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Photos of the Alliance Smash Brothers players, Armada and Android

Armada: The Future of a God

Dec 132018

Super Smash Brothers Melee is a title that has garnered respect from the Esports community as one of the “Old Guard” of games. The venerable fighting game has transcended the lifespan of many modern esports titles, and while a series may have a long lifespan on the whole, few titles can sport the 17 years that Melee has stood as one of the greats. The early years of Melee were ruled by rivalries of East vs West, and players like Ken were dubbed the “King of Smash.” The game would see many eras that followed these infant years, but in 2005 the ambitions of Adam “Armada” Lindgren were solidified.

.“I decided already back in 2005 that I wanted to be the best smasher in the world even if it wasn’t long term I at least wanted to be the best for one day.”


The Smash scene didn’t know it yet, but this determination would bring forth a player whose records, win rates, and sheer skill would become legendary. The West may still have been playing with their petty feuds and their so called “King” but the young Swedish child who had decided to be the best would turn out to be no king. He was going to become a God.


After making a splash back in 2009, coming in 2nd place at his very first event in the United States, Armada has competed for nearly 10 years at the highest level before announcing that he was hanging up the sticks. While Armada's retirement in September caught people off guard, it was not the first time he had done so for similar reasons. In January of 2013 he retired from competitive play for 7 months citing a lack of motivation to become a better player. While fans today hope his mind will change, he appears to be very comfortable with his decision and his future role in the community.


“It basically came down to a year of a big lack of motivation. The game is still fun to play every now and then but for me personally, and I think for a lot of competitive people, it’s important to be setting goals and working towards them. I feel like that process of getting there means something. For me that last year, it was a chore and it wasn’t fun any longer. It became harder and harder to set goals. I felt like I already did pretty much everything I wanted. It was more of a natural process of not wanting it as much as I once did.”


There is a lot that we can glean from the mind of a retired professional. Oftentimes getting distance from something can give a brand new perspective about it. The same is true from Armada and Melee singles. The retirement of a player, especially one who is arguably the greatest Smasher to ever play, is a unique opportunity to discover his thoughts on the eras of both Melee as a whole as well as the different phases of his own career. His time as one of the five Gods of Melee is especially important to him and his time at the top. Although he isn’t the first of the five to retire, he will certainly be missed, and his title will likely never be revoked.


“It feels like a huge honor to be one of the five Gods. The five Gods have been such a huge and crucial part in melee’s history and lifespan. All 5 of us have been playing this game for such a long time. Outside of PPMD, and I guess now me as well, people are still going strong. For a lot of esports they don’t live on for too long, even if the game series lives on it’s not the same game you know? So Melee is one of the few rare cases to still have a competitive scene after so, so long.”


It’s important to understand that, to many, the title of one of the five Gods is not something one can just achieve by being top 6 at a major. Armada was part of something that transcends simple skill. Melee across the years has collected and bestowed titles to many players that remain regardless of whether the skill of the player has been maintained over the years. He had his own thoughts in the ongoing conversation in the community about whether these things are tied more to the skill of a player, or the legacy of a player during a specific era. 


In the same way that traditional sports have their heroes that changed their games, or music legends who may not have had the greatest voices but wrote songs that transcended themselves long after their deaths. It is important to look at the context these Smashers fought and competed within before one decides whether the titles granted over the years are simply skill related, or something more.


 “For some people it more describes a time era, so if you are not one of the 5 Gods you can never be one of the 5 Gods. In the same way that Ken is sort of seen as the King of Smash even though he’s obviously not the King of Smash any longer. So I think for me personally I see it more as an era where the 5 of us were way above anyone else.”


Does this opinion leave any room for new blood? It would seem not, despite new players making names for themselves in the scene over the last few years. The downside to the “eras of Melee,” as Armada describes, is that there is seemingly no legitimate way to break into the ranks of Kings and Gods any longer. It would seem for newer players who regularly compete with the gods, they simply need to wait for the next era of Melee and perhaps will one day receive a title and accolades of their own.


“...Nowadays you have players like Leffen and Plup who not only compete with the Gods but often also beat the Gods. From a skill level perspective, they are clearly at least at the same level as the rest of the Gods but I would still refer to the “Gods” title as a part of a past era rather than current level of skill. Let’s say 10 years from now if all the Gods have retired and Melee is still going on the 5 of us will still be referred to as the 5 Gods of Melee.”


It’s clear that Melee is a game that continues to evolve even after nearly 18 years since its release. Armada as a player is also someone that has evolved with it for nearly a decade. Now in full retrospect he is able to clearly paint a picture for the community and his fans regarding not only his opinions on the eras of Melee itself but the eras of his own career as well.


