Nairo is an American professional smasher who mained Meta Knight in Brawl, Zero Suit Samus in Smash 4, and Palutena in Ultimate. He is the younger brother of Ksizzle. He is known for being among the youngest, yet one of the most successful smashers to compete in tournaments. He was considered the best Brawl player in North America at the end of the game's active lifespan in 2014, as is still widely considered to be one of the best Brawl players in the world. He is also the best Smash 4 Zero Suit Samus and Bowser player in the world, the best Ultimate Palutena player and one of the best Zero Suit Samus players in the world.
In Brawl, Nairo is known for his highly aggressive Meta Knight style, which is at least partly responsible for his great proficiency against Olimar players. He frequently teamed with ADHD in doubles, where Nairo used his aggressive style to overwhelm opponents while ADHD created stage control with Diddy Kong's Banana Peels. The team was considered to be the most powerful doubles force in Brawl, having won Apex 2013, SKTAR 2, Apex 2014, SKTAR 3, and Super Smash Con 2016.
Nairo is considered to be one of the top five Smash 4 players in the world. At EVO 2015, he placed 3rd in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U singles. He defeated Mr.R 2-0 in Winners' Semis, but then lost to ZeRo 0-3 in Winners' Finals, after almost winning the first 2 games, but missing the KO in both games after hitting with Zero Suit Samus's paralyzer. He then lost his rematch with Mr.R 2-3 in Losers' Finals. He has also used Bowser, Cloud, Diddy Kong, Lucina, Dark Pit, Pit, Robin, and even low tier characters such as Zelda and Dr. Mario at a very high level as well.
He was the only player to eliminate ZeRo in a Smash 4 tournament in 2015 and the first to double eliminate him, ending the latter's 56 win streak at MLG World Finals 2015. After losing in Winners' Semis to ESAM 1-3, Nairo climbed through the losers' bracket, beating Mr.R 3-0, Ally 3-1, and ESAM 3-0 in Losers' Finals with a surprising character choice of Dr. Mario. This marked the first time Nairo had taken a set from ESAM in Smash 4 as well. In Grand Finals, Nairo won the first set 3-2 and won the second set 3-1 against ZeRo's Sheik and Diddy Kong, ending ZeRo's winning streak.
Nairo is currently ranked 2nd on the New Jersey Ultimate Power Rankings, 1st on the 2018-2019 SSBBRank, 2nd on the Panda Global Rankings 100, and 4th on the Fall 2019 PGRU. He was formerly ranked 1st on the New Jersey Smash 4 Power Rankings and 4th on the final Tristate Brawl Power Rankings.
Nairo was signed on by Team Liquid from August 11th, 2015 through August 16th, 2016. On August 24th, 2016, Nairo signed with NRG Esports, renewing his contract with them on October 11th, 2017, then again on December 8th, 2019.
In July 2020, following accusations of having a relationship with then underage CaptainZack, NRG cut all ties with him, and he was subsequently banned from competitive play and Twitch. After a witness confirmed CaptainZack admitted to initiating the relationship, several smashers tweeted apologies in response to their initial reactions, with a large number of them requesting Nairo to be unbanned.
Nairo, throughout his entire Smash career, had a playstyle that was defined by unrelenting pressure and a top-notch punish game.
In Smash 4
He mained Zero Suit Samus and was known for his proficiency of her powerful up air ladder combos into her Boost Kick finisher. He pioneered her metagame and brought upon the style of aggressive pressure in order to bring her punish game into full effect. Throughout neutral, he has prowess in spacing and in the timing of her moves in order to be safe on the opponent's shield to compensate for the character's lack of neutral tools. He is also known to take risks and to make hard reads in order to quickly gain advantage over the opponent, notably with jump reads or a single grab in neutral. With the character, he has a touch of death and if there is rage and he manages to land a single hit or grab, with his ability to read DI and knowledge of kill percents, can annihilate an opponent's stock. This characteristic is highly noticed when he needs to make a comeback. Nairo is also very proficient at edge guarding and ledgetrapping, forcing his opponents into limited situations where he can take their stock. However, due to his risky and aggressive playstyle and his character's weaknesses, he is prone to getting shut down in the neutral with no opportunity to land a hit if the opponent plays defensively and doesn't get caught in Nairo's clutch. This is heavily emphasized through the many sets against his rival ZeRo, where the latter's immoveable neutral proves to be difficult for Nairo to break through.
