There was an abundance of great Super Smash Bros. Ultimate action during the Rising Stars Tournament at the 2019 Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo (EGLX) this weekend, and in the end Eric “ESAM” Lew dominated the competition in a surprise comeback. ESAM played throughout the day with his Pikachu main and faced a major hurdle when losing first against Aaron “Blacktwins13” Grandison-Vargas in the semi-finals, sending ESAM down to the losers bracket where he would need to climb back up for a shot at the top spot.
From that point, ESAM fought hard to edge out Mathieu “DoctorKayh” Houle, then Zander “iModerz” Cardona, and finally Michael “Riddles” Kim, placing him right back against Blacktwins13 in the Grand Finals. Like before, ESAM chose Pikachu and Blacktwins13 chose Pichu to start off in the best-of-five set.
The rematch between the two players was far less of a nail biter than the first time they met, with ESAM dominating all the way through. After losing the first game, Blacktwins13 switched from Pichu to Mario, which is a logical choice considering the difference between the two fighters. Mario has a greater range and would be a tougher opponent to Pikachu, but ESAM still took the second game without difficulty.
In the third and final round, Blacktwins13 went back to Pichu but was unable to match ESAM, who took the championship with a 3-0 victory. The two competitors shook hands, and ESAM took home the bulk of the $9,000 prize pool.
Overall the Rising Stars Tournament appears to have been a smashing success. The idea for this tournament was to provide an opportunity for more recent entrants into the world of esports to have a place to compete and shine. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was accompanied by two other games, Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Melee. While all players were competing for a share of the $30,000 prize pool, Luminosity Gaming offered a great prize for those newer competitors. The top unranked and unsponsored player will be receiving a sponsorship from them.
This means that although ESAM, a well-known ranked player in the world of Smash Ultimate, won the tournament, there is still a prize for a newer player. Not only that, but those players will also receive a post-match meeting with a top player in the game, in this ESAM, for a mentoring opportunity. Then that player will be placed into three tournaments of their choice in Canada or the USA, with all flight and accommodations paid for.
This is a fantastic way to support up and coming players, and is a great way to encourage new talent to jump into the esports scene, but it was not the only way we saw local esports grow this weekend. Check out our interview with Adam Climan, the Ubisoft Esports Manager, and see how Canadian esports are being developed in the long term. Hopefully we have more Rising Stars Tournaments, or similar, to encourage more players and provide them with the financial boost often necessary to make the leap from amateur to viable professional!