Panda Global’s Tyler “Marss” Martin strutted around the ring, climbing the ropes and waving the crowd to their feet. As the chorus of cheers grew, his smile did as well. This was the Smash Ultimate scene at it’s best. This was what makes the community so special. One look at the top eight showed the diversity of the community. From Echofox|MVG’s Leonardo “Mkleo” Perez hailing from Mexico, to Elliot “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce and his signature Snake and Mario coming from Canada, to Solary’s William “Gluttony” Belaid making his way over from Europe, diversity reigns supreme in Smash Ultimate. Such a smorgasbord of players making fro a tp level experience as both spectators and players alike. It's like making a special pot of gumbo. Add the right ingredients, and we have a deliciosu delicacy which is what CEO 2019 was.
CEO has long been known for the reward it provides players for making the top eight. The infamous wrestling ring, coupled with player intros, has forever been the highlight of the CEO tournament series.
Mkleo entered cosplaying as Persona’s Joker with Mr. II accompanying him ringside.
Team Liquid’s Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby showed the world that he too, believes all things should be balanced, displaying the Infinity Gauntlet, along with a couple Lumas (one of which was tossed at me, and I miraculously caught, shouts to Dabuz).
Ally would come out mimicking Snake’s stealth, even having the cardboard box to match. He'd sneak in, and have to break the neck of the guard escorting him in.
Puppeh in his boyish glory would smile shyly and slide into the ring to begin his match.
Armada’s Chris “Wadi” Bosh would be escorted to the ring by some of the MVDA scene as well as his girlfriend Cinnamon “Cinnpie” Dunson. Sealed with a kiss, he would be ready to play his match.
Gluttony would strut towards ringside with his song choice ringing loudly, and a smirk on his face.
Panda Global’s Marss entrance probably had the most juice, with the crowd working itself into a frenzy as he ran around the ring mounting the ropes, motioning them to get louder.
Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada would enter following the example of the WWE’s Daniel Bryan, wooing the crowd into loud “YES!” chants.
Top Eight Action
As the finale of CEO 2019, Smash Ultimate had the spotlight, and as the best tend to do, they rose to the occasion. Every set was exciting with every player bringing their unique playstyle to the ring.
From the onset, you knew that we were in for a treat. Ally started off the fireworks in the top eight, by getting out early in front of Dabuz, chasing away his Rosalina quickly, and using his knowledge of Snake to maneuver via grenades, C4, down throws, and a steady diet of uptilts. With the win Ally would advance to Winners Finals awaiting the winner of Mkleo and Puppeh.
Puppeh was the youngest competitor in the top eight, but he played with some of the most heart. Taking risk after risk, on calculated guesses, he methodically kept up with Mkleo using all three of the Pokemon at his disposal.
Like the Terminator, Mkleo just kept coming, every bit of damage he took, used to bring about what has become the Bane of most of his foes’ existence: Joker’s Persona Arsene. I knew when the character was announced and we got a full look at the moveset, Arsene would be a real problem. Te sound effects on each hit boom with bass, and that alone let me know how lethal Arsene could be in the right player’s hands. Mkleo is that player. After being pushed in game one, Mkleo would flex his muscles, and put away the young Puppeh.
Riding a wave of momentum, and the power of love from his fiancee, Wadi seemed primed for more success in CEO after his upset over eUnited’s Jamal “Samsora” Morris. He would run into the European Wario expert who would stifle him over the course of three games. Despite taking one, Gluttony would use some hard reads, timely waft confirms and send Wadi’s ROB back to the shop for repairs.
Marss and Nairo had history dating back to the Smash 4 days. Both were widely recognized as the top two Zero Suit Samus players, becoming world renowned for their prowess with her. Nairo had more success in that era, including having a winning record versus Marss. In this game and new era, the narrative has flipped, with Marss seeing success and making a strong push for a top two ranking in the inaugural Panda Global Rankings coming. In another S-tier how would both respond to the pressure?
A fast paced set, full of hard reads, and heads up plays, it demonstrated both players’ familiarity with one another. You could see how well they knew each other as they forced unorthodox plays, and a complete change in style. I likened the set to watch two apex predators going at it. You can’t use your usual tactics to win in that situation, because one whiff, one bad move, or one misstep could spell doom. In another last hit, last stock situation Marss would prevail, showing that though once the understudy and “next up”, he has completely arrived (even though he’s more than proven that this season).
