A year ago ago, FlyQuest didn’t have any Smash players. Now, they have two of the top 10 Smash Melee players in the world according to the recently released MPGR rankings.
Jake "Jmook" DiRado and John "KoDoRiN" Ko are riding a wave of momentum after both placing in the top three at Wavedash 2022 last weekend, one of the biggest Smash tournaments of the summer. Jmook finished second and KoDoRiN placed third at the tournament. Legendary Smash player Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma was the reason neither player was able to claim first place in Oceanside, California. HBox beat Jmook in the grand final and KoDoRiN in the lower final. However, KoDoRiN did claim one set win against Hungrybox, a player he had his eyes on.
“I would like to face off against Hungrybox again and get another chance at seeing if I could get a set this time around,” KoDoRiN told Nerd Street in an exclusive interview before Wavedash. “I have been working quite a bit on the Puff matchup.”
Photo credit: Jeffrey Gray Jr.
It turned out that KoDoRiN was the only player who beat Hungrybox and his signature Jigglypuff all weekend, and it came during the top eight bracket. His third-place finish was one of his best results at a big tournament since being signed by FlyQuest in December 2021.
KoDoRiN admitted that he’s felt pressure this year to perform because he’s no longer just playing for himself -- he’s representing an organization.
“FlyQuest -- they’ve made it abundantly clear that they just want me to do my best and I shouldn’t worry too much and I understand it’s just -- my head can’t help but think about that,” KoDoRiN said. “So I’ve been trying to get out of that, trying to have a clear head overall when competing.”
According to KoDoRiN, FlyQuest have been extremely supportive since making him their first Smash player. Before signing with FlyQuest, KoDoRiN admitted he had some other offers on the table, but ultimately, he was won over by this organization.
“Not only were they able to match the salary but also I could tell they were already involved in the esports scene as a whole, they already had some kind of infrastructure and they seemed excited to not just be a sponsor but also be more involved, support the scene and help me grow as a player,” he said.
Before signing KoDoRiN, FlyQuest was mostly known for its League of Legends team and the environmental causes the org has championed. It can be risky to take the plunge with a new organization wading into the waters of a new esport, but KoDoRiN saw a lot of positive signs.
“I was frankly surprised how much commitment and involvement FlyQuest wanted to be in the Melee scene … supporting my growth as a player and to my surprise branching to even more Melee players and potentially even more in the future,” KoDoRiN said.
FlyQuest branched out recently adding fellow Melee player Jmook in June. The Sheik main said KoDoRiN was a big reason why he ultimately joined FlyQuest.
Photo credit: @emmy1984_
“He even told me that when FlyQuest was looking for another Smash player they reached out to him and essentially reached out, asked for his input, and he said if there’s one player you need to sign it’s Jmook, and he said that now is the best time,” Jmook said. “So I’ve gotta give credit to him for vouching for me.”
Jmook’s second-place finish at Wavedash was yet another second-place finish at a big tournament in what’s shaping up to be a breakout year for him.
The Sheik main has now finished second at Wavedash 2022, Genesis 8 and Get On My Level 2022 and fourth at Smash Summit 13 this year. He pointed to Genesis as his proudest accomplishment this year.
“Genesis is probably up there for me in terms of because that was essentially that was the breakout tournament for me,” Jmook said. “And despite my doubts, despite going into that tournament I still managed to pull it off.”
With so many top finishes this year, Jmook has made winning a Major tournament this year his goal, saying that he’s now in the “realm” of that being possible. After finishing second at two Majors this year (Genesis and Get On My Level), he’ll have three more chances to win one this year: Super Smash Con 2022, Smash Summit 14 and the Panda Cup Finale.
KoDoRiN doesn’t have such grand plans for the rest of the year. He wants to keep things simple and his biggest goal is just maintaining a clear mindset.
“Just take it one step at a time, just enjoy the moment, work on the basics and have fun,” he said.
Lead photo credit: Jeffrey Gray Jr.