World’s Best Smash 4 Player Is Worn Down By Haters And Harassment

October 20, 2017 - Super Smash Bros

For 13 minutes, Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios’ face hardly moved. It was a Grand Finals compare of a Super Smash Bros. Wii U tournament, and Barrios, a best Smash actor in a world, was squaring off opposite a challenging opponent. A few feet away, Barrios’ bodyguard kept a surveillance for a male who’d threatened to be there, in wait, with a gun directed during a champion gamer.

Santa Ana’s Esports Arena glowed blue everywhere solely for where Barrios and his opponent, Larry “Lurr” Holland, sat opposite on a stage. With usually one life remaining, Lurr miscalculated his operation on an attack, giving Barrios an eventuality to flog him into high heaven. Barrios stood up, pumped his fist and exhaled. He’d warranted himself a plush $2,720 for a day’s work. He had also not been shot. The bodyguard followed him as he left a stage.


A few days before to a September, 2016 tournament, Barrios had review an Instagram criticism that shook him. The unknown commenter threatened to go to a Santa Ana esports locus with a gun and put a bullet by Barrios, who was recently crowned a tip Smash Wii U player. Barrios didn’t take a criticism lightly. Tournaments for Smash 4, as a diversion is familiarly known, generally offer tiny security. Even after employing a private bodyguard whose son was a fan, he was worried.


“Imagine how easy this is,” Barrios told me over a phone. “Somebody walks in between all a hype and entertaining while I’m playing. I’m sitting there. I’m not moving. I’m not even looking. we can’t evasion it. And afterwards they run away,” he said.

Earlier that day, a hostile Smash 4 player followed him around a hours-long event, demanding that Barrios play opposite him in an unpretentious income match. Barrios declined. The immature male rebutted, loudly, job him a rascal until a pro conceded. Throughout a tournament, on tip of worrying about a Instagram genocide threat, Barrios suffered by a player’s determined heckling. It’s something he’s gotten utterly used to over a years.

Gonzalo Barrios during Genesis 4 by Robert Paul

Barrios’ achievements in a universe of Smash 4 are unimpeachable: He won 56 uninterrupted Smash tournaments in 2014 and 2015, including EVO’s. Now, he’s still deliberate a tip player, still grabbing initial place in chunks of 5 or so tournaments. Other players are totalled by how many sets they’ve taken off a pro. On a heels of any unbroken victory, haters bite. Barrios’ 4 years climbing rungs in a Smash 4 rankings has amounted to a life dark by harassment. Week after week, Barrios, creatively from Chile yet now formed in Chicago, creates a vital competing during a diversion whose American fans, a lot of a time, wish he loses—loudly and with malice. And in between any open appearance, his amicable media is an open channel for strangers’ insults.


“A lot of people hatred me since I’m a best player,” Barrios said. “Nobody wants to be a bad male any singular weekend. Maybe we can be that male for a year or two, yet when you’ve been doing it for 4 years, it takes a fee on you.”

“Is it value it to go by these disastrous emotions for 3 days [of a tournament], win a money, come behind home and see some-more of it? Is it unequivocally value it for your soul? Does it make we feel complete? Is this something we wish to do for a rest of your life? People go to these things to have fun, to relax. But they’re not out there with their necks [out] like we am.”

Gonzalo Barrios can hardly remember a life yet bullying. Back in Chile, schoolmates would conflict him when teachers weren’t looking, violation his eyeglasses and hurling insults. The stress of it, total with his family’s financial problems, led him to dump out of a propagandize complement for 3 years. He connected with a universe outward Chile by a Nintendo GameCube that his mom picked adult during a mall as an “early Christmas gift” in a month of May.

He’d hole adult in his bedroom, speedrunning Super Mario Sunshine and restarting a diversion whenever he erred, early signs of a perfectionist. He’d whet his budding Super Smash Bros. skills opposite his comparison sister in Super Smash Bros. Melee, a 2001 incarnation of a game. When Barrios finally returned to school, he was forced to go by a module for students with problems— “what people easily in a nation call ‘the dumbass path,’” he said. Outside of games, his destiny looked bleak.

Barrios’ mom accompanied him to his initial internal contest when he was a immature teenager. After nearing during a venue, he was too ashamed to enter a contest with his mom there, that he conspicuous he looks behind on with regret—“Now I’m like, we was blank out!” But he shortly became active in a Chilean scene, amounting some turn of inclination in, and shortly poise at, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and later, 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It became his life.

In 2013, when he was 18, Barrios presented his mom with a proposition: “Let me go to a U.S. for a year,” he suggested. “If we can make something occur with Smash, I’ll continue to do it. If zero happens, I’ll quit and come back, maybe go to college.” Barrios left Chile to live with a Smash buddy in Philadelphia, figure out a home in a family’s groundwork in sell for $50 a month. One or dual tournaments’ value of rob would supply him with some emergence of a life in a States on a shoestring budget.



