Babbages CPL - UK Qualifier Coverage

Article - full coverage as some of the UK's finest Quakers battle it out for a place at the Babbages-CPL event

Index Pre-Event Build-Up 2 Introduction The Competitors 3 The Rules Preliminary Seeds Seeding Round 4 Seeding Groups 5 Blokey interview Final Seedings Early Rounds 6 First Round Overview Second Round Overview 7 Luke interview Timber interview Third Round 8 Blokey vs Timber - Q3Tourney2 Luke vs Silent - Q3DM6 Quarter Finals 9 Luke vs Ranger - Q3DM6 Semi Finals 10 Blokey vs Silent - Q3Tourney4 (losers bracket) Logan vs Pumpkin - ZTN3DM1 Timber vs Luke - Q3Tourney4 Finals 11 Blokey vs Logan - Q3Tourney2 Timber vs Blokey - Q3Tourney2 Post Event Wrap-Up 12 Final Standings

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The Playing Fields

Thanks as usual to event organisers The Playing Fields for their hospitality and bandwidth, and mad props to Mugwum for reporting on some of the final matches after I had to make a dash for the railway station to get home!

Introduction

Once again London computer games venue The Playing Fields is hosting the official UK qualifier for a CPL event, this time the Babbages-CPL tournament which is taking place in Dallas, Texas in mid-December. The winner will walk away with 750 in cash and an all-expenses paid trip to America to take part in the big $100,000 event, while the runner-up will get 500 and an auto-berth to the American competition. This will save them the hassle of getting through the early qualifying rounds, although they will have to pay their own way to get there.

What makes this event different to previous CPL qualifiers is that TPF are claiming it is the world's first truly professional tournament, with everybody who takes part guaranteed to win a cash prize. At 30 a piece the lowest level of prizes isn't going to make anybody rich, but it should at least cover your entry fee and some of your travel expenses. Everybody in the top eight will get over 100 in cash courtesy of sponsors AMD and PC Zone, and although this is pitiful compared to the $100,000 prize purse in the Babbages-CPL itself, it's certainly a step forward for the UK qualifier events.

The Competitors

So who are likely to walk away with those top cash prizes? Well, we can be fairly confident that most of the usual suspects will be padding out the top eight...

Ian "Timber" Holder Our tip for the top, Timber recently left Sweden's famous Clan 9 to join UNR, one of Britain's most successful Quake 3 clans, and home to many of the top contestants for this weekend's event. He won the last CPL qualifier here in the UK and the Quake 3 tournament at Battletop's Millenium Dome event, and has certainly been on great form recently after a rather disappointing showing at the Razer-CPL back in April. His play can be rather erratic at times, and he has been known to lose his concentration under pressure, but if he can hold it together he should be able to take another victory this weekend. Chris "Blokey" Hoare Brighton's Blokey is another of the top seeds from Clan UNR, and is starting to establish a name for himself on the international scene, having already made his mark as one of the top duellers in the UK as far back as the Quake 2 days. He placed in the top 24 at the Razer-CPL in April having won the event's UK qualifer, and had come in third at the big LAN Arena 4 tournament just a few days earlier after being knocked out by Lakerman. Timber has beaten him in their last two tournament encounters though, and Blokey knows he is going to have to pull something extra out of the bag to earn himself another trip to Texas. Luke Coulter Luke has probably the most original nickname of any of the contestants this weekend ("Luke") and is yet another member of the ubiquitous Clan UNR. He was also part of the OGA's highly successful UK Quake 2 Team which took on the French in Paris at the end of 1999, where he got us all a bad reputation thanks to his incessant swearing on the train home. What can we say, he's Scottish... He has finished second and third in the last two CPL qualifiers here in London, and could well place in the top four again this weekend if he's on form.

Silent from 4Kings, one of Britain's other big name clans, could break UNR's grip on the top spots. He's finished in the top five at the last two CPL qualifiers, and was a runner-up at the Battletop Millenium Dome event, going on to place in the top 16 at the World Cyber Games Challenge in Korea. Meanwhile Rupert "Rauper" Loman will be upholding EuroGamer's honour at the event, and somehow managed to get a preliminary top 32 seeding. He must have bribed the panel or something. Barrysworld's Cro will be facing him in the free for all seeding matches at the beginning of the day, which should be prove to be a fun grudgematch. Reports that Rupert has a special config set up for the encounter are yet to be confirmed...

