Player Spotlight: Swedish Delight

Image result for Swedish Delight melee

After a historic run at EVO 2018, ending Armada’s eight and a half year winstreak against non-god level players, Swedish Delight has popped into the consciousness of many a Melee player, spectator and fan. However, this Tristate Sheik’s career is one with many more highlights and intrigue than a mere victory just a few days ago. Trials and tribulations throughout the decade have led to that moment, and that’s what I’m here to cover! So, hello everybody, my name is Pikachu942, and today will be the introduction of my “Player Spotlight” series, where I look at the history and career of the Melee players of today! First up: The Armada Slayer himself, Swedish Delight!

Swedish Delight, real name James Liu, started his journey in Melee as an aspiring Falco main alongside his older brother Frank Liu, known in the community as Mr. F, a Jigglypuff main. The two trained a decent amount against each other, though in the early days Mr. F was a far more common sight at Melee tournaments than his younger sibling. While Mr. F attended large tournaments such as APEX 2010, Swedish did not enter a major until several years later. The earliest data I have on Swedish Delight for notable tournaments is his impressive Top 8 performance at the pre-APEX 2010 Tunes Monthly, which featured players such as Armada, Jman & Zhu. Swedish finished 7th at the event, over more established names at the time such as Stric9 and Prog, as well as multiple Europeans players in attendance. This prompted IVP, a Melee player from Sweden, to ask an…appropriate question. In response, there was really only one answer:

Swedish

As 2010, and later 2011, rolled on, Swedish’s presence was not felt, as he didn’t attend any major tournaments with his still fledgling Falco. As 2012 rolled upon us, however, he finally took action and entered APEX 2012. Swedish placed an impressive 65th place at the event, just outside of bracket for the most stacked tournament of the year. It was at this point that Swedish began to adopt his now much more well-known Sheik, and started using it alongside his Falco as he entered Zenith 2012. He placed a meager 25th at the event, though it was due to losses from PPMD, the winner of the tournament, and then to DoH in a close Game 3 set, who then went on to make a loser’s tear to 7th place.

However, after this major tournament was when Swedish finally began to pick up steam in his career, as he finally began to imrpove his Sheik. By December of 2012, Swedish had gotten his first big win at a larger tourney, defeating Eggm at NEC 13 to send the legendary Fox main out at 7th place.

Despite this big win, though, Swedish did not seem to increase much in activity. As 2013 came onto the scene, Swedish notably did not attend APEX at the start of the year. You see, Swedish had never taken the game super seriously at this point like some did, and was more focused on his personal obligations, such as his goals within medical school, a tough profession that requires vast amounts of effort in its own right. That didn’t stop Swedish from appearing at Zenith 2013, shockingly enough, as he placed an impressive 9th, having fully transitioned to being a solo-Sheik main. Here he defeated legendary Captain Falcon player Scar, as well as MattDotZeb, the Falco main most well-known for his modern day TO’ing abilities, before falling to Mew2King and New England deity Zoso. Swedish also took time out of his schedule to attend EVO 2013, arguably the most important tournament in our game’s history, where he made Top 64, losing only to Mango, the eventual winner, and Tristate legend Jman, while still scoring a nice win over AZ Marth main Tai.

With 2013 coming to a close, and Melee beginning to boom, Swedish began to attend many more tournaments in the scene, starting with APEX 2014. Here, Swedish was able to net his first truly huge victory, defeating Top 20 player S2J in Round 1 Pools to eliminate him shockingly early from the tournament. The New Jersey Sheik wound up with 49th at the event, losing to Harriet and Hax$, but his statement had been made: Swedish Delight was a player to look out for.

