Mew2King’s path to success
Fighting games have always been important to the historical canon of gaming. Whether it be titles such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Tekken, the genre has produced some of the most iconic video games in history. However, one fighting game series, created by Masahiro Sakurai, is so beloved that every iteration has smashed record sales. That series is titled Super Smash Bros.
However, this article isn’t about the series or its incredible success. This article is about none other than the king himself, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, one of the “Five Gods” of melee, and a legendary figure in the Smash community. He was second to none in two headlining Smash Bros. titles simultaneously—a feat no one’s replicated yet.
This is a story about how Zimmerman made autism his strength rather than a crutch; it is a story about the journey of a young autistic boy who took his intense interest in the Smash games and turned them into his career.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Unless I’m absolutely perfect I’m not satisfied.
(Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman)
A king is born
Born in 1989, in Cinnaminson Township, NJ, Zimmerman was interested in video games from as far back as he can remember. As a child, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a subtype of autism. Zimmerman spent most of his time lost in his vivid imagination, creating pixel art, and thoroughly exploring the many video games he grew up playing.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTubeThe Story of Mew2King: The Champion – The Robot (Smash) | theScore esports | YouTube As is common for those on the spectrum, Zimmerman struggled socially and mostly stuck to himself and his intense interests. However, this would all change when he discovered Super Smash Bros. Melee, the sequel to the original title for the Nintendo 64. Released in 2001, Melee is the best-selling Nintendo GameCube game of all time with over 7 million units sold.Top-selling GameCube game: Super Smash Bros. Melee | CNET Due to its success, Melee is one of the most iconic and recognizable video games ever made.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Zimmerman found himself immersed in the depth Melee offered. He would meticulously document frame data (the number of frames it takes for a character to complete a move), input lag, landing lag, and countless other mechanics of the game. Zimmerman logged all of this data, accumulating a mind-boggling 2,000 hours of work, to document the most minute details of the game and all twenty-six character’s unique frame data and characteristics.Mew2King’s Melee data-dump | SmashBoards And, rather generously, he posted this data on SmashBoards, an active forum dating back to when professional Smash was still an underground gaming phenomenon.
You can check out Mew2King’s SmashBoards data dump here:
However, to post on SmashBoards you first need to register a username. Zimmerman decided on the username of “Mew2King” over “Zimm” (short for Zimmerman) and “KOTU” (King of the Universe). Zimmerman says that he chose Mew2King after learning that the popular Pokémon, Mewtwo, was joining the Smash Bros. roster in Melee, thereby stoking his excitement for the game and his desire to become the best at this new game—his desire to become the King of Melee.Why is my name Mew2King? | Most Valuable Gaming | YouTube
After collecting all of this data and utilizing much of the game’s mechanics while playing against CPUs, Zimmerman would choose to test his skill in tournaments. And, at first, things didn’t go so well for him.
The new “weird” kid on the block
They all said I sucked and that just made me wanna prove them wrong.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Tristate (a reference to an area in the northeast U.S. extending from upstate New York to Maryland) stars such as PC Chris, Azen, Chillindude829, ChuDat, and Wife made for incredible competition right in Zimmerman’s backyard. And, as expected for someone without prior tournament experience, he didn’t fare well against the competition. And further complicating things was his autism, which made socializing with other players difficult.
People, really, I think, dismissed him if not outright disliked him because he didn’t really know how to express himself properly. But he wasn’t good enough and you got respect by being good.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
(Christopher “Wife” Fabiszak)
As a teenager, Zimmerman started using his SmasBoards username at local tournaments. In 2005, at sixteen years old, Mew2King (M2K) started competing. He was often rooted against and outright disrespected by other tournament goers. This sort of social rejection and discrimination is woefully common for autistics, and young Zimmerman was no exception.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTubeAn autism diagnosis later in life | Embrace ASD
Despite this maltreatment, however, Zimmerman would adapt and “download” his opponents and, after only a few months of competitive play, in the summer of 2005, he would establish himself as a dominant force in Smash. His improvement in the game was nothing short of exceptional; M2K went from placing 22nd at Gettin’ Schooled 2, to 9th place at BOMB 4. From that point onward, M2K went on to place no lower than the top ten at nearly every major tournament for the next decade. The King had ascended to his throne.Mew2King’s tournament placings | Liquipedia
The perfectionist, the robot, the legend
Unless you’re frame perfect 99 out of 100 times, you’re not good enough.
