Super Smash Brothers Melee recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.
In many aspects, the longevity of the game offers a unique competitive landscape. In late 2001, Nintendo released the NTSC version of the game to Japanese and North American markets. The European market received the PAL version of Super Smash Bros. Melee nearly six months later, in 2002. In the meantime, Nintendo implemented balance changes for some of the characters. For example, the PAL version removed Sheik's chain throw on several characters. Ken combos rarely happened because of a player's ability to meteor cancel Marth's down-air.
More importantly, while Jigglypuff remained untouched in the PAL updates, Fox received several soft nerfs to his recovery, damage output and knockback.
The core mechanics of Melee remained largely the same between the two versions, but the balance updates in PAL could make a world of difference at DreamHack Winter, hosted in Elmia, Jonkoping, Sweden. Traditionally, most majors in the U.S. run the NTSC version of Melee, but DreamHack Winter will run the PAL version of the game.
In 2016, the Fox and Jigglypuff matchup became one of the most scrutinized duels among the top players. Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma worked with his coach, Luis "Crunch" Rosias, to optimize the matchup for Jigglypuff while Fox players like Adam "Armada" Lindgren and Zachary "SFAT" Cordoni continued to develop anti-Jigglypuff gameplans. The results have gone back and forth; Hungrybox looked unstoppable in the first half of 2016, winning major after major, including Evo 2016, but the Fox-mains have had his number in the past few months. Hungrybox lost to SFAT at The Big House 6 and Shine 2016, and he was defeated by Armada at Canada Cup 2016 and Smash Summit 3.
Still, there's plenty to look forward to for Hungrybox, who recently quit his job to pursue Melee full-time. After some relatively poor performances in the past three months, he finished in second at Smash Summit 3 and looks forward to competing at DreamHack Winter 2016, with his chances of winning increasing since DreamHack Winter is running the PAL version of Melee.
While Hungrybox looks forward to better matchups in PAL, Armada looks forward to winning a major in his hometown of Gothenburg in front of his family and friends. The momentum seems to be in his favor after winning Canada Cup and Smash Summit 3.
Of course, we can't forget about William "Leffen" Hjelte or Joseph "Mango" Marquez who are also contenders for this event. Will any of them be able to overcome Fox's nerfs in PAL? Or will Hungrybox be able to win DreamHack: Winter and build his case as best player of 2016?