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Published January 24, 2022

If you’ve been following the last two weeks of Monday Morning Marth, you’ve been indulging me in one of the silliest hypotheticals I have ever come up with: what Melee history would look like without Mango. When I jumped into the project, I initially wanted to look at every major that Mango attended and take a gander at how the seeding would have turned out and affected different results.

But I wanna be honest with you folks – this is starting to lose its charm. There’s a lot of cool things to talk about in Melee, and while this is one of them, this project is beginning to feel like it’s beating a dead horse and I want to write about something else. At the same time, I feel bad about not technically bringing something fully to completion.

With that said, I’m still happy about fleshing out this alternate world a little bit. For one last time, I’m going to choose eight tournaments from 2014 to 2015 to examine as they would have turned out without Mango.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro Apex 2014

Fun fact: Apex 2014 was one of the first events I watched live with my college Smash friends. So much of it was magical – between watching Fiction/Aisengobay in pools, Mango/Leffen in top eight, and, obviously, Dr. PeePee winning the whole tournament, doing something as crazy and unthinkable at the time as four-stocking Mew2King in Marth dittos on FD. However, what I think a lot of people tend to forget are some of the more underrated stories of the event, like s0ft, a nationally unranked Georgia Jigglypuff player, making top eight by beating Hax and Ice (twice).

The top-level events of this Apex stay mostly the same in our Mango-less timeline, but Leffen does a bit better. He gets a relatively favorable path to winner’s semifinals, is knocked down by Mew2King just as he is in real life, but beats Axe and Hungrybox in loser’s to eventually finish in third place. Instead of s0ft and Fiction rounding out top eight, we get Plup and aMSa there.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro CEO 2014

At the real CEO 2014, we got to see three sets of Mango-Armada, with Armada coming out on top. But what I personally will remember from this tournament are the two sets of Hungrybox-Armada, where Hungrybox got destroyed by the Young Link in one of the sets and somehow was a stock away from beating the Peach and sending him to loser’s early….with his Fox. Insane shit.

In our universe, this tournament basically replaces Apex 2014 as Fiction’s breakout national. At Bizarro CEO 2014, he beats Mew2King, ChuDat and Plup en route to fourth place. But even more impressively, we see two familiar faces – Chillindude and Toph – in top eight of this tournament. Everyone forgets that there was a time when these two were genuinely two of the best Fox players in the world! I think without Mango, the way the seeding turns out, they both make top eight.

NOTE: I chose not to include MLG Anaheim 2014 in my hypotheticals. It was just too long and exhaustive to replicate a similar tournament and circuit structure.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro Evo 2014

We’re now starting to get into the juicy stuff. Everyone remembers this event as the one where Mango won his second Evo in a row, as well as being the tournament where Hungrybox finally snapped a huge losing streak against Armada’s Young Link. I’m going to keep the second part in tact, but without Mango on the other side of bracket, how else does this bracket change?

As it turns out, quite a bit. Fly Amanita and Hungrybox both have big loser’s runs, with Hungrybox’s coming as a byproduct of losing to Leffen early in winner’s bracket. It was difficult to predict how this Evo would turn out without Mango, and ultimately I went something pretty different than what you’d expect: an Armada victory.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro The Big House 4

My god, can you imagine The Big House 4 without Mango? It feels so wrong. Because of Mango at this tournament, we got to see so many cool things – him destroying Hax with his secondaries, playing the most exciting 3-0 loss of all-time vs. Mew2King, and embarking on a huge loser’s run to take the last big tournament of the year. It’s going to be hard to top that.

So in it’s place, we’re going to replace Mango as the hero of this tournament…with the villain of the year. In our alternate dimension, Leffen wins this tournament in thrilling fashion. He gets to winners’ finals through a series of down-to-the-wire sets, and this time, there’s no Mew2King or Mango to put an end to it. Nintendude, Axe, Hungrybox, and Armada all go down to Leffen and suddenly everything’s on the table for Apex 2015.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro Apex 2015

I’ve already bored you to tears with talking about Mango’s presence at every tournament. For this one, I’m going to bring up a pretty funny alternate reality where this major…is beautifully planned and executed. It’s held in the original venue, with absolutely no panic or stress on the tournament organizers’ parts and everyone is so thrilled with how classy this series has been since Juggleguy took it over. Because why not?

So how does the bracket turn out? Well, once again, mostly the same, except in the order of PPMD sets against Leffen and Armada. Instead of Shroomed having a top eight run come by virtue of beating Mew2King, it’s Fly Amanita, who accomplishes it in winners’ bracket. The most notable absence from top eight, however, is aMSa, who runs into Hungrybox early in loser’s after Lucky sends him there. Lucky himself would eventually make a run to fourth.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro Evo 2015

For an event which he didn’t win, it still feels like Mango had the most memorable moment at Evo 2015. Who can forget him throwing away three of his stocks in an anticlimactic game three of loser’s quarters vs. Hungrybox? It was single-handedly one of the most consequential games of the last decade; the one that ended the run for 3VO and the one that ended Hungrybox’s long losing streak vs. Mango. Although Evo 2015 was Armada’s first major victory since his retirement, I still think of the Hungrybox-Mango set as a more memorable moment.

Obviously, this doesn’t happen without Mango existing in the first place. In our version of Evo, Plup beats Leffen in winner’s bracket and has his best major showing yet to fourth place, similar to how he does in real life. Other than that, everything else is mostly the same, save for Silent Wolf making top eight.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro The Big House 5

If Evo 2015 was an initial low point of Mango’s 2015, then The Big House 5 was when he felt like things had changed. Both Hungrybox and Mew2King beat him and, per his own words, he felt like he didn’t have what it took to be the best in the world any more. More people remembered S2J-Abate from this tournament than they remembered Mango’s performance at it. Not much changes as a result of Mango not being here – just that Abate doesn’t make top eight.

Melee Without Mango: Bizarro Smash Summit

Mango had an interesting run at Smash Summit in real life. He chose to play Falco for the entire event and it was a roller coaster. He started the final bracket by losing to Mew2King in an infuriating loss before making a huge run back to grands where he took Armada to game five in a very underrated set of theirs.

Because the bracket format of this is unusual, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do this. Ultimately I ended up just replacing Mango with another Top 50 player who was in the running for Summit and could have possibly made it. Long story short: let’s pretend HugS is voted into this Summit as a competitor. Armada still ultimately wins. Everyone who does well does a little bit “better,” and that’s all that really has to be said, not just about this tournament but basically the entirety of Melee without its greatest player.

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