Going into EVO2K15, there seems to be no shortage of good storylines. Will Mango achieve the coveted three-peat? Will Armada, the most consistent player in the world, finally take home an EVO win? What will PPMD reveal to the world after returning from near monk-like seclusion from the rest of the community? Does Hungrybox’s secret Angrybox form have what it takes to win when all gods are in attendance? And with all of the demi-gods lurking in the shadows waiting to take a potential upset, there seems to be no lack of heroes to choose from.

Yet, there is only one real villain standing in everyone’s way: Leffen, the God-slayer.

From his controversial past to his (probably earned) self-aggrandizing tweets, Leffen is the heel bringing cathartic-levels of conflict to a scene long dominated by venerable player-deities. Leffen was the first to take sets from Mango, Armada, Hungrybox, Mew2King, and PPMD after their rise to godhood, and with his string of recent wins, he may be the newest candidate in 3 years to be in contention for the title of “Best Melee Player in the World.”

The following reasons are why he will win Super Smash Bros. Melee at EVO2K15.


Mango is known for his aggressive-leaning, read-heavy play. PPMD is known for his predatory style in neutral. Armada for punishes. Leffen’s gameplay cornerstone is a safe, steady, and fast strategy; a master of Melee fundamentals and educated decision-making. You can see it in how he fights Armada’s Peach in comparison to how Mango approaches the same match-up.

(Mango vs Armada, B.E.A.S.T. 5)

In the third match on Battlefield, you can see that Mango approaches with rogue neutral aerials, or if he’s approaching on the ground he’ll mix-up between running up and grabbing, down-tilting, or simply stopping to a stand-still then jabbing. Mango’s controller is almost always tilted in the direction of the opponent. This type of playstyle may not be the best one against Armada’s Peach, a combination that thrives off trades and punish strings.

(Leffen vs Armada B.E.A.S.T. 5)

 To contrast, look at how Leffen approaches Armada at the very same tournament, an hour or so later. While you may see him employ the occasional aggressive neutral aerial, he tempers his offense with level-headed dash-dances into grabs on the ground, or merely holding onto the top platform with empty hops—something you might never see Mango do. Leffen won’t choose between 3 different forms of offense, rather, he’ll take his time selecting between offensive, defensive, and anything else in between. Because of this, and a few other factors, he went on to win that match and the tournament.


In addition to his mastery over Melee fundamentals, another reason why Leffen will win EVO is because his competitive performance and public behavior line up very well with Dr. Jack J. Lesyk’s 9 Mental Skills Needed to Succeed in Sports. The skills are:

  1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude.
  2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation.
  3. Set high, realistic goals.
  4. Deal effectively with people.
  5. Use positive self-talk.
  6. Use positive mental imagery.
  7. Manage anxiety effectively.
  8. Manage their emotions effectively.
  9. Maintain concentration.

Followers of Leffen’s Smash career can cite many specific examples where his behavior exhibits qualities of each of the 9 skills. For the skills related to attitude, self-motivation, and goal-setting, we can look at Leffen’s twitter or any of his post-tourney interviews where he elaborates on his success and his drive to be the best. With regards to the skills related to dealing with people and using positive self-talk and positive mental imagery, the Swedish Swindler has had his hiccups sure, but his will to continue in the face of his faults and failures is what brought him the success he’s experienced so far. And for the final three skills that address managing anxiety, emotions, and concentration, Leffen has proven time and time again, that he can adjust to dire situations, such as mind-shattering 4-stock losses and punish back even harder.

Recent Wins

Setting aside player styles and speculation on competitor mentalities, Leffen’s recent tournament results alone make him the favored choice for taking EVO. In the past three weeks, Leffen won three tournaments with many of the world’s top players in attendance. At CEO 2015, he won grand finals against Armada and secured his first US National win. The following week he took out Hungrybox and Armada again at FCSmash and earned another 1st place trophy. And the week after that, he swept through winner’s bracket and beat Mango in Grand Finals at WTFox. Across all three tournaments he never dropped a set.

Taking a look at how Mango, Hungrybox, Mew2King, and PPMD performed in the time between Apex 2015 and today, the day before EVO2K15, no one is as consistent. Mango has had very close sets with non-Gods such as Westballz and Plup; Hungrybox struggles against the upper-echelon Fox mains; and Mew2King and PPMD have been MIA for the most part.

Sure, Leffen also has his fair share of relatively poor performances—5th place at MVG Sandstorm and 9th place at Press Start—but in the larger context of his results since EVO last year, he has placed outside of top 3 only twice. This shows astounding improvement in just a year’s time.

The only other player to have a record that’s better than Leffen’s in the past year is Armada. But given the recent head-to-head history between the two, it could be argued that Leffen has his compatriot’s number.

With the momentum he’s earned, there is little stopping Leffen now. We might be approaching the 4th week in what could potentially become a historic tournament run for him. His safe and smart style of play allows him to steal advantages away from his enemies where others have failed. Coupled with his overwhelming presence of mind and determination, the recent tournament numbers do not lie. The Swedish Wild Ride is nearly complete, and the dominoes are aligned. As we wait for EVO Sunday with bated breath, will everything go according to the Villain’s plan?