Video Game Tournaments of Old

A comment in the iGames forums yesterday from DIZeLAN made me start to remember the good old days of tournaments past.  Not only did we have tons of support from up the food chain but at eBash we also pulled off some pretty amazing tournaments on our own.  I thought it would be fun to quickly look at a few of the top events that I remember and then look forward at what we are planning to run the remainder of this year.

2005 – Highlight of the year had to be when eBash was picked to be one of the 8 regional locations for the WCG US brackets.  We were able to see some amazing players come through our store on their way to the US Finals in NY.  Also we had a couple of local guys able to jump into some of the less popular games and one of them advanced to the finals.  The Ogre twins (MLG pros Dan and Tom Ryan) blew through the doubles regional in our store in Terre Haute, IN on their way to the world championship that year.  Kyle McCormick was our local guy that won the Need for Speed event (PC) and was one of the final 8 in the US in New York.

Also that summer we took 2 teams of 4 along with 5 other spectators to St. Louis for the MLG event.  I was one of the volunteer admins for the FFA rounds.  It was our first glimpse into a larger event and gave us some classic memories such as a kid in a pink shirt trying to walk around to everyone in the venue and play him 1-on-1 in Halo in a “money match”.  He just said that over-and-over.  “Money-match?” “Money-Match!”

The end of 2005 was the now infamous EA BF2 $250,000 Tournament that saw our eBash team go all the way to the final 3 for the Xbox side.  After having no problems with any of the other 125 teams in the bracket we were beaten so badly by the final 2 teams it was like they always knew where we were at… come to find out years later both teams knew of a glitch to have always-on radar.

2006 – This year was a transition year for eBash as we moved from our 2000 sq. ft warehouse location to the current 4000 sq. ft facility in July.  That was also the first full year for the Xbox 360 and it really started to pick up steam with the release of Gears of War in November.  The biggest memory for us was the first Gears of War tournament in December that was ran in partnership with our local GameStop.  We capped the # of teams at 16 because we only had 16 Xbox stations to run the tournament.  It was FREE to play if you picked up a ticket at GameStop.  We had people actually SELLING the tickets to other players and tons of upset teams that didn’t get in.  The prize???? $500 total in cash.

Freddy Wong and Michael "Priest" Holmes at WSVG Dallas with Zander.

2007 – Gears dominated the beginning of the year after the crazy tournament in December of 2006.  We held another $500 tournament inJanuary that saw over 20 teams and we decided to really go big (this was big for us, we were paying out 100% of these with no sponsors). We announced a $1000 tournament in February of 2007.   We put a HARD limit of 32 teams.  You can tell by the brackets (yes I still have them HERE) that we didn’t hold our ground for 32 teams.  35 teams was insane. (140 players + spectators + regular customer = probably broke some fire marshall rules that day! 🙂  I believe the tournament finished around 3 AM.

We continued the momentum later that year when arCtiC (K.L. Smith, www.reflectzyn.com) who played on one of the top teams mentioned to a WSVG rep that we ran good events at eBash.  They were looking for a head console admin to run the tournaments for their 2007 tour.  Next thing we knew I was driving all over the country for events in Louisville, KY, Dallas, TX and Toronto, ON.  These events were so much fun to run and watch.  We took many eBash players with us to play and also help setup and run events.

The sad news that WSVG would shut down before the LA event and the season finals in Europe was devastating for us.  It also was an early sign that things were just not going to keep increasing like we thought for professional esports.

2008 – Halo 3 was the strong game for this year at our store in the tournament scene.  We kicked off the opening of the Bloomington eBash location with a $1000 Halo 3 tournament that drew a full 32 teams.  In April we started splitting the tournaments between our TH store and our BT store and had 26 teams total.  Fun esports fact…. check out the brackets and registration to see who was on the 17th seed team in Bloomington HERE.

Towards the end of 2008 we prepared to open our 3rd store (and first franchise, grats to Drew Heckert!) and I created ggCircuit with a good buddy of mine, Jason McIntosh.  This tournament site is intended to pull together the resources from multiple game centers and allow gamers to compete without traveling very far.  Our first “test” event was a $2000 Gears of War 2 tournament in December of 2008 that had 8 game centers participate.  A quick shout out to those who helped us get started besides the 3 eBash locations: The Gamerz Club, AZ (R.I.P.), US Gaming Arena, GA, The GameYard, MI, GameFrog, NC (R.I.P.) and The GamePad, VA.

2009 – Throughout 2009 we really worked to build up ggCircuit and attempted to host about 3 events each month.  Games ranged from the popular MW series and Halo to games like Madden 10 and Street Fighter IV.  A fun fact for those who may have participated or are thinking about participating as we gear back up this year:  In 2009 ggCircuit paid out over $17,500 in prizes to players all over the U.S.  I bet that makes us the second largest tournament circuit doesn’t it? 😉

Also this year the AmazYn team (arCtyC, orange, Skyllus and Calinorth) went to the MLG Dallas event and took home first place!  We watched almost all of their matches on the 52″ screen in the lobby and usually had 20+ people gathered around and cheering.

The end of 2009 things really started slowing down for all of our stores.  We shut down our Bloomington store in October that year and consolidated staff from both stores while laying off half of the employees.  We took it kind of easy with events the last part of the year.

2010 – Determined to begin the year with a BANG we started gathering support from other game centers for a $2500 MW2 ggCircuit season.  This consisted of a 6 week league, Saturday LAN event and then an invitational only finals for the top teams from both.  There were 16 game centers between the league and the LAN event.  I felt like the entire season was very successful but it also was very long and tiring.

After taking Q3 off to recover we are gearing back up for the final two quarters of 2010.  I have put together a tournament schedule for the remainder of the year that tentatively looks something like this:

July 31st – League of Legends (PC)
August 14th – Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
August 28th – Starcraft II (PC)
September 11th – Halo 3 ODST (Xbox 360)
September 25th – Heroes of Newerth (PC)
October 9th – Halo Reach (Xbox 360)
October 23rd – Starcraft II (PC)
November 13th – ??? (Xbox 360)
November 27th – League of Legends (PC)
December 11th – Call of Duty Black Ops (Xbox 360)

It will be fun to see how the remainder of the year shapes up for the tournament scene.  I know GameBattles is considered by some as a legit “tournament” system but players just seem to hide behind the fact that they are online and not face-to-face.  There really just isn’t any other feeling quite as good as a packed store full of tournament guys from all over the state playing everything on LAN.

Hopefully Alienware Arena will continue to grow and mature for the PC side.  On the console side we really do not have much support at the LAN center level.  MLG and WCG have done everything online for their qualifiers the past few years.  I still hold onto hope that one of the bigger leagues can realize the value in making LAN centers part of a “minor league” circuit to qualify players for their big national events.

5 thoughts on “Video Game Tournaments of Old

  1. The Battlefield 2 tournament was definantly my most memorable. We had a lot of ups and downs with it, but it was a worth while experience. Thank you for opportunity Zack.

  2. No, not yet, but I’m at work on getting something setup.

    In SoCal, the Street Fighter gaming community is very active. I’ve been observing how the tournament scene has progressed to the point that it’s practically becoming standard to stream the gaming action on at least one TV screen for people who cannot make the event in-person. USTREAM or Justin.tv tend to be what’s used.

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