UltimateSSBMRank No. 4: Mew2King

4. Mew2King

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No. of years ranking in the Top 10 of RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank: 10 (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

No. of years ranking in the Top 5 of RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank: 9 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
No. of years ranked as RetroSSBMRank/SSBMRank’s No. 1: 2 (2007, 2008)
No. of titles: 9  (Evo East 2007, Evo West 2007, Cataclysm 3, FC-Diamond, SCC, C3 October Tourney, Chu Datz Final Biweekly,  TBH3, Shine 2016)

Mew2King is unlike other smash players. Rather than being defined by a journey to become world No. 1, Mew2King has been defined by his still-ongoing struggle to return to the throne. His career is a walking paradox: one in which he has spent moments looking like a chaingrabbing, villainous Mega Man boss, but also as a rootable underdog. Sometimes, he’s looked like both.

Either way, it’s a fascinating career arc that transcends any binary description you could give it. Even if his legacy is one that deserves far more words than what I’ve written, I’ve tried my best to cover the less known aspects of Mew2King’s time in the Melee scene.

Starting off as the Melee equivalent of a guitar player practicing alone in his room and arguing with more renowned guitarists online, Mew2King was a frequent poster both on Smashboards and GameFAQs. He often discussed character matchups and tier lists with fellow smashers.

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Beneath the awkward forum posts was a young teenager that had a passion for video games. Although I couldn’t find evidence of any tournament that Mew2King attended within Melee’s first few years, his history on Smashboards is well-documented. In 2003, he unleashed a massive bombshell of data to the online community, manually calculating a list of statistics about various aspects of the game – all before resources like 20XX came to fruition.

That said, Mew2King still lacked something that his contemporaries had: tournament experience. While players like KoreanDJ often money matched others or competed to get better, Mew2King tediously collected obscure data about Melee and was initially more known for his online presence. When you take into account his instantly recognizable prose and his tendency to have unrelentingly strong opinions, you can see how a young and occasionally immature, if not socially unaware Mew2King drew his fair share of skepticism and ire.

Sidenote, from his Reddit AMA three years ago: “I like mewtwo. so mew2… king <_< just stuck lol. I wanted to post on smashboards and gamefaqs. I actually think i stole the name from another guy on smashboards called mewtwoking and I liked it so I took it myself with a 2. I just wanted to post on the boards though that’s it.”

With a lot of technical skill for the time, but few “mind games” and little experience competing, Mew2King attended his first major on June 25, 2005, at Getting Schooled 2. Though he didn’t end up placing anywhere near the top, a 23rd out of 99 entrants wasn’t too bad for the rising Fox player, especially because he tied in placings with solid regional players like New England’s UnknownForce. It was clear that Mew2King had more potential than people at the time might have wanted to admit.

Five months later at BOMB 4, a tournament featuring MD/VA’s best and a similar field of competition, Mew2King finished not only ninth in singles out of 105 players, but he won his first ever doubles tournament. Vidjogamer and him finished first out of 43 teams, which included established duos like the Newlyweds (Husband and Wife), Deadly Alliance (Wes and Mike G) and the runner-ups in NEO and Oro. This was the first of numerous doubles tournament victories for Mew2King, whose doubles resume is basically untouchable (and worthy of a separate article) to this day.

If that wasn’t enough, Mew2King finished a surprising third at the first Pound, held in January 2006. A much smaller tournament (55 competitors) than GS2 or BOMB 4, Mew2King still outplaced players like KM, Wife, Husband and even Chillin. Mew2King’s remarkable improvement over the course of a year of competition and more years of data-collecting was now undeniable.

Today, Mew2King’s Fox may not look very flashy, but back in 2006, its technical ability was revolutionary. If Chillin was the godfather of bread and butter combos with Fox and PC Chris set the standard for controlled aggression, Mew2King brought in a new era of technical Fox’s. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who went for hard reads to continue a combo or ran away after a hit, Mew2King could waveshine, chaingrab, edgeguard deep with shine and hit precise Firefox angles from off-stage, then known as “Mew2King angles.” Over time, people realized that these pluses in his gameplay weren’t just gimmicks, as many accused the infamous Zelgadis of abusing on vastly inferior opponents years ago.

