Hungrybox wins GTX 2017 with clutch victory over Armada

The recipe for Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma’s success against Adam “Armada” Lindgren is to stay within striking distance. Aggressive on game one, gain counter-pick advantage and win game five on Yoshi’s. The win at GTX 2017 marks Hungrybox’s third Grand Finals victory over Armada this year.

GTX- 2017 main stage. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Once again, Hungrybox adds another improbable championship run to his list of career achievements. In reality, it’s Hbox’s droid-like ability to stay calm in the frenzy that wins him tournaments. Over the years, he’s developed those late-game situations with rest setups and it’s what makes his Jigglypuff style so strong.

Correspondingly, Hungrybox has earned his title of most clutch player once again. Armada is a machine in today’s game, but even Armada is susceptible to nerves under pressure. Armada’s route to a championship is built on winning game one of a set. It allows him to get counter-pick advantage for a potential game five. At the same time, Hungrybox managed to get ahead in two separate sets with an aggressive game plan.

However, it wasn’t a blemish-free day for Hbox. Even with five set wins over Fox, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman got the best of him in the winners bracket, but Hbox didn’t drop a set the rest of the day. It’s no surprise considering two of his opponents have pocket Foxs specifically for Hungrybox’s Jugglypuff.

Shroomed earns a spot on The Summit

Another key point, DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel earning the Summit spot, giving it to the highest placing non-invite player. Shroomed had to out-place Johnny “S2J” Kim and Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, who both started in losers bracket.

Luckily, Shroomed didn’t have to win a set in top eight to qualify. He fell quickly to Armada and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, losing 3-0 in both sets. S2J almost pulled off the upset over SFAT, 3-2, but that’s the closest any non-invite got to Shroomed. Early in pools, William “Leffen” Hjelte fell to Lovage in a best of three. That loss reverberated through the bracket and Shroomed turned that into a Summit invite.

Mew2King Improving against Armada

M2K in top eight. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

M2K had arguably the second best day outside of Hungrybox. As M2K stated in a tweet, he was actually the only one to beat Hbox at GTX. A near win against Armada would’ve been his first in 2017, and only his third in the last three years.

Despite the numbers, M2K’s Marth had a better showing against Armada’s turnip strategy. He had both a game one advantage and a 2-1 lead, but couldn’t win on his counter-pick. Hungrybox has the mental advantage over Armada in those situations, M2K still struggles to win when the game is on the line.

Nonetheless, his pocket Fox pick against Hungrybox is starting to win at more than a .500 rate. In fact, M2K’s Fox seems to be having the most consistent success against the Puff lately. The problem for M2K has always been winning the second set, and Hungrybox has a more fluid game plan.

M2K is improving, but it’s still unlikely that he gets over the Armada mountain anytime soon. Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Hungrybox are still the only two players capable of beating Armada.

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Melee’s Competition Committee good for the community despite shaky start

It’s about time the Smash community formed a governing body to watch over all competitive decisions. For a long time, the onus has been on the individual tournament organizers to make the decisions without any real discussion on practicality. It’s been a mixed bag of results, seemingly changing from week to week.

I’m here to tell you that “The 25” is a step in the right direction.

Lack of diversity

Before I dive deeper, I want to address the Adam “Armada” Lindgren situation. Armada, the greatest Melee player in history, left his post on the committee to make way for a female representative. The fact that all 25 members were male was a reality check and Armada took it into his own hands to right this egregious wrong.

Smash Sisters at Shine 2017. Photo courtesy of twitter.com/smash_sisters

Yes, the amount of females in the community is a small percentage compared to males, but that’s what makes it even more important to reach out to females. Women have almost zero representation or voice in this community and that dissuades others from potentially entering tournaments. Giving females a voice is paramount to easing the tension females feel in this community. Also, giving power to females could be beneficial to the scene as a whole.

So, good on Armada for recognizing this great indifference and taking action. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but what’s the point of a rules committee if not everyone’s voice is heard. Even the smaller and less vocal groups. The committee is still considering options at this point, since Armada’s departure, but it’s forcing them to consider on a female member.

The committee itself has been under severe scrutiny with many community members missing the point of its creation. Above all else, it was formed to create fairness for all competitors as the scene adapts to new technology and formats.