Other old faces who should be there include Duellist, who deserves an award for being the most persistent pro-gamer in the UK if nothing else - we run into him at almost every event from the smallest LAN party to the biggest tournament! Shout-outs also go to regulars Shigs and Comatosed. Last but not least, Crystaltips is expected to be representing the female of the species in the tournament, although the last time we met her at one of these events she told us she was retiring.

The Rules

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Blokey takes time out from the fragging to play Planetarion

If you want to read the full rules, you can find them here on the Playing Fields website. Otherwise, here's the condensed version...

All of the players will be using the standard systems down at the Playing Fields which have recently been upgraded to feature 1.1GHz Athlon processors and GeForce 2 graphics cards. Unlike previous qualifiers, players are being encouraged to bring their own mice and keyboards this time round, although standard ones will be installed for those who can't bring their own.

The 64 players have been split into eight groups, and each group will play a fifteen minute free for all to determine the final seedings for the main section of the competition, which is one-on-one double elimination. In other words, you are only out of the tournament once you have been beaten twice.

The free for all matches will take place on Q3DM12. Duels will be on Q3DM6, Q3Tourney2 and Q3Tourney4, with a custom map (Sten Uusvali's ztn3dm1) also thrown into the mix to make things a little more interesting. Both of the Q3DM* maps have been edited to remove all the powerups (quad damage etc) and adjust some of the item placement to improve their playability in a one-on-one situation. You can find the edited versions of the maps here, and Sten's map here. Note that the ever-popular Q3DM13 is not included in the map list for the event, although love-hate affair Q3DM6 is.

Preliminary Seeds

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The main playing area at TPF

The top 32 players have been given preliminary seedings to make sure they don't all end up in the same free for all group at the start of the day. Seedings were determined by a panel including representatives of TPF, Gameplay and Barrysworld, as well as pro-gamer Sujoy. Here's a quick list of the names they came up with, with clan tags where known -

Seeding Groups Pts 54 59 43 33 42 41 33 6 Group 1 Timber Dr Shigs UNR Kalliath Varies Z Ionbroo Jig LaWnMoWer Dan Forever Group 2 Dr Comatosed Zoser UNR Blokey Duellist AA Anaardvark Immy Marvin Sugar Plum Hippo Pts 49 41 66 20 21 38 45 10 Pts 67 54 45 40 53 48 36 41 Group 3 HooD Namistai Sky ss Mekon Acronym UNR Luke Herring Meths strudles Group 4 DC Tek UNR Shan Firefox Fragster 4K Silent Mr Horse ss Doomzday Logan Pts 34 53 5 37 62 39 28 58 Pts 50 52 46 19 18 23 55 32 Group 5 4K Relic GeN Mr Mauve Bloodangel Fragmeister Murdoch HooD Requiem spor Group 6 Liquid ss Nocode EQ Rocket8 Buckaroo ELIJ POTZW Kamthra Spod nEo Ranger Pts 50 49 44 27 44 32 23 52 Pts 46 63 46 25 28 66 31 74 Group 7 Wicket 4K Atomic Jam Hell Cold Fusion dayglosnail Railor splidge DC Mozilla Group 8 Razzo Dr Rauper Cro Crystaltips Schizoid Smile UNR Pumpkin nEo Veno Pts 54 39 39 24 52 20 45 70

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Rauper warming up for his first game

Blokey interview

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Luke in action

With the free-for-alls underway, we spoke to Chris "Blokey" Hoare of Clan UNR, one of the top seeds and a favourite to get through to the finals today... Although he has come first or second in most of the recent UK events he's taken part in, he didn't seem too confident when we spoke to him after the qualifying free-for all, telling us that "I've got a chance [of winning], but I'm not sure". The big question is can he beat Timber if he comes up against him? Timber has won their last two encounters at British tournaments. Has Blokey got something extra up his sleeve this time? Apparently not. "Um .. I haven't really been practicing", Blokey admitted. "I could get lucky though, hopefully; maybe [get to play on] Tourney4 or something."

