish at B.E.A.S.T. 5 and a 9th place finish at Paragon Orlando 2015. The Team SoloMid member has not yet announced whether or not he will pursue Smash Ultimate competition beyond Genesis, but if his Twitch and YouTube channels are any indication, he will certainly be taking the game seriously until then.
Mew2King wasn't the only Melee "god" to place 25th at Smash Conference United. He was joined by his fellow Floridian Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma. Melee's No. 1 player has shown considerable enthusiasm towards Smash Ultimate, choosing to stick mostly to his Melee main, Jigglypuff, in the new game. At Smash Conference, he nearly defeated Saleem "Salem" Young in pools, taking the Smash 4 Evolution Championship Series winner all the way to a last-stock, game-three finish before an errant back aerial ended Hungrybox's winner's bracket run. Moving forward, the Team Liquid member has expressed more interest in commentating Ultimate than competing in the game, but his prodigious spacing and unorthodox character choice make him a threat to any player who faces him.
Last year's Genesis Melee champion will be dipping his toes into Smash Ultimate at this year's event. Since placing third at the Nintendo-organized Super Smash Bros. Invitational 2018, Plup has not entered an Ultimate tournament, though he has often streamed the game since its December release. Playing mostly Mega Man, Plup has expressed his enjoyment of Ultimate, along with an interest in playing it competitively while continuing his Melee career. Plup's lack of significant tournament results in both Smash 4 and Ultimate make it difficult to gauge his potential in the newest Smash title, but the Panda Global member has taken streamed friendlies off of top players such as Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, and is certainly worth keeping an eye on at Genesis.
Unlike some of his fellow Melee "gods," Joseph "Mang0" Marquez is unlikely to pursue a serious career in Smash Ultimate competition. Famously a Melee diehard, he has often proclaimed that the GameCube title is the only Smash game for him. However, Mang0 has been playing a fair amount of Smash Ultimate on his stream, and he is registered for Ultimate singles at Genesis. Though he probably won't be gunning for a deep bracket run, Mang0 will be sure to bring his flashy, freewheeling style to Smash Ultimate this weekend. Despite his oft-professed Melee preference, Mango did manage to make top four at his only Ultimate tournament so far: the Nintendo invitational in June.
Despite Salem's infamous declaration that Melee players are not part of the "Smash community," Melee devotees have turned out in droves to attend and spectate Smash Ultimate events, from the rank and file all the way up to the game's elite. It is yet to be determined if this confluence will continue as Ultimate's metagame takes shape, but Ultimate's fast pace and abusable disadvantage state make it a worthy follow-up to its GameCube predecessor. With a Smash Ultimate metagame as-yet devoid of "gods," the time might be ripe for Melee's deities to swoop in.