It wasn’t too long ago when watching Mango-Armada was like eating a fine delicacy. It was rare and such a delight on the senses. This summer we’ve seen them play almost every week, yet the narrative is still compelling. Let’s run a few numbers.
Sets: They are tied at 8-8.
Game count: Armada has a slim lead after 65 games at 33-32.
Mango won Genesis 1, Armada won Genesis 2.
Armada won Apex 2012 and 2013. Mango won Evo 2013.
Platinum Age Summer
Over the summer, Armada has taken Super SWEET and CEO, while Mango has taken Kings of Cali 4 and MLG Anaheim.
Mango and Armada have played 10 sets this summer and are tied 5-5, with Armada taking a slight advantage in game count: 22-20.
And yet, despite the number of times they’ve played in consecutive weeks the rivalry is still exciting, and given these numbers, perhaps even reached a peak. Do I even dare say that their rivalry compares to the sports classics such as Magic-Bird in the NBA or perhaps even the Federer-Nadal rivalry in tennis? With an impressive 970 entrants coming into the fighting game universe’s greatest stage, the stakes have never been higher between the two rivals and as the audience; we’re in for a treat.
After seeing a mini-revival of Melee back in 2009, the Norcal-based crew, DBR, decided to run its first national, Genesis. At the time, Armada was rising up the ranks in Europe, winning SMASH ATTACK and Epita Smash Arena 3. Meanwhile in America, Mango started his reign of terror in the US, winning tournaments such as Pound 3, SCSA, and Revival of Melee. At this time, people began to question if Mango would ever have a challenge. Hungrybox and DaShizWiz were rapidly improving, but weren’t quite there yet. Mew2King, mentally shaken after Pound 3, went through a slump against Puff and against Mango in general. Jman and Zhu had their moments, consistently landing top 8 finishes at nationals, but just weren’t good enough to compete with Mango. The old guard of players, KDJ, Azen, ChuDat, PC Chris, and Ken, all took a break from the game.
At the time, we didn’t have streams such as VGBootCamp or CLASH Tournaments on Twitch.TV regularly. Matches took weeks to upload after the tournament. Needless to say, it was hard to get current footage of people. Armada made his announcement of attending Genesis, but people had no clue how to properly assess his skill level with varying opinions on how he would finish, ranging from as low as 17th to as high as 3rd. No one thought he could conquer the Big 3 (Mango, Mew2King, and DaShizWiz).
If you’re reading this, you already know the results of Genesis. Armada surpassed all expectations that us “flop-americans” had, convincingly defeating Lucky, DaShizWiz, Mew2King, and Mango in winners bracket before narrowly losing to Mango in Grand Finals, leaving an impression on the Smash universe and starting the best rivalry of all time (yes, even better than Azen-Ken).
The Missed Match Motivation
Mango would continue his reign as the best player, winning Pound 4 effortlessly (Armada lost to Amsah and SilentSpectre before getting a chance to fight Mango) in addition to a string of 1st place finishes at regionals and locals with the exception of Revival of Melee 2, where he lost to Kage. However, it seemed as if Mango was getting bored with the lack of competition, becoming complacent with alcohol and questionable secondaries. Meanwhile, frustrated at his string of second place finishes in the US, Armada was practicing to win an international tournament. Although he would fall short at Apex 2010 (2nd place to Hbox) and Pound V (2nd place to PPMD), he would finally achieve his dream, winning Genesis 2 over a “try-hard” Mango.
For a stretch of time, Armada was the frontrunner from his victory at Genesis 2 (July 2011) to Apex 2013 (January 2013), never losing a single tournament in that timespan. At the same time, Mango went through a swing of ups and downs. Although he still won tournaments, players such as Mew2King, PPMD, and Hungrybox were beginning to take sets and tournaments over him. The rivalry took a step back, as Mango failed to even meet Armada in bracket at several of the nationals they both attended. Many began to doubt whether Mango could come back into form after his disappointing 4th place finish at Apex 2013. After winning Apex 2013, Armada announced his first “official” retirement.
Armada Steps Down
In hindsight, Armada may have retired at the worst possible moment back in January 2013. Less than two weeks after his retirement announcement, the famous “Spirit Bomb” donation drive enabled Melee to be included in the premier fighting gaming tournament, Evo. With the excitement of Evo, Mango began to practice extensively to come back into peak form. Right away, he was able to take down Vindication, Zenith, and Impulse, making people wonder again if Mango could compete and win against a peak Armada in a set. Unfortunately, Armada had already retired, but due to a generous community donation drive for Android, his brother, and himself, he decided to enter Evo 2013, albeit out of shape. As Evo rolled around, Mango regained his crown as the best player in 2013, while Armada struggled and finished 4th, losing to PPMD and Mango (both respectable losses by the way). It was a low point in Armada’s career.
The Platinum Era
Waves of interest poured into Melee with the spectacular show at Evo 2013 and the release of the highly-acclaimed Smash Brothers documentary. MLG decided to pick up Melee for the first time since 2006, and Evo announced they would run Melee once again in 2014. Nintendo’s official recognition of the scene created a storm of casual excitement surrounding the community. eSports teams and sponsors got into the scene, with Team Liquid, Cloud 9, Evil Geniuses, and Curse Gaming all picking up Smash players between March 2014 and June 2014. The motivation and incentive for the top players have never been bigger for the Melee community. Between May and July, we’ve seen some of the highest level of play between Mango and Armada. Don’t believe me? Just watch for yourself on youtube. Every week, the Melee community has been swaying on who’s the better player. One week it’s Mango. The next week it’s Armada. Mango currently has the crown after winning Kings of Cali 4, but we know the ultimate prize is at Evo 2014. It may not have the prize money of MLG, but everyone implicitly knows that this is the grandest stage, featuring the biggest number of entrants, biggest live audience, and biggest online viewership. Both Armada and Mango want to leave their own mark as the “GOAT”, the greatest of all time. Evo is the tournament series that re-birthed a new fire into Melee, so it’s only appropriate to make this the final stage. Are you ready?
Appendix A: Game logs
Genesis 1 WF – Armada 3-2
Genesis 1 GF1 – Mango 3-2
Genesis 1 GF2 – Mango 3-0
Genesis 2 GF – Armada 3-2
Apex 2012 WF – Armada 3-0
Evo 2013 LSF – Mango 2-0
Super Sweet WF – Armada 3-2
MLG Anaheim Pools – Armada 3-2
MLG Anaheim WF – Mango 3-2
MLG Anaheim GF – Mango 3-2
CEO 2014 WF – Mango 3-1
CEO 2014 GF1 – Armada 3-0
CEO 2014 GF2 – Armada 3-1
KoC4 WF – Mango 3-1
KoC4 GF1 – Armada 3-0
KoC4 GF2 – Mango 3-1