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Published May 7, 2018

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MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

MEW2KING WON SUMMIT!!!!

Where do I even start?

1. Armada Silences His Doubters

2018 hasn’t been a kind year for Armada in Melee. He started it off by losing to Leffen twice at Valhalla and then finishing a relatively disappointing fourth at Genesis 5. With his nearly four month break away from Melee, he gave absolutely no reason for me or any Melee analyst to rank him any higher than fourth on the Melee Stats Power Rankings.

Smash Summit 6 started off by confirming my fears surrounding his standing in the metagame. In addition to looking vulnerable in the exhibition events, with 2saint coming a stock close of defeating him in a single match, the once indestructible Swede looked quite underwhelming in spurts throughout pools and, frankly speaking, initially looked like a shell of his former self.

Though he swept SFAT in losers bracket and beat aMSa 3-1 for seventh, the set counts are misleading. Armada was dropping edgeguards that were normally automatic, not following through with on-stage punishes and playing on auto-pilot through a lot of his early losers matches. Against SFAT and aMSa, that was enough, but versus a player of Mew2King’s caliber, it clearly didn’t work.

But once the Fox came out? Suddenly, Armada became reinvigorated. In a set that many expected him to lose, Armada thrashed Plup 3-0, ending his stocks in brutal, efficient form and never giving the Floridian a chance to heat up. Plup himself played inconsistently throughout most of Summit, especially against Zain, but Armada spanking him nonetheless illustrated the Swede at his best.

He wasn’t done there. After going back-and-forth with the world’s best player for their first four games, Armada dominated Hungrybox in their conclusive game five, finally snapping a five-set losing streak against his former kryptonite. Throughout the week leading up to Smash Summit, I joked with my fellow Melee Stats members about Armada viewing destroying Jigglypuff as his destiny – and perhaps that he cared more about beating Hungrybox than winning the event. By the end of losers semifinals, I’m not so sure I should have been joking.

Armada would finish second at this tournament, having defeated arguably the two best players in the world. So how about the guy in third?

2. Zain Bursts Onto The Scene

Sadly, since I began the underdog run series, I haven’t been able to count many performances that have happened since. Last weekend, Zain might have just had a run for the ages.

Entering the event as the world No. 12, Zain was someone whom many people saw as talented, but also a relative one-trick pony against Fox and Falco. As someone who watched Zain get bodied by Armada and Leffen in friendly sessions heading up to Summit, I tempered my expectations for him at the event, especially since the kind of players he’d be facing would be top class, much like those he trained with.

Instead, Zain showed off some of the cleanest Marth play in recent memory. The Zain who viewers saw get obliterated by Captain Smuckers three months ago for being stuck in the corner wasn’t the same one we saw actively engage Mango, force whiffs from the normally disciplined Plup and outclass Mew2King’s Sheik.

By the eye test, he looked like a far better player than he did just a few weeks ago. Going 1-5 in Marth ditto games against Mew2King and losing his last played sets against La Luna and PewPewU, alongside a career losing record against Rishi, showcases a clear matchup weakness, though if Zain’s shown anything, it’s that he can quickly patch up holes in his gameplay.

I wouldn’t expect him to beat Armada, let alone Axe or aMSa yet. But adding Mango to his resume and finishing third at the premiere invitational series in Melee? That’s probably around the middle or bottom half of the top ten underdog runs ever.

3. The Bird Is The Word

Mango started off the event with a bang, defeating both Hungrybox and Armada in pools with Falco. Instantly, people began comparing Mango’s Falco to PPMD, but I think that’s simplistic. More accurately, Mango just played far more disciplined and the risks he took worked out, rather than leading to him losing a stock.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen Mango’s Falco do well against floaties. At GOML 2016, he won a game as Falco against Armada’s Peach and came extremely close to defeating him at the first Summit. DreamHack Winter 2016 wasn’t exactly a great showing for him against Hungrybox, but at Shine 2017, Mango showed far more promise, keeping most of their games close and taking some matches.

Although his seventh place at Summit looks disappointing on the surface, watch his matches. There’s only one weakness Mango showed: sometimes when he knows he’s playing well, he goes “in” too hard. This was particularly evident against Zain, who, to his credit, made the most out of the little neutral exchanges that went his way and outpunished Mango, who clearly didn’t expect Zain to improve so quickly.

Against Hungrybox in their second set, Mango lost a few “coin flip” situations that could have easily swung the flow of the set in his direction. I was extremely impressed with Mango’s Falco at the event and fully expect to see more of it moving forward.

A small part of me wonders if the decision to go solo Falco came from genuinely viewing it as his best all-around character or simply just showing people that he didn’t have to focus on Fox.

Whether we see his Fox again or not, I think Mango proved his point.

4. Miscellaneous Other Summit Takeaways

How about aMSa beating Hungrybox? It’s one thing for a Yoshi to do well at a major, but to defeat Jigglypuff through somehow hype camping strategies, let alone the world’s best player? I would have probably given aMSa more than 20:1 odds heading into their set. This is by the far the best victory of his career and furthermore adds to a legacy that I may have criminally underrated in the past.

