3:35 PM ET
Arda OcalESPN Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez, Smash Ultimate’s most successful competitor joined T1.
This came after months of speculation on MkLeo’s organizational future, after the dissolution of Echo Fox in 2019.
“Sonic Fox and me were the last two players [still] under that banner,” MkLeo told ESPN in an interview on Twitch. “I thought it was time to get another [organization]. To move forward. Of course, Echo Fox did a lot for me and super thankful to them, but I think it’s time for MKLeo’s story, Part 2.”
Part 2 means two of the biggest names in esports will be playing under the same banner.
“T1 has always been one of the greatest teams — for me, the greatest,” admitted Leo. “They really wanted me to be on the team. And I really wanted to be with them. Who doesn’t want to be teammates with [Lee] “Faker” [Sang-hyeok]?”
MkLeo confirmed that he and Faker are going to create content together. T1 is helping organize a trip for him to South Korea, where he will create content with T1 players, including Faker.
“Maybe I teach him how to play Smash, maybe he teaches me how to play League of Legends. I’ve only played the game once, so don’t expect much,” MkLeo joked.
The decision to join T1 wasn’t a sure thing. MKLeo had been speaking with organizations for several months, while determining his next move.
“It [started] in October last year,” MkLeo said. “I woke up to all the news [surrounding Echo Fox], and I was getting messages from different people from different [orgs] … I didn’t even know what was happening because I just woke up. Then I saw the news and I knew it was time to start conversations.”
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The No. 1-ranked Smash Ultimate player said he spoke to many organizations and even came close to considering other offers, but Jason “ANTi” Bates, his friend and fellow Ultimate player who had previously signed with T1, helped him with the decision.
MkLeo plans to focus more on content creation and streaming as a result of this deal, but he said this doesn’t mean that he will let the competitive side of things fall. Though he admits Smash Ultimate feels more like a job these days, the passion is still there to compete and win. Leo is aiming to attend two events per month, including all the top-tier events, so fans can look forward to seeing MkLeo attempt to defend his Evolution Championship Series crown. He won Smash Ultimate, the main event at Evo 2019.
So far this year, MkLeo placed second at Genesis 7, losing to Tyler “Marss” Martins in the grand final, then won Frostbite, where he embarked on one of the greatest runs in esports tournament history. After getting knocked into the losers bracket early in the tournament, the No. 1-ranked Smash Ultimate player won multiple rounds against other top-ranked opponents, including six of the top 10 ranked Ultimate players in the Panda Global Rankings.
MkLeo has become known for staying calm under pressure, for making runs through the losers bracket to come back and win tournaments, but he admits feeling a little pressure this time. His motivation?
“I felt pressure at Frostbite, thinking, ‘What if I lose? What if I get like 65th or 49th?’ So I [felt the] pressure. I was trying my best. [T1] are probably watching this.”