CEO 2017: Snake Eyez on the rise, wins first Capcom Pro Tour event of the year

Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis is an immensely talented Street Fighter player. It’s been this way since his Zangief blew the world away in Street Fighter IV by winning disadvantageous match ups consistently. After a year of SFV, Snake Eyez has found the winning formula and is back to playing at his peak level.

Snake Eyez vs Punk. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters

Losses against Victor “Punk” Woodley and Du “NuckleDu Dang in past tournaments were delaying the inevitable. As he inched closer to a major win, the play of both his Zangief and Akuma continued to improve.  At Community Effort Orlando, the months of runner-up’s and close losses culminated into a steady performance that earned him the CEO belt.

Additionally, Snake Eyez exorcised some of his demons by squeaking out a 3-2 victory over Punk. Punk has been everyone’s demon, winning a majority of the Capcom Pro Tour events in 2017. Snake Eyez has had his shots in the past but came up short against Punk’s unbelievable spacing game. As Zangief is forced to do, Snake Eyez has been finding new ways to get in and get big damage with the Russian grappler.

Finding a way against Xiao Hai

Aside from beating Punk, Snake Eyez had to earn his pay through other monsters. XiaoHai gave Snake Eyez all he could handle before being sent to loser’s bracket. In one of the most patient SFV sets ever, Snake Eyez had to work hard to bait and not get trapped in by XiaoHai’s Cammy, strong footsie game. The average time on their rounds was much higher than most Street Fighter matches.

Both grinding out every opening and hit to maximum damage. The battle of attrition was ended with well-timed wake-up critical arts. Occasionally, Snake Eyez would catch XiaoHai overextending just slightly, and punish him to his death. It was one of those sets that the audience had no feel of who had the upper hand. Each hit seemed to turn the momentum, but as Snake Eyez has been known to do, he clutched it out to push him closer to his first CPT win in 2017.

Unfortunately for XiaoHai, despite playing extremely disciplined against Snake Eyez, the wearing down of Zangief got to him in the end. XiaoHai gave Snake Eyez the biggest run for his money, forcing him to stay patient and come back from a 2-1 deficit. Punk, on the other hand, pushed the pace and fell into Snake Eyez trap. However, Punk whiffed punished extremely hard and forced Snake Eyez to think critically about his button presses in neutral.

The Best in the West

After another American victory, the top of the Capcom Pro Tour rankings has an unfamiliar look to it. Three American born players currently reside at the top, with Snake Eyez moving up with his CEO win. Punk still sits as “the alpha” in SFV, but the competition from his own statesman is opening the field to new names taking home trophies. NuckleDu, who was widely considered as the best player in 2016, is making another case for 2017, even with a lackluster CEO performance.

The resurgence of Snake Eyez must have the other two on edge. His pedigree speaks for itself and he’s making players play his game similarly to his Zangief in USFV4, which was a handful to deal with. The slow, break down process Snake Eyez deploys makes a player question everything about their approach. The only problem is his character might not have the necessary tools to continue to adapt. No question Snake Eyez gets the most out of Zangief, but is that enough to keep these results up?

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Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters

CEO 2017: Five sets, five game fives during exciting Melee top 8

For what it’s worth, CEO 2017 had one of the better Melee top 8s of the year. The lack of high-level players didn’t stop those who showed up from putting on a show. It all culminated into Juan “Hungrybox” Debiebma’s first career CEO belt, after running the gauntlet.

Hungrybox after beating Plup in Grand Finals. http://twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Hungrybox went to two game fives against non-gods, which is extremely rare. He even fell to Justin “Plup” McGrath in Grand Finals, but, fortunately for him, he was playing from the winner’s side so he had the reset in his back pocket. The other player to push him to the brink was Jeff “Axe” Williamson, and it took a clutch on Axe’s counter-pick for Hungrybox to pull it out.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there were plenty of game five, last stock, last hit games on Saturday night. In fact, the first five matches of top 8 were exactly that. From Michael “King Momo” Morales’s self-destruct against Colin “Colbol” Green to Colbol pulling off the upset over Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet, every single set was going to the last hit.