“I didn’t have a income to fly,” Barrios said. “If we had to take a Megabus to go to New York for a internal tournament, to Boston, I’d do that; to Utah, I’d do that, too. 12 hours to go somewhere, wait another few hours there, take a 12-hour train to somewhere else.” Without phone or internet, Barrios would imitation out maps during internal libraries or siphon wi-fi during a internal McDonald’s, creation seat-of-his-pants skeleton with strangers who, hopefully, would collect him adult on time. During downtime, he’d investigate recordings of tip players, copy out what he calls “fight sheets” inventory their skills and weaknesses.

The bid paid off. His studied, methodical, and “robotic” playstyle, as it’s mostly called, tightened so many that opponents struggled to take advantage of what few openings he gave them. He strove for an proceed he calls “optimal.” In 2014, Barrios attended a one-day contest in Denver, Colorado. On a register was roughly a whole series: a initial Super Smash Bros. for a Nintendo 64, Melee, Brawl, and even a fan-made Smash Bros. mod Project M, with events in singles and doubles. It was 24 hours of competing, and by a end, he felt tighten to dead. He walked out with $2,000.


“I kick everybody during any diversion there,” Barrios said. “That’s when we was like, ‘You know, I’m flattering good during this.’”

What helped him improve, he said, was that he was personification Smash usually to survive. To his associate players, losing a contest competence have been a bummer, yet to him, it meant not being means to make rent, or skipping meals, or not even carrying train transport behind to Philadelphia. That turn of critical gave him a rival edge, yet also done him unlikable and uncharismatic, as he tells it.


And when people told him, Chill out, it’s usually a game? He’d respond: “Say we die if we remove rock, paper, scissors. Is it a diversion anymore?”

Barrios says he never captivated a fandom, notwithstanding his uproar opposite U.S. tournaments. He total that locals were flattering peeved to see some general actor parachute into their scene, improved their heroes and make off with a loot. Worse, Barrios’ complicated playstyle and top-tier warrior pick—Diddy Kong—came off as waste and unbending compared to others’ some-more risk-taking techniques. Skepticism and disregard devolved into straight-up misrepresentation late in 2014 during a contest that done Barrios, simultaneously, a knave and a beginning God of Smash 4. At 2014’s E3, games celebrity Geoff Keighley hosted an invitational contest to commemorate a recover of Smash 4. Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime would endowment a leader with a trophy. 3,000 fans watched in-person. Later, Barrios would say that, if a contest didn’t go his way, he would have followed another career entirely.


Nintendo dressed a eventuality adult in distant some-more glitz and glorious than a common scrappy, fan-run Smash tournament. Super Smash Bros. Melee champion Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma and Barrios paraded by a throng in shiny, blue robes as Smash 4’s thesis song resounded. Barrios done his proceed down his aisle while Debiedma took his time hugging fans, holding cinema and jolt hands. “You’re prepared to get into it,” Keighley commented to Barrios, and gesturing toward Debiedma, said, “He’s unequivocally milking it.” When asked who a throng suspicion would take home a trophy, a name “Zero” elicited tiny acclaim and louder boos.

Smash 4 invitational

When a finals compare began, Barrios’ Zero Suit Samus and Debiedma’s Kirby were kinetic opponents, aggressively posterior any other and changeable opposite a stage. As a compare went on, a movement wound down: Barrios would dawdle in one place, watchful for Kirby to proceed before attacking, a plan derisively referred to as “camping.” With any actor carrying usually one life left, Barrios played hyper-defensively, dodging and skipping around a stage. At 30 seconds left, Barrios was still hopping. He intentionally ran out a time to put a players into a Sudden Death mode, in that a initial strike wins it all. Zero Suit Samus’ higher operation won Barrios a victory. It was widely deliberate outrageous.



“Disgraceful win, man,” review one tweet. “Running out a time was unequivocally cheesy.”

“Way to camp, buddy,” review another. And, another: “Had to run to win, huh? Tsk tsk.” And these were a milder ones. “Fuck we camping bitch,” “Fuck we ham universe what a inexpensive proceed to win,” and “Was vehement to watch a tourney, yet afterwards some fat fuck in a happy donkey headband walks adult and gives me cancer,” were a few other other responses to Barrios’ victory.

Most of a disastrous feedback was in English; unapproachable tweets in Spanish flooded Barrios’ feed: “Wow, we was tender by your opening as Zero Suit Samus,” review one. “Your mobility was amazing.” “Congratulations on your victory, Chilean pride!” review another.


