This series is a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In it, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the Smash community. Consider this a mix of news and mild takes. Featured image from Smash Studio’s Twitter – will take down, if requested.
Just like that, another weekend of a Super Smash. Bros. Melee major is over. Amid a sea of dropouts, DQs and bodies falling around him, Armada took the top spot at Super Smash Con 2018, notably in a thrilling ten game grand finals with the runner-up Mew2King. They took turns going blow-for-blow with one another, with some games featuring memorable last-stock exchanges. It almost made me forget the rest of the tournament, which had its own surprises.
1. The Super Smash Con Casualties
Sorry to the fanz but I had to drop out of Smashcon.
Feeling super dizzy, nauseous, and my fevers going up. Going back to bed.
Love y'all. I'll see you when I feel better.
— Mike Haze (@MikeHazeGaming) August 12, 2018
officially not going to play at smashcon 2018. Seems like I'm only getting worse, despite plenty of water and medicine. Even if I'd struggled thru today theres no use if I will feel even worse tomorrow.
Sorry to everyone. I will consider going to Shine instead to make up for it.
— leffen (@TSM_Leffen) August 11, 2018
I just had 5 Uber's cancel on me in a row o my lord I ain't makin it to smashcon
— Justin McGrath (@PG_Plup) August 10, 2018
I am going to focus on 64 at SSC this year since it's the biggest 64 tournament.
— Wizzrobe (@Wizzrobe) August 10, 2018
While these DQs were obviously disappointing – and you’ll notice that I left out another notable “DQ” that I’ll explore later – in Plup’s case, his came from something beyond his control. Moreover, it is perfectly within a player’s right to withdraw from bracket, and I disavow a lot of the discourse surrounding professionals being “spoiled” or “entitled” to playing in better conditions.
It’s not a coincidence is that the DQs happened a weekend immediately following one of the year’s biggest majors, one in which a player suffered an on-stage panic attack. This is clearly not an acceptable standard to hold our top competitors to, and if they don’t want to play, that’s their choice. Smashers are not entitled to watch their favorite players – there needs to be an expectation that people like Leffen and MikeHaze will and should to prioritize their health over potentially letting down fans.
However, as far as Wizzrobe goes, why enter Melee in the first place? I don’t know the circumstances behind Hax’s DQ either; only that it’s funny that he wasn’t present in one of the few (if the only) majors of the year to actively let him compete.
2. Upsets Galore!
In the wake of dropouts, SSC had its fair share of upsets before top eight. Because it’d be too lengthy to give my full thoughts on every single one, I’ll post some of my general notes across pools and Top 32.
First off, what a tournament for Jigglypuffs beneath Hungrybox. At the top of notable Puff victories stands Melee’s own version of Anakin Skywalker: Jerry. A former Top 100 Fox-turned Puff, it’s clear that he’s adjusted to the character just fine. He defeated Ice in a tight set and 2-0’d SFAT, resting him for nearly every stock of the set.
Furthermore, Tristate’s 42nd eliminated ChuDat at 65th, a week after Chu took Hungrybox to last stock at Evo, and then overcame SFAT, sending the NorCal Fox out at 33rd. Coincidentally, all of 42nd’s notable sets, including one against Plank, came to their last game – his losses to Flipsy and Darktooth were respectively 2-1 and 3-2.
To add to the list of Jigglypuff victories, HiFi defeated Captain Smuckers in pools. Before that, Cascade conquered Zamu and Juicebox to make phase 2 on winner’s side.
On a different note, DrunkSloth beat ARMY, iBDW, AbsentPage and vortex to eventually finish 9th, losing only to Frenzy (who relatively lucked out in his still-impressive, but not as difficult run to 9th) and aMSa. It’s not as if ARMY or iBDW were playing subpar for the whole tournament either. ARMY tore through a loser’s bracket that included Overtriforce, Rik, Android, Ice, Zain (who had just lost a heartbreaking set, 3-2 to Hungrybox) and Rishi en route to fifth. Meanwhile, iBDW added sets over Westballz and KJH (also fresh off a nailbiting loss with Hungrybox) to his resume.
Speaking of Westballz, as one of his more vocal defenders, it sucks that the individual losses at majors to players like Ralph, Ka-Master, Rik, KPAN and Spark are looking closer to the norm, rather than just one, two or three outliers. With all due respect to these five players, someone who is Top 20 should not consistently lose to players outside of the Top 50 at major events (though Spark has done it twice). In Westballz’s defense, one of the points in his favor was that his records against people around his skill tier, like Wizzrobe and the rest of SoCal, were remarkably strong relative to others around him. At some point though, the difference between “major Westballz” and “regional Westballz” will hurt his standing, if it hasn’t already.
3. What’s Up With Mango?
Famously predicted by Melee Stats Podcast guest Pikachu942 and scoffed at by me and our lead producer/co-host SaveAsUntitled, Flipsy defeated Mango in phase 2 of pools, leading to Mango DQ’ing himself from bracket at a ghastly 65th place. Counting major tournaments that Mango actually played a significant number of matches in, SSC 2018 is by far the worst showing of his career.
A friend texted me after Mango’s set against Flipsy and asked me where it ranked in all-time Melee upset history – and honestly, I haven’t fully processed it. Perhaps it’s because of the other dropouts of the event, but in my mind the set initially registered the same way of his sandbagged losses to DrunkSloth and Kels last year.
For the people giving me shit
I stream 40 hours plus a week while trying to be a top player while not being happy with my results while never turning down a fan for whatever while trying to be a family man
99.9999 percent of you couldn't make it in shoes so
S T F U
— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) August 12, 2018
In defense of myself, there’s been a lot of Bad Takes surrounding Mango over the last few months. The first Bad Take is that putting him above Mew2King before SSC was somehow proof of “Mango bias,” despite Mew2King’s 13th place at Evo and greater amount of upset losses within the year. I wouldn’t have minded Mew2King above Mango during the MPGR ranking period, at least if you heavily valued his Summit victory, but it wasn’t unreasonable to view Mango’s records against the field as superior, at the time.
