Another Genesis: Hbox's chances of pulling it off
Three years ago, Hungrybox seemed on the verge of doing something unthinkable for Super Smash Bros. Melee: finishing No. 1 in the world in four consecutive years. He had just won Smash Summit 9, defeating long-time rivals like Plup, Mango, Hax$, and aMSa, only to follow it up a month later by dominating the field at CEO Dreamland 2020. It seemed like it would take the end of the world - or something damn close to it - to veer Hungrybox off course.
There’s no beating around the bush: things have changed, and we at least came to the end of an era of Melee ruled by Hungrybox. Though 2021 was filled to the brim with many smaller tournament victories for the 2019 No. 1, it was also the first year since 2014 in which Hungrybox failed to win a bonafide major. By the PreGR Contenders list, he may not even be Top 5.
The 2022 field of competitors is the most stacked it’s ever been. There’s a seemingly endless assortment of strong Fox players eager to take their shot at Hungrybox; rising stars like lloD and Polish pushing previously discounted characters to their limit against Jigglypuff; major champions at the peak of their game such as Plup, iBDW, Mango, and Zain. Winning Genesis 8 will be the hardest task of Hungrybox’s career.
But just how likely is it? In this piece, I’m going to calculate Hungrybox’s chances of finishing in first place.
Before diving into any hypothetical, it’s typically a good idea to examine anything close to it for precedent. This will give us a rough estimate as to what other “longshots” have existed in the past. The good news: purely in terms of tourneys attended, there are droughts in between major wins that far surpass Hungrybox’s 12 majors attended without a victory.
The bad news: this doesn’t necessarily adjust for the relative scale of each major, nor does it accurately communicate matchup spreads. All it does is give us a relatively loose guessing range. Based on this, the probability of Hungrybox winning Genesis 8 could be anywhere from one in 27 (3.7 percent) to one in 22 (4.5 percent). That doesn’t seem accurate, so we’re going to need to do some bracketology.
As of when this was written, Genesis 8 is expected to have over 1,500 entrants. Although it is very difficult to predict how this bracket will turn out, because of how seeding is typically done and adjusted, as of when this was written, the Top 32 seeds of the event were as follows:
- 1. Mango
- 2. Zain
- 3. iBDW
- 4. Leffen
- 5. Plup
- 6. Wizzrobe
- 7. aMSa
- 8. Polish
- 9. Hungrybox
- 10. KoDoRiN
- 11. SFAT
- 12. moky
- 13. lloD
- 14. Ginger
- 15. S2J
- 16. Magi
- 17. n0ne
- 18. Spark
- 19. Fiction
- 20. Axe
- 21. Jmook
- 22. SluG
- 23. Sora
- 24. Ben
- 25. Zamu
- 26. Lucky
- 27. Kalamazhu
- 28. bobby big ballz
- 29. ChuDat
- 30. Panda
- 31. Suf
- 32. TheSWOOPER
We’re going to move forward with the following assumptions.
- Hungrybox will make Top 32 from winners’ side.
- We’re not going to account for top player dropouts or DQs in our initial estimations.
- For now, we’re only going to weigh Hungrybox’s chances of winning in the likelihood of his reaching winners’ side of grand finals.
- NOTE: Because Leffen is not attending Genesis 8, and the event has not been re-seeded yet, we will not be factoring in his results or set history vs. Hungrybox
- We’ll be rounding percentages.
Top 32 Projected Opponent: Ben
Last year, you’d have trouble finding a tougher thorn in Hungrybox’s side than Ben. From East Coast Fridays 156 to East Coast Fridays 159, Ben made a weekly tradition of destroying Hungrybox, winning six consecutive sets over him and leaving him with a 6-9 losing record. So is the end of the road?
Not so fast. In 2022, Hungrybox won each of their three head-to-heads. Moreover, the two only played one set on LAN for all of last year, but it was a five-game barnburner at Riptide where Hungrybox barely held on for a 3-2 victory.
Although the historic numbers point to a coin flip, I’m going to give Hungrybox the solid advantage given recent sets and his history in a supermajor environment. In total, he’s entered 96 majors in his career, only losing in Top 32 once at 2019’s Low Tier City 7 - where Albert beat him. Combined with lately having had the advantage over Ben, I’m going to give Hungrybox favorable odds.
Verdict: 67 percent
Top 16 Projected Opponent: Polish
Top 16 is where Hungrybox will face perhaps an even more daunting challenge. The last two times Hungrybox played Polish offline, he lost. Polish took the first win in a down-to-the-wire five-game set and dismantled Hungrybox in the rematch, 3-0.
