Super Smash Bros. Melee players Mango and Leffen clashed on Sunday in a match that will make you cry big, anime tears. Fans are already calling it 2017's “set of the year”—despite the fact it’s only January.
Cloud 9's Mango (Joseph Marquez) and Team SoloMid’s Leffen (William Hjelte) have vied for Melee supremacy for years now. Leffen, who is from Stockholm, has been tied up for months with visa issues that cleared up in October. He recently returned to the Melee scene ready to make up for lost time. And on Sunday at San Jose’s Genesis 4 Smash tournament, he did, with bite.
In the loser’s bracket at Genesis 4, the stakes were a chance against Armada, a Peach/Fox player who’s been on a winning rampage for over two years. Mango, playing Falco, went up against Leffen as Fox. They’ve both mastered Fox and Falco, so they’re intimately familiar with the psychology of each character’s high-level play, which made many of the match’s power shifts all the more surprising. Leffen’s known to grind out swift combos when he has winning momentum. Mango, for his part, is known for his insane comebacks and dynamic, sharp punishes.
Here’s the video from VG Boot Camp:
Right from the start, the playing field was even. The two were dash-dancing with some more conservative play until Mango starting using Falco’s superior power to take advantage of Leffen’s more vulnerable moments. With a well-timed side-smash and a killer spike, Mango sent Leffen down a few stocks before Leffen came back with some serious edge-guards. A little ambitious, Mango knocked Leffen’s Fox far offstage and, unwisely, followed in hopes of a punish before himself losing a stock.
At one stock each, Mango aggressively pursued Leffen with a combo so clean it looked choreographed by Studio Trigger:
Mango was clearly the crowd favorite, eliciting wild screams from the audience after winning the first game. On the second, Leffen shut out Mango in a beautiful sequence involving a few up-tilts, a grab and a some ridiculous edge-guards:
Mango comes back with a sharp grab before Leffen knocked out his two other stocks. At the Pokemon arena, Leffen set up a series of traps for Mango, inviting him into combos he definitely did not want to suffer. Mango cut through at the end with Falco’s super-powered forward smash. But after some critical ariels and tilts that weakened him, Leffen down-smashed Mango off the edge.
The pair returns to Pokemon stadium for the next match, which Mango takes in a fiery comeback, setting the score to 2-2.
At the final match, Leffen initially grabs some more momentum with a series of up-tilts and a spike. Mango takes back two stocks with Falco’s potent smashes before Leffen comes back with this tenuous sequence of saves:
Mango narrows the stocks to 1-1 with a killer surprise side smash. After some tense back-and-forth, Mango knocks Leffen too far off the stage to return. To seal the deal, Mango spikes him:
What a match. Fans are hailing as one of the most dynamic and seat-clutching sets in Melee history. Leffen said it best, encouraging Mango to go on and win after the epic set they shared (Mango subsequently went on to lose to Armada):
It’s amazing to watch the skill cap for a 15-year-old game get higher with each big tournament, and yesterday, two titans showed us the limits of their skill. Big, anime tears, my friends.