Smash Team Completes Upset, Remains Undefeated

Almost six months ago, Valparaiso’s Super Smash team started off the year with a narrow 1-2 loss against Manchester University. After the season opener, Valpo lost once and Manchester continued their untarnished record since joining the Great Lakes Esports Conference (GLEC). So when the two powerhouses finally rematched this past Saturday, it was a much anticipated fight for the top of the conference. 

Spurred on by the heroics of junior Josh “Jaminator” Mangnall, Valparaiso conquered the previously undefeated foe in historic 2-0 fashion. Mangnall took six stocks in the second game of the afternoon. 

The defining moment came when he was down one stock to three against Manchester’s Terry player. Mangnall, Valpo’s King K. Rool, soaked up 125% damage before even taking the first stock and still managed to clutch the comeback.

“Terry likes to get right up into your face and pummel you, so I just tried to keep him as far away as possible,” Mangnall said. “The first game I was trying to figure out what things he was doing. Some patterns I was able to use in the second game.”

After Mangall finally ran out of gas, freshman Keegan “Laird” Thompson stepped in his typical cleanup spot to claim the monmentual victory. Laird also nabbed five stocks in the game one win and ultimately avenged the loss he suffered against Manchester in his first ever game at Valpo.

“To be the first ones to take out someone like them means so much for everyone,” Thompson said. “We’re elated.”

Although his individual efforts are remarkable, Thompson credits a lot of the success to his teammates’ dedication.

“Everyone prepped really hard for this, Cris and Josh especially. They put a lot of time into film and specific matchups,” Thompson said. “They carried their weight today and I’m very proud of both of them.”

In his first semester as a starter, sophomore Cristian “Cross” Pagan has stepped up huge in the leadoff role. He fills the shoes of now graduated Shannon “Metia” Hollinrake who played a critical role in the program since its inception. Although Pagen only took three stocks against Manchester, he has performed consistently throughout Valpo’s 7-0 semester.

“Getting the chance to play in tournaments against other good players feels great,” Pagen said. “I’m going to work to keep improving and I want to make sure everyone around me is getting better too.”

The victory ensured that Valparaiso will be the top seed in the GLEC playoffs.

“Getting the one seed is invaluable,” Mangnall said. “If we hadn’t, we would’ve likely faced Mount Union who eliminated us last semester. Now that is a risk we don’t have to worry about.”

The team gets a long break before their final regular season game against Bethel on March 24th. After that, they are getting ready for the in-person GLEC postseason where they will be the favorites.

Story by: Michael Trevithick