Timber isn't the only good player here this weekend though, so who else does Blokey think will prove tough opposition? "I think Luke's got a good chance, and Mozilla's been looking quite good in practice as well". But when we asked him who he was expecting to give him his hardest match, he just laughed and replied "Timber, definitely". The two players are now clan mates though, after Timber left Sweden's now defunct Clan 9 to join his fellow Brits at UNR. "When I went to Korea with him [for the World Cyber Games Challenge] I was under strict instructions from UNR to get him into the clan, because we know he's a good player", Blokey explained. "We got on quite well, and he decided to join the clan after that".

Don't expect either player to give their team mate any quarter if they end up playing each other though. And it's looking like a bit of a UNR daytrip here today, with no less than three players from the clan in the top seeds, and a few others further down the pecking order. With Timber joining the already impressive line-up at UNR, they are looking forward to even greater success in future. "We really want to win the Barrysworld league this time, because 4K keep winning it", Blokey told us. UNR are hoping to break their rival's grip on the league this season, and "we think we've got the team to do it now".

In the meantime, it seems fairly certain that at least one of the UNR players will be playing in the finals today for a free trip to Dallas and 750 in spending money...

Final Seedings

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Timber (closest to camera) tries not to fall asleep during a game

With the free-for-alls over, the final seedings are now in, judged simply by the number of frags that everyone got in their various qualifiers. As you might expect from this system, there are some big surprises, with several of the top players finding themselves well down the running order, but once we are into the duels things should soon sort themselves out. Here's the current standings -

First Round Overview

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Timber (right) and Blokey (left) after the match, while Sujoy (middle) takes notes

No great surprises from the first round, with most of the top seeds winning through, including easy victories for Silent (26:0 against Duellist) and Relic (21:0 versus Kamthra), while Blokey romped home 40:0 up on the bizarrely named Sugar Plum Hippo and Timber came through 39:2 up on Doomzday. The event's sole female participant took an early trip to the loser's bracket as 11th seed Requiem beat her by a comfortable 19:0 margin. The best result of the first round though was for Luke, who took down Spod 40:-3.

EuroGamer's own Rupert "Rauper" Loman was dispatched in the first round after a close match with Wicket. At first Rauper had looked unstoppable, racing ahead to a 4:0 lead on Q3Tourney4 as the game began, but by half time the two players were in a dead heat, matching each other frag for frag. In the end it came down to a single frag in extra time, with Wicket picking up a snap rail shot in the slime pit room to take the match 16:15.

Second Round Overview

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Luke and Silent after the match

It was pretty much business as usual in the second round as well. In the top half of the bracket Mozilla got an 8:2 victory against Ionbroo, while Spaniard Logan continued his cruise through the event with a 24:0 win over Mr Mauve, having taken down Murdoch 40:-1 in the first round. Dr Shigs took an early exit from the winners bracket though, defeated 22:12 by Hell. Meanwhile in the lower half of the bracket the top players were making their way through to the third round. Blokey had an easy 16:0 win over Rocket8, while Timber demolished Relic 16:1, and Silent defeated Wicket 22:15.

Requiem had a harder time against Nocode, taking the game 8:6, while Atomic Jam was beaten 5:4 by Marvin, one of the few upsets so far. Many of the second round games were interrupted by severe lag and freeze-ups, although luckily these were fixed within a few minutes and the matches were quickly restarted. Luke had been having a close game against Herring when the lag struck, finally getting two frags after five minutes of stalemate only for the game to suddenly grind to a halt. After the restart he got an easier 6:1 victory.

The third round should be interesting though, with Blokey and Timber clashing, as well as Luke and Silent, and nEo team mates Ranger and Veno. At least two of the favourites are going to be taking a trip to the losers bracket, which is soon going to be packed full of top players, making this a tough ride for those in the lower half of the bracket.

Luke interview

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Luke in action

As the second round games began, we caught up with top Scottish player Luke to find out how his tournament was shaping up so far. "I got quite an easy game in the first round because I got a reasonable seed", he told us, although surprisingly he only came out as tenth seed after the qualifier round. "I didn't do too well in the free-for-all, but to win you've got to play the good players some time, so I wasn't too bothered about that to be honest."

