Can New Brunswick compete when it comes to Smash Bros.?

The video game Super Smash Brothers has a huge following in Fredericton, and is popular in the rest of New Brunswick. This doesn’t mean that all players are talented at this eSport, or electronic sport. In fact, Smash Brothers is a game that takes years of practice in order to be viable at a competitive level.

The answer is complicated, but you might get something more straightforward if you head to room B8 at the University of New Brunswick. This elusive room holds everyone from the ages of 10-30. They’re all sitting around with their eyes glued to a tube television screen, and their hands dripping with sweat clutching a gamecube controller. It’s a normal sight though, and it’s one that entices more and more casual fans of the game each month.

Smash New Brunswick’s players commentating and watching the finals – Photo by Shawn Goff

You see, the game Super Smash Brothers isn’t just a game for kids, people play it competitively. It’s like rock paper scissors, you would expect these kind of things to be played for sports.

“Most people probably just see it as a casual game. And when I first started playing I just saw it as pretty basic and I thought all the mechanics weren’t very hard at all,” said Fredericton Smash player Caelan MacDonald.

“But now that I’ve started playing it you see that it’s a really technical game and a lot of the things you are doing that might seem very basic are really really hard.”

Look at it this way, a 17 thousand dollar prize pot was given to four top Smash Bros. players at the tournament EVO last year. Only problem is, players from New Brunswick are not nearly at the same skill level they need to be to win that kind of cash. There was one person in New Brunswick who was though, his name was Daniel Hoyt.

Daniel Hoyt, known as SuPeRbOoMfAn. Hoyt is now one of the top Smash Bros. 64 players in the world. Some call him a god.

Andrew Knowles has been in the Fredericton Smash Bros. community since the beginning. He said that when Hoyt came to the very first Fredericton Gaming Expo in 2012, he kicked ass.

““In the 64 community he’s a big deal, even in the Melee community in the beginning days he was a big deal because he would go off to tournaments. And even when they had USA vs. the world they would enter him in those tournaments, or crew battles,” Knowles said.

Unfortunately, while Hoyt still wins national tournaments, he now resides in Alberta and no longer represents the maritimes.

Many players are good in the maritimes though, and the one that stands out the most is Evan Dennis, also known as Sqiddwr. Dennis isn’t just good at one Smash Bros. game, he’s good at every title in the series except Smash Bros. 64. Some think of him as the person who now represents New Brunswick, while others think he is just strange.

““Recently this local tournament that went by he felt the need to put on an ape mask and make ape gestures, and throw shit around. I don’t know if I’m allowed to swear on this but that’s what he did, like this is our best player. This is him, this is the coast’s best player it’s this guy right here,” said Fredericton Smash 64 player Kyle Clahane.

Evan Dennis in his ape mask at a local tournament - Photo submitted
Evan Dennis in his ape mask at a local tournament – Photo submitted

Clahane isn’t kidding. If you look on Youtube for recently uploaded matches you’re bound to see Dennis and his ape antics. Some players think Dennis is hilarious, while others don’t take kindly to some of the things Dennis does at tournaments.

“Evan is a straight up dick. He will tell you what he thinks, he doesn’t care. He will say you’re bad… even though he’s pretty bad himself. He will say that too so it’s fine,” said local tournament organizer Dustin Smith.

Smith has been in the Smash Bros. New Brunswick scene for a long time, so he’s been friends with Dennis and the rest of the players for a while now.

One question still lies though, will New Brunswick be able to stand out as a province when it comes to huge national tournaments? Knowles says that if New Brunswick wants to get good enough, they need to stop being nice and start winning games.

“I think it’s a cultural thing in canada and also in the maritimes, people here are really nice. Well they act like they’re nice. It’s not necessarily the case but they’ll treat you cordial to your face,” Knowles said.

“Because I’m from the Bahamas and back home I played by myself. I skipped my graduation retreat to go to a tournament on another island. And the first thing I did, I joined a chat on MSN and messaged them on Smashboards and the first thing the group told me was that I’m bad. And it’s just a cultural thing, we talk crap a lot. The first thing I said was ‘You guys all suck and I’m gonna destroy you.’”

A local player gripping their controller – Photo by Shawn Goff

We all know the stereotype that Canadians are nice and apologetic, but it’s somewhat true in this case. Most weekly Smash Bros. tournaments in the maritimes are friendly and inviting to newer and younger players. Knowles believes this niceness is what will keep New Brunswick back when it comes to being a viable competitor.

Top Smash 4 player Keaten Russell however believes the opposite.

“In the placement pyramid a lot of our lower level players have been getting better and it’s forcing everyone that was mid level to get better so the top level is getting better and with that cycle I think we will see our top levels growing to new heights and things like that for sure,” Russell said.

Russell believes that with the community getting bigger, there is always room for players to improve and experiment. Making them exposed to different players can give them an advantage when going to bigger competitions.

Check out the video version of this story here!