Graphic by [B]TheRealHeroOfWinds[/B]
The Hawaiian Super Smash Bros. for Wii U scene is growing, and now it's time for the world to see their progress. This March 11-12 marks one of their most important tournaments of the year. Hosted as part of eSportsHi's "Year of Gaming" convention series, Gamer Expo Vs Edition 2017 is bringing fighting game enthusiasts of all types at the PUSH Esports Arena in Honolulu for competitions, exhibitions, vendors and more. The Smash Wii U tournament has attracted some high-profile players from the mainland US. Today we'll look at both the tournament itself and the scene that has worked so hard to make it a success.
Hawaiian Smash Origins
Today, Hawaii's Smash Wii U scene is on fairly strong ground, but this wasn't always the case. In a recent interview with a fellow crewmate, top player and former Hawaii resident James "CLG | VoiD" Makekau-Tyson mentions some of the issues he faced while trying to improve. Though there were tournaments, they mostly occurred on a monthly rather than weekly basis. Players lacked consistent tournament practice as well as the incentive to improve. However, there was a strong sense of camaraderie which could easily supply the foundations for a strong scene.
Things have improved thanks in large part to the efforts of Robert "DarkM" Kuraya and The Odo Faction crew. DarkM and his crew stepped into the leadership void and began organizing regular weekly tournaments. Having regular practice has helped ignite the competitive spark among Hawaiian Smashers. Now they can gather at Da-Planet in Honolulu for weekly Smash Wii U tournaments. For extra practice, they can also attend Manoa Monthlies at the UH Campus Center as well as Smash Series monthly events (also at Da-Planet). Finally, PCGamerz Hawaii runs weekly events specifically for unranked players. Those who are determined to improve have a lot more options now. These events are consistently streamed on Twitch and uploaded to YouTube, so you can catch the action live or at your leisure.
However, there's still a unique challenge presented by Hawaii's geography. While there are Smashers located throughout the Hawaiian islands, most of the scene is concentrated on the island of Oahu. The players on the other islands tend to be young and can't afford to fly in to compete often, especially not for weekly tournaments. At the same time, their local scenes aren't active enough to host large or frequent tournaments either. The Odo Faction has been working to address this by covering travel costs to major Oahu tournaments for isolated players. This hasn't removed the issue, but it at least affords isolated players with the means and the incentive to improve.
Island vs. Mainland
With increased levels of competition, the Hawaiian Smash Wii U scene has been able to maintain a consistent Power Ranking. This is updated on a bimonthly basis and so represents a current understanding of where everyone stands. Below you can view the newly-updated rankings for January/February 2017:
K0rean manages to retain his 1st place spot from the November/December 2016 ranking season.
A number of players from this list have already confirmed their attendance at GXPO 2017. These include Charles "Brult | K0rean" Thoren, Darren "GSM | Dren" Marzan, Travis "Brult GSM | Rush" Takamiya, GSM | Brigade, Andrew "GSM | AnD" Hernandez, Preston "KOA | FruitBasket" Sihavong, Treyson "daze" Luke and Ian "GSM | Click" James. These names along would be enough to ensure a highly competitive event.
However, Hawaii's homegrown talent won't just be squaring off against each other. Recall that GXPO 2017 has also attracted notable out-of-state talent. Perhaps the favorite to take the entire event, James "CLG | VoiD" Makekau-Tyson has returned to his old home state with the intention of proving he's still top dog. VoiD will be accompanied by his teammate Tyrell "CLG | NAKAT" Coleman, who is a fearsome contender with multiple characters. Also in attendance are Corey "Elevate | False" Shin, New Jersey's premier Sheik player, and Matthew "RvL | Xzax" Liberatore, who is currently ranked 3rd in NorCal.
As an added incentive, the organizers have provided an approximate $1,800 pot bonus via the Hawaii Compendium Prize Pool. This is a crowdfunded community prize pool to which people can contribute by purchasing merchandise and fundraising. Hawaiian Smashers will be looking to showcase their newly honed skills regardless, but this will surely help cover future travel costs for whoever wins.
Hopefully you're excited for GXPO 2017 and want to know where to watch it! As is usual for Hawaiian events, The Odo Faction will be supplying the stream. As Honolulu falls in Hawaii-Aelutian Standard Time (UTC-10), expect the event to run late if you live in the states. If you can't watch it live, replays and videos should be available shortly.
Let us know who you think will win GXPO in the comments below, and be sure to stick around for more tournament coverage.