Speaking of which, let’s cool it on the “Hungrybox is carried by the Fox meta” conclusions. The metagame became so Fox oriented because he beat every other character main. It feels awfully reductive to somehow point to his dominance against the rest of the field as proof of everyone else being that much worse.

Summit was relatively disappointing for him, and I thought Hungrybox played uncharacteristically sloppy, but don’t overreact. This guy is still the current No. 1.

One other point I want to mention: I really thought Leffen played some of his best Melee throughout the entire event. From exhibitions to pools to bracket itself, he had an established gameplan for each matchup and executed so well for the majority of his matches.

It’s unfortunate for him that his Achilles heel – guessing wrongly in high variance situations near the ledge and sometimes playing antsy when in do-or-die situations – tends to manifest itself as sets go on, though this might be armchair psychology.

Right now, his biggest roadblock looks like the opponent who he had once looked dominant over: Hungrybox. The Swedish Fox has lost his last six sets against him. Forget talk about Leffen’s “struggles” against Marth. He needs to hold it together over his most hated rival.

5. The King’s Quest

Last week, I wrote that Mew2King was Melee’s last guardian against Hungrybox. The two ended up not playing, but it didn’t make a difference. On the final day of Summit, the current world No. 6 rode Marth all the way to achieve his first ever true championship level win in over a decade, once again proving my point that any time he looks like he should succeed or fail, predict the opposite.

If you’re a Mew2King fan, you know that anguish is mostly what you’ve signed up for. The ways that Mew2King came up short for over a decade have ranged from bad luck (SD’ing against Armada in game one of their Evo 2013 set) to downright demoralizing (Paragon Orlando 2015) and practically comical circumstances (9th at Genesis 3, several sets against ChuDat, etc).

It’s not that Mew2King’s career is defined by losing, but most of it has centered around his quest for winning, well, “the big one,” which eluded him even when he was No. 1.  Back then, he boasted impressive victories at smaller majors that didn’t feature all the top players, but he still lost at larger events featuring everyone, like Evo World 2007 and Pound 3. Since his prime, Mew2King has occasionally won events like The Big House 3, Shine 2016, CEO Dreamland and Canada Cup 2017, but when it came to tourneys featuring everyone, it’s been primarily heartbreak.

Think about it. Many of Melee’s most historic moments, from Mango’s arwing rest at Pound 3 to Armada’s breakout Genesis and PPMD winning Revival of Melee 3 involve Mew2King being on the losing end. His legendary UGC run at the end of 2016 just about embodies the spirit of Mew2King’s career: always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.

When the long tortured veteran whooped on Armada’s Fox in the climactic game four of grand finals, I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing, between Mew2King’s newly found discipline and resilience against Armada’s Peach – the ultimate bane of his career – and him being on championship point. I dreaded the inevitable Mew2King choke; the moment where some out-of-game circumstance like the television turning off midset, Mew2King’s headphones breaking, his controller not working, etc. But it never came.

Strangely enough, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mew2King’s run came in a bracket performance where he got to play all Marth, his strongest asset. If his path to grand finals went something like ChuDat>Axe>Leffen>Hungrybox, I’d feel reliably skeptical of his chances.

The format of Summit may have also helped Mew2King. Along with the event running for four days, Top 16 dragged on throughout all of Sunday, essentially making the event feel like a marathon. I don’t have any data to back this up, but anecdotally, Mew2King is the kind of player that only benefits from endless grinding out of matchups, no matter who he’s playing against.

Conversely, I intuitively believe that Leffen and Plup are the kind of competitors who tend to burn out with too much downtime between matches. Even Armada looked exhausted during the second half of grand finals. Don’t think of this as a john for his opponents as much of a testament to Mew2King’s stamina.

I have to be honest: as a pseudo-historian, writer, former competitor, Marth and fan, Mew2King’s triumph was an extremely emotional moment for me. It was my girlfriend’s birthday, but long after she went to bed, I watched Summit from my phone in the kitchen and began tearing up after seeing him in complete shock from winning the tournmanet. For anyone else, I would have interpreted a “I win?” statement as obnoxious, but for Mew2King, I couldn’t help but feel a rush of pride.

I can’t say I know Mew2King personally, but he’s an inspiring story for many people, between his struggles with autism (a condition which affects many of those close to me, including my younger sister), depression and even his existential crises outside of Melee. For example, it feels like only yesterday when Mew2King was seemingly caught up in dumb bullshit for every month of 2015, most of which he was usually in the wrong for. This was also the same year in which he also frequently pondered quitting Melee for Smash 4, similar to his flirting of Melee retirement throughout the Brawl era.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a column from me without a terrible pop culture reference. Remember the end of “Band Geeks” from SpongeBob Squarepants, where Squidward Tentacles, the butt of so many jokes – and low-key, the most relatable character in the entire series – finally wins? When after episodes making a hilarious mockery out of his torment and abject failures, he shines in his greatest moment?

Well, Mew2King finally had his moment. And I couldn’t be any happier for him.

What I like:

  • Take a wild guess.

What I don’t like:

  • What’s there not to like? Melee’s amazing.

2 Comments

  1. Bo Peng Bo Peng

    What a well written article. Great content and great points. I’ve never been so excited for what melee has in store for us.

  2. Metamere Metamere

    That was a wonderful article. Thanks for sharing your very well-informed perspective.

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