Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios is not the juggernaut he once was. His grasp of the Smash 4 scene loosened following a string of second place finishes and a tie for ninth at CEO. Tied with ZeRo at CEO was one of Smash 4’s rising stars: James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson. VoiD made his Counter Logic Gaming debut at Apex 2016, earning a tight second place finish against Sam “Dabuz” Buzby.
From Apex 2015 to Apex 2016, VoiD evolved from a relative outsider — earning a 33rd place finish — to a top competitor with a big-time organization at his back.
“It’s great (playing for CLG),” VoiD told Slingshot. “I’ve been talking with them for a while now. Of course I’ve been getting like, “I really want to be on CLG,” but there was no rush. I knew to just take my time and prove it as a player. It’ll come when it does. I’m really glad I got second, having close sets with Dabuz, especially, as my first tournament with CLG.”
VoiD is the latest smasher to join CLG’s multi-game esports organization, which has premier North American teams in League of Legends, Halo and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. CLG has embraced the Melee and Smash 4 scenes by adding Kevin “PewPewU” Toy, Zac “SFAT” Cordoni and Tyrell “NAKAT” Coleman to its ranks.
With a shiny new CLG sweatshirt, VoiD paired with Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in Apex’s doubles competition. Despite early struggles, the unlikely duo climbed their way to the deciding game of Grand Finals.
“At first, we didn’t really have much synergy,” he said. “As the tournament went on, we started playing a lot better together. We ended up securing second. I was really surprised. There’s a lot of pros and a lot of cons. He is human. Of course there’s strengths and weaknesses, but overall, he’s a great player. Even in this game, he’s really good.”
Well beyond schedule and in front of a handful of stragglers, VoiD and Mew2King fell to the Japanese duo of Yuta “Nietono” Uejima and Shimizu “Umeki” Masaki.
The Japanese players paired Diddy Kong and Peach, a composition VoiD believed is highly underrated.
“I think Peach is really good in doubles,” VoiD said. “She has a lot of kill power and she’s really slippery. I was afraid to fight Umeki, in general. I knew I had to go Sheik and I knew Nietono would be really good at fighting Sheik. And Umeki is really good at fighting Sheik. Overall, I was like, ‘Uh, this is so terrifying.’ We got it to set two, game five so I was happy about that.”
Doubles prepared VoiD for a grueling tournament. His partner, Mew2King, devoted most of his practice time to Smash 4 at Apex. Dabuz, Mew2King, Nietono, Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Tyler “Marss” Martins built VoiD’s CLG debut a tough proposition against such a stacked field.
Amidst a sea of “VoiD’s our boy!” chants, he made it grand finals against Dabuz and his pesky Rosalina & Luma. The crowd had his back, but VoiD was unsure of the matchup to push.
“I’ve been practicing my secondaries a lot. It’s more so trying to find a comfort place,” he said. “Finding something I have confidence in. Set 1, I lost with Sheik, but then Fox and Mewtwo I had really close games. I was like, “Wow!” Just from that, I knew that I had it in me to beat Dabuz.”
Dabuz bounced back in the Grand Finals set and dispatched of VoiD’s Fox and Mewtwo.
VoiD spent several minutes contemplating what to play against Dabuz’s Rosalina. Chants for Roy, Cloud and Meta Knight earned each a hover.
“I was considering all of them,” VoiD said. “Roy, I couldn’t think of a good stage. I would consider Roy against Rosa, but I’m sure Dabuz is really good at gimping Roy, so that would ruin the whole matchup. I have been practicing Cloud and it would be a pretty good pocket pick, but Dabuz played really good against Tweek last week. There’s was no way I was winning that.”
VoiD also said he had practiced a Meta Knight counter-pick, but wasn’t confident in such tight matchup.
“I just decided if I’m gonna end up winning this, I’m gonna go Sheik,” he said.
With Sheik, VoiD controlled the stage and picked off Luma better than ever. With Luma off the board, VoiD was free to punish Rosa to the best of his ability. After skirting by elimination, VoiD was one game away from a reset.
“Generally, I don’t really think too much when I play, so I play more on instinct,” VoiD said. “There’s this one piece of advice that Larry (Lurr) told me. He tells me, ‘Even though you want to change up your play style to be more patient, don’t change your play style too far from being like VoiD.’”
VoiD played the match up with that in mind. He didn’t force himself to change. Most importantly, he played like VoiD.
VoiD’s countless supporters made their voices heard. The crowd wanted a reset, and Dabuz could hear it.
“Usually, I don’t like listening to the crowd,” VoiD said. “But crowd’s hype! If it didn’t affect my gameplay, it might’ve affected his. Regardless, it’s good to know that the crowd has your back.”
With the support of his new teammates and a passionate crowd, VoiD was one hit away from the reset.
Luma had other plans in mind, sending him flying out of the tournament with a flick of Rosa’s wand.
VoiD fell short. Still, a second place finish at Apex was more than an organization could ask for. According to VoiD, the event was a great stepping stone.
“Apex was pretty great,” he said. “It honestly felt the same as last year, but without the Day 1 shenanigans.”
VoiD translated his Apex success in CEO 2016. One of the toughest competitive fields to date knocked him out just short of the top eight. Still, VoiD finished the weekend tied with Smash 4 legend ZeRo and his newest teammate, NAKAT.