Norton College win the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Team Battle 2023 tournament
After months of competition, the Digital Schoolhouse Super Smash Bros Ultimate Team Battle 2023 tournament was brought to exciting end on Friday as our four finalists came together to battle it out for the championship title at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly.
It was hard to say at the beginning of the day which of the competing teams would ultimately come away with the final trophy but as the day progressed, last's years national champions, Norton College's Team Thunk 'N' Dunk came out on top to secure their second win in two years.
Langley Grammar's Team Daytona finished in second place, followed by Cheshire College South and West's Team Sandstorm and New College Swindon's Team NSH Smash.
Teams were awarded an incredible selection of prizes from Nintendo in recognition of their skill and achievement, including plushies, games, t-shirts and other branded merchandise, including an official framed key illustration for the winning team. Our winners and runners up were also awarded with medals and trophies to display at school.
There were some incredible moments and tense showdowns throughout the day, resulting in active audience participation as friendly rivalries came to a head, with cheers and groans filling the theatre during every match. Despite this, the teams and their peers never lost sight of the fun of the event and the friendships they had made during the competition, with the top two teams satisfying the audience's cries for friendly matches even after the winner had been decided.
Beyond the players
While the competitors are often regarded as the stars of the show, an important part of the tournament has always been the development and recognition of other skills that are vital to esports. This year, additional awards were up for grabs in shoutcasting, journalism and brand design.
Bowie the Hero joined us as a professional shoutcaster, guiding and encouraging six students as they commentated on the matches for both the in-person and online audiences via Twitch. All students impressed and brought an incredible energy to the day but there could only be one winner and ultimately, it was KJ from Langley Grammar who walked away with the top shoutcaster prize.
Our journalism competition entries were judged and shortlisted by Dom Sacco, freelance journalist and editor at Esports News UK, with Orlaith Henry from St Mary's College, Derry taking home the prize. Orlaith and her friend, Erin collected goody bags from Dom at the event and Orlaith's winning entry, ‘Northern Ireland’s Only All-Female Esports Team’ has been posted on Esports News UK.
Creative Assembly sponsored our brand design competition and contributed prizes for our winning entrant. Kevin Flynn, Brand Director at Creative Assembly reviewed submissions for a team logo that schools were asked to create that incorporated their school identity. Norton College's Chelsea Manaois won the competition with her design but was sadly unable to attend the event due to exams. Her prizes were collected by Nick Austin, IT technician from Norton College, on her behalf.
Inspiration from Industry
We were excited to be joined by a host of industry representatives who enjoyed networking with the students throughout the day.
Joining us once again to host the event was video games journalist and filmmaker, Alysia Judge, who worked effortlessly with Bowie to keep the energy and humour constant throughout the day. Alysia also hosted the careers panel on 'Neurodiversity in the Games Industry', bringing together Adam Boyne from BetaJester Ltd, Harriet Frayling from Many Cats Studios and Ukie's very own EDI Co-ordinator, Dom Shaw, to share their insights, advice and expertise.
Dom Sacco also opened the event as keynote speaker, drawing attention to the diversity of opportunities available to students who want to pursue careers in esports and the wider industry, a message that ran through the whole day and was celebrated during our prize giving ceremony.
As an unexpected surprise, Alex Sobel MP, Leeds North West and Chair of the Video Games and Esports APPG also got in touch during the day to share his well wishes to the finalists.
"Good luck to all the participants today! Been watching some of the top level action so far and have been extremely entertained. Can't wait to see how this ends!"
For many of our finalists, this year marked their final opportunity to compete before starting university in September. In an interview with Dom Sacco, Harry from Norton College reflected on what the tournament has meant to him and his next steps.
"With me going to uni next year, I mentioned in my personal statement that I attended these tournaments, and that might well have been the thing that got me accepted into uni, so it’s definitely been worth it."
For so many of these students, the tournament has provided yet another year of teamwork, skill-building and opportunities beyond those typically offered in the classroom. For all of our schools who took part this year, and no matter what stage of the tournament they reached, it has been a unique experience that has seen incredible sportsmanship, creativity and bravery to take part in and we can't wait to see the tournament continue to grow in 2024!