Smash@Humber tournament takes eSports initiative to the next level
Amy Chen and Scott Savard
With guns blazing and delivering deadly kicks and punches, video game character Bayonetta delivered killing blows at a breakneck speed while battling opponents in a monthly video game tournament hosted at Humber College.
The audience split between cheering in excitement and staring at the big screen in stunned silence as Tamim “Mistake” Omary dealt combo after combo as the character Bayonetta against his single opponent. Omary, with this match, won bragging rights by taking top honours in the Smash@Humber tournament on July 7.
Omary, one of the world’s best Super Smash Bros. players for the Wii U, said he’s impressed Humber College North campus hosted the event.
“It’s really cool how the schools are getting into it,” he said. “Before, I didn’t really hear about colleges or universities that were involved in eSports, but this one — there’s a team that’s actually supporting it, making it bigger. It’s actually really nice, because we have a pretty big turnout.”
Omary is currently ranked first on the Southern Ontario Smash 4 Power Rankings, and has the number one spot in Canada. Internationally, he is at rank 13, and is striving to be in the top five and eventually number one in the world. He said events like the Smash tournament at Humber offer an opportunity for him to travel, compete with other top players and ask for advice to improve his gameplay.
The Smash@Humber tournament attracted talented video game players like Omary and is helping to build the framework for the school’s eSports initiative.
“The initiative is about supporting enterprises that the students are driving, and creating a support structure for them to be able to continue playing at these events and create a better innovation with events that are going on all over the world,” said Geoffrey Lachapelle, a Game Programming professor at Humber.
Lachapelle said it only benefits Humber to get more involved in these kinds of gaming events and industry as it earns more recognition. Gaming provides scores of benefits on an academic level, including logical and spatial reasoning, as well as cognitive function, he said.
“But around this, we have broadcast technologies, we have journalism coverage, we have all of these other things,” Lachapelle said. “In fact, as you get deeper into this competition, things like nutrition, mental health and sports science all get involved in making sure that kids don’t get repetitive stress injuries.”
Shaun Byrne, the eSports director for Saints Gaming at St. Clair College and is working to introduce eSports as an academic program for the Windsor school, agrees.
“There’s definitely a lot of learning involved, especially on the organizing side,” Byrne said. “ESports event organizers, for example, need to be a jack of all trades with knowledge of marketing, accounting, floor-planning, broadcasting, logistics, staffing, scheduling and countless other areas.
“In the ’80s, schools started offering sports management programs. What you’ll see over the next 10 years is many schools realizing the need for training in eSports management,” he said.
Robert “Poke” Jackson, another competitor at Smash@Humber who is ranked fifth and sixth on both the Southern Ontario Power Rankings for Smash 4 and its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, said he takes his gameplay to the next level by practicing for tournaments two to three weeks in advance.
“I’ll be playing three, four hours a day. I’ll be playing online against people, or going to weeklies and just constantly practicing singles and studying my matches to make sure I see the mistakes — refining myself and just be prepared when the tournament actually starts,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of dedication.”
Ricky “Rush” Robichaud also appreciates Smash@Humber and brought his customized controller to the event to help with his grip as he played as his favourite character.
“I play as Captain Falcon, the sexiest man on the planet,” Robichaud said. “I play as him, because he’s fast and does combos and he kills people very fast, and I like killing people very fast.”
David Dyce, co-owner of Smash@Humber, said volunteers worked hard to get the tournament going.
“So this is just not us, it’s a community event,” he said.