Watched a bunch of this today with roommates, it was “totally hype”. I will here break down the various awesome/weird things that happened and the “theories” we came up for them.
1. Various pools shenanigans
The ones I remember are like... geez actually I don't remember any of them except that Fly Amanita 2-0'd like everybody. I know there was a few other pretty strange upsets that I was excited about at the time. We watched the streamed pool, which was Lovage's, some good matches there. Weird stuff happens in pools all the time 'cause who cares it's pools.
2. Super Smash Bros 64 singles
So “ISAI LOSES” is the headline and “Played Luigi for whole tournament” is subheadline. All the good Smash 64 players are good friends and I guess they just decided it would be more fun if Isai played Luigi because who cares anyways. It wasn't the like, dissing-style low tier choice. This is still huge news, though, because for over a decade now even Isai's low tiers were completely unbeatable in tournament. His Pikachu et al are probably still nigh-untouchable but this is a start of perhaps the first legitimate challenge to the throne.
3. Dr. PeePee is sick
This was the biggest disappointment of the tournament. Well, up there with Kou not making it out of singles. PP being sick basically ruined everything that was possible to ruin. I'm convinced his sickness was the reason the stream kept cutting out. Sure, Mew2King sort of underperformed too, but I dunno he's had a few off days now whereas this is the first dent in PP's huge rampage to the top that I can think of. Getting second seed made him play Armada way too soon, letting Hbox stroll to winner's semis with Wobbles as his biggest competition. Then he loses to Armada, which is really pretty reasonable, I think if he was on point he probably could have taken a game or two off of him. Where it gets really weird is when he loses to Shroomed in loser's bracket. Am I wrong in thinking that Doc, any Doc, even Shroomed's crazy Doc, should be pretty cake walky for a Falco at PP's level? Again, it's THE FLU. I can't wait to see those videos. Anyways, the repercussions of these things I'll talk about later. For now I'll just say that it's a real shame that he wasn't playing his best.
4. Mango tries against M2K
The big hype for G2 is that Mango would be trying hard. Since he had won the first Genesis, it sorta made sense, plus PP and Armada and M2K had improved such that he really ought not to be entirely bored against them. I watched M2K vs. Mango on stream with considerable hype, since I really can't remember the last time these two played and Mango was sober. The first match I really think will go down in history as one of the most brutal beatdowns in gaming history. I really can't even explain how badly Mango's Falco destroyed M2K's Marth. I thought it must be friendlies or something, it was so absurd. M2K gets all of like 70% on Mango in his first 3 stocks and then rage quits out of what was likely to be another combo to death. M2K then switches to Sheik and puts up a really good effort but man oh man how do you beat Mango's Falco when he's going that HAM? M2K ends up getting 1st in Brawl singles and doubles, plus Melee doubles, plus 5th in Melee singles... not a bad performance, by any stretch, but I really feel like you could see his shakiness in every match after he fought Mango. Terrifying. This was the first of Mango's big grudge matches.
5. Mango doesn't try against Taj
This one was pretty wacky. I ended up arguing about this on smashboards a bunch. Mango wanted to lose this one, or he at least didn't care about winning at all. I had first written that sentence starting with “I feel like” but honestly, it's a completely deducible fact if you think about Mango's motivation and personality when watching the videos. Apparently Dr. PP has stated a few times that he thinks he's surpassed Mango and believes he could beat him in G2. Mango really, really wanted to illustrate as clearly as he could that this was incorrect. Whether it's actually true that Dr. PP, when playing healthy and on point, could beat Mango really remains to be seen. Even more unfortunately, we didn't see a Mango vs. PP match at all today, but that wasn't for a lack of trying on Mango's part. If he lost to Taj in Winner's Semis, it would certainly seem reasonable to anyone that he'd play PP in Loser's. And that is what Mango wanted to do more than anything, right? And the way Mango played makes absolutely no sense in any other context besides this one. For two of the five games, and for several stocks of the other ones, Mango completely stomps Taj. For the rest of the set, he does not demonstrate the slightest bit of intelligence of sense of self-preservation. He misses techs for no apparent reason. He rushes Taj at the ledge over and over, silly for Falcos on a good day (look no further than Taj's legendary JV5 stock of a Falco on Yoshi's Story for evidence of this) and then goes one step further and throws himself off. It was immensely entertaining play. And don't get me wrong like so many people on Smashboards did – I mean no disrespect to Taj. He still played amazingly. But this wasn't an upset in the same way that Isai losing with Luigi wasn't, or the same way that any other Mango loss in the last year or so wasn't. It was an accomplishment on the part of the other player, yeah, but the match was in Mango's hands throughout.
