TCC’s Forum was chock full of the western region’s finest college Smash: Ultimate players yesterday for the Collegiate Starleague regional tournament. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona won the tournament, but no trophy was lifted, and no briefcase full of 20s was placed into their hands. Winning this stage of the circuit did, however, get them and runner-up University of California, Irvine a step closer to a piece of the $15,000 pot in August’s national tournament.

It was also one of the few LAN events of the year where Smash players in the area could play each other in person.

Smash players both casual and super serious probably know how communal the game can really be. Lots of us played with our siblings or friends in six-player games where no one had any idea what was going on and you just down-b’d Kirby hoping to land on someone’s head. It’s not quite the same in many competitive scenes where the game is starkly individual.

It’s just player vs. player. No items. No fun.

Just kidding it’s super fun, but college Smash lets players escape the solitude of a game where it’s often just you and your controller, letting people play with their teammates cheering from the sidelines.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday at the Forum, where students drove down from places like Utah and Arizona to play against other SoCal teams in hopes of reaching the next round of the tournament. Occasional yips and ‘poggers’ burst from all corners of the room where squads of jersey-clad college kids huddled around monitors, rooting for whoever was playing from their team at the moment.

Terrance “Smoothie” Li, the top player on USC’s Varsity team, compared a collegiate tournament with a typical local scene by saying it “feels a lot more like you’re with the homies... there’s a lot of spirit.” He also said that “there’s a lot more riding on the matches because of competition, this is the only way for smashers to feel like they’re in a group.”

Team rivalry is a thing of course. The competitive atmosphere between spectators is inevitable during a close match, but Smoothie remarked that there’s rarely any violence, and that much of the trash talk is just players who “want their boys to win.”

Nicholas Augustin from California State University, Northridge plays in many local tournaments, and said that the atmosphere was “more laid back, more of a social gathering. But since we’re competing for money… [laughs].” He said that there aren’t as many good players at events like this which reduces a little bit of the competitive aspect, but he still definitely wanted to win the check.

“I’d get a Lambo, no, I’d probably spend it on my friends, save it, invest in stocks.” he said.

Augustin’s team eventually beat USC in a close crew match, knocking the team out of the losers bracket.

An animated explanation of a crew battle taken from The Smash Brothers documentary (from https://www.ssbwiki.com/Crew_battle)
An animated explanation of a crew battle taken from The Smash Brothers documentary (from https://www.ssbwiki.com/Crew_battle)

Games were played all over the room, with one constantly projected onto a big screen in the front. USC casters Andrew “Obeso” Obeso and Tom “Gimmick” Ling shouted through the matches on the CSL Twitch stream, reacting to each blunder with an ‘uh-oh’ or a note of praise for players of the western teams.

Bryce Limmer came from Utah Valley University (UVU) to play in his first out of state tournament, saying that “It was really fun. Love the game, love seeing new play-styles and meeting new people.”

UVU was outmatched by SoCal schools like UCI and CSUN, who went far in the tournament, but not to the extent of Cal Poly Pomona who stormed towards victory over UCI in the final. The last set of the last crew battle showcased a tense match-up between UCI’s Cyro vs. CPP’s T3 Dom who culminated their match mid air where T3 Dom fluked an up-smash and was dropped out of the map.

There wasn’t a single’s bracket this time to the chagrin of some of the USC players. I did, however, overhear a fierce debate over how long some guy was willing to host a Smash: Melee get-together at his house. Apparently there were some logistical issues getting the old CRT monitors over there.

I hope they had a good time.