Thanks to some upsets in the seedings, Luke's way through the tournament is far from straightforward now. "Next I play Herring from clan Z, but after that I'm quite likely to play Silent, and if I manage to beat him it's either Timber or Blokey. So it's not too easy a run to be honest. Also Logan, the Spanish guy, is apparently looking quite good. So if I manage to get far enough to play him he'll probably be fairly tough as well."

Logan managed to get into the UK qualifier because he is studying over here, and we've heard a lot of good things about his playing so far. Luke told us that "I've seen him play a couple of times yesterday and I played a game myself with him, but I won't go into what happened in that game". Oh, go on. "You want me to? I managed to beat him by one frag, but my sound didn't seem to be working. One's not exactly a convincing victory though, so whatever happens it's going to be tough."

In fact the seedings seem to have come out very badly, as Luke explained. "Basically in the top half of the bracket there's Mozilla and Logan, and in the bottom half there's Timber, Blokey, Silent, myself, Ranger, Veno, Shan from UNR. It's kind of bottom heavy in the brackets, so basically the UNR players are going to have to knock each other out early on. It's not worked out too well for us really."

On the bright side, this should make for some interesting games earlier in the tournament than would normally happen, as well as making for an exciting losers bracket. "The losers bracket will be fairly interesting. Me, Blokey and Timber - two out of the three of us are going to have to be in there, so it will be just as tough in there as in the winners bracket to be honest."

We'll be bringing you full coverage of all the big matches right here on EuroGamer, so stay tuned!

Timber interview

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The bar, after a few too many bottles of Guinness

As the second round games continued after some technical hitches, we caught up with Timber, who promptly slumped to the floor sprawled across the corridor looking rather exhausted. Tough games? "Relic was hard, Doomzday .. it wasn't his best map, so I dominated him quite a lot". The free-for-all seeding round hadn't gone too well for Timber though, with him ending up as 14th seed having finished second in his group. "I've never played the map", he joked.

In fact the seedings all came out pretty strangely at this event, and all of the players are having problems as a result. "Most of the good players from the UK are in the lower half of the bracket, so the winner of that is probably going to win the competition in my opinion". When we asked who his toughest opposition was going to be, the answer was predictable, especially as the player in question was sat right next to him at the time. "Blokey". And who else? "Um .. Luke. And Logan. Rude. You."

All in all it's not been proving a great day for Timber so far. "I'm extremely tired, I've got a headache, and I'm bored out of my head; I've been waiting around for half an hour now in a smoky hot environment, and I'm a bit annoyed". So there you have it. Timber wandered off to get some fresh air after we finished talking to him, but hopefully he will be back in time for his third round game against Blokey. One thing is sure though, it's going to be a long night for everyone...

Third Round Blokey vs Timber - Q3Tourney2

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"Yes, put on the headphones Blokey, that's right."

We had been expecting a Blokey vs Timber final here at the CPL qualifier, but thanks to the seedings the two top players found themselves playing each other in the third round! Timber is famous for his shaft abilities, and so the random selection of shaft-dominated Q3Tourney2 gave him an instant advantage. As the game got underway Blokey grabbed the yellow armour and shaft from the bottom bridge, while Timber got the rocket launcher from the pit before coming down the stairs at the side to find Blokey. It was a brief exchange though, and after a quick rocket shot he pulled out again.

After a minute and a half both players were still on zero frags, and a shaft battle on the bridge failed to change matters, as Blokey escaped through the teleporter. The Brighton boy was playing cautiously, firing off rockets and then withdrawing, giving Timber no chance to put his shaft to action. It took a quarter of the game before a single point was scored, with Timber's rocket finding its mark and knocking Blokey off balance at the top of the stairs. Timber chased him down and hit him with a second rocket, finishing with the shaft to take his first frag.

Blokey came right back on respawning though, picking up a pair of quick frags to take the lead. It wouldn't last long though, as Timber caught him again before he could restock his health, shafting him on the stairs to make it 2:2 after three minutes. After thirty seconds of frantic action though, both players seemed to be tired and shagged out, and nothing much happened for another two minutes as they played a tense game of cat and mouse. Things finally started to heat up again as a rocket battle broke out in the pillar room. Timber made it to the yellow armour first, his rocket blast knocking Blokey back just in time, and as Timber closed in with his shaft Blokey shook his head in resignation. After a brief struggle Timber's lightning struck in the pit, taking the score to 3:2.

