The classic cliché that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” got a thorough beat down this weekend in New Jersey.
Kevin “PPMD” Nanney delivered an historic performance in his triumphant return to Super Smash Bros. Melee this weekend, taking the Apex 2015 title out from under a surging Adam “Armada” Lindgren. The grand final, which featured two long-running veterans in a tour de force, was just one storyline in a tournament that showed that competitive Melee is as vibrant as it has ever been.
Perhaps more significant than Nanney’s victory was the manner in which it was attained.
After winning every major tournament between January and June of 2014, the Falco player fell to fourth at Major League Gaming Anaheim and the Smash main event, EVO 2014. With the blessing of his sponsor, Evil Geniuses, Nanney took an extended hiatus before returning to the competitive fold in victorious fashion this past weekend.
Further back in the bracket, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman fell outside of the top eight in a major tournament for only the fourth time since 2007. Regular champion Joseph “Mango” Marquez also posted a comparatively meager finish, landing outside the top three of a major event for the first time in two years.
Dethroning Marquez was an increasingly influential face in the Melee world, William “Leffen” Hjelte. After defeating five of the six Melee “gods,”–the six players that have won every major event for nearly a decade–Marquez was the last hurdle to a historic sweep of the Smash pantheon. After much buildup, Hjelte downed the consummate champion in convincing fashion, earning a 3-1 victory and winning a $1000 wager between the two players.
But Hjelte’s run at a championship fell just short when Nanney’s Marth proved to be the difference-maker in a taut contest.
More significantly, Nanney beat Hjelte using what is known as a “secondary character.” In the world of Smash, mastering a single character’s nuances and idiosyncrasies often takes full dedication to that character, rendering Nanney’s highlight-reel combos and apparent mastery of a character besides his favorite Falco an achievement in its own right.
As if Nanney’s mastery of a secondary character wasn’t enough, Lindgren also took down Hjelte using his own secondary character, Fox. The grand final between the Lindgren and Nanney was a showcase of top-level play from top-level players, carrying willing spectators and tournament goers into the early morning before Nanney triumphantly raised the Apex trophy for the second time.
Screengrab via Falco/YouTube