Jackson Prada of Kirkwood High School

Jackson Prada is smashing his way to success—well, the actual smashing is virtual for the Kirkwood High senior, who has proven himself an esports champ. He recently took second place at the Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation standard varsity division Super Smash Brothers Ultimate State Playoffs. To reach state, he first tackled the regional competition, taking the top spot there. T&S caught up with Prada to learn more about what drew him to esports competition and his plans for the future.

Did you plan on playing video games competitively?
No, it wasn’t something I really planned. I started playing when I was around 5 or 6. My older cousins taught me to play Super Smash Bros. on the Gamecube. I started high school at CBC, and there was an esports team, which I joined freshman year. When I transferred to Kirkwood High School as a junior, its esports team was just starting. I knew a few people involved with it, so I joined.

What is your favorite part of competing?
I’ve always enjoyed competing because I get to hang out with people with similar interests. I don’t really care whether I win or lose. It’s just really fun to be part of a community.

How did it feel to place second at the state championship?
It was amazing—one of the best days of my life. Going in, my goal was to get to the top eight, and when I kept advancing, I was happy and excited. I had no expectation of finishing first, so it was gratifying just to make it to the grand finals. I got to meet a lot of new people, and I had a great time.

What are your plans for next year?
I’m still in the process of looking at and touring universities for next year. One I’m seriously considering is Maryville. It has one of the top esports teams in the country, and I know some of its players. I’m excited about that prospect. I’m still undecided about what I will major in, but I’m leaning towards something related to technology and coding.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy participating in Smash Bros. tournaments both online and locally. I also like hiking and fishing. I love getting to go out and see new places. When it comes to sports, soccer is my favorite to both play and watch.