Even with a rather disappointing amount of entrants and top players showing up, it was good to see a lively crowd witness what turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining top 8. Yes, the predictable win for Hungrybox took out some of the drama, but players like Plup and Axe, who both have a huge deficit in terms of losses, seemed to give him a rougher go this time around. The sudden reemergence of what looked like 2014 Colbol was a welcomed surprise. He finished in fourth.

King Momo makes top 8

Melee majors, historically, have been incredibly difficult to break into a top 8 as a player outside the top-50. That makes what King Momo did this weekend special. Momo has been a rising star in 2017 with his second strong performance. Placing seventh was not only his best finish ever, but he achieved his greatest win with a victory over Ryan “The Moon” Coker-Welch.

Unfortunately, his run ended immediately in top 8 but not without showing the world his excellent neutral game and ability to move in and out of his opponents spacing. He is clearly a player to keep an eye on moving forward.

Another Florida player who seems to be improving is Colbol. As I mentioned, it looked more like peak Colbol this weekend than the player who’s had consistent average performances the last few years. The wins were over fellow Florida players, but placing fourth at a CEO is no joke.

Axe and Plup put Hungrybox on upset alert

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Fox has been the one answer for Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff and he finally forced Plup off his Sheik for the matchup. Based off the matchup history, Plup’s Sheik hasn’t fared well but he’s built up the necessary experience to bring out the Fox in finals. He even got his first win over Hungrybox with his Fox on Saturday. But it was only a matter of time before Hungrybox landed more rest setups and he had two full sets to find those openings.

The set with Axe was similar with Hungrybox forcing Axe to play differently than normal. Axe spent his entire neutral game focusing on keeping tight dash dances to eventually whiff punish with up-smash. If only Axe could have kept it up for one more stock, I’d be writing a different story.

Moral of the story: Hungrybox doesn’t lose to players outside the top-five. The top players don’t have a handle on the Jigglypuff matchup and coupled with Hungrybox’s rare and special abilities, it makes it really difficult to pull off the upset. It’s a mental grind and most don’t have the fortitude to see it through to the end. It’s the most central aspect to Hungrybox’s successes. The win at CEO 2017 marks his second consecutive win.


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E3 press conferences buzzword: Esports

The E3 press conferences usually have buzzwords that are marketable and present images of a bigger, brighter future with their product. This year’s term is “esports” and developers are using it at length to try and attract this new burgeoning industry.

In the first three days of E3, EA, Microsoft, and even Bethesda have used the term. Esports is no longer the misfit child that didn’t have a place at the grownups table. Esports is now slowly moving up publisher’s radar and will now be used as a marketing tool to sell and sustain their games. It’s creating a scenario where players almost have too many options when it comes to competitive gaming.

EA

Let’s start with EA, who’s making a clear push to make their EA Sports titles relevant in the esports landscape. The popularity of FIFA with a more attention focused on the competitive side could be the next big thing in esports. Games like Madden and FIFA, that already have a dedicated player base, will now give players even more reasons to play.

Photo courtesy of YouTube.com/IGN

On top of the preexisting Madden Bowl, EA Sports has green lit the FIFA world championships with a rather large prize pool. With the commercial success of the EA Sports franchises, it’s the obvious next step in the evolution of their brand and games.  It’s okay to be skeptical about sports games becoming major players in esports, but it’s nearly impossible to deny the potential.

Microsoft

Microsoft didn’t make the competitive side of their games the main selling point at their E3 press conference. It was more centered around the announcement of their next generation console, Xbox One X. This didn’t stop individual developers from pushing the esports side of their product.

Forza Motorsports lead developer spoke about the company’s desire to jump into the esports marketplace. The driving game genre has barely dipped into the esports pool. The Forza team is realizing that jumping into the game now could be extremely beneficial and profitable venture. They repeated the phrase “esports” on IGN’s Live post-show at least over 10 times. Based off those interviews alone, it’s safe to say Forza, and Microsoft, have an eye on esports.

On top of Forza diving head first into esports, the introduction of the new Dragon Ball Z fighting game will undoubtedly bring a new wave of competitors to their console. Read more about the Dragon Ball Z game here.

Microsoft knows esports is a viable money maker and has dabbled in the space before.  It’s a matter of time before Microsoft makes it a priority. Expect more emphasis on esports from them in the future as the marketplace develops and solidifies itself.

