by Keegan D’Alfonso
A group of guys carry in a large, old-style television and a GameCube and start setting up on a desk in the classroom, which is quickly being converted into a gaming tournament field. A couple guys wave welcome before quickly returning to their friendly match of Super Smash Bros Melee on a separate GameCube setup. Across from them, another pair starts laughing as they face each other in a match of Super Smash Bros Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.
It’s an hour before the Smash Bros tournament is scheduled to begin, and organizers are rushing to set things up as more groups show up with TVs and game systems. Those awaiting the tournament engage in friendly matches, often called “Friendlies,” as they wait. Soon, the Org leaders will begin calling out the brackets and the tournament will begin.
The tournament is organized by CU Smash Bros, which holds open tournaments every month for all interested in playing. While CU Smash Bros has been around for a while, it only became an official organization at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Org president Maury Funez and his friends have boosted involvement in CU Smash Bros by holding staggered tournaments of Super Smash Bros Melee on the Nintendo GameCube and Super Smash Bros Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.
“Those are the only events that we run,” Funez said, “We just try to build a competitive scene here in Cedarville, and we just try to get as close as we can to a top-level, professional tournament. Our goal is to just to bring people together and enjoy having fun playing Smash.”
Eventually, Funez said he would like to see the CU Smash Bros community expand beyond Cedarville to other universities in the area. It’s a vision that resonates with Ethan Rollins, the Org treasurer, who sees it as a ministry opportunity.
Rollins said he wants to put up posters in other schools to draw in people from outside the Christian community of Cedarville.
“We’ve got a lot of godly Christians here, so have a good influence of people – we pray, eat some food, play video games, and have a good time,” Rollins said
Funez, who has been playing Super Smash Bros Melee since first grade and is very passionate about the game, also sees the tournaments as a way to show Christ to others.
“I love that I can play with a bunch of people that enjoy the game as much as I do,” Funez said. “And I want other people to experience that too. And it’s just a good way to show your witness and you’re a follower of Christ because it also shows your character whenever you’re playing.”
However, at the moment, CU Smash Bros is focused on establishing themselves as an org and streamlining the tournament process.
“Our main focus right now is trying to get our name out there,” Funez said. “We’ve been starting to record our games – uploading them to our YouTube channel”
CU Smash Bros has already had a lasting impact though for individuals like Connor Dupee, who had never even played Smash until December.
“My freshman year of college I would never have imagined myself here,” said Dupee, now a junior and regular tournament attendee. “I’m a sports management major, I played basketball in high school, tried to play basketball here – I’m the opposite of the type of person you’d imagine to be here.”
Despite all that, Dupee was encouraged to play by a friend of his and can now see a future in E-Sports after college.
“I want to organize stuff like this for a living; like tournaments and events where people can come, have a good time, compete, get to know good people” Dupee said. “I didn’t realize how much of an incredible community they have online”
Tournaments are advertised on the Cedarville campus and are announced on CU Smash Bros’ Facebook page.