After nine months of online qualifiers and small regional finals, the Smash World Tour finally concluded with its cross-region finale despite lacking the game’s top competitors, including Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, Zain “Zain” Naghmi, Cody “iBDW” Schwab and William “Leffen” Hjelte. Even so, 40 players from all over the world duked it out for the chance to become the first ever Melee World Champion.
Here’s a closer look at the biggest takeaways from the Melee circuit finale, from Justin “Plup” McGrath’s victory to which region represented themselves well at the tournament.
Plup closes out a consistent season as the Melee World Champion
Going into the SWT Melee Championship, Plup boasted solid performances all year. Along with winning his SWT Regional Finals, he racked up wins against numerous players in contention for the top 10 while only dropping sets to four players: Mang0, Zain, iBDW and Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni. However, he had taken at least one set from all of them except Zain.
With all this in mind, Plup’s smooth run through the global finals was almost an expected outcome. His biggest scare came in pools, where he lost the first two games in his set against Mustafa “Ice” Akçakaya. However, Plup managed to reverse 3-0 Ice in the Fox ditto, two or three-stocking him in the final three games. Plup also defeated Dawud “Aklo” Rahman 3-1, Avery “Ginger” Wilson 3-1 and “Shippu” 3-0.
Plup started the main bracket with a face-off against another European Fox, Linus “Pipsqueak” Nordin. After losing game one as Sheik, Plup switched to Fox and won the remaining three games. He followed this up with a commanding 3-0 victory over Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto where he two-stocked aMSa in every single game.
In his final sets, Plup enjoyed an easy match-up against the No. 1 seed, Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett. Though they have played numerous times, from Florida locals to majors, Wizzrobe has only beaten Plup’s Sheik once, at CEO 2019. Wizzrobe couldn’t shake his bracket demon this time, as Plup won 3-1 in both winners finals and grand finals. As a result, Plup finished out the year with a supermajor title and one of the most consistent records of all the top Melee players.
— Plub (@Panda_Plup) December 19, 2021
Polish cements his status among the best in the world
Matt “Polish” Warshaw shocked viewers with his run to third place at the SWT NA East Melee Regional Finals as one of the bottom seeds. However, the second time around, many had their eyes on him. Polish once again placed third at the SWT Melee Championship, confirming his status as a top-level threat in Melee.
Polish was seeded first in his pool but advanced into the final bracket as a second seed after losing to Pipsqueak. Nevertheless, he still beat Zaid “Spark” Ali 3-1, Colin “Colbol” Green 3-2 and Vicente “Chape” Sánchez 3-1. Polish began the main bracket on losers side, where he ran through a gauntlet of Europe’s finest and some other familiar match-ups.
He started his run by eliminating Dominik “Nicki” Kunze 3-1 and Ice 3-2. Then, Polish faced fellow Pittsburgh Peach main Arjun “lloD” Malhotra for the 11th time this year. His prowess in the Peach ditto showed through as he beat lloD 3-0 and advanced into top eight.
From there, Polish won his runback against Pipsqueak in a close five-game set. Afterward, he casually swept Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma in Peach’s hardest match-up, marking his second win over Hungrybox this year. Finally, Polish finished his European conquest with another Peach ditto, beating Álvaro “Trif” García Moral 3-0 before losing to Wizzrobe 3-0 in losers finals.
sorry europe LMAO
— pole-ish (@ssbmPolish) December 19, 2021
Europe excels at the SWT Melee Championship
Despite all the hiccups I really am beyond thankful to have had this opportunity to travel and compete after so long
I wasn't sure if I was even top 100 for so long but now I feel like I know how I measure up much better 😀
— Pipsqueak (@Pipsqueak_TV) December 19, 2021
Without Leffen in attendance, Europe seemed without a clear shot at success at the SWT Melee Championship. However, many of the European players exceeded expectations, suggesting the overall strength of the region even without considering its No. 1 player. Of the seven European players in attendance, six of them made it to top 24 and two of them made it to top eight.
Trif led the charge by placing fourth with wins over aMSa, Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, Griffin “Faceroll” Williams, Dawud “Aklo” Rahman, Joshua “Sora” Lyras and Ben “Ben” Strandmark. Meanwhile, Pipsqueak defeated Polish, Spark, Colbol, Chape and Elliot “Frenzy” Grossman en route to seventh place.
Rounding out the top European finishers were Frenzy in ninth place, Ice in 13th place and Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas and Nicki in 17th place. Though the region as a whole still seems to be a step behind the United States (or at least Polish), Europe’s best players have proven their ability to vie for some of the top spots in Melee brackets.
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.