On Saturday, August 17, Ann Arbor history is going to be made when the Ann Arbor Sports Commission, Destination Ann Arbor, and your pals here at High Score hold the very first Ann Arbor Ultimate August Tournament! If you haven’t heard, this Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournament is the first time the Ann Arbor Sports Commission has entered the world of video games, and we’re excited to help bring them through the door. Along with your normal 1v1 style tournament, we’re mixing things up with a new deal – 2-Player 1-Controller Versus. What’s 2-Player 1-Controller Versus you ask? We’ll explain! You and your teammate take on another team of two, but each team can only use one controller. Both teammates control half of the controller, and the fun goes down! Are you and your pal simpatico enough to make it work? Only one way to find out… Register now and save your spot!
This week, Mike Malach, the Executive Director of Ann Arbor Sports Commission took a few minutes out of his day to talk to us about Ann Arbor’s esports goals and how the Ann Arbor Ultimate August came together. Check it out!
Ann Arbor Ultimate is the first big esports event for the Ann Arbor Sports Commission. What made now the right time to jump in?
With the establishment of the Ann Arbor Sports Commission in 2016 and the hiring of a director and staff in October of 2018 we thought it was a great time to dive into an esports event. There is so much positive media exposure around esports that we thought an event in collaboration with High Score Esports would be perfect.
What made Super Smash Brothers Ultimate the perfect game to start with?
We relied on the expertise of High Score Esports to select the game. Their history with Smahsfield and their partnership with T.O. Kevandre Thompson made us feel like Super Smash Brothers was the right way to go.
Michigan has shown itself to be a major hub for esports. Along with countless weeklies like Smashfield, and annual events like Frostbite and Gamers for Giving, we have the League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals and Ann Arbor Ultimate coming this month. What do you think it is about Michigan that makes it so esports friendly?
Michigan, and especially Washtenaw County, is a very tech-centered state and region. There is a large majority of millennials that work in these fields that have been gaming for years. In addition, the concentration of higher education institutions in Washtenaw County brings a built-in audience of students who are part of the esports age demographics.
You’ve been working with the Ann Arbor Sports Commission for a while now. What parallels have you seen between traditional sports and esports?
The biggest parallel I see is the teamwork and bonding around these types of events. There is a dedication in esports that is very similar to traditional sports. Their training may be different but in both cases includes a determination and focus that is needed to be successful in both arenas.
What differences do you see between traditional sports and esports?
The biggest difference is the history and culture of traditional sports. It will take time for esports to develop that same story. Traditional sports are built into our current society like very few things in this country. Esports still has a way to go in order to reach the same plateau. I do believe that it will be something very special in the future.
What is Ann Arbor hoping to see come from this month’s event?
As our first promoted event we are really looking forward to a fun exciting event that can call Ann Arbor its home. We are hoping for a large local turnout and that everyone has a very positive experience!
Are you a gamer?
Not much of a gamer, but I do have a Nintendo Switch. I actually enjoy the nostalgic games like Donkey Kong and Pac-man. Just my age showing.