Bethesda

Photo courtesy youtube.com/gamespot

Strangely enough, Bethesda made the largest waves regarding esports this weekend with the introduction of the Quake World Championships at Quakecon 2017. The annual convention centered around the Quake series will have more excitement and anticipation as players will compete to win a part of the $1,000,000 prize pool.

Quake, as Bethesda pointed out, was one of the forefathers of the esports scene. Alongside Counter-Strike, Quake pioneered the first-person shooter as a competitive game. The high skill ceiling in Quake allowed for players to separate themselves from the pack. It also made the barrier of entry higher for Quake than other competitors, but that allowed for players at the highest level to fully explore the possibilities of the game’s engine.

Finally, we’ve returned to the beginning and Bethesda is going to make Quake their marquee esports title again. Longtime fans of esports and Quake will be happy to see the fast paced one vs. one shooter back at tournaments, but it will be competing with the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. It will be hard to make a new impression on young gamers while catering to their old audience who have been calling for a new Quake game.

Regardless of the competition, Quake being back is good for esports. A developer willing to put another million dollars is even better. Developers are clearly not afraid of investing into competitive gaming any longer. It’s only Wednesday and esports have been mentioned in every press conference, check back to see what other games will be looking to break into esports throughout the week of E3.


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Arc System’s Dragon Ball Fighter Z on fighting game community’s radar

Arc System, the developers behind the popular anime fighter Guilty Gear, are back with a new Dragon Ball Z themed 2D-Fighter. Microsoft announced at their E3 press conference that Dragon Ball Fighter Z will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC early 2018.

3 v 3 fighters. Photo via twitter.com/ign

Dragon Ball Fighter Z is a 3 vs. 3 fighter centered around the Dragon Ball universe with a similar art style and animations as the Guilty Gear series. As for the gameplay, the assist system and heavy-combo game feels more like the Marvel vs. Capcom series. The trailer showed the classic Dragon Ball flash movement with an emphasis on air-combos.

It’s a new start for Arc System, who has primarily centered their fighting games around one vs. one gameplay and air-dashes. The style switch to more hectic and flashy Dragon Ball Z engagements will bring new energy to the Arc System fighting game genre. Bright energy bombs coupled with normals that lead into long launch combos. Add the extra character and all hell breaks loose.

“Borrow Their strength” 

Fans of the anime will appreciate getting to use legendary villains Frieza and Perfect Cell on the same team. The assist system appears to be more geared towards Marvel with the backup character having specific assist options. It combines the fast paced game play of Marvel with the speed and grace of the Dragon Ball series.

With Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite coming in the fall, Dragon Ball Fighter Z will be the next potential replacement for Marvel 3. The commercial appeal of the Dragon Ball universe and proven track record of Arc System releasing quality anime fighting games can be a major building point for the new IP.

The reactions from the fighting game community were all positive. The game looked amazing and the hardcore fighting games fans could appreciate what Arc System was going for with this new game. The team aspect will allow for players to be creative with their teams and build combos differently than they would in other Fighters.

 

Photo via twitter.com/ign

Unfortunately, Guilty Gear has always been overlooked as a fighter in North America because of the unfamiliarity of the characters. Dragon Ball Fighter Z is a great opportunity for fighting game fans who never tried the Guilty Gear series to have a similar experience while playing with more familiar characters.

Where is it’s place in esports?

As animals do in the Wild, the fighting game tournament scene can be a savage place. Only the strong games survive and make it into the marquee events like Evolution. Based off yesterday’s reactions, it’s already basically guaranteed a spot on the tournament circuit in 2018. The popularity will force this game into tournament lineups, even if the game falls short of expectations.

Fans of the Dragon Ball have been burned before with underdeveloped 3D-fighters in the past. As stated before, Arc System and the first look at the trailer confirm that it stays true to Arc System fighting game style and gives those people hope that they will get a quality fighter.

Piccolo’s Ultimate Attack. Twitter.com/ign

In terms of potential, Dragon Ball Fighter Z has the mass appeal and intricate fighting system that makes for a good game. Street Fighter V has left a sour taste in some fighting game fans’ mouths. Dragon Fighter Z could be a potential replacement for SFV for certain players.