Shine 2017 is a great example of this and it also helped spawn the CoC. MattDotZeb is as experienced as they come in Smash and even he came across a situation that has never been dealt with before. The decision to make UCF legal and mandatory was an innovative idea, but the perils of trying something out is not being prepared if something goes awry. The situation led to a controversial decision that left the community angry.

It’s not the first time either. Situations like Shine happen a few times a year in seemingly big spots. It’s hard enough for organizers to deal with running the event itself, but having to make stressful decisions with time constraints is something else entirely. That’s where the CoC comes in and can help out.

Despite what some think, the CoC is not a power grab setup for Melee dictatorship. It’s not mandatory. It’s just an outlet of experienced and professional people to give assurance and assistance to tournaments and events. It will help streamline everything and get more consistency from different events.

“The Melee Competition Committee (CC), which includes the Leadership Panel (“The 5”) and the At-Large Panel (“The 25”), was formed so that we’d have a process in place for prominent tournament organizers, players, and influencers to come to the table, and unify rulesets at a critical point in our history. In a time when players were clamoring for consistency, fairness, and clarity in regards to Melee gameplay rules across events, we brought some of the community’s biggest names together to make their opinions accountable: in exchange for having the power to make lasting change, they’d have to make all votes and amendments public.”

The structure

Shine 2017. Photo courtey of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

The structure is setup to promote accountability down the line. No one can deny the members of this community being the right choice in helping manage decisions. It was a carefully selected group of some of the pioneers of the Melee community along with some lesser known names. The diversity is there from players, coaches, player managers, tournament organizers, streamers and even historians.

However, the lack of women is appalling, as stated earlier. My only problem is the five members heading the operation. Self-proclaimed power and importance of opinion seems unjust, and while they’re here to get the decision-making process started, it feels as if those five will be making most of the decisions.

It’s an incredibly important time for Melee and the CoC is here to make it last and strengthen our events. While I’ll disagree with some of the methods used when creating this committee, I also see the benefits of having a governing body. This is not the Melee backroom, where all discussion are kept private. The CoC promises to keep everything out in the open for the public to see. It’s a test run and we’ll see if it actively makes the Melee community more appealing to players.

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BEAST 7 payout situation cannot be tolerated

The year is 2009. The Super Smash Bros Melee competitive scene is hanging on by a thread. Tournament organizers are untrustworthy and payouts at events aren’t always fully guaranteed. Due to this trend, the Melee competitive scene is nearing its end…

WAIT, it’s 2017 and the scene is flourishing. Modern tournaments are a great experience and the scene is filled with the best tournament organizers in the history of the scene. So, why are we still seeing a flux of shady dealings within some prominent organizations?

Armada via twitter.com/UGSArmada

Let’s focus on one situation that happened recently. By now, Smash fans have likely come across the video Adam “Armada” Lindgren made or the tweet sent out from Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad’s twitter account. In summary, the main organizer behind the Swedish based tournament series B.E.A.S.T. didn’t budget appropriately and is now not financially able to pay the players for an event that took place in February of this year.

This is not the first time this has happened in Smash. Infamously, Pound V paid out players five years after the actual tournament. But that was 2011 and the scene was much different back then. It was still a young community (in terms of average age) and without esports media and social media fully developed, situations like this could be slipped under a rug. In 2017, with a fully fleshed out scene, this is completely unacceptable.

For reference, there’s a major nearly every week in Smash. Players have to carefully plan out where to spend their time and money. If an event backfires, it can cost a player financially, especially if they aren’t compensated for their efforts. It’s a negative effect that’s detrimental to not only the image of the tournament but the scene as a whole.

Organizational ignorance should be met with legal action

Today, payouts should be done accordingly, and if not, legal action should be considered. Smash is out of the basement. It’s a professional scene now where players, organizers, and media members are making a living. Issues with missing finances can’t be tolerated like it was back when the spotlight wasn’t as bright.

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy topic to discuss because most of these community figures and players are all friends with history. And that’s where the leniency from players who haven’t been paid comes from, but at some point, the pleasantries need to stop and people need to take responsibility.

It’s great to see players like Mr. R speak out while the organization involved is directly telling him to keep quiet. That’s not only completely unprofessional on their part, but almost feels as if they’re extorting these players with the idea that they’ll never see the money they earned from winning. It doesn’t help the fact that the BEAST organizers are tip-toeing around the situation trying to avoid controversy. That’s a giant red flag.

