Every Wednesday night, a group of players host what looks like an old-school LAN party in a back room at King’s Sports Bar.
TVs and computer monitors, game consoles, and streaming equipment are set on folding tables lining the walls, with a main system installed near the center of the room.
For those who aren’t tech-savvy, teens would get together and hook up their computers so they could join them and play games over a local area network (LAN).
A dozen young men filter between 5 and 6 p.m., carrying their heavy gear, cables and controllers and talking excitedly about the game plan for the night.
Joshua Hughes is already on site, setting up recording equipment and making sure everything goes as planned.
Hughes is the tournament organizer for the Northeast Nebraska Smash Scene – the local Super Smash Bros. league. Ultimate and part of the greater Nebraska Smash Scene.
âWe usually start a Smash Bros. bracket competition. at 6 p.m., and it will run until about 9 or 10 p.m. There is a $ 5 entry fee and a pot for first, second and third place winners. We’re trying to record the best eight games in the group, so people can analyze their footage later, âsaid Hughes.
At 6 years old, he calls the gamers tags – the names of the competitors when they play – in pairs who will compete against each other in the first round of the bracket. Not everyone is playing at the same time, so there are always a few who are watching their fellow gamers or playing different games on retro consoles between matches.
This Wednesday in particular, that game is the original Super Smash Bros. game. Melee on a Nintendo GameCube.
âWe usually host a side bracket at 5:15, and it’s a free one-time elimination bracket. These are other fighting games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken. But when PokÃ©mon Sword and Shield releases in November, we’ll be replacing our side events with PokÃ©mon events. And these will be regular parentheses, just like the ones in Smash. We hope to attract more PokÃ©mon players, âsaid Hughes.
The group have been playing together at King’s since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Wii Switch last November, but the group has been around for about five years. Hughes said he has hosted tournaments similar to the Ponca Tribe for Smash for Wii U in the past.
âWe play every Wednesday, but there’s pretty much a tournament every day in Nebraska, except Saturday. We usually try to bring a group to the Lincoln tournaments every Sunday. And whenever there’s a monthly in Nebraska – where they’re trying to attract people from Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas – we try to go there too, once a month, âsaid Hughes.
While the current demographics are a bit homogeneous, Hughes said the group welcomes guys and girls of all ages who want to come and play video games.
âWe are open to anyone who joins us. We love people who play video games, so come have fun. Bring your family, bring your friends. We are always open to people showing up, âhe said.
Interested gamers also don’t need to own a Switch or Smash Bros. game.
âYou can just come and play games – we always bring extra controllers for people who may not have them. “