E3: ZeRo takes home Smash Ultimate title

Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios may be retired, but he's still got it. Robert Paul

LOS ANGELES -- At E3's 2018 Super Smash Bros. Invitational, which featured Nintendo's new game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, reigning 2014 champion Team SoloMid's Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios took home the title yet again after an intense bracket reset against Echo Fox's Leonardo "MKLeo" Perez.

"It feels amazing man. My goal was to come, to win, to have fun -- and I did both, which was amazing," ZeRo said. "I got the scarf out, dude. I got the trophy. I got to hang out with my homies. I had amazing week here at E3."

The double-elimination tournament was structured differently from standard Smash events, as players picked a roster of three characters and were forced to rotate those characters in and out. This allowed fans to see the full breadth of the new game.

ZeRo opted to go for Mario in the grand finals as MKLeo picked Sonic the Hedgehog. It was a slower match, as both characters looked for combo setups as opposed to rushing down their opponents. But it was an intense set, with ZeRo narrowly winning it out.

"I think winning this invitational will give me that relevancy, that boost that I think I need to succeed in the next few years," ZeRo said. "I'm really thankful for that. I played really good all weekend."

This is a new game, and in the VIP room, all the top players were sharing their opinions about this new iteration of Smash. The general vibe was positive, but Melee players in particular felt more could be done to improve the game's movement options.

"The game is pretty similar to Smash 4. I wouldn't call it a port, but it has a lot of similarities," Immortals' Jason "Anti" Bates said. "I believe Melee players won't have the same success as Smash 4 players will because it's kind of similar to Smash 4."

Players felt that the game played well overall, but there were some odd quirks in terms of knockback and which moves would actually send their opponent flying.

"It just seems like it was Smash 4.5, which isn't a bad thing, but I'm glad they said it wasn't the final version, so they can make a few tweaks," Cloud9's Joseph "Mang0" Marquez said. "I feel that shield is way too good. I feel the game awards really defensive play. It seems the neutral was run-up, shield and grab. And that got repetitive."

As of now, Melee players will dabble, but do not see themselves switching away from Melee given Ultimate's current state.

With the reintroduction of directional air-dodge, players wondered why not go all the way and implement wavedashing?

"Like, the game is great, but adding wavedashing into it would probably make it even better, gameplay wise," ZeRo said. "They literally added directional air-dodges into the game, so all they need to do is make the transition from ground to wavedash a little better. If they give the game wavedash, that game is going to be flames."

With ZeRo now the two-time reigning invitational champion, it proves that even in retirement, he's a dominant force that all players should fear. And while he had frustrations with Smash 4, he does feel that Ultimate has the potential to be an incredible game. As for his plans to come out of retirement -- it's still up in the air.

"We're gonna put it this way. I'm still retired, but if the money is good -- let's say I get some really good personal opportunities; you know how it is, we gotta eat -- it might happen in that regard. But I really enjoy streaming. I think quitting on this W is badass too. I'll leave it to the fans, I'll leave it to faith. We'll see how it goes."