“Secure the Bag” – A Smash Player’s Success Online

Despite the delays, cancellations and changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about for the “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” competitive community, one player has managed to find continued success. Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan, currently the best Roy in “Ultimate” and one of Georgia’s best players, has taken home over $10,000 in prizes from both online and Lan tournaments.

Kola’s tournament history and placings prior to Online events // Image Credits: redbull.com

Prior to the smash communities exodus to online tournaments in order to makeup for cancelled Lan events, Kola was already showcasing his skills and competencies as a top-level “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” player. Winning a number of in-person events like Kumite in Tennessee, Clash of the Carolinas III and Georgia local tournaments, Kola was already setting the stones for his success in Ultimate. Having wins against top-level competitors like Light, Mew2king, Dabuz, Cosmos and Nairo, Kola has managed to land a spot as the 46th best player in the world, ranking him among the top 50 of tens of thousands of Ultimate competitors.

Once the community began to migrate to online events in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, Kola began his winstreak, winning the $20,000 “Soaked Series Invitational” hosted by Cr1TiKaL on the twitch.tv streaming platform. Along with this, Kola also won the first $10,000 invitational tournament for the online tournament series “The Quarantine Series” hosted by Cr1TiKaL, defeating many top players in his tournament run.

“The Soaked Series Invitational” hosted by Cr1tikal Final Placings // Photo Credits: dailyesports.gg

Along with the shift to online, many top-level Ultimate competitors have looked towards streaming their tournament runs and have began a schedule of livestreaming for their audience. Kola has just recently began to also use the Twitch.tv live-streaming platform to share content and showcase his performance during online events, giving audience members a more personal tournament experience than what they are used to usually viewing. Averaging over 500 viewers per stream, Kola has also managed to find success as a “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” streamer and competitor, showing his flexibility with the community’s limited options for competition.

However, despite the large number of tournaments available due to the new online environment, there are still a large number of complaints about playing “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” online. One of the biggest issues that players like Kola and one Tennessee’s best players Makibaz have complained about is the lag and like of secure connection while playing “Ultimate” online. “There are too many things that can go wrong due to the connections being unstable,” Makibaz said, “Not only that, but it also much easier for people to falsify game scores and force lag upon their opponents, which makes the jobs of the tournament organizers that much more difficult.”

Kola taking the final stock of one of Mexico’s best players, Maister, during the online Quarantine Series Finals. Photo Credits: https://www.twitch.tv/moistcr1tikal

Regardless of the game’s issues of lag, false reporting and technical server issues, the online tournament host and bracket creator smash.gg has been the primary service many esports tournament organizers have used to create their new online tournaments. Kola’s run continues with the “Quarantine Series” online major event “Pound Online” happening on the weekend of April 24th, with already over 5,000 registered competitors competing for the $5,000 prize pool.

Wakalet: https://wke.lt/w/s/sSbt-S

The Travels of a Super Smash Brothers Pro

Mkleo’s Victory at EVO2019 / Photo Credits: MyNintendoNews.com

Much like the pros in the NFL, professional esports players can have quite a few miles on their travel itineraries. The year of competition for a committed and sponsored esport player can mean travelling across the globe multiple times in just a few months, or even weeks. “Super Smash Brothers” pros Leonardo “Mkleo” Lopez Perez and Dylan “Makibaz” Bullard know exactly what it is like to travel to new places to compete and show off their talents.

In a span of just three months, “Mkleo” managed to travel to “Super Smash Brothers” competitions in over 4 different countries, including tournaments in Japan, Mexico, Austria, and the United States. Players with enough talent in the “Smash Brothers” world can be sponsored, and with a sponsorship comes new opportunities for travel. Leo’s past sponsorship with the esports team “Echofox”, and current sponsorship with “SK Telecom T1, allowed for him to travel to a variety of tournaments and helped contribute to his rise as the number one player in “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate” today.

In an interview with ESPN Esports, Leo talked about how his travels were affected by his sponsorship, “the partnership with Echofox really gave me a lot of good opportunities to travel… and companies like my brother’s esports company MK are sponsoring more players in Mexico and allowing them to travel.” With a schedule full of tournaments, Mkleo was able to make the most of his “Super Smash Brothers” 2019 (and early 2020) season, winning 16 of the 27 tournaments he attended.