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Smash N’ Splash 3 Looks to Kick Off Summer of Smash in Style

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/File:Sns_3_better_logo.jpg

The Smash N’ Splash series, located at the famous Wisconsin Dells water park, has amped it up to a completely new level this year. On top of a loaded talent pool, Smash N’ Splash 3 has 850 players registered for singles, which nearly doubles last year’s attendance.

Furthermore, four of the gods and eight of the top 10 players will be making an appearance. The number of story lines heading into this weekend is overwhelming. Is Joseph “Mango” Marquez going to repeat? Can Adam “Armada” Lindgren rebound? Will Justin “Plup” McGrath finish above fifth place?

After all, Mango opened Pandora’s box by taking out the seemingly unbeatable Armada at Royal Flush. Armada bleeds and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds and adjust. The run of tournament victories ended at Royal Flush but he’s still the likely favorite to win in Wisconsin.

Mango going for back-to-back wins
It was a nice surprise to see Mango return to prominence a few weeks ago. His movement was crisp and he seemed to have all the answers against Armada’s Peach. Mango was dialed in that day.

Mango and Hungrybox. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

However, Mango hasn’t repeated at a major since 2014 (Kings of Cali 4 and Evo 2014). History is not on his side but Mango does seem looser in the past few weeks. His mindset is clear and his playing more freely.

It won’t be an easy task considering the gauntlet of potential matchups, but Mango’s clearly got the best chance against Armada. The biggest obstacle to get to Armada will still be Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and his pesky Jigglypuff. Mango is 3-0 against Hbox in 2017 but is tied 11-11 in their last 22 matchups.

Plup looking for his breakout performance

Plup’s been on a clear rise since Evo 2016 and after winning Runback recently he’s got momentum behind him. The breakout performance is coming. He’s plateaued at fifth place but he’s getting more confident at each tournament.

Fortunately, Plup will avoid the top three and get a shot at William “Leffen” Hjelte who’s on somewhat of a cold streak. The potential upset is possible. He’s also had a even record against Leffen and has proven they’re close in skill.

The last victory for Leffen came at Don’t Park on the Grass so he’s been in a minor slump. Outside of a third place finish at Smash Summit, he’s placing well below average. The winner of Plup vs Leffen could be the spark for the winner.

Lastly, players like Weston “Westballz” Dennis and Sami “DruggedFox” Muahana will look to build on their last tournaments. The return of optimal combo Westballz could put pressure on higher ranked opponent. He matches up against Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett and the tyrant Armada.

The field feels more open and that will allow for unpredictability. Armada and Mangno seem primed for a rematch but getting back to that point will be a grind. Smash N’ Splash 3 will be a good precursor to upcoming events.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NuckleDu and Snake Eyez Spar at Combo Breaker 2017

After falling once to Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis in winners finals, Du “NuckleDu” Dang wasn’t going to be denied his runback at Combo Breaker 2017. The Capcom Cup champion summoned that killer instinct and once again rose to the occasion, taking out Snake Eyez in two consecutive sets to win another premiere event.

Snake Eyez vs NuckleDu. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcom

It’s been a while since NuckleDu has struggled in Street Fighter V, but after failing to make the ELEAGUE playoffs, he was stuck looking for answers. Combo Breaker was the perfect tournament to get him back on his feet. He not only made up for his bad performance a few weeks earlier, but he did it in style and pulled at every fighting games heart strings along the way.

It took 13 games for NuckleDu to beat the beast that is Snake Eyez and his library of characters. Both guys were playing at their top level while trying to account for the potential counter-pick options after a win. Four characters were used throughout each set, and every character switch led to interesting changes in play styles. Both players had to keep adapting to keep up.

The most surprising pick was Snake Eyez’ triumphant return to Zangief, a character he helped develop in SFIV, and once again in SFV. The switch allowed him to play in NuckleDu’s face to get those heavy command grab punishes. Du, at first, struggled to keep out Zangief with both R. Mika and Guile before adjusting with better zoning tactics.

In light of this, the level of play in grand finals showed every matchup is winnable and we’re still figuring out the game. NuckleDu made quick work of Bryant “Smug” Huggins, who plays the character most widely considered “cheap” in Balrog. The fact that Snake Eyez had success with Zangief is just another example.

