5. Ice vs Silent Wolf: The Big House 6
One of the most overlooked sets of the year, Ice vs Silent Wolf in an incredible Fox mirror. Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno just got through his most promising win, possibly of his career, taking out M2K. He then faced Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, a Fox main who was on fire that month. It was a collision course of extremely technical game play with a chance at top-8 at a super major.
The set went five games. Every game was last hit, last stock. It was a huge opportunity for two players looking to break through their ceilings. Ice got the win, but in a back-and-forth set both players got validation. It also provided the audience with one of the best played Fox mirrors in 2016.
4. Mango vs Plup: Smash Summit 2
Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Justin “Plup” McGrath have had plenty of epic sets in the past, but this one might take it as the best. Plup has a history of giving Mango trouble, and starting the set off with a three stock seemed to spell the same story once again.
Mango, in the most dire of circumstances, proved once again he can make magic happen. After falling behind on game five, Mango landed one of the clutchest zero-to-death combos in Melee history to take the set. One second, the hope for the nation was dwindling, and the other second he’s taking the set with a soft neutral-air to up-smash kill. Even the top Melee players at the event couldn’t believe what they witnessed.
3. N0ne vs M2K: Get On My Level 2016
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman hadn’t lost to a Captain Falcon in tournament in an extremely long time. It just didn’t happen. That’s until M2K took his talents to Canada and fought one of the up and coming Falcon mains in Melee: Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby
With the Canadian crowd behind him, N0ne’s crouch cancelling play style gave the most proficient player in the matchup trouble. It was the biggest upset of the year and legitimized N0ne as a serious tournament threat. It was arguably the most hyped a crowd has gotten all year long.
2. Mango vs Armada: Genesis 3
The most anticipated matchup of the last century happened at Genesis 3. The third installment of the Adam “Armada” Lindgren vs Mango Genesis rivalry was nothing short of spectacular. It almost felt like…destiny.
Mango had to make one of his patented losers bracket runs to even get a shot at Armada. Despite all the odds, Mango fed off the raucous Northern California crowd and set up the rematch. It came down to a second set, after Mango was able to reset the bracket. To the dismay of the NorCal crowd, Armada’s switch to Peach was the difference.
Mango reignited the passion of Melee fans around the world. Armada was able to do what he’s done since Genesis 1, and that was to adjust and win. It was enthralling from start-to-finish and started the year off with a classic final.
1. Armada vs Hungrybox: Evolution 2016
Hungrybox’s miraculous comeback over Armada at Evolution 2016 will be remembered in the fighting game community forever. In the sold-out Mandalay Bay arena, the stakes had never been higher. Two of the game’s greatest players on the biggest stage of their careers, playing for the most prestigious title in Melee.
The storylines were fantastic heading into the set, but the match itself surpassed all the hype behind it. Hungrybox was able to overcome all the odds to make three almost insurmountable comebacks to take it in an epic 10-game set. His almost inhuman-like ability to stay calm in the midst of overwhelming pressure defined what made Hungrybox great in 2016. He showed that in abundance by winning his first Evo title over Armada.
It could be considered one of the single best Melee sets of all time. In the moment, the entire audience was living-and-dying on every hit, every Jigglypuff rest. It didn’t seem possible until it happened.