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UPBarrio Kart brings students together for a thrilling “Mario Kart Wii” tournament

(Left to right) Director of Print Elie Aoun and Laila Ramadan (team “The Iliad”) defeat Elie’s roommates Jared Hausman and Ari Avalos (team “The R’s”) after both gaining a massive lead on Delfino Square.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, University Program Board (UPB) hosted Barrio Kart, a “Mario Kart Wii” tournament that pitted two-person teams of students against each other in a single-elimination bracket. Throughout the night, 32 teams vied for wondrous prizes: a Wii console for first place, two JBL speakers for second and two LED mushroom lights for third. All participants also received a UPB-branded portable charger. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “New Super Mario Bros. Wii,” “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” and “Just Dance 2014” were available for free play, and dinner was, of course, catered from local taco restaurant Barrio.

Each match consisted of two races, and each team chose one of the tracks. The games were played on 150cc speed with balanced items and no computer-played units (CPUs). If the two races resulted in a tie, a random track was selected as a tiebreaker. Players chose their characters by allowing the first player on team A to select a character, followed by both players on team B, then finally the other player on team A. Only Wii Remotes were available for play: The Nunchuck attachment and other controller types were prohibited so that all players were on an even playing field. Therefore everyone had to play with motion controls, steering their character by physically tilting the Wii Remote.

I teamed with fourth-year Laila Ramadan on team “The Iliad” since we are both classics majors. We faced two of my third-year roommates Jared Hausman and Ari Avalos on team “The R’s” in the first round, since they had partnered up in the hope of taking me down. In spite of all their trash talk, however, they did not succeed. “I came, I raced, I lost. I did not have the sauce,” Hausman declared. He declined to comment any further.

We were sadly bested by team “Double Dash”—composed of fifth-year Brian Song and fourth-year Steven Zombirt—in the next round. We picked Delfino Square and took a nine-point lead, but our opponents then chose DK Summit and earned first and second place, sealing our defeat. On the third lap, I successfully took the single cut jump over half of the S-turn and almost passed one of our opponents, which would have led to a tie, but I tragically bumped into a Snowboarding Shy Guy before the final turn, finishing a few seconds too late. “I lost all two of my brain cells on DK Summit,” Ramadan remarked afterward. “I wanted Rainbow Road.”

The tournament ran for over three hours, and matches were constantly running on two massive televisions. Delfino Square, DK Summit and Mushroom Gorge were picked the most often, though some teams also opted for Rainbow Road, Waluigi Stadium, Wario’s Gold Mine or Moo Moo Meadows, among a few others. The players who already knew the game well and performed the best in the tournament often selected a character in the medium weight class with the Mach Bike vehicle; this sport bike is great because of its high speed, drift and Mini-Turbo stats. It also has an “inside drifting” ability that allows players to turn tightly around corners.

Teams “Double Dash” and “Luke & Christian”—composed of second-years Luke Palios and Christian Palios—were both eliminated in the semifinals and competed for third place. Both teams selected DK Summit, and the two races ended in a tie. Instead of playing a random track as the rules of the tournament stated, all four players agreed to play DK Summit again to break the tie, and the tournament organizers allowed it. The Palioses won in the end, earning a third place finish and two LED mushroom lights.

Teams “Kusch 610”—fourth-years Nicolas Slavonia and Jaap Singh—and “Banana Peels”—first-year Seth Gratz and fourth-year Nathan Howell—fought fiercely in the finals. They first played DK Summit, where the “Banana Peels” took a commanding lead. They then played Delfino Square, but “Kusch 610” was not able to make up the massive gap. The final score was 40-18, with “Kusch 610” finishing in second place overall with two JBL speakers as their prize. “Banana Peels” walked away with first place and a Wii console for their superb efforts.

“They got us through strategy,” Slavonia said afterward. “We picked Delfino Square because that was the track where we were winning on the way up. Our opponents picked DK Summit. We picked karts, and that is more of a motorcycle track, so they had the advantage and took it. Well played to them.”

Not everything went well for “Banana Peels” at the start, however. “Going into the tournament, my partner dropped, and I had to find a new partner within five to 10 minutes,” Howell said.

Gratz explained the strategy that led his team to victory: “We picked skilled-based tracks such as DK Summit and Wario’s Gold Mine to gain an advantage, so even if we tied on the luck-based course or whatever track the other team picked, we knew we still had the advantage.” He also said, “I used Luigi on a Mach Bike in honor of YouTuber MrBean35000vr who made CTGP Revolution, a custom track mod for ‘Mario Kart Wii.’” This mod is popular with those who still play “Mario Kart Wii” online even 15 years after the game’s release, because CTGP Revolution adds over 200 fan-made tracks to the original game’s 32.

The food from Barrio was plentiful and well-received by the participants. There were white flour tortillas, chicken, tofu, rice, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and various sauces. “The chicken was exquisitely seasoned,” Avalos noted.

When asked why the organizers chose “Mario Kart Wii” as the game, third-year Samia Ahuja, a coordinator of the event, explained that “people like competitiveness, so we gave them a space to be competitive outside of classes and compete with other teams to win the Wii.”

Third-year Janice Shih, UPB’s director of on-campus, organized the whole event. Regarding her favorite part of the tournament, she said, “I like that people are really excited for it. There is even a team that made their own T-shirts,” referring to matching T-shirts created by team “Double Dash.”

UPBarrio Kart was a great success, a thrill for all competitors and certainly a welcome break from students’ academic woes. Over the course of the exhilarating night, many great players met their doom on the snowy peaks of DK Summit. Perhaps one day, they will host a tournament for “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” so that a certain writer for The Observer may have a chance to take first place.

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About the Contributor
Elie Aoun
Elie Aoun, Director of Print
Elie Aoun (he/him) is a third-year pre-law student majoring in classics and history with minors in Russian and French. When he’s done terrifying the Print Team and arguing with Auden about InDesign at 3 a.m., he enjoys playing quizbowl and writing random verses in Latin. You might chance upon him on Mather Quad wearing aviator shades and mumbling some verses of Homer.

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