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Local Super Smash Bros fans put Denton on the map

Local Super Smash Bros fans put Denton on the map

Denton, Texas 06/17/17 Gamers concentrate hard during a Super Smash Bros. gaming tournament hosted by Source Gaming Lounge in Denton. Participants played in teams or as individuals to win cash and other prizes. Photo: David Urbanik

Local Super Smash Bros fans put Denton on the map
June 22
23:05 2017

Roughly 60 people gathered together on June 17 at Source Gaming Lounge in Denton for their first regional tournament of the game Super Smash Bros on the Wii U.

Super Smash Bros is a series of fighting games that debuted on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999, and was met with immediate praise from both critics and consumers. It pits Nintendo’s well-known characters against each other in an all out brawl and has developed an extremely dedicated following.

“What sets the Smash community aside from, say, League of Legends, is there’s a lower level of toxicity,” event commentator Lance Howell said. “The people here in DFW, the high level players, will help the lower level players, knowing one day that they very well may take them out. But it’s not always about winning, it’s about helping a community.”

The competitive scene for Smash didn’t begin until 2002 after the release of the second game in the series, Super Smash Bros Melee, in 2001. While the popularity of playing competitively has seen its highs and lows throughout the years, it began to explode in 2009 and has been growing ever since.

The Super Smash Bros series has a worldwide following, and Denton is no exception. Weekly tournaments are held at Freaks and Geeks, a retro video game and toy store located off Elm Street, and at Source Gaming Lounge. UNT even has its own group of dedicated Smash players, better known as the UNT Brothers in Smash.

The UNT Brothers in Smash is a group open to any and all UNT students, and members meet regularly throughout the fall and spring semesters for tournaments and casual play.

Computer science senior Jason Erdman is the president of the group and visited the Source Gaming Lounge on Saturday to help run the event.

“We are absolutely grassroots,” Erdman said, speaking about the Smash Bros community in Denton. “It was all built around people actually bringing equipment, moving it and making events happen. You had to carry CRTs block after block just to play the game.”

One of the reason the Smash community draws such large and diverse crowds is both the friendliness of the community and the low barrier of entry in terms of skill required to play the game.

“This game should be played for fun,” Erdman said. “Most importantly, you have to make sure you’re enjoying the game as you learn. If you don’t enjoy the game while you’re learning it, then you’re not playing the right game.”

For integrated studies senior Dustin Carlson, playing in Smash tournaments isn’t new, but is still just as fun. While some of his professors and classmates may only know him as Dustin, those outside of UNT know him as Denti. Carlson is a world renowned Smash player and is considered to be among the best in the world at certain characters in the game.

Gamers faceoff during a Super Smash Bros gaming tournament hosted by Source Gaming Lounge in Denton. Dustin Carlson (left), known as Denti, was a heavy favorite to win the individual competition. David Urbanik

“Smash is easy to pick up, and fun to master,” Carlson said. “I think a lot of that has to do with its turnout.”

Carlson briefly took a break from the Smash scene to focus on school, but said he was excited to be back, competing in Source Gaming Lounge’s regional tournament.

“I took a break for a year to go to school [because] I used to to take this game super hard-core,” Carlson said. “[I would spend] eight to 12 hours [playing] a day, nonstop, and that would be regular. Sometimes I’d do overtime and play 20 hours if I had the right crew to do it with.”

The price of admission for the regional tournament was $20 to $30 dollars, depending on whether you wanted to compete in singles, doubles or both.

Considering all the equipment and space needed for such a large event, the price seemed reasonable to some. Other members of the Smash community, however, think it should be cheaper to come and enjoy the game and the company it brings.

“The Smash community really doesn’t want to pay for anything,” said Alex Dorenkamp, the event coordinator at Source Gaming Lounge. “Smash players, they want a whole laundry list of things to be standard, but they don’t want to pay the money or go support the venues that are trying to do these things. And then they wonder why a venue won’t stay open.”

Despite his criticisms, Dorenkamp spoke highly of the community he’s encountered at Source Gaming Lounge.

“It’s oddly tight knit,” Dorenkamp said of his locally fostered Smash community. “There are people that go to my tournament every single week, and the 30 people that I average, 25 of them are usually the same people, so it becomes more of a community family type deal.”

Around midnight, the final two combatants, Aerolink and LightTheLantern, faced off against each other in a match streamed online for fans from all over the country. Aerolink pulled through and claimed first place.

“That was so close,” Howell said, one of the commentators on the stream. “What a hell of a night. That’s how you finish a tournament!”

The event proved to be a success, a good indicator that the Smash community is just as strong in Denton as anywhere else. And based on the turnout, the Denton Smash scene shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Featured Image: Gamers compete at a Super Smash Bros gaming tournament hosted by Source Gaming Lounge in Denton. Participants played in teams or as individuals to win cash and other prizes. David Urbanik

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Alexander Willis

Alexander Willis

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