Having top eight showings at every major tournament he entered, including an impressive second place under PC Chris at FC6, Mew2King was a consistent top ten player and arguably the world’s best Fox main. He had the wins to back it up too, beating Ken at MLG New York Playoffs 2006 and Azen at MLG Chicago 2006. If that wasn’t convincing enough, Mew2King boasted a 3-1 record against a still-strong Isai and also went back and forth with another new star of the era: KoreanDJ.

Mew2King finished the year as No. 6, per RetroSSBMRank, but at different points of the year you could have argued that he was even higher. In fact, the Smash Panel Power Rankings put him as the world’s No. 3 – just behind Chu Dat and Ken. With 2007 coming up, Mew2King’s next challenge was to become the best player in the world. He also needed to figure out how to fight Chu Dat and PC, both whom he held a combined 0-9 record against.

If you’re a “documentary kid,” you might have the perception that 2007 Mew2King is the most dominant player of all-time. Watch any of Mew2King’s numerous victories from back then – the adage of “men among boys” seemingly couldn’t look any more clear. As the smash documentary states numerous times, Mew2King back then was known as “The Robot” due to his stellar and seemingly inhumane conversions off grabs and in edgeguard situations as Marth: a new main that shot him to the top of the scene.

Yet, with all-time legacy becoming a more prominent discussion in Melee’s 15th year, there’s been more skepticism toward what many consider to be Mew2King’s peak. For starters, Mew2King finished ninth at the year’s biggest tournament in EVO World 2007. He also held negative records vs. Chu Dat (4-6) and KoreanDJ (1-3), respectively finishing second at both Pound 2 and MLG Long Island 2007 under each one.

It wasn’t like Mew2King was immune to other upsets either: he lost to Drephen at Viva La Smashtaclysm late in the year, dropped another set to Chillin at UMBC III and even lost to Cactuar at Smashacre (albeit still taking the tournament). Once you take into account that KoreanDJ’s travel was heavily restricted because of school, it’s easy to retrospectively think of 2007 Mew2King as overrated, as the Crimson Blur and HugS said during their streamed discussion of all-time rankings.

Although Mew2King certainly wasn’t indestructible, there really wasn’t an argument for anyone else as No. 1. in the year. Having a year-long resume with wins at EVO West, EVO East, FC Diamond, Super Champ Combo and Cataclysm 3, Mew2King was by far the most successful smasher of 2007. You could have also argued at the time that his EVO losses were flukes, given the tournament’s best of one and random stage selection ruleset before top eight.

Consider that against the top ten of 2007, Mew2King finished with a 32-16 record, going 18-12 versus the top five. For comparison, Armada in 2016 has gone 23-15 in serious sets vs. Hungrybox, Mango, Mew2King and Leffen, while never losing to anyone beneath them. Though the results definitely show that Mew2King’s prime isn’t quite on the level of someone like Armada, it’s important to acknowledge that it was still the best of its time by a good margin. Watch this crew battle at Zero Challenge 3, in which Mew2King essentially destroys a crew of elite players by himself.

Heading into 2008, it seemed all but guaranteed that Melee was going to die, with its sequel Super Smash Bros. Brawl getting attention from even Melee’s top players, including Mew2King. Pound 3 was effectively going to be Melee’s goodbye – and Mew2King looked like the surefire favorite heading into it. After breezing through pools, he dispatched of names like Hax, Chillin, Silent Wolf, Vidjogamer, Chu Dat and PC Chris to make it to grand finals. Think about that for a moment: Mew2King had figured out even how to beat Chu Dat.

Instead, Mango played spoiler to what was at first predicted to be Mew2King’s coronation as the last king of Melee. Mew2King barely lost the first set 3-2, before losing the second set 3-1, the final game being a desperate Jigglypuff ditto on Brinstar.  Nonetheless, not everyone was convinced from Mango’s epic losers run.

After Pound 3, the johns police came out in full force: Mew2King only lost because of matchup unfamiliarity, the tournament being run beyond midnight, Mango having his bracket opponents throw their sets against him, etc. Regardless of how true or false these reasons were, Mew2King was still widely acknowledged by many as the game’s best, just having an off tournament at Pound 3.

