Panda Global announced Thursday that it has signed Zain "Zain" Naghmi for its Super Smash Bros. Melee roster, making him the third Melee player to wear the black and white jersey and the sixth Super Smash Bros. player overall.
"Zain is a player I approached over a year ago when PG was considering an amateur team," Panda Global CEO Dr. Alan Bunney said. "In that year, Zain has risen so quickly that he would have no place on an amateur team anymore. He deserves a spot on our team where we can help continue his growth in Melee. His skill is the real deal, and we can't wait to see how far he goes this year."
Zain is part of the new blood of Melee. The 21-year-old was 4 when the game came out in 2001. He's currently ranked 22nd in the world according to SSBMRank. He has jumped between a few different crews, but joining Panda Global will be his biggest professional move yet.
Because of Melee's age, many of the top players are in their mid-to-late twenties. The game is also highly technical, requiring some of the highest actions-per-minute of any esport. This, coupled with the fact that it's locked to a console released in 2001, has given it a greater barrier to entry when compared to other games.
But Zain has made waves in the past two years. He most notably beat Panda Global's Justin "Plup" McGrath at The Big House 6 in 2016 and beat Counter Logic Gaming's Zachary "SFAT" Cordoni at Super Smash Con 2017. He also took a set off Team SoloMid's William "Leffen" Hjelte at Smash 'N' Splash 3.
"I'm so excited to join Panda Global as I go on my journey to become Melee's best," Zain said. "I'll try my absolute hardest to make our team proud."