Barrios has a saying: It’s tough to win once, yet staying a champion is backbreaking. At one indicate during that 56-tournament winning streak, a contest organizer even put a $250 annuity on his head, that was pursued by inspired challengers. It didn’t take prolonged before his calumny was met with widespread ridicule: his weight, his garments and his playstyle were on a chopping retard any day on Smash forums, groups and Twitter. His coherence murderous fans who wanted to see some-more accumulation in a Winner’s bracket, or, during least, a actor they deliberate some-more fun than a male who won a Invitational by camping. They argued, since base for this male if fans will usually see some-more of a same after he wins? Twitter accounts dedicated to badgering Barrios cropped up.

Zero during The Big House 5, 2015

At a contest in 2015, a year he was sealed onto Team SoloMid, Barrios met an anime-loving Smash 4 player who goes by Banessa. After visit talking over Facebook, and later, on a phone, they motionless to date. Banessa, who was 17, was not prepared for Barrios’ haters’ feedback on their newly-minted relationship. “They would contend I’m a whore, a gold-digger,” Banessa told me. Every day, she remembered receiving pointless spurts of hatred online. At tournaments, she’d watch on as viewers screeched during Barrios via critical matches, intending to plod adult his bulletproof focus. “It put me in a low basin for dual years,” Banessa said.



All told, Barrios estimates he’s perceived 10 genocide threats. Many times a week, insults cropped adult on a Smash Facebook organisation Melee Hell. At tournaments, a hatred was reduction pronounced. What influenced Barrios a many often, though, was not expressions of hatred yet a deficiency of love. At 2015’s APEX, a throng booed after Barrios won—in part, Kotaku editor Patricia Hernandez reported, since they wanted a contest to pierce on to Melee. 2016’s ZeRo Saga, a contest named after Barrios, was straight-up joyless for a Smash pro. At one of a tournament’s side events, Barrios challenged 5 players who had degraded him over a years to rematches—an eventuality that, in wrestling, for example, would hum with hype. He’d spent a month training additional tough because, if he mislaid to even one challenger he flew out, he knew he’d be ridiculed. As Barrios tells it, he degraded all of them. But nobody clapped. The assembly usually murmured.

Marss defeating Zero during Big House 7, by VG

Barrios admits he’s conspicuous some oppressive things, had some clever opinions, that competence means people to bristle during him. He’s criticized a Smash fighters like Lucario for being stupid. He’s had beef with other pros, some of that fizzled out and some of that still browns softly. After Barrios urged Captain Falcon players to step adult their diversion during tournaments, one of them called Barrios “exceedingly lame” and “the kind of male we would be broke to be held in open with.” The dual done up. Earlier, after another pro called Barrios a “fraudulent best player,” Barrios had some slicing difference for him: “You’re a many irritating chairman we know in this community. Stop piggybacking off of my name videos to stay relevant. Done with you.” They, it seems, have not done up. There are accounts of Barrios being bold to fans, some of that he denies. Barrios says he’s conspicuous a handful of “really dumb” things on Twitter and, often, his haters will retweet them during random.

Last week, Barrios got knocked out of a contest by dual unsigned players who kick him 3-0. While he, as a rule, refuses to assume on either his mood influenced his gameplay, Barrios certified that he was vexed via a tournament. While he was in a bathroom, someone came in and incited a lights off, withdrawal him in a darkness. It seemed like a assembly was usually full of haters, even those he had once deliberate friends. Overall, he didn’t feel welcome. He says he felt some-more like a punching bag than a person.



He followed adult with some flattering dull tweets. “Everybody wants to take my mark as a #1 player, yet they don’t know what it feels like to lay on an dull throne,” he wrote. “Kids grin during a universe and are extraordinary to learn and live, and when they grow up, they infrequently turn sour adults who can’t suffer a things they once did,” he said. The subsequent week, Barrios skipped a contest FE Saga. He was tired.

Today, Barrios is looking to find balance. He’s not happy. “I have a opinion that life is unfair. You could be a many well-meaning chairman and travel outward your residence and get run over by a car. Nobody deserves anything. You can work to acquire many pleasing things and never grasp then. I’ve had people in my life who were amazing, improved tellurian beings than me, die of illnesses, of accidents,” Barrios said—referring to his sister, who died unexpected of a mind aneurysm in 2011, during a age of 27. “And there are awful people who zero happens to. . . things don’t have to make sense.”


In a new video with a Smash players Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Elliot “Ally” Bastien Carroza-Oyarce, Barrios is seen giggling, chasing a dual down a hotel corridor while Zimmerman hits him with a pillow. At a finish of a video, Barrios, who is holding a camera, aims a device during a counterpart and, looking during himself, smiles. It was a grin that felt totally opposite to a accordant scowl he’s famous for on stage.

“Things like this make me hatred we less,” review one respond on Twitter.

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