Sixteen-year-old Smash Ultimate prodigy Edgar ‘Sparg0’ Valdez has become one of the top players in the world. Dexerto spoke to the Mexican Cloud main to discuss his journey from quarantine wifi hell to signing with FaZe and making his childhood dream a reality.
Sparg0 first broke into the Smash Ultimate scene during the quarantine period, in which offline events were canceled and tournaments were limited to Smash’s lackluster online play.
While many top talents stepped back during this period, Sparg0 saw a chance to shine, with the youngster entering many tournaments and emerging as a breakout star.
It was this success as a wifi warrior that allowed him the opportunity to take his talents to LANs once they returned, with the money he had earned competing on wifi used to fund his activities as a free agent.
“I saved all of the money I won from wifi tournaments so I could travel to Majors once they came back, since before the pandemic I didn’t have many chances to travel to Majors because money was a big issue,” Valdez explained.
For Sparg0, quarantine was a blessing in disguise. While the world slowed to a crawl, he stayed on the grind, and through the fires of online play he became the star we know today.
“I honestly think that quarantine was the reason I was able to become a top player,” he said.
“I didn’t have many opportunities to attend Majors back then, and it probably would’ve stayed the same had the pandemic not happen. When quarantine began, there were a lot of big wifi tournaments going on, and everyone could enter them, so I was able to get the experience against top level players I needed in order to improve.”
Making FaZe history
The return of offline events saw Sparg0 go from one of Mexico’s hidden bosses to a threat at every large event in 2022.
He emerged victorious at Smash Ultimate Summit 4, where he bested rivals in T1’s Leonardo ‘MkLeo’ Lopez Perez, Santiago ‘Chag’ Pérez Checchi and Paris ‘Light’ Ramirez in consecutive sets.
After this, he once again claimed first place at Collision, where he overcame TSM’s Gavin ‘Tweek’ Dempsey to capture his first open major.
With all eyes on the prodigy, many esports orgs were knocking at his door, but he declined their offers because he knew the best option was still to come.
“There were a lot of other tier 1’s that reached out to me, but of course I knew FaZe Clan was the best option out there, and I’m so happy I chose FaZe out of all those sponsors,” he explained.
READY TO FIGHT
Introducing FaZe Clan's first professional Smash player, @Sparg0ssb. #FaZeUp pic.twitter.com/6JZkviLBoa
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) April 17, 2022
On the final day of Genesis 8, the largest tournament since the return to offline, Sparg0 revealed he had signed with FaZe – something the young pro admits still feels like a dream.
“I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say it still doesn’t feel real… I was shocked when they first reached out to me since no one would expect a team like FaZe to get involved with the Smash scene,” he said.
Although he was able to down the only remaining unsigned player in the tournament, Salvatore ‘Zomba’ DeSena, it wasn’t an easy task, with the set going the distance. When asked about the pressure of competing in the final 8 as a member of FaZe, Sparg0 admitted it was quite a struggle.
“I felt like I had millions of people watching me and felt pressured to perform well in my sets, which made me feel more nervous than usual. I managed to clutch it out on my first set but I was more nervous than ever because it would’ve been pretty awkward if I lost my first match right after getting announced.”
Chasing MKLeo for GOAT status
While Sparg0’s run at Genesis came to an end following losses to MKLeo and William ‘Glutonny’ Belaid, his set against the T1 star holds a special place in his heart.
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“Even though I lost it was the most fun set I’ve played in a good while and reminded me why I love playing Smash,” the Cloud main said. “Playing against him is usually always really fun so I think all of my favorite sets are against him.”
MKLeo, who is considered to still be the best in the world, is also who Sparg0 views as his top rival, even more so than Light.
“I would say my one and only rival is MKLeo, because he has always been the player to beat, not only for me, but for practically everyone, so being so close in sets and games against him really motivates me to improve.”
That rivalry, however, is a productive one, with Sparg0 grateful for having a mentor in his fellow Mexico native.
“He has always been a huge inspiration and support for me, so being rivals and friends I believe it’s a healthy and competitive relationship,” he praised.
FaZe Up at Low Tide City
After his loss at Genesis, the Cloud phenom did not have to wait long to claim his first tournament as a member of FaZe, winning Low Tide City with an impressive losers’ run.
On the way, he ended up switching off his Cloud to run Pyra/Mythra, something he has worked into his repertoire.
“Some matchups are just pretty hard or annoying to play against as Cloud, so that’s when I have to pick Pyra/Mythra,” he explained. “For example, the Palu matchup is kind of annoying to play as Cloud, but it’s actually a really easy matchup as Pythra, which is what I showed when I played against Lui$. Same for Zomba.”
His win at Low Tide City has also lifted a weight off his shoulders, suggesting that the pressure is now off and he can play without added stress.
“It felt so relieving since I honestly felt kind of pressured to perform well since it was my first tournament competing under FaZe (not counting Genesis) but I’m really happy I was able to get the win.”
Sparg0 on the future of Smash
Even though Smash Ultimate is completed as a game, with Sora being the final DLC fighter, like many, Sparg0 hopes that Nintendo will decide to keep adding content and keep Ultimate thriving instead of opting for another title.
“I would rather have new patches and more fighters than a new Smash game,” Valdez said. “I really like the mechanics and gameplay from this game, and I believe the metagame from the game has yet to develop, so more patches or fighters would make the game more interesting.”
Despite wanting new fighters, he isn’t sure who he would add from gaming’s plethora of candidates as he’s already gotten his most-requested character.
“The only character I ever wanted in Smash was Steve and he got in so I don’t think I want any specific character in Smash for now, haha,” he said, laughing.
Feature-wise, Sparg0 is content with what Ultimate has to offer, but if there was one addition he wants, it would be the return of the perfect pivot, something he believes would be good for the meta.
With even more big tournaments in the future and the Smash World Tour up for grabs, Sparg0 has a chance to become the top player in the world. While many fans of Smash have awful memories about the online period, it has led to the rise of Sparg0 and other elite talents.