Tempo Storm make smart move with signing of Smash god ZeRo

The release of Super Smash Bros Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch is on the horizon and the world of Smash esports is gearing up. Adapters are being purchased, moves are being broken down into their frame data, and Tempo Storm have signed the greatest player ever to touch a Smash game released after 2001, Gonzalo ‘ZeRo’ Barrios.

Known originally as a top Super Smash Bros Brawl player, ZeRo has been around the scene since he moved to the states as a teenager, but really came into his own just prior to the release of Smash 4, while playing the fan-made Project M. That game was a modification of Brawl that added the more complex, competitive mechanics that make Melee such an enticing title for players, and ZeRo quickly became one of the world’s best at it.

When Nintendo and elements of the scene conspired to kill PM, ZeRo moved over to Smash 4, a title more similar to Brawl than the competitive titles like Melee and PM, and was instantly a success.

The man who started as a shy kid best known for his scarf has evolved into an edgy yet entertaining persona

In his time playing that game he accumulated a record number of wins, weeks at number one and titles, proving his ability to not only exploit certain mechanics designed for casual play, but also play neutral at an incredible level, often hard outplaying his opponents over and over again.

Evolution of a star

Equally, he quit the Smash 4 scene earlier than most other players, citing burnout and boredom of the increasingly stale meta dominated by broken DLC characters and took the time to build his stream over the past few months. The man who started as a shy kid best known for his scarf has evolved into an edgy yet entertaining persona on Twitch, and brings all the prerequisite skill too, making him the total package in that respect.

This, along with his persona online and the occasional glimpse of the human behind it, all seem to have been intelligently constructed and timed to allow him to earn the maximum and build a personal brand, and the rumours are that his contract with Tempo Storm is a record-breaking one, with some reporting it is worth five figures a month, an unheard of amount for Smash pros.

To ZeRo’s credit, if any player in the scene is worth that, it is him, as he combines top tier play with a personality you can actually sell, unlike some of the top Melee talent.

As for Tempo, they have signed the most recognisable face in Smash, and a player with room to grow, at what appears to be just the right time following his release from TSM in the summer.

As an org they haven’t always featured at the top of the top games but if you wanted to move into Smash and potentially grab some of the massive Nintendo fanbase, there is no better player they could have added to a roster that already includes Johnny ‘S2J’ Kim and Jeffrey ‘Axe’ Williamson - two beloved Melee pros already under the Tempo banner.

Now, all that remains is for ZeRo to prove the move was a good one by dominating Ultimate in the same way he did Smash 4, and his performance at the Nintendo Invitational shows he is more than capable of doing so. In many ways, ZeRo is a perfect example to esports pros of how to evolve and grow into a brand, and this could prove one of the best signings of 2018 for Tempo.