If there is one thing Chase Allen wants you to know about himself, it's that he loves to compete. He likes to win even more.
Pouring over film, hitting the weight room when no one is watching and always wanting to come out on top against his opponent are some of the ways Allen has made himself into one of the Cyclones' most dependable tight ends over his five seasons in Ames.
But the thing is, that competitive drive doesn't go away when he's not playing football. It carries over into what he admits is a pretty unique passion of his — playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and he plays it at a pretty high level.
To give some context for those who might not be video game connoisseurs, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a 2018 fighting game released on the Nintendo Switch. Ultimate is the latest and biggest rendition of the popular fighting game, a franchise Chase has plenty of history with long before he put on his Cyclone uniform.
Why Smash Bros?
Chase and his brother Alex got their start in playing Smash Bros with the second entry in the franchise, Super Smash Bros Melee, released in 2001. As time passed and Chase and Alex both became fans of the game and the competitive side it brought out of one another, the two played the third installment, Super Smash Bros Brawl, on the Nintendo Wii console.
Chase's main character picks are Samus and Donkey Kong, while Alex goes with Mii SwordFighter in Smash Ultimate.
And ever since the brothers began playing on the Wii and GameCube, an instant attachment to the game took place, particularly with Chase.
“He loves the game, he’s always playing it," Alex Allen said. “He's so good with the competitive side of it and the strategies. He knows how to attack you and what you’re going to do next.”
As per typical brotherly competition, Alex and Chase go back and forth on who is really the best between the two. Alex said that in simple one-on-one fights, Chase comes out on top most of the time. In some matches, the two determine a winner based on who can deal the most damage, which Alex claims himself the winner two-thirds of the time.
But even Chase admits his affection for Smash Bros is atypical for athletes, especially collegiate student athletes who have the reputation of enjoying NBA2K, Madden or Call of Duty. So why Smash Bros?
As a kid, Chase was never really into shooter games with the main objectives being killing enemies and using real-world scenarios of war and violence while primarily shooting with realistic weapons. Those were never his style.
Same goes for popular sports games like NBA2K or Madden. The gameplay got repetitive after a while, and Chase never liked it as much as others might have.
Fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Tekken typically require lots of focus and precision in order to be good at the games, but not so much in Smash Bros. Unlike Mortal Kombat where the good players are the ones who remember specific button inputs with incredible accuracy, Smash Bros seemed very easy to pick up and learn in Chase's mind.
He enjoys the idea of having so much mobility compared to other fighting games where gameplay takes place on a different background but the same face to face combat.
Chase doesn't find too many teammates to play with because most of his teammates don't know how to play and those who know have been beaten too many times by him to want to try again.
On most road trips, including the plane ride to the Camping World Bowl in December, he brings along his Nintendo Switch and plays. He occasionally would ask if anyone wanted to take him on, to which most people refused.
According to Chase, fellow tight end Charlie Kolar played him pretty evenly the first time they played. But unbeknownst to Kolar, Chase would spend time practicing and playing against Alex or strangers online to try and practice. When the two sat by each other on the flight to the Camping World Bowl, Kolar was taken aback by how much better Chase had gotten.
“He was like, ‘Chase, how much have you played, you got so much better,’" Chase Allen said.
Chase said the fear of not wanting to play him in Smash Bros holds true for his roommates as well. The first few rounds playing against them, Chase was having fun, but after the wins started to get more lopsided, his roommates said the game wasn't as fun anymore.
“A lot of the guys on the team play Madden, NBA2K, [Call of Duty], not a ton of them play Smash Bros, but I’d bet the ones who do play know not to play me," Chase Allen said. “I’m good at games for children apparently."
A competitive game for competitive brothers
Chase's love for the game comes from how much strategy is involved, with victories in a given game usually coming from knowing how your opponent's character plays and how to attack in the best way possible. Chase likes the strategy within the game and being able to see who can adapt the quickest.
He even points out that similarities exist between playing Smash Bros and playing football.
Just like on the field, sometimes matchups initially start off in one person's favor in Smash Bros, but Chase said the winner is the one who can adapt the quickest and understand what parts of the matchup isn’t working in your favor. In some cases, football and Smash Bros line up in the fact that some players are just better than others, no matter how much practice you might put in to challenge them. It all comes down to winning matchups.
“You can definitely have some similarities to what’s on the field," Chase Allen said. “I love the competition, and it's really like a chess match."
The competitiveness between Chase and Alex grew even stronger during the early months of the year when COVID-19 was beginning to grow in the U.S. The brothers went back home and were with each other for most of the two- to three-month quarantine period, with the majority of their time being put into playing Smash Bros.
Alex said the quarantine period was the first time since him and Chase were younger that the two got to spend a lot of time with each other and bond. Smash Bros ended up being the catalyst for most of the bonding during that time. Alex said on a normal day, they would play for close to an hour a day.
“Every time we were together, that was our means of enjoyment," Alex Allen said.
As the two played more and more over the COVID-19 lockdown period, Alex said their parents couldn't help but laugh watching the two compete so much.
“They think it's hilarious," Alex Allen said. “My dad doesn’t know the difference between the Switch and the other Nintendo consoles, so he is always like, ‘Have fun playing Nintendo.’”
During dinner, Chase and Alex would occasionally look each other in the eye after the meal was finished and they would instantly know what the other was wanting to do — play some Smash.
“Our competitive side is at one of its highest peaks when we play each other," Alex Allen said. "We yell at each other, we throw controllers. Honestly, whoever loses is probably leaving the room.”
Chase doesn't hide his passion for Smash and made it a goal to become really good at the game. His practice has seemingly paid off, with his Samus making it into Smash Ultimate's online feature called "Elite Smash."
To make it into Elite Smash, you must beat enough online opponents or complete in enough in-game challenges. Chase said it was his goal to make it, and now that he is in, he actually doesn't play that much anymore because a few losses in Elite Smash, and you are out.
He would prefer not to risk it.
His love for Smash Bros Ultimate goes beyond the game itself, as he watches professional players of the game like Samsora, Mango and Ludwig on Twitch or YouTube. He watches their uploads of game clips, their tips on how to get better and tier lists to determine who is considered the best character in the game.
By gaining the knowledge of professional players, Chase decided he would finally take the time and create a video of some of his own gameplay.
Over quarantine, he went through hours of archived game footage in the console and started clipping together the best moments into a montage of some of his best edge-guarding plays. His first compilation can be found here.
Even with how much time he has put into the game over the years, Chase said his coaches still don't know he plays the game.
"They would probably say, 'Why have you wasted all of this time on Smash Bros?'” Chase Allen said.