Japanese Smash Ultimate pro Tea is regarded as the best Pac-Man player in the world and showed exactly why at the first S-tier tournament of 2020, Let’s Make Big Moves.
Tea found himself down 2-0 against the Zero Suit Samus prodigy Tyler ‘Marss’ Martins with a spot in the tournament’s final four on the line.
After crawling back to even the set at two games apiece in what was a thriller of a battle between the two professionals, Tea pulled off some of the best mind games ever seen in Smash Bros history.
With the final game even at two stocks apiece, Tea had Pac-Man’s Bell fruit active and was looking for a hit to paralyze Zero Suit and guarantee him a smash attack to take the stock. However, right as he got in range, Marss began to shield meaning that Tea had to hold off.
Instead of jumping away and looking for another opening, however, Tea proceeded to shield himself and then immediately drop it several times at point-blank range hoping for Marss to react.
This was an incredibly patient and fearless play as ZSS has out of shield options to work with. That said, it would have taken some stellar timing on the part of Marss to connect with a move at the right moment when the shield was down. If his attack was blocked, it would have been easy to hit Martins with the Bell.
Eventually, Marss decided to jump to the middle of the stage, but Tea was ready and connected with the Bell to stun his opponent before hitting an up smash to take the stock, putting his foe on what ended up being his last stock of the tournament.
“This is insanity. Tea pulling out all the stops. This is two of the most creative players I’ve ever seen in this game’s history,” the commentator gushed.
Marss was able to strike back and bring the game to one stock each, but Tea had already racked up so much extra damage done that he was going to fight an uphill battle. In the end, while Tea connected with another Bell, his up smash was barely out of reach to end it. Instead of overthinking things though, Tea read Marss’ positioning and scored a max distance forward smash moments later to win it for real.
As the dust settled, Marss hugged and congratulated the Japanese pro on a hard-fought win with what is considered to be one of the most off-meta fighters in the game.
Pac-Man is one of the most difficult fighters to play at a high level, so it’s possible that matchup knowledge hurt Marss in a big way going into the match. By contrast, ZSS is a popular fighter in Japan so it’s likely that Tea knew the ins and outs of what he was up against.
Regardless, it was a tremendous play and some of the best mind games in the history of competitive Smash Ultimate. Tea would end up finishing fourth overall at Let’s Make Big Moves after losing to the eventual tournament winner, Nairoby ‘Nairo’ Quezada.