The party game turned competitive esport: Super Smash Bros. Melee

A competitive esports community of passionate gamers has formed in south London around the two decade old video game, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Now, there are a host of tournaments throughout 2021 for the party game turned competitive esport.

Super Smash Bros. Melee was released for the Gamecube in 2001 by Nintendo, and has sold 7 million copies worldwide.

It is a fighting game where players control a variety of characters from the history of Nintendo.

The game was originally advertised as a family friendly party game, in which players win by knocking the other players off the stage.

The UK esports community for the game represents one of the largest in the EU, with an estimated 2,000 players primarily based in London.

Long time Putney player and escape room worker, Oscar Balfour, 28, recalled the first time he visited The Four Quarters pub in Peckham, where many Melee tournaments are held. 

“You’ve got Mario punching Pikachu and a bunch of twenty-somethings drinking and shouting.

“It’s a weird space – you head upstairs, it’s dark, and everyone refers to each other by their in-game name.

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“It didn’t surprise me there were try-hards who took Melee too seriously, but the ability and speed was like I’d never seen.

“There was something about the flow of movement, the control they had.”

Balfour’s in-game name is ‘Comrade’.

Wandsworth player and civil servant Jem Malhotra, 22, known as ‘Zepple’ in the community, said: “It’s a game that has a strategy like chess, but also requires perfect execution.

“The competitive side is good, but the community is what keeps you.

“You never quit Smash.”

A GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY: Players meet in rented locations like The Four Quarters Pub Picture Credit: Oscar Balfour

“The best thing about Melee is the people,” confirmed Balfour, who in 2019 travelled to Dublin for a tournament with a host of other players. 

“There are people who don’t even play the game any more, but come along because they want to see the community.”

This year, S.A.M.E. (an acronym for Still Arranging Melee Events) has organised a total of eleven tournaments which will run throughout 2021.

From the 23-25 April, British hosted tournament Regen Online is offering a prize pool of over £600.

The tournament is raising money for Special Effects, a charity which helps disabled people play video games. 

Credit for featured image: Oscar Balfour

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