He mained Palutena and played with heavy emphasis on combo game and edgeguarding. Some aspects of his play had been improved due to the switch of character, as now with Palutena's relatively safe grab compared to Zero Suit Samus's, Nairo had many more opportunities to access his strong punish game and to make up for his neutral. He still mained Zero Suit Samus, but due to the removal of her grab and ladder combos, he used her much less often and occasionally used her as a counterpick.
2010-2014: The rise in Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Nairo's first Smash game was Brawl, where he made himself known regionally by placing well at KTAR tournaments. However, it wasn't until 2012 where he became well-known on a national level; at Apex 2012, he defeated top players such as Nietono and ultimately paced 3rd out of 400 entrants. A few months later, he got his first national victory at SKTAR, where he defeated ESAM twice.
For the rest of Brawl's main competitive lifespan, Nairo consistently placed in the top 3 and made top 8 at every tournament he attended aside from SKTAR 2. His most notable victories during that period was at Apex 2014, where he managed to defeat Mew2King and ZeRo, two of the best Meta Knights in the world, to place 1st. This victory has since been memorized in his fanbase thanks to the sub-only emote NairoApex. Due to his outstanding placements, Nairo became one of the best Brawl players by the end of the game's lifespan and was ranked 1st on the 2014 SSBBRank, being tied with 9B.
Despite Brawl's decline and his focus on other Smash games, Nairo continued to enter Brawl events and dominate the metagame, with a win streak starting with CEO Dreamland and ending with Get On My Level 2019. He was ranked 1st on the next two iterations of the SSBBRank.
2014-2015: Continued Success in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
In the early metagame of Smash 4, Nairo initially started as a Dark Pit main, first using him at Sky's Smash 4 Invitational where he beat Larry Lurr (called DEHF at the time) 2-1, but was eliminated by NAKAT, placing 7th at the event. He later picked up Zero Suit Samus, using her at CLASH Online Invitational Finals and Final Battle in conjunction with both Pit and Dark Pit; however, ZSS became the character he was known for.
His strong results continued in 2015, placing 9th at Apex 2015, 7th at KTAR XII and 2nd at CEO 2015. At CEO 2015, he was defeated by ZeRo in both Winners Finals and Grand Finals. He also had two 3rd place finishes at both EVO 2015 and Super Smash Con 2015.
He placed 2nd at The Big House 5, losing again to ZeRo who reset the bracket in Grand Finals 3-0 then won the second set 3-2.
His losing streak to ZeRo continued until MLG World Finals 2015, where he made arguably one of the most historical moments in Smash 4's history, as he upset ZeRo in grand finals, breaking his 56 win streak, the only time ZeRo lost a tournament during 2015. His strong results continued as he gathered 1st place finishes at Smash the Record 2015, KTAR XIV, KTAR XV, Dismantle 2, and KTAR XVI.
It wasn't until GENESIS 3 where this streak ended, as he was upset 2-0 by Hyuga in pools. Despite being eliminated early on, he made a strong losers run. He defeated players such as RAIN, Ito, ESAM, Ally, and Marss before Dabuz eliminated him 3-0, placing 5th overall.
In 2016, he continued his strong results, although he had a few lower placings, most noticeably with Pound 2016. This was his worst placement in a Smash 4 tournament to date, being sent to losers round 1 by saj 2-1 and then being eliminated from the tournament by Mr.II 2-1, placing 49th. However, this did not mean much, as a month later he placed 1st at MomoCon 2016, beating Ally 3-2.
Afterwards, he finished 7th at The Big House 6, 2nd at Smash the Record 2016 where he lost to ESAM 3-2 in Grand Finals, 4th at both KTAR XIX and UGC Smash Open, and ended the year with 2GGT: ZeRo Saga where he placed 5th after losing to ZeRo 3-1.
Nairo became a much stronger player in 2017, as after his 17th placement at GENESIS 4, he won both Umebura Tokaigi Qualifiers and Niconico Tokaigi 2017, defeating Ally and many top Japanese players such as KEN, Abadango, and Kirihara.
Not long after, he placed 3rd at Frostbite 2017 where he defeated MVD 2-0, WaDi and Mr E 3-1, before being sent to losers by ZeRo in a 3-0 set. In losers, he won against Shuton 3-2 and Dabuz 3-0 before losing to ZeRo again in a 3-1 set during losers finals.
At CEO 2017, he defeated CaptainZack and Salem 3-0 before being sent to losers by Larry Lurr 3-1. In losers, he won against CaptainZack again in another 3-0 set before being eliminated by MkLeo 3-1, ending with a placement of 4th.
