Students walking past the windows of Ordal’s first floor lounge on any given Friday may catch a glimpse of Smash Club, one of Pacific Lutheran University’s only safe havens for serious gamers.
PLU Smash Club was founded last year for casual and professional play of all versions of the widely popular “Super Smash Bros.” video game.
The club will be hosting a singles tournament Friday, and founder Devin Turner is preparing for a large turnout for the rapidly expanding club.
Friday’s tournaments are composed of winner and loser brackets. Students square off against each other in heated battle. Smash games typically last about five minutes, though they occasionally reach up to 15 minutes. Victors stay in the winners bracket, while the less fortunate are booted to the loser bracket. Elimination rounds eventually determine the week’s champion.
Turnout for the tournaments has steadily increased. Turner notes that he didn’t expect such large numbers when he founded the club last year. He says the club formed organically out of “a love of Smash.”
“I know that sounds simple,” Turner said. “Honestly that’s where it all began, and for me it was all about building a community – a place for people who may not play sports but are still competitive, or just a place to have fun.”
Under Turner’s leadership, the club has almost doubled in size, keeping its core group of hard smashers while welcoming in newcomers. Even the club’s founder is a newcomer to the game.
“I’m definitely not the best person here,” Turner said. “We got some guys that blow me right out of the water.
Kyle Bendebel, the club’s co-president, hopes to continue the growth after Devin leaves. He’s the more competitive of the two, and occasionally enters tournaments “maining” (a term players use to describe their preferred character) as Zero, which matches his up-tempo and offensive based playing style.
Bendebel says people mention to him how much they need to blow off steam after long weeks. He remarks that the fun of playing Smash Bros. seems to help most people here.
“It’s such an accessible game,” Bendebel said. “It can be competitive, but it really is a party game at its core.”
When asked if any moments from the last tournament stick out for him, Turner lights up. He mentions that one player pulled off a move that he considers equivalent to a slam-dunk: Captain Falcon’s knee jab.
“The winner knocked his opponent off the map with it in the final game,” he said. “It was such a big impact, the guy went flying! Everyone went crazy.” ◼︎