A Smash Hit: How a Video Game Became Competitive Sport

It started with a fist bump. That was Robert Fraser and Daniel Coppock’s way of wishing each other luck before their big fight. A small crowd began to gather, pressing close to get a better view of the action. With $60 and the glory of being victor on the line, Fraser and Coppock ignored the onlookers as they turned toward the blocky ‘90s TV, gripping their GameCube controllers in concentration as the screen lit up with two large, bold words: “Ready. Go!” And the fight began.

This is a weekly routine for the two. They meet every Thursday at Merchants Pub & Plate along with 30-40 others to compete in the local Super Smash Bros tournament. Fraser, 19, and Coppock, 18, are undisputedly the best players in the house, and nearly every week they find themselves going head-to-head in the grand finals. This childhood game had become a competitive sport that brought them together.

Super Smash Bros is a fighter video game that was first released for Nintendo 64 in 1999. The game got so popular it resulted in three sequels and a worldwide competitive scene that somehow found its way to Lawrence.

“My goal was to always build a community that could sustain an event series that would make people from around the region travel to us,” says Lux Fukato, a University of Kansas graduate and a key player in Lawrence’s Smash Bros scene. “These were especially important since the alternative meant traveling 4-8 hours to other places in order to play in a quality tournament.”

Read the full story here.

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