Dylan “Makibaz” Bullard in tournament match // Photo Credits: Dylan Bullard

 On a more local level, the number 1 ranked player in Mississippi and Memphis, Dylan “Makibaz” Bullard also shared his experiences as a travelling esports professional. Attending events in California, Mississippi, Indiana, and Tennessee, Makibaz talked about some of the preparation that comes with planning for a year full of smash. “I try to plan major tournaments as far in advance as I possibly can so that I can have the full plans mapped out where there could be no surprises. When it comes to locals, monthlies, and regionals, I usually look for which tournament has the most potential in terms of challenging opponents that will push me to improve, or the payouts that they will have.”

Bullard also has quite a career, winning or placing in top 8 of most every Tennessee tournament he has competed at. Travelling, according to Bullard, is something that he not only does for his smash career but also something he does with friends. His current doubles partner, the number one ranked player in Tennessee, traveled with him to tournaments like “Genesis” in California.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Bullard talked about the difficulties of competing in online tournaments, and just how much different they can be from the LAN tournaments that he travelled to. “I feel like online smash tournaments are great in theory, but awful in practice. There are too many things that can go wrong simply due to the connection being unstable… and the jobs of the tournament organizers get a lot more difficult,” Bullard said.

University of Tennessee Esports club smash player Lofton Kennedy in tournament // Photo Credits: Elijah Hunt

               Despite schedules for these esports players being interrupted because of the COVID pandemic, both Makibaz and Mkleo look towards the future with hopes of returning to their tournament travel plans.

UT Esports Teams Travel to Florida for Collegiate Tournament

The University of Tennessee’s “Super Smash Brothers” esports team traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the CSL: Southeastern Regional tournament on February 16th. The tournament featured eight different collegiate esports club teams, as they competed for one of the two qualifying spots to nationals in Atlanta, Georgia for $15,000.

UTK Esports “Street Fighter V” team warming up before matches // Photo by Elijah Hunt

The UTK smash team traveled over nine hours to compete with other university teams like the University of Florida and Georgia in a double-elimination style bracket. The tournament series hosted by the Collegiate Star League, an esports organization that hosts a variety of collegiate esports tournament series across the United States for scholarship money, was one of the last regionals, setting the stage for the nationals in May.

The UTK esports team’s roster included students from a variety of colleges and majors. Lofton Kennedy, Christian Prickett, Elijah Hunt, Steven Rickett, and Matthew Maynard were the five students competing in the “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate” crew battle tournament. The team’s captain and club officer, Matthew Maynard, drove the team and organized the roster for the event. “When I was thinking about the roster, I decided to just go with who I knew would compete well and represent UT well. We have all competed together before, so there was already a lot of synergy, which is why I knew the five of us would be good.” Maynard said.

UTK Esports “Super Smash Brothers” team // Photo by Elijah Hunt

With over 100 entrants from across Florida and the southeast, the event featured “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate”, “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and “Street Fighter V”, each with qualifying spots for nationals. The tournaments were held in the University of Central Florida’s Student Union building, with designated areas for each game.

The tournament was a “crew battle” format, with five members from each school’s club competing against one another. This format of competition is a common method for collegiate competition, and the primary way that CSL runs their tournaments. Players are required to select their characters and finalize a roster prior to the beginning of the match, adding another level of strategy that cannot be found in 1v1 style play. Each match had an unlimited amount of time, giving players the opportunity to tryout new playstyles and strategies that they might not be able to try or use in the seven minute “singles” format.

Pools begin for singles at CSL: Orlando Venue // Photo by Elijah Hunt

The University of Tennessee’s “Smash Bros” team competed but fell short of the required placing needed to advance on to the next round, while the team’s “Street Fighter V” team has moved onto the next round. With close sets in both of UT’s matches, freshman Steven Rickett feels hopeful about the team’s future in competition. “We were playing really well, but I know that we have a lot we need to work on now. Our next step is competing in college crews at Volan, so we are going to try our best to keep grinding and improve,” Rickett said.