In today’s context, it’s not nearly as big of a problem as it once was, but it’s still a terrible look for Smash when it happens. It’s hard for this community to be taken seriously when prominent members and organizations are acting like it’s 2009. Organizers don’t have the luxury of taking their time anymore, and as a community, more pressure needs to be placed on these organizations to pay up.


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Armada continues best year ever with win at Evo 2017

In Melee’s fifth consecutive year at Evo, the results stayed consistent. Adam “Armada” Lindgren asserted his dominance as the world’s best Melee player, winning in straight sets over Joseph “Mango” Marquez. This secured Armada his second Evo title.

Armada winning a tournament is hardly news anymore, but that doesn’t take away from his massive achievement at Evo 2017. This speaks to his consistency and work ethic. He continues to perfect his Peach play while improving at playing under pressure.

As a matter of fact, Armada has become nearly unbeatable in last stock situations since famously falling to Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma at Evo 2016. Armada had to put that loss behind him and as a result it made him stronger for this latest run of dominance. The second Evo victory for Armada not only adds another trophy to his mantle but improves his 2017 resume as the best year from any Smasher ever.

Mango vs Armada

Nevertheless, Mango was looking to finally get that elusive third Evo title after failing the last two years. His first win over Hungrybox, after two consecutive exits at the hands of Hbox’s Puff previously, finally setup the matchup fans of Melee have been waiting to see at an Evo for the last four years.

Shockingly, this is the first time Mango and Armada reached Grand Finals in the same Evo. El Classico, as it’s known in Melee circles, fizzled out the last couple years. Armada held up his end of the bargain, but Mango struggled to reach the finals through losers bracket. And after all this time, Armada did what he does best and won by simply outplaying his opponent.

Reminiscent of Genesis 4, in which Armada dismantled a mentally tired Mango, Armada wasn’t pushed like in previous years. Evo 2017 felt similar to that Genesis 4 result. Mango put all his strength into beating Hungrybox and didn’t seem as mentally prepared to face Armada’s overwhelming, punish-heavy Peach.

M2K nearly pulls it off

However, Armada did struggle in one of the most intense and pain staking sets of 2017. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, similar to Mango against Hungrybox, put his heart and soul into beating Armada. Even in a best of three, the set felt like it took ages. A seven minute game three on Pokémon stadium was a game to be remembered. Every single hit was important.

Although M2K didn’t get the win, he managed to make Armada sweat. Something that isn’t easy to do. In no other set did Armada feel that pressure or the threat of a loss. Armada went 12-3 in the semifinal bracket, and despite a small setback against Jeff “Axe” Williamson, he dominated all day.

Armada sets up a chance at the “Threevo”

I don’t want to already move on to 2018, but it’s hard not to picture what could happen in the days to come. Mango has spoken of a third Evo title, but has let it linger too long and now is in jeopardy of potentially losing the “threevo” to his nemesis, Armada.

In the event that Mango and Armada meet in another Evo grand final, the stakes will be as high as they’ve ever been. But for now, it’s Armada’s time to sit back and enjoy another Evo title. One of the hardest working players in Smash continues to separate himself from the rest of the pack. The onus is on the rest of the field to match the Evolution 2017 world champion.

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Best sets of Evolution

Evolution is known for bringing together the best fighting game players in the world and creating an environment where amazing things can happen. The prestige of the event makes every hit, combo and round extra important. This is why Evo is the holy grail in the fighting game community.

Over the last decade, Evo has been the home to some of the best matches in the history of fighting games. I picked out the 10 most revered matches since 2010 and ranked them. These are matches and moments that stick with fans and are known for their heart throbbing intensity. Without further adieu…

10. Gamerbee vs Justin Wong, 2011, USFIV

Here’s a general theme for this list: Justin Wong and Gamerbee will be featured quite a bit. Both are incredible players but more importantly have a flair for the dramatic. The 2011 set between these two was not only a heart throbbing affair, but quite possibly ended Justin Wong’s best and last chance at a Street Fighter IV Evo title. Breaking American’s hearts everywhere.

9. Ally vs Kamemushi, 2016, Smash for Wii U

2016 was a great year and Ally and Kamemushi was the match to set the tone. Kamemushi sent the overwhelming favorite in Zero home with a 3-0, but couldn’t slow down Ally who seemed destined to take the event. It was a great sight to see Kamemush’s Mega Man blow the crowd away.

