The Off-Season 2 was a very fun event to watch. Along with boasting interesting results, it revived community-wide discussion over wacky stages and their proper place in the meta-game. But what I didn’t expect was the head of a premier Smash major to suddenly find inspiration to revive a stage that has been overwhelmingly dead in the competitive scene over the last decade.
As a Smasher who grew up on the old *Pound 4* stagelist, I've honestly kinda missed this
— Robin Harn (@JuggleRob) September 25, 2023
I’m not here to support or criticize the decision from Juggleguy to do this – I honestly do not care. However, this tweet did inspire me to open up the history books (read: watch a bunch of old Melee sets). It was, after all, not that long ago when this used to be a tournament legal stage, not just in doubles, but singles too.
Sometimes, this column is used as a vehicle for me to explore serious community issues. Other times, I preview majors, and every now and then, you get me exploring a fun thought experiment. Today though, I’m going in a much sillier direction – I’m going to share five of the most infamous singles matches ever played on Kongo Jungle 64.
Kage Challenges Mew2King
Back in the day, if you played anyone beneath Ice Climbers on the tier list, you basically had no chance of beating Mew2King. In addition to being long considered the go-to person on any bit of information about Melee, he had a penchant for making bad characters somehow look worse than they already were. And by that, I mean he’d typically chain-grab them, ledge camp them, or worse – ditto the opponent with their own low tier, beat them, and then tell them they should play someone else.
None of that is really present in the above match, and it’s a fairly entertaining one. At this point in time Mew2King was still Mew2King, but Kage was a rising star of Canada. Having made top eight in a big run at Revival of Melee, Kage was also a leading contender for best Ganon main in the world. The stage gimmicks don’t really make that big of a difference; it’s honestly just an exciting match where both players play fairly proactively. Strangely, they don’t chain-grab each other either.
To Melee history nerds, MLG Dallas 2006 is a tournament known for a few things. First off, it’s the tournament where Ken deployed a more defensive, counter-heavy style against PC Chris to defeat him. On that note, it’s also the second of the “Ken vs. PC Chris MLG trilogy” tournaments, with the first being MLG NY Opener 2006 and the last being MLG Anaheim 2006. But more importantly, this is the tournament that Mew2King will always bring up to you when it comes to talking about, well, anything. The reason: he claims that the greatest controller he ever had was stolen from him at this tournament. No; this has nothing to do with anything else – just trust my personal experience here.
Anyway, the match played between Ken and PC Chris here is interesting. Funnily enough, it was PC Chris’ counterpick against Ken, but it doesn’t really work out for him. He gets a few more opportunities to recover than usual, due to the off-stage barrels, and the moving platforms help him escape from combos, but he struggles to edgeguard – excuse me, “ledgeguard,” as was said back then – and the steep slants of the the stage mess up his spacing in subtle ways.
The Wackest Set (Game) of All-Time
Let it be known: I don’t agree that Hungrybox vs. Armada at Genesis 2 is the wackest set of all-time. In fact, there’s a good video about this topic. I’m merely just quoting Brandon and Phil at the time of the set. When Armada brought out the Young Link to defeat Hungrybox the first time, everybody went crazy and loved it. When he brought it out the second time – making it clear, in the process, that the Young Link and the potential 30-minute sets it brought to tournaments were here to stay – dread was in the air.
Some additional background for this match: earlier in the set, Hungrybox had won a game by timeout – the first one. It was followed up by an insane pop off from him, as well as a brief three-stock by Armada, which then led to the Kongo Jungle match, which ended up being another timeout. The constant references to Brawl on commentary make this set one that I think every Melee history buff should check out.
The Barrel Heard Around The World
When I first started following Melee, my two favorite players were Mango and Mew2King. The two have a long, one-of-a-kind history as the two players who had once been around longer than anyone at the top level (this is now just Mango). From when Mango’s Jigglypuff shocked the world with a Bo1 upset over Mew2King’s Sheik at Evo 2007 to when Mew2King’s Marth anticlimactically two-stocked Mango’s Falco game five in their final set at Smash ‘N’ Splash 4, their rivalry was basically an era of itself.
You could probably find more modern-friendly examples of the best Mango-Mew2King sets ever than their Pound 3 showdown, but – and this is just my opinion – the way the first set of grand finals ended is absolutely insane, and it’s wild that nobody ever talks about it. Mew2King takes a four-to-two stock lead and Mango somehow brings the game back all the way to last-stock. Remember: this was a tournament which was supposed to be the “last” Melee tournament before everyone was going to switch to Brawl. This is quite literally one of the most consequential matches ever.
The Most Infamous Match On Kongo Jungle
For those of you who know a thing or two about old school Melee, there was no doubt that this match was going to make its way on my list. Very few times can you say the name of a stage and immediately think of one player above anyone else. This stage basically is Pink Shinobi’s legacy – the place where he ascended into a strange immortality of sorts as the player who timed out a Ganondorf so convincingly that he single-handedly got a stage banned.
SURPRISE – it’s actually NOT the match that got Kongo Jungle banned. Don’t believe what you’ve heard! In reality, this stage stuck around in the ruleset for a bit as a singles stage for about two and a half years, and it remained a doubles counterpick at some majors until around 2016 or so. It then disappeared for quite some time before Juggleguy’s announcement last weekend.