Super Smash Con took over the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA for a weekend absolutely packed with gaming tournaments on August 8-11, 2019. The show, touted as the largest Smash Bros. tournament in the world, drew thousands to the convention center for plenty of gaming tournaments, panels, musical performances, and much more.

Musical guests this year included Triforce Quartet and the Kyle Athayde Dance Party, and panels included topics such as “Coaching in Smash” and “Esports and Health,” among others. Attendees could also enjoy time in the free-play arcade area, which boasted both classic and modern cabinets. The marketplace showcased a diverse group of artists as well as video game dealers, making for a unique place to spend some money on merch.

But the big draw of the weekend was the various Super Smash Bros. gaming tournaments, with every generation of the franchise being represented. Smash players of the highest caliber traveled to the event for the tournaments from all over the world – the official Smash Con program touted the fact that attendees came from 46 different states, 24 different countries and five different continents to attend the show this year.

I’m a pretty big Nintendo fan, and I enjoy Super Smash Bros. on a pretty casual basis, so it was cool to spend some time at the show just to see what it was all about. I love the fact that they had some cool musical guests (I’m a huge fan of Triforce Quartet, so catching their set was great) and I like that they were running some programs to make high-level Smash play more accessible to newbies. I watched some of the Smash tournaments and I can definitely appreciate the kind of skill needed to achieve that high level of play. That being said, I don’t think I could have been entertained for a full weekend at Smash Con because of how I’m just not that invested in the professional esports scene at large.

Smash Con is a really cool little show that highlights an aspect of video game culture that’s otherwise not always afforded a ton of space at larger conventions. There’s definitely an appeal here for more casual gamers, so I’d recommend checking it out in the future if you’ve got the chance!

-Carrie Wood