"I think Leo is still the best": MVD talks top Ultimate players and woes with online Smash community


Jestise “MVD” Negron is ready to get back to the grind.


After a string of strong placements thoughtout the latter half of 2021, MVD was one of the players that took a break from competition following the Omicron variant. Returning with Collision 2022, MVD is ready to for more top placements.


Inven Global spoke with MVD, to discuss his thoughts on Ultimate doubles, his place in the Smash landscape, and how the scene can be improved upon. 

Who is the best in Smash doubles right now?

You were one person that feels like Squad Strike is favored by some TOs over doubles. Why do you think that is, and what can be done to improve that? Why was Melee doubles popular?


Most people enjoy watching singles more than doubles. So if you double up and have singles and Squad Strike, you get to see your favorite player play singles two different times. And I feel like TOs are recognizing that the public likes that. Because I hear TOs say that the viewership for doubles — no one really cares. And I think that the majority of people just prefer singles as a whole, even the competitors. Because if Leo plays in Squad Strike, maybe he'll play Joker. And people are dying for that, obviously. 


For that to happen, we have to have more static teammates — Marss and Light, MVD and ESAM, Leo and Big Boss, etc. If we had doubles teams that were static enough so that we could have storylines — I feel like back when Melee doubles was really popular,  there were those storylines. And I feel like when it comes to Melee and Ultimate, Melee spectators just care about good gameplay.


They don't care about what the format is. As long as the gameplay is good, that's all that matters. And I feel like as doubles players in Ultimate, people only focus on players and don't focus on the good gameplay as a whole. Maybe it's because the scene is younger, not sure what that exactly is. 


With you and ESAM beating Marss and Light in the last event you played, who is the best doubles team in the world right now?


I feel like post-quarantine era, Light and Marss were just always ahead of everyone else. And then you see Sparg0 and Chag teaming together, and they've improved tremendously. And also, whoever Leo teams with, because Leo is just so good in doubles. I would say the gap for the argument for best double team has closed. And I think that makes it a lot more exciting. But again, the fact that we haven/t seen Light and Marss team in such a long time. 



What makes ESAM a good doubles partner?


He's always really aware of what's going on. Obviously, the friendship aspect of it — we've been best friends and teammates for 12 years now. We have this connection where you don't have to communicate as much. We just know. We see a scenario and it's like, "Oh, he knows I need help. So he'll stop and come help me. I know that he's in trouble, so I'll help him out." 


But I also think that it's just we are very communicative even during our matches. If you sit next to us while we play, we're having full-blown conversations. We are talking about what's going on, breaking it down, calling for team combos, and calling for help. And he just has a really good sense of doubles, which makes it really fun for me to team with.


And especially because, as a Snake player, I'm constantly throwing grenades out — he really knows how to maneuver around them, so he's not getting hit as well. So it minimizes the stress on me to be extra perfect. He just encompasses the perfect teammate for both a Snake player, and me specifically.

And who is the best at Smash singles?

You were at Collision where Sparg0 won. How do you feel about the top level of competition right now? Before it was just MkLeo, and maybe Tweek could pass him up sometimes. Where are we right now with the top? Is Sparg0 on top? Is it a revolving top three? Where are we?


I think Leo is still the best — the amount of consistency he had for the past ever, no matter what happens for a little bit, he'll still retain that number one in the world.


Sparg0 is very rapidly proving to everyone that he is at least the second-best player in the world. If you compare that to Sparg0 before the quarantine and COVID era, he's ridiculously impressive. It's actually insane how much better and how disciplined is a player and how solid his play has improved. I can't say enough good about it, especially during a time when we were stuck doing Wi-Fi mostly. 


Leo is still topping everything, Tweek is always a force to not mess with, and Sparg0 is absolutely at least number two in the world. Light has incredibly stepped his game up, same with Kola. Plus we're seeing more of Gluttony, Zackray, Tea, and ProtoBanham. There are just so many more players that are not only are going to threaten Leo's number one, but just shake up the entire top ten — even top twenty.


One year from now, is Sparg0 on top, MkLeo, or someone else?


If you look at the current trends, it's easy and safe to bet on Spargo. But Leo is just different. He was the undisputed best for as long as he was for a reason. And I don't think he wants to give up that title anytime soon. So I think he's just going to fine-tune even more — maybe pick up a new character.


I would say it's a safe bet to say Sparg0, though, because the impressive thing is he's so young. Just as a person. He still has so much growth ahead of him — cognitive and things of that nature. He still has about a decade's worth of growth as a person to do still. I can only imagine him getting even scarier as time goes on. 


People have critiqued his nerves — due to him losing the finals of some tournaments. Given his age, aren't his nerves actually quite impressive?


