Comradery, competition and community collided on Thursday, Nov. 8 as the Memorial Union Building (MUB) Games Room hosted its semesterly “Night of Tournaments” at 7:30 p.m.
The event welcomed over 50 students to sign up or spectate as it hosted four separate contests: billiards, table tennis, “FIFA 2018” on PlayStation 4 and the ever-popular “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.” Prior to the 7:00 p.m. signups, a long line of students reached from the Games Room entrance to the exit door adjacent to MUB room 156 – home to the night’s table tennis contest – with most itching for a spot on the coveted 16-man roster for “Super Smash Bros.,” the most anticipated and popular game of the night.
When all was said and done, nine students competed in the FIFA contest, while all 16 spots were filled for both billiards and table tennis.
Student Postal Center and Games Room Supervisor Theresa Faist, who collaborated with Games Room employees in overseeing the event, called it “free and fun for all.”
“I think it’s just great fun building community; everybody gets to show their skill and, you know, it’s just a fun time for all,” Faist said.
Each sport had its own custom set of rules participants had to follow to promote a balanced playing field for both experienced and rookie players. “Super Smash Bros.” contestants, for example, each player had three lives and had to complete the fight in under eight minutes; each match consisted of three rounds, with the winner being the first fighter to win two rounds per match. Players could only pick one character per match, and could only choose flat, one-platform arenas called “Omega” stages, while all items, custom fighters and moves were banned; however, contestants who brought their own custom controllers were allowed to use them in addition to the provided Wii Remotes and first-party controllers.
“FIFA 2018” contenders could choose to play as any regular season team installed with the vanilla version of the game, with the exception of “all-star” teams, which featured higher stats compared the stock teams. Each match was made up of a single game divided into two four-minute halves on a median difficulty level with injuries turned on, meaning that a player’s teammates could be injured and forced to leave the game either temporarily or permanently. Other handicaps, such as saved games and “coaching” tactics, were prohibited.
The table tennis games declared a round winner to the first to score 11 points; to win a match, a player had to win two out of three rounds. Billiards, meanwhile, did not base victory on points but rather on who could shoot the black eight ball in the correct hole (pocket) first after all other balls were gone from the table. Games Room employee and junior mechanical engineering major Victor Lendaro explained that a player had to announce which one of six pockets they intended to shoot a ball (including the eight ball) into; if, when shooting the eight ball, it failed to go into the right pocket or went into the wrong pocket, that player would lose the game, resulting in the possibility for a last-man-standing scenario.
Throughout each of the contests, tensions were dynamic, ranging from relaxed observation and casual conversations in the background to sudden cheers and gasps when winning moves were made. The “Super Smash Bros.” contests vividly displayed this atmosphere as onlookers, especially in the semi-finals and the championship match, watched with eager anxiety – followed by enthusiastic applause – as Noah Glennon, a physics Ph.D. student, beat fellow UNH student Alexander James (AJ) Reid to win the “Super Smash Bros.” tournament; he, alongside the winners of the other contests, won a $25 dollar Amazon.com gift card, while second place winners each received a MUB-themed hat, water bottle and t-shirt.
“It was good,” Glennon said. “I met some cool people, had some fun; it was good.”
In the meantime, the event named junior statistics major Cameron Young the champion of the FIFA contest, while fellow student Michael Merritts won the billiards matchup.
Muhammad Zaheer, a first-year electrical engineering Ph.D. student, won Thursday’s table tennis tournament and said that he entered the event “just for fun” as a fan of the sport, but also sought a chance, like many attendees, to test his skills in a competitive environment.
“It was fun and arranged well, and it was exciting,” Zaheer said. “Players were pumped up.” He added that, at the end of the day, he was “very happy and excited to win a tournament.”
Despite there being only four champions for the night, other competitors conveyed similar positive sentiments, such as junior business major Morgan Dudley, who made it all the way to the “Super Smash Bros.” semi-finals.
“Took a hard loss, but it came close; both players played very well, and I look forward to next time,” he said.
Games Room employee and junior English major Keenan Dunleavy, who served as one of the tournament supervisors, expressed optimism about the event’s turnout, pointing to how fast spots on each of the rosters were being taken during the signup stage as a sign of the event’s success.
“I think it’s important [to have the tournaments] because it draws attention to the Games Room,” Dunleavy told The New Hampshire. “Not a lot of people know that we are here down in this little crevasse, but we are. And also, I think it brings together people who enjoy the same activities; hopefully you meet a few people during these tournaments that are into the same things as you and make a few friends, or, you know, make some money if you win.”