In the August edition of Ginger’s Pot O’ Gold, Logan – formerly known as LSD – won the 178-entrant event over bobby big ballz. It was a solid return to form for the Smash Summit-qualifying Marth main, who previously finished in ninth place at July’s Galint Melee Open.
Meanwhile, over in real life – and in Massachusetts – TheSWOOPER came out on top of a stacked Northeast-heavy field at Tom’s Birthday Bash. He beat Warmmer, Ryobeat and many others to win the tournament, named for local TO Gtown Tom’s birthday.
For other news over the weekend, Golden Guardians announced a new season of Melee content. This one will feature the return of Melee Jeopardy (with Melee Stats providing questions), as well as other trivia, and entertainment material.
The Melee GOAT Debate Pt. 2: Did I Miss Someone?
Three weeks ago, I wrote about the debate over the greatest Melee player of all-time. I made the case for Mango because of his combination of boasting unusual longevity, having a dominant prime, and maintaining his relevance at the top level. I used Armada as the comparison point because he is the other player often mentioned within these discussions – and for good reason. His argument comes from his unparalleled consistency; the fact that when Armada was around, he was almost always the best in the world.
However, there was one potential issue with my analysis. I saw it often brought up by my more informed critics. It stuck around in the back of my mind. I began wondering, what if there was someone else? Did I just sleep on Clutchbox?
In today’s edition of Monday Morning Marth, I’ll dive into the numbers behind Hungrybox’s longevity, his prime, and how he stacks up against Mango and Armada for being the GOAT.
Hungrybox’s volume of accomplishments is probably more extraordinary than you think. According to Pikachu942, Hungrybox has 32 first place finishes at major tournaments. This makes him, by far, the most successful competitor in Melee history. If Hungrybox never won a major ever again, it would take Mango – the runner-up at 25 majors – a couple of years to catch up. Armada, the distant third (21 majors), would probably need five years.
In early 2020, you could have easily made a case for Hungrybox having the best longevity in Melee history. In fact, I’ll admit that I thought it was a near-lock that Hungrybox would become the Melee GOAT by the end of 2021. All he needed was another No. 1 finish on the Top 100 or a few more supermajor victories.
I owe my entire life and career, the home I live in and the car I drive to a one-foot-tall, sassy pink Pokémon that draws on faces with a marker after singing people to sleep and whose name means “pudding” in Japan what the actual fuck
— hungrybox (@LiquidHbox) June 18, 2021
It’s actually insane how differently everything turned out. In the span of about 16 months and amid a scene-wide transition to online, the reigning No. 1 suffered maybe the biggest decline in results from a top player in Smash history. To make matters more confusing, Hungrybox proceeded to finish in third place at Smash Summit 11, blowing by those who thrashed him online…as if nothing happened. Will Hungrybox’s early-2020 to mid-2021 decline will be remembered as a wild fever dream rather than anything meaningful?
Maybe, but I’ll take it a step further. Even if you counted Hungrybox’s disappointing and baffling online showings, the last two years remain a “plus” for his place in this discussion. I know it sounds crazy, but for whatever dropoff he had, Hungrybox still made top eights at some of the biggest online tournaments: CLG Mixup, Smash Summit 10 Online, and Four Loko Fight Night. When you factor in his two most recent offline performances – winning Smash Summit 9 and finishing in third place at Smash Summit 11 – I’m not going to pretend like these two years will “hurt” Hungrybox in a discussion of his longevity vs. Armada’s.
— JD Mannor (@JDMH_) April 9, 2021
I don’t think it’s reasonable to do the same in a comparison with Mango. He continued to perform at a top level online and he proved that it was worth something by winning the very supermajor in which Hungrybox made his grand return. Clearly online results don’t always translate 1:1 to offline sets, but in an era where rollback events were our only way out of the darkness, it seems awfully unfair to treat them as worthless.
Jumping in a little more, I examined Mango vs. Hungrybox in terms of rankings. Using RetroSSBMRank and SSBMRank/MPGR as a rough guideline, Mango has more years of being Top 5 and Top 10 (12 and 13 respectively) than Hungrybox (11 for both), but Hungrybox has more No. 1 finishes (4) than Mango (3), tying him with Armada (4) for the most ever.