8. SilentWolf vs Axe, Melee

A four-stock in 57 seconds. On game five. In front of a raucous crowd. Enough said.

7. LI Joe vs Eita, 2016, SFV

It might not be number one on this list, but for a lot of fans this is most memorable Evo set in a long time. LI Joe, an American hero, summoned the spirit of the bald eagle to take out one of Japan’s up-and-coming players. I’ve been to a handful of Evo’s and no crowd has ever been as united behind a player than they were for Joe that day.

6. Justin Wong Wins Marvel at Evo, 2014

The greatest Marvel player this world has ever seen had failed to obtain a Marvel 3 Evo title throughout the first three years of the game’s life. It felt like only a matter of time before Justin was able to get that illustrious title. During that run, he had one of the most memorable comebacks against ChrisG and ended up taking him out in grand finals which led to the famous barrel role.

5. MadKOF vs Bala, 2012, KOF XIII

The special part about Evo is at any moment a game that isn’t on a persons’ radar can absolutely blow them away. KOF XIII did that to an entire crowd in 2012. Bala’s win over MadKOF was the match of the day and brought plenty of eyes to that game. It also gave us MadKOF and his divider curtain that added to the intensity and importance of this set to all involved.

4. Xian vs Snake Eyez

Snake Eyez was a well known player, but it wasn’t until this set that we got the full scope on how good he actually is. Xian was the returning champ but Snake Eyez and the American crowd were having none of that. It took some timeouts and disciplined play, but Snake Eyez pulled it off.

3. Infiltration vs Gamerbee, 2015

As a send off to street Fighter IV, Gamerbee and Infiltration put it all out there and gave the crowd a helluva show. The intense thought between sets, the simultaneous water chugs and 90 second matches were special. This set had everything! I couldn’t have imagined a better way to end the SFIV era.

2. Dogura vs Garireo BlazBlue, 2014

Similarly to Bala vs Mad KOF, Dogura and Garireo had a similar affect. At the end of an exciting day, everyone was talking about the BlazBlue finals that started the day. One of the most emotionally charged sets ever had Garireo summoning all his focus and strength to pull off the unthinkable reset win.

1. Hungrybox vs Armada, 2016, Melee

I can’t remember a set with so many momentum changes as this one. In many instances, Hungrybox was a hit away from missing out on his first Evo title. But, he kept fighting and never gave up. In most of these games, Hungrybox went into last stock at a deficit, but as we know now Hungrybox has no conscious regardless of the set count.  Hungrybox stunned an entire crowd and kept us on the edge of our seats for 11 straight games.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

Super Smash Bros Melee Evo 2017 odds

Evolution 2017 takes place next weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in classic Vegas fashion I’m here to present the odds for Super Smash Brothers Melee. Of the 1,493 entrances, one of these players on the list below will be Evo champion. Will it be a past champion or a new name that takes the title?

9/4 Adam “Armada” Lindgren

It’s been a long time since anyone other than Armada was the favorite heading into an event. The two-time Evo champion is still amid the best year of his career. For Armada, he’s already accomplished the Melee gauntlet of tournament wins in his career. The lone achievement missing from his mantle is a third Evo title, or the “threevo.”

The 2017 tournament will be his second chance to obtain the illustrious third title that Hungrybox ripped out of his grasp in 2016. Armada will be focused and prepared. It will take an inhuman effort, like Hungrybox last year to take out Armada.

13/5 Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma

Armada is the favorite, but Hungrybox has the most recent major victory between the two of them. Smash N’ Splash 3 presented another game five set and like Evo 2016, Hungrybox edged him out. If anything, Hungrybox will have the most momentum of any player. With the recent win and the fact that he’s a returning champion, Hungrybox must feel a wave of confidence.

The key match will not be with Armada, but with Mango. The play of Mango’s Fox could be a potential hurdle en route to another championship.

Armada and Hbox, Evo 2016. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

15/5 Joseph “Mango” Marquez

Mango has had two disappointing Evo performances in the last two years. After scraping out two Evo titles previously, much was expected of him the last couple of years and in both instances Hungrybox ended his run. It was a despairing couple of losses due to the anticipation of the “threevo,” which is a title not many fighting game players hold.

