Insider experiences at “Smash Bros” tournaments


Andrew Lang

Jordan Hay, Staff Writer

“Super Smash Brothers,” or shortened to just “Smash,” is a fighting game made by Nintendo that includes an abundance of their most popular characters.

There’s the recognizable Mario and Donkey Kong and even some characters from third-party games like Cloud Strife from Square Soft’s “Final Fantasy” or even Snake from Konami’s “Metal Gear” franchise. Smash is known by a lot of people as the ultimate crossover title. So eat your heart out, Marvel.

I’ve played the various Smash titles all of my gaming life but just began taking part in the competitive scene in 2014. Since then I have traveled as far as Las Vegas for tournaments and even organized many events with people spanning from the Spokane area, Tri-Cities, Boise and even Oregon.

“Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” is the latest entry in the Smash series. Smash Ultimate was released on Dec. 7, 2018, for the Nintendo Switch console. This is the Smash title that I have been putting in the most time to recently.

An example of a tournament that I went to recently was “Beak Bonk” which was held in the Resonate Church in Pullman, Wash. Beak Bonk was the biggest tournament held in a long time in the Palouse/LCV area. With competitors coming from Western Washington, Spokane/CDA, Southern Idaho and even a few from the Valley.

This event held brackets for both “Super Smash Brothers Melee,” the Smash game for the Gamecube and Smash Ultimate. I entered both the Melee 1v1 bracket and Ultimate 1v1 bracket for this event. With how I was doing at previous events, I felt like I had what it took to make a deep run in the Smash Ultimate bracket.

I had a lot of confidence going into my first set of the tournament. All my practice and training would pay off, I thought, and I would finally show that I was a legitimate contender in the region. With all of those thoughts in my head, I put in my headphones, listened to my Paramore playlist and started the match. Things were going alright at first. My opponent and I traded games, and we started game three of the set. All three games were super close. They could have gone either way. In the end, however, I ended up losing!

Disappointed but undettered, it was time for me to make the losers’ bracket run of a century! And for what it’s worth, I did end up beating three people in the losers’ bracket. With my bracket run ending a couple of matches outside of the top 16 brackets, my placing was 25 out of 79 entrants. Not as good as I wanted, but I still had a great time. My Mario and I were just not ready for the long run.

After I was out of the bracket, I was asked to do commentary for the streamed matches. This was a very unique and awesome experience for me. I’ve always wanted a chance to do commentary for a Smash event like this. Wanting to be a broadcaster for a career, sharing commentary gave me great practical experience.

My favorite moment from this event had to be the grand finals for Smash Ultimate. A player from Spokane who goes by the gamer tag “BM” was in the winner’s side of grand finals and a player from Pullman who goes by the gamer tag “Pi” was in the losers’ side. This meant that Pi had to win two back-to-back three out of five sets to win the tournament.

The crowd was split between the two players. The Spokane players were rooting for their guy and the WSU conglomerate were rooting for their guy. The two players had played in the winners’ final were BM took the set with a very close 3 to 2.

Pi had the momentum coming into those grand finals set after winning his last set against LCV native Angelo Funaro who goes by “Pizza.” Pi rode this momentum and swept BM in set one of grand finals.
Pi took a game. Then BM took his first game. They traded games back and forth until they hit the final game. Game five.

The tension was so real in the building. This was very apparent even in the isolated room for commentary, which I was in at the time. I and my co-commentator, WSU student and Smash player Jared Bradley, lost our composure at this point.

This tournament had been great all day and now was ending with an exciting final between the hometown kid versus an outsider coming for the throne. The narrative wrote itself.

The final game was more nerve-racking than the rest of the grand finals. I couldn’t imagine what was going on in the players’ heads at the time.

Pi started the game by taking BM’s first stock. BM then quickly rebutted with taking Pi’s first stock. We were in for a “butt-clencher” of a final game.

They traded stocks once more. Final stock for both competitors in the final game of the tournament. The crowd fell silent, just sitting there waiting to see what would happen in the next couple of minutes.

BM racked up a lot of damage on Pi’s last life, and it seemed like BM would be taking the tournament and thus ended the dream of a WSU player winning the WSU event.

Pi would not go out without a fight, however. Pi executed a combo on BM and made the damage percent about even to his.

They were both moving their characters so delicately, knowing that one mistake would mean they would lose the tournament.

Pi knocked BM off stage (in the game of course) and was set up to seal the deal. Pi then hit BM with the last fatal blow and thus made him the victor.

Pi launched from his seat, and the other WSU players rushed the stage to celebrate with him. He had done it. WSU had done it. They had run this amazing tournament, and their guy had won it over all the adversity of being in the losers’ bracket.

Overall, I had a good impression of the event. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the venue, and it seemed like everyone was having a great time. I would say this was a textbook example of a regional Super Smash Bros. tournament.

One of the amazing things about the event was the people. The event-goers were hyped from the very beginning of the day. These people were popping off for every little thing going on. Overall, the crowd made the matches more enjoyable to watch.

I talked to Andrew Lang, vice president and tournament organizer for the Smash Brothers club at Washington State University. He, along with the other tournament organizers, helped bring their hope to run a regional tournament in Pullman a reality.

“The event ran well overall. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it,” Lang said.

When asked what he thought could have gone better, Lang added, “There are a few timing things we could have done better, like scheduling the top 8, offsetting pool times and offsetting the top 16 for each game. So mostly just scheduling things.”

I was curious if a tournament like this brought in more people to their Smash club at WSU and their weeklies. “Yeah definitely! It already has. We’ve seen a few more people at our weeklies since Beak Bonk,” Lang said.

The WSU Smash people held one heck of a tournament, and I am glad that I was there to compete and to help out with what I could.

If you are interested in picking up Smash and coming to tournaments, there are Smash Ultimate tournaments every Wednesday at Game Play in Clarkston. Join the “LCV Super Smash Brothers” page on Facebook for more information.