Few players are rising as fast as Enrique "Maister" Hernández Solís.
Since offline competitions have been ramping up, the Game & Watch main has steadily improved his placings, reminding everyone that he’s a tournament threat. He most recently placed third at Super Smash Con: Fall Fest, narrowly causing an all-Mexican Grand Finals at the event.
Inven Global had the chance to sit down with Maister, discussing his recent performances, thoughts on the scene, and the reception around his playstyle and others.
Note: This interview took place on September 29th, 2021.
Octopus: Maister takes on multiple Smash tourneys
You’re now several majors deep since there’s been a return to offline competition. Through Summit to Glitch, your placements have been getting progressively better. Do you feel as if it’s been a work in progress like that? How do you feel about your play?
Yeah so it's weird to me because before Summit I actually had the Smash World Tour—I placed second there. And then I got ninth at Summit.
While I do think my play has been getting better, I also feel part of why I did so "bad" at Summit is because of the pressure of the prize pool and stuff. It was the biggest price pool in Smash of today. So I feel like that took a little bit of a toll on my mental, because I was really pressured. I really wanted to do well.
So I think I focused a lot on just trying to do well and for other tournaments Riptide and Glitch, I've been a little bit more chill because I'm like, "Well, I just need to play and do my thing." But I think I completely forgot about that during Summit so I think I've been improving.
What do you think is the biggest thing you have to work on?
I would say my mental honestly. But even now I think I have improved a lot with that, so I don't think that's the thing anymore. I would say maybe the way I handle stuff during last stock, last hit situations. Like I feel like I get pressured easily sometimes or I get desperate. So I just gotta be a little bit calmer in those situations.
Also, something you pointed out as a big deal was the fact that you finally defeated Marss—someone who, when playing ZSS, usually got the best of you. What was that like for you? How did you approach that matchup leading into the tournament and did you expect it to be so close?
No, so I was actually expecting to be able to beat him 3-0. Because it's a matchup that I've been practicing a lot even throughout the pandemic. So when I had to fight him at Summit I was like, "I'm probably gonna do well."
But then I ended up not having to fight his ZSS. I really thought it wasn't gonna be super close. I thought I was gonna win like 3-0 or 3-1. But I think I messed up with exactly what we were talking about right now—during high percent situations. So I knew I was gonna win, because I knew I had the potential. I knew the approach I have towards the matchup is better, but I didn't expect it to be so close.
It was an amazing feeling. He is one of the few people that I had not been able to be even before the pandemic. I haven't been able to beat Leo and Marss. Those are really the only two people who I haven't been able to beat. And finally being able to do so felt really good.
Another thing I was curious about was your perspective on doubles. At Riptide you showed to be a good doubles player, with Elegant, but you haven’t been entering many competitions there. Right now it’s pretty much ruled by Light and Marss—do you see yourself competing in doubles more in the future?
Yeah, well part of the reason why I'm not doing it right now is because my static teammate is actually from Japan so they are not traveling that much right now. But I think once the travel restrictions are lifted, I'm definitely going to be giving it a try. It is in my plan to continue playing doubles. I don't enjoy it the same amount as I do with singles, but I still have a lot of fun in those events.
Do you think you can make some noise and take away the supremacy that we're seeing right now?
Oh, for sure. Whoever I team with, I think we could definitely win a doubles event.
Chef: Cooking up the future of Smash
Recently in tournaments, we’ve gotten to see a good amount of representation from the Mexico region. What rising player that most people don’t know about from Mexico do you think will start making a big impact soon? We have Sparg0, Leo, and you—who else is there?
I think Javi. Javi definitely has what it takes. He has been practicing a lot. He's a person that not a lot of people haven't heard of since like Smash 4-ish. They haven't really heard too much about him in Ultimate.
And he's planning on competing more over here in the US and just internationally. So I've been playing with him 'cause I'm staying with him right now. And he has improved a lot. I think that guy is definitely gonna become another Mexican player that people are gonna be talking about.
In Melee with Armada and Leffen for a while we saw constant Swedish Grand Finals. Do you think it's possible Mexico will dominate Ultimate in a similar way?
Oh, 100% yeah. If it isn't Leo and I, it could be literally any other Mexican player. I think Mexico is really stacked. I think it's a really good region. And I mean, Leo and I have done it before. We have had Mexican Grand Finals in Frostbite 2020 and we had them again that Smash World Tour Central America Regional Finals. So I think it's definitely a possibility. I think our region is very capable of doing that.
