Last week, I entered Mango’s stream. When I wrote something in chat, Mango asked me why I hadn’t written an article about his Smash Summit 14 victory yet. He then made a bunch of slurping noises, which I think was his attempt to mime what smashers should be doing to him after his win. I laughed pretty hard at this, but to be honest, Mango had a point. His most recent Summit victory was one of the most dominant Mango majors we’ve seen in a long time. Much like his Super Smash Con 2022 and Lost Tech City first places, he didn’t drop a set. In fact, this one was even more dominant than those two, as none of his sets went to a single game five.
For today’s column, I decided to jump back into my Smash History roots. I’ll be detailing the ten most dominant major performances of modern Melee. Although I’m undeniably a huge nerd, I’ve done my best to not come off as a pedant, so I will be using an incredibly loose definition of what, in my opinion, qualifies as a “major” (in other words, going off pure vibes) or as “modern Melee” (2013 and onward). Furthermore, I will not be including online tournaments, just due to the availability of the global competitive field. If you disagree, feel free to create your own list and set of justifications for your choices. Let’s get right into it.
Number 10: Hungrybox at The Big House 8
Picture this: It’s late 2018 and Hungrybox is actually not doing that hot, at least not to his standards. A few months ago, he had won Low Tier City 6, but there were better times to be a Hungrybox fan. Armada was up 5-1 on him in sets. Mew2King and Leffen had beaten him. Most surprisingly, Zain had straight up won Shine 2018 over him. Heading into The Big House 8, Hungrybox was in an unusual position of entering the tournament as something other than the favorite. He left the event with not only a first place, but having dropped only one game the entire tournament. Statistically, it is by far the most dominant tournament performance of the last decade – against ARMY, Swedish Delight, Bananas, Mango, and Plup, Hungrybox went 15-1 in games.
— On This Day In Smash Bros. (@SmashBrosToday) October 7, 2022
Defeating three Top 25 players and two supermajor contenders is certainly nothing to scoff at. Neither is dropping only one game through the whole weekend. So why do I have it this low? Eh. At the time, I remember kind of taking it for granted. Even in hindsight, I don’t regret doing that. In 2018, any Sheik who wasn’t Plup and any Ice Climbers player was fodder for Hungrybox, even if there were close sets here and there. And, let’s be real. Back then, defeating Mango and Plup was also just another day in the office for Hungrybox. Still; 15-1 is nothing to scoff at. As such, it makes it debut on my list.
Number 9: Leffen at Battle of BC 4
Something you’ll frequently hear in Melee discussions is the idea that at his peak, Leffen looks so much better than everyone else. This tournament performance is the modern variant of that. Although it might seem too soon to put it up there in the ranks of the all-time great Leffen victories, there’s a ton of factors that stand out. For starters, it came after two extremely disappointing showings at Pound 2022 and Smash Summit 13. It also involved his newest weapon – his Sheik – playing a major role in his success.
Players who have used Sheik in Grand Finals of a major and won:
– CaptainJack (MLG San Francisco, 2004)
– KoreanDJ (MLG Long Island, 2007)
– Amsah (Epita Smash Arena 2, 2008)
– Plup (SWT Championships, 2021)
– Leffen (Battle of BC 4, 2022) pic.twitter.com/4X3IEI20w0
— Melee Stats (@MeleeStatsPod) June 13, 2022
Lest I be seen as simply falling to a good story; the numbers back up this performance being worthy of all-time status. Joshman, a Top 15 player of the Summer PGR – someone who went on, a month later, to beat moky, iBDW, and aMSa – looked completely lost in a 3-0 beat down that Leffen delivered upon him; a set that included an eight-stock in the last two games. That was the sign for things to come: another 3-0 victory over Summer PGR No. 6 aMSa, a 3-1 ass-kicking of Summer PGR No. 1 Zain, a 3-0 dismantling of Summer PGR No. 4 Hungrybox (which included a four-stock on Dreamland), and a final dominant 3-1 over Zain again. The only element I’d mention that stands out as a hilarious outlier in his run is Elliot, an incredibly underrated player and top dog of British Columbia, taking a game from him and nearly bringing him to game five.
Number 8: Hungrybox at Smash Summit 7
I previously mentioned that Hungrybox slumped before winning The Big House 8. Clearly, that wasn’t the case by Smash Summit 7. By this event, he had not only won Big House; he had also finished first at GT-X 2018 in pretty convincing fashion. With no Armada in the picture, Hungrybox was farming all the Foxes again, beating Mango’s Falco, and re-asserting himself over Zain. in the span of two months, the only person who had taken a set from him was Duck, who beat him 3-0 in one of the most inexplicable, truly bizarre outlier sweeps I can remember.
