How a Smash Melee Prodigy is Breaking New Ground in a 19 Year Old Game

Alan Bernal
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Zain Naghmi’s rise in Super Smash Bros. Melee wasn’t telegraphed nor meteoric, but a result of grinding events, learning from hard-fought loses and leaning into unfavorable matchups to reshape how people looked at the game.

Even in its heyday, reinventing the wheel in Smash took a nuanced approach or a special talent to really make a playstyle shine.

But even when a new competitor would come in with their own twist to Melee, it would still be surprising for them to consistently outperform established players like the Five Gods or anyone among their ranks.

That’s a large part as to why Zain is, to some, the face of Smash at the moment. He’s worked for years to perfect his gameplay, and it’s slowly been paying off with slightly higher world rankings as well as tournament placings.

From cracking the Top 100 to decimating people sitting comfy in the elite levels, Zain has been making his own headlines in the competitive scene – which takes us to 2019 and the start of 2020, where Zain’s position of a top player can’t be questioned anymore.

His methodical approach to Marth’s weak matchups earns him epic highlight reels, while high-ranked matches can end with opponents visibly frustrated at his style.

Zain still has plenty of obstacles in the way to becoming the undisputed best player in the game, but if his evolution in Melee till now is any indication, he’ll find ways to improve.