Pikachu has been a journeyman of a character in most iterations of Super Smash Bros.—a favorite of some top players, but not a character commonly seen as a contender to win majors. But last night, at Toronto major Get On My Level 2019, two Pikachu players blazed into the top three of both the Melee and Smash Ultimate brackets. Their impressive runs may have been motivated by one of the venue’s more unexpected visitors: a larger-than-life Detective Pikachu promoting the release of his eponymous film.
The human-sized Pikachu stormed the stage following victories from both Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson and Eric “ESAM” Lew, firing up the crowd as they cheered for their Pikachu heroes. And the crowd’s enthusiasm may have truly made a difference. In Melee, Axe ran through a slew of top-10 players before securing a rare victory over William “Leffen” Hjelte shortly after the Swedish player 3-0ed Hungrybox; in Ultimate, ESAM defeated Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez, a longtime demon of the outspoken Pikachu main.
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Whether their victories were boosted by the presence of a Pikachu in the venue or not, both ESAM and Axe’s runs were a huge source of hype for GOML, which many Smash fans have already praised as one of the best tournaments in recent memory. With Pikachu back in the center of the zeitgeist, both players surely gained some new fans over the weekend.