6. Taj's AMAZING set against Armada
To really drive home the fact that, although I think that Mango is a better player and could have easily won against Taj if he wanted to, I still find Taj to be an absolute beast, let me go out of my way to really really praise what he did in this set. He wasn't too confident with his Marth against Armada's Peach. Who would be? So he does the least logical thing he can do in the situation: plays Mewtwo. I really need to drive that home, and this'll be my last Taj criticism before a lot of praise: him going Mewtwo wasn't a crazy good surprise tactic like Armada's Young Link shenanigans, it was a very admirable wrong move. Basically, Taj's best and perhaps only chance against the Beast from Sweden was that Armada would choke in a way that Taj could capitalize on. Marth is very good at capitalizing on these sort of mistakes. Mewtwo is not in any way, shape or form. Armada is legendarily consistent and solid and unlikely to make a mistake, meaning that the odds of Taj pulling out a win like that are lotteryesque if he played Marth. But even if he had a 50% chance with Marth, he would have still had essentially a 0% chance with Mewtwo. So why do it? I honestly think he was just curious about how it would go. If he won with Marth, it likely wouldn't be through his own skill but Armada's mistakes, and if the “war” is already lost in that sense, why not win some even more profound battle? Geez it sounds like I'm still criticizing Taj but here's the good part: Taj's Mewtwo was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in this game. You might think he was just taking advantage of Armada's confusion and unfamiliarity with the matchup, but honestly, Armada knows just as well as anyone how horrible Mewtwo is, even in the hands of a genius. What Taj took advantage of was Armada's natural defensiveness and cautionary play, and he was really the only one I saw that seemed to recognize this and make something out of it. I mean, even I didn't really notice it, it was my roommate that pointed out just how well Taj seemed to understand what Armada wanted or didn't want to do. The difference is one between scaring someone back and holding them back where they want to be, and it's a subtle one. Taj managed, through really insightful projectiles, beautifully spaced aerials, “good enough” combos in clutch spots, the ability to know when to stall, when to hang back, etc, etc... through all of this, he managed to turn a possible slaughter into a tight war of attrition. Armada quickly realized he could completely shut down Mewtwo just by tossing turnips at him, but he didn't seem to get that all he was doing was stopping the approach that Taj wasn't going to do. Meanwhile, Taj got himself in a position where he was trading aerials and chipping away with nairs that he somehow convinced Armada were necessary losses to suffer. Again, this wasn't because he somehow tricked Armada into thinking that NTSC Mewtwo was actually top tier, it was because he knew exactly how Armada wanted to play. Armada is naturally defensive and reserved. Taj encouraged this by playing in a way where Armada would feel his defensive stance was working. Thus, he avoids Armada going aggressive and tearing him up with FC nairs, aggressive turnip approaches, spaced fairs or any number of other offensive Peach tricks that Mewtwo has no answer whatsoever for. Brilliant, really brilliant. Sure, Armada still two stocks his Mewtwo twice... even in the best possible circumstance, with both characters playing a full-on war of attrition, anything more is essentially impossible in the matchup. But that's two stocks he got off of the world's best Peach with a Mewtwo. That's amazing. And then he even played pretty good with his Marth until the absurdity of the whole thing got to him and he reportedly “fell down” from laughing too hard (source: the tweet said “Taj fell down”) and turned off the Gamecube. Probably the best exit from winner's I've seen since Mango a few minutes earlier.
7. Armada vs. Hungrybox in the most exciting least exciting match of all time
So I didn't praise Armada much during that last thing so here's some praise for Armada. No wait first here's some criticism: Armada just does not seem capable of playing against Puff with Peach, eh? I really think it's mostly just in his head but that matchup is really hard. Peach can't kill Puff until very high percents, can't combo her ever, can't edgeguard or anything, while Puff is capable of actually ledgeguarding Peach, or even landing rests. It gets especially gross on any big stage. So Armada's big solution to this at Pound 5, and this was like the coolest thing of all time and major hype, was to go Young Link. Young Link vs. Puff is amazingly even if they both really campy, which HBox always does all the time and Armada definitely has the patience to. Even though it was very successful in P5, I really didn't expect to see him trying it again now. And I really really didn't expect to find it exciting again if he did. Well, we watched the first match of this streamed, and let me say: those 8 minutes of two characters not even really trying to hit each other as they jump around Dreamland was about the most exciting thing I saw all day. I mean, a 1% victory? That's absolutely nuts! I guess Armada got it really going in the next matches 'cause he 3-1'd him but yeah. Really amazing set. Also whoops this happened before #6 but whatever.
