With well over 10 years of competitive play Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of the oldest eSports out there, and has seen many top players come and go. Unfortunately for those that left the scene a few years back, prize pools and viewership numbers have skyrocketed over the last few years. Now playing Melee full time is a viable option for quite a few players, and some have even made more than six figures.
With massive prize pools being given out on an almost monthly basis, the biggest earners in the world of Smash Melee are in a constant flux, although all of the big names sit comfortably towards the top of the table. A couple of big event wins could see anyone rocket up towards the top end, but for now these are the 10 players who've earned the most prize money from playing Smash Melee, according to data from esportsearnings.com.
10. Justin ‘Plup’ McGrath: $31,561.09
Plup sneaks into the list by just a few hundred dollars, but after his impressive 2016 you can see why. Plup was so good last year that he came in sixth in our SSBMRank, beating out some names that are yet to show up on this list.
Third at EVO 2016 netted him his second biggest payday ever with $2,372, which is just behind his earnings for fourth at the first Smash Summit back in 2015 ($2,469.68). Strong results at all of the Smash Summits and other large events, such as DreamHack, along with a win at Shine in 2016 give Plup a total of $31,561.09 earnt from Melee.
9. Kevin ‘PPMD’ Nanney: $36,991.00
PPMD took most of last year off, meaning he could have been a lot higher on this list if he'd competed in more events, but with $36,991.00 to his name we're sure he isn't complaining. Winning Apex in 2015 and 2014 gave him a ton of cash, with the second win bringing in a massive $7,228, while other tournament wins increased that value further. Having resigned from Evil Geniuses, PPMD is set to return this year so expect him to rise through the list.
8. Zachary ‘SFAT’ Cordoni: $40,354.71
Like many in this list, the majority of SFAT's winning have come in the last two years. In fact over 87 percent of his total winnings came in 2015 and 2016, with a singles win at Emerald City III and doubles wins with Kevin 'PewPewU' Toy at Big House 6 and the UGC Smash Open adding significant amounts to his total. SFAT's seven largest single event winnings came in 2016, which netted him seventh place in our SSBMRank.
7. Weston ‘Westballz’ Dennis: $42,710.55
2016 wasn't Westballz's best year, hence him only popping up at number eight in our SSBMRank, but playing a lot of tournaments in a strong 2015 sees him take seventh. In what is something of an anomaly for this list, only four of his 10 largest payouts came in 2016, although wins at Rewired and Emerald City 2 gave him $1,400 and $1,210 respectively. His biggest payout was back at DreamHack London, where he grabbed a cool $5,000.
6. Ken ‘Ken’ Hoang: $53,264.10
Barring some kind of miraculous return, Ken will one day drop off the bottom of this list, but it'll probably take a few years yet. He hasn't won more than $210 in a single calendar year since 2007, but his dominance at the start of Melee's life, and the massive prize pools MLG offered at the time, mean he remains a top earner. Ken has a massive 23 tournaments where he won $1,000 or more, and he grabbed $5,000 at Evo 2007, MLG Las Vegas 2006 and MLG New York 2005, each of which he won.
5. William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte: $64,081.54
Despite his well documented visa issues throughout last year, William 'Leffen' Hjelte still brought in over $20,000 and made it to fifth in our SSBMRank. A win at DreamHack Summer netted him a cool $4,700, and his win at GOML brought in $3,078.17.
Of course 2015 was when Leffen really made some cash, earning more than $36,000 playing Melee. This included wins at Super Smash Con, which brought in $5,734.80, the HTC Throwdown, which netted $5,544 and CEO, which brought in $4,698. With the visa issues finally over, you can expect Leffen to get to work on making his way up this list.
4. Joseph ‘Mango’ Marquez: $124,527.71
Mango is the first of the players to hit over $100,000 in prize money, meaning he has a big buffer before he has to worry about Leffen overtaking him. In both 2014 and 2015 he made over $20,000, and last year he won a massive $47,361.50. Despite only being just over a month in, he's already made $3,708 in 2017 also. His biggest payday came from his win at The Big House 6 last year, which was also a key factor in him making it to number four in our SSBMRank.
3. Jason ‘Mew2King’ Zimmerman: $140,396.89
Mew2King is the most financially successful overall Smash player of all time, but thanks to his ability to play all the Smash games well, he only sits at number three in the Melee list. Amazingly, he's never had a single tournament payout more than $5,000, with his biggest paycheque coming in at $4,116.13 after placing third at the first Smash Summit.
Last year was his most financially successful ever (although he only made it to number four in our SSBMRank) after bringing in $53,852.18, so you can expect that to grow in 2017.
2. Juan ‘Hungrybox’ Debiedma: $150,257.96
Hungrybox is a man that can pull out wins in massive tournaments. Last year alone he won two events worth more than $10,000, with his EVO win bringing in $14,232 and his Battle of the Five Gods win giving him $13,000. Add in a combined $17,500 from DreamHack Winter in 2015 and 2016, and you can see why he's done so well financially. Having been ranked at number two in our SSBMRank, chances are his winnings will grow a lot this year.
1. Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren: $200,193.19
Topping the list with a massive $200,193.19 is the current best player in the world, according to our SSBMRank, Adam 'Armada' Lindgren. 2015 and 2016 are where he really grew his total, bringing in $72,793.44 and $83,003.77 respectively.
Armada has won $10,000 or more at five events, with his biggest win coming at DreamHack Winter 2016, which was worth $15,000; the other four were the first Smash Summit, EVO 2015, Genesis 3 and DreamHack London, each of which he won. Amazingly, Armada has already made $10,425.00 in 2017 thanks to his Genesis 4 singles and doubles wins, so if this number doesn't grow massively over the year, we'll be very surprised.