OAKLAND, Calif. -- The four-peat was denied. Sunday evening marked a stunning night of Super Smash Bros. competition at Genesis 7, but none more shocking than the defeat of three-time Genesis champion Leonardo "MKLeo" Lopez Perez at the hands of Tyler "Marss" Martins.
Elated, Marss leapt out of his seat, overcome with emotion and tears as his friends formed a huddle around him to celebrate. Coming into Genesis, no player that faced MKLeo 10 or more times since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in December 2018 had a better win record against MKLeo than Marss, who won seven of 16 sets the two have played. On Friday, during the first day of the event, Marss told ESPN he was confident that if he faced MKLeo come Sunday he could beat him, and he made good on his conviction in dominating fashion.
At the core of the win stood two adjustments: first, in-game aggression, something MKLeo often has not faced while playing Joker, a character whose Arsene persona provides added damage and an increased threat level. Second, Marss overcame the hardest part about facing the 19-year-old Mexican superstar: getting him out of your head.
"I know when people are about to beat, or about to go up a game on Leo, they play a little bit desperate, they play a lot more antsy, and I've succumbed to that too," Marss told ESPN after the win. "But I've realized that I've become able to identify when I'm starting to feel like that, and I just reel back for a second. 'Just stick to the game plan. Don't do anything stupid, because that's what he's expecting.'"
- ESPN Esports (@ESPN_Esports) January 27, 2020
In the Melee portion of the event, Zain "Zain" Naghmi took down Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma, the best player in the world in that game. Like Marss, Zain's celebration was epic -- as he jumped out of his seat, was rushed by his girlfriend on stage and looked out toward an erupting crowd. Their games' respective No. 1 competitors, Hungrybox and MKLeo had targets on their back, and both were knocked into the losers bracket earlier on Sunday. This made for a more difficult trek to the grand final for both. Seeking grand final redemption, neither got them and Zain and Marss both came out victorious.
"It feels amazing. Words can't even describe the joy I feel," Mars said. "[Leo's legacy] never won't be an amazing legacy. He's obviously an incredible player. Ultimate has many years to come, so he's still building on it."
Throughout the losers bracket run, MKLeo showed what makes him the best in the world, defeating players like Eric "ESAM" Lew while down one game and facing series point. His composure, something he has built through years of dominance in both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Ultimate, is his best feature.
That wasn't the case three years ago, in 2017, when a then-16-year-old MKLeo won his first Genesis. But as the years progressed and he won two more in 2018 and 2019, MKLeo not only aged but also evolved. With more than 20 Ultimate tournament wins and an Evolution Championship Series title under his belt in 2019, MKLeo remains among the best Ultimate players in the world, but several players -- like Marrs, Ezra "Samsora" Morris and Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey aren't too far behind.
"To be No. 1, I've gotta play just like I played today," Marss said. Be calm, extremely focused and be confident."