The King of Smash, Ken Hoang, talks Melee, life and his love of art

'Armada was the demon for a lot of players.'

Ken ‘LiquidKen’ Hoang is one of the oldest names in Smash. Long before the likes of MKLeo, Leffen and the five gods of Melee, there was Ken, the King of Smash. If you’ve been around since the beginning or watched the famous documentary, his Marth will need little introduction. For everyone else, it’s safe to say that for over five years following Melee’s release, he was, by far, the dominant force in the competitive scene. After returning to competition with Team Liquid in 2014, he's remained an important and impactful figure in the Smash community.

As Melee’s former sovereign, there’s no shortage of online footage showing Ken’s in-game exploits, but what makes him tick away from the screen? And what are his views on the current state of Smash? We shot 12 quick questions his way to find out more about the man behind the crown and if he thinks Melee will survive in a post-EVO world. 

What is your passion outside of gaming?

My passion outside of gaming is Art. I love to doodle a lot and would doodle in between games or waiting time.

What were you planning to do with your life before you became an esports star? 

Before being an Esports star, I was an artist. I love drawing portraits.

In your career, what’s been your favorite fighting game to play? And how about watch? 

My favorite fighting game that I used to play was Street Fighter Ex. Favorite to watch was Marvel vs Capcom 2.

Why do you think Melee is so enduring?

Melee has a tight niche community and that’s why melee has been around for ages.

How has Armada’s retirement affected the top level of Smash? Has that opened the way for other players to win majors, or were they likely to make it anyway? 

Yeah, Armada was the demon for a lot of players, since he’s gone now players who usually lose to him are doing better in bracket or even winning tournaments. 

Who do you think is the number one player right now, and is that likely to change in the near future? 

The number 1 player is Hungrybox. He was the number 1 player even when Armada was around.

So with Melee out of EVO (at least for now) and prize pools for Ultimate at Smash events usually outweighing Melee, How do you feel about the game’s future? 

Ultimate is the new game and has a bigger following, seems right.

Do you ever see Melee returning to EVO in the future? 

I don’t see Melee returning to the main stage since EVO usually likes promoting the new games. Only a side tournament 

What are your favorite Melee tournaments throughout the year? 

Genesis, Smash'N'Splash, Super Smash Con.

Even after 18 years, we’re still seeing players discover new things in Melee and surprise us with characters. Do you think the game can keep evolving? 

TAS (Tool-Assisted Superplay/Speedrun) is out nowadays and people just try to be perfect and become like TAS. Melee will always be hype because of how hard it is.

Wizzrobe won Smash ‘N’ Splash with Falcon, Axe won Summit with Pikachu. Which character do you think the community and players are underestimating right now? 

Falcon and Pikachu have always been underestimated, Amsah could potentially win with Yoshi soon.

How did you decide on your main? Is there a character you wish you could play at the top level?

Some people play characters that are top tier, you should just play who you like playing and have fun with. :)

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video game journalism stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry.stenhouse@allgamers.com, or catch him on Twitter.

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