ZeRo admits he retired from competitive Super Smash Bros. because of the anxiety his legacy caused him

Mental health continues to be a big factor in competitive careers.

Screengrab via Tempo Storm

After retiring from playing competitive Super Smash Bros. in 2018, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios continued to grow at an incredible rate as a content creator. But there was more to his decision to retire than just wanting to stream and make videos, the streamer revealed yesterday. 

ZeRo faced questions from his fan base asking about why he gave up on competitive play despite being so dominant in Smash 4. After a string of tweets where he talked about how much he loved the series, the former pro player admitted that he retired because he was struggling with stress and anxiety stemming from his legacy as a player. 

After switching over from Melee and Brawl to Smash 4, ZeRo secured a 56-tournament win streak that ran from November 2014 to October 2015, a record that made it into the Guinness World Records in 2017. By the time he announced his retirement, the Chilean had been named the top Smash 4 player in the world for the fourth straight year.

In a note to his followers, ZeRo explained that he didn’t quit playing to make more money through stream, which is the biggest theory that the streamer has turned into a joke on his channel. But rather, he was tired of dealing with the anxiety and stress that the expectations of his legacy placed on his shoulders. 

“People think I stopped playing for money,:” Zero said. “I used to say that because it was easier than admitting my weakness. The truth is I genuinely did try to play competitive again, but it was impossible to motivate myself to practice and the expectations that come with my legacy honestly scared me.”

This post comes just under a year since the last time he competed in an Ultimate tournament before officially retiring again and returning to his full-time content creation. 

“People would expect me to be the best, and nothing short of that would be a disappointment to myself, the people, and the sponsors,” ZeRo said. “I tried to deal with that level of pressure again, but it felt way too overwhelming and it was giving me health issues strictly related to anxiety and stress.”

He goes on to mention the success he found in content creation and how that became his drive in place of competitive play.

ZeRo recently signed an exclusivity deal with Facebook Gaming to move his stream over to the new platform while still creating some of the most-viewed Smash content on YouTube. He has made several changes to his life since leaving the spotlight of the competitive community, and he plans to continue to improve moving forward. 

“I had to let go a bit to change the switch to enjoy Smash again, but casually now,” ZeRo said. “This is why I disconnected myself from tournaments a lot more and you don’t see me attend or talk about them much. For me it’s a way of making sure I stay on track with doing other things and to also not have smash one my mind all day. That’s all.”