The University of Tennessee’s “Super Smash Brothers” esports team traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the CSL: Southeastern Regional tournament on February 16th. The tournament featured eight different collegiate esports club teams, as they competed for one of the two qualifying spots to nationals in Atlanta, Georgia for $15,000.
The UTK smash team traveled over nine hours to compete with other university teams like the University of Florida and Georgia in a double-elimination style bracket. The tournament series hosted by the Collegiate Star League, an esports organization that hosts a variety of collegiate esports tournament series across the United States for scholarship money, was one of the last regionals, setting the stage for the nationals in May.
The UTK esports team’s roster included students from a variety of colleges and majors. Lofton Kennedy, Christian Prickett, Elijah Hunt, Steven Rickett, and Matthew Maynard were the five students competing in the “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate” crew battle tournament. The team’s captain and club officer, Matthew Maynard, drove the team and organized the roster for the event. “When I was thinking about the roster, I decided to just go with who I knew would compete well and represent UT well. We have all competed together before, so there was already a lot of synergy, which is why I knew the five of us would be good.” Maynard said.
With over 100 entrants from across Florida and the southeast, the event featured “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate”, “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and “Street Fighter V”, each with qualifying spots for nationals. The tournaments were held in the University of Central Florida’s Student Union building, with designated areas for each game.
The tournament was a “crew battle” format, with five members from each school’s club competing against one another. This format of competition is a common method for collegiate competition, and the primary way that CSL runs their tournaments. Players are required to select their characters and finalize a roster prior to the beginning of the match, adding another level of strategy that cannot be found in 1v1 style play. Each match had an unlimited amount of time, giving players the opportunity to tryout new playstyles and strategies that they might not be able to try or use in the seven minute “singles” format.
The University of Tennessee’s “Smash Bros” team competed but fell short of the required placing needed to advance on to the next round, while the team’s “Street Fighter V” team has moved onto the next round. With close sets in both of UT’s matches, freshman Steven Rickett feels hopeful about the team’s future in competition. “We were playing really well, but I know that we have a lot we need to work on now. Our next step is competing in college crews at Volan, so we are going to try our best to keep grinding and improve,” Rickett said.
The Collegiate Star League’s national tournament will be held in August in Massachusetts at the “Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate” major tournament “Shine”. There, 16 teams will compete for the $15,000 grand prize in a similar double elimination style bracket.