Dozens of competitive video gamers huddled around televisions in the Library Conference Room Nov. 12 as the Webster Fighting Game Community (WFGC) hosted its first Super Smash Bros. Collegiate Crew Battle Invitational.
Crews, or teams of five players each, from surrounding universities including Webster University, St. Louis University (SLU), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), Missouri S&T and Truman State, competed in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for WiiU to determine regional superiority. WFGC President Danny Cohen organized the tournament and said the event had been in the works for several months.
“We had a crew battle against SLU this past spring, and the event was really successful,” Cohen said. “After that, a couple of other schools expressed interest in doing the same thing, and we figured, ‘Why not make a larger event of it?’ We asked around at every school we knew had a Smash scene in the area and people were really enthusiastic about it.”
Webster fielded formidable crews in both events, but was not the presumptive favorite to win.
“I think we’re good enough to beat anyone, but there are some really stacked crews in this competition,” Cohen said. “Rolla’s Melee crew has some really strong players, including two of Missouri’s top ten in ‘Vista’ and ‘BG’ (the gamer tags of Missouri S&T students Kevin Terschluse and Jimmy Hoffman), and SIUE’s WiiU team has two St. Louis power ranked players in ‘Zguh’ and ‘Soronajo’ (Joe Bednara and Josiah Starkey.)”
Each school sent representatives in both Melee and WiiU, but Webster senior Charles Whitehead was the only competitor to take part in both disciplines. Whitehead, a longtime participant in the local melee scene, recently began playing competing in WiiU and has become one of the leaders in the school’s fledgling scene.
Whitehead said he found the experience difficult, but rewarding.
“It was hard from a mental and physical standpoint, transitioning between two different sets of skills and muscle memory,” Whitehead said. “But in addition, it was challenging from an emotional standpoint just to keep my energy level high and keep supporting both sets of teammates through the ups and downs. Getting to experience the good moments in each made it all worth it.”
Neither Webster crew managed to win the top spot, but both took home strong finishes of second place in WiiU and third place in Melee. Whitehead said he hopes the results of this event spur his teammates on to greater success in future tournaments.
“Every member of each crew had at least one or two moments to be really proud of,” Whitehead said. “Danny [Cohen] played the best I’ve ever seen from him, and was our rock for a lot of the day. For the Melee crew, ‘Wepeel’ [freshman Ethan Chapin] was the last player selected, but he stepped up and pulled his weight against some really strong opposition. I hope these guys come away from today and know that they can play – and play well against anyone.”
Ultimately, the vaunted Rolla Melee and SIUE WiiU crews hoisted the trophies and will retain the titles of crew battle champions until the next invitational. When that event takes place, SIUE’s Josiah ‘SoronaJo’ Starkey said he and his teammates will definitely be in attendance.
“There was another decent size tournament going on today, and we decided to come to this instead,” Starkey said. “We’re all happy with that decision. Danny did a great job running the tournament and keeping things organized, and we all had a really good time coming here and competing. We’ll definitely do it again, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Cohen said he also considers the event a success and already has plans for the next installment in the works.
“To hear people say that they’ll be back next time is exactly the response we were looking for,” Cohen said. “This time was just a test run for us; next time we’re looking at a bigger event, bigger prizes, and more crews. We want to bring as many people in competition as possible and we think this was a great starting point.”