On 21 October I attended my first eSports event and what an experience it was. Hosted by the York FragSoc, the game featured was Super Smash Bros 4, one of the most beloved games within the competitive scene due to its high skills ceiling and being extremely accessible.
When entering the venue I was hit by a surge of euphoria. Rows upon rows of Wii consoles littered the edges of the room where both competitors and spectators practiced and honed their skills before the matches. Some 60 people attended this Grand Smash tournament, impressive considering the short notice of the event, with one senior member of the FragSoc claiming that usually there are 20 more people that would attend. What caught me off-guard was the fact that many of the competitors and spectators came from all over the country, outnumbering York University natives in the actual competition. Competitors included students journeying from all over the country, from Leeds, Lancaster and Manchester.
One competitor called ‘Magi’, a student from Manchester, was touted as one of the tournament’s favourites and was willing to answer a few questions on his view on e-Sports as a whole. When asked “Why e-Sport?”, his response struck me, “not everyone can be a sportsman.” This comment highlights the true limitation to traditional sports. It excludes many who want to express the competitive side that is deeply imbedded in human nature.
E-Sports offers an alternative sporting event that does not discriminate based on physicality and gives all those who put the effort into a craft an equal playing ground to compete with each other. Skill is not based on genetic advantages or wealth. There doesn’t seem to be any real barriers to stop anyone from competing other than raw dedication and skill towards a game. One competitor who showed that dedicated practice and skill can and will pay off is Willz, who placed second in both of the Wii U Singles and Melee Doubles but who also finished first in the Wii Doubles and Melee Single rounds, demonstrating his ability both to work in a team and shine as an individual player. Magi also appeared as a multi-category winner, having success in the Wii U doubles, teaming with Willz and also achieving third place on the Wii U singles. There was one local boy who competed in the tournament by the name of ‘shRek’ and who at just 15 finished at a respectable 17th place.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the sporting event, and while I will concede that experiencing e-Sports is not for everyone I still stress that everyone should give it a go. It offers a quirky, fun and entertaining viewing experience that is a change from traditional sporting events.
On 25 November FragSoc will be hosting the largest ever university level LAN event. The tournament involves eight universities, competing for the title of best Counter-Strike university in the UK. I encourage and implore that all readers check out this free event with all the details on the FragSoc Facebook page.