Brian “Cosmos” Kalu has been a force in the Super Smash Bros. since the Wii U days when he held the title of 30th best player and the best Corrin in the world. Currently, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, he remains in the conversation for one of the biggest threats to face at a major (now ranked 23rd in the world as of the 2019 PGRU Power Rankings), piloting one of the game’s best characters, Pyra and Mythra, at the highest level.
At the Smash World Tour Finals, Cosmos made a miraculous run through the Last Chance Qualifier tournament to qualify for the main event’s Group Stage. After dominating his group with four decisive wins, landing him in the winner’s side of the final bracket, he battled all the way to Grand Finals before finally falling to the world’s best player, MKLeo.
Inven Global sat down with Cosmos at the Smash World Tour Championships prior to his winner’s semi-final match against Sparg0 to discuss his tournament run thus far, his status as a top player, and his unique approach to making Smash-related content.
The LCQ and the run so far
Tell me about what led you to compete in the LCQ? Had you not competed in any of the SWT qualifying stages?
I did play in the WiFi Qualifier, but when I played in the WiFi Qualifier I wasn’t really in practice. Especially on WiFi because I took a decently-sized break from the game — like a couple months.
I quit WiFi because I didn’t like playing on it back then. And whenever they announced it was on WiFi I was like, “Wow so at some point I have to play on WiFi again to try it out.” So whenever I did try to qualify on WiFi, I did really bad. I was not in practice and I lost really early on.
The LCQ was basically my last chance.
What were your impressions of the field of players that were in the LCQ? It was pretty stacked for a tournament happening before the main event.
Yeah, it was pretty stacked, like some people called it basically another major because CEO happened a couple weeks ago. I feel like it had the same exact players except more people too since a lot of people that were at CEO — both CEO and this tournament, the LCQ — were both in Florida, so a lot of people that were in the area went to both tournaments.
Was there any added pressure knowing all of these top players were in this sort of “last chance” mode?
Not really because at the end of the day, people are gonna play like they always play. And no matter what kind of tournament it is, people are very passionate about Smash. So whether they’re playing at a local or if they’re playing in Smash World Tour they’re probably always trying their absolute hardest.
How are you feeling after having played so much Smash over the course of the weekend with some of your toughest sets still ahead of you?
I’m pretty exhausted.
Especially because the LCQ was basically a whole tournament and after that, I had to play five really strong players in groups the next day and play everybody. I had to play Tweek who was my demon for a long time and I haven’t beaten him in all of Ultimate and I got to beat him for the first time and I had to try really hard.
I’m a little bit exhausted, but I’m also very excited to play against the players I have to play against.
Take me through your main event run. You 4-0’d your group and you 3-0’d Tweek. I’m sure you weren’t expecting to have that smooth of a run, right?
Whenever I play, I like to not expect anything.
So when I wasn’t expecting to lose or to win. I was expecting to play my best and have a really good set. That’s the main thing I’m trying to do whenever I play the game.
How did it feel knowing you were going into Top 12 on the winners side after a big win over Zomba?
When I was playing Zomba, I was extremely, extremely nervous because a lot was on the line. And I played him before at Smash Con: Fall Fest. When I lost in winners I had to play him immediately in losers. And I beat him very solidly 3-0, but when I found out I had to play him here, I saw how he was playing in his group and the LCQ. I saw that he was playing very well so I was pretty nervous even though I had the edge over him in the past set. So it made me play a little bit shaky, but I was able to close it out.
You mentioned how happy you were to beat Tweek yesterday. How did it feel to finally overcome one of your “demons” that’s been plaguing you at tournaments for a long time?
It felt really good. I didn’t expect it to feel like I conquered the world or anything because at the end of the day we’re just two players playing the game. At some point, I knew I would beat him whether it would have been at the beginning of the game or three years into the game, like now, or like seven years into the game.
I knew that at some point if I just keep practicing and then just keep focusing on the process I was going to beat him at some point.
Looking ahead to Winners Semi-Finals, you have Sparg0 coming up, a potential Aegis (Pyra and Mythra) ditto... Walk me through your thoughts on playing Sparg0 and the ditto itself.
I don’t like playing the ditto. I don’t think any Aegis player likes playing the ditto, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
He does have a Cloud so if I do well in the ditto, I would not be surprised if he switches to Cloud. But regardless, I’m very confident in both matchups and I’m very confident against Sparg0.
Especially because before quarantine at the last Genesis two years ago, I played him in losers and I beat him pretty solidly which is when he was playing Cloud, but obviously, he wasn’t as good back then. Well, I feel like he was as good, but just not as confident in his play because playing through quarantine online and winning a lot of online tournaments probably gave him a lot more confidence in that he was that good.
