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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Leffen Wins Second Consecutive Get on My Level Melee Title

Ice and Leffen. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evenmatchupgaming

What is it about Canada that makes William “Leffen” Hjelte untouchable? Is it the Canadian crowd that’s passion boils over into the gameplay? Or possibly, Leffen just feels more comfortable north of the border. Whatever the case, Leffen now owns two Get On My Level trophies.

 

Coincidence or not, Leffen took care of business in back-to-back years with dominating performances. At GOML 2017, Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma was the victim of another strong winners bracket run from Leffen. It wasn’t a clean sweep, but every game Leffen came out victorious rather convincingly. He had three separate three-stock wins and two two-stock wins.

After achieving another doubles title with his European partner Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, Leffen’s play showed a singles championship run was possible. Edging out DaJuan “Shroomed”McDaniels and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni started the run on Saturday as the momentum carried over to Sunday. Leffen only dropped one game before his matchup with Hungrybox.

Luck is always a factor

Competition breeds story lines because of the passion in which one competes. In this, characters are developed and a plot is set in motion. The famous Mango losers bracket runs, or Mango reaching Armada in Genesis grand finals is an example of this. All these patterns that develop over-time feel as if they’re scripted. How or why does life work like that?

I’m not trying to get existential over Melee, but Leffen’s performance feels as if it’s another example of certain patterns that don’t seemingly make senses on the surface. As I tried to explain earlier, the reasoning for this is unknown. It seems to be a combination of many different factors with a hint of luck.

Does the absence of Armada, Mango, and Mew2King from GOML push destiny along? Absolutely. It’s a different tournament with those names in the bracket, but here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. Leffen came to defend his title regardless of who’s registered. Luck is a factor, but he still had to go through players that have bested him in the past.

 

The Grand finals

Hungrybox is 4-1 against Leffen in 2017. Even with some success against Hungrybox in the past, it’s still a mighty difficult task for Leffen to beat a player who has much more experience playing with the stakes as high as Grand Finals. The largest advantage for Leffen being his understanding of the Jigglypuff matchup.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evenmatchupgaming

 

Facing Hungrybox is unlike any other Puff main. Yes, Leffen plays the correct way to beat the character, but it’s an entirely different thing to try and outsmart, and outperform Hungrybox. That’s what makes this performance even more special. From the start of game one, it was clear who had the advantage. Leffen built large leads and stayed committed to his solid game plan.

A year after running the gauntlet at GOML 2016, Leffen comes back off a 2017 filled with plenty of struggles and wins his first event of the year. Ironically, his last win came against Hungrybox at Don’t Park on the Grass at the backend of 2016. It’s a performance to get him back on track after failing to make Evo top 8.

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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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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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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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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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ChuDat’s Run is Changing the Game

The Melee community is deep into a discussion on whether or not a ledge grab limit should be implemented to combat camping. Relative to ledge camping, the Maryland Melee scene recently banned wobbling in lieu of a community decision. All these issues arising in the last month can be traced back to one man: Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez.

However, ChuDat isn’t the root of the community’s discourse. He just happens to be excelling in a time where the community is keeping a close eye on these types of game mechanics. Since wobbling was discovered, it’s been a nuisance for some members of the Melee scene. It’s also cultivated a style of extreme defensive play predicated on getting as many grabs as possible.

ChuDat is seen as the proprietor of this Ice Climbers style in this dilemma. Chu has no shame as a player. He has his game plan and forces his opponents to counter it. The patience displayed by Chu should be commended. He’s not going to change his play based on a community outcry to try and make specific Ice Climbers matchups more entertaining.

For example, we’ll take a look at the Grand Finals from this weekend. Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, the premier Jigglypuff player in Melee, fell down 2-0 to ChuDat. In most cases, Hungrybox will play an in-and-out style where he dances out of aerial range with Jigglypuff’s four extra jumps. This forces opponents to find a way into Hungrybox’s defensive zone.

In Grand Finals, ChuDat would never approach, and he essentially camped under platforms. After getting punished in the first couple games through approaching, Hungrybox decided to be more passive and stay away from the center of the stage. In turn, this made the next three games about outlasting one another and winning in a small number of micro engagements.

Ultimately, early leads were able to carry Hungrybox to his second Dreamhack title. But three straight games lasting 6+ minutes left a bad taste in some Melee fans’ mouths. Some people blame Hungrybox, some people blame ChuDat. In the end, no player is to blame, for this is just the nature of the game.

The question becomes, is this an actual problem? It’s funny because these types of complaints seem to be on a cycle. Many times in the past, the legitimacy of wobbling has been argued. Also, anytime Hungrybox is forced to use Jigglypuff’s ledge tactics, the conversation pops up again. It’s like clockwork.

Do we need a ledge guard limit?

Absolutely not. The only time it would be applicable is when it comes to Jigglypuff players. Taking away that advantage severely hinders that character’s ability to win. It’d be completely unfair to players like Hungrybox to implement a ruling that’s so outwardly unfair toward Puff mains.

The Brawl days are over. Despite the results on Sunday, we’ve seen plenty of tactics to counter ledge stalling. Adam “Armada” Lindgren had similar difficulties against Hbox in 2016, but kept making tweaks and forced him off that game plan.

