When Super Smash Bros. Melee was released in 2001, no one expected it to be one of the biggest fighting games ever made, with one of the largest communities of devoted fans and players. Unlike other fighting games, Melee is incredibly technical, using built in features to improve movement speed. These techniques, like wave-dashing and L-canceling have made Melee a game with a very high skill floor and an even higher skill ceiling. The incredible speed and skill of the players who have mastered the techniques has made Melee one of the most interesting and hype games to watch.
Another appeal of Melee is the personalities of the players. From the villain of William “Leffen” Hjelte, the American hero of Joseph “mang0” Marquez, or the God slayer of Justin “Plup” McGrath, to even the commentators of Bobby “Scar” Newman and Kris “Toph” Aldenderfer. Every one of the top players have a personality and play style that make them fun to watch. Many of the players also have rivalries. My personal favorite being the feud between Leffen and Chillindude829 at the tournament Apex 2015. Before the match, Chillindude created a diss track called “Respect Your Elders” calling out Leffen. However, at Apex, Leffen defeated Chillindude 5-0. The personalities of top players always makes Melee a much more personal E-sport and one to always watch.
Overall, the combination of the speed of the game and the personalities of the players makes Melee on of the best spectator E-sports, and I doubt in 2001 anyone expected the immense growth and size of Melee.
Photo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paPCi5MnfsA