There are no original stories left in the world, as Hollywood has proven time and again. But sometimes a rewrite can be done in a satisfactory way. In Smash, we have our own mythology too — of the old gods and the new, of robots and revolutionaries, and of great players unwittingly creating the seeds of their own downfall.
Long, long ago, in the annals of history, a man called Kevin Nanney was recognized as the best in the world. He didn’t dominate through tech, but through the most godlike neutral the game has ever seen. But while the beauty of his Falco is a sight to be seen, we often forget about the old wise man that trained and tested him every day, before going on to watch Kevin "PPMD" Nanney dominate the scene for a period of time.
For those who aren’t aware, the father of PPMD’s Falco was none other than Mango, who tested and abused his protege in a way no other player could during an intensive training period, as mentioned in Samox’s recent documentary series.
Meanwhile, we once spoke of a force from the cold steppes of Scandinavia, driven by anger and pride — known by the name of Leffen. The way the Swede won Evo was a watershed moment for many fans of the game and seemed to herald a new era of Melee that would see only Swedes at the top of the tree. But the fire inside him was lit by another god, who eventually left Melee’s Mount Olympus for a less stressful environment.
Leffen’s anger and pride were at least partly centered around his desire to take revenge on Armada for what he perceived to be an unjust ban, meaning both gods of Melee had played a part in creating the force that would eventually come to dethrone them, at least for a time.
These were the kinds of storylines that defined early competitive Melee and cemented its spot in history.
Mexico's finest create a new Smash storyline
Now, we live in the future (well, the present, but you know what we mean) and a new god is on the verge of losing his immortality.
MKLeo — for years the final boss of Super Smash Bros Ultimate — is facing the most sustained and genuine threat to his supremacy we’ve even seen in the form of his compatriot Sparg0, a player he has trained with in the past and has seen at Mexican locals for nearly half a decade now.
There were even hints and conversations that MKLeo was responsible for Sparg0’s development at one point, and Leo has always been clear he sees Sparg0 as the real threat to his crown. From Sparg0’s point of view, he was an elite player before lockdown but has gone to an entirely new level since we’ve returned to LAN, defeating Leo and forcing T1’s own to abandon his beloved Byleth in order to respond to the threat.
This is not to say Leo created Sparg0 any more than Mango made PP or Armada birthed Leffen, but it is undeniable that targets make progress easier — and role models are a big part of being great. Had Sparg0 existed in a different time or place, he may never have felt the fire that drove him to be as great as he is, and equally without seeing Leo win he may not have believed it was possible for a Mexican player to dominate the traditionally NA-centric world of modern Smash.
So, as much as Armada made Leffen or Mango made PP, Leo has contributed to one of his greatest challenges — and maybe his downfall. There are other greats, but Leo vs Sparg0 looks at present like being the battle that defines this generation, and that clash between master and protege is a tale as old as Smash itself, with roots in the scene that go back at least as far as Melee.