Regardless, he destroyed everyone at this Summit. aMSa, Bananas, Zain, Wizzrobe, Mango, and Leffen all got put through the wood-chipper. I know I previously mentioned that Bananas was the kind of opponent whom it never really felt rewarding to see Hungrybox defeat back then, but he was still a Top 25 player. Furthermore, Zain, aMSa, and Wizzrobe, three Top 10 players, had taken sets from him that year, so they were relatively challenging “underdog” opponents for Hungrybox. Well, at least until he beat them. God – I just remembered Hungrybox’s “fuck you, Twitch chat” speech at the end of his run here. Ugh.
Number 7: Wizzrobe at Smash N Splash 5
This is not the kind of victory you would think about when it comes to assessing the most dominant tournament victories of the last ten years or so. Most people just remember this as the win that ended the Captain Falcon major drought. It’s worth re-discovering how ridiculous this was at the time, not just for that reason, but also for the ease at which this run came from Wizzrobe. The same guy, mind you, who coming off a half-year break from competing in Melee had just finished fourth at GOML 2019 and was splitting his Smash commitments with Ultimate and the original Smash Bros.
Real talk though? The Wizzrobe of Smash N Splash 5 legitimately looked like the best player in the world. To revisit his run, he beat Spark, n0ne, Leffen, aMSa, and Hungrybox, without dropping a single set. If you want to measure this by game count, he went 18-6, with Spark as the only person that took him to game five. I’m actually kind of amazed revisiting this run by him; it wasn’t like this was a particularly easy bracket. All considered, and relative to which phase he had to play his opponents in the tournament, aMSa might have been his least “scary” draw. That’s a wild thing to say about a bracket where Wizzrobe’s other opponents were the best player in the world, a top five player, and three Top 25 players who had beaten him before or looked scary.
Number 6: Hungrybox at Smash Summit 5
Smash Summit 5 was the ‘turning point’ of 2017’s race for No. 1. What had looked like a third consecutive No. 1 year for Armada was suddenly jeopardized by the resurgence of Hungrybox. I won’t mince words – as someone who rooted against him at the time, it felt like bullshit. Hungrybox had struggled through the vast majority of the summer, straight up losing smaller majors to Leffen and getting kicked around by the Fox players at the bigger ones. The events he won after all felt like they had shenanigans to them. Shine felt fluky, as Mango had straight up played Falco for seemingly no reason other than to experiment. GT-X involved a ridiculous grand finals that came down to the last stock and The Big House 7, though involving a strong loser’s run, still had Hungrybox drop a set. He wasn’t really capable of being a dominant No. 1, was he?
He was. You have to remember: this was 2017, back when Wizzrobe and SFAT were still relatively scary opponents for Hungrybox, let alone people like Mango, Leffen, and Armada. aMSa, though a long shot, remained a Top 25 player. Hungrybox conquered all of them. Six Top 25 players, three of whom were top ten (one of whom was Leffen, who was basically in the top echelon of play despite having some rust), and the other two were contenders for No. 1. In my opinion, this is the best performance of Hungrybox’s life.
Number 5: Armada at Smash Summit 3
I’m going to spoil something right now about the rest of the list: this is the only Armada appearance on it. This actually feels so awful, if not flat out wrong. In an attempt to save face, I’d like to offer a brief explanation. Armada beat basically anyone who wasn’t top five in such routine fashion, and more or less whooped the rest of the top five, so he never had a chance to get a ‘hard’ bracket through winner’s…because he was seeded against worse opponents. It’s kind of like a “rich get richer” situation, except in Armada’s case, you would have to be an idiot to think any of it was unearned.
From 2014 to his retirement, Armada only lost three times to players outside the Top 9 of all-time. @edwin_budding dives into Armada's legacy in today's column.
— Melee Stats (@MeleeStatsPod) September 19, 2022
Anyway, of the several “Armada wins a supermajor without dropping a set” selections I could go with, I decided to pick his smackdown of everyone at Smash Summit 3. Here, he sleepwalked through n0ne, utterly vaporized Plup in the only 11-stock I’ve ever seen at the top level, back-hand slapped Hungrybox in winners semifinals, beat Mew2King for about the 80th time in a row, and then held off Hungrybox to three-peat Summit. He dropped three games the whole tournament, and all three came in the last two sets he played.
Number 4: Mango at Smash Summit 14
With a week to emotionally sober up from it, I truly think Mango had one of his best runs ever at Smash Summit 14. I can’t front – I tried to avoid writing about this immediately after it happened. One: I get angry comments about how I’m biased toward Mango all the time, two: I had already pre-written a column the week before, and three: I knew this would be giving Mango what he wanted. Still, how could this not be considered one of the most dominant Mango showings ever?