I’ve seen in many rankings that people have you on pace to be a top 5 player very soon. If you had to put money on it, what odds would you give yourself for being top 5 by the end of next year?
Oh 100%! [laughs]
I'd bet a million dollars that I'm top 5 in the world for sure. I think—not to toot my own horn—but I do think I have what it takes to be top five, even top three. I think I do have what it takes to be top three, but that's a separate goal. Right now my goal is to be top five. I think I have the potential. I have the results—more than anything I have the results. Because you can have the potential right? But if you don't have the results then it doesn't matter.
I think I've beaten a lot of players. I've beaten Sparg0, I've beaten Light, I've beaten Marss. I've beaten a lot of players. I mean, back in the day I beat Tweek as well. I definitely think I have what it takes.
Who would you expect to see with you in the top five next year?
Yeah, so not ordering it because I wouldn't know the order. But I think it would be Tweek, MKLeo obviously, Marss, myself, and... I'm gonna say Light.
I think Light can get up there. I know he had a little bit of a rough start with the last chance qualifier for Summit. I know he didn't do that well in there. But ever since he's been practicing a lot. I've been seen it like on Twitter—he's been winning a lot of regionals and a lot of locals. He just played exceptionally well at Glitch. [He also just won Super Smash Con.] So I think he's gonna be up there too.
Oh! Or probably Dabuz. It's between him and Dabuz honestly.
Judge: Maister on the Smash community
You’ve been with Spacestation for almost two years now, and been on multiple teams before that. How does your experience with Spacestation compare to orgs you’ve been with in the past?
I'm definitely super grateful to every team that I have worked with. But I'm gonna give huge props to Spacestation Gaming for having me and the experience they have brought to me. With Spacestation, I've had a lot of stuff that I didn't have with other teams. For instance, I have a salary, they pay for my travels (which is pretty much everything), they give me exposure on their social media. Man, they even come to my Twitch channel and subscribe to my channel.
Like that's just amazing—the way they treat me as well. They always seem to be like, "Hey Maister, you need something? Everything okay?" They're always there checking on me. And that I appreciate a lot from a team.
If it was up to me, I definitely would love to work with them for a long, long time. Because I feel really comfortable with them. I feel really good with them. I don't know, it's just they're a pretty good team. They are really, really good. I cannot stress this enough.
What's your favorite memory streaming in the past two years?
My favorite memory has to be when I first attempted a 24-hour stream. We have this joke on my Twitch channel, where every time I attempt 24-hour stream something goes wrong. Because the first time my PC literally died mid-stream. And then the second time my internet died at the 12 hour mark as well. And then the third time I don't remember what happened. But the thing is, the first time where my PC exploded on my 24-hour stream I was really sad because it was my first time trying to attempt a 24-hour stream.
I was with a friend who was helping me as well. And what ended up happening is that I ended up doing an IRL stream for like at least two hours because the friend that I was staying with was preparing his PC to help me out his stream over there. And while I was doing the IRL stream, my viewers decided to start donating for me to buy another PC and it's the reason why I have the PC that I have right now. They donated like $2,000 that day and I was so happy. Yeah, that was really wholesome. I literally wanted to cry.
A while back last year you spoke out about a lot the disrespect you were receiving once you started doing well in tournaments. Looking back at that more than a year later, how do you reflect on that. Has the hate stopped at all? Is it easier to deal with? What do you think?
Yeah, it's actually something I was talking about with my girlfriend yesterday. It definitely has worn down throughout time. When I first started doing well I definitely got a lot of hate, which to this day I don't know why I did. I literally think it's just because of my character. But it's still pretty lame to have that happen. But it's definitely something that has been going down as time goes by. And I think it's definitely a lot easier for me to deal with it now because right now I legitimately don't care. Back then I would be like, "Oh yeah, I don't care," but then every now and then a comment or two would be hurtful to me. But now that doesn't happen.
I brought it up to my girlfriend this time because there's a lot of new players coming up from online to offline. And even players who never played online, just coming up getting results with characters that are more "lame" or that people don't like more than my character—those people don't get the same amount of hate that I did back then. And that's the reason why I'm telling you.
I like it because I like the fact that people don't have to deal with that because it's terrible. I think it's really bad to deal with stuff like that, just because you're literally playing the game. And it's also I don't like it because that makes me feel like it was something personal to me. What did I do to deserve that?
Granted, I might have made a couple of things on Twitter every now and then—I'm a human being, I mess up eventually—but I don't think besides like one thing, I don't think any of the stuff I did back then was enough for me to deserve that hate.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.