The Southern Smash Society has come a long way since freshman Brycen Wong started the recreational club during the fall quarter. Since then, S3 has achieved its goals of becoming an officially recognized club on campus and receiving funding in quadruple digits.
Though organized gatherings to play this game in Ashland is relatively new, nationally it is still one of the most popular games played competitively. Not only are schools and large towns beginning to form clubs but major tournaments are held across the country with large prize pots to attract international players.
Thousands of spectators travel to watch the best players go head to head usually projected on the walls of large hotel banquet rooms.
“E sports” may be unfamiliar to some, but through live streaming and big name sponsors, competitive gaming has gained popularity in America. Countries like South Korea and Japan were some of the first to officially license professional gamers, but now a few Americans are rising to the stardom and cult following that can be equated to current athletes on ESPN.
Brycen has been in cahoots with the newly founded University of Oregon Smash Club and traveled to Eugene this last weekend with a few other members to represent S3 at their first tournament.
The 100+ person tournament attracted gamers from around the Pacific Northwest and gave Wong inspiration for the future of Smash Bros. in Southern Oregon.
“Our tournament at the beginning of the quarter, had 26 entrants,” Brycen said during a leisurely match Monday night in the Shasta common room, “I realize we don’t have the population draw that Eugene, Portland or Seattle has, but in the future I’d like to hold tournaments that attract players from those areas to come and compete.”
Warren Hedges, the academic advisor of the club, sees promise not only in the competitive aspect of the group but also the sense of community it brings.
Hedges is no noob when it comes to overseeing school groups. The moderate gamer himself concurrently serves as academic advisor for the school video game club and was the original advisor when SOU’s LGTBQ club was created.
“These groups need to have strong leadership and structure to not only bring in more members but also to create new leaders,” the EMDA professor said, “What got me on board with this one was how ambitious and charismatic they were at a young stage of development.”
S3 is currently planning to travel with U of O to a few other tournaments in the upcoming months but hasn’t determined when the next home event will commence. Until then, players of all levels are encouraged to come to the third floor of the Shasta dorms Monday nights for casual matches.