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ZeRo and Mango reign supreme at Royal Flush

Thomas Tischio

It was a smashing weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey for Royal Flush 2017, one of the premier tournaments and showcases for top Super Smash Bros. play. The tournament offered some of the best players in both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Smash 4) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (Melee).

In Smash 4, it was the continuation of the ZeRo dynasty as Team SoloMid's Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios took down another major tournament. The king of Smash 4, with the coaching assist of Immortals' Jason "ANTi" Bates, walked out of Atlantic City as the victor of both the singles and doubles (with NRG eSports' Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada) tournaments.

Although ZeRo took down the singles title, the journey was not easy or dominant. The competition, and some newer names, continued to creep up to contend with great finishes from Phoenix1's Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey, James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson and Ramin "Mr.R" Delshad. Mr.R was the standout competitor from the field. The Sheik main used Cloud in the grand finals against ZeRo and was one scramble decision away from taking down the entire tournament. ZeRo needed a clutch ledge fight and multiple comeback decisions to overcome the relentless reads and pressure from Mr.R. It will be up to Mr.R to overcome the ZeRo hump (the pair played most recently at CEO Dreamland, another close affair) and take over the iron throne.

The main event was Super Smash Bros. Melee and the top eight featured four of the best players in the world: Alliance's Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Team Liquid's Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma, Cloud9's Joseph "Mango" Marquez and Team SoloMid's William "Leffen" Hjelte. Three of those listed were Evolution Fighting Game Championship winners and the other, Leffen, was routinely billed as the next legend in the game. Unfortunately for Leffen, his tournament was cut short by Hungrybox in a nail-biter set and a 3-0 drubbing by Sami "DruggedFox" Muhanna. In addition to eliminating Leffen, DruggedFox ran through Splyce's Michael "Nintendude" Brancato en route to a respectable fourth place finish.

The storyline of the main event was once again centered around three of the game's most legendary competitors; Armada, Hungrybox, and Mango renewed their rivalries and took up the top three spots in the tournament. Hungrybox started in the winners bracket, but fell to rival Armada and Mango in winners finals and losers finals respectively. Mango, in signature fashion, fought through the losers bracket to enter the grand finals against Armada.

In the grand finals, Armada shut down Mango's unorthodox offensive approaches. His defensive neutral air attacks, floats and ledge guards were so stout that Mango opted to use Marth on Final Destination for one game (he lost). It took unrelenting and fearless progression, but Mango created enough scramble situations to reset the bracket. In the final set, both players played to a fifth game stalemate. There, on Fountain of Dreams, Mango took his only decisive game. With the crowd behind him, and Armada seemingly out of steam, Mango lost only two stocks to finish the comeback victory.