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Michigan State Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team wins big in first year

Jono Eatan

The esports team is new to MSU’s line-up, but its members found the way to click quickly and win.

It usually takes any kind of new sports team a little time to get rolling. Players need to bond, play needs to be sorted out, and the team vibe needs to grow.

Except for MSU’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate varsity esports team. In its first season at varsity, the team went 49-4, and won the Big esports championship. The popular game, which is on the Nintendo Switch, is the fifth installment of the popular series. It's a crossover fighting game between several different universes like Mario, Pokemon, Sonic, Kirby. The way to win is to knock off the other character on stage.

Winning the Big Ten championship was a significant way to end the first season.

“It feels incredible,” said point leader Dyson Mingo. “It was a very well-fought season, a very long season of practice for all the members, and it goes crazy thinking it [our wins]was over Ohio State and Michigan.”

Coach Grayson Harding said the team had high hopes for immediate success.

"I think there was a lot of expectation for this roster coming into the year, we knew that we had the talent to execute," said Harding. "This was our first year launching as we use this program. We're very confident with what we could achieve."

Mingo's favorite part of the year has been watching the team change and develop.

"My favorite part is the ability to grow as a team, to grow relationships, and the ability to grow as a player," said Mingo. "Life is like a mountain, and it feels like we as a team are climbing a very big mountain and overcoming many interesting obstacles with this program. It's actually a very wacky game, to be honest. A lot of stuff comes up a lot with the skills and knowledge, and to know everything takes a while and no one can do everything, but we try to know as much as we can."

When not in competition or practice, the 10 players develop their bonds through activities outside of esports.

"We've been going to the gym a lot recently. We've had, like, our entire team at the gym at once," said Mingo. "We hang out, play games together. We go out to eat, go to the arcade; we like to watch movies and stuff. We've gotten a lot closer over the course of being a team. If it wasn't for the game, we'd still be friends. It's great that we all bonded so quickly because we're a very new team, and I've only known these guys for a few years."

There is a lot to know about the game. There are 89 total playable characters to choose from creating a ton of different scenarios that could happen in game.

Jono Eatan

"It's really cool because there's a lot of exciting possibilities with the different characters within the metagame," said Harding. "But at the same time, what that means is that you have to prepare a lot because there are so many different options that other teams could employ. The way that all the characters interact with each other is going to be very different because their skill sets are different. So it's a very deep game that takes a lot of time to succeed at a high level."

Leading up to a match, there is a lot of preparation and studying.

"Before an offline match, we'll either warm up with each other using our own characters or we'll have each other play as our opponent's characters so we can be ready," said Mingo. "Before a match, we may watch videos of the other team and compete against their characters online. It's a lot of studying. It's all really a test and you need to be as prepared as possible. You don't want nerves holding you back.”

As for this season, this year was a strong beginning, setting the team camaraderie and establishing the vision and the vision is to keep building.

"We have a lot of young players," said Harding. "We're not graduating anybody. This championship roster consisted of two freshmen and three sophomores. We strongly believe that when we're looking at national competition, our time in the sun will come. So I would say next year is definitely the year that we're going to be taking home a national championship. That is the expectation."

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