E-Sports coming to the Pine Belt

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Lake Terrace Convention Center held its first ever video game tournament Saturday, Feb. 2. Over 150 contestants came to play Nintendo’s latest crossover fighting game “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” and compete for cash prizes.

“Super Smash Bros Ultimate” was released Dec. 7 and is the fifth sequel of the “Super Smash Bros.” series. “Super Smash Bros.” is a crossover fighting game, meaning the characters that are featured in the game are from other popular video game titles, titles like “Final Fantasy,” “Fire-Emblem,” “Super Mario Bros.,” “Mega-Man,” “Pacman” and “Street Fighter.”

Event director Elliot Zalaznik said depending on how this tournament goes, there could be many more tournaments to come this year. “With this new game coming out and E-Sports becoming as popular as it is, we thought ‘Let’s try to do this and make it happen here in Hattiesburg.’ The plan right now is four tournaments a year, but nothing is definite yet. We want to see how this one goes and see what kind of response we have,” Zalaznik said.

Zalaznik, who is also a fan of the game, said he chose “Super Smash Bros.” as the Convention’s first video game tournament because the community is huge and as competitive as it is friendly. “Everybody in the community loves to compete, but at the same time, they enjoy watching the competitors and playing for fun and making friends,” Zalaznik said.

Tournament grand champions Trevin and Trey Dahl said “Super Smash Bros.” has one of the most inviting communities of major league gaming. “‘Smash’ definitely has one of the friendliest communities. They’ll welcome anyone who wants to play,” Trevin said. “I’ve been playing for seven years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience.”

“People do these [tournaments] around Hattiesburg, but they do it more of just their side job,” Trevin said. “Where this, events is our profession, it’s what we do, so we’re going to try to do what they do but do it to the best of our ability and use our skills and assets to make it the best tournament in Hattiesburg and potentially in the state.”

Saturday’s tournament drew in competitors from all across the state and even neighboring states.  Video game athlete Brandon Malveaux, or “Ernago” as his fellow athletes refer to him, saw an ad for the tournament online and drove five hours from Shreveport, La., just to compete. “I saw it on Facebook, so I drove here to test my technical skill and see where I stand,” Malveaux said.  

Malveaux competes in all orange attire, earning him his gamer tag Ernago, or “orange” spelled backward. “I like ‘Smash’ because it is fun watching characters I grew up with going at each other,” Malveaux said. “It’s also a very technical game although it might not seem like it from the outside.”

For more information on upcoming tournaments, follow Lake View Convention Center and Hattiesburg Smash on Facebook.

photo courtesy Facebook