The end of the 2016 season is approaching with Eden happening this weekend in Chicago, and Don’t Park on the Grass in Seattle to close out the year. UGC and Dreamhack will be the final two majors leading into Genesis 4 in January. With all the data we have on the top players in 2016, it’s time to break down the top 10 Melee players of 2016.
The team over at Melee it On Me will soon have their top 100 ranking revealed which is the most respected ranking (voted on by players, TO’s, and MIOM members). I wanted to add my opinion to the list as well.
*Reminder: this is all subjective*
10. Jeff “Axe” Williamson
Axe’s 2016 has been up and down according to his standards. The year started off with a fourth place finish at Genesis 3, but he had some of his worst finishes in his long career. Finishing 65th at The Big House 6 was a disappointment, but only one blemish in a rather successful 2016 season.
Axe finished in the top-8 at nine major events and had three fourth place finishes. He struggled against Westballz (0-3) and that held him back from a huge 2016.
Notable results: 4th at Genesis 3, 4th at Super Smash Con, 65th at The Big House 6, 5th at Smash Summit 3.
9. Weston “Westballz” Dennis
Westballz had a similar year to Axe, as in he had consistent results, but didn’t take that jump in 2016. He didn’t have a breakout at any major this season. His highest placing was fourth at Clutch City Clash, but finished in the top-8 seven times, including seventh at Evo 2016.
Westballz started to lose matchups he’s usually proficient in, including the sheik matchup. He had issues with Shroomed (Shroomed up 3-0 in 2016 sets) and James “Swedish Delight” Liu (3-1), two noted sheik mains.
Notable results: 4th at Clutch City Clash, 7th at Evo 2016, 5th at Get On My Level, 33rd at Pound 2016
8. Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya
Ice has been the most improved player of 2016. After an average 2015 season that netted him only one top-8 finish at a major, Ice took his Fox play to another level and had the best year of his career in 2016. Six finishes inside the top-8, as well as his highest placing at a super smash major ever (3rd at TBH6).
Notable placings: 3rd at The Big House 6, 7th at Genesis 3, 7th Dreamhack Winter
7. Justin “Plup” McGrath
Let me preface this by saying: picking between Plup and SFAT was nearly impossible. I ended up picking solely based on results. SFAT had more major top-8 finishes and a higher average placing throughout 2016. The head-to-head results favor SFAT too (2-0 in 2016 sets).
Plup is still an incredible player on the brink of breaking into the top-five. His 2016 results are steady, always finishing right around fifth place. He’s also one of the few players capable of taking out a God consistently. His record against Hungrybox (3-2) and Mew2King (4-6) speak for themselves.
Notable Placings: 3rd at Evo 2016, 4th at CEO 2016, 5th at Smash Summit 3, and 17th at The Big House 6
6. Zac “SFAT” Cordoni
What a year for SFAT, who took the biggest jump in his career in 2016. SFAT had a three week stretch in August where he took second at two major events in three weeks (Clutch City Clash and Shine 2016). He had a winning record against Mango this year (3-2), but in the same token was 1-12 against M2K and Leffen.
His results make up for his lack of success against the God’s of Melee. He has been able to win in the key moments of a tournament to get a top placing. SFAT is still improving and definitely a player to watch in 2017.
Notable Placings: 5th at Genesis 3, 2nd at Shine, 2nd at Clutch City Clash, 5th at The Big House 6, and 25th at Evo 2016
5. William “Leffen” Hjelte
Leffen already had a lot on his plate with the VISA issues still being a problem. He missed the entire summer circuit, outside of his one major tournament win in Canada at GOML 2016. A full year of play and Leffen could potentially be a threat to take the number one overall spot, but he needs an entire year of Melee.
Consider this, Leffen has a winning record against the gods at 8-7. He’s the only player who has a winning record against Armada (4-2) and Mango (2-0). His average placing was 3.73 which was similar to his 15′ average. The fact that Leffen has missed two consecutive Evo’s has been frustrating, but TSM took care of the problem and he looks ready for tournament play again.
Notable Placings: 1st at Get On My Level 2016, 4th at UGC, 3rd at Dreamhack Winter, and 9th at Smash Summit 3
4. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman
M2K had his moments, getting his first major tournament win since early 2015 (CCC), while consistently placing in the top-three. He only dropped outside the top-five at one tournament throughout all of 2016.
M2K (#5 in 2015) overtakes Leffen (ranked #3) in the end of the year power rankings with more consistent play and a positive head-to-head record. A full year of Leffen might yield different results, but M2K absolutely deserves the fourth spot.
Notable results: 1st at CCC, 1st at Shine, 2nd at UGC, 2nd at CEO 2016, and 9th at GOML
3. Joseph “Mango” Marquez
Mango is a couple of bad performances away from being the top player on this list. It was that close between the top-three this year. He had a positive record against Armada (7-3) and was even with M2K, but ended 8-11 against Hungrybox.
The number one reason Mango falls behind Hungrybox is the number of trophies. Mango ended the year with four titles, while Hungrybox took home six (Hbox beat Mango in 4 of his 6 grand final wins). Mango just had his worst performance at UGC, but had a strong September/October with wins at Super Smash Con and TBH6.
Notable Placings: 1st at The Big House 6, 1st at SSC, 2nd at Genesis 3, 4th at Evo 2016
2. Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma
It was almost the year of Hungrybox, but going 4-10 against Armada sealed the deal. Hungrybox had an incredible year. He had an amazing streak of going an entire year and not placing outside the top three. That ended at WTFox 2.
The biggest win of his career came at Evo 2016 at the Mandalay Bay sports arena, in the most exciting grand finals possibly ever. If he didn’t end the last quarter of the year without winning a major tournament, he might have overcame Armada in the rankings.
Notable Placings: 1st at Evo 2016, 1st CEO 2016, 2nd Smash Summit 3, 5th TBH6
1. Adam “Armada” Lindgren
The idea of Armada being the greatest Melee player of all time is slowly coming to fruition. I personally consider Mango as the G.O.A.T., but this will be the second year in a row Armada has earned the top overall spot.
He had less major wins than Hungrybox, but he also had higher winning percentages at tournaments he attended. Armada had the most consistent year of any player and had a marquee win at Genesis 3.
Notable Placings: 1st at Genesis 3, 1st at Smash Summit 2/3, 1st at UGC, 5th at GOML 2016
Here’s the TL:DR list –