The reality is that Mango still has another Evo run inside him. His talents still show up, not as often as in previous years, but the potential to win is there. This aspect makes Mango such a dangerous player heading into this weekend.

6/1 Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman

M2K is the one of the top four that has failed to win an Evo. Historically, Evo has been M2K’s worst major of the year. Some of his worst career performances have taken place at Evo. He’s never made it past a fifth-place finish. It’ll be another difficult year to break through for M2K, especially if Leffen plays up to par.

6/1 William “Leffen” Hjelte

Leffen is the wildcard once again. Recently, he’s given Armada some trouble and has pushed players like Hungrybox to their limits. Leffen rarely wins the tournament, but on any given day he’s capable of beating anyone. There’s not many players with the matchup prowess and understanding of Leffen.

18/1 Justin “Plup” McGrath

Plup is coming off a third-place finish at Evo 2016. A performance in which he took out Mango. Well, guess what? Plup will play Mango and his tournament success could ride on that matchup and if he can rewrite the history between him and Hungrybox.

25/1 Zac “SFAT” Cordoni

SFAT has cooled off a bit in 2017 after a breakout 2016, but the Fox player still has enough winnable matchups to get him over the top. SFAT avoids his problem matchups in M2K and Armada and will get ChuDat, Hungrybox and Mango. All players he’s had mild success against. If he can somehow get a win over a couple of these players, he could carry that momentum into the top 8.

30/1 Weston “Westballz” Dennis

The return of the extreme punish heavy Westballz has seemingly returned in 2017. The defense is still there, but now he’s starting to hit harder again with his Falco. He matches up with Leffen, who he has had close sets with in the past, but could run into some problems down the line.

30/1 Jeff “Axe” Williamson

Axe will have his hands full with Wizzrobe and Armada in bracket. He’ll have to play extremely well to have a shot at top 8 winners. The secret advantage Axe possesses is having the raucous Arizona crowd, which is in close proximity to the Vegas area, cheering for him.  Let’s see if Axe has the Evo main stage magic once again.

35/1 Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett

Wizzrobe could be the one underdog to place your money on this weekend. It feels like a matter of time before he has another breakout performance. He can compete with the upper echelon players and he’s starting to win more of the 50-50 matchups. Wizzrobe now has the tournament experience necessary and is a threat to win an Evo.

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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

The newcomer’s guide to Evo 2017

EVO 2017 is a monster of a three day tournament. It’s been going strong online with viewership rising steadily since 2009. With two weeks to go, we’ll give some tips on how to watch, enjoy and survive the long three day weekend of EVO. Make sure to grab some snacks.

Pre-Show: Snacks r’ Us

Courtesy of Kellog

Think of this like a Super Bowl and Wrestlemania for video games. Limited commercial breaks, minor swearing, insults, trash talking, mind games, commentators going hoarse- and that’s just Friday. A usual set up to watch as much of the action as possible requires north of three TVs, a mini fridge, assorted snacks of multiple veins. Pizza is a must order in case matches go long. It also helps to have one or two friends sit down and watch with you as this is a spectacle. Most of all, during any sort of downtime, make sure to stay hydrated in some fashion and reload any and all snacks. It helps if you’re going to watch EVO with someone to bring some food as well.

First: Know the LINEUP

Street Fighter V – The longest running staple in the fighting game scene. The premier game that gets all the attention.

Tekken 7 – The step sister to Street Fighter. Pioneering the 3-D arena combat games, it’s held in regard to Street Fighter as a near equal.

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 – A new game in an old style, Guilty Gear is the alternative to Street Fighter as a 2.5D (3D characters on a 2D plane) with flashier visuals, absurd characters and a much more underground scene.

Injustice 2 – Mortal Kombat and Justice League in one game. If one has ever wondered about Mortal Kombat, this game is the successor to it and always has a strong showing.

Super Smash Bros. Melee – The oldest played game featured on stream, Smash Bros. Melee has been a underground community until it broke into EVO a few years ago. Since then, it’s given rise to a second coming of Esports within itself and others.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U – The little cousin, Smash for WiiU or Sm4sh is more casual and easier to watch. Players in this are less famous than the Melee counterparts yet all the more entertaining as the character pool is more diverse.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction – made by the people who made Guilty Gear. It features highly detailed sprites, ridiculously combos and an in-depth combo breaking system. No character within the game is too good or too bad to be played.

