Golden Guardians, the esports division of the Golden State Warriors, announced Wednesday that it has parted ways with the No. 1 Super Smash Bros. Melee player in the world, Zain “Zain” Naghmi. The surprising news comes ahead of Major Upset, a major tournament in Portland, Oregon, where Zain will be competing this weekend.
“Although I am bittersweet about leaving, I am very excited about my future opportunities within Melee and content beyond,” Zain wrote in his own follow-up statement. “I’m also so glad that GG is continuing to stay vested in Melee. Thank you and much love to everyone who supports me, big things coming soon.”
To three incredible years of competition, growth, and setting the foundation for what we've been able to build today.
Thank you for everything, @ZainNaghmi. pic.twitter.com/yAb6GSBnPe
— Golden Guardians (@GoldenGuardians) March 29, 2023
Golden Guardians first branched into the Melee scene by signing Zain in February of 2020. In April of 2021, the organization expanded its content team by bringing on Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby, Kevin “PPMD” Nanney and Kris “Toph” Aldenderfer.
Since then, the organization has launched GG Melee, the premier YouTube channel for competitive Melee content, and has supported nearly a dozen online and offline tournaments through the Golden Guardians Grassroots Fund.
Zain has not yet announced whether he has already received an offer from another esports team. However, it is most likely that he left Golden Guardians of his own volition since n0ne, PPMD, and Toph are all still with the organization.
More about Zain and Golden Guardians
Zain is best-known for his rapid rise to the top of competitive Melee. Despite being a “doc kid” who started competing after 2013, he became a top 100 player as early as 2016. He rose to the top 25 in 2017, joined esports organization Panda the next year, then entered the top 10 in the world by the end of 2018.
Panda dropped Zain in late 2019. In early 2020, Zain won Genesis 7 amid a temporary sponsorship from Ludwig Ahgren. Afterward, Zain made his way to Golden Guardians and remained with the team for over three years.
During that time, Zain cemented his status as the clear best player in North America over quarantine. Once offline events returned, Zain formally finished at the top of an official ranking in 2022. To date, he is the only person outside of the five gods to rank No. 1 in the world for Melee since the rankings began in 2013.
Over the past few years, Zain has defeated nearly every relevant top player. This includes victories over Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, William “Leffen” Hjelte, Justin “Plup” McGrath, Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, Cody Schwab, Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto, Jake “Jmook” DiRado and many more.
About the Author
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.