For the greater part of a decade, Super Smash Bros. Melee has been defined by a small group of players, with two consistently rising above the rest: Mango and Armada. Their storied rivalry has defined the past six years of Melee, giving the game some of its greatest moments. However, over the past year or so, the tide has shifted. The new rivalry that is defining this Golden Age of Melee has become Hungrybox versus Armada.
The Swede and the Argentine have thrown down in six Top-8’s since they last met at EVO 2016, and have squared off against one another in the Grand Finals in four of those instances. Where Mango and other Melee greats have had slumps and peaks, Hungrybox and Armada have seemingly experienced an unstoppable rise in their skill. 2015 and 2016 were defined by Armada and Hbox’s respective streaks of tournament wins, including trading EVO titles.
It can be argued that the two world champions get better because the other is doing the same. After years of dealing with the difficulty of the Peach/Puff matchup, Armada finally relented. Gone were the counter-pick shenanigans, with Young Link being pushed to the wayside. Instead, Armada devoted his energies to picking up the most challenging character in the game, Fox. His smooth, almost effortless stage control, in turn, pushed Hungrybox to adopt a more passive style, focusing on ledge control and baiting approaches through planking.
All of this came to a head at The Big House 6. Despite winning EVO just three months prior, Hungrybox had been in an uncharacteristic slump. Saddled with a full-time job, he began to lag behind in his development, where Armada and others continued to press forward at full steam. When the two met in Losers’ Bracket, fighting for a chance to crack into the top four, Armada won in dominant fashion. Hungrybox, looking crushed, slowly walked off the stage to a few scattered claps and boos. Little did the crowd know that they were witness to the lighting of Hungrybox’s internal fire.