It has been a wonderful two weeks for the competitive Smash Ultimate scene. In a span of two weeks, the community has hosted the largest and arguably the greatest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments thus far. Evo 2019 and Super Smash Con 2019 delivered beyond my expectation. The high level play brought plenty of excitement, drama and storylines that was thrilling to watch. Watching it live was a roller-coaster ride with plenty of highs and lows. I cheered ecstatically seeing Tweek run through the bracket to earn a spot in Grand Finals at Evo and my heart broke seeing Zackray emotional reaction after losing a close set against Leo.
Arguably the biggest talking point coming out of both tournaments is who will and how does one stop Mkleo and his Joker. Leo’s wins at both Evo and Super Smash con further reaffirms his title as the undisputed best player of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the dominating manner in which he dismantle his adversaries poses the difficulty question… can anyone rise to the occasion to challenge his thrown?
Leo’s losers run at Evo is one to behold and honestly a tale of a legend in the making. After losing to Kameme at Winners Round 1, Leo proceeded to tear through the losers bracket like a madman on a singular mission. Maister, Abadango, Zackray, Raito, Samsora and Gluttony – all fantastic players and all among the worlds best – yet none could stop Leo.
Awaiting Leo at Grand Final on the winners side was Tweek- the second best player in the world – a final battle that is most fitting for the biggest tournament of the year. Tweek looked poised to claim the Evo title having taking the first two game and only one game away for victory. On the verge of defeat something just lit inside Leo’s belly and he turned the notch to another level reversing his fortunes by defeating Tweek in 3 consecutive games to reset the bracket. And then in a show of absolute dominance winning the reset in a clean sweep to lift the Evo trophy.
Somehow, history always seems set to repeat itself. Again sent to the loser bracket at Super Smash Con, Mkleo faced a tough run towards the Grandfinal. After a nail biting close set with Nairo at Losers Quarters, defeating the explosive Marss, and crossing the line in a hard fought set with Tweek – Leo found himself in Grand Final against Samsora. And yet again, down 2 games and on the verge of defeat, Leo goes to another level, rising from the ashes like a phoenix, claims 3 games to reset the bracket and then proceeds to bulldoze a disheartened Samsora to win the championship.
The dominant discourse circulating the community in the aftermath of Evo and Smash Con is whether Joker is broken and is Leo being carried by his character of Joke? While I do agree to an extent that Arsene is a bit too powerful and he stays out for far too long on the field, Mkleo isn’t carried by his character, to say otherwise is being disingenuous at best and at worst, dishonest. Leo’s résumé and legacy thus far isn’t define by just one character, but it is his consistency and skill with a multitude of characters that he has built his reputation on, and to suggest he is being carried is absolute rubbish in my opinion. To discredit his success based on his character of choice is incredibly unfair. We should give credit where credit is due.
Despite not being my favorite player (that title going to Tweek), I can’t help admire greatness. Mkleo is a champion that much is clear to me. His control, his execution, his decision making, his game IQ and above all his mental fortitude is a cut above everyone else right now. His ledge pressure is second to none and his moment is a marvel to behold. There’s no other Joker player that even comes close to Leo’s. I liken him to Manny Pacquiao. He can get knocked down once in a while, but he will always get right back up, pressure you to the corner and will find a way to win.
It will be intriguing to see how the rest of the PGR season unfolds. Will Mkleo continue his streak of dominance? Or will we see top players rise to the occasion? In my view, I think Tweek has the ability to take Leo down he just needs to overcome the mental hurdles. The same can be said with Samsora. We have yet to see the best of Nairo and Mars has proven himself to be unbeatable on his day. Perhaps lord ZeRo can reignite his competitive fire and return to the scene with a vengeance… one can only dream.
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