“Smash Bros” Team Captain Matthew Maynard setting up for his match // Photo by Elijah Hunt

The Collegiate Star League’s national tournament will be held in August in Massachusetts at the “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate” major tournament “Shine”. There, 16 teams will compete for the $15,000 grand prize in a similar double elimination style bracket.

UTK Esports Club Hosts Their First Tournament of the 2020 Semester

With a crowd of students and gamers alike, the UTK Esports program hosted their first LAN gaming tournament of the semester on the last Friday of January. The club’s event featured tournaments for popular fighting game titles like “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate”, “Tekken”, and “Blazblue: Crosstag Battle”.

The UTK Esports club hosts each of their monthly meetings with new tournaments and games, with their “Smash Bash” series being the most popular according to attendance. The club also hosts multiple “fight nights” and livestreaming nights for other games like “Street Fighter”, “League of Legends” and “Minecraft”.

While the entrants lined up to register for their game of choice, tournament organizer and club official Matthew Maynard was behind the scenes making sure all events ran smoothly. Building the streaming setup, organizing staff for the event, seeding tournament participants, and communicating with other club officials are just a few of the jobs that a tournament organizer like Maynard might be responsible for. “I need to be able to be ready for literally anything that might go wrong, or be ready to do anything to make sure that the tournament runs smoothly. I like to communicate with other tournament organizers and competitors so I can get a good idea of what might need to be adjusted,” Maynard said.

Communicating with any competitor that might have a question, Maynard and a small group of tournament organizers were able to run multiple tournaments in less than five hours that evening, with over 100 people in attendance. Creating waves of pools for the tournament, Maynard was able to progress through the tournament in a timely fashion, with many attendees leaving satisfied. One attendee in particular, Andrew “float” Houston was extremely satisfied with the event. “This is the first Smash Bash that I’ve been to, and it went by really well and I met a lot of new faces I haven’t seen in the community before. I definitely will be back,” Houston said. Along with the monthly tournament series that UTK Esports hosts called “Smash Bash”, Maynard is already making plans for the club’s next major tournament event in March.

A Glimpse into a Tennessee Super Smash Brothers Tournament

In the esports world, there are large-scale tournaments or events taking place almost every weekend for a variety of different gaming titles. This is especially true for the local esports community in east Tennessee, as over 100 competitors from across the state traveled to Chattanooga’s Stone Cup Cafe to compete in the Scenic City Smash tournament series.

Competitors play out their tournament sets during Scenic City Smash

“Scenic City Smash” is a part of a long-running “Super Smash Brothers” tournament series that has been taking place for over 4 years, attracting new players with each new event from all over the state. Located in Chattanooga, the event is just one of the many different esports events that might take place on a weekend in Tennessee. The tournament attracts around 100 entrants per event, a limit set due to venue restrictions, and has been one of Tennessee’s most popular “Smash Brothers Ultimate” events for the past 2 years. Starting with a doubles event (think doubles like in Tennis) at 11 in the morning, the event lasted for a full 12 hours until the singles grand finals event at 11 that night. The tournament also featured a professional stream where competitors could play and have their matches shown live on Twitch.

Two competitors face off on the tournament’s Twitch.tv streaming setup

Packed into two separate rooms at the cafe, players from many different regions of Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia came to compete. Notable top-ranking players from Georgia and Tennessee attending the event included players “Sonido”, “Gyro”, “Zerffie”and “Kasei” who were among the 110 entrants competing for the singles cash prize $500. “Sonido” was the player that emerged victorious after a long day of gaming, giving Tenneseee competitors a run for their money.

Singles begins at Scenic Smash, as two competitors face off

One of the first “Super Smash Brothers” events of the new year for Tennessee, “Scenic Smash” will be a continued tournament series that will occur monthly. Pages for tournaments like this can be found on websites like smash.gg, where players can register to compete. Along with this series, there are a multitude of esports gaming events and tournaments across Tennessee in different cities like Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis. Finding an event can be as easy as searching for a gaming community via Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter, as there are tournaments constantly happening and growing here in Tennessee.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
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The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
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  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.