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Joseph “Mang0” Marquez: The Kid, the GOAT, and the Buster.
The Kid: Mang0 was only 16 years old when he won Pound 3 in 2008. To this day, he remains the youngest player to have ever won a Super Smash Bros. Melee major. Of course, the title is a bit out of place now that he’s also the oldest player to have ever won a major.
The GOAT: Last year, Mang0 was officially named the greatest Melee player of all time on account of his longevity across multiple eras of the game’s competitive history.
The Buster: If any year has ever been a buster year for Mang0, it’s been 2022. Mang0 missed top eight at three consecutive majors earlier this year. While he started to rebound toward the end of the season, he was still ranked 11th, marking his first time ranking outside of the top 10.
But, at Super Smash Con 2022, the old adage rang true; don’t sleep on the Kid.
“How many times does one man have to prove himself?” Mang0 said in a post-tournament interview with Vish “Vish” Kumar. “I’m always guaranteed to come back and win. Taxes, death, Mang0 winning a tournament. I’ll be 85; I’m winning a tournament before I go out.”
Mang0 earned his third Smash Con victory at this year’s event, defeating the likes of Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, Arjun “lloD” Malhotra, and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma along the way. It marked his first major victory of the year and the end of the worst slump of his competitive career.
Fuck the rankings
— 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 (@C9Mang0) August 14, 2022
The legendary Super Smash Con run that almost didn’t happen
Just a few days ago, it seemed that Mang0 had no intention of coming to Super Smash Con 2022. After the Summer 2022 MPGR released, Mang0 criticized the organization that released the rankings and claimed he was dropping out of Smash Con in a pair of since-deleted tweets.
In his interview with Vish, Mang0 later clarified that his frustration was not directed at his placement on the rankings.
“I was definitely 11th,” Mang0 said. “[I] did not have a first half. I’m not going to sit here and argue for myself.”
Instead, Mang0 said he was upset that players were seemingly rewarded with high ranks even if they attended fewer tournaments. He previously referenced the 2019 MPGR, where he was ranked below William “Leffen” Hjelte despite attending about twice as many majors.
I don't think people understand that I'm not mad about my ranking
Anyone with a brain knows I was probably 11 or 10 tops for the period
I'm more mad about the precedent of rewarding people for attending less events
In 2019 I won 2 super majors but got 3rd on the year
— 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 🐐 (@C9Mang0) August 11, 2022
Mang0 himself has been the benefactor of this apparent trend. Last year, he didn’t enter a single open-bracket major. Instead, he simply attended two Smash Summit invitationals. Even so, he was still ranked No. 1 in North America on MPGRContenders.
Nevertheless, he said he wants a ranking system that rewards top players for attending more tournaments. Mang0 has been far more active this year than he was last year, with Super Smash Con 2022 being his seventh tournament of the year.
While Mang0 ultimately decided to come to Smash Con, he never publicly announced that he was no longer dropping out. As a result, tournament organizers initially disqualified him from his round one pool. However, they undid the disqualification, setting up for Mang0’s legendary run.
The Melee fan experience:
"Hey Axe! Is Mango here?"
"Oh, I'm not sure"
…then they walk away
— Axe @ Super Smash Con (@TempoAxe) August 12, 2022
A better second half for Mang0 at Super Smash Con 2022
While he mostly relied on Falco at previous events this year, Mang0 largely stuck to Fox at Super Smash Con 2022. Of course, the bird still made a few crucial appearances. After Jean-Christophe “Lunar Dusk” Léger-Héroux three-stocked his Fox in Game 1 of their set, Mang0 switched to Falco to beat him. Similarly, Mang0’s Falco beat Axe in Game 5 after Axe four-stocked his Fox in Game 4.
“My Falco actually bailed me out of this tournament,” Mang0 said in his interview with Vish. “The unsung hero is Mang0’s Falco.”
To win Super Smash Con 2022, Mang0 had to take out lloD and double-eliminate Hungrybox. Prior to this tournament, he had an 0-3 record against Hungrybox for the year and had lost his only set against lloD at Pound 2022.
In winners finals, Mang0’s Fox proved to be a nice change of pace against lloD. Still, lloD pushed him to Game 5 and even took the first two stocks of the game. However, Mang0 said lloD seemed to be playing nervous. As a result, Mang0 regained momentum and took four unanswered stocks to win the game and the set.
Meanwhile, he eked out a pair of Game 5 victories over Hungrybox in both winners semis and winners finals. Mang0 took a more patient and laser-heavy approach than in their previous sets this year.
“I got sick of his s***,” Mang0 said in his interview with Vish. “Sometimes you get sick of Hbox and then you just say, ‘You know what? You want to play a five-minute game, six-minute game? I invented playing five, six-minute games.’ Then, it just becomes who’s smarter. Let me tell you something, I’m way smarter than Hbox.”
Congratulations to the three-time Super Smash Con Melee Champion: @C9Mang0!
— VGBC (@VGBootCamp) August 14, 2022
Mang0 wins Super Smash Con 2022
In his set against Hungrybox at Wavedash 2022, Mang0 had chosen the smallest legal stage in the game, Yoshi’s Story, as his go-to counterpick. However, Hungrybox defeated him twice on that stage.
“When I’m on Yoshi’s, I just want to run at a motherf***er’s face, hit him with the Marshawn Lynch,” Mang0 said.
At Super Smash Con 2022, Mang0 instead counterpicked to stages where his Fox could run around more freely, like Pokémon Stadium and Final Destination. In fact, he made an unexpected two-stock comeback against Hungrybox on Final Destination in Game 4 of grand finals, giving him the momentum he needed to win Game 5 and prevent a bracket reset.
“I didn’t think I would win honestly,” Mang0 said in a post-tournament interview with Reversal. “I was just getting ready for the next set. I was like, ‘Alright, we’re going to play a grueling 30-minute set. I’m going to camp.’ But, as I took him to his last stock, I was like, ‘He’s crumbling. I can feel it.’”
Notably, Mang0’s Smash Con run didn’t include any sets against the No. 1 player in the world, Zain “Zain” Naghmi. Ryan “Wally” Metwally upset Zain before top 64. Then, Hungrybox ended a seven-set losing streak to eliminate Zain in fourth place.
“Not everyone can make sick Mang0 losers runs,” Mang0 said in his interview with Vish. “I think once Zain tweeted ‘I’m going to win this tournament,’ I was like, ‘That’s not a good start to it.’ I love the mentality, but you’re also adding so much unnecessary pressure. Maybe you need that boost. For me, I just stay quiet. I’m just too sad and then I don’t give a f*** and then I win.”
I’m gonna fucking win this tournament
— Zain (@ZainNaghmi) August 13, 2022
Even with his huge win, Mang0 doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels. He said he’ll be attending Shine 2022 later this month because, as he put it, he’s not a “f***ing little wiener f***.”
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.