Campus group fighting to grow esports on campus

E-Sports is a growing worldwide phenomenon. Wikimedia Commons

U of R Smash Club seeks to smash the competition

Gathered in the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport on Saturday Feb. 29 were 80 eager players for one of the University’s most popular esports events, the U of R Smash Club’s monthly tournament. The U of R Smash Club’s monthly tournaments are a sight to behold: players compete in front of countless vintage televisions hooked up to Game Cubes, Nintendo Switches and other consoles. The competitions feature players from Saskatoon as well as Winnipeg who make the trip down for the event. Current president of the club and U of R actuarial science student Paul Bellerive talks about the competition on the weekend.

“A total of 80 people came; that’s a little above average for us. We actually had one in January where we got 100 people to come, including a bunch of people from Manitoba which is pretty exciting.”

Smash Club is the largest esports organization on campus. They post a steady roster of 30-50 players for their weekly events and host about 80 players at their monthly weekend tournaments. These tournaments feature numerous brackets and prize money – $200 for this weekend’s champion of the largest bracket.

The club predominantly focuses on Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, particularly the newest game Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch and the ever-popular Smash Bros Melee on the Nintendo Game Cube. This week’s tournament also featured competitions in other fighting games such as Tekken as well as Pokémon. Bellerive says that the club welcomes casual players as well as some of the most competitive players in the province.

“There’s definitely a lot of competitive people. There’s some people at the club who, even though they are students and are quite busy, can compete.”

One of these players is Luke “LukeDuke” Basnicki, who is currently ranked sixth in the Saskatchewan competitive rankings.

The club has grown tremendously in recent years. With attendance doubling in the last year alone, but for Bellerive, there is still room for the club to grow.

“We’ve always talked about a future of the club as esports become [bigger]: can we become a varsity club at the university, or can we branch out and become the esports club at the university?

Bellerive explains why Smash club and esports clubs in general are important to campus life.

“The community of smash exists everywhere and I think it brings a sense of welcoming and familiarity to people who are coming from other places, a community they can be a part of that maybe they already were a part of.”

“I think it’s just important to have clubs for anything you are passionate about. I think it’s important to be able to express whatever passion you have and meet like-minded people and play with them.”

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