Previously on the Inven Global Awards
The best stories and worst dramas of 2020
The most outstanding community members of 2020
2020 was supposed to be a boom time for esports, as all the advantages were ours now. Real sport couldn’t take place under lockdown, where esports can exist in a virtual space, safe and secure online…except, that’s not how things went. Outside of Riot’s hermetically sealed Chinese bubble, almost all major esports events in 2020 went online if they happened at all, and Melee was no exception.
Except in some ways, it was. When it comes to the various esports that were active in 2020, and their ability to operate virtually, Melee was definitely lagging behind the pack, with virtually no history of legitimate high-level online competition at the start of 2020. We aren’t talking CSGO style either, where the bad teams play online and the good teams go to LAN, but a world where netplay wasn’t great and every tournament of note had happened in LAN conditions.
With that as the backdrop, it was looking bleak for one of the oldest esports around, and that’s before Nintendo made their annual attempt to wreck Melee for literally no good reason. However, the Smash community is one of the most enduring, storied groups in all of esports, and the show went on, meaning we can nominate a tournament of the year for 2020.
WINNER: Genesis 7"GENESIS has fittingly proven to be the dawn of the Zain era."
With the lockdown that followed, GENESIS was also our main "crowd in the room" major for 2020, and given virtually all top players attended it was a fantastic test for 2020’s finest Marth. Like Plup and many others before him, Zain had to face the final boss of Melee to make the throne his own, and to be fair to him, he made his grand finals win look way more convincing than those that had come before him.
The storylines went beyond the greatest sword we’ve seen. The dawn of 20xx was finally realized as Hax$ took his B0XX controller and beat Leffen in Fox dittos (albeit at the second attempt), a result which may or may not have prompted Leffen’s recent decision to experiment with non-Gamecube controller options for 2021. The likes of Faceroll and Fiction also performed admirably, with the former foreshadowing his rise in the online era that came in the second half of 2020, while old greats like Chu and Westballz struggled to make a dent.
There are other reasons to look back on the event fondly, like a rare appearance from PPMD or Mew2King actually entering Melee and competing (he got 13th, as well as winning doubles with Plup), or players from Australia, Germany, Japan, and many other far-flung spots making top 64, but there is only one headline. As Scar said at the end of Grands, “If he [Zain] plays like this, we’re in a new world”, and so far GENESIS has fittingly proven to be the dawn of the Zain era. Truly an epic event.
RUNNER-UP: Slippi Champions League"[It allowed] for some hidden bosses to demonstrate the depth of talent in 2020 that Melee still enjoys."
Our second-place award goes to the tournament series known as the Slippi Champions League, an online event run using the latest matchmaking tech in Melee. When it became clear that only the smoothest of brains were considering LAN events in 2020, online tournaments started to spring up, and the SCL created not just single events, but a narrative that ran until a climax fans could enjoy, while understanding it was also a filler until LAN returns.
As an example of the way regular competition created some awesome narratives, the SCL was the main battleground for the Zain versus Mango competition. It also brought us DontTestMe, Zain’s ginger alter-ego Roy main persona that embarrassed a lot of top players and lifelong Roy mains, as well as allowing for some hidden bosses to demonstrate the depth of talent in 2020 that Melee still enjoys.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rona Rumble"2020 was another year where [HomeMadeWaffles] publicly set an example."
An honorable mention must go to Rona Rumble, the online series run by Brandon "HomeMadeWaffles" Collier that kick-started the online Melee era. Waffles is legitimately one of the discs in Melee’s spine, and a person any esport would be lucky to have, and 2020 was another year where he publicly set an example that not only improved things for those around him and the wider community at large. His presence as a commentator as part of SCL felt right as a result, and also let us once again enjoy his duo with DoYouPhilsMe, arguably the greatest in Melee, if not human history.
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Still, it was a strange year for everyone, and that certainly must have come through in this article about the best tournaments in a year when traditional Smash tournaments were few and far between. With the CSGO Major due in 2021 there is hope we’ll get back to Melee events on LAN sooner rather than later, but if 2020 taught us anything it’s that come hell, high water, pandemic or just the latest prick from Nintendo, Smash finds a way.