Over the weekend, the second-ever America East (AE) Esports Invitational was streamed on Twitch. The tournament, a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate event that was open to all students in the 10 AE member schools, had a $1,500 first place prize and 64 participants. Binghamton’s Michael Ahr, a senior majoring in biology, won the first tournament back in April and was looking to defend his title. Ahr made it all the way to the grand finals, and in a close best-of-five final matchup with Stony Brook University’s Goober707, the two went through all five rounds, but Ahr ultimately lost the match, taking second place overall and winning $500 while Goober took home the $1,500.
“I got as close to winning without actually winning because finals went to the final game, game five,” Ahr said. “In the Swiss bracket I actually beat the eventual winner, but in the rematch, I lost.”
In an interview with the tournament commentators on Twitch, Goober707 said that he lost in the Swiss bracket against Ahr, who goes by the gamer tag Rawk, because he couldn’t nail his recovery back to the stage.
“I can’t go on autopilot [with Ahr],” Goober707 said. “I have to think about how I want to recover, how I want to land on him because upbeat on his shield is really good and it’s a constant thinking process. This time, what was different from yesterday was mainly I wanted to focus on how to recover back to stage … that was my main deal. It was stopping him from planting bombs at ledge.”
Ahr plays as the character Dark Samus and said that his character has difficulty against Goober707’s character, Toon Link, as Dark Samus uses projectiles that are completely countered by Toon Link’s projectiles.
“[Goober707] converted off of all of his opportunities really well,” Ahr said. “His neutral game was good, which is when two players are on an equal playing field and you’re feeling each other out. I didn’t see a lot of weakness — it was mostly just that there are about 80 characters in the game and my character does poorly against his character.”
Prior to the final matchup, Ahr was worried about taking on NJIT’s Hunk in the semifinals. Ahr said that Hunk’s character, Captain Olimar, has a play style that completely counteracts Dark Samus.
“I’d never played [Hunk] before, so I didn’t really know much about his playing style, but I knew he must be good because he went 4-0 in the Swiss bracket,” Ahr said. “So I basically had to get help from friends to find out what to do against his character, [Captain] Olimar, and every single game was down to the wire.”
Ahr, however, wasn’t the only Bearcat to make it to the final eight. Adam Guarino, a senior majoring in biology, who goes by the gamer tag Cr4sh, qualified but was defeated by UAlbany’s Pershado in the quarterfinals.
Like the previous AE Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament, a single elimination bracket was utilized even though double elimination is the standard. Ahr said that he has problems with the single elimination bracket and that the tournament would benefit overall if the organizers followed the standard procedures, allowing competitors to be better seeded.
“They introduced a Swiss bracket which chess tournaments use, but the problem is [chess tournaments] have a rating system — this was just randomly seeded so that kind of didn’t help in the single-elimination bracket,” Ahr said. “There were seven sets played, and out of them, six of them were won by the lower seed, which I think shows that the seeding is still very subpar. Double elimination is usually better. It’s been the standard since 20 years ago when [Super Smash Bros. Ultimate] tournaments started. It gives you more time to adapt to your opponents and you don’t just get one opportunity if you mess up in a best of three or best of five.”
While the AE has hosted esports tournaments in the past two academic years, esports is not recognized as an official varsity sport at Binghamton. However, with its growing popularity and more universities creating teams, including Albany and Hartford, Ahr believes that a University-run esports team could surface at BU.