World Smashing Federation: Leffen Is the Heel We Need
Before I start, I should probably answer the question of why I didn’t set up shop on a site like Smashboards where there are lots of people who actually might care to read. Thing is, I could, and I’ve at least been around long enough and done enough there that I could have it sorted it relatively quickly, but here’s the reason in a nutshell: I won’t be able to say what I want.
All these bigger Smash sites are now more concerned with an image more palatable to a wider, general audience, tiptoeing around any sort of potential controversy caused by certain opinions and content. This is fine, but the beauty of the Smash scene now is that it has outgrown the Smashboards hub and left the nest. This means we can be out and about doing our own thing, while still going home and minding our table manners. Point is, I can talk all the shit I want, and it’s my platform to do so.
Now onto the subject of Leffen…
Leffen is a heel. For those of you who don’t watch professional wrestling, heel is the term used for the villain. I’m sure even if you don’t watch, you’re aware of the basic premise of good guy wrestler vs bad guy wrestler, the bread and butter dynamic that has packed venues since time immemorial. A lot of people in the Smash community are tied to some bizarre notion attached to a convoluted eSports mentality, one where all players should be model citizens and carry themselves in a professional manner, and not express any individuality that may cause controversy or offence. This is baseless and not even mirrored in hugely successful competitive sports. So, let’s look at sports rather than the staged spectacle of wrestling; boxing for example, you have individuals like Muhammad Ali who built his legacy on talking trash and being hated by the masses. He actually picked up a lot of his audience working psychology from wrestling shows, modelling himself on a particular villain named Gorgeous George. Muhammad Ali didn’t just sell out arenas because he was the greatest, he did so because he was also so hated that people were desperate to see him lose, and have his big mouth shut once and for all.
Fight promos exist for a reason, promoters know that hype and buyrates skyrocket the moment controversy stirs up. Sure, one might tune in to see someone they like, but what if it’s someone you like vs someone you despise, topped off with the latter having thrown verbal jabs? Your investment in the match massively increases, making you FAR more likely to watch. This principle is what changed Hulk Hogan from the super popular wrestler into the immortalised icon of wrestling itself. He didn’t just win the championship belt, he saved it from the clutches of the diabolical Iron Sheik, the America hating wrestling master. That’s the power of a top villain, they don’t just draw in an audience, but they create heroes.
Funnily enough, a lot of athletes and fighters are only villains within the realms of their sport rather than being truly bad people. This may seem a strange concept, but competition often brings out that aggressive and dark part of your psyche where outside that environment, you can be a truly stand up individual. Often these individuals become villains for acting on that voice in their head that we all have. They don’t just think those things, they verbalise them. This is improper, this is rude, but it’s also a thing so many wish they had the audacity to do. Leffen may say douchey things, but how many people, given his ability, wouldn’t at least think the things he says? A part of what makes it so infuriating for people to endure is the often underlying truth to the things he says. There’s nothing that creates more of a villain than irrefutable trash talk you can’t bear to hear.
Tell me you wouldn’t want a promo poster based off of this Leffen picture. Hell, add some effects and themes like this and we have a grand slam. – (Thanks to Melee Hell for this gem)
Leffen, undoubtedly, is a villain within the Smash community. Perhaps not as much as before, and there are many who even love him for his villainous streak, but nonetheless he is certainly the most hated smasher of his stature (Hungrybox’s playstyle is what’s hated, most people still like him as an individual). Leffen is not only hated, but he’s so good that he rubs salt in the wounds of those who pray to see people with his attitude gone from the community. Every time he wins, his trash talk earns more credence. The more credence his trash talk earns, the more outrageous and obnoxious he can be. The worse his attitude gets, the more people hate, and of course finally, as their hatred of him increases, the more people are desperate to see him lose.
This is the very definition of hype, the investment of emotions, the electricity that emanates from every corner of the globe when they watch the clashes between individuals they actually care about in one form or another. With the upcoming Salty Suite match at Apex between Leffen and Chillin, a large majority will probably want to see Chillin win, even with Leffen being the firm favourite. Look at recent related tweets and the history in general conversation, you’ll see massive numbers of likes and retweets compared to others. After all of Leffen’s shit talking directed at Chillin, it’s definitely a given that Chillin will be the crowd favourite outside of his home field status. Still, were Chillin to win, it would curb Leffen’s heel/villain momentum coming off of winning BEAST V (and hopefully, Apex), whereas stomping the crowd favourite and rubbing it in their face would massively boost his status as a villain who has not received his comeuppance. Now you might think, “wow, why wouldn’t you want a douchebag to be humbled?”, but the answer is simple, he hasn’t reached a high enough level of villainy for it to be worth the ultimate payoff. The beauty of a villain’s demise is to have them reach such a stage where they seem untouchable, where you no longer just want them to lose and see it as possible, but rather feel no end to their tyranny in sight. You beg, from bottom of your heart, to see them toppled, “please, send us a miracle, a hero!”, and one day, a hero comes, forever immortalised while the people rejoice.
After Leffen’s win at BEAST, he put his foot in the gate of Smash Olympus. Now, should he take Apex, his momentum should increase exponentially. It’s my hope that this happen, and not only that, but I’d like to see Leffen dominate Smash for a considerable period, with much of the community begging to see him lose.
Leffen, Smash’s top heel, needs to get even bigger, he’s the man people love to hate, and people need to love hating him more. For aspiring top smashers who don’t have the Leffen streak in them, don’t force it, the most important thing is to truly be yourself as a player, being a villain or hero has to come naturally, and you’ll always gain more from taking your personality and cranking it up to overdrive. If you do have that Leffen streak in you, let it out, be that guy, because we need that guy at every level.
People within the community have started to call honest expressions of opinion that garner controversy “toxic”. Many prominent players keep to a certain level of decorum because of the new atmosphere generated by this sentiment. This is a flawed sentiment. Smash needs villains, Smash needs controversy, Smash needs trash talk, Smash needs honesty, because these bring the hype, they draw the audience.
Smash needs Leffen, and it needs him to be the man.