Even Mango near the end of 2008 wrote that he thought Mew2King probably deserved to be considered the best in Melee. Consider that back then, Mew2King played in a better region and lost only one serious set for the rest of the year, winning every other tournament he entered. Both players, the best of their respective coasts, were set for a clash at Revival of Melee in 2009.

Mew2King was coming fresh off a victory over PC Chris at GIMPED 1 (dropping only a set to him), while Mango hadn’t lost since UCLA V in early March 2008. However, Mango quickly showed that his Pound 3 win wasn’t a fluke, dominating Mew2King in three games in winners finals and sending him to losers finals against DaShizWiz. If you have any knowledge about Melee history, you’ll know what happened next.

Even though he lost his grand finals set against Mango, Mew2King still had one of the greatest comebacks in Melee history. His final match against DSW at RoM losers finals is one of the most widely watched Melee videos on YouTube and a display of the kind of comebacks that Mew2King was capable of – and still is, to this day. Though most people were now willing to concede that Mango was the best player in the world, Mew2King fans still had their ray of hope that he could someday become No. 1 again.

The reality, however, proved to be a bit more difficult. Playing a lot more Sheik now, due to his renewed belief of Sheik as the best character in Melee, Mew2King still couldn’t quite figure out Mango, ending the year with a 0-7 record against his SoCal nemesis. The low point came at August’s SNES, when Mew2King was beaten so badly by Mango in winners that he refused to play in his losers finals set against Hax.

Mew2King’s decline in status and confidence didn’t come from just losing to Mango. In addition to finishing second to Jman at Apex 2009, Mew2King placed only fifth at the summer’s biggest major in GENESIS, a tournament that many on the East Coast hoped would be a return to form for him.  Here, Mew2King lost to some random Swedish Peach in winners semis and was eliminated by Zhu, finishing fifth.

From the post-Brawl era to 2013, Mew2King’s fans attributed his decline to Brawl, with several still calling him the best Melee player, but saying that he held himself back by playing both Brawl and Melee at tournaments. Sometimes, he’d even drop out of one game to compete in another. Even more tellingly, Mew2King himself admitted numerous times that he didn’t like playing either smash game that much and only competed because smash financially supported him.

A strong in-game reason for Mew2King’s  struggles was how weak he was at three matchups: top-level Jigglypuff, Falco and Ice Climbers – all of whom he was open about hating. I could create a massive list of all of Mew2King’s tournament results and losses from 2010 to the end of 2012, but the story is mostly the same. He’d always either place just under another god (assuming they played their main), fifth at a tournament featuring all of them  (save for his awful 17th place at Apex 2012, when he lost to Wobbles and forfeited against Hax) or get upset in one of the above three matchups.

Yet, there’s another positive to his legacy: how game-changingly good he was in other matchups from 2010 to the end of 2012. In spite of his long list of losses to fellow gods and even a few bad losses to players considered slightly worse than him, an on-point Mew2King was notoriously brutal in annihilating lesser players than him.

During this period of being considered the “gatekeeper” god, Mew2King never lost a best-of-five set in any matchup against Marth, Sheik, Captain Falcon or non-Armada Peach, while still maintaining a strong record in several other matchups. In particular, the existence of Mew2King’s Sheik was one of the reasons that people pointed to for why Captain Falcon could not win a major.

A long time ago, when I talked to Spawn, an older Connecticut Sheik player from the post-Brawl era, he mentioned how he used to download videos of Mew2King’s Sheik on edgeguards and study them across a variety of matchups. If KoreanDJ and Captain Jack were initial innovators of Sheik’s metagame and aggression, Mew2King wrote the textbook for how to ruthlessly finish off opponents off-stage. He was also infamously untouchable in the Sheik ditto, never losing a set until dropping one to Shroomed in late 2014.

Moreover, Mew2King’s Marth was so far ahead of other Marth players that people back then considered this character “solved” in terms of combo potential. Forget playing a spacie against it on Final Destination, which was already well known to be formidable  – trying to play against Mew2King in the Marth ditto was thought of as even worse. Before Dr. PeePee eventually became known as the best Marth dittoer in the world, Mew2King was considered having perfected that matchup.