A “gatekeeper” of Smash Ultimate
A term that I’ve heard commentators use to describe you is “gatekeeper." What does that title mean to you?
I would assume whenever they say “gatekeeper” it means that I’m like a top-level player that’s consistent, I guess? And whenever I play players that are trying to get to that top-level and they’re playing against me, I kind of keep them out. And I’m not too worried about playing them and I’m pretty consistent.
For example, Zomba is pretty close to being a top player but I guess they kind of feel like if they beat me they have the confidence to be a top player.
I think in this game, people would kind of call Dabuz the “gatekeeper” because he was kind of my gatekeeper in Smash 4 and a lot of people’s, like Tweek and Marss. And we all said that if you were able to beat Dabuz (because it's really hard and stressful and he was always very consistent), that's when you pass the threshold of being a top player.
Inkling and the power of the Aegis
You used to be one of, if not, the best Inkling players in the world before switching to Pyra and Mythra. Walk me through the process of picking up a new character and the path of characters you’ve played thus far.
If I’m being completely honest, when Pyra and Mythra got announced I didn’t really miss a beat and I decided I was going to play them because they looked like a really cool character.
There’s honestly nothing really that special about why I chose the character. It wasn’t hard to switch or anything. It was just whenever I pick up a character I think looks really cool and really enjoy how they look and how they play I’m confident that I’m able to learn the character.
I wasn’t even worried about how good they were gonna be, it’s just whenever I saw their design and moveset and everything I was really excited to play them. And then they just ended up being a top-tier character.
About Inkling: They were a character sort of in and out of the patches. They were nerfed, but also recently buffed. Why do you think they fell out of favor?
I honestly don’t think any of the nerfs or buffs really impacted how the character plays or does. I think people just found out it’s really hard to kill when they’re playing Inkling. So whenever they’re at kill percents, they just play very campy and stay away from you and try not to get grabbed and they usually live to a very high percent. So when people learned how to do that game plan against Inkling, it got a lot harder to play the character in bracket.
Pyra and Mythra recently caught a few nerfs in Smash Ultimate’s last patch. What are your thoughts on them?
I don’t think they really mattered either. They just nerfed [Mythra’s] forward smash, made it just slightly weaker, but it’s still a kill move. And that move was really good. And then they nerfed Pyra’s side B, Blazing Edge, and made it have slightly more end lag, but it's basically still the same speed. And it doesn’t affect her at all and how you play the character.
Obviously, Pyra and Mythra are some of the best characters in the game. Do you find them problematic for the meta at all? Are they too good?
I think they are very good. I personally don’t think they’re the best character in the game because I still think Joker is the best character in the game. People just don’t really think about it anymore because MKLeo stopped playing Joker. So Joker kind of tapered off in the meta. I still think the tools that character has are the best out of any character and I think he has a good matchup versus Pyra/Mythra too.
A different approach to Smash content
Your YouTube content is a bit different from the average Smash player. Tell me about the skits you make.
I wasn’t really a fan of how most Smashers do YouTube content, so I wasn’t ever interested in making YouTube content. But since I lived with Sylvanas, who was a very big skit creator, he kind of pushed me into making skits about Smash and veer off into other subjects too.
I feel like whenever you make only Smash content it hinders your possibility of being outside of Smash. And when you only make Smash content you can only get so big because Smash is only so big. There’s a cap at some point.
I like making skits because I was able to make them with my friends and I felt like after I made Smash skits I would be able to make a following like how I created content and then make skits about other stuff and then grow off there.
There’s been some discussion in the community about the balance of content creation and going to actually compete. Does that dynamic come into play at all in your Smash career?
It is pretty hard to try and balance making content and practicing daily. The good thing about YouTube, at least the way I make content, you don’t have to focus on content every single day. Like, I could just record one video and upload it the next day and then be done for the rest of the week and just focus on Smash.
For me, it’s a little bit different because I have a lot more time on my hands and most Smash content creators are streamers and they have to stream every day and try to be entertaining on stream. And whenever they’re done streaming they turn their stream highlights into YouTube content so they have to be very focused on content every day.
But I don’t have to do that, so for me, it’s not very big of a commitment. But it’s still kind of hard because I have to focus on ideas and editing.
You’re without a sponsor at the moment. Is there a reason you’re not signed with anyone right now?
No team really has come up to me that I was willing to take. I’ve just been waiting for the right team to come up to me and give me an offer. So I still definitely want to be on a team, but I guess the time hasn’t been right. That’s basically it.