After more than a year and a half of limited online competition, William “Leffen” Hjelte finally reclaimed the spotlight at an in-person Melee tournament thanks to the Smash World Tour. The SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals highlighted Leffen and the rest of the region’s best players.
Here’s a closer look at Leffen’s first-place finish and other takeaways from the event.
Leffen is the best in Europe even on an off day
Under normal circumstances, Leffen would be the clear favorite to win a major tournament over any other player in Europe. However, he gave viewers reasons to believe otherwise going into the SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals. As he struggled with headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating leading up to and during the event, the Swedish Fox main did not appear to be at his best.
Leffen’s shakiness was evident during his round-robin pool, where he went down 2-0 against Niklas “Kins0” V., a sub-top 100 player. Nevertheless, Leffen pulled off the reverse 3-0 to win that set. After beating Yann “Jah Ridin’” Girardin 3-1 and Max “max” M. 3-0, he even finished first in his pool.
While the main bracket brought harder competition, Leffen responded with better play. He defeated Dominik “Nicki” Kunze 3-1 to reach top eight and qualify for the global finals. With the pressure of qualification off of his shoulders, Leffen decided to merely “play for fun” for the rest of the tournament.
As it turns out, Leffen’s idea of “fun” included dismantling his remaining opponents without dropping a game. He swept Mustafa “Ice” Akçakaya in winners semis, then beat Álvaro “Trif” García Moral 6-0 between winners finals and grand finals. Leffen’s status as the No. 1 player in Europe remains secure. He’ll get the chance to try for No. 1 in the world at both Mainstage and the SWT Championships later this year.
Knowing I couldn't miss this event after being forced to miss so so so many events, I knew I would never forgiven myself if I didn't at least try to qualify despite feeling awful.
Believed in myself despite everything and managed to not only qualify but to win dominantly :')
— TSM FTX Leffen (@TSM_Leffen) October 24, 2021
Pipsqueak matches his online success at the SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals
Over quarantine, Linus “Pipsqueak” Nordin emerged as one of Europe’s best online Melee players. While he suffered from a bit of inconsistency, he also frequently took sets from the rest of Europe’s titans, including Leffen. At the SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals, Pipsqueak showed that his online improvements have translated well into the offline environment.
Pipsqueak finished first in his pool, winning the Fox ditto against Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas 3-1 and Georg “Rikzz” T. 3-0. He also used his secondary Captain Falcon to secure a 3-1 win over Marth main Mahieddine “Mahie” Tsouria. Despite his solid performance in pools, Pipsqueak quickly lost 3-1 to Ice in winners quarters.
Even so, Pipsqueak truly shined during his commanding run through the losers bracket. He eliminated Kins0 3-0, Nicki 3-1, Elliot “Frenzy” Grossman 3-2 and Professor Pro 3-0. His run ended in third place after he narrowly lost a five-game set to Trif. While his successes thus far have been limited to Europe, Pipsqueak will finally get to challenge the best players in the United States and other parts of the world at the SWT Championships.
Out at third wish I got a chance VS leffen cause I'd smoke em smhhhh but it is what it is
— Pipsqueak (@Pipsqueak_TV) October 24, 2021
Professor Pro qualifies despite shaky showings against Falco
As one of Europe’s longest-standing top players, Professor Pro seemed like a safe pick to go far at the SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals. However, due to a couple of questionable performances against Falco, he barely reached top eight at all.
Professor Pro had a mediocre showing in pools. While he solidly beat Mahie 3-0, he barely eked out a 3-2 win over Rikzz and lost to Pipsqueak. Thus, he finished second in his pool, setting up for a winners quarters face-off against his fellow Englishman, Frenzy. While Professor Pro had a dominant record against Frenzy before quarantine, the pair had an even 5-5 record at online tournaments. Likewise, they had gone 3-3 at post-quarantine offline tournaments leading up to this event.
Frenzy’s Falco took the slight lead in their recent set record at the SWT Europe Melee Regional Finals, sending Professor Pro to the losers bracket after a five-game set. Then, Professor Pro faced Tiernan “Fat Tino” Aspden, another English Falco, albeit a lower-ranked one.
However, Fat Tino still proved to be a nearly insurmountable foe. He held a sizable percent lead going into the final stock of Game 5. Nevertheless, Professor Pro took control of the game at the very end, combo-ing his way to victory over Fat Tino and qualifying for the SWT Championships in a fashion that even he couldn’t believe. With no more Falcos in his path, Professor Pro showcased cleaner gameplay for the rest of the event. As a result, he eliminated Jah Ridin’ 3-0 and Ice 3-1 before losing another set to Pipsqueak.
I can't believe I won that loool.
At least now I get to go America
(@FrenzySSBM forced me to tweet against my will)
— Aaron Thomas (@ProfessorProUK) October 24, 2021
The following eight players have qualified for the SWT Championships, now scheduled for Dec. 17-19:
- Professor Pro
- Jah Ridin’
The circuit will resume with the NA East Melee Regional Finals from Oct. 30-31.
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.