Redbull Gods and Gatekeepers: A fresh new idea with mixed results

Melee’s at a stage in its development where trying new things is not only fresh and new but necessary. Singles tournaments are great, but the audience needs something to keep them interested aside from singles. Crew tournaments could be that outlet.

Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman showed us the potential of teams and how different compositions can work.

Yes, the M2K team was absolutely stacked: Shroomed, Duck, and Zhu create a rather tough opponent, but that wasn’t the main story coming out of Gods and Gatekeepers. No, the main story was the emergence of possibly the bigger underdog of the entire tournament.

Team SFAT. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

Zac “SFAT” Cordoni passed up depth in favor of teaming with his best bud and doubles partner Kevin “PPU” Toy. Now those two are incredible players, but the addition of Army and Ryan Ford was seemingly their downfall. Logic would say the best team is deep and not relying on any one person or strategy (hence why M2K’s team won), but that’s the exact strategy SFAT employed to reach the Grand Finals in WINNERS.

Here’s how they did it:

According to the rules, if a set extends to a game five, it’s no longer a one-vs-one match and turns into a doubles match to decide the winner. The key for team SFAT was: by any means necessary, force other teams into a game five. Considering SFAT and PPU make up the best team in the world it seemed to be a solid strategy.

For this reason, SFAT’s team was able to pull off upset after upset and fall into winners finals and eventually grand finals. Two game five wins over Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez and Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett’s teams propelled them to a second face finish. The struggles came when they got behind 2-0 in the set early and had to win out with bad matchups.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

However, M2K’s team, despite falling to Wizzrobe’s squad, didn’t have to rely on strategy. The four players on the team knew all it took was winning the individual matchups. Yes, teams could compete with them, but the overall talent was clearly a step above the rest of the competition.

The Upsets

However, the crew battles did something that no tournament has done in quite a long time. It evened the Melee playing field. It was a nice change of pace to see names not usually in the spotlight making huge plays.

Ice warming up. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

 

The inspiring Marth play from Medz to upset team Mango 3-0. The doubles performance from ChuDat’s Ice Climbers and Weston “Westballz” Dennis to take out Leffen. Each of the top seeds fell in the first round – that’s something that has never happened in singles.

A team comprised of two fringe top-50 players almost won the entire event. Regardless of your opinion of the tournament format, there’s no denying it presented a myriad of surprising and fun results. I hope to see more of these types of tournaments in the future.


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Hungrybox busts out of his slump amid controversial and wild top 8

Shine 2017 was a microcosm of the year it’s been for Smash. It ended with a struggling Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma breaking out of his slump and beating Jospeh “Mango” Marquez’s new found Falco. Prior to that matchup, the Sunday afternoon was filled with bedlam and plenty of controversies. It was a good time for everyone not named MattDotZeb or Leffen.

ChuDat and Leffen in set one. Photo via twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

The Controller Controversy

Now some might think the University of Central Florida (UCF) played a major role in a decision made by the Shine tournament organizers on Sunday. That was unfortunately not the case. In fact, all the controversy that has dominated the headlines comes from a new mod from the 20xx team that was made legal before the event started.

If you haven’t heard, William “Leffen” Hjelte lost an extremely close set to Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguz in the top 8, but according to the tournament rules, the set had to be replayed because the Universal Controller Fix (UCF) was turned off during the set. It was a complete oversight by the Shine crew, but one that isn’t completely shocking considering this is one of the first events to run with UCF on during play.

In short, Leffen noticed that the UCF was off and went through the necessary channels to field his complaint. His complaint was heard and despite losing the set, the Shine organizers decided to replay the entire set – a decision that has since rocked the Smash community.

Unfortunately for ChuDat, this oversight was at the expense of his tournament placing. It not only erased one of the more exciting sets of 2017 but actively changed the results. Opinions aside, mistakes happen and though it was a pretty glaring omission, Chu decided to play the set out. And let’s remember, these players aren’t playing for fun. If it’s in the rules it must be handled accordingly.

S2J after beating Shroomed 3-0. Photo via twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

The Curse is broken

Changing the subject, let’s talk about the play at this event. Aside from a flurry of second round upsets, the emergence of Johnny “S2J” Kim was the real story. It’s not only that S2J was able to do the seemingly impossible, but the fact that he did it in the most impressive way imaginable.

Moreover, most people will walk away from this tournament remembering the image of S2J landing the knee on Yoshi’s Island top platform to finally beat Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman. A week prior, I watched in amazement as S2J ran circles around Professor Pro in Europe. At Shine, that intense, mesmerizing speed showed up again and pushed S2J to his best major result ever.

