What started as an exciting project that would help Smash Melee and its community grow amid troublesome circumstances has quickly become the subject of harsh criticism from two of the scene's biggest icons, as Joseph "Mang0" Marquez and William "Leffen" Hjelte have slammed the Metagame documentary for their depictions in the eight-part series.
Directed by Travis "Samox" Beauchamp, Metagame is a sequel to The Smash Brothers series, with both focusing on different eras within Melee's history.
Detailing the first years of Melee as a competitive title, The Smash Brothers premiered in 2013 to critical success and reignited interest in the platform fighter, with newcomers to the scene dubbed "Doc Kids" as a result. Naturally, the hope is that the release of a follow-up would have the same effect.
Genesis 7 champion, Zain Naghmi, joined the scene thanks to The Smash Brothers documentary (Photo: Genesis_Smash)
Metagame, which is being broadcast on Twitch, tells the story of the rise of those that would come to be known as the Five Gods of Melee Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Kevin "PPMD" Nanney, and Mang0.
Leffen's involvement during this timeframe is also recounted, a time in which he earned the "God Slayer" nickname, as he was not only the first player to take sets out of all of them but also the only non-God to win tournaments during the height of the quintet's dominance, including wins at Community Effort Orlando (CEO) and 2015's Super Smash Con to name a few.
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Beauchamp's decision to intertwine the professional careers of the players involved and their personal lives to drive a compelling narrative was lauded during the first few episodes, but as the filmmaker took massive creative licenses in subsequent chapters, both Leffen and Mang0 expressed their discomfort with how they were portrayed in the documentary.
Leffen (left) holds his Evo 208 trophy after beating Armada (right) (Photo: Evolution)
Hjelte reprimanded Samox for his recount of the infamous Evidence.zip drama. Leffen was banned in February 2013 after Armada and other local tournament organizers deemed him a toxic personality that harmed the Melee scene at the time, a decision that prevented him from attending any tournaments in Sweden for an entire year.
The documentary focuses on a particular instance involving a beef between Leffen and former pro Nick "Rocky" Lindholm, who allegedly received verbal abuse from Leffen due to a hearing condition he suffers, escalating to a point where the series, via interviews from community members such as Mike Haggar and Rocky himself, portrays Hjelte as a bigot that routinely mocked disabled and mentally unstable people without any nuance.
According to Leffen, who apologized for his misbehaviour in 2013, he and Rocky "hated each other," but his condition never played a role in their gripe.
"I did not hate him because he couldn't hear well, I hated him for many different reasons, and a lot of people did," Leffen said on his 12th December Twitch stream, adding that several other players who made derogatory comments towards Lindholm did not receive bans, and were even forgiven by Rocky without asking for pardon.
Leffen would add that during the period in which he was banned, Rocky would harass a friend of his called Jack, an instance completely omitted from the Metagame documentary.
"I was at Jack's house when I was banned, and they start harassing Jack because he's hanging out with me. Rocky, the guy that is so upset that I made fun of him, he's calling Jack and everyone else basically retarded, and none of that is included in the doc."
Circling back to his ban and another detail the documentary glossed over, he recounts how Armada, who was trying to paint him as a "f**cking psycho" at the time (worth noting they are on very good terms now), was pushing to get his ban extended indefinitely early in 2014, citing the Norwegian Smash scene as a huge reason as to why his ban got lifted, allowing him to attend B.E.A.S.T 4 in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he would beat Armada in the Grand Finals.
"I went to Apex 2014, which for some reason they just do not show, I hung out with Norwegian people," he stated, adding that the general consensus from their community was that he wasn't "so bad at all."
"The only reason I was allowed to go to B.E.A.S.T was because the Norwegians refused to attend unless I could also go."
Leffen didn't only take issue with the Evidence.zip portrayal, as the general tone around his achievements beating the Five Gods was undermined at every possible turn. Not only that, Metamage makes it seem that the 24-year-old's wins over PPMD and Mang0 made them spiral out of control, affecting their personal lives, thus fueling the narrative that Hjelte was a "terrible person."
"The documentary literally makes it seem like I'm f**king an awful human being but I can play Smash," said Leffen. Like many pros, he confirmed the interview he gave to Samox happened years ago with no follow-up to provide more context around the ban situation.
"I was interviewed one time for 10 minutes in 2014, and they did not ask me about the ban or anything."
Leffen also expressed his concerns on Twitter, joking about how he made "PP and his girlfriend break up, and "made mango become a streamer and he exploded."
Can't believe I made PP and his girlfriend break up, made mango become a streamer and he exploded— Leffen (@TSM_Leffen) December 13, 2020
Mang0 airs concerns too
Mang0 during Genesis 6 tournament (Photo: Genesis_Smash)
On a lesser scale, the Cloud9 star also voiced his disappointment with the documentary, which portrays him as a tormentor that liked drinking just as much as Melee, with Beauchamp going as far as including a quick clip of Marquez using a homophobic slur during his early 20s.
Just be glad none of you had the bad shit you said when you were 15-20 documented— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) December 13, 2020
I'm sure all of you are angels
I will always take the hit for melee in anyway possible
Just another documentary for mango ROFLL
"Just be glad none of you had the bad shit you said when you were 15-20 documented I'm sure all of you are angels I will always take the hit for melee in anyway possible," he tweeted out.
One of the most successful Smash personalities of all time, not only as a competitor but as a content creator, boasting a Twitch community that consistently makes him reach the 10,000 subscriber count, Mang0 commented how, if he were to poll the community, most would have positive stories and experiences with him.
Sadly, both The Smash Brothers and the Metagame documentary have highlighted his less savoury behaviour far more than the positive impact he's had on the Smash scene as a whole.
Just realized if you ask any notable community member about me they prob have something decent to say about me— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) December 13, 2020
Ask any random fan that ever met and they'd prob say something decent
Its crazy that if I watched the last 2 docs right now I wouldn't like myself
"Just realized if you ask any notable community member about me they prob have something decent to say about me. It's crazy that if I watched the last 2 docs right now I wouldn't like myself."
Samox responds to criticism
After both players aired their grievances, Travis Beauchamp, the filmmaker behind Metagame, apologized to Mang0 and Leffen, stating that he will be making further edits to the documentary as he feels the lack of context is "unfair" to them, "especially nowadays."
Hey guys.— SAMOX (@_samox_) December 13, 2020
I wanted to let you know that I've been listening to the complaints and I hear you. Before it goes up on vimeo, I'll be curtailing that section where @C9Mang0 uses the old gamer language. I'll also be removing the sections with specific @TSM_Leffen .zip allegations.
"I wanted to let you know that I've been listening to the complaints and I hear you. Before it goes up on Vimeo, I'll be curtailing that section where Mang0 uses the old gamer language. I'll also be removing the sections with specific Leffen .zip allegations."
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The Metagame Documentary will wrap up this Sunday with its last two episodes airing on their official Twitch channel at 2:00 pm PST/5:00 pm ET/10:00 pm GMT. Those interested can rent/buy all episodes via Vimeo following the broadcast.