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The Poetry of Jmook’s Storybook Win at Genesis 9

BINGHAMTON, NY — The Binghamton Sheik finally took it all the way.

As covered in esports documentaries and even the local newspaper last year, Jake ‘Jmook’ DiRado’s run last April was one in a million at Genesis 8.

After years of grinding tournaments in Binghamton and Syracuse, Jmook leveled up hard during the pandemic and the Slippi era to take names of top 100 ranked players at online events. Later, he showed this prowess in-person at Smash World Tour 2021, placing 13th.

Come 2022, the first true super major since the pandemic saw his electric Genesis run bring him all the way to second place, beating some top ten players along the way.

With no rankings the prior year and commentators rushing to learn more about him during the run, he defied both history and expectations. That is, to all except those who already knew about their favorite ninja from Upstate New York.

Jmook was vaulted into esports prominence over the following year after the run last April. Even though he initially balanced both school and his barista job, he never finishing outside of top 8 at a major all year and began growing his following on Twitter and Twitch. He was picked up by a professional esports team.

He was as famous among fighting game crowds for his strong mindset as his immaculate posture or yearlong reverse 3-0 filled rivalry with Zain. His success was even a notable part of reviving the Melee scene back home.

In short, his legacy as a top player was cemented.

Going into Genesis 9, he had attended Smash Summit twice as an invitee and was ranked 6th in the world, the highest debut for a previously unranked player since rankings began in 2013.

A hurdle finally overcome

Still, throughout 2022 Jmook would never top that second place ranking at a major.

Outside of Upstate NY regionals like Frame 11 and Quit Your Friendlies 4, Jmook would keep finding a barrier to him crossing the finish line to victory (the most common of which was Hungrybox when considering his 1-10 record against the former #1).

The 2nd place finish from Genesis 8 would repeat itself at GOML, Wavedash, Shine, and The Off-Season, but no one doubted that it was possible, if not inevitable, for him to win.

But then, after year of competition the same tournament that was his breakout became his breakthrough.

It came in such a storybook fashion that it brings to mind the old joke that Melee really is scripted.

With a bracket of nearly 1,300 competitors in San Jose and watched live by nearly 100k people, Jmook won Genesis 9 without dropping a set tearing through SFAT, an extremely tight set with SFOP, n0ne, Moky, Zain, and finally iBDW.

That it was those two, DiRado and Cody Schwab (iBDW), who met in grands is a tale in and of itself. Those on Twitter during Jmook’s initial breakout at Genesis 8 may have seen the screenshot going around of the two playing at a Cusetown Beatdown regional now nearly seven years old.

Not only are the two current static doubles partners, but both of them arose out of the Upstate NY scene around the same time prior to their respective explosions onto the top 100, having faced off plenty of times before meeting again on the biggest stage of smash.

At the same time, 2saint, another New York player that has competed in Upstate events, joined the two to complete a New York trio within Genesis 9 top 8. Even more notable, this tournament was 2saint’s first top 8 breakthrough as well.

In his post-event interview with epengu, Jmook cites both of the players as inspiration for getting to where he is now.

“It’s unreal,” said Jmook. “I played him at his first tournament, I beat him and then I slowly gradually watched him improve very quickly in the city. Meanwhile I was kind of trapped in Upstate for a little bit, still in high school working working part-time jobs so my chances of of getting out there exposure wise was really difficult. However he was someone that I always looked up to. When he was ranked in 2019 it blew my mind that I knew this person and that this person was top 10 in the world.

“Just to see that…I cannot understand how inspirational that was to me.” 

iBDW, having lost to Moky earlier in the event, took out 2saint, Zain, Plup and finally Moky on Sunday making a huge tear through the losers bracket to make it to Jmook.

Despite a back and forth year between the two, Jmook took it home during the grand finals in style, finishing it off in one set.

He said following his victory that it was the culmination of good habits developed since he was 16 in order to improve not just his play, but himself.

“To really put my all into something, to really craft the best version of myself just from getting better at a video game,” Jmook said during the epengu interview. “It’s been so life-changing.”

The former Upstate NY hidden boss is now, at least at the moment, at the top of the 21 year old game.

The run was at times a nail-biter, with perhaps the closest set being clutched out in a game 5 vs. Zain, who had handily beaten Jmook a year ago, which sparked the tightly contested rivalry between the two.

All this echoes Armada’s historic now decade-old runs at the first two Genesis events. After appearing out of nowhere, he makes a tear through the huge event only to be stopped by the best player in the game. After suffering a year of coming up just short, he finally takes his first Super Major in dominating fashion at the next Genesis.

It was only fitting that the legend of the game was there himself to see it happen.

While still having his Hungrybox demon to conquer, the year is looking bright for the upstate Sheik.

Wonder what his thoughts are on the victory? Hear them yourself:

Watch the grand finals (and his popoff) here.

And the full top 8 of the event here.

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