The Big House series is one of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s most storied tournaments. In particular, The Big House 4 is one of Melee’s most important events. As the first major “grassroots” event to not run like a complete disaster in the post-documentary era, it has a huge legacy, but also one of the best underdog runs of all-time.
Lucky was a longtime mainstay in the Melee scene, having been known as Mango’s sparring partner, one of the best dedicated Fox mains on the West Coast and a combo video nut. But quite frankly, a large part of Lucky’s legacy among the public was being the equivalent of Mango’s little brother.
For every big win he had, such as his win on Mew2King in GENESIS 2 pools, Lucky had an equally frustrating loss. At this same tournament, Lucky lost to Kage and Darkatma, finishing 25th. Although Lucky still did extremely well within his own region at other tournaments, like Kings of Cali 4 in 2014, he lacked a true national breakout.
If The Big House 4 was going to be Lucky’s breakout tournament, it sure didn’t look like it on day one. After breezing through the first wave of round robin pools, Lucky won his first match of the day against Jolteon, but lost to Kalamazhu, a Peach who had his own underdog run at The Big House 4. Either way, at a tournament stacked with so much talent, Lucky found himself already in a hole.
Suddenly in losers bracket, Lucky defeated Kason Birdman, Darrell and Gahtzu to make it to Top 32 from losers side. This wasn’t anywhere near unexpected for the veteran SoCal Fox, but with a bracket that featured players like Wizzrobe, Bladewise, Kels, MacD, Darkrain, Abate and Duck, Lucky had his work cut out from him.
First defeating the laser-happy Falco Zanguzen, Lucky then had to play another Tri-State veteran in DJ Nintendo. Starting off with a solid two-stock in their first game on Dreamland, Lucky quickly fell behind in game two, finding himself in down two stocks to four and close to KO percents on Battlefield. Lucky managed to claw his way back to last stock situation, but he couldn’t maintain enough explosiveness to come back.
In their last game of the set, Lucky and DJ Nintendo seemed to switch places from the previous game. Instead, with Lucky initially up four stocks to two – and neither side wanting to approach the other one – DJ Nintendo finally took Lucky’s first stock and gained a crucial shine spike on his second, evening up the game. But while a younger Lucky may have been tilted from this moment, at The Big House 4, the SoCal Fox maintained his composure and discipline. He solidly outplayed DJ Nintendo the rest of of the game and won their set 2-1.
Double two-stocking Colbol for 13th place, Lucky unexpectedly found himself against a god: Hungrybox. Though Lucky had experience against someone like Mango’s Jigglypuff back in the post-Brawl era, expecting him at the time to beat a god would have been borderline favoritism. Outside of Leffen, Hungrybox hadn’t lost to a non-god Fox at a national in years. Moreover, in their last two sets, Lucky had lost to the Florida Jigglypuff in heartbreaking fashion, both times bringing him to game five, but getting outclutched in the end. Was their third set of 2014 going to be the charm?
In their first game on Battlefield, Lucky took an early lead before Hungrybox erased the deficit via two rests, putting the game as yet another last stock situation for Lucky. Although I don’t have the data to prove it, I think even Lucky would tell you himself that this situation would have favored Hungrybox, who has made a career out of outplaying Fox players and making inconceivable comebacks against them.
Instead, Lucky got a quick upthrow into up air to close out Game 1. If you watch Lucky at this precise moment in this recorded set, you can see him move his face in for a quick celebratory adrenaline rush while pumping his right fist up and down. The next game in the set was on Dreamland: a stage thought to be Hungrybox’s strongest counterpick against Fox at the time.
Holding a solid lead over Hungrybox for most of the game, Lucky punished a desperate Jigglypuff dash attack with an upair out of shield, giving him a 2-0 lead over the world’s No. 5 player. To quote commentator HomeMadeWaffles at the time, “here’s where it gets real.”
Fighting Hungrybox to his last stock on Final Destination, Lucky closed out the set with an upthrow up air, immediately getting out of his seat, clapping his hands and hugging HugS right next to him. After giving the Crimson Blur another hug and giving two thumbs up in front of the camera, Lucky left the stage, having just achieved biggest win of his career. He was also now in top eight of the world’s biggest Melee tournament ever at the time, ready to play his rival Westballz for seventh place.
Although Lucky finished 2014 with a positive record on Westballz, the two had a respected, but certainly no-love-lost relationship with eachother. They were both up and coming space animal players that had relatively big egos and were constantly battling eachother at locals. After all, with Mango in the Midwest at the time, the two weren’t just fighting for better placings – they were seen as two possible successors to Mango’s throne of being the best space animal player on the West Coast.
Between the two, Westballz was the one who frequently got national recognition, being a fan favorite, having 3-0’d Mango in pools at MLG Anaheim 2014 and gotten fifth at SKTAR 3. This was Lucky’s chance to not only defeat his rival on a national level, but also continue an epic losers run at the biggest Melee tournament ever.
Lucky won the set 3-1, with a legendary ending of Game 4. To this day, Lucky’s reaction at the end of the set is still one of the most epic post-game celebrations.
Next up, Lucky had to play his best friend and longtime teammate Mango. I could give a million reasons why their set at The Big House 4 is one of the first sets you should show any Melee newcomer. Josh “roboticphish” Kassel, who accurately summarizes why this set is so amazing.
While Lucky wasn’t quite able to overcome his “big brother” in Mango, his unforgettable set with him still leaves a lot to be impressed by. The Big House 4 turned Lucky from just a SoCal legend into a household name worthy of his own legacy.
As a result, this is why I chose to include Lucky’s run in my list, though you could argue for Kels/Kalamazhu at the same tournament or even Abate a year later. A year and a half after The Big House 4, Lucky had an even better showing at Get On My Level 2016, where he placed fourth. Nevertheless, when it comes to the legend of Lucky, perhaps his greatest tale is the one of his performance at The Big House 4.