Years and years of work went into his Smash Summit 8 win. A steady trek on what could be deemed the loneliest of paths, took place over several years as Jefferey “Axe” Williamson sought to be the first to win a major with Pikachu. Long viewed as a mid-tier character, Axe single-handedly brought the electric rodent into top 10 character range. He’s a fan favorite for his happy-go-lucky personality and love of Pizza. He is the heart of Arizona, and embodies what I love so much about Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The sheer joy in the clip above speaks to the amount of work it has taken Axe to get to this point. The euphoric, unadulterated, unfiltered happiness wasn’t something that came overnight. When you look at his journey up the rankings, to becoming a perennial top 10 player, it’s remarkable, to say the least.
And yet, it was also filled with Heartbreak. Dealing with constant mismatches because his character just seemed destined to lose certain matchups. Yet, through the struggles, he continued to grind, find new strategies and ways to win matches that seemed unwinnable. Soon enough, at majors, he was taking names, and finishing top 8.
Axe’s ascension as a Melee legend reminds me of a poem by Robert Frost titled ‘The Road Not Taken’:
It speaks of what taking the road less traveled means, and how “that has made all the difference”. Axe embodies that journey. In the history of Super Smash Bros. Melee, there has never, NEVER been a pro Pikachu player of this caliber. Nobody, the Gods, the gatekeepers, could’ve foreseen a Pikachu winning a major.
An iconic win
Axe winning Smash Summit 8 marks a new day and era in the Melee scene. Axe IS what makes the Melee community so great. Hard work and dedication. The Super Smash bros. Melee community has long been a grassroots-based scene. It emerged and has continued to grow despite the game being over 15 years old. Axe hails from a region and state with a few pros who made a name for themselves. Despite not being as stacked as other areas he has succeeded and risen above that.
Super Smash Bros. Melee and Nintendo have a peculiar relationship. Nintendo has made it clear that it seeks to be known as the party, playful gaming company, and not fully embrace esports like Capcom, Netherrealm, and other fighting game developers have. They will support some tournaments through providing monitors and games, but never helping monetize or with a circuit similar to Street fighter’s Capcom Cup, the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour, or Tekken World Tour.
The Smash Bros. Scene has been resilient, continuing to hold giant grassroots run and funded tournaments and with some support be the biggest attended games at staple tournaments in the FGC like EVO, CEO, and more.
The parallel between Axe and the scene is undeniable. Despite the adversity both parties have faced, the rejections, the struggles and hard times, they each respectively continued to grow. From unsponsored, unknown player to being sponsored by Mortality eSports, to MVG and his current team Tempo Storm. He got his success out the mud. And that work is culminating in crazy success. It is a testament to the Melee scene how it refuses to stagnate. New tech is constantly being found out, even 15 years into it. The Meta continues to evolve. It’s beautiful to watch.
The people's champ
We can all take something from Axe and his steady ascension. Self-belief and hard work can be our driving forces. You CAN do whatever it is you set your mind to, if you go about it the right way. Stay the course. Melee is seeing it an all-time high in success and viewership, with more parity than ever at the top. It’s an exciting time to be a Melee fan and player. Possibilities abound.
It used to feel like Melee tournaments were a foregone conclusion. This is because the scene refuses to plateau. There’s a deep-seated hunger, like Rocky in a way, that refuses to stay down and be content. Rocky always rose to the challenge regardless of who was facing him in the ring. Melee has done that as a scene, and Axe embodies that. Smash Summit 8, won by a Pikachu player. What a time to be alive.
Axe will be the next guest on the next episode of Inven Global's esports podcast, Ranked Chat! Stay tuned and follow us on Soundcloud and Spotify!