Another win for the USC Live squad, duly representing the USC Live team of streamers in the Oculus sponsored Gay Gaming Pros (GGP), GGplympics Minecraft event on Sunday afternoon.

GGP, an organization that helps students and professionals in the LGBTQ+ space succeed in the gaming and interactive media space, invited players and streamers from the USC community and their GGP Scholars program to play in a series of Minecraft activities for one of their five events of the calendar year.

Minecraft was chosen for Sunday’s event because it, “And more importantly its community, is so equitable and building focused,” according to GGP CEO and USC visiting faculty Gordon Bellamy.

The prizes were three Oculus Quest 2s, one for each of the three victors to donate to an organization or person of their choice, but the first event (ironically a speed running tournament) went over three hours in a display of technical Minecraft skill, Game of Thrones-esque alliances, and an unpredictable strategy that eschewed competition in favor of domesticity, yet somehow emerged victorious.

The goal was to reach Minecraft’s End as fast as possible, and be the first team of two to slay the Ender Dragon while avoiding (or hunting) other teams in the server, all under the watchful eyes of hosts Eret, a notable Minecraft streamer and member of the Dream SMP, and PirateSully A USC Live streamer and game design major at USC.

Before the whistle blew and teams ran off into the wilderness, the stream began with a presentation by Robyn Ennis, the head of inclusion strategy at Facebook’s Oculus, about the GGP scholars program.

“Oculus has been an incredible partner all year round”, said Bellamy, “And have supported GGP for years.”

Eret and Sully then brought viewers across dimensions from the 2D Zoom landscape to Minecraft’s 3D plains; the first to arrive before being joined by the various figures out of USC’s Minecraft and streaming communities.

Among the players were Fireship, a member of the USCraft server and SMP community, Skylarnyx, a member of USC Live, and founder of the SC Live SMP server, CanadianHybrid, a game designer and SC Live streamer, and Brian “Cyclopentadienyl” Herron, staff of the USCraft server and a frequent of the SMP server. Other participants included streamers Seraph1m and Memanems, self proclaimed “theatre kids,” and members of the Obsidian Ridge Minecraft server, alongside streamers and GGP members Gumi and Jojosolos.

There was a common theme throughout the introductions: a profound affinity for Minecraft. “My name’s Skylar, I stream, and I play a lot of fricken Minecraft,” Skylar said on the stream, preluded by Jojo who simply said “I am Jojo, and I play Minecraft.” Everyone clapped.

After introductions ended, Eret and Sully gave the signal, and the teams were off. They explored the world, collecting resources and building bases while Eret and Sully, in their godly floating states, offered hints and gifts as players navigated their way through the various stages of locating the End.

One such instance had the hosts dropping into each team’s voice chat and offering gifts of either fire resistance or invisibility, planning on giving them the opposite of the potion they chose in a scene right out of the Hunger Games - Eret and Sully devious versions of sponsors. In a last second “Spirit of giving,” according to Eret, he and Sully decided on benevolence, the teams reaping the potions’ magical rewards.

Jojo and Gumi elected to take the invisibility potion, but it would only be effective if they took off all their armor. Jojo was all for the strategy, but Gumi was afraid of their targets “Whip and nae naeing on us.”

The Skylar and Fireship, alongside the CanadianHybrid and Cyclopentadienyl teams stood out in terms of raw PVP ability and big brain plays during pivotal fights for resources. CanadianHybrid was the first to reach the Nether, though it wasn’t long before Skylar and Fireship caught up with portals of their own. They faced off on several occasions, the most notable being a deadly skirmish on a Nether fortress that involved 3 separate teams all engaged in fierce battle. CanadianHybrid boasted the power of diamond boots earlier in the stream, but they couldn’t quite hold up against Skylar’s mighty ax.

Preparation was key, and just about all the players spent their time gearing up for an inevitable battle either in the End, or somewhere near the portal. Most aimed for good armor, lots of food, Ender pearls and Blaze rods, the necessary facets of a speed run… all except for Seraph1m and Memanems who decided on an alternate strategy.

They built a house. And as players thrashed each other in the End, it was clear the choice was a winner.

Herron and CanadianHybrid were the leading players going into the final battle, well prepared with fully enchanted armor, bows, arrows and the like. After gentle nudging from Eret and Sully to place all the eyes, they were the first to jump into the End, the rest of the players waiting in the shadows to jump in after.

But their luck didn’t hold, and Cyclopentadienyl was slain by an Enderman, as the rest of the squad took turns killing each other in the End until Jojo found themselves in perfect position to get the final hit. But as the dragon returned to its perch, Menanems appeared from the sky, where they, sword in hand, pranced over to the dragon and defeated it in a mighty blow. The house team won.

It was one of Jojo’s favorite moments from the event. “Killing the Ender dragon and then being confused on who won.”

Menanems and Seraph1m took home the Oculus, giving it to one of their moderators as thanks.

“It definitely was a ride of emotions and was a lot more intense than I expected it to be,” said Skylar. “My team went for more of the slow and steady strategy and at first weren’t really expecting to do that well, but ended up being the front runners for a period of time, though we didn’t win in the end.”

USC Live continues to stream over the winter recess, and has been spending a lot of their time on their SMP server that began last weekend.