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