Latinx representation has historically been lacking in esports. Most of the world’s strongest competitors are white or Asian; no matter the game, one of the two comes out on top. However, the same can’t be said for Super Smash Bros.
For the duration of Smash Bros 4 and Ultimate, the number one ranked player has been either Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios or Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez who hail from Chile and Mexico respectively. While these Smash Bros. communities still lack Latinx representation on average, these have still been big wins. And last Sunday added another one to the list.
It was the final day of Frostbite 2020, the biggest tournament so far in Smash Ultimate’s lifetime. After competitive expectations were shattered just a month ago at Genesis 7 with MkLeo’s loss in grand finals, the feeling that 'it could be anyone’s game’ was strong coming into the tournament. This feeling began to actualize when MkLeo fell into the losers bracket earlier than usual this tournament, Top 96.
MkLeo lost in more than convincing fashion to a 15-year old Hispanic Mario main from Sacramento, Pedro “Prodigy” Alonso. Prodigy has been a rising star in the Ultimate scene, claiming the number one spot in the Northern California region. His dominant performance over MkLeo has brought him one step closer to his goal of being a top 50 player on Panda Global Ranking’s list this season.
Prodigy’s win through superior combos and unconventional approaches to throw off MkLeo was not the only statement made by a Latinx player at Frostbite.
Enrique “Maister” Hernández Solís from Mexico City wasn’t always the sixth-ranked player in the world. There have been two seasons of PGR rankings thus far during Smash Ultimate’s duration and in season one Maister didn’t make the cut. Since then, Maister has been making waves in the community. Throughout the back half of 2019, Maister took the scene by storm with great performances at all but one S-tier event, which he didn’t attend, but none were as impressive as his run through Frostbite 2020.
Maister muscled his way through some of Ultimate’s top players with ease never dropping more than one game per set. His masterful conditioning and edge guarding prowess bought him a one-way trip to Grand Finals at Ultimate’s most stacked event. But when he beat Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey in Winner’s Finals and punched his ticket to the top, MkLeo walked up, congratulated Maister and told him that he’d meet Maister there. And he did.
MkLeo had the longest run of any of the competitors at the tournament going through 16 sets to finally make it to the top and meet Maister. MkLeo’s long run through the losers bracket and Maister’s dominant performance through winners gave the Smash community a gem, a grand final straight from Mexico City.
Maister’s performance thus far was so dominant that it seemed like MKLeo would be the one fighting the uphill battle, he had to win six games against a peak-form Maister.
He did, and it wasn’t even close. MkLeo did what MkLeo does, came into the match with unwavering confidence to take down his opponent. Leo’s performance was so dominant that while searching for answers Maister switched off his signature Game and Watch onto his unseen Pichu. For a minute there during his match on Pichu there seemed to be signs of life from Maister, but once he lost that match as well he switched back to the Game and Watch and lost the final game to Leo’s Byleth, the newest addition to the Smash roster.
But Maister didn’t go home with his head held low. When the second set was over and Leo claimed the title, Maister was all smiles. He congratulated Leo on his win, waved to the fans, and then took to Twitter to say that “this L didn’t feel bad AT ALL” and also celebrated the first Mexican Grand Finals.
For the sake of the Latinx Smash Community, hopefully, we see more performances like this from Maister and maybe next time he’ll take at least a game off of Leo.