This weekend, history repeated itself: for the fourth time in the four-year history of the tournament, the grand finals of Genesis came down to Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Adam “Armada” Lindgren. Despite some truly brilliant matches against Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and William “Leffen” Hjelte, Mango couldn’t turn the tide of history: once again, he lost to the Swedish Sniper.
Consistency has always haunted Mango’s tournament performance. If Armada is a relentless machine, a frame-perfect executioner who has no obvious vulnerabilities, Mango is a meteor entering our atmosphere: impossibly bright in flashes, but destined to burn up. But for brief moments, Mango is not only brilliant: he can accomplish feats that seem beyond the reach of anyone, even the other Gods of Melee, which makes Mango’s matches truly thrilling. Even when he’s losing, and the likelihood of a comeback stretches farther and farther away from plausible, it’s never truly over until Mango’s final stock disappears.
In Mango’s match against Leffen, that’s exactly what happened. In an intensely close series of matches, which Mango had to win to escape the loser’s bracket, he did something that my rational mind believed was impossible. Both he and Leffen were down to their finals stocks, but in almost every other respect Leffen had the advantage: Mango’s Falco was severely damaged, compared to Leffen’s barely bruised Fox. Not only that, he was airborne, having just been on the receiving end of a combo, and without a jump right by the edge of the stage. One stout blow from Leffen would end it—both for the set, and for Mango’s chances of facing off against Armada in the grand finals.
But with a stroke of what can only be described as genius, Mango narrowly dodged the final blow, then rebounded into a combo that slammed Leffen back and forth across the map before dumping him unceremoniously off the edge. Even as I watched it happen, I could hardly believe my eyes—Mango had tied up the set. Then, he won.
By no means did Leffen make it easy on him—the Swede played with a mixture of brain-bending speed and ferocious creativity, but it wasn’t enough. For a few moments of each match, the ones that really counted, it was like Mango could see the code of the Matrix. He couldn’t miss.
Whatever magic animated Mango’s explosive final sets seemed to desert him in the grand finals, though. There, Armada won three straight games, beating Mango even worse than the 3-1 treatment he had received in the semi-finals. Afterwards, he apologized to his fans via Twitter:
One of the worst grands I ever played
— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) January 23, 2017
The grand finals may have been underwhelming, but Mango didn’t really have anything to apologize for. The electrifying final moments of his fourth match against Leffen will stay with his fans for much longer than Armada’s clinical first place finish—it’s not every day we get to see the ridiculously unlikely made somehow possible. With Mango, though, it happens more than you’d think.