My dear friend, Melee Stats staff writer, and Smash historian Pikachu942 is going to get mad at me for this, but I’m still going to give Mango the advantage over Hungrybox. Here’s why.
- When you look at the years in which Hungrybox and Mango were No. 1, it’s clear that some No. 1 placements matter more than others. It feels wrong to flatly put Hungrybox’s shaky claim for being the 2010 No. 1 in the same category as his 2017-2019 run, let alone any of Mango’s finishes atop either list.
- I would argue that this is particularly the case because Mango, per Pika’s own database of major results, was the only player to win a Pika-blessed “supermajor” of 2010. In our old RetroSSBMRank article, we ended up picking Mango as the No. 2 of that year, but admitted it could have easily been the other way around.
- If you wanted to claim that Hungrybox’s modern run at No. 1 is more valuable than Mango’s prime because of the tougher era, it’s also worth considering that recency bias favors Mango over the last year and a half in which Melee players have become better than they’ve ever been – in spite of no rankings existing for the rollback era or today (so far).
- These rankings also don’t factor in how Pika and I were wrong to place Mew2King as the No. 1 of 2008: a year when Mango won the only big tournament that mattered and had beaten all the toughest available competition. For what it’s worth, Pika doesn’t agree – and arguing about this topic is basically a cornerstone of our friendship. At this point, it would sadden me if she changed her opinion to mine on it.
The worst case interpretation for Mango in this comparison is that he has one less year of technically being No. 1, admittedly fewer wins at smaller majors (more on this later), but many more years of being Top 5-10. When you consider the last two years, in which Mango’s unambiguously been the better player, it’s clear who has the edge.
Verdict: Mango > Hungrybox > Armada
Picking a choice for Mango’s prime was easy: his Pound 3 to Pound 4 reign involved five majors and countless regional tournaments. The same went for Armada, whose late 2016 to mid 2017 stretch was just as good, if not better. When looking for “Prime Hungrybox,” I tried to limit myself to pick stretch of time that would encompass a similar amount of notable events. In poetic fashion, I decided to go with what I wrote about in the very first Monday Morning Marth three years ago.
From late 2017 to early 2018, Hungrybox looked unstoppable. Outside of a second-place finish at Genesis 5, he won every big tournament he entered: Shine 2017, GT-X 2017, The Big House 7, DreamHack Denver 2017, Too Hot To Handle, Smash Summit 5, EGLX 2018, and Full Bloom 4. Here’s what I jotted down – specifically with regards to comparing it to other top primes in Melee history:
Prime Hungrybox (Shine 2017 – Full Bloom 4)
- 8 first places out of 9 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
- 24-4 against Melee’s Big Six at non-local, significant events.
- 9 consecutive appearances in grand finals.
- No losses outside of the above.
Prime Armada (Canada Cup 2016 – Evo 2017)
- 8 first places out of 10 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
- 7 consecutive first places.
- 24-6 against Melee’s Big Six.
- No losses outside of the above.
Prime Mango (Pound 3 – Pound 4)
- 8 first places out of 9 attended notable tournaments with fellow Top 6 members.
- 21-1 against the RetroSSBMRank Top 6 of 2008, 2009 and of early 2010.
- Two losses outside of the above (to Kage).
Around this time, Wheat and I used to joke that one of the constants behind watching every rising star was the dread of knowing they were going to be swiftly spanked by Hungrybox and then proceed to quit the game. Looking at the numbers, I can’t tell you what was more valuable between consecutive first place-finishes (Armada), sustained beat-downs over the next best players (Mango) or a balance of the two (Hungrybox).
Verdict: Dead even
Winning The Big One
When I made this comparison between Armada and Mango, I partly did so in order to contextualize the gap in major first-place finishes between the two, since Armada couldn’t attend as many events. As I’ve demonstrated in the first part of this column, Hungrybox has no such problem.
If I were to note one crack in his armor, however, it’s that Hungrybox’s ability to win the biggest events is a relatively new development. Per Pika’s modified rules for determining what counts as a supermajor, Hungrybox has only 10. I’ve listed them out below.
