Out-played and out-clicked. On Sunday, March 13, the competition at the Winter osu! Collegiate League Tournament was wiped out by the self-made, four-player “Berkeley Team A.”
The tournament, which happens twice a year over the course of a month, allows teams of two to four university student representatives from around the world to compete against each other in the rhythm game osu!. Berkeley Team A and Berkeley Team B participated in the Tier 2 grouping, and placed third and fifth respectively — a placement previous Berkeley osu! Teams had not been able to come close to in previous years of participation.
osu! is a PC-based rhythm game that came out in 2007, but only recently gained traction starting in 2019. It has quickly become popular for many users to use the rhythm game as a warmup before playing first-person shooter, or FPS, games. Although osu! has four different modes, the OCL tournament focused on its standard mode with a set map-pool, which features challenging “beat-maps” that require a variety of different skills. This includes raw aim/consistency, tapping stamina, tapping speed and different game modifications.
University student teams from around the world were separated into two tiers, T1 and T2, each with 40 different teams that were filtered out by qualifiers. These tiers were already predetermined by their in-game ranking system placement. OCL followed general osu! tournament procedure — double elimination, 2 vs. 2 and teams of four. Each round has a rhythm-map pool, from which each team is able to switch off selecting its preferred map to play in its match. The team with the higher combined total score on the map then receives a point until the match concludes.
Junior Anton “TheBushy” Than has been playing osu! for four years and has hosted tryouts for this tournament since fall 2020. Serving as the captain, TheBushy joins the rest of his teammates on Berkeley Team A — junior Bryce “Azurium” Wong, sophomore Rohit “girantinas” Agarwal and freshman Rocklin “Pebblin” Duong as well as at [email protected], a rhythm-game-focused club. There is also a separate team, Berkeley Team B, which placed fifth, and practiced with Berkeley Team A.
Than, when selecting his team roster, picked with careful consideration. Aware that each of his team members had different strengths in certain abilities, Than constructed the team to cover a large majority of the skills needed in matches.
In previous years, Than’s team hadn’t been able to progress too far into the tournament, landing positions such as 32nd out of 64 teams. But this year’s winter tournament separated the teams into the lower and higher tier brackets, giving the team the opportunity to rank far higher.
“This semester, we seeded first in qualifiers, which gave us a lot of hope for going further than we did before,” Than said.
After plowing its way through to the quarterfinals, Berkeley Team A was put up against Purdue University Gold, who proved challenging for them with an especially strong player: “Unique”. “Unique” is notorious for their strength in “HD,” or “Hidden” — one of the osu! game modifiers that remove hit objects after they appear, increasing the game’s difficulty. Nevertheless, Berkeley Team A prevailed even with the close match. It then quickly defeated Trinity College Dublin and moved onto the finals against the University of Waterloo B, which it lost 2-6.
Amid the adversity, Berkeley Team A persevered. After MIT lost to University of Waterloo in the Grand Finals, Berkeley Team A brutally conquered MIT with a 7-3 win. Set up to be double-elimination brackets, the tournament then pitted Berkeley Team A against University of Waterloo twice more.
Than’s team won the first match 7-3, putting it in high hopes, forcing a bracket reset and pushing it to the final stage. A close game throughout, it ultimately fell short 5-7 against University of Waterloo, awarding the team second place in the tournament.
“I remember being a freshman and watching the OCL Grand Finals stream and thinking, ‘Wow, it would be cool if I played for Berkeley in this one day.’ It’s crazy how far we’ve gone, since we first participated in this tourney two years ago,” Than said. “It’s really cool to see how much we improved as players. Hopefully next year we’ll come back even stronger and take home first place.”
Lindzi Hutchinson covers esports. Contact her at [email protected].