In a recent Smash tournament, UTD’s “Super Smash Bros.” teams beat out some of the best esports teams in Texas before competing against one another and taking home first and second place.
The Rec Readiness Gaming Crew Battle, hosted by Recreation Readiness this month, was a Smash tournament that featured renowned university and professional Smash teams such as Texas Finest, UT Longhorns, 8-Bit Esports (a Las Vegas team) and NU Esports. This time, the Comets were split into two teams: UTD Temoc and UTD Comets, both of which took first and second place respectively after competing against one another in the grand finals. As a whole, both teams took home $400 in prize money to be split among the players.
Since the advent of COVID-19, UTD esports has had to adjust to playing in tournaments on Wi-Fi, which can involve framerate drops that affect overall gameplay. Certain characters with quick rapid-fire moves like Sonic can easily fare against framerate drops and lag, but other characters with complex combos and slower moves suffer having to anticipate lag and be on their defense. Computer science junior Marcel “Marcel:/” Hayek said playing on Wi-Fi makes playstyle much different compared to offline.
“You kind of have to play more anticipation instead of reactionary. So, throwing out hitboxes without thinking is more rewarded than offline. And with that in mind, there’s already been like two people that have quit the team for this semester because they hate playing like that,” Hayek said. “I feel so bad cause I hate Wi-Fi too. I’m forcing myself going through the pain for Wi-Fi…but we’ve been doing really good for what Wi-Fi is.”
Hayek managed to beat 8-Bit Esports and Las Vegas Power Ranked Smash player Danny “Ven” Salas who played as Zelda during the quarter-finals with three stocks remaining.
“He’s one of the best Zeldas in the world, especially on Wi-Fi and they anchored with him — as in put them last versus our team — but we had eight stocks left going into him,” Hayek said. “All I had to do was take out two stocks and I did with my three stocks remaining.”
When faced with the prospect of competing against his teammates in the grand finals, Hayek said that esports coach Greg Adler instructed them to treat the match just like any other game. In what was a close final match between computer science junior Sean “Fox” Fox and ATEC sophomore Devin “Auto” Crabtrey, Fox knocked Crabtrey out as Terry with two stocks left.
“I think we are strong enough to be an actual threat to these teams. Obviously, both of our teams won, so it was pretty like a good wake-up call that we actually have good power to combat big teams like this, especially like esports teams,” Hayek said. “They gathered all the Texas talent, all the Wi-Fi players, all the best players in Texas and they made a crew just so they can take the money, but UTD stepped in and took the money from them.”
With the esports room now being closed, UTD esports have had to find other ways to overcome the hurdles of practicing and competing remotely. The team conducts practice every Thursday and holds crew battles every Friday, as well as spends time watching VODs of matches to see where they can improve.
As for practices this semester, Adler said the team has had to adapt to connectivity issues accordingly. Adler even had to purchase a LAN adapter and an ethernet cord for a player with very poor internet connection.
“I think it’s a situation where they all recognize we don’t really have any other options. We didn’t want to commit to any in-person events and then God forbid have a student contract COVID or something happen related to that. We felt like this was our best approach to kind of keep the students safe but also still compete,” Adler said. “Although it’s different, I feel like it’s also an easier opportunity for students because they can stay at home and focus on their schoolwork and then go right into games if they need to. They’ve definitely been rolling with the punches and are really excited.”