Four takeaways from Low Tide City 2021 Smash Ultimate Singles
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With 1,101 entrants, Low Tide City surpassed Riptide to become the 10th largest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament of all time. Like Riptide, and another six of the top 10 tournaments, it was won by Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez.

Here’s a breakdown of MkLeo’s victory and other takeaways from Low Tide City Smash Ultimate Singles.

MkLeo is still the best

MkLeo’s dominance throughout the history of competitive Smash Ultimate is hard to overstate. He hasn’t placed lower than second at any offline tournament since Get On My Level in May of 2019, where he placed fourth. In addition, he has only missed top eight once, at Umebura Japan Major in May of 2019 where he placed 33rd. With this in mind, MkLeo’s victory at Low Tide City’s Ultimate event was hardly surprising.

In fact, it initially seemed like he would cruise into first place without any opposition. In top 64, MkLeo swept Ronnie “Ronnichu” Knighten, Steven “Anathema” Acosta, Braden “Brr” Beeson and Enrique “Maister” Hernández Solís with all Byleth, securing a spot in winners finals without dropping a game. This led to a match against Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, against whom MkLeo had not lost a set since the release of Ultimate.

Even so, MkLeo opted to play as Joker, a character he has been using less and less frequently. But, Dabuz’s Min Min proved to be a different beast in this set. After Dabuz went up 2-1, MkLeo switched to Pyra and Mythra. Dabuz proceeded to three-stock him and win the set 3-1.

Nevertheless, in true MkLeo fashion, the trip to the losers bracket was only a minor setback. He eliminated Tyler “Marss” Martins 3-1 in losers finals, setting up for a grand finals rematch against Dabuz. MkLeo made key adaptations that Dabuz was unable to counter, including more creative uses of Joker’s Gun. In the final game, he used the Gun to snipe Dabuz’s recovery offstage, resulting in a dominant 6-0 for MkLeo between both sets of grand finals.

Dabuz is good enough

Since the release of Smash Ultimate, Dabuz has been one of the game’s most consistent top players. Besides an anomalous 49th-place finish at Super Smash Con 2019, he has never placed lower than 17th at an offline Ultimate tournament. However, his failure to reach top eight at Smash Ultimate Summit 3 and Glitch 8.5 left Dabuz questioning whether he was “good enough anymore.”

Dabuz proved his own doubts wrong with his impressive run to second place in Low Tide City Smash Ultimate Singles. He cruised through top 32, using Olimar to 3-0 both Jestise “MVD” Negron and Marss. Then, in winners semis, Dabuz’s Rosalina carried him to a 3-2 victory against Elegant. Even after getting three-stocked in Game 4, Dabuz was able to bounce back and finish off the set.

Min Min, the final character in Dabuz’s roster, got the chance to shine against MkLeo in winners finals. He defeated MkLeo for the first time and did so in convincing fashion, with a three-stock to finish the set 3-1. As a result, Dabuz became only the third person to take a set from MkLeo post-quarantine, following Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Eric “ESAM” Lew. While Dabuz performed significantly worse in grand finals, his run at Low Tide City at least showed that he’s still good enough to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world.

Elegant proves Riptide wasn’t a fluke

Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick’s fourth-place finish at Riptide seemed remarkable at first glance. Of course, he was the beneficiary of multiple other players suffering upset losses; he himself did not beat a single higher-seeded player. But, faced with a tougher bracket at Low Tide City, Elegant set out to prove that his placement in Ultimate Singles at Riptide was no fluke.

Elegant defeated “yonni” 3-2 and Brian “Cosmos” Kalu 3-1 to earn his spot in winners quarters. There, he faced Tweek, who defeated him 3-0 when they played at Riptide. This time, Elegant’s Luigi came out on top after a five-game set. With his first upset of the past two tournaments under his belt, Elegant advanced into top eight on winners side.

After losing a close set against Dabuz, Elegant played Cosmos again. And, just like their first encounter, it ended in a 3-1 defeat for Cosmos. Elegant ultimately lost his next set to Marss 3-1. Although he placed fourth yet again, Elegant earned much better wins at Low Tide City, proving that he can make it to the furthest parts of the bracket regardless of who stands in his way.

A consistent Ultimate elite solidifies at Low Tide City

Compared to Melee, top-level Smash Ultimate is notoriously inconsistent. It’s hardly uncommon for a player to reach top eight at one event and then buster out early on in top 64 at the next. Rarely does it feel like any player besides MkLeo is a shoe-in for top eight. And yet, a consistent post-quarantine elite has been forming and was solidified further at Low Tide City.

Every single player in top eight at Low Tide City also reached top eight at one of the last two Ultimate majors. Dabuz, Elegant, Alexis “Goblin” Stennett and Luis “Lui$” Oceguera made top eight at Riptide. Meanwhile, Marss and Cosmos made top eight at Glitch 8.5. In addition, Mexico’s stars proved most consistent of all, as MkLeo and Maister made top eight at both Riptide and Glitch.

Of course, even some of Ultimate’s best players are bound to underperform from time to time. Despite reaching grand finals at every other post-quarantine tournament he entered, Tweek placed ninth at Low Tide City after losing to Goblin, against whom he now has an 0-3 lifetime record. Nevertheless, it’s becoming more and more apparent who the current best Ultimate players in North America are.

Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.