Four people sitting on stage playing a video game in front of a large projector. The video game on the projector shows an island and has four characters fighting.
Competitors at the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament at the Joe Crowley Student Union on Friday, Sept. 20. Rylee Jackson/Nevada Sagebrush.

Since 1999, the Super Smash Bros. franchise has blossomed into a phenomenon—being one of the most widely celebrated competitive fighting games. From Mario and Luigi to The Legend of Zelda’s Link, the Nintendo series features a multitude of characters from their most beloved games to choose from. As new installments have emerged over the years along with the evolution of gaming consoles, the series has become well-known for its prominence in esports—an industry that has recently showcased an explosive rise internationally. 

On Friday, Sept. 20, ASUN hosted their own Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament. Students gathered in the Joe Crowley Student Union ballroom to take on the challenge and witness other Nevada gamers in their element. In preparation for the tournament, The Reno Smash Community—a group of local gamers who host tournaments every week at the Pennington Student Achievement Center—helped with the organization of the event. 

Before the tournament even began, the 64 competitors were practising across the five televisions in the room including one on the stage backed by a huge projector. Many brought their own personal controllers—among them was a competition ready gold GameCube version.

The competitors played each round with three lives and a timer set along with the items turned off—making it all about the player’s skill without the extra assistance. The winner of each game was characterized by whoever had the most lives left when the time ran out. If they have the same amount of lives, the winner became the person with the lowest damage percentage.

Sounds of cheering and hollering from the outside crowd were intermixed with the focus and intensity of the participants. As the competition dwindled down, the 64 were down to the final two. In an intense best out of five match, Dylinn Villatoro ended up taking the crown. Playing as a pink Donkey Kong, Villatoro ended up winning the grand prize of a Nintendo Switch.

Besides the goal of winning, Villatoro—who is also the head tournament organizer for The Reno Smash Community—enjoys the esport culture due to the joy it brings.

“I think what’s exciting about the fighting game community or esports in general is that it brings a similar experience of watching a sport,” Villatoro said. “I think what gets it going is the excitement—all the flashing colors, all the sound effects, all the hype. Even if you don’t understand the game, it has something for everyone. 

With the growth of esports and its popularity, it’s a great way for other skills and areas of talent to be recognized along with the more mainstream topics of sports and entertainment. Villatoro believes that esports allows gamers to have more opportunities to shine.

“I think what makes this one interesting is that it gives opportunity to people who may not be athletically talented.” Villatoro said. “They can be good at video games and still perform at a high stage where people would want to watch.”

There have been dozens of universities that have implemented varsity esport programs on campus. For a while, there has been discussion in regards to Nevada esports becoming a part of that list of programs. There hasn’t been any action made to develop said program yet, but with the continuation of well-attended events like the university’s Smash Bros. tournament, the conversation to make this a reality will only get bigger.

Rylee Jackson can be reached at, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.