It also speaks to the skill of both NuckleDu and Snake Eyez. The two players excel in making others play at their pace. At times, it was Snake Eyez up close forcing panic V-triggers, while in other instances, NuckleDu had good sonic boom timings and kept Snake Eyez at the other side of the screen. It was a battle of small adjustments, and NuckleDu is always on point on adapting to his opponent.

In winners finals, NuckleDu got up 2-0 before Snake Eyez made the three game comeback. In the second set of grand finals, it was Snake Eyez getting the 2-0 advantage before Du rattled off three straight wins in route to his second Combo Breaker win (USF4 in 2015).

Snake Eyez stretching in grand finals. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcom

Brian F Holds it Down for the Midwest

Brian “Brian F” Foster, a name that’s rather unfamiliar to the national fighting game audience, but is considered a rising star in the Midwest, made waves to the pleasure of the Chicago crowd. He pulled off some huge upsets, with wins over Ryan “FChamp” Ramirez and legendary Japanese player Naoto “Sako” Sako.

Even more, Brian F placed in the top five at a premiere event. It could be a one-off event for Brian in front of a favorable Midwest crowd, but his skill coupled with the strength of his character (Balrog) could be the start of a strong run. He picked up valuable points and gave himself a chance moving forward.

United States Wins Combo Breaker

Amidst a busy weekend of fighting game tournaments (ELEAGUE, Redbull Kumite), the American players who made the trip to Combo Breaker did something that happens very rarely in today’s tournament scene. Seven of the eight players in top 8 were from the United States.

Yes, it could be attributed to the fact that there was a lot going on this weekend, but there were still plenty of talented players from Asia who failed to make top 8. It was good to see players like Justin Wong and Smug make deep runs again. Street Fighter V is proving to be America’s game as NuckleDu takes another ranking event.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

ELEAGUE Street FIghter V Playoff Preview

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ELEAGUE

The inaugural season for Street Fighter V in ELEAGUE has been more or less a success. Solid average ratings, interesting story lines and most importantly highly entertaining games that have led to an attention grabbing product on television.

ELEAGUE’s production values and entertainment quality have done wonders for the fighting game community in establishing a main stream audience. The shiny studio, hype crowds and professionalism displayed by the casters adds a legitimacy to it all. On top of the diehard fans watching, plenty of 18-49 year-olds have been tuning in to catch their favorite fighting game.

Additionally, the competition is fierce with names like Du “NuckleDu” Dang and Kun “Xian” Xian Ho both failing to make it to the playoffs. New and old names have emerged and each player in the playoffs has an actual shot of taking home the title.

The Favorite: Panda Global Punk
Victor “Punk” Woodley is on a mission from the heavens in 2017. He’s becoming a robot with the urge to kill. He’s separated himself as the best player in this current era and winning ELEAGUE would put a stamp on that.

However, his first matchup is against the dangerous Eduardo “PR_Balrog” Perez, but Punk does have a good number of strong Balrog’s in his region so he could be more prepared for that set specifically. If the last few months are any indication, Punk’s Karin will be hard to slow down.

The Underdog: BX3| Phenom
Interestingly enough, Arman “Phenom” Hanjanni always slides under the radar. He finished second in his group and then battled his way to a win over Zhoujun “Xiao Hai” Zeng, in a convincing 3-0, to win the group that featured NucleDu.

Necali, in my eyes, is still being slept on overall and Phenom has optimized his style from season one to season two. Starting in winners against an R. Mika player seems to work in his favor. If he can get that first win over Keita “Fuudo” Ai, watch out, because he can surprise some people.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ELEAGUE

The sleeper: Daigo Umehara
It’s even crazy to think Daigo actually made it to this point. After a lackluster group stage where he barely advanced through, he made a sudden a drastic change to Guile and once again squeaked past in the bracket stage.

Now it’s been three weeks, he’s had a lot of time to prepare with his new characters and make adjustments. He faces a familiar foe in the first round and could use Guile’s strengths to combat Yusuke “Momochi” Momochi’s Ken.

In turn, Daigo’s recent resurgence with a new character has seemingly given him more confidence. A focused and confident Daigo Umehara could be a different beast all together and now he’s playing with more matchup knowledge.