King of Fighters 14 – A new game on the scene, it must fill the shoes of the last KoF which was 13. It’s legacy is more well renown internationally, as its character pool is largely diverse with interesting 3 on 3 game play.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 – The last of an old guard, MvC 3 is likely about to have its last big major at Evo 2017. It was never quite Street Fighter but it did have incredible moments tied to it.

Second: Know the Players and the scene

Street Fighter V

 

SFV logo courtesy of Capcom

Memorize these names: Daigo, Justin Wong, Infiltration, Fuudo, KnuckleDu, Xaiohai, GamerBee, Xian, LI Joe, PR Balrog, Punk, and Snake Eyez. It seems absolutely ridiculous with these names but they’re the actual notables for Street Fighter. Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara essentially built the Street Fighter scene. If you google Evo Moment Number 37, it’s those two clashing almost fifteen years prior. Older players recognize  Daigo and Justin Wong, while Infiltration, Xiaohai, Xian, PR Balrog, Fuudo, KnuckleDu, Tokido, Momochi and Bonchan made their names specifically to american crowds in Street Fighter 4. GamerBee put an exclaimation on his name by eliminating Justin Wong in a set that shocked the crowd and the bracket. Xian, Fuudo, Infiltration and Daigo are all previous EVO winners. New comer Punk looks to be the favorite for Street Fighter V and might win it all. Rarely has a unanimous favorite ever won an EVO as competition within this particular tournament is fierce and notoriety is just a target on your back.

 

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 and BlazBlue

Only one name needs to be mentioned for this and it’s Dogura. Ever since his appearance in BlazBlue, Dogura has essentially ruled most of the “anime fighters” with an iron fist in the past. Now sponsored by cyclops, Dogura looks to take another couple jewels for his crown. His opponents like Kazunoko in GG and Kizzie Kay in both GG and BlazBlue may not be so kind as to oblige. Look for a lot of the quarter finals to really open up as there’s very little wiggle room when it comes to the standings and rankings of these games. Skills gets wins and a lot of the players mentioned have spent a good chunk of time understanding the fundamentals of these games as much as the high flying combos. Their game has no weaknesses that are easily perceived.

Injustice 2

Sonic Fox holds the number one rank in nearly every game made by Nether Realm Studios. Mortal Kombat X and Injustice before that, Sonic Fox has been involved in the scene. This year however begs the question for upsets. Injustice’s balancing has shifted from the long range pokes of Deadshot and Dr. Fate to mainstays from Injustice 1, namely Aquaman, Batman and Superman. Players will likely rotate in counter picks at will as having a good back up character is a great idea to set the edge against an opponent.

Smash Bros

While the scenes are not remotely interchangeable the games are. For Melee, it’s always going to be a close debate on who wins the whole thing. Armada, Mango, Hungrybox, Mew2King are four of the five gods of Melee and despite age – nothing has changed, they still cycle between who is the best. Leffen who is more an anti-god never fails to challenge them however. If any of those five names are streamed, it’ll likely be a massacre. If two of those five names are on the screen however, the match will likely be blowing up chat, Twitter and people’s minds all at the same time. In the meantime however, the Sm4sh scene has quietly congealed into ZeRo versus everyone else. The past two years, ZeRo has essentially crushed in near every bracket he’s been in. Players like Dabuz and Nairo have stood up against ZeRo but it’s never truly fallen in their favor.

Third: Study the schedule

While Evo 2017’s schedule has yet to be posted, the event is closing in and the stream guide will be the window. Look at the games and ask yourself which ones you’re curious to see played at the highest possible levels.

No game is a bad watch and experimenting is definitely encouraged. Top picks for sure will be Injustice 2 – the early games show off a lot of the unorthodox plays and the character range will be diverse. Guilty Gear and BlazBlue always have interesting matches and will likely be great sometime on Saturday depending on the quarter and semifinals schedule. Finally, save as much energy and food for Sunday. That essentially is the gauntlet of five or six games in a row running throughout the day into the evening.

The games without knowing the order will be Sm4sh, Tekken 7, BlazBlue, Marvel 3 and Street Fighter 5 with two hours set aside for each block.  The snub for Melee is likely due to it taking an abnormally long time to finish the last two years among other reasons. Yet that absence will likely cause enough conspiracies to rise up as to why. Regardless, this guide hopefully helps get you through EVO 2017 weekend.


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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”

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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