Conard E-Sports Team Wins State Championship
By: Connor Lafferty
After months of practicing, strategizing, and improving, Conard’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate Esports team made it to the State Championship. Entering into playoffs, Conard was ranked as the eleventh seed in Connecticut’s official CIAC league composed of thirty-nine total teams. Playoffs began with a sweet victory for Conard, moving from the round of sixteen to eight. This quickly separated them from the rest of the pack as an elite force to be reckoned with. The final destination was now in sight, as Conard plowed through not only the round of eight but also the Semi-Finals, bringing them to the state championship hosted at Quinnipiac University.
Here the Conard players would face their greatest challenge yet, the East Hartford Golden Hornets. In Super Smash Bros Ultimate, matches function as solo one-on-one fights that count towards a total team score. For example, Conard’s opening player, Xavier Cabrera, would face off against East Hartford’s ‘Optimalkey’ in an isolated duel. Whoever won the first game would then gain a point. The first player to three points wins, incrementing the score for their respective team up by one, making it, for example, 1-0 Conard. Each team is allotted three total players, meaning that the first team to achieve a two in their scoreline, whether it be a 2-0 or 2-1, is the winner of the state championship.
Now, returning to our example, Xavier Cabrera was the opener for Conard High School. In his first match, Xavier locked in his classic Cloud pick vs. East Hartford’s opposing Sora. In an extremely well-fought battle from both sides, East Hartford’s ‘Optimalkey’ managed to edge out a win, gaining him a point. In the second game, yet again, Xavier brought Optimalkey down to the wire, yet only just fell short, giving East Hartford yet another point. In his third game, Xavier began to develop a large lead, yet through some incredibly clever thinking, quick adaptation, and well-timed moves, Optimalkey was able to take down Xavier for the third game, giving East Hartford a 1-0 advantage.
The pressure was on now for Conard’s star, Justin Ho. Being the captain of the team, Justin knew he had to show up now or never. Opening with a Little Mac pick into ‘Clutch’, East Hartford’s Mario player, Justin struggled to gain an upper hand. The match remained dead even until the very end when ‘Clutch’ was able to deliver the finishing blow gaining him a point. After a quick talk with teammates Xavier and Vincent, Justin gave them a nod and said, “don’t worry guys, I’ve got this”. And got this, he did. Swapping back to his signature pick of King K Rool for game two, Justin began quickly dismantling the opposition. After only just a few moments in the fight, it was already over. Justin won, won, and won again. With the confidence only the team’s captain could provide, Justin quickly got back on his feet after a rough first game, won three in a row, and beat East Hartford’s ‘Clutch’ three to one.
This performance from Justin put the overall team’s score at 1-1, leaving it all up to Conard’s anchor, Vincent Trang. If Vincent won this match, he would bring home the first Esports state championship title to Conard, and cement their team in Conard’s history forever. With his legacy on the line, Vincent didn’t feel the pressure. He thrived off it. Right off the bat, Vincent’s skills were put to the test. East Hartford’s ‘Boss Man’ locked Falco as his fighter for game one, the fighter that just so happened to be Vincent's best as well. This led to an intense and exciting first game, one centered solely around how skillful and knowledgeable each player was of the fighter. Through all the hours practicing and studying techniques, Vincent just so happened to know nearly everything one could know about Falco. In game one, Vincent played his heart out, not only thinking of what moves he wanted to execute on his opponent, but the moves his opponent wanted to execute on him, allowing for perfect counters, blocks, dodges, and hits from Vincent's side. While the match remained close, Vincent’s knowledge of Falco allowed him to take home the first game for Conard. Two more, and they’d be state champions.
In game two, ‘Boss Man’ felt that he could overcome Vincent’s skills, and tried the same matchup again, but to no avail. Vincent had won and was bringing East Hartford the match point for the State Championship. With everything riding on the line, ‘Boss Man’ swapped to his second-best fighter, in hopes of defeating Vincent through a different method. We all watched in awe as ‘Boss Man’ locked in King K Rool as his fighter. For any other player, this would have been devastating. A matchup historically difficult for Falco players, East Hartford thought they had Conard cornered. Unfortunately for them, Vincent was no regular anchor. Vincent was a state champion-worthy anchor. Practicing every Friday after school with Justin, Vincent had become accustomed to this matchup, as we can recall from before, Justin’s best fighter was also King K Rool. Vincent had practiced this matchup hundreds of times. Out of the hundreds of players ‘Boss Man’ would’ve won against with this pick, Vincent managed to be the one person out of all of them who was built differently. Vincent had been training for this exact moment and was ready. Walking onto the battlefield, Vincent displayed a master class in the matchup, demolishing King K Rool at any chance he got, winning the game for Conard. This meant his score was now three points to none, increasing Conard’s overall scoreline to 2-1, winning them the State Championship.