Bottom Feeder: Qanba Douyu Xiao Hai
No disrespect to Xiao Hai, but he’s not looking like the same player from season one. He did have a clutch win over NuckleDu and had grind out win over Chris “ChrisT” Tartarian, but he’s struggled in many instances this year.

Notably, he’s not having the same tournament success with Cammy despite her upgrades in season two. However, he showed his potential to make it this far and anything is possible, especially with a player like Xiao Hai.

In the end, there’s a chance any of these eight players make a deep run. The beauty of this league was its player depth and that’s being displayed this weekend. Someone is going home with a life changing win and will be remembered forever for winning ELEAGUE.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Plup Takes Home Largest Career Win at Runback 2017

 

Justin “Plup” McGrath fought his way to a victory at Runback in Mesa, Arizona. The win over Weston “Westballz” Dennis in Grand Finals secured Plup’s largest career tournament win.

In fact, it’s his first win at a tournament with over 200 entrants and Runback featured four of the top 10 players, so it was no cakewalk. He ended the day with two set wins over Westballz and a 3-0 to James “Duck” Ma in winners semi’s

For Plup, it’s been a strong year with consistent 5th place finishes, but he’s still looking to get over the hump. A win at Runback, even with none of the top five in attendance, instilled confidence that he’s a level above the players eyeing his spot in the rankings. If he can figure out players like Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, he has the potential to win majors.

On a day where the raucous Arizona crowd was going off, Plup was calm and composed. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing or the stage he’s on, his demeanor is always the same. Even when Westballz had Plup against the ropes on game five, his approach didn’t change and he ends up winning the tournament on a ridiculous combo.

Westballz vs SFAT. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/SAKGamingTV

The return of Westbawz

The other main story out of Runback was the return of the cocky Westballz. After a lackluster start to 2017, Westballz seemed to get his mojo back this weekend with the second place finish. It was good to see the defense first, punish heavy Westballz this weekend.

Also, the fact that Westballz beat Zac “SFAT” Cordoni in two separate sets on Sunday sparked some flames. As one of the most heated Smash rivalries in Melee, Westballz has historically had SFAT’s number (9-4 lifetime) and Runback was no different. He ends the two game losing streak with an emphatic victory at Runback.

In the end, he gave Plup a run in grand finals but got edged out in last stock scenarios. It’s his highest finish in 2017 and could be a confidence booster heading into the summer.

Top 8

1. Panda Global Plup (Sheik)

2. G2 Westballz (Falco)

3. CLG SFAT (Fox)

4. Phoenixl1 | Duck (Samus)

5. MedZ (Marth, Fox, Falco)

5. Tempo Storm Axe (Pikachu)

7. Bladewise (Peach)

7. EngGameTV Syrox (Fox)

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Armada’s Loss at Royal Flush Ends Historic Six Month Run of Dominance

In the world of competitive Melee, it’s hard to imagine Adam “Armada” Lindgren being overlooked as a player. Falling short at Royal Flush to Joseph “Mango” Marquez was a heart breaker and ends a historic run of dominance from a singular player. But in this community, sometimes the narrative is more appealing than reality.

Armada vs DruggedFox . Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

Let’s take a look at just how good Armada has been in the last six months.

Yes, six months of dominance, from the end of October 2016 to early May 2017, Armada won everything. In that same time span, he only dropped two sets. One to Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma at Canada Cup 2016, and the other to Jason “mew2king” Zimmerman at UGC Smash Open, which both resulted in losses after the reset.

However, his last two outright losses were to Mango. In both instances, Armada lost to Mango’s Fox in reset game five situations. As always, those sets were absolute classics, with the crowd favorite Mango taking it home (The Big House 6 and Royal Flush). Armada responded exceptionally well after the game five loss at TBH6 and showed his untempered resolve.

Conversely, Armada gave Mango the hands at Genesis 4. Armada’s 6-1 game differential and a +10 in stock differential over Mango was staggering. Despite it being a massacre, the pure dominance is sometimes overlooked because entertainment value was compromised. It was the quickest Grand Finals yet, and killed the carry-over momentum Mango had from playing in losers. It almost looked too easy for Armada.

