William "Leffen" Hjelte, former Evo champion and Europe’s number one player, will not be attending Smash Summit XI, one of the first major in-person Melee events to have taken place since the start of COVID restrictions. It appears as those the difficulties facing the Swede relate to obtaining a visa to travel, which is a battle he has been fighting since 2016.
The precise nature of the problem is hard to pin down, as according to Leffen’s tweet he was able to obtain a visa, but cannot travel for "really silly reasons" which he did not clarify or expand upon. This disappointment comes in the wake of Leffen being thrust to the center of yet another controversy, this time not of his own doing.
Leffen did state on Twitter that there is an incredibly slim chance they might still be able to attend Smash’s premier invitational, but at the time of writing, things are not looking positive. Leffen did thank BTS and his org TSM for their work in attempting to obtain his permission to travel, but seemed disheartened and publicly stated the situation makes him question his future as a Melee pro.
The reaction from his peers was one of sadness, with Joseph "Mango" Marquez and Zain Naghmi both expressing their disappointment in the replies to Leffen’s tweet, and it is a shame for both fans and Leffen that we won’t get to see how he shapes up after the online era largely robbed him of meaningful competition. What’s worse for Leffen is the fact other EU players have secured entry, while he remains sidelined by red tape.
This may be related to different circumstances between the two players, who are both from Sweden, as well as the notoriously intransigent US immigration authorities. The smaller scale of Smash esports makes getting visa exemptions more challenging too, without a massive publisher like Valve or Riot to fight for the players, especially when it comes to Melee and Nintendo.
For Leffen there may also be problems related to his historical case in 2015/16, which was resolved at the time, but caused him to have similar doubts over his future as a pro. His past as a Dragon Ball Z pro is well known, and the release of Guilty Gear Strive could provide an alternative for one of the few Melee pros to excel in traditional fighting games too.