Most low-tier mains have heard something along the lines of, “You’ll probably want to switch soon; he’s real bad” when telling others who they play. While such responses can be discouraging, they can also light a fire in a player, inspiring them to show their character’s true capabilities. The latter has been the case for Link main Joseph “Savestate” El-Khouri—when someone told him that he’d probably want to switch mains due to Link’s ranking, Savestate became determined to prove them wrong. Formerly known as McNuggets, Savestate joined the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee scene in early 2015. Other players welcomed and supported him, so he brushed off the negative comments about his main. Shortly after getting involved with UNC-Asheville’s scene, Savestate began regularly attending Asheville weeklies. Seeing all of his character’s abilities ignited the self-proclaimed Link fanboy’s desire to become “the coolest Link main of all time.” He thus began studying framedata, the Melee engine and other stats to gauge Link’s potential.
A fellow player congratulates Savestate after he won a close set at Super Smash Con 2016. Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Melee's Facebook page
Savestate made a quick come up within the North Carolina Melee community. Shortly after his introduction to the Asheville scene, he took on the roles of community streamer and graphic designer for the Facebook group and its events. In late 2015, he managed to take a set off of a fairly well-known local Falco, Tyler “Tyro” Crews, which stirred up conversation in the North Carolina Melee Facebook group. Who the hell was this Link main? Additionally, Savestate’s streaming experience led him to create smash.LIVE, North Carolina’s premier Smash tournament streaming service, so news of his existence began travelling fast.
Savestate running the stream at NC Melee's Arcadian in 2017. Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Melee's Facebook page.
Savestate’s first major was Super Smash Con 2016. He ended up knocking out his pool’s second seed and secured himself a spot in losers’ finals, where he faced a PR’d West Virginia Falco player to whom he’d dropped a set earlier in the bracket. This time around, though, he clutched out the set by channeling the powers of a hookshot gimp and the cheers of the North Carolina players rallying behind him.
Savestate consoling his opponent after a close set at Super Smash Con 2016. Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Melee's Facebook page.
Although he immediately lost his first set of round two pools, Savestate was ecstatic about his performance, shocked that he had made it so far at all—“[It] was more than I ever could have asked for.” His performance at Super Smash Con impassioned him, and he began sharing any sort of Link trick he could manage.
In early 2017, Savestate really began to make breakthroughs with his play. He made it into grand finals at a SmAsheville weekly for the first time and placed fifth out of 78 players at ETSU-Con in Johnson City, TN. He also beat a PR’d Georgia Luigi at Function(1) in Atlanta and got fourth at Star KO in Clemson. It was around this time that he began hosting weekly friendlies sessions at his apartment and contributing graphics, videos and streaming services to the greater North Carolina Melee group.
As Savestate’s love for the community grew, so did his love for his main. He continued to make technical discoveries, such as the possibilities behind chain dancing aeriels into their IASA frames and the dimensional arrow. He demonstrates Link’s strange and previously-unknown abilities in his video, Let’s Get Weird: A Link Tech Skill Demonstration, which had “an average of five hours put into each routine’s development and recording.” Throughout the year, Savestate explored the Hero of Time’s frame data and made numerous discoveries—Link’s late down-air into down-smash, jab, or up-B on shield beating shine out of shield along with a rest punish, a strategy against stalling Peach bombers and arrow stalling on Pokémon Stadium are just a few of his findings.
The NC Melee group at Super Smash Con 2016. Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Melee's Facebook page.
At both Super Smash Con 2017 and 2018, Savestate took tournament sets off of Josh “Fendrick Lamar” Fendrick. Shortly after Super Smash Con 2017, he started going to weeklies in Greensboro. At one of these events, Savestate and his doubles partner managed to land an infinite on Pokémon Stadium despite a transformation occurring mid-way through. All of his practice led him to taking sets off well-established local players like Chris “Bl@ckChris” Nicholas, Peyton “Kackame” Boyd, Collin "Timebones” Benoit, Chris “Tylenol” Pobee-Mensah and Weilin “Weilin” Zou.
Savestate’s insatiable thirst for knowledge once again led him to more discoveries, some of which include Link’s anti-sweetspot edge guard and bomb launching. This new tech yielded excellent bracket results: Savestate placed fifth out of 61 players at North Carolina Melee’s latest New Year’s regional along with beating Anthony “Slime” Bruno—who argued that Link is actually “pretty good” after his defeat—and having a close set with Armand “ARMY” Del Duca at Noods Noods Noods. He heard through the grapevine that even the legendary Kevin “PPMD” Nanney was impressed by the latter. It seems that Savestate is developing a tendency of impressing top players:
In February of this year, Savestate released his second video, Equipped. After unfortunately moving to a Melee deadzone, he began using Action Replay codes in order to use Link on other characters’ target tests. In April, his efforts paid off when he beat Link’s 14-year-old, 3.55 second Break the Targets record:
He plans on getting the time down to 3.50 seconds and will release a video compilation of all the target tests completed with Link.
To stay up-to-date with the latest wacky Link shenanigans, be sure to follow Savestate on Twitter and YouTube. You never know what he’ll share next, like the recently-discovered “deca-grab" or Adam “Armada” Lindgren’s frozen turnip glitch from their set at Super Smash Con 2018. Whatever it is, you won’t want to miss it.