‘Super’ Gamers battle for cyber supremacy

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Tom “Ito” Gonda (far left) won the Club Web Super Smash Brothers Tournament. Ito is the county’s #1 ranked player.

Six-foot tall stacks of Fatte’s Pizza and coolers full of Mountain Dew awaited gamers in the Student Union East for this year’s Club Web Videogame Tournament. For just $10, they could play in unlimited tournaments, grab a slice of pizza and a drink.
Club Web President Joe Martorano, 27, said he was pleased with the turnout of more than 200 participants.
“It was a great event,” he said. “I guarantee it made the most revenue out of all the clubs put together, in this one day.”

Though the concessions table had a party-like atmosphere, the screens were surrounded by the Jordan-esque stares of elite players focused on games ranging from FIFA to League of Legends and Super Smash Bros.

Adolfo Coronel of StreetPass San Diego said some of the county’s top gamers were present.

“You can just look around, everyone’s having a great time,” he said. “You’ve got some of the best Smash players in all of San Diego right now. You’ve got ranked number one over there, ranked number four in all of San Diego, number three. They’re all right here right now. It’s a fun time.”

Top-ranked Tom Gonda, or Ito as he’s known in the gaming community, took home the cash prize for winning the Super Smash Bros. 4 tournament. Martorano said aside from the cash prizes, the tournament’s revenue will seed future events.
“All of this is going towards something else down the road,” he said. “So we just put it in our little piggy bank and once we have enough to host an event where we don’t need allocations, then we’re going to go from there.”
Club Web’s tournament drew players from all over San Diego County, in part because of its partnership with gaming companies StreetPass San Diego, San Diego LAN and LAN Diego. Martorano said Club Web just facilitated the process.

“I was like alright, let’s get PCs, let’s get consoles, merge them together and then all the DS people can come as well,” he said. “So now the three of them are working as a family and Club Web is just kind of here making sure everything’s available.”
Nick Nguyen, who is taking a semester off from his studies at UC-Riverside, said the event will help grow San Diego’s gaming community.
“What I like about tournaments like this is that it gets people that aren’t familiar with competitive play,” he said. “It might give them the urge to look more into the scene, get more involved.”
SDSU student Khac Thanh-An, originally from Germany, also said video game tournaments help people connect.

“In my opinion the top priority is that you can play with friends, meet other people,” he said. “The community is the most important thing. After that, you have to choose a game which you like. If you play competitively you meet other people that are, not worse, but inexperienced, and you grow up as a family.”

Martorano said he has big plans for Club Web.
“So this is my idea – the more revenue we get now, the bigger that we can have more events this semester,” he said. “I want to do this job fair where all the clubs get together and they use all the works they’ve created this semester and everything they’ve accomplished and promote that.”

Eventually, he continued, he hopes to help SWC expand its tech programs.
“Now this is just whispering Rome,” he said. “You whisper it too loud and it just disappears. I’d like to try and have enough support to where I can get Southwestern to start (its) own I.T. school. Like a whole separate school that’s built.”
He also said he was pleased with the event’s success, especially after the difficulties the club had booking the Student Union East.
“They (facilities) gave me the ultimatum,” he said. “‘If you do this event and you don’t get the amount of people, then you’re going to ruin it for all the clubs.’ Roger that! I know what’s going to happen, I’m set. That’s cool, go ahead.”
Martorano said he thinks the tournament’s success will prevent issues in the future.

“If the right people notice it, then they’re going to see Club Web is a man of their word,” he said. “Or people of their word, I guess.”

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