Nintendo UK today announced that, in partnership with the government-funded Digital Schoolhouse (DSH) programme, it will be supporting an upcoming country-wide Smash Bros. tournament for lucky British kids.
The idea is pretty simple, and all about giving schoolchildren a taste of the wider industry and the various roles therein. The DSH programme currently works with 55 schools nationwide, and with Nintendo's help will now run the 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle', which will see schools running their own in-house tournaments before the top teams from each go on to face each other in a grand finals.
My computer experience at school consisted of one afternoon playing that daft fox and hen game on an ancient BBC Micro, so 'jealous' rather understates one's feelings here. If only my Link skills could have shone!
The tournaments will be run in the manner of a proper eSports show, meaning that it's not just young pugilists who should be looking forward to this: there'll be roles like team management, production, and one would hope a chance to commentate. Nintendo is going to provide all the Switches and other materials required, and the simple fact it's *Nintendo* should add an extra layer of excitement and engagement: the hope is to reach at least 60 schools and over 6,000 pupils.
Kalpesh Tailor, Nintendo UK's head of communications, says that the DSH programme "uniquely combines computing, fun, creativity and innovation, all of which are synonymous and at the heart of Nintendo’s values [...] we want to be able to provide young adults with fun and unique experiences that will form positive lasting memories as well as foster the development of skillsets within students which they can take with them into their future.”
NOW: if you're a British school kid, I know what you're thinking. How do I get my school into this? The first step is to politely hassle your teachers and point them towards the DSH website. Schools can sign up to be a part of it after which, from September 2019 until February 2020, they run an in-house tournament or tournaments to determine their winning team.
So start rabbiting on to your teachers about it. Maybe write a polite note to the headmaster, organise a class petition to show how much everyone wants to do it, take the initiative and present some practical ideas for how your school could run one of these things. Tell Mr Mitcheson that his Little Mac ain't got squat on your Jigglypuff, and Ms. Parish that her Ness skills could use some work. Go on, it's better than another afternoon of Home Economics.
After the 'heats', from February/March 2020 the winning teams from participating schools will compete in regional qualifiers, after which there's a North vs South semi-final! Go North! At this stage things get more 'serious' in terms of production: the North/South qualifier will see the teams face-to-face at a single venue, and the event will be run with presenters, casters, and various other eSports / production roles for students.
In April 2020, there will be a grand final at the London Games Festival.
As well as the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle programme, Nintendo UK is also working with DSH to create two workshops using Switch alongside Super Mario Maker 2 and Labo. These will apparently teach parts of the curriculum, though further details aren't yet available, and again schools will be able to sign up to participate.
Well: sounds great to me. One final time, schools can register as a DSH school and book workshops on this website. Get out there and show 'em what your Smash main's made of.