4 of the 5 Smash gods fell to his confidence and lack of fear - Leffen talks Apex, Smash 4, his mindset, Guilty Gear Xrd and more

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • January 29, 2015 at 8:10 p.m. PST

Since Apex 2015 is happening this weekend, we here at EventHubs decided to catch up with some of the best Super Smash Bros. Melee has to offer, and will be publishing a series of interviews every weekday. Today, we're covering perhaps the most controversial figure in competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee, Leffen.

You can expect more interviews like this to be posted the coming days at roughly the same time as this one, so look forward to hearing from these top level competitors.

Below is a snippet from the interview with Leffen to get you started.
MajinTenshinhan: One of the most interesting narratives of last year was your journey to defeat the so-called five gods - C9|Mango, Alliance|Armada, EG|PPMD, Liquid|Hungrybox and Mew2King - and counting B.E.A.S.T. 5 the other week, you have so far defeated 4 of the 5, with only Mew2King so far eluding you.

These are players that were, for a while, viewed as largely untouchable, and were very rarely beaten by anyone other than eachother. What do you think it is that has driven you so far, to be able to match yourself with the best of the best, where countless others have failed, or yet to succeed?

Leffen: If I would try to pinpoint it to one single thing, I'd say mindset. I have always had extreme confidence in my abilities and my potential, and I've never been afraid to aim to win every single event I enter. Many people who've played for years and years, constantly hinder themself by being afraid to really aim for gold.

I've said this time and time again, but you keep seeing even top players say "I'm aiming for top 8/16/etc". Those are the people who rarely, if ever, make it to Top 8. The top 8 is full of people aiming to get first, and who more importantly put in the work to get first. Similarly, you can see many of the other good but not quite top 6 players set out to beat a certain top 6 player, but you never see them aim to actually become the better player.

They come up with all these counter tactics and gimmicks to try to pull a quick set, as if becoming better and winning on fundamentals over one of the "gods" is out of the question.
Hit the jump for the rest of the interview.
MajinTenshinhan: To put it lightly, you've had some less-than-favourable things to say about the competitive aspect of the recently released Super Smash Bros. 4 on your Twitter account. Would you mind making it clear what your problems with the game are, and if there's any feasible way you think that they could be fixed?

Leffen: Well, my by far biggest problem with Smash 4 has always been the fact that the game is very uncreative and stale compared to the previous games. A lot of players didn't like Brawl, but at least it tried to do something new, and it still added tons of cool content for casuals, as well as changing up the gameplay severely (even if most people would've prefered a differrent direction).

Smash 4's gameplay is extremely similar to Brawl's, and not only that, the few changes that were made, such as the changes to the ledge, the new DI system, the nerfs/buffs to certain characters, as well as the removal of many advanced techniques, turned out to be very underwhelming and in some cases outright stupid (see Diddy Kong).

In short, Smash 4 is simply a game that even out of the gates feels stale and limited, especially to people who played Brawl, so that's definitely going to hurt it in the long run in my opinion. As to how to fix it - I honestly don't know. A couple of smart changes to some of the character designs as well as some game engine changes could go a long way, but even then it'd take some major content updates to really make it feel fresh and exciting to me.

MajinTenshinhan: For a while last year, you were taking several other fighting games besides Super Smash Bros. Melee somewhat seriously, including Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, King of Fighters 13 and Ultra Street Fighter 4.

Do you plan to continue playing other fighting games than Super Smash Bros. Melee, and if so, do you think we have any hope of seeing you in any top 8 placings in these games as well?

Leffen: I do! Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the game I put the most time into, but I was still far from achieving any big wins in that game. However, with work taking up more of my time, I unfortunately had to put all of my focus on Smash.

Right now, I simply don't have time to take any other games seriously enough to where I'd be a serious contender, but hopefully that will change in the near future. I especially like Guilty Gear Xrd, so you'll probably see me play that some on stream as soon as Apex is over!

MajinTenshinhan: One of the most polarizing aspects of you, as a player, is your persona. You are seen as cocky and arrogant, which even led to you being banned from Swedish Super Smash Bros. tournaments for roughly a year. Would you say that your persona on Twitter and other social media is just you being you, or is it more that you are putting on airs for fans and/or haters?

Leffen: Well, when you're a "famous" person in any area, be it a hollywood actor or a politician, I believe all of us change a bit, or at least show a different side to social media and such. I try to keep myself grounded and honest on Twitter, and while I'd never lie or deceive anyone, I do enjoy my current role as the heel of the Smash community, so it's fair to say that I play it up a bit at times to create some hype.

However, I wouldn't say that being "cocky/arrogant" was what got me banned from the Swedish tournaments, even if the public justification said so. It was mostly due to some personal drama between me and a few members of the swedish community, and while I've admit and apologized for doing some terrible things a few years ago, I still think that the ban was incredibly unjustified and very poorly executed.

All in all, it's now in the past, but every time someone brings me up I see someone post the infamous "evidence.zip". I just want people to keep an open mind, and realize that evidence.zip was just one side of the story.

MajinTenshinhan: Despite currently being a 14-year old game, Smash is now bigger than ever, which is unprecedented for a fighting game in tournament. Even Nintendo themselves have begun to get involved with the tournament scene, which they largely ignored before. How do you feel about Smash reaching such new heights, and what do you think it will mean for the community in the long run?

Leffen: If I were to describe my feelings about Melee breaking record after record, 14 years after release, with one word it would be this: Proud.

This game truly is the game that lived, and despite Nintendo providing minimal support and with both Brawl and Smash 4 being released, it still continues to grow at a truly incredible pace. It's so refreshing to see, that in an age where many companies focus on graphics and fluff over gameplay, and forego depth and complexity in favor of simplicity and accessibility, Melee, as old and hardcore as it is, somehow still manages to flourish.

MajinTenshinhan: Which player do you think will be your biggest challenge to overcome at Apex 2015?

Leffen: Mew2King, no question about it. I have very little experience against high level Marths, coupled with the fact that Fox is by far Mew2King's best matchup. I've lost to him many times now, but I believe that it's all going to change at Apex.

Other than that, I'm still very inexperienced against many of the weirder characters, so people like Wobbles and VS|Plup pose a decent threat, since I'll most likely be facing them in a best of 3. Overall though, I feel like my chances going to into Apex are the best they've ever been for a tournament of this size, and I only expect them to increase even further during the year!
Massive thanks to Leffen for agreeing to do this interview with us. We here at EventHubs wish him the best of luck at Apex 2015, especially this particular writer, since full disclosure: we're friends in real life.

Picture courtesy of Kilmer.
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