It was a dazzling display of follow-ups, tech chases, and staying one step ahead of his opponents based off of his reaction timings. It was one of those moments where the sheer amazement of what a person was able to accomplish in the game boiled to the surface. The ending of the “curse” got one of the best crowd receptions all year and for good reason.

Hungrybox the slump buster

Finally, after a month of avoiding Hungrybox, the world got to see what character decision Mango would make in the matchup. Obviously, Mango has made a consorted effort to stick with the bird, but not having to face Hungrybox seemingly played into the decision. At Shine, all those questions were answered.

In light of Hungrybox struggling against the likes of Justin “Plup” McGrath and losing to M2K’s Fox, it was unclear when he would make his turn back into a top three. Any knowledgeable Smash fan would realize it was only a matter of time. It took a more conservative and focused effort but Hungrybox finally got back to his place on the pedestal.

On the other hand, Mango’s had another strong August. The return to Falco pushed that along, but with no Adam “Armada” Lindgren waiting in the shadows and a slumping Hungrybox, Mango had a little easier time maneuvering through the bracket. The first real test for his Falco finally presented itself: Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff.

Now conventionally, Falco hypothetically wins the Jigglypuff matchup. But, as we all know, Hungrybox has elevated Puff outside the modern meta-game. It no longer becomes a Jigglypuff matchup when facing the experience and skill of Hungrybox. Most pros, including Armada, believe Fox should be the pick for Mango, but others opinions have never influenced Mango before.

Mango stuck to his principles and didn’t switch off Falco until desperation time. At that point, it was too little too late, but there was more success in that matchup for Mango than with Falco. Mango didn’t do necessarily a bad job with Falco, but the limitations in Falco’s grab game and kill-setups were apparent. It was an important win for Hungrybox to get him back on the right track and should present Mango with another tough decision in their next meeting.


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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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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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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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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

Smash Rivalries Ends With The East Coast and Hungrybox Stealing the Show

The West coast squad ended up winning the crew battle on Saturday, but the East coast players showed up at Yahoo Esports Smash Rivalries singles tournament on Sunday. The top three players were all from the East coast, along with five of the top eight. The best player from the East coast, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, won his second consecutive event, taking it over Captain Falcon main Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet.

Zac “SFAT” Cordoni happy. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/yahooesports

Aside from Wizzrobe’s surprising performance, Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna also stepped up and finished third. It was a day of interesting results as two of the expected favorites fell out of the tournament before the top six and both Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman finished well below their average placings.

Wizzrobe not only made himself the third player in history to take out M2K with Falcon, but he sent him to losers with a 3-0 sweep. He went on to take a set off Hungrybox in the Grand Finals and beat DruggedFox, James “Duck” Ma, and Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez with a combined set count of 12-1. He ended up going down to Hungrybox 8-3 (3-0, 2-3, 3-0).

Hungrybox took care of business as usual. He once again proved how consistent of a player he’s become, as the rest of the God’s had one of their worst days in recent memory. It was also a fairly dominant effort, considering Hungrybox’s 17-5 record on the day. He did face three consecutive Fox players in Zac “SFAT” Cordoni , DruggedFox, and Joey “Lucky” Aldama before his match with Wizzrobe.

Graphic Courtesy of twitch.tv/yahooesports

Smash Rivalries provided us matchups like Ice Climbers vs. Captain Falcon in a winners semifnals. That’s almost unheard of at Melee tournament nowadays.

ChuDat moves to 2-0 against Mango in 2017 with another 3-2 win. Mango’s lack of Smash DI out of the Chu’S jab setups was his demise.

With this in mind, the Melee tournament landscape is starting to evolve and the top players are starting to get figured out. Mango’s off to the worst start to a year with three straight finishes outside the top five. He went Falco for every set aside from his matchup with ChuDat.

Here are the rest of the results:
1. Liquid Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)
2. Wizzrobe (C. Falcon)
3. DruggedFox (Fox)
4. CLG SFAT (Fox)
5. Tempo Axe (Pikachu)
5. VGBC ChuDat (Ice Climbers)
7. RNG Swedish Delight (Sheik)
7. C9 Mango (Falco/Fox)

The character diversity was seen throughout the tournament. The fact that a Pikachu, Ice Climbers, Captain Falcon, and Jigglypuff made deep bracket runs is evidence of that. Even with a Fox heavy field, the mid-tier characters hit hard.

Wizzrobe’s style and game plan switched drastically from player to player. Also, Jeff “Axe” Williamson uses Pikachu’s strongest tools to their highest potential.

For this reason, these top players have taken these characters to their limit. Hungrybox is redefining the meta-game with how people look at Jigglypuff. In almost every situation, Hungrybox seems to find the advantage. This was the case at smash Rivalries.

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