Like Hungrybox’s run at The Big House 8, it involved no game fives. Unlike that run though, you couldn’t say it came with a fortunate bracket. The jury’s still out on how exactly these players will finish in 2022’s annual rankings, but for Mango to win Summit, he had to beat, by my estimation, a potential Top 25 player (Soonsay), a potential Top 10 player (KoDoRiN), two supermajor contenders (Leffen and aMSa), and two potential contenders for No. 1 (Hungrybox and iBDW, the latter of whom he had to beat twice). The only thing that could have topped it is if he had to play Zain, but beating four of the potential top six – and taking five sets without dropping one to any of them – is extraordinary.
Number 3: Leffen at GOML 2016
Here we go; one of the greatest performances of all Melee history. You all knew it was coming, and if you didn’t, now you know. If you want to know what Prime Leffen looked like, this tournament was it. Even crazier was the fact that it followed both a dreadful showing from him at EGLX 2016, which in turn was his ‘comeback’ event in North America following his visa being rejected from the United States. Before GOML 2016, Leffen wasn’t able to travel to the top American majors and all hope seemed lost for him. The long story short: he makes it to Top 32, as expected, blows by The Moon, and then vanquishes each of the active four “gods” of Melee in a row to win the event. What could possibly top the ‘godslayer’ himself literally living up to his namesake?
Perception-wise, I have to confess that this is probably the most ‘impressive’ tournament victory in all of Melee history (either this or Azen winning MLG New York 2006). It’s also one of my favorites. But if we’re talking about pure dominance, a ton of these sets came down to the wire, and compared to the volume of other runs, this was basically four top five players and a Top 25 player. I do feel bad having it here; my heart is telling me I’m overthinking it or just looking for a reason to be a contrarian. For now, let’s move on.
Number 2: iBDW at Smash Summit 12
So many of you are probably groaning at me choosing iBDW’s Smash Summit 12 as one of the two most dominant win sin modern Melee. Surely, you’re saying, he doesn’t really think this; he’s just farming engagement. Nope. I’m dead serious. Were it Leffen who had this showing, we’d all be heralding it. We don’t have an official numbered offline rank for 2021, but using some combination of the Summer PGR that followed it, the 2021 PGR Contenders list and BlurRank as general guidelines, there’s so much to love about the results.
To break it down, Swift basically hovered outside Top 25 when he was active. Pipsqueak was (and remains) Top 25 player.. After that, you have Hungrybox, Leffen, aMSa, Zain, and Mango – all current contenders for No. 1, and, back then, either leading members or outside members of the highest echelon of play. Although iBDW’s win here doesn’t have the mythology behind it as Leffen’s GOML 2016 victory, by the numbers, it’s basically the same run on steroids; like a strange mutation of it with Mango’s Smash Summit 14 performance.
Number 1: Mango at Press Start
The idea of “Mango slumping” seemed so foreign to people in 2015. Mango was No. 1 for two consecutive years and basically won any event he seemed to care about. The only event that he never won was Apex, and when Mango did lose, it was often seen as more of a brain-fart on his end than as a long-term indicator of him struggling in the future. He was truly seen as better than everyone else when it counted.
I wrote before that Hungrybox’s The Big House 8 victory was statistically the most dominant tourney win of all-time. That was both sort of true, but also a lie. In reality, Mango’s Press Start probably has a better case by sheer volume. Following his DQ from winner’s bracket, due to showing up late, Mango practically waltzed through a motley of top players, going a combined 9-0 in sets and 27-3 in games against the likes of Westballz, Hax, Leffen, Shroomed, Lucky, Hungrybox, Axe, and Fly Amanita. These were all players who were either outright in the top tier of play or just outside of it. To give this a modern analogy, this is like if Zain won a tournament by beating S2J, moky, Leffen, lloD, Aklo, Hungrybox, Axe, and SluG (twice) in a row while only dropping three games the whole time.
Had a random urge to watch that video of mango’s press start run and flinched when I saw that it was seven years old
— jib (@mazzy_starfox) November 8, 2022
Because of the circumstances behind how Mango got to his specific bracket path, as well as just how the metagame and field of competition have shifted, this victory is a one-of-a-kind outlier. The one factor you could hold against it is that it only featured two top five players in his loser’s path – and, importantly, no Armada – but honestly, I don’t care about that because it’s nine sets against some of the best players in the world. To this day, I still am amazed at Press Start. For truly dominant weekend performances, I don’t think it will ever be topped.