Swedish began to show prowess locally as well, emphasized no stronger than at his 2nd place finish at KTAR 9, where he defeated Zanguzen, DJ Nintendo and The Moon all in a row in a pretty impressive loser’s run. A firm #2 in New Jersey at the time behind the iconic Mew2King, Swedish was nobody to be trifled with. He came into EVO 2014 with a head of steam, and wound up placing in the Top 32, his best placing at a supermajor thus far. Here, he defeated up and coming Puff player s0ft, who just had an amazing Top 8 performance at APEX, as well as NorCal legend Lucien, before suffering his losses to Mexican superstar Javi and the meteoric rise of Japanese Yoshi aMSa for 25th. Swedish would then cap off his more active 2014 with a 9th place finish at Zenith, getting his revenge on Zoso from the year prior as well as defeating Swiftbass before losing to Mew2King and Axe.

Swedish’s slow but certain upward trend continued as he reached Top 24 at APEX 2015, another of Melee’s most important events. Here, Swedish scored his then biggest win of his career, defeating extraordinary Samus main Plup to make bracket on winner’s side, just after Plup’s amazing win on Leffen at Paragon Orlando that relegated him to superstardom. Swedish has said this is the only time he’s ever actually popped off, or celebrated his victory outwardly, as he essentially ended Plup’s career as a solo-Samus main, eventually starting the road down to the monstorous Plup Sheik we see today. Swedish then defeated strong SoCal Fox player Fiction, before losing his first set ever against Armada and then Shroomed.

After several relatively routine showings at multiple tournaments in the rest of the first half of 2015, Swedish scored his next few big wins of the year at EVO 2015, where he defeated Sheik legends KirbyKaze and Drephen to show his prowess in the ditto before being double eliminated by Top 8 placer ChuDat for 33rd. It was at this point that Swedish began to doubt his abilities as a Sheik player in the Ice Climbers matchup, and began to develop a secondary Peach for the situation. He had used it sparingly before, most notably in a close set against Delphiki at Super Nebulous 3, but now would be when it would finally come to full use against the top ICs players in the world. Swedish would immediately put this to good use, as he won the very first Nebulous Prime tournament, getting his revenge on Dizzkidboogie with the Peach after losing to him at Bad Moon Rising, as well as defeating Slox and The Moon twice.

Though Swedish had seemed to be improving at a steady right his entire career, it would all finally come to a head with his performance at The Big House 5, which Swedish Delight himself considers his first true breakout performance. Getting his other Bad Moon Rising loss back as he defeated Wizzrobe, a Captain Falcon player who had begun to really be seen as a top level threat, was just the beginning, as Swedish Delight then garnered his first ever Top 10 level win with a victory over Westballz. This would be the beginning of a long streak Swedish would hold over the Falco main that would last for the better part of a year as they faced multiple times, but the first one was certainly an upset. Swedish would then go on to defeat a character crisis’d Zhu, who utilized both Falco and Sheik, much like Swedish’s early years, before finally losing to Duck in one of the sets of the tournament to end his placing at 13th, the first Top 16 he had ever achieved at a supermajor. Because of this overwhelming performance, Swedish earned his way into the first ever Smash Summit via the fanvote.

Though Swedish in the end went 0-2 at the event, losing to PPMD 0-3 and in a heartbreaking 2-3 revenge set against S2J, the experience he gained there was valuable. The Summit level up has become something many people hope to see from the event, but you could make the argument that if it weren’t for Swedish Delight, it wouldn’t even have a leg to stand on in terms of evidence. Swedish’s rise immediately after Summit was apparent, as 2016 became Swedish’s peak year in his career, arguably to this day. Though he initially faltered at GENESIS 3 with a disappointing 33rd, Swedish quickly picked it back up, as the one-two combo of Super Nebulous 4 and Pound 2016 but Swedish Delight on the map as one of the best players in the world.

Defeating The Moon, Westballz and Hax$ en route to a 2nd place at Super Nebulous 4, followed by his astounding 4th place at Pound 2016, his highest placing yet at a major, was a feat that put Swedish in the argument for not just best in New Jersey with Mew2King gone, but possibly even the best in all of Tri-State. Avenging several losses he’s had over the years, such as double eliminating Laudandus and defeating Professor Pro, in addition to taking Mango to the absolute limit, Swedish looked like a true worldender. And while a slight stumble did occur with his 13th place at GOML 2016 and loss to Ice, Swedish quickly regained his balance and bursted forward with what is arguably still the greatest tournament of his career: Smash N Splash 2.

