Throughout July, two professional Super Smash Bros. Melee players went head-to-head in completing the 'IronMan' challenge via Project Slippi, a new optimized online way to play Melee. TSM's William "Leffen" Hjelte and Panda Global's Justin "Plup" McGrath, two of the best professional SSBM players in the world, embraced the format predominantly as a way to pass the time and make playing against scores of lesser-skilled opponents more entertaining.
For those unfamiliar with the IronMan challenge, here's a succinct summation courtesy of SmashWiki: "An Ironman is a type of 1-on-1 match where each player controls a team of different characters, fighting each other in a series of a 1v1 matches with one character at a time in a format similar to a crew battle, and concluding when one player has defeated all of the opposing player's characters."
Going for World Records
The modified Ironman format based around speed challenges players to win 26 online matches, one with each character on the Melee roster, as fast as possible. Leffen and Plup normally stick to the most powerful characters in the game when playing competitively, but their mastery of Melee allows them to play all characters, including the least powerful with incredible effectiveness. Watching low-tier characters style on the best in the game is what makes these ironman attempts so fun to watch for onlookers.
Leffen's current best time comes to a total of 49 minutes, 7 seconds; Plup's run included queue/loading times and was 51 minutes, 38 seconds. Plup is currently considered to hold the world record, as when queue times are removed, his time is faster than Leffens.
The primary difference in opinion of which player's run is the most optimal IronMan challenge comes from a queue time discrepancy and the number of opponents who rage quit immediately after sensing they are completely outmatched. Common speedrunning terminology like "good RNG" and "lucky rolls" are used to describe whether or not online opponents are skilled or not.
If you are matched against a low skilled player? World record pace RNG.
Matched against a highly skilled opponent on an unfavorable stage? What a bad roll!
Like most things in Melee, despite how inherently silly the challenge is, it has become quite competitive. Leffen and Plup seem equally matched in their ability to decimate online opponents, so the "RNG" at play is a huge factor in who will ultimately get the most unbeatable world-record time.
Leffen and Plup are, once more, showcasing their extreme expertise surrounding Super Smash Bros Melee roster in impressive fashion. Despite the game being nearly 20 years old, innovation from the game's community continues to find new ways to enjoy Melee.