Super Smash Bros. tournament attracts dozens of competitors

‘A really good community’

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Super Smash Bros. tournament attracts dozens of competitors

Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

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On Saturday afternoon, a room in the basement of the Campus Center was filled with laughter, conversation and rapid clicking as dozens competed in the Zoo Super Smash Bros. Tournament at the University of Massachusetts.

The monthly tournament, the third held this semester by the Super Smash Bros. Club at UMass, included several events over the course of the afternoon on both the classic “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and more recent “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” versions of the game. At any given time, approximately 14 games could be ongoing across a variety of televisions and gaming systems, all brought in by members of the club.

Eli Gukovsky, a senior computer science student, joined the club his freshman year and now serves as president of the organization.

“I was in the competitive Smash scene when I was in high school,” Gukovsky said. “It’s a really good community, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Gukovsky said there are a lot of people at UMass who like the Smash Bros. franchise but not that many who know the club exists. However, Gukovsky added that around 50 people usually attend their weekly Thursday meetings, and total membership has neared 100 people.

“Every single week, we’re dragging all the equipment from Bartlett [Hall],” Gukovsky said. “Everyone here, we’re all friends.”

Events included singles and doubles competitions for both the Melee and Ultimate games, with winners being rewarded based on the number of total entrants. For Saturday’s competition, there were about 20 entrants for the Melee competition and over 40 for the Ultimate competition. When not playing, attendees were able to observe the competition or just enjoy an afternoon with friends.

Gukovsky noted that competitors also came from outside UMass. On Saturday, he said there were members from Hampshire College, Amherst College and local high schools.

Angel Diaz graduated UMass in 2019 but came from Springfield to participate in the tournament. Diaz was a member of the club when he studied mathematics at the University, and said he still has a lot of friends in the group.

“[The tournaments] are a great way of making friends and exposing yourself to a bunch of other people,” Diaz said as he waited for his next round in the Melee competition.

As he was setting up his screen and gaming system at the far end of the room, senior English major Parawat Chang said he really liked the community he had found with the Super Smash Bros. Club.

“We can talk about life or classes,” Chang said, adding that he had made many friends in the group. When watching others play, he said he could get a “look at who they are” based on the character they chose to compete with.

Michael Melaku, a freshman on the exploratory track in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, said he was familiar with the franchise before coming to UMass. He added that he liked to “interact with other people in and outside the game.”

While he competed in the Melee tournament, Melaku said he liked to play both. When asked what his favorite characters to use were, Melaku said it was Falco in Melee and Joker in Ultimate.

Gukovsky added that, in addition to being a community, the tournament serves as a good outlet for competition. The club holds its own rankings each semester, which will be revealed at the final tournament on Friday, Dec. 6. At the same time, people don’t have to be good to have fun, according to Gukovsky.

“We want to see more people,” Gukovsky said. “The more friends we have, the better.”

“People are willing to teach you,” Diaz said. “It’s a great way not to just learn the game, but to make friends.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @KathrineEsten.