Timber picked up his fourth seven minutes into the game, shafting Blokey as he ran down the stairs. Before long they were back in the pillar room with their rocket launchers though, and again Timber came out on top, finishing Blokey off with his shaft to make it 5:2 with just two minutes left. Blokey was struggling now, with another shaft battle ducking around the pillar leaving Timber 6:2 up with a minute to go. It was all over. Timber secured his victory with a final frag back in pillar room again, and Blokey narrowly escaped another death when he stumbled and got caught on the corner of the teleporter on the bridge, getting away with just 6 health! Final score 7:2.

Third Round Luke vs Silent - Q3DM6

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The camera team from Channel 4, though like most of us they had left by the time the grand final eventually got underway in the early hours of the morning

Luke grabbed the rocket launcher and headed through to the pillar room only to find Silent coming the other way, doubling back to avoid him. They met again soon afterwards, but again Luke got away, this time with just 12 health after catching a rail. Luke went for the railgun next, but as he came along the ledge he heard Silent and backed off just as a flurry of rockets hit the archway in front of him. Luke was back up to strength by now, but both players were cautious - Luke was camping the rocket launcher while Silent lurked by the yellow armour in the pillar room.

Another rail battle broke out in the pillar room, and again Luke was knocked down to low health but managed to escape intact, restocking his health and armour before meeting up with Silent again in the central arena. This time Luke managed to find his target, rocketing Silent to go 1:0 up after three minutes of skirmishes. Luke grabbed the rocket launcher again and headed across the bridge to find Silent coming up the stairs, ducking for cover as he saw his opponent. For what seemed like an eternity Silent ducked in and out from behind the end of the stairs, with Luke lobbing rockets down at him from above, but eventually one of them found its mark and Luke went 2:0 ahead.

Silent tried for the rocket launcher again, coming up the bounce pad in the main arena to find Luke already there, lobbing rockets in through the archway from the bridge. Again both players escaped in one piece though, only to clash again in the bottom corridor around the outside of the central room. The two players exchanged some more rockets before Silent headed into the arena, at which point Luke doubled back and caught him square in the face with a lovely rail as he came back out through the other doorway. It was all downhill from there for Silent, as Luke picked up a fourth frag with the rocket launcher in the pillar room, then a fifth at three quarters time, mounting a commanding lead.

Another clash at the rocket launcher saw Luke going 6:0 up, but with two minutes left Silent finally got one back, his machinegun peppering Luke with lead on top of the pillars as they both headed for the yellow armour again. He wasn't to keep that frag for long though, as soon they were back at the armour, lightning stabbing back and forth as they met on the ledge. Luke's shaft caught him as he fell from the ledge and gravity did the rest, Silent cratering on the ground below. With just a minute left it was back to 6:0. A point blank rocket battle saw Luke pick up a seventh, and Silent must have known by now that it was all over, just trying to recover some dignity. It was Luke who took the final frags though, getting a rocket and then a shaft kill to make it 9:0 at the end.

Quarter Finals Luke vs Ranger - Q3DM6

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Everyone scrambles to check their Planetarion accounts

The action continued in the lower half of the bracket, with Luke now taking on nEo Ranger, who had come through against his team mate Veno in the third round. As the game started both players went straight for the rocket launcher, Luke spawning on the bridge and Ranger down in the central arena. Luke got their first, and turned Ranger into a fountain of gibs as he landed on the ledge. One of the quickest frags of the tournament, it saw Luke 1:0 up after just 10 seconds.

Ranger managed to equalise before long though, as the two players headed for the yellow armour on the grand staircase a minute into the match. They exchanged rockets, before Ranger switched to the lightning gun to finish Luke. A minute later he almost made it two, as a fierce close quarters battle left Luke scampering off with 20 health. Eventually at the three minute mark Luke took the lead again after a short rocket battle on the yellow armour ledge in the pillar room.

Luke seemed to be having all the luck in this game, or maybe he just knew when to run away. Another rocket battle for the yellow armour on the stairs left him running for cover with just 14 health as Ranger pulled out his shaft, but he couldn't get close enough to cause any damage, and Luke picked him off with a lovely snap rail shot to make it 3:1, and now he was in control of the game, picking up his fourth with a rocket kill in the central arena. His fifth came in the pillar room, a rocket smashing into Ranger at point blank range as he came up the bounce pad to try for the yellow armour.