1. Smash Summit 9 (2020)
2. Genesis 6 (2019)
3. Smash Summit 7 (2018)
4. The Big House 8 (2018)
5. Smash Summit 5 (2017)
6. The Big House 7 (2017)
7. GT-X 2017 (2017)
8. Smash ’N’ Splash 3 (2017)
9. Evo 2016 (2016)
10. Battle of the Five Gods (2016)
I asked Pika why she did not include Apex 2010, Paragon Orlando 2015 or DreamHack Winter 2015 as supermajors. It seemed especially important because as it stands, Hungrybox’s 10 supermajors is third to Armada’s 12 and Mango’s 13. She responded by citing behind Mango sandbagging at Apex, him and PPMD not attending Paragon, and DreamHack not fitting her criteria.
While you may disagree with the specifics, it’s clear that the consistent supermajor champion Hungrybox of the late 2010s was far different than the nominal member of the five gods from before. Within the context of this discussion, Hungrybox’s four years of winning supermajors is far behind Armada’s seven years and Mango’s leading eight.
To delve into more detail, I took a look at Hungrybox’s head-to-heads against Mango and Armada – with a twist. I treated 2009-2015 Hungrybox as one player and 2016-2021 Hungrybox as another. The results are below, with a special label for how each “player” did against his peers.
BronzeBox vs. Mango: 7-25*** (two of these winning sets involved Mango’s secondaries)
BronzeBox vs. Armada: 9-15
ClutchGod vs. Mango: 32-20 (one of these winning sets involved Mango playing a secondary)
ClutchGod vs. Armada: 10-18
I previously wrote that Armada was definitely the better player than Mango for most of their career. This looks to also be the case for Armada vs. Hungrybox. When the two were active, Hungrybox only won six supermajors to Armada’s 12. Save for a stretch where Hungrybox won five sets in a row and a few other notable moments, the Swede frequently beat him in boring fashion.
In contrast, Hungrybox vs. Mango is all over the place. It was practically a free win for the latter before Hungrybox turned the corner on him. But now, we’re in this incredibly strange moment. The two haven’t played each other much, in part because of their completely different trajectories. Mango has outperformed him since the pandemic started and has beaten him the last three times they’ve both seriously played. Hungrybox became a top Ultimate streamer and lost to Harry Pogger.
Like how Mango holds a definitive lead in the longevity battle, Armada has the clear leg up on either player as having been the best of his respective era. If I had to pick between who has been better vs. each other for longer and more meaningfully between Mango and Hungrybox, I feel like Mango has to have it right now.
Verdict: Armada > Mango > Hungrybox
After writing this article, I still view Mango and Armada as the best candidates for GOAT. Between Mango’s unique ability to take on the toughest of every era and Armada’s unparalleled consistency, it’s a really difficult standard to top. However, I have to admit that the case for Hungrybox was a lot stronger than I thought.
When he was at his best, Hungrybox was as dominant as Mango and Armada. Although he has fewer supermajors and has spent less time at that level of play than either of those two, he’s won so much more and it would be foolish to ignore that in this discussion. If you don’t like Mango’s case for the GOAT, it’s probably because of his tendency to buster out of tournaments. Hungrybox – at least for offline majors – doesn’t really have that problem and he’s been around for nearly as long.
If you truly view online as its own separate thing from the annals of our community’s history, count only offline events in 2020, and see his bronze showing at Smash Summit 11 as the only “real” result of 2021, then Hungrybox’s place in this discussion becomes much firmer. But if you see it the way I do, then 2020 and 2021 have to be considered relatively disappointing years within the context of Mango having a resurgence. I would go as far to say that Mango is Hungrybox’s biggest current roadblock to becoming the GOAT. Two years ago, it felt like it was the other way around.
For this reason, I would personally still have Hungrybox below Mango. Because Hungrybox has less years of winning supermajors overall than Armada, he’s also probably still beneath him too. But it’s really close. If Hungrybox wins another supermajor or two – and Mango doesn’t – this discussion will become way more interesting.