A team of Iowa State students sit in the top four crews in the U.S. and Canada after winning the Collegiate Starleague Northern Division championship this past weekend for Super Smash Bros Ultimate crew battles.
The team will compete for a chance to win up to $9,000 at the Shine 2019 tournament, held in Worcester, Mass.
ISU WON COLLEGIATE DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!WE GOING TO SHINE!WIN IN TOP 4 SCHOOLS IN USA+CANADA!!— Nick Howell (HAM) (@wholesome_HAM) June 2, 2019
The team, consisting of senior Nicholas Howell, Justin Dale, Bryce Burch, freshman Alec Hafeman, senior Coby Schnepf, senior Alex Schneider and sophomore Colton Mcglynn, traveled to the Wisconsin Dells for Smash ‘n’ Splash 5. The event hosted the Northern Divisional championship, among other events.
The team’s members are also part of Iowa State’s Gaming and Esports club.
The eight-man team features five starters and three substitutes.
The team won the Midwest-West qualifying event earlier this year, earning them a spot in the Northern Divisional championship.
The Iowa State team competed against teams from Michigan State University and Ohio State University. A team from the the University of Toronto was unable to attend the event.
Down a team, the coordinators of the event decided on a round robin-style bracket, with Iowa State facing OSU first.
Iowa State defeated OSU with four lives — called "stocks" in the game — remaining. Michigan State played OSU next, defeating them with five stocks remaining. In the last event of the tournament, Iowa State defeated MSU with four stocks to spare, advancing to the national championship.
Through advancing to the finals, the team is guaranteed a prize of at least $1,000.
Crew battles, Howell said, consist of five players on a team. Each player is allotted three lives or stocks, as they’re called in the game, which is played on a Nintendo Switch. Similar to a relay race, competitors from each team face off head to head until one is out of stocks. At this point, the team strategically picks their next competitor to continue the fight. The event goes on until all five members of one team are out of stocks.
“We made sure to practice a lot together throughout the school year and leading up to the event,” Howell said. “We also made sure to research the other teams players, characters and lineups so we could be prepared to know what we were dealing with. There was a lot of studying done with theory involved in how to approach aspects of a crew battle, how to structure our team order and how to counter-pick our opponents.”
Although players face off one at a time, success depends on each member of the team fulfilling their role. Like any team sport, chemistry matters.
“It was so much fun and very important to cheer on our teammates and keep our momentum and synergy going,” Howell said.
At the Shine 2019 tournament, Iowa State’s team will compete against the University of California Irvine, the University of Texas at Dallas and whichever team wins the upcoming Eastern Divisional championship.
The league that the team competes in, the CSL, offers competitive leagues in CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros and more.
The CSL is the first collegiate gaming organization in the world, according to their website. The CSL boasts teams from over 900 universities and has awarded over $400,000 to university students who compete in their tournaments.