The 808’s from the concert last Thursday rattled around the varsity Smash tournament tent, but the players and their audience weren’t paying much attention. I was curious though, so I stepped out into the dark just to see Saweetie and Quavo making out on stage.

I walked right back in.

But the Smash: Ultimate tournament happened at the very end of the evening following several hours of pure digital carnage. The festivities began at 4 p.m. with USC and UCLA going head to head in two matches of Hearthstone.

Players on the Fight On! varsity Hearthstone team Eric
Players on the Fight On! varsity Hearthstone team Eric "Soulreaper" Yu, John "SpeakerOTH" Ramsey, and Jason "JJXTX" Jiang share a moment with their rivals after both teams lost two games using the Paladin hero. The final game was to be decided in a Paladin v Paladin matchup. Cardinal and Gold's lineup included Evan "Vivanco Vivano, Julian "Jucchan" Kida, and Carl "Cyanide" Luo.

Fight On! and Cardinal and Gold won their matches with scores of 3-2. Cardinal and Gold got their redemption for a loss to UCLA in the first round of the Tespa playoffs, and the win came after little in the way of preparation.

“We were thinking about the football game on Saturday, and I just wrapped up a bunch of midterms and stuff, but it’s great that they came all the way out here and showed up and I’m glad they had fun as well," said John “SpreakerOTH” Ramsey, a player for Fight On!.

The event moved to the main stage where Overwatch and League of Legends had brief moments in the spotlight, though the players themselves were obscured by the massive screen in front of the stage.

League of Legends coach Joe Jacko makes his way to the main stage.
League of Legends coach Joe Jacko makes his way to the main stage.

For Arnold Ha, the manager of the USC Esports Union, the main stage experience was the most exciting part of Conquest.

“It’s always that first ten seconds when you launch the stream and see yourself on stage and a crowd starts to form around you and you realize that this is happening, this is actually happening,” he said.

Varsity Overwatch played first, starting a little late after a few technical problems. Kenneth
Varsity Overwatch played first, starting a little late after a few technical problems. Kenneth "Patriot" Peralta said it was his first time playing in front of this many people.
USC played well, taking the first game to the final round but ended up losing to a close last push from UCLA. Limited time allowed for only one round to be played on the main stage.
USC played well, taking the first game to the final round but ended up losing to a close last push from UCLA. Limited time allowed for only one round to be played on the main stage.
League of Legends had an even shorter time on stage, only able to do their bans and picks before getting whisked away to the tents of the Esports Pavilion where they played the rest of the match.
League of Legends had an even shorter time on stage, only able to do their bans and picks before getting whisked away to the tents of the Esports Pavilion where they played the rest of the match.
Spectators gathered around the two tents where League and Overwatch were being played. The matches happened simultaneously.
Spectators gathered around the two tents where League and Overwatch were being played. The matches happened simultaneously.
After a one game lead for UCLA, the Overwatch match resumed in the Esports Pavilion where USC responded with a victory, tying it up with one game left to play.
After a one game lead for UCLA, the Overwatch match resumed in the Esports Pavilion where USC responded with a victory, tying it up with one game left to play.
After a big last push, UCLA managed to hold the objective and seized the final round. USC was playing with three substitutes, and played very well despite making a few key mistakes according to Peralta.
After a big last push, UCLA managed to hold the objective and seized the final round. USC was playing with three substitutes, and played very well despite making a few key mistakes according to Peralta.
The Varsity Overwatch team from left to right: Selina
The Varsity Overwatch team from left to right: Selina "Skye" Anastasha, Arjun "AA7" Atwal, Iggnatius "Zoombaroomba" Mullin, Peter "Solidghost" Yang, Mailani "Sasser" Gelles, Jae Shim and Kenneth "Patriot" Peralta.

There was more than just esports at Conquest though. People walked around the food carts and other vendors in between matches.

Students stopped by the Overwatch tent after getting some food...
Students stopped by the Overwatch tent after getting some food...
...while others tried out products like this racing simulator from MSI, a sponsor of USC esports. MSI also provided all the computers for this year's tournament.
...while others tried out products like this racing simulator from MSI, a sponsor of USC esports. MSI also provided all the computers for this year's tournament.
Spectators couldn't get enough video games, breaking out the Nintendo Switch in between Overwatch rounds.
Spectators couldn't get enough video games, breaking out the Nintendo Switch in between Overwatch rounds.

Many of the spectators were players themselves, watching the games with a deep understanding of how they were played, but some had really no idea what was going on.

“I played the [Overwatch] beta years ago, I don’t remember anything. We’re here to support our friend Selina. Go Skye!" said Bryceton Scurr, a student at USC.

