Naoto “ProtoBanham” Tsuji made history when he became the first non-American to win the Smash Ultimate Summit 5, earning an unfortunately low prize pool. But Proto also earned the nickname “Ice Man” during his Grand Finals match with Paris “Light” Garcia.
ProtoBanham was coined the Ice Man due to his ability to slow down the momentum of a match. Commentator Zak “Coney” Zeeks even asked Light if he was prepared to be “iced” by Proto’s campy playstyle, with Light answering confidently that he was ready with his own game plan.
Light added, however, that it “depends how long it takes” for the set to start. It was clear that Light was on a roll after his hot streak and wanted to start the grand finals match as soon as possible. But Light was taken out of the zone after the bracket reset when ProtoBanham announced that he had to use the bathroom.
While the commentators found the situation funny, even requesting blankets as a reference to Proto icing out Light, the Fox main was not amused. With a pretty stern expression, he stated: “If I’m going to lose, this is why.”
And lose he did; that six minutes may have possibly killed Light’s momentum, allowing Proto to reset and refocus in the meantime.
— Beyond the Smash (@BTSsmash) September 19, 2022
Light apologizes to ProtoBanham at Glitch Regen
A week or so after his defeat, Light decided to speak on his second place finish to Proto at Summit. In a post-match interview after coming out on top at Glitch Regen, Light used his time on camera to apologize to ProtoBanham.
“I don’t usually tweet this because I don’t feel the need to prove myself. But I did mention at Summit that I got iced out by ProtoBanham and I looked back at the set and he really didn’t ice me out. It was just me in my own head because everything feels longer when you have that pressure in your head,” Light said.
He added that when he or anyone else refers to Proto as the Ice Man, it’s just a joke. While he doesn’t know if ProtoBanham took it personally, Light said he’d still like to apologize if he ever did.
The Smash community responded positively to Light’s apology, feeling that he went above and beyond by doing it on a livestream in front of the entire scene. A lot of Smash players said they respected Light for this, previously feeling the comment at Summit was in “bad taste.” This unexpectedly sweet and wholesome moment made up for the sourness of his previous behavior during the high-stakes Summit finals.
Light has been known to make some unsportsmanlike comments in the past, but the apology had many in the Smash community coming to his defense. The Smash scene is known for its salty, toxic playerbase, so the maturity and positivity of the moment left many feeling refreshed.