Luke was getting confident now, rocket jumping up to the bridge to chase Range. His next rocket caught Ranger, and as his opponent tried to dive off the side of the bridge a third one pegged him in mid-air, making it 6:1. A seventh frag soon followed, but Luke was down to single digit health now. Falling down from the bridge he landed right on the yellow armour, saving himself from cratering but leaving him with just 1 health! Ranger finally caught up with him in the corridor around the back of the central arena to make it 7:2, and then picked up a third kill with his shaft on the stairs.

But with only three minutes left and Luke still four frags ahead it was looking good for the Scotsman, although Ranger was still chasing hard trying to claw back the deficit. Luke pulled a Wombat and managed to avoid Ranger for most of this time, keeping moving and never giving his opponent a chance to seriously hurt him. There were a few short skirmishes, but neither player could get a kill. Finally Ranger managed to catch Luke and get his fourth kill with the shaft in the central arena as he lost concentration momentarily and missed the exit, backing up into the arch instead.

There was only a minute left now though, and Ranger must have known it was over, even pulling out his gauntlet and trying to charge down Luke in the corridor at one point. There was a frenzy of frags at the end, but when it was all over and the gibs had settled Luke was still ahead, 10:5 up at full time.

Semi-Final Losers Bracket Blokey vs Silent - Q3Tourney 4

According to Blokey, Silent had been boasting that he had a hit rate of 50% with his railgun on Tourney 4 a few matches prior, and the impressive figures seemed enough to fill Blokey with nerves. But if he was nervous it didn't show. A bit of sparring in the opening minutes led to him taking the lead and consolidating it with a good rocket, which was accompanied by a cry of "Owned!" from the Brighton lad. A few seconds later though and it was 2:1 thanks to a good rocket in return from Silent. Whatever confidence Silent had been showing on Tourney 4 earlier was missing from this game though, and with only a couple of minutes gone, the seasoned veteran in the next booth was 5:1 up, laughing along to most of his kills. Using all of his cunning and the underside of the platforms above, Blokey took Silent to the cleaners, making it 7:1 within a matter of moments. With half the match remaining Blokey was in control, although they did trade frags during a brief encounter in the central room when both were on low health. 8:2. Blokey found himself under pressure early into the second half of the game, after Silent's rail aim seemed to return to him, but Blokey can rail with the best of them, responding with some absolutely stunning accuracy to take it to 10:3. Silent did a bad job of cutting Blokey off at times, too. There were a couple of times he did manage to kill him, and within seconds Blokey had sourced a railgun again - in order to beat Blokey it seems you need to deny him two things, the railgun and the rocket launcher. Silent failed to do this time and a gain, and after much frantic tapping of the keyboard Blokey increased his lead to eight frags, taking it to 13:5. If he was feeling under pressure, it was just aiding him, as his aim and precision did not wane in the slightest. Silent made several attempts to take the fight to Blokey, but over-exerted himself, and Blokey lapped up his mistakes with his railgun. A minute left and Silent was still searching for Blokey, trying desperately to reduce his growing lead, even managing to with a few well-placed rockets, but it was all over, and Blokey clinched it with another kill in the dying seconds. Silent just gave up. 17:9, a good game, but an infuriating one for the 4Kings player. Blokey progresses.

Semi-Final Logan vs Pumpkin - ZTN3DM1

Spaniard Logan had been having an easy time of it in the upper half of the bracket, as most of Britain's top players were in the lower half and eliminating each other while Logan eased his way through to the finals. His final opponent was Pumpkin, a good player but certainly not one of our finest. Still, that's the luck of the draw. By the time I reached this game it was already half over, and Logan had picked up a healthy 6:1 lead in the first four minutes. That soon became a six frag lead for Logan though, as the two players crept up on each other at the megahealth, Logan tip-toeing up the corridor and Pumpkin sneaking along the side corridor. After a short sharp blast of rockets it was all over. Pumpkin was in pieces on the floor, and Logan was running off with another megahealth.

