Last Saturday, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys played in the 113th football game between the two storied rivals. The long tradition associated with Bedlam creates a competitive spirit year in and year out, despite the oftentimes lopsided records and rankings between the programs.
That much was apparent a full day before the ball game kicked off, however, and on a newly emerging stage.
Friday afternoon marked the inaugural EBedlam Tournament, and despite a delayed start, the events lived up to and exceeded the expectations of participants and spectators from both sides as OU’s Esports Association and Oklahoma State’s Gamers of OSU teams faced off in the Cross black box theater.
The early going kicked off the hotly contested affair, as GOSU took the afternoon’s first series, winning the Super Smash Bros. Melee bout.
It wouldn’t take long for the Sooner team to respond, however, immediately answering with their own victory in the Super Smash Bros. 4 match.
Sitting at a 1-1 tie, the Sooners would pull ahead with a victory in the Hearthstone tournament.
After another victory – this time in the Rocket League best of 5 series, with a dominating 3-0 sweep of the Cowboys – the Sooners took a commanding overall 3-1 lead.
However, following a Cowboy victory in the League of Legends best of 5 series in which Oklahoma State dominated team fights completely, the overall series was brought to 3-2 with the final Overwatch matches looming.
The Oklahoma State players rallied in a final event that was closer than the final tally indicated according to Overwatch Coach Brian Climer, as the Sooners’ Boomer Overwatch Team fell 3-1 to close out the night.
Ending in an overall 3-3 split, the first EBedlam meeting provided exciting competition and general parity that will help make the event more intriguing for spectators and elating for competitors in the future.
Despite the event’s youth, its first meeting did attract impressive crowds, especially to watch the League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League matches.
Tate Rosencutter, the president of GOSU, was pleased with the crowd.
“To me, the turnout was awesome,” Rosencutter said. “Having that room full for both League and Overwatch was an awesome experience and our players loved it.”
Jack Counts, the president of the Esports Association at OU, shared a similar sentiment.
“It was the first time an event like this was happening, and really we would have just been content with at least the competitors, leadership, and volunteers showing up.” Counts said, noting that to his surprise, many students showed up to take part in the Sooner Smash Dojo that was hosted next door, and that it was great to see the engagement.
In fact, both sides of the tournament praised the atmosphere of playing in front of a live audience, feeding off of the cheers and energy of the crowd.
“We actually had some people drive from Stillwater just to cheer us on and that to me is amazing. Having more events with a live crowd is something we wanted to do and now I think Bedlam has inspired my officers and players to make these kinds of things happen.” Rosencutter shared. He went on to add that the event was particularly special for the Cowboy gamers since it marked the first time many of them had really represented Oklahoma State in an official event.
The Sooners LoL players and coach shared their insights on the challenges and excitements of playing in front of a live audience.
Alexander W., one of the students who competed, said that he was excited to have been a part of the unique energy that surrounded that very first EBedlam event.
Joseph S., the coach of the team, elaborated further.
“It’s hella cold so the machines don’t fail, you’re shaking with adrenaline, and the crowd atmosphere is as amazing as it is distracting,” he said.
“I felt like it was extraordinary to be part of the team that got to experience the first of many Bedlams to come, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.” he continued, before praising his team’s attitude and sportsmanship despite the outcome. “It was impressive to me that they left in good spirits despite the loss, which is very promising as mentality is one very undervalued requirement to play in any competitive environment.”
With the success of the first-everEBedlam, both organizations have their eyes set on the promising future of this new spin on a traditional rivalry.
“I’m definitely in favor of more tournaments, no matter where they are.” Kai Simonton, the competitive director for the inaugural EBedlam, stated.
He went on to say that although he was not opposed to having more than one EBedlam event a year, he felt that the singular meeting held a more significant traditional meeting, making the event more eagerly anticipated by fans and participants.
“At some point in the future, I’d like to create our own Bedlam that doesn’t need to coast off the inertia of OU athletics,” Simonton said in closing.
While there is no official word on a time or venue for the next EBedlam, Simonton hinted strongly that it would make a return.
“This one happened to do very well and run very smoothly, and I think it has a permanent spot in our future.”
With the possibility of expanded events, more competitors, and a growing fanbase look for EBedlam to capitalize on its promising beginnings.