How to Cheese Your Way to a Low Armada Number

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Any real Melee nerd worth his salt knows his Armada number. This concept, simultaneously one of the most frivolous and curiosity-inducing concepts to ever come out of Smash Reddit, is based on similar ideas involving actor Kevin Bacon and mathematician Paul Erdös: it’s the number of tournament wins you’d have to chain together to get to Armada, starting with yourself. For example, MattDotZeb has taken a tournament set off of Leffen, who has in turn defeated Armada, giving MDZ an Armada number of 2. If someone beats him, that person has an Armada number of 3, and so on and so forth.

Thanks to the Melee scene’s longevity and to the region-mixing that occurs at major tournaments, most players who’ve been in the scene for a significant amount of time have Armada numbers of 6 or lower. Since Armada has only lost sets to the top-six ranked players since 2010, most players’ Armada number paths will inevitably incorporate one of these elite competitors. However, there are a few sneaky ways for lower-level players to acquire relatively low Armada numbers.

“Pre-ascendance” god wins

Although some variations of the Armada number “rules” require relatively recent tournament wins, the popular definition of the concept stipulates no time limitations. Thus, victories like MattDotZeb’s over Leffen can decrease the average Armada number of an entire region (in this case New England). Other examples of players who have beaten gods before their ascendance include the Texas Fox main Disafter, who boasts a win over an adolescent Hungrybox, or New Jerseyan Teczero, who defeated Leffen at Apex 2012. Plumb the depths of your region’s local lore and you’ll be sure to find other ancient wins that can be dusted off for the purpose of decreasing your personal Armada number. Of course, the prize catch is a win over a player who defeated Armada himself before the Swedish Sniper began his reign, such as SilentSpectre.

Unsober gods

While Armada and other top-level Melee players always bring their A-game at major events, they occasionally let their guard down at smaller tournaments. In 2015, after winning a NorCal major event called I’m Not Yelling, Armada celebrated by drunkenly entering a local called Get Smashed at the Foundry #41. While no SSBMRank balloteer would ever consider this tournament legitimate, it still gave mid-level players an opportunity to capture a rare tournament win over Armada, and Replicate and Cereal Rabbit walked away with Armada numbers of 1 thanks to the Swede’s insobriety. Veteran SoCal players can name many similar wins that occurred when Joseph “Mang0” Marquez entered locals in various states of drunkenness during his early career.

Top players sandbagging with secondaries

If you’re a lower-level player with no real wins from which to extrapolate your Armada number, you might have no choice but to enter locals until you run into a top player sandbagging with a character that isn’t his main. Technically, Armada number paths can start with any win at any tournament; generally, no character requirements are specified. So go ahead and beat Slox’s Samus, or Westballz’s Donkey Kong—you’ll be set for life.

Hopefully these suggestions will provide some inspiration for players trying to improve their standings in Melee’s least objective/most meaningless measure of player skill. Post your Armada numbers (and paths) in the comments!