Watch and Read: Michigan State Esports Club Super Smash Bros. Ultimate copes during COVID-19

Watch and Read: Michigan State Esports Club Super Smash Bros.  Ultimate copes during COVID-19

Michigan has no student clubs on campus this semester, prompting the eSports club to plan and run events online.

East Lansing, Michigan – Many things have changed this year for Michigan students, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But few elements of college life remained normal, even if students were not permitted on campus this semester.

The Super Smash Bros. video game console still remains. Ultimate brings fun to Michigan State University students who gather online to compete and socialize.

The ability to remotely meet is a natural thing for gamers, as there are 57.4 million online game console users in the US according to Statista. The popular esports club at MSU usually plays in person, but kept things running afar this semester.

“It is not safe in the midst of the epidemic to hold Smash tournaments,” said club treasurer Sadeem Boujee. “It’s annoying, but it’s just video games that we can play online.”

MSU’s Smash Ultimate Club focuses on the hugely popular Nintendo Switch game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where favorite Nintendo characters and other video game characters fight in a family-style fighting game. The goal is to get other players’ characters out of the arena.

Well-known video game characters like Super Mario, Zelda, and Starfox are three of the 74 characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In a regular year, the club holds weekly competitions at the Michigan State Communications Science and Arts Building every Friday. About 100 East Lansing players participated in the Smash Ultimate Championships, making it the most attended Collegiate Weekly Championship in Michigan.

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“There were 170 participants in the first weekly competition last fall,” said club secretary Thomas Manning. “Our remote competitions in this semester usually have between 20 to 40 participants.”

The majority of the weekly participants are MSU students, but players from across the region can also participate in the weekly tournaments.

The club held 14 weekly remote competitions entitled Quarantine Quarrels to fill the void for its members. It’s difficult because the gameplay has suffered due to poor internet connections. The club creates an arc, trying to make the tournaments as natural as possible.

Quarantine quarrel:

“It’s very difficult to play online because not everyone has a wired internet connection,” said Executive Board Member Scott Maxi. “It’s still nice to have the ability to play weekly.”

Attracting new club members has been more difficult, since MSU moved to online learning before the semester began. This means that trying to reach new students and other potential members is not as easy as personal recruiting. Sparticipation, which is the MSU launch festival for student organizations, moved by default, and it didn’t do well. MSU Smash Ultimate has only gathered five potential members.

“Nobody feels the urge to go on the Wifi because you don’t see other people and hang out with them compared to who you are,” Bogie said. “Face to face, you can hang out with your friends and have a good time.”

Despite declining membership after moving far away, MSU’s Smash Ultimate Club has managed to compete and create relationships with new players.

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Manning said, “I’ve been able to meet people I don’t think I would have met otherwise.” “We have a lot of competitors, especially since the start of the semester, from Ann Arbor Theater and the University of Michigan.”

Like most clubs, for MSU Smash Ultimate, it’s not just about the club – but the opportunity to form relationships and friendships through a common interest.

“Usually after every week, most people go to either Buffalo Wild Wings or Pizza House,” Bogie said. “I usually go back home, but I went to Pizza House right before the pandemic and it was so cool and fun to be with that group.”

Like most esports competitions and clubs, MSU Smash Ultimate Club has every match commentator on the club’s broadcast on Michigan State Esports Association Twitch. While these events are dedicated to multiplayer competition, the atmosphere of MSU Smash Ultimate’s weekly newspapers was filled with laughter and humor.

“We’ve tried people making serious comments that weren’t always the best for them,” said Maxi. “Comic comments usually work better.”

Summary of last year’s club standings in the weekly leagues:

While the club is eager to return in person and enjoy some laughs, they are willing to wait for Michigan to reopen to students.

“We’ll go in person when it’s safe to do so,” Bogie said, “and we have no plans yet.”
The Executive Board hopes the club will operate as usual by the fall of 2021 but will wait and see what the world looks like then.

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