Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios has dominated the Smash 4 competitive scene since the game’s release. Year after year Zero consistently ranked as the number one player in the world. His dominance is unrivaled by any other professional Esports player. So when he announced his retirement from competitive Smash 4 this past January, the community was shocked. Since his retirement Zero has kept a consistent streaming schedule, and even commentated a few tournaments. He’s been enjoying his retirement but he might be coming back earlier than expected. One of the conditions of Zero’s retirement was that he’d return when the next iteration of smash came along. So with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch being announced last week, we could possibly have the king of Smash 4 return early.
A new game
Zero has definitely been enjoying his time away from competitive play, but that all could be coming to an end. The main reason for Zero’s retirement was that he lost the passion to compete. He said a new entry in the franchise or even a port to switch would give him the fire to compete again.
The recent smash switch announcement definitely got people talking about an early comeback. But the fact that this very well could be smash 5, makes a comeback even more likely. A port, or even a deluxe edition would be easier for Zero to ignore. But a new game with new characters and possibly new mechanics could definitely get Zero to return sooner.
Speaking of a new game, there is a case to be made that Zero would still hold out from returning even after smash switch’s launch. Since we still don’t know what the game is going to be just yet there could be some delay before we make it a tournament regular. A new game will likely mean a new meta which will take time to develop and fully form. Even though Zero said a new game would make him want to compete again, I’m sure he didn’t think it’d be coming this soon.
One theory we can definitely put to rest is that zero is absolutely not returning before this smash 4 season is over. Some have speculated that Zero would make a surprise return midway through the season. Doing so could possibly see himself retain his smash 4 ranking as number 1. Although this theory was pretty far fetched to begin with it’s completely dead now. With smash switch coming this year, there is no reason for Zero to return to smash 4. He got his wish of a new smash game to refuel his passion for competing. And also, if this truly is Smash 5, then Zero has already retired on from smash 4 on top. No player will ever be able to accomplish what zero did in smash 4. This will holdup if smash 5 takes it’s place.
So we will definitely see a new number 1 player in the world this season. If smash 5 (hypothetically) replaces smash 4 competitively then we may have seen the last of Zero in smash 4. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smash 4 more than any other smash game took the most out of Zero. He has experience playing Melee and brawl but smash 4 is his legacy. The pressure to be the best consistently can really weigh on a person and it certainly did for Zero. Even with smash switch on the way, it’s a bit too early to say he’ll be back competing on launch day.
basking in retirement
Zero has stated countless times that he is loving his retirement and wants to stay retired for a while.
You can definitely tell if you’ve been in one of his streams. He has a new found enthusiasm for streaming, and you can tell he has a great time playing different types of games. Zero is always interacting with his chat and keeping them involved in the streams. He also loves commentating tournaments, and brings a lot of hype to any set he commentates. His knowledge and love for the game is front and center, and you can tell he loves every second of it.
I bring up all of these factors to emphasize how much Zero is enjoying his retirement. Another big reason for his departure from tournaments was for health reasons. Having to practice day in and day out can really take a toll on someone mentally. The tournament pressure can take the fun away from the game at times. Zero has been a much happier person since his retirement, and he’s usually a pretty happy guy. As much as I and many others want to see Zero return, I would hate for his happiness to suffer for it. So in short, take your time Zero!
When do you think Zero will make his highly anticipated return? Feel free to comment below!