At the six minute mark Logan went 8:1 up after trapping Pumpkin near the teleporter and reducing him to his constituent parts with a well-placed rocket. Pumpkin was coming to pieces, and Logan soon made it 9:1 as he chased him down with the shaft, and then 10:1 with a point blank rocket to the face. He was playing very aggressively, constantly on the attack, and predicting his opponent's movements well, always there to head off or chase down Pumpkin. By three quarters time he had stretched his lead to 12:1 and was still on the offensive, making it all look rather easy.

Pumpkin finally managed to claw back a second frag, but there was just one minute left now and it was all over. The final score was a rather embarrassing 18:2. Score one for the Spanish.

Semi-Final Timber vs Luke - Q3Tourney 4

Timber started quite aggressively, taking a 2:0 lead within a minute and a half over a nervous-looking Luke. This isn't terribly unusual for Luke, who has been described by others in the press corner as a "timid starter", but even after a few minutes he was still a few too many frags behind. Often above his opponent, Timber rained down a malestrom of rails, rockets and plasma balls, and Luke seemed visibly unnerved by being so far behind. Blokey had pointed out prior to the encounter that it might be difficult for the two clanmates to pick holes in one another's styles, but Timber looked defiant, strolling into a 5:0 lead and chuckling to himself a couple of times as Luke overexerted himself and plummeted to the ground to be picked off easily. With half the match gone, Timber was toying with Luke, lining him up within seconds of his respawns and railing him into the ground, but as the match wore on, Luke broke through a few times, cutting Timber in half with volleys of rockets aimed at the underside of the platforms. A few shotgun kills followed and the score was much closer, with Timber waiting as he had done in a match earlier the entire five seconds to respawn to give Luke even less opportunity. Quiet and restrained, Luke listened carefully for his opponent's footsteps, but in spite of this, Timber struck back, putting the score at 15:7. Luke scored a frag and another, final conciliatory frag but Timber managed to poke yet another past him, leaving the score a respectable 16:9, and so it stayed. Timber will now face Logan, but looks confident.

Final - Losers Bracket Blokey vs Logan - Q3Tourney2

After an impressive performance throughout the tournament, it would have been icing on the cake for young Logan to pull off a coup in this matchup and go on to face Timber in the final, but it was never to be. This is Blokey's least favourite map of the lot, but the berth of difference in terms of skill between him and Logan was enough to clinch it early on. With about a minute gone the score was 1:-1, after some rocket-round-the-pillar hijinxs as Blokey burst through the portal. In an attempt to beat off the ravernous rocketeer Logan leapt toward him all guns blazing, and fell victim to his own splash damage. Ouch. A minute later and it was 2:-1 after yet more rocket and shaft work from Blokey, but Logan was able to pull himself out of the red with a defiant burst of rockets into the nether regions of the map a minute later. The result was never in doubt though, and as usual Blokey's weapon selection was spot on for every situation. Whenever Logan was within range he locked him in his lightning trail and refused to let him go. In contrast, Logan showed his inexperience by trying to out-rocket Blokey in the central area, and fell foul of it. Some awkward mis-jumps from Logan in the lower area around the yellow armour stopped him dead and made him an easy target for the rampaging Brightoner's rockets as he desparately tried to dash away. Alarmingly though, Logan was beginning to edge back. A rocket here, a shaft there, he was pulling back, and with a minute left it was closer than anyone, least of all Blokey, would have expected. It was probably the shock of seeing Logan pop up all over the place that prevented Blokey from pulling ahead again. He regained his composure though, and saw it out to take the game 9:7. We're looking forward to seeing Logan in action again soon, as he's a very accomplished player in the making.

