Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma conquered all his demons and won his first Super Major since Evo 2016 at Smash & Splash 3 last Sunday.
After breezing his way into top eight on Saturday with 3-0 wins over Vikram "Nightmare" Singh, Kevin "PewPewU" Toy and James "Duck" Ma, Hungrybox sat down to face Joseph "Mang0" Marquez in winners semis. In 2017, Hungrybox had yet to defeat his longtime nemesis, holding a 0 and 3 record against Mang0. A calm and collected Hungrybox sat down, and took the win against Mango in a convincing 3-1.
Last week at the Bigger Balc, Hungrybox had hinted at a new "shameless" approach to the fox matchup, and during his winners finals set against Adam “Armada” Lindgreen, Hungrybox put this plan into action.
The first game didn’t seem anything special. Hungrybox was playing from behind from the majority of the game, and was adopting a more defensive style, but it wasn’t till game two where Hungrybox began to implement his strategy.
After taking Armada’s first stock with a rest, Hungrybox retreated to the ledge and waited there. This was the return of ledge planking.
This "ledge planking" tactic is not something new to Hungrybox. He attempted it at Evo 2015 against Armada to no avail. Fox’s down tilt is able to pop Jigglypuff up off the ledge and place her in a prime position to be hit with an up air, which will in turn, send Puff to the sky and end her stock.
After about a minute of stalling, Armada found his opening and sent Hungrybox to the sky.
Once again, Hungrybox went in and took Armada’s stock. Hungrybox returned to the ledge. It all seemed very odd. Hungrybox would take the lead, camp the ledge until his lead was completely eroded, and then take the lead again. The camping seemed pointless, Hungrybox was winning every time he went in against Armada, so why was he camping?
Despite the questionable strategy, Hungrybox took game two.
As the set continued, Hungrybox continued this strategy. He would explode with aggression and take Armada’s stock, winning the lead, then slow down the pace of the game. Perhaps go the ledge, perhaps jump around just out of Armada's range. Armada would slowly add damage to Hungrybox with Fox’s lasers and although he would take some damage in the process (ranging around the 30-40% mark) he would eventually end Hungrybox’s stock. Hungrybox would re-spawn and again the lead in an aggressive fashion. Following this he would once again lower cease his aggression.
Hungrybox took game three with two stocks remaining. Armada clawed it back in game four, before falling to Hungrybox in game five. In all of the games that Hungrybox won, he did so with a two stock lead.
Although not the most heart pounding set, the crowd entertained themselves by letting out a collective "ayyyyyy!" whenever Hungrybox grabbed the ledge. At one point they were even chanting for him to take the ledge.
As Hungrybox took Armada’s final stock with a rest, he jumped to his feet and let out a primal scream, before slamming the CRT television and kicking a chair. He had finally beaten his demon Armanda, for the first time since Evo 2016.
In Grand Finals, Hungrybox faced off against William "Leffen" Hjelte, who after being sent to losers bracket by Zain “Zain" Naghmi early in the tournament, had made an insane losers run, defeating Mango, Armada and an incredibly on form DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel.
Hungrybox employed a mix of his new hot / cold ledge strategy and his more aggro style that he employs against more aggressive players such as Mango.
Leffen took the first set 3 - 1, before going down 2 - 0 in the second set. After an intense last stock situation in game three, Leffen brought it back and took the win, making the game count 2 - 1 in Hungrybox’s favour.
It was the final stock of game four when Hungrybox struck. Coming down off the angel platform and reading deep into Leffen’s soul, Hungrybox baited a roll from the Swedish Fox and ended the the tournament right there with a rest.
Hungrybox’s new strategy will no doubt reignite the discussion in regards to edge grab limits in Smash. Leffen, Hungrybox’s opponent in grand finals has already posted on twitter in support for such a limit.
Hungrybox’s post tournament interview gave some insight into his game-plan against Armada.
Commentator Robert “Wobbles” Wright took a stab at guessing Hungrybox’s strategy.
“We thought what if [ledge camping] it’s just get them so used to that stale stagnant play that when you invade, it’s a surprise, it’s out of nowhere, just like the rests.”
“You got it. Welcome to Melee.”
Hungrybox talked a little about how his ledge strategy gave him the advantage over Armada.
“Puff can’t win camping out someone, camping out Fox on the ledge, obviously, he [Fox] has down tilt, he has shine, he has lasers, but Puff can win, if you understand how the Fox’s mind works. […] What if i told you the ledge gives me time to look at how they’re moving, to look at what their pattern is, when they are lazering, so I get that data, and when I come off I’m just remembering what did they do when I was on the ledge? What was their approach? That’s how we did it.”
The long term effectiveness of this strategy is still in the air, and it remains to be see how Armada will adapt to it, or if Hungrybox will even attempt to employ it again.
What is clear however, In the years long game of tennis between pink puff ball and space faring fox, the ball is once again in the fox’s, and Armada’s court.