MultiVersus players navigate unfamiliar waters at first LAN - Upcomer
NAKAT & VoiD face mirrorman & RoseJ in grand finals of the first MultiVersus LAN.
Provided by @ASTROTR via Twitter

MultiVersus players navigate unfamiliar waters at first LAN

‘It’s weird … but everyone’s just excited to be here’

In its very first LAN appearance, MultiVersus fit right in with the rest of Evo 2022. Massive cheers erupted from the crowd any time a player landed a down-air spike to get a ringout in game. As victorious players popped off on stage, their energy spread quickly through the viewers in the audience.

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For some, like fighting game community veterans Dominique “SonicFox” McLean and Jon “dekillsage” Coello, the spectacle of it all undoubtedly made for a familiar experience. Yet, for many others — like grand finalist DJ “RoseJ” A. — Evo was quite unlike any tournament environment they had ever taken part in.

“I’ve mostly been somebody who just goes to locals, so by far this is the biggest tournament I’ve been to,” RoseJ said. “It’s a little bit odd because it’s much more formal and organized than a local would be.”

MultiVersus at Evo 2022 brought together hundreds of players with a diverse array of gaming backgrounds, from other platform fighters to the shooting game genre. Meanwhile, players tried to balance their competitive drive to win it all with their desire to engage in a new offline community. All these factors combined to create an experience that was exciting and yet unfamiliar for many MultiVersus players at the game’s first LAN.

The first MultiVersus LAN experience

Perhaps unsurprisingly, MultiVersus’ debut offline major was not without its flaws. The tournament organizers drew criticism for reserving all setups for tournament sets, thus prohibiting attendees from playing friendly matches.

In addition, keyboard players encountered issues. They reportedly had to rely on a third-party program to read their inputs as if they were regular controllers, resulting in input delay. Some keyboard players made do, like Tiffany “T1FF4NY” Chloe, who placed fourth alongside Brandon “Stahly” Brenenstahl.

Conversely, the keyboard issues caused greater troubles for the eighth-seeded duo of Stephen “Sandstorm” Myers and Zack “Boomie” Bielamowicz, who finished in 17th place.

Yet, the general attitude among attendees at the first MultiVersus LAN was positive. The promise of instant payouts for everyone in the top 32 undoubtedly helped. But, even more important was the overall sense of support that players felt from Warner Bros. and Player First Games leading up to and during the tournament.

“It’s just the developers mainly, how much they care about us as players and as humans, and they want to make our experience the best they can,” Stahly said. “You see [MultiVersus game director Tony Huynh]. He’ll reply to [Tyrell “NAKAT” Coleman] and then the next thing he’ll reply [to] is [from] some dude with two followers tweeting him some meme about Walter White coming in.”

Audience members returned the thanks to Huynh just before top eight. As the Player First Games co-founder got on stage to thank everyone in attendance, he was met with applause and “Tony” chants.

All about the community

Although James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson is no stranger to in-person Super Smash Bros. majors, the vibe at Evo wasn’t quite like his previous experiences at offline tournaments.

“It’s weird because everybody’s just meeting everybody for the first time probably,” VoiD said. “Nobody really has allegiances. Everybody’s just trying their best. For the competitors, we’re trying our heart out, but everyone’s just excited to be here.”

In many cases, players hit it off with their fellow competitors. For those who have been playing since the earliest alpha playtests, the first MultiVersus LAN was an opportunity to finally put faces to the tags they had encountered in brackets.

“We’ve only known each other on Discord for so long,” Stahly said. “It’s just nice seeing everyone have a great community that’s so tight-knit.

Of course, perhaps the biggest benefit of an offline major is the opportunity to play the game without some of the issues that can come with online competition. California resident VoiD particularly enjoyed getting to play RoseJ and Tyler “mirrorman” Morgan, who both live closer to the East Coast.

“Me, being a West Coaster, I don’t get amazing quality of games with these guys [online],” VoiD said.

Something new

Without any significant in-person major experience, just being there at the first MultiVersus LAN was a change of pace for RoseJ. But, RoseJ wasn’t merely there. He and mirrorman made it to grand finals on winners side, dominantly defeating other highly-seeded teams in the process.

“I’ve honestly never been in a situation like this,” RoseJ said in an on-stream interview after winners finals. “I don’t know how to feel, but; I’m excited, I’m happy. I love VoiD and NAKAT. We’ve played against them quite a bit online and it was an absolute honor to play against them on LAN and just even meet them for the first time as well.”

However, even for those who didn’t make such deep bracket runs, Evo was a breath of fresh air and the potential start of a long-lasting future for the competitive MultiVersus community. The event gave people the chance to meet new people, strive for greatness and, of course, play the game that brought them all there in the first place in a new way.

“It’s just fun playing MultiVersus on LAN,” Stahly said.

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Dylan Tate
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.