Mew2King’s medley of characters and counterpicks, mixed with his seemingly endless knowledge of different matchups, made defeating him a daunting task for any non-god. Even his low-tiers in tournament were terrifying to play against.

Throughout all the almost-performances, heartbreak and upsets, Mew2King still consistently showed one thing: his competitive resilience. For most others, frequently being on the receiving end of historic Melee moments and seemingly always being under No. 1 would be too much to handle. Even though Mew2King has a history of being quite open about his emotional issues, occasionally saying that he’d quit a game after a bad loss, etc, his long-term actions show something else.

Instead of ever actually leaving for good, Mew2King kept attending tournaments. Despite his occasional johns, negative attitude and proclamations of quitting Melee, he still clearly had the internal fire of a champion.

Going into Apex 2013 with no serious god wins from the previous two years (only two sets against Dr. PeePee’s experimental Fox and another two against Mango’s secondaries at Sudden Death IV), Mew2King somehow double eliminated Mango, then considered to be back in top shape and ready to end Armada’s reign over Melee. It was the first time Mew2King had defeated his rival in a serious set since 2007 – and an ironic role reversal from years before. This time, Mango’s return to being considered Melee’s best was spoiled by the man he defeated at Pound 3.

Finishing third at Zenith 2013, fifth at EVO 2013 and second at the Fall Classic, Mew2King slowly chipped his way back into the national conversation for being not just a “gatekeeper,” but as much of a threat to win majors as his  contemporaries. A more cynical person might say that Melee’s revival and growth during 2013 was the sole catalyst behind Mew2King’s growth – but nonetheless, his renowned focus and confidence in Melee seemed to be coming back. He even had occasional set wins over Dr. PeePee and Mango on the year, which was remarkable because of how frequently he used to lose to them. Enter The Big House 3.

Winning TBH3 was easily Mew2King’s best achievement since 2007, since it was the first ever tournament that Mew2King won over two gods in attendance. It also marked the start of what many to this day refer to as the “Return of the King,” in which Mew2King won 15 more tournaments in a row, including four more set wins over Mango (one of which Mango played Captain Falcon in, but the other three were in mostly serious sets). For the last quarter of 2013, you could have argued that Mew2King looked like the world’s best player again.

From 2014 to now, Mew2King still hasn’t reached the level of dominance that he had in 2007 or even late 2013. That said, he’s still finished in the top five of SSBMRank for the last two years, with an additional title at Shine 2016, several other tournament victories and many top eight showings. Add in a legendary losers run at UGC Smash Open last weekend – Mew2King is cemented  for yet another finish as a top five player. If you take into account RetroSSBMRank, 2016 marks a decade of  Mew2King’s status within the elite echelon of play. Not even Chu Dat has that kind of career success.

Although he hasn’t won a generation-defining event since taking FC-Diamond, Mew2King has had moments where he’s looked capable of returning to the top. In the last three years, Mew2King has boasted 3-0’s over every god and Leffen, showing that when he’s on-point, the former No. 1 could still defeat anyone in his path.

If you’re an optimist, you could say that Melee’s growth makes the possibility of Mew2King ever winning an EVO-level event bigger than ever before. After all, with him having shown the ability to beat anyone in the world, it’s seemingly just a matter of time until Mew2King puts it together for one last immortal run.

But at the same time, with the biggest talent pool that Melee’s ever seen, along with Mew2King’s simultaneous dedication to Smash 4, it’s tough to envision Mew2King ever coming back to No. 1. For every significant victory over a fellow god, you could just easily point to an upset or disappointing placing.

One thing for sure: in a career filled with so many highs and lows – but far more highs  – Mew2King will continue to awe and inspire smashers, always surprising us when we least expect it. If last weekend at UGC Smash Open didn’t prove it, a decade’s worth of magic certainly proves Mew2King as Melee’s No. 4 player of all-time and by far the game’s longest standing giant.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes – I know Juggleguy doesn’t main Fox and that these weren’t serious matches. But this video is too perfect.

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