Student games get their “Smash” on

Two students compete at the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament on Saturday. The tournament was hosted by VEGA and YSU Smash, a newly formed student organization devoted to the Nintendo game.
Two students compete at the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament on Saturday. The tournament was hosted by VEGA and YSU Smash, a newly formed student organization devoted to the Nintendo game.

A group of Youngstown State University gamers have leveled up their love for Super Smash Bros., founding their own organization — YSU Smash.

Sponsored by the Video Entertainment Gaming Association, or VEGA, YSU Smash operates on campus, providing students with a place to network with others who share the same passion for the game.

Although they are not yet an official campus organization, Ben Nyenhuis, president of YSU Smash, said the group is gaining several participants and — with the help of VEGA — hopes to garner further support.

“We are considering applying to become an official organization in the future, but as of right now we’re just a group of people who love to play the game and are looking to hold events on campus,” Nyenhuis said.

Nyenhuis is also the vice president of VEGA, which is an official YSU student organization. VEGA has assisted YSU Smash in booking locations on campus to hold its Super Smash Bros. tournaments and meetings.

“VEGA is a club based around video games; however, our influences go beyond games into general entertainment. We meet every Tuesday in the James Gallery in Kilcawley Center, in which we play games, chat about games, sometimes watch movies and other general nerdy stuff,” Nyenhuis said.

Paul Tatar, president of VEGA, added that there is a social element to gaming.

“We have been around for a while even before I came to college. I have been president for two years. Everyone can bring a console or PC to hang out and play, make new friends. I wanted to get new people who liked video games to make new friends and have a fun time,” Tatar said.

On Saturday, YSU Smash held their Y-Town Throwdown competition — a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament in which dozens of participants compete against one another. With over 100 in attendance for the 12-hour gaming session — including Melee legend Joseph Marquez, also known as “Mango” — gamers from as far as Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y., made the trip to get their smash on.

“We had a total of 119 entrants in Melee singles, which is unheard of for most Ohio tournaments. Mango ended up winning both Melee events, winning Melee singles and Melee doubles. The event went off almost without a hitch, and I’m really happy with the turnout and the event itself,” Nyenhuis said.

Ohio State University student Justin Zetts attended the competition and said that despite the game’s age, interest in Super Smash Bros. continues to grow.

“It might seem surprising that so many people came to YSU to play a game from over a decade ago, but for those who are knowledgeable of the Smash Bros. scene, it was to be expected,” he said.

Zetts, a Youngstown native, said that he felt YSU was the prime location for the event.

“Youngstown proved to be an exceptional place to host such a tournament because it lies in the middle of a sect of the competitive community, the northeast Ohio-Pittsburgh scene. That, coupled with the fact that one of the greatest Melee players ever, Mango, now lives in Ohio, brought a lot of talent to Y-Town Throwdown,” he said.

He said his experience at Y-Town Throwdown was one to remember.

“I couldn’t help but make the trip from Columbus to partake in what was ultimately an amazing experience. It was a great opportunity to not only support the community itself, but to also support Youngstown’s presence in the community,” Zetts said.

It is undetermined as to when YSU Smash will be holding their next tournament. However, the organization’s leaders are urging as many students as possible to get involved and ask those interested to join their open Facebook group, YSU Smash, for updates.