Three takeaways from Mainstage 2021 Smash Ultimate Singles
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The Ontario Convention Center in southern California was full of GOATs on Nov. 14. Project M legend Xayya “ThundeRzReiGN” Thammavongsa claimed his first major Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl victory. Joseph “Mang0” Marquez dropped by, not to compete, but to commentate Melee top eight.

However, one stood out from among the rest — not by surprising anyone but by continuing to do what everyone expects. And that GOAT was Leonardo “MkLeo” López Pérez, who won in an all too familiar ending for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans.

Here’s an overview of MkLeo’s latest tournament victory and other takeaways from Ultimate Singles at Mainstage 2021.

MkLeo is an unstoppable force

Much of the Mainstage 2021 Ultimate bracket was business as usual for MkLeo. He swept Kiyarash “Kiyarash” Younessi, Bryan “Uncivil ninja” Blodgett and Bharat “Lima” Chintapall to reach top 32. There, Brian “Cosmos” Kalu seemed to find a crack in MkLeo’s armor, pushing him all the way to Game 5, but failing to close out the set.

However, it seems the crack in the armor may have just been made by Cosmos’ aggressive Pyra and Mythra duo, as MkLeo’s subsequent opponents didn’t give him much trouble. He beat Luis “Lui$” Oceguera 3-0, Takuma “Tea” Hirooka 3-1 and Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick 3-1. As he waited in grand finals, MkLeo seemed nearly indomitable. Then, another Pyra and Mythra player crossed his path.

Grand finals of Mainstage was a rematch of the Mexican grand finals from Port Priority 6, pitting MkLeo against Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez. Sparg0 got off to a strong start, winning the first set 3-1 in his first ever offline victory over MkLeo. In fact, Sparg0 seemed poised to close out the set and the tournament, holding a comfortable percentage lead going into his final stock of Game 5.

But, MkLeo could never allow that. He quickly hit Sparg0 offstage and went for an aggressive down-air spike. It missed, but Sparg0 seemed shaken afterward. MkLeo returned to the stage and comboed Sparg0 to the other ledge, this time hitting him out of his double jump and connecting the down-air that earned him his third consecutive tournament victory.

MkLeo briefly popped off after beating Sparg0, a rare sign of emotion from an otherwise reserved player. Sparg0 had undoubtedly pushed him harder than any other opponent he faced at Mainstage. Nevertheless, MkLeo has proven yet again to have the composure necessary to make the comebacks that only champions can make.

Sparg0 pulls off one of Ultimate’s most impressive losers runs at Mainstage 2021

Day 2 of Mainstage 2021 was not good for Ultimate’s No. 2 seed, Sparg0. He barely managed to defeat Griffin “Fatality” Miller 3-2, then suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of one of his Mexican compatriots, Santiago “Chag” Perez. From there, he barely qualified for top 16, winning another five-game set against Armando “AC” Castaneda Villalobos.

On Day 3, however, Sparg0 ran through many of the best Ultimate players in the world as though it was an easy task. Throughout top 16, none of his opponents pushed him to Game 5 until grand finals. Sparg0 eliminated Eric “ESAM” Lew 3-1 and Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan 3-0.

Then, he faced Paris “Light” Ramirez, who had double-eliminated him to win Super Smash Con: Fall Fest. Not only did Sparg0 score his first win over Light, but he did so with a commanding 3-0. Afterward, he earned a 3-1 victory over the player who had sent him to the losers bracket in the first place, Chag.

Sparg0 finished his exceptional losers run by beating Tea 3-0, Elegant 3-1 and MkLeo 3-1. During his run, he seamlessly alternated between his Cloud and his Pyra and Mythra, showcasing his mastery of both characters. While a major victory still eludes him for now, Sparg0 is well on his way to becoming one of Ultimate’s most fearsome competitors.

Elegant’s results just keep getting better

At Riptide, Elegant made a deep run to fourth place, helped in part by a series of upsets that gave him a relatively easy bracket. At Low Tide City, he showed that Riptide was no fluke, placing fourth again amid a much harder bracket. Following his back-to-back 17th-place finishes at Super Smash Con and Port Priority, Elegant came into Mainstage 2021 looking to prove that his best performances in Ultimate are still ahead of him.

After a flawless run through the likes of Rich Brown, Taylor “Lemmon” Webb and “Jake,” Elegant faced the Smash Con champion, Light, in top 32. He kept his flawless streak alive, sweeping Light in his first upset of the tournament. In winners quarters, Elegant faced Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, who has become a sort of rival for him, as the two have traded sets back and forth. Elegant came out on top this time, winning 3-2 to advance into top eight on winners side.

In winners semis, Elegant fought Chag, who had made it that far by scoring his own upsets over Sparg0 and William “Glutonny” Belaid. Though they both earned big wins to get there, they were not evenly-matched; Elegant earned yet another 3-0 win to advance into winners finals. While he lost to MkLeo and Sparg0, even trying out Sora against the former, it’s a promising sign for Elegant that only the top two players at the tournament could stop him. The Luigi superstar will keep pushing for the top one tricep curl at a time.

Looking ahead

The following players qualified for Smash Ultimate Summit 4 by finishing in the top six at Mainstage 2021:

  • MkLeo
  • Sparg0
  • Elegant
  • Tea
  • Tweek
  • Chag

Smash Ultimate Summit 4 is currently scheduled to take place from March 3-6, 2022.

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.