However, Hungrybox did win the most recent online runback, 3-0. Moreover, Hungrybox losing LAN sets to Peach is absolutely unchartered waters from an otherwise historic trend of him dominating the character since 2010.
Is Polish as much of a favorite as the numbers put them? I’m not sure, but my gut tells me that these two are an even match.
Verdict: 50 percent
WQF Projected Opponent: Mango
Curiously, the two haven’t played that much over the last two years as you might expect. They’ve gone even over their last ten serious sets across the last few years, with Hungrybox actually having the advantage on LAN (5-4). However, given the meta shifts, many of the pre-2020 sets carry little if any predictiveness. To that point, Mango has won their last three sets, excluding a sandbagged Captain Falcon showing at Four Loko Fight Night.
Another factor is that the two have trended in different directions since the pandemic. While Hungrybox has been passing out on stream and giving us a gold mine of memes, Mango has been crowned the best player of 2021 and the greatest player of all-timeMelee Stats, in a project directed by an unusually handsome, intelligent and charming man.
Granted, one detail which has to be considered is the two’s disparity in 2022 activity. Mango’s been taking it easy outside of LACS 4, while Hungrybox is one of the most active competitors in the scene. Granted, he’s talking to Twitch chat and in Content Mode half the time, but is it really so crazy to imagine he could steal a set?
Verdict: 33 percent
WSF Projected Opponent: Plup
While Plup won their last set, Hungrybox has historically had Plup’s number. In their last 10 sets, Hungrybox has the 8-2 advantage, with many of those sets coinciding with an 11-set win streak. Outside of Plup’s shocking Genesis 5 win over Hungrybox and a few sets here and there, it’s been mostly a big-brother vs. little-brother dynamic between the two Floridians.
Given how much Sheik and Fox players have improved on the matchup over the Slippi era, I’m not totally convinced that this will transfer over 1:1 with what his current odds are. However, all things considered, this is probably the player among the top eight seeds who Hungrybox would prefer to see in winner’s semifinals more than anyone else. For that reason alone, any fan of his shouldn’t be afraid to be bullish.
Verdict: 70 percent
WF Projected Opponent(s): ????
Hungrybox’s chances to make winner’s finals alone in this specific run are already daunting: 4.4 percent. If he somehow gets here, he’s going to have a hell of a fight; a fight that will most likely involve one of aMSa, iBDW, Zain, and Wizzrobe.
To keep our calculations simple (even if overstating the likelihood of an upset), we’re going to do something a little different from what we did before. Because this involves more than one opponent,we’ll be examining each possibility individually, from best to worst odds, before calculating our final odds, on average.
With how lopsided their last set was, you might be surprised to see aMSa’s name listed so early compared to other peers. All things considered though, even a 3-0 is only one set. Hungrybox has the 7-3 edge in their last ten. Not all of them are recent enough to make me swing the pendulum in the exact opposite direction, but one happened as recently as Smash Summit 11. A match between these two is basically a coin flip.
Verdict: 50 percent
Although Zain has had the longer winning streak (more on this later), Hungrybox has played iBDW far more, going 3-7 in their last 10 sets (1-3 on LAN). This year, the two are even (2-2 online) with Hungrybox taking their most recent set. I’m going to say that iBDW remains a solid favorite moving forward, given how much the historical record, as well as matchup, tilts in his favor.
Verdict: 30 percent
Hungrybox’s chances in this matchup are much tougher than the numbers might show. Five of their last ten (7-3 Wizzrobe) occurred in 2019, which may as well be the Stone Age. Since 2020, the start of the current era, it’s gone 7-1 in Wizzrobe’s favor, 4-1 on LAN and 1 to 9 in game count over the last 3 sets. I won’t go as far as to say that this rivalry has reached historic levels of hopelessness, but watching the game tape, it looks so brutal.
Verdict: 20 percent
[Editor's Note: Wizzrobe dropped out of Genesis due to health reasons not long before this article was posted and shortly after final edits. I've kept the section in because even though he is one of Hbox's toughest matchups, given the strength of the field, his DQ doesn't change the odds too much. We hope Wizzrobe is feeling better and has a smooth recovery.]
While Hungrybox’s sets versus Zain have ranged from nail-biters to dry 3-0 losses, the end result is that Hungrybox has lost seven consecutive sets across both mediums of Melee. There’s no denying that Zain is one of the toughest draws that Hungrybox has ever had in his career. Speaking of which, when was the last time someone gave Hungrybox this much of a headache?
