Don’t Park on the Grass could be a look into the future of competitive Smash. The last event of 2016 ended with a wild top 32 bracket, ending with William “Leffen” Hjelte taking out the juggernaut Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma from the winners bracket. A day filled with game 5’s (13 exactly) was overshadowed by Leffen winning his first tournament since Get on my Level this summer.
From the very start of the tournament, all eyes were focused on Hungrybox and Leffen. The only “gods” in attendance were on a crash course for a meeting in the grand finals. Leffen, who’s had a frustrating year due to issues out of his control, got his second marquee win of the year taking out Hungrybox in two sets by a combined score of 6-4.
Leffen earned his second victory in 2016 against Hungrybox at DPotG off vertical kill setups (soft aerials into up-air kills) that jump-cancelled up-smashes. As I said last week, Leffen might be the best player in the world at the Fox-Jigglypuff matchup. He might not always win against Hungrybox (2-2 in 16′), but he always plays the matchup the right way.
Outside of his showdown with Hbox, he had little trouble navigating through winners bracket. Ryan “The Moon” Coker-Welch did manage to send it to a game 5 in winners round one, but Leffen won by a comfortable three-stocks on his game five counter pick stage. He didn’t drop a single game in his next two sets against Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, two top-20 players.
It was Leffen’s first major win on American soil since HTC Throwdown back in September of 2015. He took down Hungrybox at that same event as well. The win was a huge step forward for Leffen, after spending the entire year on the sideline. It should build confidence heading forward and might open the door for the return of the cockiest player in Smash.
Breaking down Grand Finals
Leffen fell behind early in both the winners and grand finals sets against Hungrybox. Both battlefield openers were a one stock victory by Hbox, making Leffen play from a deficit. The loss in both instances woke him up. He raised his level of play after each loss he suffered.
Despite struggling on Battlefield, Leffen consistently won on his counter pick stages. He was 2-0 on Pokémon stadium and 4-0 overall on his counter picks. Outside of Dreamland, Leffen found success on the larger stages, going 2-0 on Final Destination. It allowed him to avoid Hungrybox’s aerial pressure and stay patient.
Beating Hungrybox is a mental grind. Playing below average against him will most certainly result in a loss. He never seems to take games off and the nature of his character allows the comeback factor to come into play. Luckily for Leffen, he was feeling good and clearly strong in his mental game.
Even falling behind 2-1 in the grand finals, there was never any quit. He continued to stick to the game plan and consistently got his kill setups late in games. He carried combos farther than any Fox I can remember and that paid dividends down the stretch. It looked like pre-visa Leffen, which is a great sign heading into 2017.
Leffen will have a month to prepare for the next super major in Genesis 4 with the holiday break coming up. Leffen is a momentum-based player and when he’s playing his best he can go on long runs. It will be interesting to see if the break messes with his mental game. If this tournament told us anything, watch out for Leffen in 2017.