Basketball is great, but lately quite a few VCU students have been more excited about esports. That just might explain the quickly increasing popularity of VCU’s Esports Club.
There are hundreds of clubs at VCU, but very few are as fast-growing or involved as the university’s Esports club. And while the club’s high-profile tournaments are a big draw, it’s the community that keeps the members coming back.
Esports at VCU is tucked into two classrooms in VCU’s Harris Hall, and dedicates their Friday nights to competing in games like Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, League of Legends, and Tekken 7. Players who enjoy PC games, such as Rainbow Six: Siege or League of Legends play in room 2108. Likewise, players who enjoy Smash Bros and fighting games like Tekken or Guilty Gear play in room 2129. However, they can often be found on the second floor of VCU’s Temple building as well; that’s where the separate Super Smash Bros Melee Club meets.
One of Esports at VCU’s most popular competitive games yet is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Since its release in December of last year, it has drawn dozens of new competitors to the VCU scene.
“Tonight was a 42-man bracket,” said Club Treasurer and Tournament Organizer Dane “XII” Luckman after a meeting. “Which is probably one of our bigger ones, but it’s not our peak. We peaked at 56 or something.”
Before the release of Smash Ultimate, many Esports at VCU tournaments did not even reach half that number of participants. Now, the club’s Smash tournaments are large enough to rival the ones at local esports arcades such as The Forge in Richmond’s West End.
Most Esports at VCU tournaments are free to enter, and open to the public. Competitors don’t have to be members of the club, VCU students, or even legal adults. In fact, the most dominant Smash player there, Reagen “Reagz” Wynn, is only 15 years old. Wynn frequently places high at more competitive tournaments, like those at The Forge, and often wins VCU tournaments — despite fierce competition from players like “Ice Bear,” “Seabass,” and the club’s Smash Division Head, Tyler “Toast” McNeer.
These players usually just compete for bragging rights. However, they do have chances to win prizes, including items like mouse pads and other gaming equipment, provided by Esports at VCU’s official sponsor, Tespa.
The club isn’t just for competitors, though — plenty of members don’t even enter tournaments. Even the more serious players admit they love the club for the community, not just the games.
“I like competing and hanging out with friends,” said Wynn. “I just like the people that go here.”
Esports at VCU meets every Friday from 5 to 11 p.m. in Harris Hall on the Monroe Park Campus. The Fighting Game and Smash Bros. divisions run weekly tournaments during this time. In addition, the Smash Bros. division also runs another weekly tournament on Saturdays, called Arcadian, starting at 4 pm in the Temple building.
Disclaimer: Jonah Schuhart is a member of Esports at VCU, and until recently was ranked the 3rd best Tekken player in the club (screw you, David). His gamertag is too vulgar to print here.
Top Photo: Super Smash Bros. Melee players compete in a tournament match in VCU’s Temple building, by Jonah Schuhart.