Armada's retirement opened door for new major winners
New players can change the face of an esport virtually overnight, but sometimes it’s not an addition, but a subtraction that makes all the difference. That is the case in 2019 for Super Smash Bros Melee, one of the oldest esports in the world. Specifically, it is the retirement of a certain Swede that has changed the way Melee exists, and overnight opened up the field in a way we’ve not seen for years.
The retiree in question is Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren, one of the contenders for the title of ‘greatest Melee player of all time’ anywhere people have that discussion. Alongside the likes of Joseph ‘Mango’ Marquez, Juan ‘HungryBox’ Debiedma and Ken Hoang he defined an era of the game, but unlike those other two he also maintained his spot atop the tree for pretty much his entire playing career, existing as a constant in a world of rapid change.
One of the most amazing stats people know about Armada is the fact he didn’t lose to a ‘non-god’ for something like six years of competitive play. For those not in the know, ‘God’ is how Smash fans refer to players like Mango, Armada, HBox, Jason ‘Mew2King’ Zimmerman, and formerly Kevin ‘PPMD’ Nanney. There is some debate as to whether William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte belongs on that list, but he is a god-slayer at least, and an all-time great.
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Gatekeeper to the gods
Anyway, outside of that small group, it was pretty much impossible for any player to take a win over the Swede, meaning he acted as a barrier to supermajor titles for the vast majority. To be clear, he didn’t achieve this with the best character, taking most of his wins with Peach, and he didn’t have any special advantage, living in a place with no other top level players, and feuding with Leffen for long enough that they never really helped each other progress privately.
Since he retired, we’ve seen both Falcon main Justin ‘Wizzrobe’ Hallett and Pikachu-deity Jeffrey ‘Axe’ Williamson take supermajors, where previously no player using either character had done so in the modern era. It won’t surprise you to know neither of them were ever considered gods in the Armada era, and there is no doubt his absence has helped their chances.
This is not to take away from the incredible advances the two have made as players, or the impact the release of Smash Ultimate has had on the scene, but it does speak to the almost absurd shadow Armada cast over his domain. Even in his absence, his presence is felt, and this final fact of his ‘playing’ career should be enough to convince anyone still not sure who the true ‘GOAT’ of Super Smash Bros Melee is.