Interview with the Smash pro player Llod
Sat 2nd Jun 2018 - 8:39pm
Disclaimer: This is a guest contribution by Matthew Lewis and the events / matches discussed have already passed so the information may not be completely up to date.
Arjun "Llod" Malhotra is one of the best Peach mains in the world and one of Melee's most cerebral players. Llod also has one of the most extensive guides on Melee improvement to date. We had the opportunity to talk to Llod about his history with Melee and his views on the game.
What or who inspired you to play melee in the first place?
Llod: So I actually started with Nintendo 64 and Smash 64 because when my brother and I were young, our older sister played with our older cousins while Rishi and I would just watch the background. One day they handed us the controllers and from there everything was pretty much set. So after a few years when Melee came, that was the first game we wanted to play just because we were so into Super Smash Bros. And from there we just played more and more.
What was your first tournament experience like?
Llod: The first tournament that I went to was in 2005. It was called Bomb 4. It was one of the bigger tournaments, major tournaments back then. It was over 200 people which at that time was huge. Rishi and I only went to play doubles and our dad was hovering around us because you were really young back then. I was like 11 years old at the time. I actually looked back at the results a few months ago. I think Mew2king won and Wife got 3rd. (Editor's note: Chudat actually won the tournament with mew2king getting 9th and Wife getting 5th)
Who is the hardest character for you to play against and why?
Llod: I think it's Captain Falcon. I think the reason is Falcon can approach Peach at like 20 different angles and Peach doesn't really have good reactions to beat them. Falcon can be on the other side of the stage and then, in an instant, be right in front of you with a nair or right above you with a down air. Peach doesn't really have movement speed to match Falcons options, so I find myself a lot of the time eating mix-ups over and over and over again without being able to establish any stage control because of how fast he is. Also when Falcon gets a hit, for some reason, all the Falcons aerials lead to a knee against Peach no matter how you use directional influence (DI)
The hardest person to play against?
Llod: Hardest person for me to play is Rishi because I tell him all of my Peach secrets. I know I shouldn't but I just have so much fun telling them about it and then he just uses that knowledge against me.
So I guess it helps you in a way. You're telling your opponent your weaknesses so you then can learn and improve upon them.
Llod: Yeah, he beats out my bad habits and I try to come up with all of these new tricks but he just shut them down and I'm like, "Okay, I guess that wasn't really as good as I thought it was." He's also willing to play the adaptation game against me. Rishi is very fluid with his game plan and how he plays. So a lot of the times when I play him, I feel l completely outplayed.
Easiest person to play against?
Llod: Probably Chudat just because he has a very slow-paced game with quick burst movement and the way I play the game is geared specifically towards beating that style. Like I'm not afraid of him when he is just standing there because I will stand right back and beat him at his own game. I feel like we play a similar style and yeah just know how to beat him at his own game. I haven't lost to Chu in over eight years.
Thoughts on Smash for the Switch? Are you interested in playing it competitively?
Llod: Yeah, I will give it a try. I’ve played all of the Smash games competitively at one point except for 64. I was ranked [in] Smash 4 for like the first 6 months it was out. The hardest thing is switching between the games. Smash 4 is very, very different from Melee and I actually experienced this a lot back in the Brawl days. It got to the point where I had to practice the switch just so I could play both games in a tournament. In Smash 5, who knows who I am going to use, I'll probably pick Peach. Smash makes more sense to me when I have a float. I'll definitely give it a shot but I don't know if it will be my main game.
Let’s say Peach is never put into the game. Who is your main?
Llod: Sheik. She was my original main, so yeah I'd probably still be playing Sheik. She is simple enough where she can cause a lot of 50/50s and I think that's where I thrive in this game. I like forcing the rock, paper, scissors and extrapolating the information my opponents presents to me in order to have better chances than a 50/50.
What made you make the switch from Sheik to Peach?
Llod: So this is also where my tag is based on. There was this Peach player named Doll who lived in Virginia. One day I was playing friendlies with some random person and I'm going through all of my secondaries because this person was a little bit worse than me. When I got to my Peach, I was beating him up with Peach and Doll walks in and he's watching the match. Afterward he says, “I really like your Peach.” He convinced me to sit down and play Peach dittos with him, even though at that time Peach was not one of my best characters. I just played around with her every now and then. So we're playing a game and it was the last hit and he ended up winning. Afterward he said, “Wow, I really like your Peach. You should play her more often,” and I was like, “Huh, maybe I will,” and from that point on I started playing a little bit more Peach. Using her float ability made a lot of sense to me in relation to the confines of the Smash and then I just picked her up as my main.
If Melee doesn't exist, which eSport do you think you would play competitively if at all?
Llod: League of Legends. In League, I was what would be called a one-trick pony, where I just pick one champion and get really good at that one champion. I've logged in several thousands of games with this one specific character where I thought I was pretty good. I never got to the point where I considered going pro. if I have the time to invest in League and I have the chance to practice then I think that's fine and I probably would have been good.
If you had to give one sentence of advice to a beginner, What would you say?
Llod: Read my guide. I think the best first step for anyone is to read my guide to improvements. I think that entire document is the best way to set yourself on the path to improving the quickest. Honestly, I don't think there is a better way for improving currently then reading my guide. If someone writes a guide that is better than yeah, read that one but for right now, I think my guide is like the peak literature in the Melee community.
Where do you see yourself on the MD/VA power rankings?
Llod: I think I'm like barely below Zain. I'm definitely top two. I called him and I the king and queen of MD/VA just because it doesn't seem like anyone else compares to the both of us at this moment. Zain performs better than me out of the region but, I perform better than him in the region. Yeah, currently I don’t think anyone in MD/VA is better than us.
How do you feel about Nintendo’s selection of players for this year's Invitational?
Llod: I think it's really good. I don't know the criteria they were looking for but we know that there are some people from Melee and there are some people from Smash 4, which is exactly what they should be doing in order to bring the two scenes together. I'm surprised they didn't take Hungrybox, I'm surprised they didn’t HugS. I think those two are good leaders within the community who are very well spoken. The people that they did pick represent the scene very well, so I’m happy and I'm excited to watch that.
Last question who do you think is going to win today?
Llod: If Zain can avoid Junebug, Zain will win. If Rishi can avoid Zain, Rishi will win. If I beat Zain, I will win, so I think it will be one of those three.
We’d like to give our thanks to Llod for taking time out of his day for this interview. We wish him the best for the rest of 2018.
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