8. Shroomed and Taj with two huge upsets??
So I went over several non-upsets and explained why I don't think they were really so much upsets as they were the better player just doing something weird and how I think the quality of upset should be determined by watching the matches and studying who is “controlling” the match and making sure the win is due to the achievement of the “worse” player and not a failure of the “better” player, and look for motivations for the upset to be illegit and blah blah blah yeah. So with all that in mind, I don't think I should really say either of these were upsets before I see them, but holy cow! Shroomed beats Dr. PP in losers! Even flu-riddled, I DID NOT see that coming. Shroomed was playing just AMAZINGLY today, though, he beat HugS, Axe, Lovage and Wobbles aside from that, none of those matches I would think to give to him. I can't wait to see videos of this. The other mystery match that didn't get streamed was Taj vs. M2K in loser's. This one really doesn't add up for me. Someone said M2K forfeited which makes a bit of sense, maybe he was trying to focus on winning Brawl at that point (oh god this possibility is so disgusting I regret even acknowledging it). Maybe he wanted Taj to play Mango again so I would be more demonstratively right on Smashboards??? (thanks for that! Mango 4-stocked Taj on the rematch, apparently, and everyone had to eat a whole lot of crow in my presence). Otherwise, the only thing that would make sense is if he went Marth or Fox against Taj. With the way Taj was playing and his reputation in those matchups, I could really see him winning that. But that's exactly why M2K would likely go Sheik, which he was doing most of the time anyways, and I really have a hard time seeing Taj beat M2K's Sheik with Marth. Like, I simply can't imagine that, it's just such a bad matchup for Marth and M2K is so, so good at it. If that's the case, though, I'd call it probably the biggest upset of the tournament. Maybe Taj played Mewtwo.
9. Mango beasts on everyone
I saw a bit of him against HBox and it was just brutal. Taj was about the same. Can't wait for videos. Nothing much to say except that Mango's Fox is the craziest thing I've ever seen. Except:
10. And then Armada wins!
Wow! Wowowowowowowow. I have no idea what I think of this. I am both really happy and disappointed. I think Armada deserves this for sure. He's come so close so many times, and the idea of the champion being European is so cool. Plus, PEACH!!! I mean sure yeah Peach isn't the most entertaining character to see on top – better than Puff though – but how cool is it that a Peach won?? So the sorta weird thing is that Mango went Fox when everyone knows Armada has a major problem against Puff. Like, if he can't beat HBox's Puff, what chance does he have against Mango? Would he try going Y. Link against Mango's Puff? Because I think that would get torn up. And really there's no reason Mango should play any worse with his Puff against Armada's Peach than he did in Genesis 1, where, although the matches were close, he really showed his superiority. So why didn't he? Well, I guess tryhard want2win Mango is still a pretty long sliding scale. Now we are at the stage of “Mango wants to win as much as possible with the character and playstyle he wants”, which is a really aggressive space animal. Good for him, if that's what he wants to do. Even better is that, in most cases, it is really his best option. But Armada has built himself around shutting down and destroying that very beast, and he seems to have done so here. There's some hype about some 20-second long combo Armada did to completely turn around a match. I wish it had gone to two sets, and I sort of wish Mango had just destroyed Armada, too, because the idea of a superprodigy standing Fischeresque miles above everyone else is pretty cool in theory. Really, though, this is better, as it gives Mango what he needed to ward off his most dangerous opponent: boredom. Plus apparently he has some sort of deal where he has to go to Sweden now that he lost, which is hilarious and will lead to amazing things, like Mango vs. Calle W.
Anyways yeah great tournament. All sorts of wacky stuff but definitely memorable. Watching it was great fun too, even if the stream was pretty bad.
Stay tuned for far abstracted and generally pointless analysis of the videos, maybe! Or maybe only stay tuned for that if you like that sort of thing!!