Tapped Out Gaming hosts competitive ‘Super Smash Bros.’ tournament

Gamers compete for cash prizes at Tapped Out Gaming's 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate' tournament. Matt Fernandez/The Signal.
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Tapped Out Gaming held one of its weekly tournaments for “Super Smash Bros.” players on Sunday.

Twenty-six players showed up to test their gaming might, down from the usual 40 to 50, which Tapped Out owner Mike Luna attributed to the holiday season.

“It’s always great to be competitive and challenge yourself against other players,” said repeat competitor Kollin Stanley. “I’ve recently started becoming more involved in the fighting game community and this tournament is a great way to meet people and learn.”

“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is the latest entry in the series of Nintendo fighting games that allows players to pit characters from across all Nintendo series (like “Pokemon” and Mario”) and special “guest characters” (like Sonic the Hedgehog and Snake from the “Metal Gear” games) against each other in cartoonishly zany combat.

“Smash has the unique experience of being able to play at home with up to eight friends just for fun, then being able to come out to tournaments like this and play some hard fights to hopefully put some cash in your pocket,” Luna said.

According to Luna, Santa Clarita has a strong community of avid “Smash Bros.” competitors, and that the proximity to a major freeway makes it easy for players all across California to come compete.

Luna’s tournaments consist of double elimination brackets where players will face each other with three lives per round. The player who wins two out of the three rounds moves on. From there the brackets split into a “losers” and “winners” pool, with the final players in each bracket facing off for first prize.

The first place winner receives approximately 60 percent of the cash winnings pot, 30 percent goes to second place, and 10 percent for the third place winner. The total winnings depends on the total number of competitors in each tournament.

Kollin Stewart faces off against another player in the popular Nintendo fighting games ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.’ Matt Fernandez/ The Signal

Some players like Jake Weathers don’t think that the distinction of being considered a sport is necessary or even meaningful. Luna believes that esports has Olympic potential but suffers from poor public perception.

“Competitive gaming has been on broadcast television and even has the potential to be a sport in the Olympics, but it suffers because people still only think of it as a ‘game,’” he said. “One day it might be a possibility but I don’t think that the public is ready for it to be mainstreamed yet.”

Luna added that even though competitive gaming is on the rise and tournaments often boast robust professional leagues with prize pools in the hundreds of thousands to the millions, “Smash Bros.” is not at that level yet.

Weathers, who began playing competitively with the encouragement of his brother, won against another player using the character Snake, who he said he had never used competitively before. Though he enjoys the competitive nature of esports, he understands that it can be daunting for newcomers.

“Even if you’re nervous about trying out tournaments, it’s really important to just get out there,” Weathers said. “You’re going to lose a lot of games but that’s just how you learn and figure out what you did wrong so you can be a better player the next tournament. If you can get through that, it’s really rewarding.”

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