The COVID-19 pandemic brought the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate scene to a standstill in 2020. Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick, who refused to play online due to the impact of lag, did a number of things to keep busy. He streamed, hung out with friends and even got a part-time job at Wendy’s to stave off boredom. He never stopped training for Ultimate, though. He just didn’t do it in-game.
Elegant is a Luigi player, so mashing the B-button (while pressing down) is a key part of the character. And as it turns out, the best way to get better at button mashing is to exercise a particular muscle. Weak ones simply won’t cut it at a high level.
“If you are wondering why you suck at Mario Party games with mashing, that’s why,” Elegant said. “Your triceps are not as good as you think they are.”
Big triceps, fast button mashing
Elegant is one of the very few prominent Luigi mains in the world. Green Mario isn’t as popular as most of the other 80 plus characters in Ultimate, which can be attributed to his weird move set and play style. Despite that, Elegant loves playing with Luigi due to one of his iconic moves: the Luigi Cyclone.
In Smash 4, by pressing the B-button as fast as possible, players could make Luigi spin like a whirlwind. The move had a ton of applications in-game, but the best one is sending L-man upward. Players used the cyclone to make impossible recoveries and get some cheeky knockouts in the process. The move lost its recovery option with the release of Ultimate, though it can still be used as a combo-breaker. However, executing the move consistently takes serious training outside of the game.
“I work out to help with my mental and physical,” Elegant said. “It also actually helps with my mashing with Luigi.”
At the gym, Elegant works primarily on his triceps. Three to four times a week, he does three sets of 10 for each exercise: diamond push-ups, arm curls and regular push-ups. Button mashing with the proper technique tenses Elegant’s arm while he focuses on vibrating his fingers. His time in the gym has helped him build more endurance and speed, so there’s no other player who can match his Luigi Cyclone prowess. And as a result, he has made a name for himself in the Smash community.
Elegant was among the best players in the world in Smash 4, though it took a while to start replicating that success in Ultimate. But just as Elegant started hitting his stride, COVID-19 struck and the in-person scene crumbled over stay-at-home orders. Now, more than a year later, Elegant has come back even stronger and is back to putting his triceps to work.
“What I learned in quarantine was that I was a very emotional player,” Elegant said. “If I get into it and if I can feel confident I can beat anyone in this game.”
The journey out west to grow among the best
Elegant lives in Chino Hills, nearly 40 miles east of Los Angeles. The 23-year-old was born in New York, grew up in Nevada and started playing Smash 4 on his Wii U in high school. His family moved to Southern California soon after, giving Elegant access to all the major tournaments the region has to offer.
At his first-ever tournament, Elegant placed fourth and was immediately hooked on competitive Smash. While balancing his newfound passion for Smash 4 with school, Elegant found himself speed running through homework in the back corner of the now-defunct Mega Smash Mondays weekly series while waiting for his winner’s bracket matches. Elegant soon became one of the best players in the region and the best Luigi player in the world. Then, Ultimate came out.
Elegant had to get used to a major change to Luigi’s move set during the first year of Ultimate’s existence. Luigi’s grab was a good way at starting combos in Smash 4. In Smash Ultimate, it was replaced with a ranged grab where Mario’s brother used his vacuum from the Luigi’s Mansion series to grab opponents at a distance. The grab is slower — meaning Elegant has to resort to a slower play style that took time to figure out.
“There are certain points in neutral where you have to keep playing passive,” Elegant said. “Even if you are really good at being aggressive, there comes a point where you have to just stop what you are doing and just play on the defensive for a while.”
It took Elegant until Genesis 7 in 2020, almost two years, to finally figure things out. He placed 17th at that event, his highest placement at an Ultimate major at that point. He followed it up with an even better 13th placement at Frostbite, the last major before the pandemic began.
Only a temporary setback
Although his hot streak froze before it could turn into a wildfire, Elegant came back steaming at Riptide, the first major since the pandemic began. Elegant was seeded 14th and he finished fourth. A month later, Elegant was seeded seventh at Low Tide City, where he exceeded expectations, finishing fourth with impressive wins against Brian “Cosmos” Kalu and TSM FTX’s Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey. Elegant said those wins were proof that it was just a matter of time until he reached the top.
“In Smash four I used to beat [Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez] and all the top Japanese players, so it’s not like a big deal for me,” Elegant said. “Don’t get me wrong, beating Tweek feels great — but I think I can beat anyone in this game.”
Despite his confidence, Elegant missed his mark at Super Smash Con: Fall Fest and Port Priority 6, placing 17th at both. Although he was seeded higher than his placements, Elegant attributed both results to playing “fine” while also noting that he was discouraged by his performances.
Still, Elegant isn’t focused on results heading into the biggest event of the year so far, Mainstage 2021. Instead, he’s just trying to get his reps in as he trains to become the best he can be, which he said could potentially be top 10 in the world. As long as he can flex those cyclone muscles, he has a shot.
“I’m just gonna go there and just play. If I do well, I do well, If I do bad, I do bad,” Elegant said. “I think I can win an event if I have a good path.”
Correction (11/10): An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied Luigi Cyclone could still be used as a recovery option in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The story has been updated to reflect how Elegant actually uses the move following its latest changes.