Mango came to kick ass and chew bubble gum...and he's all out of ass
We had some time at SKTAR 3 to talk with Joseph "Mango" Marquez, a Falco player from Southern California (currently residing in Ohio) and one of Melee's "Top 5". Mango is known for chewing gum literally all of the time, badass tattoos, and something something Captain America.
You're doing pretty well here at SKTAR. Can you start out by telling us what your expectations were coming into the event and how you think you're doing this weekend?
My expectations coming into the tournament were that obviously I want to win I want to kinda use this tournament as my practice tournament for MLG and EVO and all the good stuff coming up. I want to start preparing myself mentally. So you know I'm using this as kinda like a test run. I want to win, my expectation is to win but I'm starting to get ready for all the big stuff coming up.
Are there any players that you're particularly nervous about playing or that you think will be a challenge for you?
Umm, no I mean I've never, none of the people, right now I have to play PPMD and then yeah like, going into a match I'm never really like "Oh I have to play this guy I'm not looking forward to it." I enjoy playing all the top players so I'm not really nervous or scared of anyone really, just going in real confident.
You're representing Cloud 9 here. Can you tell us a little bit about what the search for a team was like or did they approach you?
The search was actually the easiest thing. Prog (the commentator) and had a connection and knew Cloud 9 and they were like, "Hey," and we were like, "Hey," and it was only like 1 day like 26 hours I think it was from start to finish and it was just like, "Hey. Okay. Sweet. Let's do it." It was real to the point.
So you hit it off with Cloud 9 immediately?
Yeah, really the organization is great. I mean so far they take care of me. You know, being a melee player and never having this whole thing and now having it and they're always helping me and they answer my questions and they just take real good care of me, it's like "Oh my god." It's crazy that I even have the opportunity for that.
Do you think that with Cloud 9 helping you out with organization and the like, you have more time to practice and more time to up your game?
It's not really giving me more time, well, it's giving me a reason to play. I really want to win for the team you know because they gave me a shot. How do I word it. It doesn't give me more time to play it just makes me want to play more. Before I'd be lazy I'd only play here and there and I'd think, "Eh I don't need to practice," but now these people put a lot of trust in me, they gave me the opportunity and I want to make them proud. So now I play for myself and for Cloud 9 and I want them to be the best.
Do you think that with more and more players signing to top teams that we'll see the gap between the top 5 and the rest of the player base start to grow?
Well I don't know how other games are when it comes to the top players and then the next level, but in Melee the skill gap has the Top 5 and then like, I wouldn't say big, but a noticeable skill drop, and then the next players. There's like the Top 5 and then there's this whole other level. But like, Top 5 usually only loses to Top 5 in Melee so with all the sponsorships coming in and stuff, I think it's just going to push the top players to stay in shape more. So I don't know if the other players are ever going to catch up. I mean they could obviously, but I think it is going to be harder now.
Mango showing us how to hit down on the c-stick
Talking about skill, you are a Masters Zerg, you are Diamond in League of Legends, and you're obviously one of the top players in the world in Melee. How are you so good across all these different games? Do you think you just have a knack for it or is it how you practice?
I think it's just more that I'm really stubborn and I hate sucking at things. Losing is the worst thing to me. So if I like something, even it's some silly little game like rock paper scissors or something. If I like rock paper scissors I would want to be good. I can't play something and not want to be the best. So if I like a game, I'm really good at grinding – like I'll sit there and really play it. I feel like if you know how to get good at one game you know what it takes. Anyone who's ever been really good at something, they know the road. They know the dedication and the practice that needs to go in and the mindset you need to have. So being good at Melee I have that mindset and I can just take it into other games and just think, "Oh what did I do wrong." Now I know that I'm really good at Melee and that helps me get really good at other things, like I know what steps I need to take in order to get better. And when I played StarCraft man I would wake up at like 5 PM and then I'd play all the way through 8 AM until I was in so much pain because StarCraft is crazy on your hands. I started in Bronze and went 0-5 in my placement games so I just grinded hard and thought "I need to get Diamond," and then Masters came out and then I thought "I need to get Masters," and then I got it and thought this was just the best feeling. I love that feeling of just getting where you need to get to. And then with League same thing. I just played a bunch of League because I wanted to be good and I play Support, which people think is surprising because in Melee I'm really aggressive and stuff, but in games like that I love just healing people and doing all the good spells.
Obviously the end goal for all the players this year is MLG and EVO and you're in a particularly difficult spot in that you have to defend your title at EVO. You're the reigning world champion of Smash. I'm guessing you have pretty high expectations for yourself?
My expectations are first or bust. If I get second I'm not happy. I have a really high standard for myself. I think you should always want yourself to win and be your best so it's first and if I get second, it's good you know obviously. Top three is amazing. Even top 8 at a big tournament is like ok to make it that far but I need to win. I want to win. So my expectations are first. I want to sweep everything.
First or bust
Do you think that at those other tournaments with everyone stepping up their game there are going to be any players contesting you that might have a shot at that title?