Nairo later attended DreamHack Atlanta 2017 and took out many players such as CaptainZack 3-0, Ally and Dabuz 3-1, and ZeRo and Larry Lurr 3-2. His two losses were both from Salem, in a 3-0 and 3-1 set, giving him a placement of 4th.
After losing 2-1 to Rideae at Super Smash Con 2017, Nairo went on a lengthy losers run. He defeated Rich Brown 2-0, Sinji 3-1, komorikiri 3-0, Tweek, VoiD, and Rivers (called Shoyo James at the time) 3-1, WaDi 3-2, Mr.R and MkLeo 3-1, and placed 1st after winning in two 3-2 sets against ZeRo in Grand Finals.
Another great placement happened at Shine 2017, where he won against Pink Fresh 2-1, ANTi and Larry Lurr 3-2, Salem 3-1 until losing to both ZeRo and Tweek 3-1, ending his tournament run at 3rd place.
At 2GGC: Fire Emblem Saga, he defeated WaDi 3-0 and Kirihara 3-1 before being sent to losers bracket by Salem 3-2. In losers, he beat VoiD 3-0, Tweek and komorikiri 3-1 before losing to Salem again in a close 3-2 set in Grand Finals, placing 2nd at the event.
He later placed 4th at another 2CCG event, 2GGC: MkLeo Saga, in which after winning against Kirihara 3-1, he was sent to losers by Tweek 3-1. His losers run had him win against Abadango 3-0 and WaDi 3-2 before KEN eliminated him in a 3-1 set. These two events and a few other 2GGC tournaments allowed Nairo to qualify for 2GG Championship where he placed 10th.
His last tournament of 2017 was Smash 4 Boot Camp where he was one of 10 players invited to the event by VGBootCamp. He placed 2nd out of the 16 entrants after losing to Salem in Grand Finals.
2018: The Last Year of Smash 4 and Slight Decline
Following ZeRo's retirement, Nairo was one of the contenders for the number one spot alongside MkLeo. At GENESIS 5, despite falling to Legit before Top 8, Nairo was able to make an impressive losers run, defeating Zenyou, ESAM, and MVD before falling to Mistake, placing 4th. After that, Nairo continued to be a tough competitior for the throne, as he consistently placed in the top 4 at every major he attended, even claiming victory at tournaments such as Niconico Tokaigi 2018 and Smash Masters League: Battle for Vegas, defeating MkLeo at both. MkLeo, in turn, defeated Nairo at both SwitchFest and Get On My Level 2018. For the first few months of the season, it wasn't clear whether MkLeo or Nairo would come out on top.
However, Nairo eventually fell behind, placing 17th at the two biggest tournaments of the season: 2GG: Hyrule Saga and CEO 2018, losing to Light and Mr.R in the former and Abadango and Elegant in the latter. Due to those placements, Nairo was ultimately ranked 4th - the first time he was not top 3 - behind MkLeo, Tweek, and Dabuz, players who had a more consistent season.
Nairo's overall performance continued to decline as he fell to MVD and Zenyou at EVO 2018, placing 33rd, his second worst placement at a Smash 4 major. Furthermore, Nairo failed to defend his title at both MomoCon 2018 and Super Smash Con 2018, breaking his two-year win streak at both events. At MomoCon 2018, he was defeated by Salem and komorikiri, placing 4th, and at Super Smash Con 2018, he was defeated by MkLeo and Cosmos, placing 5th.
With Ultimate on the horizon, Nairo stopped attending major tournaments after Super Smash Con 2018.
2018-2019: Transition into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
In the early metagame of Ultimate, Nairo continued his status as a top player. He switched his main to Palutena while occasionally using Zero Suit Samus as his secondary. He quickly became known as the best Palutena player, placing 2nd at both NYXL Pop-Up! and Glitch 6, as well as 5th at Let's Make Big Moves, defeating players such as MkLeo, Samsora, and Dabuz along the way.
His best performance of the first season was at Collision 2019. Despite being sent to losers by Marss right before top 8, Nairo teared through the losers bracket, defeating Mr.R, Sinji, Tweek, Light (in a famous reverse 3-0 with Ganondorf), and Frozen, before resetting the bracket against Marss. He lost the reset, placing 2nd.