Yeah, I just think everything about Spargo is impressive. We see it from week to week, tournament to tournament. You see how he adapts to things and how he adapts to opponents. And he's just so good at everything.


There's not a single part of Sparg0 as a player that I feel there's a weakness. And you would think his weakness naturally would be his age, and his ability to keep composure under those extremely stressful situations.


And he just doesn't give a sh-t. Nothing fazes him — something could go wrong. He could SD because of a bad input, or get super clipped...and that motivates him. You should not be able to have that kind of a veteran spirit. But he does, and it's terrifying. I don't know how he does it. 


It's that K-pop music.


I guess [laughs]. I guess it's the most soothing thing in the world. Everyone has to look into it now. But it's just his maturity. Top players who have been around for over a decade — sometimes we still fold and crumble under pressure. And we've been doing it for almost as long as he's been alive. But he's just so good. It's so impressive.

Where does MVD fit in the Smash scene?

What about yourself and your place in the meta? Have you considered switching characters?


The only character I've considered really playing at that level would be Sora — he was my number two most wanted character to be in Smash. And ever since way back in the day, we finally got him. So he's someone that I play a lot. But of course, Snake will always be there. He's my comfort zone. Everything about Smash just goes back to Snake for me. So he's a character that I will probably always play in some capacity. I don't think I'll ever see myself dropping him for anything. 



In regards to myself in the current Ultimate meta — before the Omicron variant popped up in January — the five months of events that we had so many events going on, I did a really good job at re-establishing myself. I feel like a lot of people...not necessarily forgot about me, but people didn't necessarily give me the credit that I deserved. So I feel like me going to those events and getting multiple wins, top eights, top threes —  I think that really reminded people of the threat that I could be when I'm playing at that level. 


But unfortunately, I had a couple of months off before Collision so I didn't feel good about that. Because obviously, I felt like I was on a really good trajectory and good path. And then having that three-month break kind of squandered a bit for me. So I have to get back to work again.


But I feel like if I am playing at my best — and all the outside factors of life are all correct for the weekend that I'm at a big tournament — I'm definitely capable of top eighting any kind of tournament. Capable of winning it. Top-level competition has extremely stepped up their game, though. So it's really hard nowadays to even get top eight at a major.


You recently left Thunder Gaming and were one of the longest-lasting members of that org. How do you reflect on your time there?


I always had good moments with them. I never had an issue. Maybe the only issue ever was that sometimes the accounting department was a little slow on payment. And that happened to a lot of people. But they always fulfilled their duties and supported me as a player and as a person. Their end of the contract was always met. Everything they promised me was fulfilled. 


So it's one of those things where I never had a bad moment with them. I never had anything negative to say towards them. The fact that they don't want to do anything in the realm of esports anymore definitely makes me sad. But I get why they don't want to focus on that anymore.


Departing from them — it wasn't anything negative on either side. It was definitely very amicable, like, "Hey, we decided we're just not going to be doing much with esports anymore." I understood. It's not my fault. It's not their fault. Those behind the scenes were very good to me, and I don't see myself cutting ties with them as individuals anytime soon.


What do you think there are things the organization could have done better to survive, or do you see it mostly as a flaw with the community?


Both. Obviously, they weren't perfect. But the thing is, they tried. They tried really hard as a whole. And if they got something wrong, sometimes they were stuck in the way that they thought they knew best. And then after some poking and being like, "Hey, guys, maybe we should be more open to what people are saying and think about it more."


They tried, and they were stubborn a lot. And I will acknowledge that for sure. But they tried and genuinely cared. And I feel like the scene — as it does with many companies and entities that come in with a lot of money...our scene kind of likes to burn those bridges. I don't understand why. Well, I do know why — because we've been burned in the past. 


But at what point as a scene are we going to be stuck in our ways of never trusting anyone? Everyone wants us to be more esports and wants us to have more money in the scene. But then when a company comes around and says, "Hey, we'll put money in the scene", and then the scene treats them poorly, what do you expect?


It's one of those things that even if Nintendo put money into the scene, I would say that if they didn't do it exactly how the scene wanted it to be done, the scene would sh-t on them, too. The scene is very good at running people out of it. And that's definitely a flaw of the community as a whole. But again, I'm not going to sit here and say that Thunder was perfect in their methods. 


Obviously, it's slightly different but organizations like 2GG had troubles with their reputation and very much recovered. Was this possible for Thunder?


It wasn't impossible for that to happen, but the big difference between the era of 2GG and the era of Thunder — we're in a place now where Twitter, opinions, and people creating content focused on hating things play a really big role in the scene nowadays. Back when 2GG experienced their lumps — and I've always had nothing but love for 2GG — there wasn't an echo chamber as there is nowadays.


