Over the last few months, popular Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has publicly shown his love for the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee scene, tuning into live events on his own steam and tweeting out his support for Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma after the latter’s unceremonious exit from Super Smash Con 2018. On Friday night, Ninja turned his sights towards another of Melee’s top dogs: Joseph “Mang0” Marquez.
After tagging Mang0 in a vague and brief video tweet, Ninja promised to throw $50,000 into the prize pool if Mang0 was to win the “next event”—in this case, Boston major Shine 2018. Ninja’s offer comes in the face of a somewhat disappointing year for Mang0, who has maintained respectable placements at most of his tournaments (barring a self-disqualification at 65th at Super Smash Con) but has been unable to capture a major title for himself since last August.
Mang0 was quick to respond, tossing in a reference to Hungrybox’s post-Super Smash Con histrionics before agreeing to try his best. Though Mang0 has not won a major this year, he’s shown bursts of brilliance, and the Cloud 9 member (and popular streamer in his own right) is certainly capable of going all the way at Shine—especially with the carrot of such a large pot bonus hanging in front of his face.
Regardless of the outcome, Ninja’s continued involvement in the Smash community is nothing but good news. The former Halo pro is the closest thing esports has to a mainstream celebrity, boasting millions of Twitter followers on top of his even higher amount of Twitch followers (and his multitude of paying subscribers). If even a fraction of that following looks into the Smash scene thanks to Ninja’s influence, there will be many new players at locals for years to come.
This writer can only hope that Ninja himself will someday bite the bullet and go to an in-person Smash event himself. Who knows—maybe his godlike Fortnite skills will carry over!