Another student, Jared, played League of Legends for a while and is familiar with it overall, but regarding this tournament he “walked in here and saw it happening and thought, ooh, that’s fun.”

He was one of the many people watching the exciting League of Legends frag fest happening under the tent.

Many showed up to watch the carnage take place on screen after the first big moment of the match...
Many showed up to watch the carnage take place on screen after the first big moment of the match...
...where USC's Di
...where USC's Di "5050" Wu got the opening kill.
A bloodbath ensued. USC evaporated 22 of UCLA's champions, losing only three of their own. The first round's confidence didn't serve them well in the second, however, where UCLA took a decisive win.
A bloodbath ensued. USC evaporated 22 of UCLA's champions, losing only three of their own. The first round's confidence didn't serve them well in the second, however, where UCLA took a decisive win.
But the crowd was behind them every step of the way. They went absolutely nuts after every big play, keeping the energy high as the match went to the final round.
But the crowd was behind them every step of the way. They went absolutely nuts after every big play, keeping the energy high as the match went to the final round.
Hosts Daniel
Hosts Daniel "Dgon" Gonzales and Michael Ahn fueled the excited crowd with nonstop live commentary.
After a rapid spree of kills by both Garrett
After a rapid spree of kills by both Garrett "Poi" Krichbaum and Brandon "Gunning" Gunning, USC took the victory. The final score was 2-1. "I think in game three we realized we had to play to our win conditions... we were able to regroup mentally and make coordinated pushes and win the game off of that," said Gunning.
"Our team is very strong mentally, despite what they might say about each other, and they've really come together. I feel like I can really trust that the players have come to play," said Jacko in his post game interview.
League of Legends players from left to right: Michael Ahn (commentator), Joe Jacko, Brandon
League of Legends players from left to right: Michael Ahn (commentator), Joe Jacko, Brandon "Gunning" Gunning, William " i need cuddles" Huang, Di "Woody" Wu, Garrett "Poi" Krichbaum and Hoang "Kamdono" Phan
Right after League of Legends ended, members of the Esports Union and the Smash: Ultimate team started setting up for the tournament....
Right after League of Legends ended, members of the Esports Union and the Smash: Ultimate team started setting up for the tournament....
...but not before the drawing of numbers for the MSI monitor raffle. They gave away the Optix AG32C monitor which runs for about $230 on Amazon.
...but not before the drawing of numbers for the MSI monitor raffle. They gave away the Optix AG32C monitor which runs for about $230 on Amazon.
After the drawing, the Smash: Ultimate tournament began in a crew style format explained in this gif. (Gif from https://www.ssbwiki.com/Crew_battle)
After the drawing, the Smash: Ultimate tournament began in a crew style format explained in this gif. (Gif from https://www.ssbwiki.com/Crew_battle)
The first matchup didn't start off too well for USC, where star player Terrence
The first matchup didn't start off too well for USC, where star player Terrence "Smoothie" Li, lost the first round, commencing a UCLA lead which continuously grew until they eventually won the match with two players still left over.


But the second match saw things turning around for USC. Smoothie took things into his own hands, wiping two UCLA players off the map before losing his final life.
But the second match saw things turning around for USC. Smoothie took things into his own hands, wiping two UCLA players off the map before losing his final life.
Thomas
Thomas "Aloha" Johnston picked up where Smoothie left off, on his way to taking down another player before the match was called early due to time constraints. Terrence "Smoothie" Li thought they would have had a good chance if the second round was allowed to continue. "I think in the second crew battle we were starting to warm up, I had just taken six spots and aloha was on course to take more than three spots," he said.

One could look at the Smash tournament result as a draw. USC was ahead by four lives when the fire department demanded that the tents be taken down, according to the organizers of the event. But UCLA did take the first match while the second was left unfinished.

On their official Instagram page, the USC Esports Union considered the match a tie.

Francisco “Papa Frank” Serrano, the president and captain of the USC Smash Club said “I hope we can finish this next year, this is the second year in a row that we ended in a tie,” referring to last year’s Conquest League match vs. UCLA that ended 1-1.

The USC Smash team. From left to right Francisco
The USC Smash team. From left to right Francisco "Papa Frank" Serrano, Terrence "Smoothie" Li, Julian "Jucchan" Kida, Lokesh "Loke" Bhardwaj and Thomas "Aloha" Johnston

The final scores were 3-2 in Hearthstone, 1-2 in Overwatch, 2-1 in League of Legends, and 1-1* in Smash.

After weeks of preparation and two days of physical setup, Ha thought the event was a success.

“I think it bodes well for next season, we are seeing our teams start to grow and our program start to grow too,” he said.

Gunning also saw the excitement of video games spilling out into real life.

“It’s really great to see the whole community come together, because a lot of it is online. It’s a good way to show how big esports at USC really is.”