New tournament kicks off esports competition for UI campus

A new esports intramural tournament began on campus this fall. The Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Tournament has reached students who typically don’t participate in intramurals.


Mason Childs

Matt Schaefer, UI Assistant Director of Sport Programs, and program assistant Peyton Rapier pose for a portrait on Nov. 5, 2019.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

In response to the growing esports video gaming community on campus, the University of Iowa has created a one-on-one intramural tournament for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

UI Recreational Services Assistant Director of Sport Programs Matthew Schaefer said the department began developing the tournament last year after seeing student passions for esports.

“Esports, in general, are on a trend in collegiate recreation right now,” Schaefer said. “Other universities are having esport intramurals and clubs, and we thought [this tournament] would be a good way to bring in a different population of students to play intramurals and get them involved with Rec Services.”

This tournament is the first of its kind in UI history and comes on the heels of the revival of Esports at Iowa, an esports student organization on campus.

UI senior Aldair Matias Garcia is the current president of the club. He was one of the students that reached out to Schaefer about creating the tournament.

“The former president Robert Chase Sommer and I were asked to give insight on how they would go about running this Esports event as an intramural league,” he said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “We’re happy to see that the university is beginning to see that esports are an up and coming phenomenon that is taking the world by storm. It is a small step, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.”

This tournament, Schaefer said, is one-on-one, which means it can happen at any place and time as long as it meets the deadline set for the tournament after UI officials have paired games. It is also a tournament that any UI student can participate in, regardless of skill level.

Peyton Rapier, a supervisor for the UI sports program, was one of the students who participated in the tournament this fall.

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“It’s first kind of awkward meeting someone you don’t know,” he said. “I went over to [my opponent’s] room and played against him. You can do it online or meet up and play. It’s a new and different experience than other intramurals. I definitely think this will be successful in the future since esports tournaments have been pushed for over the past few years.”

While this tournament is open to all students, Garcia explained that such opportunities are very important to members of the Esports at Iowa club and him as a student.

“As of right now, [Esports at Iowa] has 707 members in our Discord server and have an average event attendance rate of 70 people,” he said. “Video games mean everything to me. They are my escape, and my method of relaxing.”

Schaefer said he was excited to see where this tournament will go after its two pilot tournaments this academic year.

“Esports is growing right now, and we expect that to continue,” he said. “Since it is a pilot program, we intend to evaluate how both this semester and next go and get feedback from students. If there’s a need for more of these tournaments, we will definitely expand. The future for Esports at Iowa is very exciting.”

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