The History of Super Smash Bros. Melee EVO Winners


    For many years, the Super Smash Bros. competitive scene remained very separate from the rest of the fighting game community. The first real connection formed between their respective communities was when EVO announced that Super Smash Bros. Melee would be featured as one of the games in their 2007 lineup.

    Melee, having just been dropped off the MLG pro circuit, was given another chance to shine on the big stage; and in time, Melee at EVO would become one of the must-watch events in competitive gaming.

    To win an EVO title was to cement yourself amongst the legends of your game. Seven Melee events were hosted at EVO over the years, and only a handful of players were able to claim the title. Let’s go through the various tournaments over the years, and who was able to come out on top.

    EVO World 2007: The Beginning

    EVO World 2007 was the final event in a circuit that featured several EVO events across the U.S. (EVO South, EVO North, EVO East and EVO West.) The winner of the EVO World finals would bring home $5,000.
    The tournament was notable for the breakout performance of Mango, who defeated Mew2King in pools as well as knocking Ken into loser’s bracket. Ken would make a tear through loser’s however, defeating ChuDat, PC Chris, Mango in a rematch, and HugS in two sets to claim the EVO title, and cap off his reign as the King of Smash.

    Finals at EVO were best of 3 which, by today’s standards, are an abomination to competition.

    EVO 2013: The Revival

    The EVO 2013 inclusion was a huge return for the Melee scene. Mr. Wizard hosted a donation drive for the final slot in the official lineup, and the drive came down to Skullgirls and Melee, competing to see who would raise more money for the drive. Melee ended up coming out on top after raising more than $90,000, and secured itself a spot in the official EVO tournament lineup.

    Smash hadn’t been included at EVO since the disastrous Brawl tournament that included items, and this was a chance to showcase what the community could do. It featured the Five Gods of Melee (Mango, Hungrybox, Armada, PPMD, and Mew2King) as well as talent all over the world.

    After getting knocked into loser’s on Day 2, Mango would go on one of the best loser’s bracket runs in history, defeating Ice, PPMD, Armada, Hungrybox, and Wobbles in dominating fashion to claim the 2013 championship. One of the highlights one of the tournament was Mango’s devastating roll read on Hungrybox in loser’s finals.

    EVO 2014: The Repeat

    EVO 2014 brought Melee back, and at this point, the game was blowing up; MLG, Kings of Cali, and CEO were tournaments that had all brought in record numbers and EVO was there to cap off the Summer of Smash.

    Mango had been in dominant form all summer, winning several majors, and EVO was no different; he cruised all the way through bracket to win a second EVO title, becoming the first and only Smash player to win back-to-back EVO championships.

    The big story in this tournament was Hungrybox double eliminating Armada in Jigglypuff vs. Young Link; this marked the last time Armada would use Young Link, opting to pick up Fox to deal with Hungrybox afterwards.

    EVO 2015: The Times Are Changing

    EVO 2015 was a spicy event for multiple reasons: Mango had been in a slump for most of the year, but was still a favorite to get the infamous “EVO three-peat,” and PPMD was making his first appearance at a tournament since his big win at Apex 2015 several months earlier. With players such as Leffen and Plup starting to make huge waves, it was going to be a competitive event.

    Mango would not be able to make the three-peat happen, as he lost to Plup in winners before going down to Hungrybox after a game where he self-destructed several times. Mango’s all-time record vs. Hungrybox was very one-sided in Mango’s favor, so for him to lose the three-peat to him of all people was especially shocking.

    Hungrybox went on a run of his own after that, defeating Plup and PPMD to face off against Armada in grand finals. He would put Armada to the brink before losing in a game 5 set, where Armada would be crowned EVO champion. Armada finally had an EVO title to add to his already incredible resume, pushing himself further to be considered the greatest Melee player of all-time.

    EVO 2016: The Big Match On The Big Stage

    EVO 2016 featured arguably the most exciting grand finals in Melee history. It featured Hungrybox vs. Armada, which had become a staple for the entire first half of the year. Hungrybox had become eerily consistent, winning many events but would also fall short to Armada anytime they would meet in grand finals.

    This time would be different. Hungrybox got knocked down to loser’s by Plup, and then went through S2J, Mango, and Plup to face off with Armada in EVO grand finals. On the biggest stage in Melee history, Hungrybox pushed Armada to a game 5 situation, where he landed one of the clutchest Rests ever to force a second set.

    Hungrybox would go win another game 5 set to become the EVO 2016 champion.

    EVO 2017: The Two-Time Champ

    EVO 2017 would see Melee being pushed to a Saturday time slot instead of the Sunday primetime slot (Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would be the Smash game played on Sunday instead.) At this point, there were multiple storylines; would Mango see a return to form and finally claim a third EVO title? Would Hungrybox repeat his victory from the year before? Would Armada continue to build his legacy and snag a second EVO?

    Mango would end up eliminating Hungrybox in loser’s to face off against Armada in grand finals. One of the greatest rivalries in Melee history would be a fitting end to the tournament, and Armada would take it 3-1 over Mango to secure his second EVO title.

    EVO 2018: The Last Run

    EVO 2018 would be the last time Melee was part of the official lineup for EVO, and it would also see Melee return to the Sunday primetime slot. At this point, who could win the tournament was becoming more and more of a guessing game; Leffen and Plup had solidified themselves as top contenders, Mango could still claim a big title and his consistency had improved greatly over the past couple years, Hungrybox was considered the best player in the world, and Armada was Armada.

    So who would claim the last EVO? It would be Leffen, in one of the most incredible performances we’ve ever seen in a Top 8. After a shaky first game against Hungrybox in the semi-finals, his play continued to improve as he decimated Hungrybox, Plup, and Armada to claim the last EVO championship. While it wasn’t the nail biting finals like in 2016, watching a player raise the ceiling of the game the way Leffen did was a treat in itself.

    While we may never see Melee in an official EVO lineup anymore, there are enough events to provide a wonderful history for the game, and the EVO era will certainly be looked at fondly down the road.