Every Friday night, members of the Haverford community gather in VCAM to play one of their favorite video games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a platform fighter game that features characters from across videogame history. Anyone from Mario to Pac-Man to Sonic the Hedgehog can battle within the massively popular game. The Haverford Smash Bros. Club has been meeting and providing students a place to hone their virtual fighting skills since September 2019, serving as a relaxed and fun place to spend time and play their beloved game. Recently, however, the club has turned up the heat and begun hosting monthly tournaments, open to anyone.
The Haverford Smash Bros. Club meets in VCAM 201, beginning at 8 p.m. every Friday evening. In club meetings, members play each other in “friendlies,” no-stakes, two-player matches on the many monitors set up around the room (each with a connected Nintendo Switch). Players can also play more casual free-for-alls on the large projector screen in the center of the room. This game mode often has more than two players, and is taken even less seriously than friendlies.
“The club started mainly by chance. A lot of people in our first-year hall were interested in the game, and we figured there would be enough interest there and around campus in general to start a little community,” said co-head Joseph Gentile ‘23. “I had actually checked to see if Haverford had a Smash scene when I was applying, but I didn’t see anything at the time, so I was definitely happy to help start one.”
This fall, the club has taken the spirit of competition up a notch by starting to host tournaments, where entrants are organized into a bracket and play one-on-one matches. The monthly tournament, titled Haverclash, takes place on the first Friday of each month. Though as of now no official prizes are being offered, the friendly competition has added a new incentive for many of the club’s members to work on their skills. The first tournament had 16 participants drawn from across the student body.
Andrew Naiman ‘23, the club’s treasurer, has found a new role for himself as Haverclash’s Tournament Official (TO).
“Our tournaments are double elimination, and competitors play best of three games before the top eight, and best of five within the top eight,” he said. “They’re a lot of fun since they’re for all skill levels, and there’s absolutely no stakes since there’s no entry fee.”
Naiman’s responsibilities as TO include organizing the tournament seeding, or the pre-tournament rankings that determine match order, as well as the tournament livestream on his Twitch account. He livestreams games from within the tournament’s top eight with commentary by other club members. Videos from previous tournaments are also saved as VODs (videos on demand) for later watching, and Friday practice sessions are also sometimes livestreamed.
Both the October and November iterations of Haverclash were hard-fought victories for Naiman, who plays as the character Ike, followed closely by Gentile, who took second place in both tournaments with the fighters Shulk and Snake.
“The club is really enjoyable because it’s so relaxed,” said co-head Brian Thai ‘22. “Anyone throughout the Tri-Co can join and participate, regardless of skill level, and we only have a tournament once a month. So if that’s not for you, there’s still plenty of time to just come hang out and play games with us.”
Anyone interested in joining the Haverford Smash Bros. Club can join the club Discord server for more information about tournaments and club meetings. Gameplay from previous and upcoming tournaments is available on Naiman’s Twitch account. Club meetings take place in VCAM 201 beginning at 8 p.m. every Friday.