Dabuz and his Rosalina have become a regular occurrence since the nerf to Olimar. He would show that this Rosa is here to stay. Between that and keeping his Olimar on the ready, he would send Gluttony home at fifth place. Gluttony had his chances though, being a waft setup away in game three. Dabuz and his poise under immense pressure won out and he would advance to losers semis.
Puppeh, now having been vanquished from winners into losers would face a red hot Marss. ZSS has always made short work of characters, and more so players, if they panic. Marss is a cerebral player who conditions and punishes as well as anyone in the community. And when he gets rolling, make sure you got something to eat and a beverage to sip, because once he’s figured out his opponent, he puts on a show worthy of the Broadway stage. His ZSS was almost poetic, as she flip kicked and pranced around like a ballerina, who happened to be a stone cold killer. At one point Marss was reading Puppeh so hard he accurately hard read three tech rolls - and they were all different options, one after the other. With flair and gusto, he would eliminate the young Puppeh, who is just getting started after such an amazing run to top eight. Next up was Dabuz.
Dabuz used to struggle with ZSS in Smash 4. Or maybe you could say he struggled with a few ZSS players. He ran into an old problem in a new setting, with Marss meeting him in the losers semifinals armed with a ZSS, just like the old times. The result was the same, with Marss taking the set. Alexa, play “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” by Tame Impala.
Best of Five Territory
In Winners Finals, Mkleo would show no problem putting away Ally’s Snake, plus his Mario. His movements were precise, seemingly always under control, with none wasted. His edge guards and ability to recover after going to the depths of the blast zone are unmatched. The format used had all sets being best of three, until sets that were for a top three placing. With Ally sent to Losers finals, Mkleo could kick back and wait on the winners side of grands.
Losers finals was electric from the onset. It was a rematch of winners quarterfinals, where Ally had sent Marss to losers. Marss started off fast as he typically does, with Ally moving slower, feeling his way out, and taking the temperature of the set early. A quick win in game one gave Marss an early edge. You had the feeling this set would go the distance since it was a best of five between two players of this caliber. Even in game two when Marss again took an early lead Ally slowly but surely clawed back into it, reminding of so many horror films of the past. You shoot the zombies or monster in the head, and yet they keep coming. No matter what happened, Ally wouldn’t stay down, even taking gaming three to go up 2-1. But as Chris Brown and Kanye put so well, “Waves don’t die” and since Ally wouldn’t neither would Marss, as he’d not only tie the set, but take the game five in dominant fashion. If Ally was the horror film’s protagonist in this set, Marss was the hero. Game five he finally double tapped, and put him down for good. Game on.
Mano a Mano
Grand Finals seemed to be a prime example of what happens with an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. There was no villain or hero out of this bunch, just two dominant players who were crowd favorites. Visions of Rocky and Creed, Dominique Wilkins versus Larry Bird, the Seahawks Legion of Boom versus the Broncos all-time offense came to mind. Two all time greats going at it in the ring, with a championship belt on the line. Winner takes all.
Mkleo won game one in quick fashion forcing Marss to search the depths of his soul for a solution. Marss leaned back, moving the cursor over different characters before settling on Captain Falcon. Many know the legend of Marss and his Falcon. He started using him in the last days of Smash 4, and with the buffs after the latest patch began using him again. Well when you’re on your last leg, you’re playing with house money, so Marss went all in and bet on himself and Captain Falcon.
The bet was one geared towards long-term return. Mkleo won game two as well, but it was clear, the unorthodox pick, the controlled aggression and different playstyle was affecting him ever so slightly. Game three came down to the wire. Marss didn’t flinch or blink when he went down on the last stock. Mkleo kept getting edge guards, and Marss wouldn’t give in. Death was in Marss faced, looking him squarely in his eyes. Instead of going with, Marss swung and connected. Pressure busts pipes, but it also produces diamonds, and in this situation Marss shined bright as ever. Throwing caution to the wind he falcon kicked his way to a game four in the waning moments of the match. Mkleo would then take the set in game four, and thus defend his title. Another championship belt was added to his spoils of war as his unquestioned reign over Ultimate continues.
Smash Ultimate has Arrived
CEO 2019 showed everything right with the Smash Ultimate scene and community. The camaraderie with the players. The diversity was clear as players from all over made the top eight. Then look no further than the characters used. No player used the same characters. The depth in this game remains mind-blowing. Look at the differences in ages and demographics. The viewership both live and via twitch was insane. One game has managed to unite so many and looks to continue to grow in the coming months. Smash Ultimate isn’t slowing down anytime folks.
Alexa, play “Unstoppable” by Drake.
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