by Matt “Dr. Hunk” Koester
A nearly twenty year old Nintendo Gamecube title will get one of its few annual moments in the limelight this weekend with SLICE, the Midwest’s first ever major in-person Mario Superstar Baseball event. The event will share its venue with that of Chicagoland Smash weekly Scrims Showdown and also feature a Super Smash Bros. Melee singles and doubles brackets.
The game’s will break out Saturday and Sunday at Scrims eSports Center in Lisle, IL.
SLICE’s main event will be its three baseball brackets, all of which follow different rulesets. While the baseball title’s competitive scene is still somewhat young, the level of play showcased this weekend is set to be some of the highest any in-person event for the game has ever had, with six players who have won online events attending.
Youtube channel Dinger City has held several LAN events for the title in the past, but this weekend will be the first full weekend event dedicated to competitive Mario Superstar Baseball.
“This will be easily the largest Mario Baseball event in the Midwest and easily the biggest or second biggest LAN event yet,” co-organizer Baltor told CLM.
For a scene that is used to playing online, it will be a chance to show the Midwest what high level Mario Baseball looks like. The choice of Scrims as a venue came because of Chicago being a good travel point for the player base and Scrims’ “history of supporting dope events”. It may also make for more events for the game at that venue in the future.
“Our hope is that we can build a monthly event at Scrims,” Baltor said.
While Mario Baseball is the main draw, the event hopes to have some cross pollination with the Melee scene as well.
“A lot of players in our community have ties to Melee. And we believed by adding melee we could entice local players to check out competitive Mario Baseball,” Baltor said. “I believe if you want to be great at Mario Baseball, you have to practice and keep up with evolving tech and strategy just like in Melee.”
Some members of the Melee community have signed up for the event, either to compete in that game’s SSBM bracket, or just to appreciate a good ball game.
“I only played (Mario Superstar Baseball) once for six hours when I was left alone at a mall kiosk,” Chicago Sheik/Peach Kadence, who is attending the event Saturday, told CLM. “I don’t really have a strategy. I’m just gonna hit home runs.”
The main baseball event will be spread between three different rulesets. Stars On is a mode that puts no restrictions on the game’s “star swings”, which can be used to do super-powered hits, or its superstar players, who are buffed versions of the game’s draftable players. Big Balla Mode allows these superstar characters, but not the star swings. Stars Off doesn’t allow the superstar players, but does allow star swings.
Thanks to game modification Project Rio, the game has also been enhanced in various ways. Stadium hazards can be turned on or off, depending on the mode and stadium.
The event starts Saturday morning and registration has been closed for some time, but registration for Sunday events will be opening on Saturday, in order to prevent scheduling conflicts from those who make it into Sunday’s baseball finals. This includes a Melee doubles bracket Sunday at 10 a.m. and the Random Teams bracket for Mario Superstar Baseball.