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Joystiq attends Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament in pseudo-Boston


Nintendo of America's official Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament finals occur this Saturday in New York City after qualifying events last month in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. This past Saturday an official qualifying event was held in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, a well-sized burg about an hour outside of Boston. And although Worcester does have its own distinct identity, don't tell that to the emcee of the Nintendo Brawl event who kept telling "Boston" to "make some noise." For those who need further explanation, that would be like attending an event in Newark, New Jersey and having someone awkwardly scream, "Manhattan, make some noise!"

So, how did such a must-attend event for gamers to get their hands on Brawl a week before launch end up being hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute? Turns out, it's a classic tale of who you know. Jaime Barriga, a senior at WPI who heads the Game Development Club, won a photo contest Nintendo held last year. Since that time he stayed in contact with the Nintendo PR team and kept trying to get some kind of event hosted at the school. As luck would have it, this Smash Bros. Tournament landed at their feet.

Gallery: Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament: Worcester | 16 Photos

"We were looking at the venues when the press release came out about this tournament," said Barriga, still in shock at the 600 people in attendance even after a snowstorm hit Worcester the night before. "We saw the list of venues: New York, San Fran, LA and ... Worcester? That's actually when I found out they were officially coming here."

Jillian Daniels, former events director at WPI, said, "I can't believe this many people came through a blizzard to play Smash Bros."

The tournament had 256 participants who began lining up inside the campus center (while the snow fell outside) on the eve of the event. The main tournament room was equipped with over ten stations for competitors, with three stations outside for the general public. Obviously, there was a line to play the public machines from as soon as people could get their hands on it until the event ended around 7PM. It's also worth noting that at this official event every station used the classic controller.

It was pretty hard to escape how special an event like this was for the area, as the blasé attitude one could experience in a location that hosts such things all the time was clearly not present. "This is incredible. Nothing happens in Massachusetts for gamers," said Game Development Club Events Coordinator Steven Fanara.

After hours of gameplay, screaming, cheering and listening to the emcee say insufferable things like: "It's like they choose blindfolded when character select is on random." It was time for the final bout with a $500 Best Buy gift card and a trip to New York City for the finals on the line.

In the end Daniel Jung playing as Sheik bested Compton Durant using Lucas (video available at D-toid). On winning, Jung, who was overjoyed and out of breath, exclaimed, "Oh my god, it's so intense. The whole excitement and the rush."

The tournament concludes this Saturday in NYC, where the winners from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston Worcester and New York will compete for a crystal Wii, a copy of Brawl, art inspired by the game and a home theater system with an HDTV (ignore the irony). The event is at the Best Buy (NOHO), 622 Broadway, New York, NY and starts at 5PM. If you have the opportunity, it's absolutely worth attending. Super Smash Bros. Brawl not only makes a great gaming experience, it's one of the few titles that also translates well into an immersive spectator sport. Best of luck to the all the brawlers!

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