Nowadays, if you don't like something, there's an echo chamber. Someone somewhere shares your opinion, and just because they like doing that kind of thing, will make a hate piece on YouTube for it. And it'll go viral and be all over Twitter. And then people of Twitter and social media aspects will beat that horse beyond repair.


That's the thing that I think is a product of the era we're currently in. You have to be perfect, or else. There's a low chance that you will recover. And I think with Thunder, it was just a wrong place, wrong time kind of thing. If they started back when 2GG was a thing, it would have worked out. But people are just so willing to yell into the echo chamber if they don't like something, even if it's anything. It can be hard to get that noise out of the air. A lot of people stick to their guns when it comes to hating on anything. So it's a big deal.


Thunder's first big event was that "winner gets $20,000" tournament. What tournament does that? No one comes out of nowhere and says, "Hey, the winner gets $20,000." Even we, the competitors, were all a little skeptical at first, because we were like, "Who the hell are you? What do you want with us? Why are you willing to give us this much money?" And it's a thing that once we saw that it was all legit, we were like, "Oh, wow, maybe this can be a thing. They could do this for us and become part of the scene, we just need people to be accepting of it."


But any little mistake made was amplified constantly. And if they ever doubled down on a mistake, then that was amplified even further. So I definitely think that people in the scene would benefit from letting things take their course, and trusting community leaders. Trust that if they're trusting someone, it's worth trusting — many top players were vouching for Thunder in the beginning, and then people will just refuse to listen. And that obviously played a big role in the downfall.



What's one aspect of the Smash community you think could be improved upon that isn't happening?


It's difficult because there are so many little things. Obviously, things aren't perfect in any capacity of the world. But, I just think that people need to be a little more understanding of things. If an event doesn't go perfectly, there's a reason. Things happen — not even talking about Thunder and stuff like that.


But post-quarantine, we had a bunch of events last year. And a lot of people got really upset at events coming back, because they were like, "COVID is still a thing, and it's still very dangerous. And it's this, and it's that." And some people that feel that way kind of wanted events to fail. And wanted events to have COVID outbreaks. 


And that's just a wild thing to me. The fact that people are actively wishing for an event to fail, or for people to get sick because they chose to go to an event. If you're not comfortable traveling to an event, just don't. That's fine. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be safer. There's nothing wrong with any line of thinking like that. If people are willing to go to tournaments, and most tournaments had either a constant mask-mandate in the venue or a proof of vaccination/negative test. So it's really incredible how we were able to even have events to begin with. 


I think the first big event last year was Riptide in Ohio. And I know Ohio had a law that places could not mandate vaccination as a way for you to be allowed in or not. But the event itself had to go around, and somehow went over the law in the state of Ohio and had the event be a proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test. And that was unheard of, but they still made it a thing. 


I just feel like if people took a little more time to think about things and reflect, and not just speak so fast, a lot of things you do better. Just like in life. But for the Smash scene, one-thousand percent more. A lot of people shoot first and ask questions later. Or don't even ask questions at all. They just think that the way they perceive something is correct. So they die on that hill. I myself have sat out of events because of COVID worries.


I just was like, "Nope, not gonna go to them for a while, sorry." But I wasn't hoping that people who went got sick or hoped that the event failed. I don't know, I think people in the scene are just too extreme with their feelings.


Has it always been like this, or has it gotten worse with time?


It's gotten so much worse over time. Before, our biggest Brawl tournament was like 500 people. Nowadays, that's a small tournament. Events have like a thousand routinely. The scene is just so much bigger as a whole. Even though we're not a super premier esport, because of funding, the community is large. So naturally, that comes with adding more people who think like that. Who talk like that. Who are like that. 


And I think in this age of social media, where people are extremely comfortable with saying whatever they want on Twitter with little to no consequence — it's definitely worse nowadays. Just because that's the culture. People are okay with hopping on Twitter... And god forbid a top player tweets that they're upset about losing — someone's in their mentions calling them a crybaby or calling them soft.


People are so quick to just say whatever they want, because there's nothing bad that will happen to them. And I think that's also a thing that could potentially scare away companies and investors who want to put money into the scene. Because, "Oh man, if I slip up once, we're gonna have 20,000 fourtneen-year-olds calling us slurs on the internet."


At this point in time, what set do you think you would most like to be remembered by?



Honestly, maybe my set against Raito from Evo. It was the last year for Smash 4, I made a really big comeback Game 3 of the set — it was losers top eight. And I had a ridiculous 25-second sequence that won me the game. With some ridiculous DI right before for it as well. So I would think that set.


Because it was top eight of Evo — my first time doing that. Getting a win on the big EVO stage. Granted, it wasn't a Sunday Evo stage, but that crowd was still buzzing. It was huge. That was really emotional too. I really liked that set.

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