Informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He thoroughly enjoys playing video games, specifically the Nintendo series Super Smash Brothers.
In this piece, the informant tells me about the “5 Gods of Smash” who are known as by far the 5 best players in competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee tournaments. They are aptly known as Gods because these five players are so much better than the rest of the competition that one of these players always wins the competitive tournaments. For more context, the competitive gaming scene around Super Smash Brothers Melee has grown substantially over the last decade. Although the game released nearly 15 years ago, the game is still being played competitively today.
DP: A God of Smash is considered someone who loses to no one else in tournament, other than other gods. Currently there are only 5 in the history of Smash. So I wanna say Mew2King or M2K was considered the first god of Smash. The reason he does so well in tournaments is because before computers were coded to count frame data for melee, Mew2King developed his own methods for counting the frames for moves. And he was able to precisely determine the lengths for which moves were out for. He memorized this data and he was able to play optimally and back then if you played optimally there’s no way you could lose. So he began to be known as a robot because he had so much data memorized. The way he learned all this data is by doing certain moves with a character and he’d keep pausing the game in between the move. If he could draw out the moves into 9 distinct pictures, then he knew that move took exactly 9 frames.
Moving on to the next god, Mango, he came out from SoCal and at an extremely young age he was very good at the game. He was known for using a very gimmicky character, jigglypuff. Even though he performed very well, people were chalking up his wins to gimmicks or not playing a fair game. So for a while, he got actually banned from playing in Southern California all together which kind of pissed him off but didn’t stop him from playing the game. Eventually, he decided to just change his appearance by growing a beard. He adopted a new tag called Scorpion Master so he would be unrecognizable. His whole purpose of this was just to play a joke on Southern California because he was so upset that he was banned. He actually ended up winning with a lesser character, like a D-tier character. People eventually found out it was him, so he picked up two of the hardest characters in the game, Fox and Falco, and since then has remained a God of the game.
Now it makes the most logical sense to talk about HungryBox. HungryBox saw the way Mango used jigglypuff, and even though he knew jigglypuff was gimmicky, he adopted him as his new character. So HungryBox looked at all of Mango’s weaknesses, he actually corrected for this and made jigglypuff tournament viable. Hungrybox is also another God of melee.
Now we can talk about PPMD, he was the 4th god to come around. He noticed that HungryBox was kind of on a tear in the South Eastern part of the US. In Florida and Georgia and those states. And HungryBox would win everyone of those tournaments if he entered them. So PPMD picked up two characters, Falco and Marth, both were considered to have highly losing matchups to Jigglypuff at the time. He ended up creating the modern metagames for Falco and Marth as they are played today just to combat HungryBox’s jigglypuff. Even though it took 4 tournaments of them meeting in grand finals, once PPMD started to win with both falco and marth, HungryBox wasn’t able to win with the frequency he could before PPMD came around.
The last God is Armada. I guess all I have to say about him is that Armada. Let’s put it this way, Melee didn’t just arise in AMerica. Europe was also interested in Melee, but it wasn’t until Armada until a unified European champion was coined. Once Armada started playing, he almost never lost a set. He might have lost just 1 set in his 4 years of playing in Europe. He was undoubtedly the best in Europe so he decided to play in America. In America he got beat pretty frequently using what Americans thought was an inferior character. So in order to combat this, he picked up a better character. So he ended up developing the European style for playing Fox, which every other Fox player in Europe adopted the strategy for. Now not only is he the best in Europe, he’s also the best in the world by a fair margin. He hasn’t been knocked to the losers bracket in 3 years!
It was really interesting to hear about the folklore of a video game. My informant was clearly very knowledgeable about the folklore surrounding Super Smash Brothers, and it appears as though the community is actively creating its own folklore. It was really interesting to see that these 5 players had risen to god status within the game’s community for their incredible skill. In the gaming community, the word god is thrown around a lot, but it appears as though there is a significant meaning behind coining someone a god in this particular game.