Subsequently, Armada ended up winning nine straight tournaments from October to April. Two Smash Summit victories, UGC Smash Open, Dreamhack Winter, and most importantly, Genesis 4. No one could touch him in the singles bracket. He had four Grand Finals victories over Hungrybox in that span, who has been arguably just as consistent.

That’s not even mentioning Armada’s results in doubles. It’s hard to argue against the Swedish “brudders” being the best team in Melee right now. The reset win over William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Ackaya at Royal Flush showed once again the unflinching demeanor of Armada and his brother Andreas “Android” Lindgren.

Looking back on Melee history, Armada’s most recent run coupled with his success in the last three years has never been matched in modern Melee. Sure, Ken “Ken” Hoang had long stretches without losses, but those were in the early days. Now Melee has high-level tournaments every weekend. Mango is the only one with similar runs of pure dominance.

On the whole, it’s good to see new names on top of the results page. But let’s take a second to fully appreciate the historical context of what Armada was able to accomplish. It will be hard to mimic that performance with how competitive Melee is today, but Armada can do it again. His Fox continues to improve while his Peach is as steady as ever. He has the formula and experience.

Even with his most recent loss at Royal Flush, I would not bet against Armada heading into the Summer of Smash (tournaments). It will be interesting to see if Armada can win his third title at another tournament. Mango and Armada still battling for the Threevo.

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Mother’s Day Mango Wins Again at Royal Flush 2017

Mother’s Day Mango is one of the story lines you’d have to see to believe. Similarly to the Armada and Mango playing in Genesis Grand Finals, it felt like Joseph “Mango” Marquez was destined to win his fourth straight Mother’s Day tournament no matter what. Losers bracket Mango is one thing, but Mother’s Day Mango is the water of a broken dam coming down the hill.

Mango and Armada. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

As for the Royal Flush Grand Finals, it was one for the ages and one we won’t forget watching anytime soon. It not only halted the most dominant six month stretch in Melee history coming from Adam “Armada” Lindgren, but also might have jump started Mango after a rough start to 2017. It was the strongest, most disciplined Mango performance since The Big House 6.

Mango’s 2017 has been filled with inconsistencies. One bad loss in the last couple months almost guaranteed a tilted Mango heading into losers bracket. His struggles with Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez have been well documented, but despite an early loss to Armada, Mango stayed focused and kept improving as the tournament went on.

Mothers Day Mango Winning Streak Moves to Four

The most peculiar stat coming out of Mango’s Royal Flush win was that it was his fourth straight Mother’s Day victory. Dating back to 2014 where he beat Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiemda to win Get On My Level. He continued the streak with a win at Press Start in 2015 and Dreamhack Austin in 2016.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

It’s remarkable what Mango has been able to accomplish on the day honoring mothers. In fact, his own mother is looked at as one of the moms of Melee. Snugaloo, as she’s known on twitter, is a rabid Mango supporter and won’t back down from anyone if they call her son out. Is this special bond driving Mango towards major success? YES.

Breaking Down Grand Finals

Regardless of the phenomena, Mango clearly made the proper adjustments mentally and physically to win Royal Flush. First off, the Fox pick, moving away from Falco, proved to be the right choice. Mango has been faithful to Falco since the start of 2017, but the inconsistent results show it might not be the best choice for him. Secondly, he had a more conservative game plan while still finding ways to be the aggressor.

Additionally, it was good to see Mango play more of a laser game, especially against Armada. He also did a great job of making it back to the stage and making Armada win more neutral exchanges which Mango had the clear advantage in. The most glaring improvement was Mango’s mental game.

In the grand finals set, Mango entered the last stock at a deficit in nearly every game. His more conservative game plan allowed him to chip away at Armada’s Peach, but more importantly he never got down on himself. Mango has struggled in the past to make comebacks against Armada, but today it looked like an entirely different player.

Finally, Mango found more creative ways to KO Armada. The laser game coupled with his run away style till about 60% led to the kill setups with Fox’s up-air. Mango used Peach’s weight to his advantage and linked plenty of aerials into up-air combo finishers, often times below 100% which is not the norm against Armada.

The question now is if Mango can replicate this performance? This win is sure to build up plenty of confidence within Mango, but let’s see if he can avoid complacency. The hope is we see Mother’s Day Mango make an appearance on other days.

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