Sac State esports team finishes playoffs 2nd in Valorant, 3rd in Smash Ultimate

Catawba College ends Sac State Valorant team’s undefeated streak in Eastern College Athletic Conference finals


Cam “Camtwo” Harding (Mii Brawler, left) KOs Jahque “JJ$TATIC” Wilson (Snake, right) with a back air as Wilson attempts to land, defeating Sac State in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. Both teams were tied in stocks after Wilson won the previous set in a three-stock. Screenshot taken via Navarro’s Twitch.

Colby Case

The Sacramento State esports club’s Valorant team took second place and the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team took third place in the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs. 

The Valorant team went undefeated throughout the regular season, placing first of 32 before breaking into the playoffs. The Hornets again went undefeated until the finals where they lost 0-2 to Catawba College from North Carolina, ending their eight-win streak.

The Sac State SSBU team placed 26th of 65 teams during the regular season, gaining entry into the playoffs. The Hornets brawled their way to third place out of 44 teams, losing 1-2 to Nebraska’s Wayne State College.

Placing 15th of 38 teams during the regular season for Rocket League, the Sac State team made their way into the playoffs and landed themselves in the top 32.

The Sac State teams participated in the ECAC, a conference usually reserved for East Coast colleges. Esports club president Julia Barge said the club was invited after participating in one-day tournaments over the summer.

“Those tournaments all went really smoothly,” Barge said. “The ECAC is looking to expand their conference out west, they want to recruit more Western schools in the upcoming years.”

0-2 loss ends Valorant team’s undefeated season

Team members said the Hornets went into their final game of Valorant nervous and anxious, ready to win but feeling unprepared.

“We didn’t practice that much, I’ll tell you that,” said Bryan “Prodigy” Anunsacion, a member of the Valorant team. “Before each game we probably have like one practice.” 

Anunsacion said the team’s practice games were either against “a really hard team or really easy team.”

“We either got clapped and didn’t learn anything or clapped them and didn’t learn anything,” Anunsacion said.

This was made even more difficult when during the first set, Gilbert “Pinoyboytoy” Galam disconnected during a couple rounds along with the entire Sac State team’s ping averaging 70 milliseconds to Catawba College’s 30 milliseconds on the East Coast. 

The team’s ping refers to the amount of time it takes for the users inputs to reach the server and then send its own signal back, in gaming terms it determines how quickly whatever a player is controlling responds to their reactions.

“We knew we were going to lose Bind the whole time, and we were banking on Ascent and Haven and our Ascent would’ve won,” said Mitchell “mitchell” Keller about map picks in Valorant. “We always lagged out and that’s honestly the way it played.” 

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Elijah “Trippyeli” Arcelona, said poor play also contributed to their defeat.

“Also at the same time you can’t what-if the whole scenario” said Arcelona. “It also comes down to how we play. I didn’t play all that well, so that’s definitely a contributor as well.”

Last-set defeat lands Super Smash Bros.Ultimate team in 3rd

The team’s final crew battle with Wayne State College went back and forth, with the Sac State team taking an early lead in their set before being stonewalled by WSC’s Cam “Camtwo” Harding playing as Mii Brawler for two sets.

“I was the most nervous when I had to fight the Mii Brawler player, the guy that just barely beat us,” said Jahque “JJ$TATIC” Wilson, who played as Snake. “If we’d beat him, we would have gotten to the finals. He was the best player in the whole season, so of course I was nervous to fight him.”

With their school, work and social lives conflicting, the Sac State SSBU team had to drop one of their players at the last minute for a prior engagement, according to Isaac “jfreak51” Rodriguez, the team’s coach.

“The playoff schedule on days when we’re typically not playing nor planned for makes it a little bit more difficult, but we were able to pull through to the semi-finals just with the people we had,” Rodriguez said.

The Valorant team wasn’t the only team feeling the lag. For the Smash Ultimate team, the lag was compounded by Nintendo’s poor networking, according to Arturo “zoro” Rodriguez, Isaac’s brother.

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Brandon “Chef Lewie” Lewis (Terry, right) winds up a Power Dunk to KO Hector “PandaToast” Navarro (Sheik, left) and end the first match of the last set with a two-stock lead for Wayne State Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. Despite Sheik’s light weight, Navarro managed to survive two Burning Knuckles before losing his last stock. Screenshot taken via Navarro’s Twitch.

“With characters like Sheik for example, a lot of her movesets depend on how well you react and how your timing is correct and perfect, and because that latency is there, it really affects Hector’s [“PandaToast”] performance,” Arturo Rodriguez said.

Despite the difficulty, members of the Sac State SSBU team said they thoroughly enjoyed the tournament and are looking forward to their next opportunity to show their moves.