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eSports Break Ground In ACAC

Esports gaming man using computer mouse playing video games

By Orrin Farries

On Saturday November 21, the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference, in association with the Alberta eSports Association, held a Super Smash Bros Ultimate tournament that gave a glimpse into the future of possibilities for eSports in ACAC.

“[eSports players] are outside-the-box student-athletes now,” said ACAC president Jim Knight at the opening ceremonies of the event.

The competition pitted students from NAIT, Concordia University of Edmonton, Ambrose University, St. Mary’s University, SAIT, Keyano, and Lethbridge College in head-to-head battles for smash supremacy. The event drew 941 viewers on the Alberta eSports twitch stream, and should be heralded as an excellent take-off point for the ACAC and eSports moving forward.

“It’s a historic moment,” said AESA president Victor Ly on the entry of eSports into the fold of ACAC competition.

The NAIT Ooks were well represented at the event, with five participants who made waves with their stunning defeat of Concordia in a 5-person crew battle that saw our very own Ikenna Oguejiofor, “Ikey”, display his keen aptitude with the Isabelle character to dismantle the heavy hitters from the Thunder.

Super Smash Bros competition
Photo via Twitch

The tournament portion of the event was a double elimination tournament bracket, which saw NAIT players, “Ikey” and “Jarl” make deep tournament runs in the winner’s and loser’s brackets respectively before falling short to the Concordia Thunder’s best players “Marf” and “Kursed”.

What stood out from the standpoint of a traditional sports fan was the level of professionalism brought to the competition by the Alberta esports association. The event was buttressed by superb commentary by AESA’s Noah Stobbe, and Thai Sirikoone. Both displayed a keen understanding of the mechanics and tactical strategy of the game, providing insight into the plays being made, while breaking the action down to a level that a traditional sports fan could understand and enjoy.

Following the seeding matches and NAIT’s dominant performance in the crew battle against Concordia, four of NAIT’s players made it into the Top 8 bracket to close out the tournament with a galaxy blue championship belt on the line.

“Ikey” cruised to a 2-0 win in his first top 8 match against “CherryCola” from SAIT, and took that momentum to deliver a 2-1 victory over Concordia’s Smash Bros club captain, “Kursed”. Alas, the stylistic matchup of his Isabelle character ran out of gas against the eventual champion, Concordia Thunder’s “Marf”, who swapped between Ganondorf and Zelda.

This set up a single elimination redemption between “Ikey” and “Kursed”, which unfortunately “Ikey” dropped in straight sets.

The final between the two heavy-hitters from Concordia went back and forth, with “Kursed” from the loser’s bracket needing to win two best of five matches to claim the belt from “Marf”.

The first match went to “Kursed”, but was answered in the second match three sets to one by “Marf” after a tactical character change was made and the first ever champion of ACAC eSports was crowned.

The event was well represented by the membering partner institutions of ACAC, and the production value and organization brought on by AESA was instrumental in making this event a groundbreaking success.

The bar has been set for ACAC’s venture into eSports and the trajectory is sound for more frequent eSports events to take place in the future.

A highlight package of the event was curated by AESA and can be found here.

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