Ranking events is never easy, and with so much of 2021 experienced from the comfort of our own homes that is doubly true at this point in time. Inven Global wants to honor the best tournaments we’ve seen over the last 12 months nonetheless though, as what was a difficult year for Melee was also a record-breaking one.
We’re bringing you another slice of our own Inven Global awards today with the best event category, selected by some of the finest minds in Smash. This is a celebration of everything Melee, but we also want to make special mention of one event that didn’t make the list, partly at least due to the way it has to operate.
The Slippi/Summit Champions League event, which was run online while LANs were not possible, played a huge part in keeping the esports scene ticking over. The series deserves massive praise for that, as well as being part of the pioneering movement we’ve seen towards more accessible online Melee over the last few years. Now though, without further ado, here are the nominations for Melee event of the Year, 2021.
Smash Summit 11
Summit is always a great time for Smash fans, with most of the world’s best players housed in the same location for a few days — and playing constantly. There are issues with the format and meaningless games, but overall the event has been a brilliant addition to the Smash calendar, and Summit 11 was probably the biggest event Beyond the Summit have run to date.
Record amounts of prize money will always be the headline, but the real reason to be thankful for this event is the historical final we saw — and the story that led up to it. Mango Mango’d harder than maybe ever before, proving to Fox mains across the world that the impossible was possible by beating Zain on Final Destination en route to winning the best part of $50K. Magical.
Smash Summit 12
If Summit 11 was the return of the game, Summit 12 was to some extent a return to normalcy for the Melee scene. Without a record-breaking prize pool and truly epic final, this tournament lacked the headlines we saw from Summit 11. But it was extremely significant for a number of other reasons, all of which have long-term implications for the game. It also saw Summit’s usual selection of high-end shoulder content, a feature no other major in the scene can match.
This was the moment IBDW proved he could convert his brilliant play with Fox into tournament wins while also controlling the issues that had caused him to underperform at other majors. It also saw the return of Europe’s last elite player Leffen, who came back to Melee after a long, long hiatus and showed he can still compete with anyone if he recommits to Melee.
Smash World Tour Championships
As an event, Smash World Tour was somewhat let down by the fact that Mango, Zain, and Leffen all decided not to compete, albeit at different times. Leffen, the Summit 11 champ, never signed up, while Leffen and Zain made last-minute calls to drop out after disappointing times at Summit 12, which opened up the field for a number of other players to potentially take a major title in 2022.
It was great to see the likes of Plup, Hungrybox, and Wizzrobe compete, but the real story of this event was the emergence of new talent like Polish and Pipsqueak, who were playing and winning at this level for the first time in their careers to some extent. Polish’s win over Hbox was also a rare and somewhat historic moment for Peach players the world over, in a year when impossible matchups were proven very much possible.
If Smash World Tour was about new talent, Mainstage was about the final mad dash to make it into Smash Summit, with the top six non-qualified players getting spots at Summit 12. As a result of that, the likes of Mango and Zain decided not to enter, having already secured a place at BTS’s event, with Mango even jumping onto commentary and giving the fans some of his trademark drunken styles as top eight played out.
The success of KoDoRiN was definitely not a surprise to those who knew of him, but for a lot of fans he was another new name at the top level. Most notable for many was Wizzrobe’s demolition of Hungrybox in Grand Finals. But equally interesting was the future Summit 12 champion IBDW having an extremely rough weekend (including a nose bleed on stage) and only managing sixth place, which was a far cry from his incredible dominance a few short weeks later.
Riptide was another major that saw the top two in NA pros stay away, but the depth of the scene is arguably as strong as it’s ever been right now — and this tournament showed just that. The likes of Plup, Hungrybox, SFAT, and Axe were joined in top eight by newer additions to the elite level like IBDW, Logan, and KoDoRiN, with Panda’s Fox main gaining a crucial win over Hungrybox.
What made Riptide really special, though, was the fact it was a big LAN event — and after the months of online-only being punctuated by Summit’s amazing invitational, it felt so good to see crowds out for Melee again. With Plup making a run to Grand Finals too, it was like a return to the future we were all dreaming of pre-COVID, and got the Melee scene right back in the swing of things once more.
The Inven Global Smash Awards panel for Melee
- Alexander Lee
- Austin Watts
- John "Oddball" Popko
- Julian Carney
- Tim Masters
What has your vote for best Melee event?