Esport News – MKLeo: “I just won the tournament, it just happened”
The PGRU Spring 2019 rankings named Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez the top Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player just a week before Evo 2019. And after fighting his way to grand finals with an insane loser’s bracket run at the event last weekend, he solidified that ranking by winning it all.
In his quest for gold, he had to defeat some of the other top players in the world, including Takuto “Kameme” Ono, who sent him into the loser’s bracket during top 16, and Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, the second-ranked player in the world.
Following his incredible run, MKLeo sat down with Dot Esports to discuss his toughest opponents, switching to Joker as a main, and what winning the event meant to him.
Before top eight, you said that your hardest match actually came Enrique “Maister” Solís. That was by far the tensest I saw you during a match all weekend, how did it feel playing against and nearly losing to another Mexican player?
MKLeo: He was like the closest one to beating me and he is Mexican, too. So to be the best Mexican player even though they don’t really count me as Mexican anymore—they actually count me as an American player in Mexico—so I just mean like, losing to him would have been a lot. Even if he is my friend, losing to who is supposed to be the best Mexican player, being the best player on the planet and also from Mexico, that would have been kind of bad.
I knew I was going to win, but it was just really hard. When he got that nine it was like the worst feeling ever. In my head, I was like ‘No, this can’t be happening, I am going to lose Evo in 17th versus a Mexican player.’ I love Maister and I love my country so I have nothing against him, it’s just I really wanted to win.
When you switched over to Joker as your main earlier this year, it seemed like a weird mix of Joker fitting your playstyle but also you changing it a little bit to match the character. What was your thought process going in and adjusting to playing this new character?
I just feel like this character was made for me. Just the first day I got to play the character I already felt like he was my best character. I don’t think he is the best character in the game. I mean, he apparently is and we all know he is going to get nerfed after Evo, but when I started playing the character he just felt really good. I just felt like my character had come.
I used to play Lucina and Wolf, so changing to Joker was a hard thing and everyone started thinking that I was not going to be great with Joker. But I went to Japan and started practicing with everyone, I got 33rd in the tournament (Umebura Japan Major) and then I came back to America and got fourth (at Get On My Level) and then after that, I just started winning everything. I don’t really know what happened, I think it was just dedication that I put into the character.
The way you move around the map as Joker is different from how a lot of players focus on their movement. Tweek obviously matched you in that regard, but you always look like you know exactly what you want to do with your character. Is there something you really focus on when moving?
Well I mean, Joker has a Side B and when he hits you with that Side B he starts damaging you. He doesn’t even need to do anything, the damage just starts happening. So I am always trying to hit them with that and then shoot some bullets, I press B a lot. Then I just start getting some combos.
I also don’t think people know how to DI Joker’s grabs. So [Tweek] was just getting comboed by everything. He was getting desperate with switching Pokémon so I was focusing on not getting hit before the switch and then hitting him.
Coming out of losers after getting sent there by Kameme early on, who do you feel out of the top eight had the best chance of actually knocking you out?
I honestly think everyone had a chance. I played [Sota “Zackray “ Okada] and he is really good, I always consider him a top-five player—he just can’t travel to America a lot. I knew if I beat him, I am better than him because he doesn’t do anything to beat you really bad, he is just completely skill-based. Winning against him was really good for me because I really felt like I could win the tournament.
Then I went against [Ishiguro “Raito “Tetsuya] after [William “Glutonny” Belaid] sent him to losers and I was pretty confident because he lost versus Glutonny so he was stressed and I had just won a set. So I thought it was going to be easy and he started making a lot of mistakes and I played really patient and clutched it out.
Versus [Ezra “Samsora” Morris], I really thought he was going to beat me. Like, he never beats me but I thought he was literally going to beat me in this tournament, a tournament that I really wanted to win. But I am so happy that didn’t happen.
Against Glutonny, I always practice with him, he is like my best friend and he was at my house last week to practice so we really wanted to do the grand finals between us. He was about to beat Tweek, he was only one hit away and I got sad because I really wanted to play my friend in grand finals. But when he was sent to losers I know him really well and he knows me really well too, [so] that it could have gone in any way.
How do you feel after winning this tournament? Like you said, you wanted to win it so badly.
It feels like a dream. I just can’t believe it. I mean, I was sent to losers and was about to lose during nearly every single set. I was down 2-0 versus Tweek and he was even beating me the third game, the fourth game, and then I just won. I just started playing really well, I don’t know what happened. I just won the tournament, It just happened.
Smash Con is next for you. Are there any adjustments you are going to make or are you just going to roll off the high from this into that?
I am just going to study my sets. Kameme is not going so that is good and I will be staying in winners and I am going to try to win. I am going to try and prove to myself that I am indeed the best—that this wasn’t just luck.
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