While not a true major in size, SnS2 was certainly worthy of large regional status, with both Hungrybox and Mew2King in attendance as well as multiple other top players. Many expected the aforementioned Gods to be in the Grand Finals, but little did they know a delight was coming their way. Swedish did what almost nobody else can attest to, as he not only defeated, but double eliminated Mew2King from tournament, sending his former statesman out of the tournament at 3rd place. Swedish would also notably defeat both S2J and Westballz, as well as infamously take a game off of Hungrybox for the first time ever in Grand Finals with his pocket Luigi. Any Swedish fan should be familiar with this run, as next to the Armada win this run is the accomplishment of his career.

Our new favorite Sheik main would soon follow this astounding run with his best performance on the big stage yet, gaining 9th place at EVO 2016. Here, Swedish defeated S2J and PewPewU, though admittedly he also lost in the return match to Mew2King, as well his streak against Westballz finally being broken to eliminate him on an insane run from Wes to discuss another time. Still, the fact that Swedish could have what many would say an expected, perhaps even disappointing performance, and still nearly make Top 8 at a supermajor is a testament to his steady but noticeable level of improvement at the game. Swedish would close out the year with a trio of solid performances: 5th at Shine 2016, getting revenge on Westballz and beating Nintendude, who just scored an insane upset over Mango the round previous; 9th at The Big House 6, defeating Prince Abu, Leffen’s Falco and Shroomed, while also taking Hungrybox to the first of many last stock Game 5 sets between the two. Finally, Swedish’s final big performance of the year came with his first Top 8 performance at a supermajor level event, with a 7th place at UGC Smash Open, where he defeated S2J and, more notably, obliterated Top 10 level player Axe 3-0 in the winner’s bracket.

Image result for Swedish Delight #11 MIOM

As 2016 closed, Swedish Delight was ranked #11 in the world, though several argued he should’ve been considered as high as even 8th or 9th in the world. This amazing year for Swedish made him requestion his path to go down in medical school. Not getting accepted on his application in 2016, he stated “I will apply again next year.”, showing his aspirations still rang true. In the meantime, he decided to look for a professional sponsor for eSports, and eventually landed on Renegades as the year drew to a close. Now in full-on professional Smash mode, Swedish had now begun to take the game much more seriously than he had in the past.

However, 2017, and honestly a good bit of 2018, proved to show some sort of plateau for this Jersey Sheik’s previously unstoppable yet steady climb.  Besides a few brief glimpses here and there, such as his consistent victories over Axe, taking Flatiron 2 over Lucky and fast-rising star Syrox, and his multiple close sets against Hungrybox, Swedish just seemed to…stabilize. With a ranking of 13th in the Summer of 2017, and 16th at both the final 2017 rank and Summer of 2018 Rank, it seemed like Swedish had finally peaked in his career…

…That is, until this quite frankly unbelievable victory Swedish was able to score over the most consistent and greatest player to ever touch the game: Adam “Armada” Lindgren. Swedish Delight not only defeated the wall that is Armada’s Peach, but also the fast and scary final form of the Swedish Sniper: his Fox, a character Swedish had historically been struggling against for the past year or so. This can be attributed to Swedish’s consistent work on the matchup over 2017 and 2018, with players such as DruggedFox and Hax$ guiding him along the way. Swedish became the first player ranked below 6th in the world to defeat Armada since Amsah from the Netherlands, then ranked #7 in the world per RetroSSBMRank, defeated him at Pound 4, all the way back in 2010: the same year Swedish posted his first notable result. Swedish then capped off this run by beating current demon PewPewU and making his 2nd supermajor Top 8 ever, and the first since UGC nearly 2 years prior.

Far removed from just being the little brother of a relatively well-known, solid Puff main from Tristate, Swedish Delight has grown an impressive legacy of his own, one that seems to only continue to grow as time rolls on. Now that Swedish has defeated Armada, you truly can never count him out.

Who the fuck is Swedish Delight? He’s the man who broke the streak.

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