If I had to guess where Hungrybox’s chances lie vs. Zain, Armada is probably the closest parallel, since he, much like Zain, was a consistent contender to win supermajors. It could get worse, but I’m not convinced that this rivalry has reached the level of “foregone conclusion” that Mango-Hungrybox once had. That was a time when Hungrybox was so lost versus Mango and nearly every other top Fox player that he didn’t think Jigglypuff could win a major ever again.
Verdict: 12 percent
Average Winners Finals Opponent Verdict: 28 percent
Grand Finals Chances
Right now, we have a rough idea of what the Cinderella run will look like: a 4.4 percent chance of making it to winner’s finals, but a 1.2 percent chance in total for actually ending up in winners’ side of grand finals. Let’s not mince words here: this would be miraculous. But don’t forget - we need Hungrybox to win just one more set to take home the gold. He can afford to drop one.
With this in mind, we’re going to once again run forward with a generalized assumption: that in grand finals, he will be just as likely to play any of the top six seeds - the only other people in all of Genesis 8 who have ever made it to grand finals at a supermajor. If this holds true, he will have, on average, a 40.5 percent chance of winning that individual set. The potential outcomes are roughly as follows:
- Hungrybox wins set one, winning the tournament: 40.5 percent
- Hungrybox loses set one and wins set two, winning the tournament: 24.1 percent
- Hungrybox loses set one and loses set two: 35.4 percent
Verdict: 65 percent (rounding up)
If the math is hard to follow spread through, I’ve put it all in once place below:
P(making it to WR32) * P(making it to WR16) * P*(making it WQF) * P(making it to WSF) * P(making it to WF) * P (making it to GF) * P (winning set one OR losing set one and winning set two)
(1.00) x (0.70) x (0.50) x ((0.33) x (0.70) x (0.28) x (0.65)
Total Verdict: 1.5 percent
When I reached that number, I paused because something felt off. Remember - this only accounts for two specific Hungrybox paths to victory: NOT potential loser’s run bracket runs or even situations where he loses in winner’s finals. They also don’t account for matchup volatility. Admittedly, that bothers me, but it’s pretty hard to fix this with a limited word count and with a limited model. Therefore, it's time to do something all great people do when they’re confused - pull something out of our asses.
I looked at the last 30 majors in total. Only three of them have been won by someone sent to the loser's side before grand finals: Mango at Smash Summit 11, Mango at The Big House 9, and Hungrybox at The Big House 7. I initially thought this was relatively favorable for Hungrybox, since one mega-loser’s run to victory from him out of thirty total majors didn’t sound so bad.
I looked at Hungrybox’s last 30 attended majors. Of them, he’s won two in a loser’s run that came before grand finals: Pound 2019 and Low Tide City 6. I initially thought this was relatively favorable for Hungrybox, since two out of thirty didn’t sound so bad. Then, I remembered that The Big House 7 was basically when the cavemen were around, not during an era where every top 100 player has been hardened by Uncle Punch and Slippi. Even a one in fifteen chance is overstating the likelihood of a major victory outside of the two scenarios drawn above.
It gets worse when you consider the truth: that the Hungrybox capable of making that type of run was at the precipice of a three-year reign at the world No. 1 spot. This is a very different Hungrybox than the one of today, who needs every break to go his way to recapture his former glory and return to the top of the mountain. If he’s sent to loser’s anytime before, it’s probably curtains.
When I realized this, I knew that 1.5 percent was harsh, and yet not too far from the truth. It is Clutchbox though, so I’m going to round that up.
Gut Call: 2 percent
There are countless holes that you could notice in my “model.” It’s not a proper statistical analysis for many reasons. My estimations of head-to-head probability are entirely subjective and I fully expect my predictions to not pan out. But I’d like to explain why I’ve made an attempt to break down Hungrybox’s chances of winning Genesis, even knowing it would run into these flaws.
Melee’s a difficult game to follow and fully contextualize. We use information like head-to-heads, set histories, and tournament placements to make sense of what happens in our community, and yet they don’t really illustrate the depth of complexity of the game. What we have instead are stories; narratives that we create with numbers to share with others, spread excitement, and give stakes to each tournament. If my analysis is flawed, I accept that, but it’s my attempt to describe the task ahead of Hungrybox - and just how monumental it is.
Besides, crazier things have happened. To close 2021, iBDW won Smash Summit 12 by beating two of his hardest opponents in a row, after dropping a combined 17 consecutive sets vs. both of them. The likelihood of this specific bracket run was less than one percent.
So who knows? This Genesis could be Hungrybox’s sweetest first-place finish yet.