The first Smash Major of 2019 ended in much the same fashion many important Smash 4 events in 2018 did, with Echo Fox’s Leonardo ‘MKLeo’ Lopez Perez taking the Smash Ultimate title in style. He defeated Counter Logic Gaming’s James ‘VoiD’ Makekau-Tyson in Grand Finals, having dropped just a single set in the event, to eUnited’s star Peach main Jamaal ‘Samsora’ Morris Jr.
The result shows what many observers and experts had predicted so far, that the game is more like Smash 4 than any other iteration, giving a huge advantage to players who competed in that title. While Gonzalo ‘ZeRo’ Barrios dominated the early stages of the Smash 4 competitive era, by the end it was clear MKLeo was the world’s best, and his mastery of multiple sword characters has carried over into Nintendo’s latest game despite many changes to the engine and meta.
The real sensation was Japanese prodigy Zackray, though, who flew in to show off the Wolf he has already become famous for since Ultimate released. At 16 years old, the young charger had every excuse to choke on the biggest stage, but finished 5th, losing to VoiD and Dabuz in what was an extremely creditable showing. His play also suggested much room for improvement, meaning Smash Ultimate could be blessed with a strong international scene as well as the traditional NA player base it enjoys.
Legends come together
Twitter was abuzz with news of the event, as many top FGC pros and faces have dabbled in Ultimate since it came out. Even the US’s most famous faces were glued to the steam, with new father and FGC legend Justin Wong enjoying the play, and apparently being inspired by some of it. Hopefully he won’t be too disappointed to find out Megaman has already been nerfed…
The event also featured some of the best to ever touch Super Smash Bros Melee, as well as a number of other names from the FGC. At one point the crowd were treated to a thrilling game between Dragon Ball FighterZ great ApologyMan’s Lucario and Melee legend Armada’s Inkling, in pools no less, further illustrating the potential this title has to bring together a number of disparate communities under one banner.
As well as those two, Melee luminaries such as Plup, Mew2King, Mango and Leffen all entered Ultimate, with the latter achieving the best placing of all the newcomers to this part of the scene, in 17th. Given all the fuss about his seeding pre-event, Leffen will have been happy to prove the doubters wrong, and given that he was originally seeded 77th, it does seem as though the event was not planned and organised as well as it should have been in that respect.
When was Melee?
Ultimate was (fittingly) the last event of the Championship Sunday, which clashed with Super Bowl LIII, and started at an obscenely late time for EU fans, as is often the case. Prior to the conclusion of that event, the Melee top eight took place, and it was business as usual for the winner at least. Juan ‘Hungrybox’ DeBiedma finished in first, as he did in the yearly rankings at the end of 2018, with Tempo Storm’s Jeffrey ‘Axe’ Williamson runner-up. Some of the Melee pros were understandably rusty after months streaming the new title, but some things never change, and if the likes of Plup, Leffen and M2K are not at peak form most events are Hugrybox’s to lose.
There was a degree of unsavoury behaviour, as is often the case at Smash events, with the crowd booing and chanting against the eventual champion, to the disgust of many top players on Twitter. Even Leffen, for long a critic of the Puff main’s behaviour, felt the need to point out that booing and chanting against him was a low blow indeed, and reflected badly on the entire Smash scene, and in particular Melee.
Having said that, the event was largely a success, and even set a new viewing record for a Genesis Melee tournament, which is doubly impressive when you realise it was competing with some sporting event known as the SuperBowl. With a peak concurrent viewer count of 155k for a game that has been dormant since Ultimate arrived, it’s cool to see that the enduring appeal of Nintendo’s masterpiece has not been dimmed, and great news going into the summer of 2019.
Image: Genesis/Tempus Rob