UTD Esports announced their spring roster for the new “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” team at the end of February via Twitter. The new team finished in first place in its first tournament on March 9 at Texas A&M University.
The esports teams participate in tournaments through the Collegiate Starleague, which is limited to students at colleges and universities in North America. CSL has been organizing “Smash” tournaments since 2017.
For CSL’s “Smash” competitions, the main matches are held between two teams of five players each in a crew battle setting, where players from each team compete one at a time, and the winners face the next opponent. Each main match in the “Ultimate” division lasts up to 99 minutes. Players also have the option of competing in one-on-one matches.
UTD players had a strong showing in the one-on-one matches as well, with four team members placing in the top 10 out of a 68-player bracket in the tournament. Sophomore Christopher Sweetman, who plays with the screenname “Akito,” ranked No. 2 and senior Reynaldo Ortiz, who plays with the username “Orex,” ranked No. 7. Freshman Zachary Rendulic and senior Efrain Nazario, who play under “Balance” and “Kazeroli,” finished the bracket in ninth place, which they shared with two other players.
This weekend’s tournament was the regional “Super Smash Bros.” event for Texas esports. After their victory, the UTD team qualified for a second regional tournament. If they succeed in the second regional, the team can move onto the national tournament held in Boston this summer. The national winning team will take home a grand prize of $15,000.
Released on Dec. 7, 2018, “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is Nintendo’s fifth game in the “Super Smash Bros. franchise.” The spring 2019 season marks both the game’s and UTD’s debut in the CSL “Smash” tournaments.
Head coach Greg Adler said the franchise has always been popular, but the release of the new game seemed like a good time for UTD to enter the growing collegiate “Smash” scene.
“The second ‘Ultimate’ came out, tournament organizers started picking it up, just because they saw you get a really great crowd and participation from it,” Adler said.
Adler said UTD’s team was recruited from several different local events and gaming groups.
“There’s not really a ranking system in ‘Smash’ like there is in ‘League’ and ‘Overwatch,’ so a lot of (the evaluation) was solely results from tournaments — how they do comparatively to the rest of the area, their willingness to want to learn and improve,” he said. “A lot of it was recruitment by word of mouth.”
Adler said the five team members this season have all been playing “Smash Bros.” games for a long time before “Ultimate” but that the new game offered a particular appeal for players.
“The thing about ‘Ultimate,’ in particular, because it’s on a new console (and because) it is a gameplay combination of ‘Melee’ and ‘Smash 4’ … people just gravitate towards it because it’s a little more action-packed,” he said.
Adler said players had been gearing up all week for the regional tournament ahead of the competition and were all off campus practicing and playing through various scenarios.
“We’re trying to find specific matchups of characters that might cause our players problems,” Adler said.
On Saturday, UTD’s team competed — and won — against teams from Texas A&M University, UT Austin and the University of Houston.