“From my first time going to the USA in 2009, I had never played against any American Smashers, and I decided already back in 2005 that I wanted to be the best Smasher in the world even if it wasn’t long term I at least wanted to be the best for one day. When I went to the US for the first time I got 2nd which was a huge surprise to people. Majors back then were really rare, I got to go to the US twice a year and if you lost you had to just sit and take that L for six months and that was rough.”

wIt’s important to note the struggle that Armada has seen over the years. Early on in his career he spent years almost winning. With enormous gaps between tournaments in what was still a fledgling time for esports, the mental toll was great. As we know however, he would go on to become one of the five gods. More than that, Armada has put out career statistics that are almost too good to believe. His career set win percentage is over 88% but he also has a winning percentage over 50% when playing against the other four gods.


 “For the next two years I still placed 2nd so many times, I got one 4th placement as well, so those two years leading up to my first 1st place major win in the US at Genesis 2 (which was exactly two years after my first trip to the US) was the roughest time of my career for sure. I was very young back then as well. When I went to the US for the first time I was 16. Mentally it was really hard for me getting these 2nd placements. I lost to Mang0, Hbox, and PPMD at three different supermajors. Against Mang0 and PPMD I was also up, like I was coming from winners going into grands AND being up in grand finals set one. So mentally that was really hard for me. I almost had this negative mentality and spiral of like, “Oh I can’t win.” I knew I had the skill to do it but mentally I didn’t feel like I could clutch it out. Winning that time at Genesis 2, it was such a relief, then I started winning everything for like a year and a half until I stopped playing in 2013.”


It is an interesting thought then, that the beginning of Armada’s career was so extremely demoralizing for him. Were he a weaker person, and had his breakthrough come perhaps later than it did, we may have never seen the rise of the legend we know today. Although this is his second retirement, and he has left Melee singles behind, we have most certainly not seen the last of his involvement and interest in Smash as a whole.


Despite the initial fear of the fan base after he made his announcement to retire, we can all take a breath of fresh air and know that the humble Swedish legend isn’t going to simply leave his beloved community behind. In addition to streaming on and regularly uploading content to YouTube, he also has revealed a number of things we can look forward to in the future. Although some of this is a gamble, and may not pan out long term, Armada has always been a player who gives everything a solid try.


“I still plan to be involved in the Smash community a lot. I do stream and YouTube and then I will also still be going to events playing teams with Android. We still plan on doing that. Commentating I did a little bit of at Big House and we’re most likely going to see more of that in the future as I do enjoy doing commentary. “


However, there is one thing that has been on every Smash player’s mind in recent memory. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Whether you are excited for the game or remain skeptical, the hype that has been generated over the last several months is undeniable. Much of the fan base, as with every new release, is curious as to whether or not this will be the game that bridges the gap between the old guard Melee players, and the modern title players. Armada is no different from the rest. Historically, Melee players have been resistant to new iterations of smash, electing to stick with the game they have played since 2001. Armada however has been more open minded and he has his own hopes for the game to come.


“For Ultimate right now my plan is to obviously stream and YouTube the game mainly but I’m also going to compete in tournaments here in Europe for two or three months before I make up my mind. I will give it a chance, as I do with every title, but there is only a small chance of me being a part of it long-term. I normally tell people to count it as a 5% likelihood and if it happens take it as a positive thing and if it doesn’t happen don’t be too disappointed. I really do want to like the game, and I hope that it’s a part of my future.”


It was no secret that Armada was no fan of Smash 4. Right from the start he knew that the game would not be something he wanted to play long term. However, for those who are still holding out hope that their favorite Smash pro might compete in Ultimate for longer than 3 months, take heart! Firstly, it’s important to remember that he actually liked Brawl, and competed in events for nearly a year and a half. On top of that he already seems to like Ultimate far more than Smash 4! Despite his history of skepticism towards Nintendo, there are things about Ultimate that have given him more hope than in the past.

 "I think they did make positive changes. For example, being able to run up, crouch, and do things out of that is a good change to help with movement. Landing lag being reduced, hit stun and shield stun being longer, these are all good things so it's not like everything is bad. If I compare my experience with Smash 4 to my experience with Ultimate, it’s already off to a better start. If Nintendo improves Ultimate with the patches as much as they improved Smash 4 there actually is a chance that I feel like it’s going to be a really good game. I’ll for sure enter some tournaments though, that’s 100% guaranteed.”


All in all, there is still a bright future going forward for Armada. He is clearly still in love with the Smash scene. As saddening as it was to see him leave Melee singles behind, we have not seen the last of him by any stretch. He left his singles career behind as a legend. Thankfully, whether he is streaming, commentating, playing doubles with Android, competing in a new title, or simply releasing YouTube content, we have a lot to look forward to in his future. We as fans and supporters have not been forgotten, and his love for the people and the series that has helped shape him into the man he is today is still potent.


“Stay awesome guys. Keep supporting smash as a whole. People always ask me how they can help support the game and help out. By showing up at tournaments or watching on Twitch. All these little things do matter in the end. I hope to see you all at some events in the future!”