Esports athlete and co-captain of Iona University’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team, Jack Yioupis, proves that the classic Nintendo dorm room fighting game has come a long way from its N64 origins. As a strong, inspirational leader both in and out of the arena, Yioupis proves that esports is about so much more than the game itself.
“Gaming is something that I’ve loved for a very long time,” says the college sophomore. “It’s been such a big influence for me because I’ve been able to connect with so many groups of people on so many different levels.”
Yioupis’ game of choice is Super Smash Bros., a platform fighter game that’s been a staple of Nintendo’s brand for over 20 years. “You’re running around a stage with different levels that can either be moving or stationary, and you’re just trying to knock your opponent off the stage,” explains the Smash team co-captain. While the nature of Smash pits players against each other, the game has had the opposite effect on Yioupis, from a social perspective.
“Coming into school, I was really nervous about just meeting people in general. I have a little bit of trouble putting myself out there, and I was kind of just nervous overall about the new environment that I was in,” Yioupis tells In The Know. When Yioupis discovered Iona’s esports program, it put his nerves at ease. “It gave me a lot of comfort, knowing that there were a lot of similar people to me in terms of interests,” he says. “It really helped me find my place in the community.”
Esports has had such a massive impact on Yioupis, and he returns the favor by taking on his role as co-captain with the highest levels of sincerity and responsibility, well beyond the logistical nuts and bolts that go along with the position.
“[My teammates’] safety and health is always going to be the number one thing that I look out for,” he explains. “The game is always going to come second. If somebody’s pushing themselves mentally just to sit down and play the game, I’m not really going to be the one to stand by and let that happen.”
Yioupis knows that, like in all sports, winning is important—but it’s nowhere near as important as the well-being of his teammates. “I really do care about these guys. They’re some of the closest people I have in my life right now, and I just dont think I’d be able to live with myself if I let something happen to them,” he explains.
Looking beyond college, Yioupis hopes that he can continue his gaming career professionally, whether that be as a player or as a commentator. But in any case, he’s certain that esports will always be a part of his life.
“Gaming is really where I’ve been able to make a lot of the connections that I have with people that I know and love,” he says. “I’m always gonna keep that part with me and I’m always gonna continue that love and that passion for it, no matter where I go or what I do.”
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