Nintendo fans 'smash' their way to victory
The dull drone of decade old televisions was near silent below the cacophony of control sticks. Games were being played, and friendships were being made.
Scarlet Smash is a club where Rutgers students can come together and play their favorite Nintendo game — Super Smash Bros., said Sam Jacobs, the club’s vice president and a Rutgers Business School sophomore.
The club was founded in Fall 2014 with the intent of providing a central location for all players, casual and competitive, who want to play new people, said James Liu, the club’s founder and president and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
“When we first started, there were only a couple of people who were at a professional level and able to travel ... the majority of people don't really know much about the competitive scene. They like to play with their families, so coming to the club is like their first time traveling,” Liu said.
The club has seen tremendous growth since its founding, said Chris Lagrada, a School of Engineering senior.
“There were only around 10 people who would go the first few weeks. If you go there now, I'd say there are at least 30 to 40 people there now,” he said.
After GENESIS 3, a recent international Smash Bros. tournament held in San Jose, California, about 30 new members joined the club, Jacobs said.
At times, the club’s growth has outpaced its means.
Setups, consisting of a game console and a TV, have not always been properly supplied, Liu said. The club also outgrew its old meeting space and moved to a larger room in Murray Hall on the College Avenue campus.
“I used to travel alone to tournaments outside of school and now I have like a group of people I can go with out of state and I'm definitely more passionate,” he said. “Not only are there more people playing, but more people are willing to travel for it.”
The club encourages everyone interested in Smash to come out, regardless of skill level or game preference, Lagrada said.
“We have pretty much the entire range of (skill levels),” Jacobs said. “We have a lot of people who haven't played and are just interested in watching or talking about the game ... Then we have James Liu, who is 31st in the world right now and No. 1 in New Jersey.”
In addition to hosting weekly “smashfests,” Scarlet Smash is involved in a number of intercollegiate leagues.
The Melee Games, an intercollegiate circuit for Super Smash Bros. Melee, hosted teams from 179 colleges in the U.S. and Canada in its last season, said Matthew Zaborowski, the league’s commissioner.
“A lot of colleges don't have the best players, so even low-level players can play and travel all over and play and meet a lot of new people,” Jacobs said.
Rutgers’ team performed well in the tri-state area, but has failed to make it to the grand finals in California, he said.
The University has fared better in the Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U interscholastic league, Smash 4 Collegiate.
“Rutgers is doing amazing. I always knew that the Rutgers community was really strong when it came to Smash,” Lagrada said. “We (won) second (place) at regionals. The top-two teams qualified for the divisional championships. Our region, the Atlantic region, would face off against the New England region's top two teams.”
Division championships were played at a national tournament in New York. The Rutgers team came out on top after a difficult finish against the University of Maryland, he said.
“Rutgers will be representing the East Coast in (the) grand finals. It’s projected sometime in March, but that depends on the other schools, because they are still doing their division championships. As far as we know, we are the first ones to qualify,” he said.
Scarlet Smash is collaborating with a number of other gaming clubs to host the second Scarlet Classic, a large, multi-game tournament.
The date of the event has not been finalized, but the event will be held on the College Avenue campus, Liu said.
“Melee is fun. I get to meet a lot of people that I wouldn't have met otherwise, been to places that I wouldn't have travelled to otherwise and been as competitive as I would otherwise,” he said.