Super Smash Bros. Melee is an anomaly in the fighting game community in the sense that it has had a historic impact in shaping esports and independent/third-party sponsored esports events.
These legendary sets alone can support the ever maturing esport to newfound heights.
These are my top ten best Super Smash Bros. Melee sets of all time.
10. GENESIS 1 Grand Finals: Mango vs Armada
An absolute classic and fan favorite tournament series, the GENESIS tournament series for Super Smash Bros. Melee is almost scripted at this point to have Joseph "Mang0" Marquez vs. Adam "Armada" Lindgren in grand finals.
For four tournament series in a row, this has been the Grand Finals, and Armada has won three out of the four, losing the first, where Mang0 still played his initial main, Jigglypuff. By and large Peach's worst matchup, it truly shows just how hard it is for Armada to do anything against her.
However, Armada now knows Fox inside and out almost as well as Mang0 and even William "Leffen" Hjelt. There's no way Mang0 can go Jigglypuff anymore against Armada, and Armada has gotten exponentially better since this grand finals which is why this set is so low on the list.
9. Kings of Cali 4 Winners Quarters: aMSa vs Mew2King
Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto is the best Yoshi in the world. Before King of Cali 4, nobody really knew that though and Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman learned who he was rather quickly during Kings of Cali 4's Winners Quarters.
aMSa isn't like traditional smashers because he uses Yoshi, a mid-tier character with a huge flaw. He has only a single double jump as a recovery and one quick gimp could be all that is needed to end the stock.
Mew2King had no idea what the character was capable of though and aMSa used it to his advantage. Taking out Mew2King alone is a feat, but doing it with a weaker character was something to be admired and aMSa proved it's not the character, but the player.
8. Genesis 4 Winners Round 16: S2J vs Armada
Seeing this set broke my heart, and I am a die hard Adam "Armada" Lindgren fanboy. While I enjoy seeing Armada win tournaments, how could you not root for Johnny "S2J" Kim during this entire first half of the set?
He would have been the first non-Melee God (or Leffen) to 3-0 Armada in any set if it was not for a single missed f-air. This set is ranked amongst the best because, while S2J did end up losing, we all saw a god backed into a corner and had it not been for one single mistake, this would have arguably been the greatest set in Melee history.
7. B.E.A.S.T. 5 Grand Finals: Armada vs Leffen
Now this was a spectacle. Even after Adam "Armada" Lindgren 4-stocks William "Leffen" Hjelte, Leffen finds a way to take out the Melee God and prove the name "God Slayer."
This is arguably the last time Armada has taken out Peach against Leffen as he realizes he's simply too good in the matchup. Since then, Armada has taken to battling Leffen in the Fox ditto.
However, this doesn't stop him from 4-stocking Leffen with Peach from time to time, but to rely on her to win a set is madness against Leffen. Leffen must have prayed a bit harder and the Smash Gods smiled upon him in this set.
6. The Big House 4 Winners Quarters: Hax$ vs Mango
A special mention to the runner up set of Aziz "Hax$" Al-Yami vs Joseph "Mango" Marquez at Pound 2016. However, I believe this set just looked so much better and didn't end with a complete mistake by Mang0.
What makes this set so great is the story behind it. Mang0 said to the traitorous, once-a-Captain-Falcon-main Hax$, that he could beat him using Captain Falcon.
Sure enough in Game 2, Mango performed the infamous "Did he just walk up and Down Smash?" and made Melee History as he proceeded to go 3-1 against Hax$, proving that he can outplay the mechanical god that is Aziz Al-Yami with his "favorite low-tier."
5. Revival of Melee Losers Finals: DaShizWiz vs Mew2King
Bronson "DaShizWiz" Layton vs. Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman was every Mew2King fan's wet dream. DaShizWiz was in the running during this time as the best Falco in the world, and he put up a ridiculous fight against M2K.
When it looked like DaShizWiz was on the verge of making a comeback against the 2-1 Mew2King, the unthinkable happened. Mew2King reverse 3-stocked DaShizWiz in one of the most amazing comebacks that Super Smash Bros. Melee has ever seen and it solidified Mew2King as a Melee God. As YouTuber Kempes SFA said in the comments,
"Shiz died so that Melee could live."
4. Royal Flush Grand Finals: Mango vs Armada
Never forget this simple rule of Melee; Joseph "Mang0" Marquez DOES NOT LOSE ON MOTHERS DAY. The $10,000 bonus pot of Royal Flush enticed every top level Super Smash Bros. Melee player, and it especially enticed the gambling heavy Mang0.
On May 14, 2017, on Mother's Day, Mang0 did the improbable and reset the bracket against Armada who had not lost a tournament since October of 2016 when he lost to Mang0 at Big House 6.
History tends to repeat itself, and repeat itself it did as Mango took the tournament against Armada with the crowd going wilder than a stampede of elephants at the sight of a lion.
"Thou shalt not sleep on the kid!" - Mang0
3. Apex 2015 Grand Finals: PPMD vs Armada
This set was just.... Wow. Kevin "PPMD" Nanny is a Melee God and this return felt like Frank Ocean releasing an album an album of the year and then vanishing.
The fact that PPMD came back from a hiatus to straight up winning Apex 2015 which featured every single God and William "Leffen" Hjelte, is nothing short of amazing. This was a completely stacked tournament, and one of the best tournaments in the history of Melee.
Adam "Armada" Lindgren was beginning to see himself in his prime and only needed to defeat the North Carolinian wonder to win this tournament. He reset the bracket coming from losers but then swiftly got 3-0'd by PPMD. The crowds reaction was nothing short of pure ecstasy and hype.
2. EVO 2016 Grand Finals: Hungrybox vs Armada
Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma vs Adam "Armada" Lindgren can be boring to some, but you'd be hard pressed to say that EVO 2016 was boring to watch. Hungrybox was coming back from losers after getting 2-0'd by Justin "Plup" McGrath.
He took out Plup in the Loser's Finals and eventually got to face the Swedish Melee God, Armada. It wasn't looking good for Hungrybox, as Armada was on the verge of a reverse 3-0 to close out the tournament. Hungrybox didn't give in though and reset the bracket.
He eventually got to a Game 5 with Armada and he struck down the best player in the world. The emotion afterwards displayed by Hungrybox was inspiring, motivational, and moving; you could feel the emotion of joy and victory coming down onto him as he won his first EVO title ever.
1. Genesis 3 Grand Finals: Armada Vs Mango
This was the set that truly solidified me as a competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee player, a Peach main, and an Adam "Armada" Lindgren fan. I cannot tell you the joy I felt seeing someone use Peach to systematically destroy the undisputed best character in the game.
Mang0 was playing so well, so cleanly, and was clearly outplaying Armada's Fox. Mang0 reset the bracket in his home crowd of California and Armada essentially said, "forget this" and brought out his Peach. In the end, Mang0 couldn't deal with Armada's clean and calculated reads and approaches, and lost to the undisputed best player in the world 1-3.
Title image courtesy of Emuparadise