Why MKLeo Mains Joker, And How That Led Him To Victory

MKLeo is essentially the consensus pick for best Smash Ultimate player in the world right now. While Leo has been known for successes with a variety of characters throughout his Smash career, his current main is Persona 5’s Joker, who he began picking in tournaments in May, less than a month after the character’s April 2019 DLC release. The Smash community’s opinion of Joker has fluctuated since his addition to the game, with some obligatory accusations of being OP early on, before much of the community settled on him being a high-to-top tier character. Though he has been acknowledged as a viable tournament pick, whether due to his relative newness or simply differences in playstyle, Leo remains the only top level player to exclusively pick Joker, who he has mained continuously since he began learning him.

MKLeo At EVO 2019

Most recently, MKLeo’s Joker play earned him a first place victory at EVO 2019, the biggest Smash tournament in history. Not only was Leo’s tournament performance a masterclass in top-level Smash, but a comeback of the highest order. MKLeo was shockingly eliminated from the winner’s bracket in the first round of the 32-player semifinals, but surprising no one, managed to stay afloat in the loser’s bracket until the tournament’s final round. Slightly more surprising was his turnaround from a 2 stock deficit in a game that would have lost him the tournament to winning the whole thing.

Why Joker Fits MKLeo's Playstyle

Joker is a natural fit for MKLeo for a couple of primary reasons. One of MKLeo’s biggest assets is his ability to read his opponents and exploit weaknesses in their specific playstyles, and Joker is a fast character, well suited to quickly turning around Leo’s reads into punishes and combos. While quicker attacks correlate to lower damage, Joker’s speed makes it easy to poke and engage, and Leo knows how to aggressively pressure his opponent. These lower damage attacks add up fast.

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Additionally, Leo plays composed, which is a major asset in competitive gaming. When Tweek began dropping games to Leo in the EVO finals, he seemed unable to reverse the momentum that had shifted in Leo’s favor. By contrast, Leo has the uncanny ability to play like every stock is his first stock, past results notwithstanding. Joker is maybe the best pick in the game for a player with such a high turnaround capability for a one major reason: Arsene. When Joker’s persona is unleashed, his attacks are powered up immensely, and Leo’s confident composure allows him to take full advantage of this power spike every time it comes into play, even if he’s down in stocks.

MKLeo is also a beast and could probably make a winner out any character with which he put in the time, so the fact that Leo likes Joker and decided to main him well before the character’s release counts for something as well. That said, Leo’s Joker is the current gold standard, and it’s hard to see that changing. Even if he becomes Ultimate’s Fox, Leo’s Joker will likely always remain the Joker to beat.

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