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A day in the life of an esports gamer

It’s 7 a.m. and it’s the day of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament at Long Beach State University. After the hour-long drive filled with traffic and getting lost at...

It’s 7 a.m. and it’s the day of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament at Long Beach State University. After the hour-long drive filled with traffic and getting lost at the university, I reached the University Student Union where the event was going to be held.

The event was GG Beach Retrowave 2024, an esports event that hosted tournaments for games like Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Valorant and Overwatch 2. The event also featured an artist alley where people could buy art pieces designed by students, livestream the event through the multitude of TVs, and play their favorite games in a freeplay area.

Walking into the USU, I was mind-blown as I saw a bowling alley, booths featuring companies in the esports industry and large red-bull-shaped containers filled with different Red Bull flavors for anyone to grab for free.

I signed into the event, got my wristband and walked towards the art room, where I was going to play in the Smash Bros tournament. Entering the room, I saw multiple TVs and consoles set up in one area. Two people played at each set, practicing for the tournament.

The atmosphere felt a bit intense with everyone already practicing. Everyone in the room was talking, but the sounds I heard the most were the buttons clicking and joysticks rapidly moving.

I looked around the room and walked toward my friends who were already practicing with each other. I jumped in and practiced with them until the tournament officially started.

CSUN’s Smash Bros. Ultimate team gets ready to leave the tournament venue March 9 at Long Beach State University. (Nitai Das)

The tournament is a 1v1, double elimination, which means players have a second chance to compete in the tournament, so if they lose in the winners bracket, they get sent to the losers bracket. The matches are also first to two wins until the semi finals, which is a first to three wins.

During each match, each player has three lives, which are called stocks. The game ends once a player loses all of their stocks. Players can lose stocks by getting knocked into the blast zone, which is the very edge of the stage. The blast zone is in every direction, so players can be sent up, down, left or right.

The tournament started and most of my friends had to play each other in the first round, which would send half of the team to the losers bracket. I was the only one who would fight someone from another team.

With a clear head, I felt confident in my gameplay and hoped to do well within the winners bracket. The tournament organizers called my name and designated me and my opponent to one of the setups, which had two sofa chairs and a monitor that was on the same level as the seats.

My chair was a bit shifted to the side, so it was a bit harder to get comfortable when competing, but I didn’t pay much attention to it, and I was ready to play. We both used Mario, so I felt confident thinking I’d play well until I realized I was starting to lose the first match.

My confidence was going away and I just felt the anxiety slowly creep up on me until I lost my first match, so I decided to switch characters and use Dr. Mario, a character who doesn’t do well against many, but I believed that I’d play well with him and win the second match.

We kept taking stocks off each other until we were both left with one, and any strong move could take us out with how much damage we’ve taken. I used one of my best moves, cyclone, which is a hard move to dodge close-by, but if the opponent manages to shield or dodge it, I can get hit because it takes too long to recover from.

He realized when it was time for me to use my move, so all he had to do was to be patient, wait it out and use a strong attack to take me out while my character recovered. He did it. I lost and my confidence went rock bottom after being sent to the losers bracket after the first round.

Expectations were high only for the event to start poorly, so the only thing I could do to meet those expectations was to have a strong run through the losers bracket.

My first opponent in the losers bracket was Jigglypuff, a character who floats and makes it difficult to get back onto the stage. I decided to use Dr. Mario again even though he has a difficult time recovering onto the stage, but I wanted to try it out.

CSUN’s Smash Bros. Ultimate team leaves the tournament venue March 9 at Long Beach State University. (Nitai Das)

The first match went by fast and I lost again. It hit me that if I lose here one more time, I’m out of the whole tournament, without winning a single match. I couldn’t go out like this after putting high expectations on myself and my team.

I decided to take a deep breath, change my game plan, switch to Mario, and play with more patience.

I managed to win the second match and the confidence was coming back to me, so I kept the pace up and managed to get the win. Feeling better from the win, I advanced onto losers round two.

While waiting, I’d watch my team compete against other players to see how they play, because I might compete against one of them in the upcoming rounds.

Feeling the momentum from my win in the previous round, I had faith once again that I’d play well and go as far as I can from the losers bracket.

Next round, I faced someone who used Inkling, a short, fast character that does decent damage, but they’re lightweight and have moves that make them vulnerable. The next two rounds went by smoothly, and I ended up advancing to round three.

While waiting for round three, I saw them compete against my friend, and the gameplay looked so intense with both of them being at the edge of their seats until my friend barely managed to get the win with a strong attack.

Once the match ended, they congratulated each other for the great games and shook hands. Seeing this reminded me how fun this game can be when competing against others, and it’s shown me the best parts of the community.

My opponent from round three was someone who uses Cloud, a strong character with fast moves that barely leave them vulnerable, and one that is difficult to approach because of their large sword. It’s the same opponent my friend just beat and sent to the losers bracket, so I aimed to play defensive this round.

The defensive play worked as I played around Cloud’s disadvantages while remaining calm. As I adapted to his playstyle, I managed to win both matches and move on to round four.

In round four, I was nervous. I’d play against someone who’s a part of Long Beach’s Smash Bros team. They played well, and used Jigglypuff, which is already a character I am at a disadvantage against.

I’ve beaten someone who used Jigglypuff before, so maybe I can do it again by using Mario. The match started and it felt even until I realized that they’re adapting to my playstyle, the way I timed my dodges or rolls onstage. All they’d have to do is predict my next move and land a strong attack.

CSUN Smash Bros. Ultimate team members Sebastian Merino (left) David Chavez (middle) and Neathan Gallardo (right) taking a group photo March 9 at Long Beach State. (Nitai Das)

This ended up happening at the end of the first match, as Jigglypuff took my last stock by predicting my movements and ending the match with a strong attack.

I got nervous again as I had trouble landing strong attacks on Jigglypuff. As a floaty character with many jumps, Jigglypuff can keep me off stage and send me into the blast zone very easily if I’m not careful.

As I was playing the last match, I tried to focus on not being sent to the edge, but it didn’t work for too long. We each lost stocks until I brought them down to their last one, but I already took too much damage and felt that this would be my last match in the tourney.

I knew I was going to lose once I got hit with a combo into the blast zone. I gave them a fist bump and said good game. I grabbed my bag and reported the match to the tournament organizers.

After that, I was demotivated and disappointed in myself for not reaching my own expectations, so I decided to walk around the campus and admire how beautiful it looked as I accepted my loss.

I returned with a clear mind, ready to play friendly matches as there were some setups that weren’t being used. Once my whole team was out, we played against each other, aiming to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves for any tournaments in the future.

After watching the finals of the tournament, we played against the Long Beach team and enjoyed the rest of the event until it was time for us to leave.

We left around 7 p.m. and walked out as a group, but before walking back to our cars, we took a group photo on campus as a way to commemorate the event. After the photo, we said our goodbyes to each other and treasured the event as a good memory and learning experience for future tournaments.