Since you’ve come out of retirement, you’ve won over $150K in tournaments. When you made your return, did you ever think you would be able to turn Smash into a permanent, full-time job?
When I came back to Melee, I at least hoped that it would be possible to make a career out of it. One of the reasons why I stopped playing was because I didn’t really see that much of a future for the game. I thought it was just going to stay small and grassroots. The competition in Sweden, and really Europe as a whole, was lacking. Not only in terms of skill, but also in terms of just the number of players. I remember in 2012, which was my last full year before I retired, I really only had a single player who would regularly play with me, besides my brother. Even then, he was really only playing with me because he wanted to help me keep winning, not because he wanted to compete. So, I just wanted to do something else with my life.
But then, in 2014, I was hungry to compete again, because I love competing. And with Melee getting bigger, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make a career out of it.
You’ve been working hard to help build the European Melee scene. How healthy do you think the scene is and what are your hopes for the European community this year?
Right now, I would say that the European smash community is not super unhealthy, but it’s not that great either. A major problem for a lot of Tournament Organizers (TOs) that I’ve talked to in different countries is that it’s still too much of a gamble to rent a bigger venue. They just aren’t sure if they’re going to be able to break even on expensive events. Obviously people don’t want to take a big loss, after working so hard, and then have to pay to hold your own tournament. I feel like that’s a major issue, that means that most of the tournaments in Europe are basically only for the players in their home country. If you go to a German tournament, for example, it’s going to be pretty much only German players there. Or Avalon in Holland, it’s capped at 128. The people from Holland fill up most of the slots, there’s really not that many left, and then you can’t really motivate people from other countries to go, if they can’t bring their friends. People don’t like traveling and competing alone. We need more tournaments like BEAST over there, because they do a great job of bringing people together. Eclipse, in Norway, is doing a good job. I feel like Germany especially need to step it up.
Recently your brother, Andreas "Android" Lindgren has been traveling with you to multiple tournaments in the States. What do you think about Alliance’s complete domination in doubles and Android’s growth in singles?
So far it feels pretty good. Android hasn’t been sponsored for that long – our first official tournament together under Alliance was at Big House, about four or five months ago – so we haven’t been competing against the top teams in the U.S. too much. It’s really been three tournaments. We won the last one and then we took 2nd and 3rd at the other two. We’re still winning everything in Europe, but it’s still been really close against William "Leffen" Hjelte and Mustafa "Ice" Akcakaya. So far, we’ve done pretty good.
This year, for Android in singles, I feel like we’re going to see a lot of different things. The thing is, Android couldn’t really travel to the U.S. very often before he was sponsored by Alliance. He was just kind of stuck with this problem that he couldn’t really practice against other top players that often, besides me. But at that point, since we had played together for so many years, I feel like it’s more that he’s playing against me, rather than the matchup. But now that he’s able to travel more, we’re going to be able to get a lot more data to work with and he’s going to have a fair chance against the top players. It’s going to be an interesting year for sure, but I believe that he can improve a lot in singles. I think it will help him in teams too. Even though teams is a completely different game, sometimes you will end up by yourself. We’re very motivated and very excited.
How valuable do you think The Summit is for you? You’re able to get several days of constant training against the entirety of the top 10 as well as some of the most promising possible godslayers.
The value of The Summit for me, and people that can’t consistently practice against top players, I feel like it’s really good for all of us. I believe I saw Ice and Leffen tweet about how it was great to have this much practice. And it really shows! We’re not used to getting this very often. We still travel, we still get it on occasion, but compared to people in Florida and southern California, this is pretty unusual. So for us, and even players like Jason "Infinite Numbers" Gauthier, for example, coming from a region where we have a lot of smashers and it isn’t really top heavy, Summit is like the golden opportunity to keep and improving and catch up to the rest of the field.
Since Evolution Championship Series (Evo), you’ve had an almost flawless run, losing only a single tournament to Joseph "Mango" Marquez at Big House 6. Do you think that this is the best form that you’ve ever been in?
Uh, tournament to tournament. Some of them, I feel like I played well. Certain tournaments, it was like, a few great sets. There have still been a lot of close calls. I haven’t lost a tournament since Big House, but there have been a few game five scenarios. I played two game fives against Leffen, one in grand finals, where it came down to literally one hit. Against Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, in game 4, I was one hit away from losing. Johnny "S2J" Kim, at Genesis, I was down 2-0. Even though I have been winning a lot of tournaments, it’s still been a lot of close calls. So yeah, I feel like there’s still a lot I can improve on, especially my mentality, the clutch factor has been tested a lot lately.
Where do you think you can go in terms of your gameplay? What improvements do you still have to make?
A lot actually. One of my biggest flaws as a player, I think, is my switching between Peach and Fox. I normally use Peach against almost every player, for like, two or three. So switching to Fox is a normally a big problem for me. So I feel like I need to work on that. One thing I should do is practice with my characters for a shorter amount of them and then switch. That way, I don’t feel comfortable for like an hour or two. Instead, maybe I’ll do Peach for 15 minutes, then Fox for 20 minutes, and then go back. Even if those 15 minutes are bad, I’ll have to accept that and move on to the next one. I think that could be a good way. But then, there are also certain movement and tech skill options that I need to get better at, with both Peach and Fox.
Can you talk a bit about your plan to move to the U.S. for a few months next year? Do you have a structured training plan for when you move, or are you just planning on getting in all the practice that you can?
To be honest, it’s most likely not going to happen. If it happened, I would take it extremely serious. I feel like it would be a lot of fun for me and I feel like it could grow my stream a lot, which would be a plus for sure. It’s not a make it or break it for me. If it didn't happen, I’ll still be in the U.S. at least some time that summer. It might only be two or three weeks.
What are your goals for the rest of the year? Are you solely focused on Evo, or are you preparing for the year as a whole?
I would say the whole year. Before I won Evo once, it was like, “Oh, I’ve never won Evo, so I really really want to win it.” Whenever there’s a really big event that I haven’t won before? I want to win that one, so I can say I won it at least once. I still really want to win Evo, but this year, I would say that Genesis was actually my biggest goal. But overall, with big goals, I would say for me and Android to be the number one, clear-cut team. Right now, I feel like it’s quite a few teams on the same tier, so I wouldn’t say there’s a clear-cut first second or third. In singles, I do want to be able to maintain my spot as number one for the third year in a row.
Do you think that you’ve secured a legacy as the greatest Melee player of all time?
I believe so, but I’m not stopping here.
Do you have any last things that you’d like to say?
Shoutout to all of my fans who are supporting me on my stream, at tournaments, and everywhere. Shoutouts to my brother Android, my team Alliance and, of course, Monster Energy.