When Leonardo “Mkleo” Lopez won Genesis 6 back in January, he strengthened his position at the top of the game in its earliest stages. And although he won that tournament definitively, the game being in its infancy promoted the question of whether or not he would continue to play at such high a level throughout all of 2019.
Spoiler alert: he did.
This year, Mkleo won 15 notable Smash Ultimate tournaments altogether, solidifying himself as the best player in the game’s professional scene in the process. Of the 20 major events he entered this year, he failed to reach the top 8 in only one (Umebura), while reaching Grand Finals in 15 of them. If performing at the highest level is impressive, then whatever Mkleo is doing is downright unbelievable.
This weekend at Kongo Saga, Leo once again claimed first place at a major, closing the year exactly how he started it – on top.
And while there were definitely moments of doubt earlier in the year, especially after he failed to reach the top 3 at four consecutive majors, Mkleo silenced any and all doubters by bouncing back in a manner that only the greatest players in the world could.
After a lackluster 4th place finish at Get On My Level, Mkleo’s back was against the wall and the top spot on the PGR was certainly in question – especially after contenders like Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Tyler “Marss” Martins had racked up some big wins. However, after the event, Mkleo would make sure that no more tournaments would slip through his fingers. And even now, 7 months after that quick burst of relatively underwhelming performances, the best player in the world is unrelenting.
Immediately after GOML, Mkleo turned around the very next week and won Momocon in emphatic fashion. From there, his month of June consisted of big wins at Smash ‘N’ Splash and CEO, allowing him to definitively end Ultimate’s first PGR season on top – and no one was left to question him.
But even after showcasing resilience in the highest manner, Mkleo didn’t stop in the slightest. He kicked off the game’s second season with a massive win at EVO, following it up just a week later with another win at Super Smash Con. After being knocked down a peg by Ezra “Samsora” Morris at Shine, Leo would make sure that 2nd place would be the lowest finish he would receive all season. In fact, Shine was the only tournament outside of Mainstage this season that Leo didn’t win outright.
What’s even more impressive, perhaps, is the winning streak that Mkleo has curated throughout this era of dominance. If anything, consistent performances over the course of the past few months have cemented his place as the best player of the modern era of the game by a wide margin. Dating back to Momocon, Mkleo has reached Grand Finals in 13 consecutive major tournaments. Of those 13, he’s won 10.
The run of dominance that he’s been on has not only been impressive in the sense of statistics and raw winningness, but the longevity of his greatness is what makes Leo’s run at the top genuinely extraordinary. It’s this combination of resilience, dominance, and endurance that’s made Mkleo the best Smash Ultimate player in the world, and it’s not out of the question to presume that he’ll be just as good in the near future. And if Mkleo is able to continue to play at this level throughout 2020, he could very well just outdo his incredible 2019.
Photo Credit: EVO, 2GGaming