The Undergraduate Library is dedicated to supporting student research and achievements. We also enjoy recognizing undergraduate student success throughout students’ academic and personal journeys. Today, we would like to do just that.
We sat down to interview Tyler “Tyroy” Awdisho. Tyler is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science. He has been a student since the fall of 2015. He is also a professional Super Smash Bros. player, being globally ranked 39th in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, and all-time ranked 55th over the video game’s four-year competitive lifespan between 2014 and 2018.
Tyler has been competing in Smash Bros. since 2008 with the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and it has been his main competitive gaming series. While he was never ranked globally in Brawl, he has been ranked in two of the five Panda Global Rankings and on the all-time rankings for the Wii U iteration of the series. Within Illinois, Tyler has consistently been ranked top three in the state and #1 in Champaign. While there are no rankings so far for the newest game in the series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tyler has already been winning large events, including House of Paign 20: a regional Smash Bros. event that took place in the Illini Union.
Undergrad: How have you been able to compete nationally and then also be a student, and then what issues have come up while being a competitor and a student?
Tyler: Competing while a student—usually I only compete a couple days a week—so I try to go to regionals that are only one day or weekly events. Recently, I’ve been more focused on school so if I’m not feeling super confident where I’m standing with school work, I’ll skip weeklies; I used to not really do that.
I think playing competitively and school at the same time is doable, but it really depends on where you are in both because certain schedules can be harder than others in school. In the last year of Smash Four, I didn’t really have to practice at all ’cause I was already really good at the game and it didn’t change since there were no updates.
In Smash Ultimate, it’s a little different. I think it’s a little harder for me in the new game. I’m not doing poorly, I just do worse than I did before. It’s definitely a change of pace. It doesn’t hurt that much to do worse, and I guess I’m more mature about it—at least not needing to do well and sacrificing school for it.
I do think going to major events (any event that’s more than one day), is very hard to do in school if you don’t happen to have Fridays off. Even if you don’t have to skip any class, it’s really hard not to fall behind taking three days off of school. There were times when I was in school before where I went to a few multi-day events and it was definitely extremely stressful the whole time thinking about school and worrying about coming back. I don’t think it’s worth it anymore.
Undergrad: In what ways has being a competitor helped you be a student and what ways has being a student helped you be a competitor?
Tyler: I’d say a lot of school and Smash are similar in terms of getting better. When you’re at weeklies and in between big tournaments it’s almost like when you’re learning at school. It’s very easy to not do anything between classes because you’re not being tested. But when the test comes or the big assignment happens, you should have been doing something. When you’re at a major or taking a test and you’re like ‘am I ready for this?,’ it’s a similar sensation. You need to prepare for either.
Undergrad: Do you see a lot of people who may also be students or have a lot of similar traits or personalities to people you meet on campus at premier tournaments, especially considering you major in Computer Science?
Tyler: There’s definitely similarities to Comp Sci people and Smash people, but I don’t think—smash people aren’t necessarily—I don’t think the average Smasher that sticks around for awhile—like ranked people or long time players and PGR members—it’s actually weird how many aren’t gamers. Like nerdy, I guess. I’m not saying that there’s a lot that aren’t nerdy, but there’s a lot more [who are not gamers] than you’d expect. I’ve definitely talked to a pretty decent amount of Smash players that have never played a Nintendo game other than Smash Bros. That’s weird to me because I’d assume that smashers would be Nintendo fans. People are almost more nerdy in school—at least the people I know.
Undergrad: Is there anything else you’d like to say to other college students interested in competing or Smashers in general?
Tyler: I would just say it’s not as hard as you think it is. That’s an important thing. I think a lot of people assume that they’re farther away from being good than they are. There’s a lot of tiny things that matter a very very very high amount.
We would like to thank Tyler for agreeing to sit down and interview with us.
Written by Zander
(This interview has been edited for clarity).