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The loud bass of the Pokémon Stadium music blares through the Smash Summit 12 stream. Joseph “Mang0” Marquez lands a forward smash on the green Fox to make it a last stock situation. Cody “iBDW” Schwab wipes the sweat off of his hands and uses the few seconds of invincibility he has with every new stock to take a deep breath. If iBDW takes this stock, he will complete one of the great Summit runs of all time, while conquering both his bracket demons in the process.

IBDW’s green Fox lands a back air to send Mang0’s Falco to the corner. A series of small blue colored hexagons appear on both Falco and Fox, but one sends Mang0 offstage. Mang0 is forced to air dodge up, but to no avail. As the Falco falls below the stage, iBDW stands to pump his fists in victory and extends a hug to Mang0. The embrace marks a Smash Summit 12 victory for iBDW, one that was several years in the making.

mang0 hugs iBDW
A final embrace from Mang0 to iBDW. A passing of the torch from the previous Summit champion to the current champ. | Provided by BeyondTheSummit on YouTube

IBDW exorcises his bracket demons at Smash Summit 12

He always had the skill, but what iBDW lacked was the mental fortitude to come back after tough losses. When he was down 0-2 in the first round of the winners bracket against William “Leffen” Hjelte, it seemed all but over. But, as the player cam shifted to iBDW between games, the viewers saw the complete opposite: a man who was calm, centered and at peace.

“Usually, 10 out of 10 times, I tilt out of the tournament,” iBDW said after the match. “But my girlfriend is a competitor in six different games and she basically told me to take deep breaths and reset; play from the starting point again.”

IBDW would go on to reverse 3-0 Leffen and continue to storm through the bracket. He went on to beat Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto, the best Yoshi player in the world, in a 3-1 victory. At this point, only two people stood between him and a Summit win.

The first was Zain “Zain” Naghmi, his most frequent practice partner and greatest rival. Despite them always having close sets, iBDW was 0-12 against Zain before this match. But on Saturday, Zain was playing a new iBDW. The green Fox finally defeated the red Marth, and iBDW would notch his first win against Zain. Something that Zain always knew he could do in practice but never translated to the tournament setting.

“We run a lot of sets on netplay, and that’s more indicative of a good set that we have,” Zain said, in a post match interview, about the set between Zain and iBDW. “So it was cool that it was able to happen in the tournament. Hopefully it’s like that for the remainder of our sets. [IBDW’s] mentality is super on point right now. Usually he will get frustrated or get tilted, but he’s been relaxed the entire time. It’s scary to play him when there’s no mental budging.”

Zain was right about iBDW’s mentality. As the curly-haired 26-year-old walked down the stairs in the BeyondTheSummit studio, his face was stone cold. He stood in front of the mic for his post-game interview.

“One more set,” iBDW said. “The tournament’s not over. One more set.”

The final set was against Mang0, widely considered the greatest Super Smash Brothers Melee player of all time. IBDW was 1-11 vs. Mang0 before the grand final began. He has always had a problem with Mang0’s Falco and, now, he would have to defeat it in order to win the biggest tournament of his life.

The grand final had a weird sense of calm. In the biggest match of his life, iBDW showed no worry on his face. Instead, he was smiling. In the match itself, iBDW was in control the entire time. In every game, he was up at least one stock. In the set, it appeared as though iBDW were reading a script, knowing what was going to happen before it happened.  He cleanly swept Mang0 in a 3-0 set victory to win Smash Summit 12.

IBDW relishes his victory in front of his peers; a six-year journey finally complete. | Provided by BeyondTheSummit YouTube

Viewers and analysts alike expected the Summit 12 grand final to be a large crescendo. The last Summit grand final between Mang0 and Zain went all 10 games and was one of the greatest Super Smash Brothers Melee sets of all time. In a situation like the last Summit, Mang0’s years of competitive experience could have shone through, but there would be a different winner for Smash Summit 12. For iBDW, every shine was perfect and every move was clean. There were no unnecessary movements as he dismantled Mang0’s offense with a happy grin.

The crowd watched iBDW like he was a talented musician performing a solo in an otherwise silent auditorium. The grand final of a Summit event usually has endless cheers from the crowd, as fans hang on to every interaction with faded breath. But, this time, the crowd was silent. Only the cheers in between every game that iBDW won could be heard.

As his performance ended, iBDW walked down the stairs of the BeyondTheSummit studio, pumping his fists. A slow clap began from a crowd that could do nothing but cheer for a man who had given up everything for this moment.