Laird Takes Seven Stocks From Mount Union to Extend the Smash Team’s Win Streak
The Valpo Esports Smash team had a wild ride Saturday morning in Week 4 of Great Lakes Esports Conference play. With their backs against the wall, down 7 stocks to 2, freshman Keegan “Laird” Thompson put on a near perfect performance to topple undefeated Mount Union Esports in two straight sets.
Valpo took the first set in the crew battle easily with two stocks remaining on their final player. Laird and senior Shannon “Metiastar” Hollinrake both contributed 4 stocks in the first set; sophomore Ryan “Fitz” Fitzgerald took 1 stock himself.
Up 1-0 after the first battle, Valpo looked poised to take the series, but ran into trouble when Mount Union swapped their Pac-Man to the front of the lineup. In a tough match, Metiastar managed to knock two stocks off before being eliminated. Sophomore Alex Meyer, the second up that set, failed to KO Pac-Man once. Alex looked more comfortable on his final stock, dealing 74% damage, his highest of the match, but couldn’t find his rhythm soon enough.
Starting in a deficit, Laird committed a rare blunder on his first stock and failed to recover, making Valpo’s situation in game two even more dire. With the deck stacked against him, Laird swiftly KOed PacMan’s final stock and went on to play a flawless match versus Mount Union’s Diddy Kong. Finally, facing UMU’s final player, Dr. Mario proved a bit tougher. Whittled down to both character’s final stock, Laird dealt 162% damage and secured the unlikely comeback with his 7th KO of the second matchup..
A wealth of competitive experience was crucial for the freshman in a tough situation. “I come from a background of competitive events. This past summer and for the past year, I’ve just been trying to get better at this game… tournament after tournament things get a lot less stressful. Whenever you’re down, it’s just what’s next. You’ve gotta bounce back. When I played crew battles online, nothing to this degree, but if they needed a clutch factor I was there for them,” Keegan said.
Another factor in the incredible set was his little-chosen fighter. Samus’ unique special moves meld with his aggressive style. “Samus is not a character you see very often. I like to lean into that. I like to be a bit of a wildcard… to provide a lot more up close and personal pressure,” Keegan said.
Senior player and coach Metiastar also performed consistently at the front of Valpo’s lineup. Throughout her time at the top of the program, her knowledge helped grow the program to where it is today. “I had a whole bunch of these guys come in on the ground. I helped teach them all I know,” Shannon said.
Alex and Fitz, Valpo’s two other players to compete yesterday, both possess untapped talent. “Fitz is one of our most promising players. We believe that he has the most potential. He’s been learning the most and playing the most,” Shannon said. She also sees Alex as another part of a bright future for the program. “Alex is one of our new players this year, so I want him to get some more experience. His main character is very good, I believe he is just a little too hard on himself. I’m trying to help him to get the confidence to play more.”
Now 3-1 in conference play, Valpo has high hopes for the rest of the season. With the only loss coming at the hands of the defending conference champion in a close series that went to the final set, they aim to keep that as the only loss. “I want to send the scene as a whole on the run. I want them to know that Valpo is knocking on their door and we’re gonna come kick it down soon. I just want to dominate this division.” Keegan said.
Follow along all of the Esports matchups this semester at https://www.twitch.tv/valpoesports.