However, his overall initial results, while impressive, weren't as good as his Smash 4 days. Similarly to the first season of 2018, Nairo placed 17th at the 2 biggest majors of the season, GENESIS 6 and Smash 'N' Splash 5, falling to Cosmos and CaptainZack in the former and VoiD and NAKAT in the latter. Although he continued to consistenly make top 8 at big tournaments, he failed to take 1st place at any of them besides a victory at the C-tier Suplex City Smash, with his strongest performances at majors being a 4th place finish at 2GG: Prime Saga and a couple of 5th place finishes at both Get On My Level 2019 and MomoCon 2019. Nairo continuously fell to familiar foes, most notably Marss. By the end of the season, Nairo was ranked 8th, the first time he was not ranked in the top 5 in any global ranking.
Fortunately, things turned around for Nairo in the second season. Despite starting off the season with a 17th at EVO 2019, losing to Mr.R and Marss, Nairo made top 6 at every tournament he attended up until the final major of the season 2GG: Kongo Saga. In addition, he started winning sets against several of his bracket demons, such as Marss at Shine 2019 and Mainstage. His best achievement was finally claiming victory at a major, doing so at Mainstage, where he defeated MkLeo after he reset the bracket, becoming one of 6 players to defeat MkLeo that season. When the season was over, Nairo returned to the top 5, being ranked 4th.
Nairo started the third season strong. Despite losing to Dabuz in winner's quarterfinals at Let's Make Big Moves, Nairo made an incredible losers run, defeating several top players including Maister, Tea, and Kameme, before double eliminating Dabuz, claiming his second victory at a supermajor.
Following this, however, he placed 9th at the next 2 majors: GENESIS 7 and Frostbite 2020. In the former, he was sent to losers by ESAM and infamously eliminated by Glutonny after he performed a zero-to-death waft combo during the last game. In the latter, he was sent to the losers bracket by Tweek in winner's quarterfinals and subsequently eliminated by MkLeo in the losers side top 8 qualifier.
Sexual misconduct allegations, ban, and repudiation of allegations
On July 1st, 2020, amidst a wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations in the community, a rumor began spreading that Nairo and CaptainZack had a sexual encounter. Initially, both brushed it off, with CaptainZack stating that he made it up to impress his friends. However, the next morning, CaptainZack released a Twitlonger where he confirmed the rumors, saying that it happened when he was fifteen and Nairo was twenty, and that he was paid by Nairo to stay silent about the situation. Following this, Nairo deactivated his Twitter account and his brother Ksizzle confirmed that "Nairo is done." Nairo eventually reactivated his Twitter and posted a statement apologizing for his actions, saying that he would no longer be active on social media. He deleted his social media accounts but created a protected dummy account that had his original Twitter username of NairoMK.
The allegations sparked an overwhelming amount of backlash against Nairo, as many people who looked up to him before were disappointed in his actions. In the early morning of July 2nd, Nairo was dropped by his long-standing team NRG. Following this, the 2GGaming panel banned Nairo from all of their future events, alongside several others accused of sexual misconduct during this time. Twitch also banned and unpartnered Nairo on September 10th.
The allegations, however, became questionable after several statements from CaptainZack's TwitLonger, including the hush money, were revealed to be manipulated information following tamim's TwitLonger on September 14th. Furthermore, on October 28th, Nairo released a more detailed statement refuting CaptainZack's side of the story, claiming that he had woken up to Zack forcefully performing oral sex on him (which was corroborated by tamim's statement), that he had briefly froze before pushing Zack off, and that Zack had blackmailed him into one other sexual encounter as well. He ended his statement saying that he had an attorney in case Zack continued to push his case, and that he was also seeking therapy for the trauma caused by Zack. Nairo also stated that he had a 30-page document with evidence for the entire situation which several other players, including Cosmos and VoiD, have confirmed. As a result, a number of players started to recant their disapproval and advocate to lift the ban.
On February 19th, 2021, Nairo uploaded an update video, stating that everything was resolved and that he was considering returning to streaming, understanding that there would be people who'd be apprehensive at his return. Following Nairo's statement and multiple social media movements by the community to unban Nairo, tournament organizations 2GGaming and Collision lifted Nairo's ban from their events after processing his appeal, while the Super Smash Bros. Global Ban Database also took his name off of their list. In spite of this, Twitch has yet to overturn their ban on Nairo, which also put a hold on any possible tournament activity since other Twitch channels could get in trouble for featuring someone banned from the platform on stream. As such, Nairo has resumed streaming on YouTube since April 8th.