“I’m glad I was able to prove I’m still a contender for the best” – T1 MKLeo on Riptide victory in Smash Ultimate cover image

“I’m glad I was able to prove I’m still a contender for the best” – T1 MKLeo on Riptide victory in Smash Ultimate

T1’s MKLeo sat down with Esports.gg’s Will English IV after his Riptide Smash Ultimate victory.

Riptide just took place last weekend at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.  The event was announced two years ago after Smash and Splash 5 concluded. However, it got delayed by the pandemic, and this year event observed an attendance cap and advanced COVID-19 protocols.

Riptide was also considered the first big Smash Major since the pandemic began. T1’s Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez was one of those players in attendance. Despite his Smash Ultimate Summit 3 performance, he was able to capture first place.  He had to do so against his longtime rival TSM Tweek and Sparg0, who both made it to the Top 8 bracket.

I spoke with T1 MKLeo just after his win against TSM Tweek in the Grand Finals. He inevitably defeated Tweek in two Best of 5 sets, going 3-0 in Winners Finals and 3-1 in Grand Finals.  Here is what MKLeo had to say about his tournament experience.

Esports.gg Interviews T1 MKLeo on his recent Super Smash Brothers Ultimate victory at Riptide

Will English IV, Esports.gg Correspondent: Hello MKLeo.  Congrats again on your win in Ultimate.  I know this just happened, but how do you feel right now?

T1 Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez: I feel really, really happy!  It’s incredible! After Smash Ultimate Summit 3, I thought, yeah, probably I’m not the best anymore.  And TSM Tweek has always been my rival. I always wanted to beat Tweek, and I know he feels the same about me.  He’s an excellent rival for me. And that makes me really happy that I was able to win this time.  So I’m feeling really good right now.  Of course, after my loss at Smash Ultimate Summit 3, I’m glad I was able to come here and prove that I still have it.  That I’m still in contention to be the best.

<em>T1 MKLeo on stage for his match vs TSM Tweek. Photo: Will English IV for Esports.gg</em>
T1 MKLeo on stage for his match vs TSM Tweek. Photo: Will English IV for Esports.gg

English IV: Awesome.  Speaking of sticking around, this is probably the largest event you’ve been to this year.  Live events, tournaments are starting to come back after a long hiatus in the pandemic.  How does it feel getting back in the groove of traveling and competing in events again?

MKLeo: I’m really happy about it because people know that I was horrible at playing online! I was so bad at it. In the last tournament I played online, I did beat Sparg0.  This helped me feel really comfortable with him offline. I wasn’t terrible at playing online, but I wasn’t getting the results that I expected.  During the pandemic, I wasn’t doing much competing; I just streamed online. But the thing I LOVE to do is to play and compete in tournaments.  I like watching everyone getting hype for something we did in a match, hearing the crowd. Even if the crowd is silent, it’s still pretty cool to have that experience with one of my favorite video games.

English IV: You’re known for playing Joker, but you played most of this tournament with Byelth instead.  Are we going to see a return of Joker, or is he out of the meta right now?

T1 MKLeo: I don’t think he’s out of the meta.  He’s still like one of the best characters, possibly THE best character in the game.  But Byleth is a really good character, and some people still don’t understand that.  I’m glad that I proved that in this tournament by beating literally TSM Tweek, the player that everyone thought was unbeatable. So I’m happy about that. Joker will probably come back soon. If I had to fight Sparg0 in the bracket, I would have probably picked Joker in that matchup.  I use Byleth in the matchups that I feel wouldn’t make that much of a difference.  For example, if I was up against Mr. Game and Watch or Diddy Kong. I know those matchups are really doable with Byleth so I like playing the character that I enjoy playing the most,

I use Byleth in the matchups that wouldn't make much of a difference - T1 MK Leo discusses his tournament performance

English IV: Awesome! Well, I, for one, am rooting for the return of Joker.  Speaking of matchups, outside of TSM Tweek, was there another matchup this weekend that was difficult for you this weekend?

<em>MKLeo hits the commentary desk after his victory in Smash Ultimate. Photo: Will English IV for Esports.gg</em>
MKLeo hits the commentary desk after his victory in Smash Ultimate. Photo: Will English IV for Esports.gg

MKLeo: Epic Gabriel was challenging.  He played R.O.B. against me, and that matchup was really, really hard.  He almost beat me!  The match went to the last game, and one hit made the difference.  So he was probably the hardest opponent this weekend.  Besides TSM Tweek, Space Station Gaming’s Maister played really well against me this time.  I was really impressed. I was trying to take advantage of his mistakes during the match.  Let’s be honest; I stole a game off Maister at 30%. I think everyone was trying hard to beat me this tournament, but they really don’t know the Byleth matchup. I think that’s why people were struggling so much against me.

English IV: Fair enough! Last question, anything you’d like to say to your fans? What’s next for MKLeo?

MKLeo: First of all, Thank you all for supporting me!  I hope you guys enjoy the way that I play.  I will keep pushing the meta in Ultimate forward.  And keep playing Smash so that the game doesn’t die. Glitch will be my next tournament!