That’s my mindset—that’s what I tell myself. That’s how I got good.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Zimmerman’s dominance didn’t end with Melee. In 2008, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the long-anticipated third installment of the franchise, finally came out. Although this game wasn’t embraced by much of the Melee community due to its slower pace and more defensive gameplay, M2K saw an opportunity. He worked tirelessly, as he had in Melee, to become the best Brawl player. For the next couple of years after Brawl’s release, M2K would simultaneously hold the title as the world’s best Melee and Brawl player. He was so good that he made a career out of attending tournaments, and, to this day, Zimmerman holds the record for the most money earned from Smash tournaments with a total of $147,216.63 in winnings.The 10 highest-earning Super Smash Bros. players | RedBull
What was it about this quirky, young man from New Jersey that made him so good? Ironically, many of his gifts are due to his autism. M2K earned the nickname “Robot” because he seemed to have a plan for every situation. One small mistake, and that would be the end of your character. His play was so immaculate and frame-perfectSpeedrunning terminology glossary | GameCrate that he seemed almost inhuman—it was as if he were a cyborg.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Autistics are known for their intense interests and ability to hyper-focus. Indeed, it’s listed as one of our “super powers” on the Powers & Kryptonite page. Although socializing was difficult for M2K at first, his skill earned him celebrity status in the Smash Bros. community. He started hanging out with other top players and grew to be great friends with them, notably Adam “Armada” Lindgren and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios. But no superhero is without his kryptonite, and for M2K, that kryptonite was none other than the natural himself: Joseph “Mang0” Marquez.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | YouTube
Mang0 is essentially the polar opposite of M2K. An easygoing social butterfly, Marquez earned recognition for his incredible intuition for Melee. Mang0 was known to go for options that others never thought to. When Mang0’s in his element, he doesn’t play the game—he orchestrates it. Mang0 had a knack for getting into his opponent’s head and forcing him to play his game. Especially against M2K, Mang0 is famous for choosing an option that punished his opponent’s habits and style of play rather than focusing on frame data and lag.
Still, while Mang0 was a prodigy in Melee, M2K was a master of multiple Smash titles. As the years progressed and more Smash games were released, M2K would sometimes enter three separate events at the same tournament and place within the top eight in each of them. This feat is impressive on its own, but it’s made incredible when one recognizes how each Smash title is unique and each demands a completely different style of play. Zimmerman was able to switch between titles and perform at a top-level despite this diversity in gameplay.The Smash Brothers: Episode 7 – The Robot | EastPointPictures | YouTubeThe Story of Mew2King: The Champion – The Robot (Smash) | theScore esports | YouTube
Long live the king
Zimmerman still attends tournaments to this day. His career has spanned fifteen years and is still running strong. He is currently sponsored by Most Valuable Gaming (an organization of which Zimmerman owns 10%) and streams regularly on Twitch and creates content for his YouTube channel.
Throughout M2K’s career, he’s been transparent about his autism. He’s also used his status in the Smash community to help other autistics as he had in 2018 when he joined other gamers in playing the latest title in the franchise, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, for a 48-hour donation stream. The stream was to raise money for the nonPareil Institute, a non-profit that helps autistic post-secondary school students learn trade skills such as 3-D animation and programming.Please Help Support nonPareil Institute | Mew2King | YouTubenonPareil Institute
Although Zimmerman still attends tournaments, he’s shifted most of his attention to more lucrative and long-term income streams while staying true to his passions for Smash. He makes most of his income by streaming and uploading Smash Bros. content to his Twitch and YouTube channels respectively. Zimmerman is also in the process of writing a book about his life, which he says will be out sometime soon.The story of a man who became a king and rose to become a Super Smash Bros. god. (2018) | Shoryuken
Zimmerman’s story is a reminder that we are uniquely gifted. And, despite the difficulties he’s faced, people came to eventually recognize his talents and learned not only to respect him but to genuinely enjoy him as an integral member of the Smash community. Zimmerman is now a household name in Smash and one of the most iconic professional gamers in the world.
And all of this started in a quiet New Jersey suburb where an eccentric and curious boy sat patiently by a TV and embraced his special interests.
Below is a video telling
Mew2King’s story on YouTube: