MkLeo, Hungrybox triumph at Genesis 6

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Shortly after midnight Sunday, Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez defeated James "VoiD" Makekau-Tyson in two closely contested grand final sets to capture the first Super Smash Bros. Ultimate super-major title at Genesis 6.

Two weeks ago, MkLeo voiced his discontent on Twitter after a fourth-place finish at Glitch 6.

"I'm glad this happened here and not Genesis," wrote the Mexican prodigy.

Using a combination of Ike and Lucina, MkLeo made a triumphant return over the weekend, winning his third consecutive Genesis victory after a loser's run in which he counted Ezra "Samsora" Morris, Samuel "Dabuz" Buzby and Paris "Light" Ramirez among his victims.

After coming within striking distance of a major victory, VoiD's second-place finish might have lost some of its luster, but the Pichu main's victories over Samsora and Zackray made it clear that he's ready to shed the "fourth-place curse" that dogged him during the early days of his Smash 4 career.

The character diversity of Genesis' finals showed that Smash Ultimate's metagame allows players to succeed using a wide range of playstyles; Samsora's high-damage, combo-heavy Peach play carried him to a third-place finish, while in contrast, Dabuz utilized a zoning style with Olimar to great effect during his run to the losers semis.

Although Light and top Japanese Wolf player Zackray fell short at fifth place, their prowess with Fox and Wolf indicate that Ultimate's "space animals" remain just as viable as their Melee counterparts.

Competing in the United States for the first time, Zackray expressed a humble lack of confidence during his pre-finals interview, but his play reflected a very different reality. The 15-year-old Japanese player lost only one tournament game before the winners semifinals.

The final participants in the top eight of Genesis' Smash Ultimate bracket were Panda Global teammates Eric "ESAM" Lew and Brian "Cosmos" Kalu, who tied for seventh place at the 2,105-entrant tournament.

The event's Melee bracket ended with a much-desired Genesis win for Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma, whose victory further cemented his dominant status in the Melee metagame. Last week, the Team Liquid member earned the No. 1 spot on the Melee Panda Global Rankings for the second consecutive year.

In the absence of challengers such as William "Leffen" Hjelte and Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett, who both eschewed Melee in favor of Smash Ultimate at Genesis, Hungrybox's victory Sunday night was not a surprising result. But despite these favorable odds, the Jigglypuff main had to withstand Game 5 last-stock situations against both Jeffrey "Axe" Williamson and Justin "Plup" McGrath before he could lift his Genesis trophy.

Axe, who made it to the grand finals after a marathon loser's run that included victories over Plup, aMSa, and Zain "Zain" Naghmi, wasn't the only low-tier hero to go off at Genesis 6. Fresh off of a recently announced Red Bull sponsorship, the Japanese Yoshi Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto scored an emphatic 3-0 victory over Joseph "Mang0" Marquez in the losers quarterfinals before falling to Axe for a fourth-place finish.

Mang0 was forced to embark on a marathon loser's run after a stunning pools upset at the hands of top Louisiana player Magi. The surprise loss may have lit a fire under the Cloud9 member, who has split his attention between Melee and Smash Ultimate over the past month.

"Desperately trying to figure it out," tweeted Mang0 after his elimination from the tournament.

Alongside Mang0, Melee finals at the Bay Area event featured two more Californians: hometown hero Kevin "PewPewU" Toy, who tied with Mang0 for fifth place, and Johnny "S2J" Kim. Matching S2J in seventh was Avery "Ginger" Wilson, whose run to his freshman major top-eight finish included wins over Eduardo "Eddy Mexico" Rincon and Steven "FatGoku" Callopy.

Though Leffen's choice to drop out of Genesis' Melee bracket disappointed some fans, his gambit paid off: The Swede placed higher than any other Melee player in Smash Ultimate, defeating Chris "WaDi" Boston and other established Ultimate players before achieving a respectable 17th place at his first Ultimate major. Leffen's success in Ultimate along with the considerable viewership boost that Melee received thanks to its pre-Ultimate time slot are continued evidence that Ultimate's release may bring together the two disparate factions of the competitive Smash scene.