On Thursday, professional Super Smash Bros. Melee player William “Leffen” Hjelte took advantage of his considerable Twitter following to make his political views crystal clear. Partially as a reaction to popular musician Kanye West’s tweets in support of Donald Trump, Leffen tweeted out a scathing takedown of the U.S. President.
While a number of Melee’s top players have openly discussed politics, the Team SoloMid-affiliated Leffen is by far the highest-level (and most popular) Melee player to have come out against the controversial politician. Predictably, his tweets elicited a mixed (though largely positive) reaction from his followers, with some telling the Swedish Fox main to stay out of politics.
However, Leffen was quick to post a response to such criticism.
While it’s true that United States politics are not Leffen’s area of expertise, his comments come at a time when political and social discourse within the Smash scene has reached a fever pitch. Last week, Michigan tournament organizer Daniel “Mingee” Kang was banned from his local scene’s events after he publicly harassed a female member of the scene on Twitter. Mingee’s ban is only the latest of a string of incidents in which well-known players or community leaders within the Smash community and other esports scenes have received flak for comments seen as sexist or racist.
As a competitor at the peak of competitive Smash, it’s understandable that Leffen might find it difficult to avoid discussions of racism and sexism that might inevitably find their way to the current leader of the United States. As these issues continue to gain prominence within the scene, it will be interesting to see if other elite-level players allow their political beliefs to erupt into their Twitter posts.