I mean players can push me. I think even if I play really good I'm not unbeatable. So there are a bunch of players that you could name that will give me a run for my money. But I feel like if I'm playing well like I'm in the right mindset I'm pretty confident I can just take it. It's going to be rough because man like last EVO, we never... it was new to everyone in the Smash community; we never had a tournament that big on that stage with so much on the line. If you're the EVO champion you'll always be the EVO champion. If you win one, you carry it on forever, you know? Melee even being there was just like "Oh my god." I could tell a lot of the players in top 8 played really nervous because the stage is just right next to a sea of people with a huge projector and we've never had anything close to this. But I loved that pressure so I lived up to it and I hope to live up to it again at all the upcoming stuff.
With your recent move from SoCal to the Midwest do you think that your practice regimen has been hurting at all, or do you find yourself to be even more driven to continue to play well outside of a high tier region?
I wouldn't say that it's hurting, I just had to adapt. The skill level is not as high in Ohio as it is in SoCal. SoCal is just a really dominant region and Ohio doesn't have that. So I went from playing these really good players to lesser skilled players and it was kind of weird to me because I've always had my friends who are also good and that helped me learn, but now I had to change my mind around to figure out how I can get better and learn things while playing someone that I'm a lot better than. I should always take something out of a match, even if I three stock them or beat them really bad I should still think of what I could do better. So I've changed a little because now I know that they're not going to push me as hard as they need to so I have to push myself. I've gotten really good at that so I've been able to compete and like keep up even though I moved. And I also play by myself a lot against the computers just to keep my techskill fresh. In Melee, techskill is huge and if you can't move you're just going to lose.
Now historically you've kind of been known as the bad boy of Smash, you've got a little bit of a bad reputation and some people think that the Documentary painted you in that light, but a lot of people say that you've turned over a new leaf, that you're really walking the straight and narrow now. What has that process been like?
The thing that I always tell people is that Melee was never in the spotlight. You could just do whatever you wanted and no one cared. We were always real little. And now that I've won EVO I really understand I'm in the limelight, like I'm going to be the face of Smash Brothers, so I have to grow up and put on a good face. No more cursing and like... trying to be a better image because I love Smash and Smash is my life so I want it to have a good reputation, so I want it to be like "Mango is a good guy" and a top player for Smash. So I converted over just for the game. I don't want Smash to have like some rebel top player so I've been turning over a new leaf. I've done really good in the last year and a half. I think that the documentary is funny if you know me, because it's just like your friend drinking so it's whatever. And it's unfortunate that they got that because I never got that crazy at a tournament and it kind of sucks that they got me in that light. I don't think it would've been that bad because that's like who I was you know that's what I used to do and I loved it and that was just a part of me and who I was. But now it is different. So I think it should've given that image and also like me as a person because I'm not like... I don't really think I'm a bad person. It kind of made me look that way and that sucks but I deserve it I guess? But that did teach me like seeing that I realized "oh that's not okay," I've got to cut it out so it worked out. And also there's going to be another episode so hopefully I'm like not drunk in that episode [laughs].
The real hype right now is for Smash 4 and the E3 invitational. You weren't invited, so can you talk about whether you are let down by that or are you just excited for the invitational?
Well I think that I'm still excited for everyone who got to go it's still a big deal. It's Nintendo taking a big step forward and giving something to the Smash community. So I'm not salty. I mean obviously you want to go but it's still good for the game, and again it's all about the game. So whatever is better for us I'm all for, so I understand why I didn't get invited. I think the documentary made me look a little... and I get that Nintendo doesn't want that. So I understand, you know. I paid the price basically, but it should still be exciting and I'm real excited for it. I want to see what happens after the Invitational and where we go from there.
Brutal murder would put Nintendo off....
What are your personal hopes for Smash 4 like what kind of mechanics, what characters, what kind of gameplay?
I think it won't be better than Melee because like Melee was an accident and you can't recreate that. But I want it to be good enough to the point where I can play it at tournaments with Melee. That's my goal: I want to play both. So I just need it to be pretty good and I'll play it and be all for it and join communities. I'm all for that. If it's not as good I don't know what I'm going to do because I feel like I should play it because it's the next one but I love Melee so much that I'll probably just stick it out with Melee. That's what I've been doing for the last nine years so this is what I know. I want to like it like I'm going into it with really high hopes and if it lets me down, which I'm hoping it won't... from the videos of the gameplay it looks a little better... I mean I have high hopes. I'm rooting for it.
Awesome! Thank you for joining us today is there anyone that you'd like to thank?
Shout out to Cloud 9 and all the sponsors. You have to remember them all so I have to get used to it. So it's Alienware shout outs to Alienware, the Air Force Reserve which is the new one I don't know how we got it I think that's so nuts, and then Logitech they've been real nice to me they've given me stuff, and then HyperX of course Cloud 9 HyperX. So yeah shout outs to all the sponsors and stuff and I'm ready to play now.
I have to ask one more question. You win EVO, you win MLG, what tattoo are you using the money on?
I'm getting the G.O.A.T. because if I win those tournaments that's it! Right now I feel like it's arguable but I feel like if I win one of them that's the stamp like that's it. I'll get a G.O.A.T. tattoo like on my neck or something. [laughs] probably not on my neck but I'll get something G.O.A.T. related.
The above is a transcript of a video interview. Some wording has been adjusted to reflect the change to a text format