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The Most Dominant Primes of All Time: Part 5
When PPMD won Pound V, he ruled the world only for a few more months. At Genesis 2, a series of losses in pools led him to play Armada early, drop into loser’s, and then fall at the hands of Shroomed.
On the other hand, Armada’s reputation changed forever. Modern smashers might gawk at such a suggestion, but before Armada won Genesis 2, he had a reputation as a choker within the United States. Out of the majors he attended, he had lost from winner’s side of grand finals twice (Genesis and Pound V), been upset by an American player (Pound 4) considered beneath his caliber and been outclassed in one grand finals (Apex 2010). It’s not a stretch to say that if Armada didn’t win Genesis 2, it was very likely that he was on the verge of leaving Melee.
His Genesis 2 performance comes with one big caveat – he had a relatively fortunate winners finals draw against Taj. But the victory still stood out as impressive because of how he beat PPMD, Hungrybox, and Mango anyway. Armada followed it up by winning Apex 2012, and, shortly afterward, Apex 2013 later. This period of time is widely considered Armada’s first “prime,” and it’s the one I’ll discuss right now.
- 2-0 against Mango
- 3-1 against Hungrybox
- 6-2 against PPMD
- Never lost a set in Europe
- 11-3 against fellow gods
- 3 supermajor victories in a row, one Norweigan major
- 18 months of 1st place finishes
Something you’ll immediately notice is that for a long stretch of time in which no one won a tournament over him, Armada didn’t really attend that many majors with fellow gods. This wasn’t his fault at all; it was a reflection of both the era and Armada’s situation overseas restricting his ability to travel to the United States.
What else stands out is something that’s not necessarily reflected in the numbers: Armada’s grit. His record against fellow gods is impressive, but it doesn’t reflect some kind of massive gap between him and everyone else like his tournament results do.
This stretch of time in Melee history carries more narrative importance for Armada’s development as a competitor than it does for showing a “dominant” Melee peak (this would come later in Armada’s career). In this stretch of time, he survived two bracket resets against fellow gods, won the couple of sets he played against his biggest all-time rival and obliterated the field. It was important for Armada to go through and a sign that he had all but cast off his “choker” moniker.
One thing that hurts it, in my opinion, is the fact that Armada immediately retired after Apex 2013. It wasn’t his fault – even with the game’s return to Evo, Melee was anything but a stable career for someone overseas, let alone in the United States, but it set him back a lot for his eventual return to competing in 2014, although Armada gave us this wonderful moment.
In next week’s column, I’ll quickly recap Mango’s mid-2013 resurgence and what led him to return to the spotlight as Melee’s best player.