Grand Final Timber vs Blokey - Q3Tourney2

Timber plays quite a boring game on Tourney2 from a spectator's perspective, but rarely loses, confirming it as his favourite map. Even so, he went behind early on after a bit of gauntlet action in the lower areas. Blokey had him down to 13 health again quickly, but he pulled himself back up, and it took a further two minutes for either player to make the breakthrough, with Timber pulling it level thanks to a nice shaft in the central pillar room. Blokey played defensively for a bit, content to bide his time, and it wasn't until the fourth minute that he attempted to burst through, trading shafts and going ahead again!2:1. Almost immediately though it was 3:2 to Timber. A pre-emptive rocket caught Blokey unawares, and a quick shaft following an unlucky respawn gave the lead to Timber, who never looked back. From this point on he rarely left the central room, as Blokey was left trying to barge in using whatever means he could, and after falling into the rocket launcher pit unexpectedly he made the mistake of using a bounce pad to get back up, coming a cropper at the hands of Timber's expert lightning shaft. A rare venture downstairs for Timber resulted in nothing, with the ever patient Blokey waiting his turn. Forcing Blokey below was a good strategy for Timber though, and it proved Blokey's undoing. He just couldn't get back into the action, and Timber was dominating now, increasing his lead to 5:2 after chasing a damaged Blokey into the portal upstairs. Spying him milling around below, he leapt down and took him out again, with yet more quality shafting. Two minutes left now, and despite a couple of good rockets, Blokey was edged out, and the stalemate continued. Blokey had to take risks, but it didn't help. With both players fully stocked up one last battle ensued, and, surprise surprise, Timber emerged ahead again, despite slipping down to 6 health! 7:2 it remained for the last minute or so, but with ten seconds left, Blokey gave in, thanking his opponent through the game's console and sharing a joke about the score, which was the same as their earlier encounter on the map. Addendum - as many people have noted, this was in fact the second time in the tournament that the two had met on Timber's favourite map, Tourney2. However, as it states in the rules, if either player objects, the map that has previously been used can be ejected from the draw. If Blokey had been aware of this rule, he would of course have called upon it and requested Tourney2 to be removed from the draw, giving him a better chance of drawing Tourney4, his own personal favourite, and a leveller playing field. Blokey's thoughts on this? As usual, he graciously accepted the defeat without complaining. We can only applaud his attitude. It's a victory for the burgeoning sport that such sportsmanship already exists. Well played fellows, and congratulations to the tournament victor, Timber.

Final Standings

The first two places were exactly as we predicted, but due to the problems with the seedings Luke ended up somewhat lower in the results than we had expected. He had to face Timber in the third round, and then was knocked out of the losers bracket by Blokey in the semi-finals. Silent also came out worse than expected, finishing seventh despite only being beaten by Luke and Blokey. Again, the seedings are largely to blame for this.

The biggest surprise of the tournament though had to be Logan, a Spanish player who very few people had heard of before this weekend. Admittedly he had a relatively easy ride through the upper half of the bracket while most of the best British players were battling it out in the lower half, but he did manage to clean out a few good players, and even gave Blokey a decent run for his money after a slow start. All in all an impressive debut, and we expect to hear more from him in future.

The End

And that's it! While this qualifier didn't run quite as smoothly as previous ones, most people seemed to be having a good time, amply lubricated by the TPF bar, and at the end of the day we all got the grand final we had been expecting. It was also nice to see unknown Spaniard Logan mixing it with the big boys, proving that you don't need to be famous to do well in computer games tournaments.

There were also some classic moments, like when XSReality's Daishi discovered that web game Planetarion was back online after a server crash earlier that morning, and hurriedly leapt on to a computer along with Blokey and myself to check our accounts and build some more ships. Yes, we are that sad. There was also constant smack talk in the press area, mostly at the expense of EuroGamer web developer Jay Adair, while Gameloft's Rob "Shinji" Fahey hovered around behind us drinking beer and cracking jokes on company time. It's alright for some...

The event wasn't without its problems, such as the mix-up with the servers at the beginning of the day which left the free-for-alls starting an hour later than expected, and network problems interrupted a few games later on in the competition. In the end the grand final took place some time after midnight, by which point most of us had been forced to pack up and go home, although a few hardy souls did tough it out to the bitter end.

There were also complaints about the seedings from several players, as some rather random results in the free-for-all round had left most of the best players in the same half of the bracket, meaning that favourites like Silent and Luke were already battling their way through the losers bracket after the third round! Maybe a different system will be used next time, as sadly using free-for-alls to determine seedings means that there is always the risk of this kind of thing happening. The top 32 players were all seeded in advance by a panel of experts, but unfortunately these preliminary seedings were only used to determine who went into which free-for-all group.

Overall though we can't complain. There was a high level of competition, some highly enjoyable games to watch, plenty of beer to drink, and a 2Mbit leased line to update our websites from. What more could you want?

John "Gestalt" Bye

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