This past weekend, fans of Super Smash Bros Ultimate witnessed an amazing tournament. Mainstage 2019, hosted by Beyond the Summit, took place in Southern California. The first ever Major hosted by BTS, they sweetened the deal by guaranteeing invitations for the top six players to the second ever Smash Ultimate Summit. With a $5000 pot bonus, the stakes were high for everyone competing at Mainstage.
Nairo Faces His Demons
Those that have followed Super Smash Brothers Brawl or 4 should be very familiar with Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada. His storied career is filled with various accomplishments, such as ending Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios’ 56 tournament streak in Smash 4 or claiming the Apex 2014 Brawl Trophy.
But his success in Ultimate had been lackluster. Still boasting #8 in the world according to the Panda Global Rankings, he had yet to claim a Major tournament. Nairo achieved strong placings, reaching the top 8 of many tournaments. But not only does Nairo compete regularly, he also runs a very entertaining Twitch stream and YouTube channel. The ability to do one effectively is no small feat. Many doubters thought that his dedication to content creation would be the barrier stopping him from being all that he could be in Ultimate. He would prove them wrong.
Nairo entered top 16 of Mainstage through the Winner’s Side after a very intense set with Eric “Pandarian” Lund. After a convincing 3-0 over James “Void” Makekau-Tyson to enter the Final 8, Nairo had to face his rivals that have traded victories with him in the past. Using Zero Suit Samus and Palutena, his matches with Tyler “Marss” Martins and Paris “Light” Ramirez were nerve-wracking. Each set had him down two games in a best of five set. His opponents would need just one more game to send him into the Loser’s bracket. But with his back against the corner, that’s when Nairo took it to a whole another level. In both matches, he was able to reserve sweep them and secure himself a spot in Grand Finals. There, he would have to face his final bracket demon: Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez.
Facing the Titan
MKLeo is ranked as the number one Smash Ultimate player in the world and for good reason. He won EVO 2019 for Ultimate, the largest Smash Bros tournament in history with about 3500 players. Often the favorite to win tournaments, it was a shock to see him in the loser’s bracket. But he quickly made his way into Grand Finals after toppling Marss, the player who put him into the loser’s bracket in the first place.
In the recent tournaments, MKLeo had the upper hand over Nairo. In their set count, Nairo had lost five sets and won two. But he had the advantage due to being on Winner’s Side. MKLeo would have to beat him twice in order to win Mainstage 2019.
Nairo began the set with Zero Suit Samus, his old main in his Smash 4 days. However, he lost the first match to MKLeo’s Joker in a close round. He switched back to Palutena, his Ultimate main. But despite the switch, MKLeo won the next two matches and reset the bracket. After a tense match, MKLeo continued his dominance by taking the first match of the second set. MKLeo took four straight games from Nairo. With such a dominant showcase, it seemed like MKLeo was primed to make the miracle Loser’s run and win Mainstage.
The fifth match between them started off in MKLeo’s favor, but Nairo made it even in a last stock situation. Getting a back throw kill on MKLeo, Nairo secured his first match in the set between the two of them. Tied at one each, Nairo won the sixth match in a much more convincing fashion with a two stock lead. He would need just one more to achieve his first Major tournament victory.
Taking the Trophy
With just one match standing between him and the tournament trophy, Nairo continued with his impressive performance. Taking the first stock in convincing fashion, Nairo traded his first stock with MKLeo’s second stock. Holding two stocks over MKLeo, the ball was definitely in Nairo’s court now.
After whiffing a grab, Nairo ended MKLeo’s final stock with a dash attack punish on his landing. Letting out a passion filled cheer; Nairo rose to his feet and met MKLeo with an embrace. Pumping his fist, Nairo achieved the goal that he’s chased ever since Ultimate came out. Nairo finally won his first Major in Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
But his journey isn’t over. Nairo is a competitor and while he is very happy with this victory, he’s still hungry. The ninth edition of the Big House, one of the most famous Smash tournaments series, happens October 4-6 in Detroit, Michigan. Nairo is going to attend and he plans to repeat his impressive performance to capture the biggest Fall Smash event of the year.
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