Following SSC though, I don’t think you can argue for Mango above Mew2King in good faith. Along with a devastatingly bad loss, what’s concerning for Mango is his increasingly poor record against his contemporaries. Before Low Tier City 6, he went 3-6 with fellow members of the Big Six, but since then has racked up more losses. For a comparison, Mew2King had a 4-9 record, but at least he’s scored two more wins (Hungrybox and Armada) to take away from his few defeats. When combined with Mango’s recent losses against the field (ARMY and Flipsy), Mango has definitely lost ground in places where he formerly held a measurable advantage.
However, another Bad Take is that Wizzy has somehow surpassed Mango. Don’t get me wrong – Wizzy is clearly the easy choice for No. 7 in the world, but he’s never beaten Mango, Plup or Armada. He’s close, and winning Optic Arena over Hungrybox is a tremendous accomplishment, but if you look at the data, Wizzy isn’t quite in the top tier of players yet. As disappointing as Mango’s lows are, collectively they are not cumulatively worse than losing to Kels, Westballz, n0ne, S2J and Colbol.
There is quite a bit of credit to be given to Flipsy for the victory of his career. Over the last year or so, he’s quietly become one of the best Ice Climbers on the East Coast, with victories over the likes of Gahtzu and DaShizWiz in his state. He also boasts a case for No. 1 in South Florida. Although I never would have expected him to beat Mango, keep an eye out for Flipsy if he ever decides to travel to more majors.
4. Top 8 Takeaways
- In arguably the most impressive showing of the tournament, Armada ruthlessly beat down Hungrybox in winner’s finals. Were it not for Mew2King taking Armada to the brink, the lingering memory of the Swede utterly running a train on the world No. 1 (?) would have been the main takeaway for viewers.
- After playing recklessly against Hungrybox in winner’s semifinals, Mew2King had a mini-run of his own in loser’s, where he downloaded aMSa in a convincing 3-1, won a highly entertaining but cheese-filled 3-2 set over PewPewU, smacked around a shadow-realmed Hungrybox 3-0 and then took Armada to a tenth game. Most impressively, he did this while switching between three different characters.
- God, I’m so sick of the constant drama surrounding Hungrybox, his haters and his image in the scene. As far as gameplay goes, Hungrybox clearly played beneath his expected level. I’m curious as to his reluctance to select Dreamland against Armada and Mew2King; did he seriously fear a Puff ditto from the latter?
- PewPewU partially lucked out from avoiding Leffen, but winning over Gahtzu, Lucky and ARMY is no joke. With a little bit of more luck, he could have added Mew2King to the list.
- Outside of the Ice Climbers ditto, ARMY is a force to be reckoned with. Right now, you could have him as high as Top 15.
- Fifth place is no joke for aMSa, but can you imagine if he took that last-stock game four against Armada? The Japanese Yoshi somehow consistently exceeds lofty expectations.
- This has been a great summer for Rishi, who earned a set over La Luna and eventually finished seventh. Though his path there was relatively on the easier end of major top eight appearances, if Rishi can have another big showing at Shine, it will mark yet another leap forward in his career. On the opposite side of him, Lucky finished an admirable seventh, scoring wins against Rishi, Android and Junebug.
- Mango commentary carried a top eight before grand finals. For the most part, the games were either snoozefests or marked by extremely sloppy play. Chillin and DJ Nintendo were strong assets too, but sometimes, it’s easy to forget how insightful and simultaneously entertaining Mango’s commentary can be. Of note, watch how he banters with both his co-commentators and offers good in-game analysis during loser’s semifinals.
5. Monday Morning Mailbag
Note: I realized I never actually had a mailbag; these were just comments I saw on my Reddit threads. I’ll create a separate section dedicated to specific inquiries.
Leffen is already ahead of PPMD and Azen. I’m more interested in what he has to do to pass M2K – thorSmiles
Leffen vs. PPMD and Azen is interesting. PPMD’s stretch of being a top echelon player came sometime between late 2010 and early 2016, while Azen’s was between its competitive infancy and early 2008. With that as a basis, Leffen has been elite for slightly less time (early 2014 to now). However, the Swede has also won just as many major tournaments as PPMD (seven) and more than Azen (five) in that same time span.
On the other hand, there’s also more notable events today than there were in year’s past. Comparing the three becomes more complicated when looking at the biggest events of their era and trying to evaluate each one differently. For example, how do you compare the relatively stacked Tournament Go 6 to Pound V or Evo 2018?
Anyway, in order for Leffen to surpass Mew2King, he will have to surpass him in major victory count or be a solidly better player over the next two years. Right now, he’s definitely behind on winning nationals and doesn’t have anywhere near the longevity of Mew2King, but if Leffen can dominate Melee or keep racking up victories over time, he can gradually make his way up there. We’ll see how this summer turns out.
Honest Question here. Would Mango be safe financially if he never competed again? His subs clearly support the man even when he doesn’t commit to tournaments. I assume if he retires from tournaments he’s still safe money-wise? To clarify, I’m a Mango fan but not one of his Twitch subs. – SerenadeOfWater
Mango gets a large portion of his six-figure earnings through streaming and subscribers. I have no doubt he is popular enough as a personality to where he can enter a few major tournaments a year and spend the vast majority of his time playing other games on Twitch. At the same time though, his balance between playing Melee professionally and streaming is a double-edged sword; success in the former may help the latter, but if he’s not successful and goes to more tournaments, it could hurt his subscriber count.
Rest assured, he seems financially secure.