In conclusion, anytime Hungrybox seems to play more defensive, the community throws a fit. Even against a player committed to not approaching, fans still show their dismay. As Hungrybox said on his stream, if money is on the line, then he’ll do whatever it takes to win. That’s the most sound argument to be made. The strategy can be beaten and isn’t broken. Anyone who dislikes this style doesn’t truly understand the game of Melee and how it’s meant to be played.
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Hungrybox’s Approach to Win Dreamhack Austin: Don’t Approach

Approaching in Melee is a dangerous proposition. Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma has perfected the art of forcing opponents to approach and punishing them to their deaths. Even against Daniel “ChuDatz” Rodriguez’s defensive minded Ice Climbers in Grand Finals at Dreamhack Austin, Hungrybox forced approaches.

Hungrybox makes his opponent plays long, drawn-out games. Aside from the air-spacing, ledge and platform camping, the mental game Hungrybox plays is his most potent weapon. It’s hard to outlast him, especially if the main aspect of a game plan is to play defensively. A large number of entrants struggled in this regard.

Hungrybox’s Dreamhack Austin marks his third major win of the year. It’s another instance of Hungrybox’s consistency pushing him into a title. His path to his second Dreamhack title went through four top-20 players, including Justin “Plup” McGrath, Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett, and eventually beating Chu. A 12-3 (4-0 in sets) record showed he had little trouble.

ChuDat’s Improbable Run

Aside from Hungrybox’s win, Jospeh “Mango” Marquez returned to form making it back to top 8 winners with a solid 3-0 victory over William “Leffen” Hjelte. Unfortunately for the Mango nation, he dropped his third set in 2017 to ChuDat. Three “yaayyahyuz” at three straight tournaments.

ChuDat avoided having to face Adam “Armada” Lindgren due to controller issues, but he still had to fight his way through two Gods while pushing Hungrybox to his limits. A Nana forward smash ended Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman’s day while Mango made too many mental mistakes. As a matter of fact, ChuDat has earned a placing in the top 8 at every major he’s entered in 2017. His return to prominence has been nothing short of remarkable.

In the elimination games, Mango grabbed game one off M2K before dropping three straight on the larger stages (Final Destination and Dream Land). After winning teams on Friday and having a strong Saturday, his recent struggles showed up again. Mango’s in one of the worst slumps of his illustrious career.

Regardless, Hungrybox takes the spotlight away from a momentum based player making their rise. It’s a time-old tradition where Hungrybox ruthlessly stomps on his opponent’s carry over momentum with his ability to change the pace of play. Chu mentally prepared for the aggressive Mango style and didn’t prepare for a potential matchup with Hungrybox.

In the Grand Finals, both guys were playing to win by playing their style. ChuDat landed a few grab setups, but his strength was avoiding hits with Sopo. He tacked on plenty of damage with just Sopo. Hungrybox adjusted and made sure to win neutral early to play with the clock on his side. The strategy earned him his second Dreamhack trophy.


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Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/Dreamhack

Plup’s Luigi Pleases the Crowd at CEO: Dreamland; Mew2King Takes Home Top Prizes

The CEO: Dreamland win for Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman was impressive. He beat top seeded Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, overcoming a 2-4 2017 record against Hbox. The bounce back win was a great story, but it took a back seat to the rise of Luigi.

The last month for Justin “Plup” McGrath was not spent playing Melee. Plup, being a top-10 player, spent the last couple weeks traveling across South Korea and focusing on anything but Melee. In his first tournament back, the readiness and performance was in question. Then, late Saturday night, Plup sent out this tweet:

In light of this tweet, Plup took to the CEO ballroom floor and proceeded to turn heads with a character most people would say couldn’t win a major. Plup’s Luigi was assumed a gimmick when the day started, but no one was thinking that at the end of the day.

Furthermore, Plup took out Michael “Nintendude” Brancato and Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, proving early on his Luigi was for real. He made it into a winners semifinal at a major by going all Luigi. It’s a rare sight seeing Luigi anywhere near Top 8. Stephen “Abate” Abate was the first Luigi to make a deep run at The Big House 5 where he almost brought the venue down with his win over Johnny “S2J” Kim (the invisible celing set). The play of Ben “Luigikid” Tolan making deep runs at SSS, and Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincon help legitimize Luigi with strong wins in Southern California.

The best part is Plup has no recorded tournament sets with Luigi, so in his first try he finished fifth. He gave the eventual champion, M2K, a ride before the inevitable readjustments coming from M2K’s counter pick of Marth from Sheik.

SFAT Loses the Runback

SFAT and M2K. Photo courtesy of YouTube.com/vgbootcamp

It’s rarer than rare to see a performance similar to Zac “SFAT” Cordoni’s at CEO: Dreamland. The only other player with similar results that come to mind is William “Leffen” Hjelte who has beaten multiple gods before he was considered one himself. SFAT is slowly developing those next level mind games to be able to compete with the likes of M2K and Hungrybox.

Despite a 2-16 lifetime record against M2K for SFAT, he entered grand finals up 3-2 in sets against a player who’s absolutely had his number. All signs pointed to SFAT winning his first major with Gods in attendance. But, as history has shown us before, never count out any of the Gods to get the reset win in grand finals.

M2K, who lost in game 5 against SFAT in winners finals, made key adjustments and played better on Final Destination. Two of the best players statistically on Final Destination played four games on the flat stage. The count was 2-2, but M2K took back stage control and forced his will on SFAT’s Fox.

Unfortunately, SFAT ran into M2K who has historically had his number. The southern California Fox main is creeping into the title conversation. He’s real close to breaking the ceiling, but M2K wasn’t going to let that happen at CEO: Dreamland.

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