Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. Melee 15 years ago on a console that sold less than its competitors, the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. In 2001, and even in 2005, I would not have believed God if he told me that Melee will draw 2,372 entrants to this weekend’s Evolution Championship Series (EVO) 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Only about 300 entrants behind 2014’s Smash 4, Melee is in its fourth consecutive year at what EVO says will be the biggest Smash tournament ever. EVO has not featured Brawl since 2008, when it was released (controversially, that year’s tournament allowed items).
Melee fans hail the game’s speed and play techniques like wavedashing, arguing that Melee features special, exploitable mechanics that contribute to the game’s depth. Its lengthy history and developed metagame also justify its continued cultish draw in the competitive fighting game scene.