Arts video games

Crossovers on crossovers

The one where Red Bull Gaming brings a world-class Smash player to MIT

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Invitational winner xiii faces off against Plup in game one of a first-to-five series Oct. 3.

Super Smash Brothers Tournament
Hosted by Smash UltiMIT Club, Red Bull Gaming
Featuring Plup
Streamed on Twitch

With the long history of Super Smash Bros. bringing together beloved characters since ’99 and the record-breaking sales of its Ultimate installment for the Switch, the series has likely made its way into the pastimes of many. For some of the most enthusiastic players at MIT, one can turn to the Smash UltiMIT Club, whose mission statement includes “[promoting] the development of a Super Smash Bros. community at MIT” as well as facilitating interactions with the larger Smash Bros. and Esports space.

In a highly anticipated crossover episode, UltiMIT hosted a Smash Ultimate tournament with a special appearance from Justin McGrath (tag Plup), a full-time and globally ranked player in Smash with impressive stats which you can find throughout the web.

The event was coordinated by Jordan Tappa ’21. Along with reaching out to Plup through MIT alumni who are Red Bull Gaming representatives, Tappa (tag Jolt) founded and currently leads the UltiMIT club. Thanks to Red Bull, which has sponsored 500 athletes including Plup, each of the eight UltiMIT players also received a four-pack of their energy drinks. And the prize for the winner of the event? A signed jersey from none other than Plup himself.

Over 200 viewers attended the livestream on Twitch, the evening of Oct. 3. The tournament consisted of an 8-player invitational commentated by Plup and a Boss Battle where each of the UltiMIT players faced off Plup in a friendly best-of-one game (spoiler: Plup swept with a victory for all eight games).

The 8-player double elimination bracket culminated in top three finishers Eric Hong ‘21 (tag xiii) playing Marth, Tappa (tag Jolt) playing Yellow Yoshi, and Jonathan Edelman ‘24 (tag Troia) playing Hero.

In between commentating for the matches, Plup joined the UltiMIT players in Discord to hang out and participate in a Q&A. Despite the intense and competitive nature of Smash, Plup was remarkably relaxed and friendly during the discussion, which bounced between a plethora of topics: his tournament preparation strategy (nothing specific besides keepin’ it clean); playing full-time (a natural transition after getting sponsored by Panda Global); how he deals with the pressures of being a pro (“don’t know of any,” especially because he’s “low-key on social media”); and various aspects of the game’s offering of characters, including wishes for upcoming additions (Amaterasu!) as well as thoughts on the potential incorporation of Steve from Minecraft (just out of place in many ways).

A notable point in the tournament occurred after the eight-member bracket, when first place finisher xiii fought Plup in a first-to-five set. Although the match ultimately finished with 5–1 in favor of Plup, xiii claimed victory in the first game after an impressive comeback. The game then concluded with the Boss Battle, which included the remaining players of the eight: crew succ, dwang, Infernape (who was closest to beating Plup), TheKneesBees, and Dr. Chase.

Overall, the tournament was an awesome opportunity to learn about a community of dedicated individuals and a well-run virtual event during the age of COVID-19. It is also yet another example to add to a growing list of collaborations including MIT students which I am continually fascinated and excited by (I’m lookin’ at you, Yo-Yo Ma @ Get Out the Vote festival).