Having survived Battletop's "World Cyber Game Challenge" London Preliminary at the Millenium Dome with lives and sanity more or less intact, EuroGamer ventured across the pond to visit the Big Apple itself for the New York Preliminary. EuroGamer's tech team were on hand with their new TOAST software to manage several of the competitions for Battletop, while I watched the action to bring you full reports on all the key matches from the two day tournament...
As with the London Preliminary, the NYC Preliminary would cover several games rather than just the usual Quake 3 Arena duel, free for all and clan matches. Unreal Tournament was also on the cards, along with Age of Empires II, and soccer game FIFA 2000, which seemed to rather baffle the Americans, to whom the word "football" usually means guys in helmets and heavily padded suits running around a field chasing a funny shaped ball. And as the Battletop events are all leading up to the massive $300,000 World Cyber Games Challenge event in South Korea, there was also naturally a Starcraft tournament. After all, we have to let the Koreans win something at the grand finals next month! Starcraft is inexplicably popular in Korea, with millions of copies of the real-time strategy game sold in what is a relatively small country, and the top gamers there play it on a professional level, much as people play Quake 3 for a living here in Europe and America. The NYC event itself was taking place in an arcade just next to Time Square in the middle of Manhattan. When we arrived on the night before the tournament was due to kick off, the staff were still moving around arcade machines like Gauntlet, Star Wars Pod Racer and the rather intriguing sounding "Emergency Ambulance" game. Downstairs was a laser tag arena, while metal spiral staircases led up to a gallery which looked down over what was to become the main gaming area during the tournament. With most of the computers and hardware still to arrive, we headed off to check into our hotel and have a quick shower to freshen up after the long flight over from the UK. After grabbing a quick drink in the hotel bar, we headed out to a diner for some traditional American cuisine - 12oz steaks with fries the size of a small third world country hit the spot. There was still no sign of anything much going on at the venue though, so we headed back to the hotel to get a few hours sleep before the real fun started...
After an early morning breakfast at a nearby café (coffee, fresh orange juice, and artery clogging toasted sandwiches containing ham, fried eggs and cheese) we headed back down to the venue again, to discover that the computers had arrived but there were still no tables to put them on. The tables finally appeared just before we opened registrations at 10am, with the venue looking like a construction site as people scampered around setting up tables, putting up banners, assembling computers and getting everything set up ready for the first matches, due to begin in four hours time at 2pm. EuroGamer's TOAST admin system handled all of the registrations for the event as it opened, building up a list of everybody at the event and which competitions they were taking part in. With everything still in chaos, I headed out to do some shopping for a couple of hours, and came back to find the computers now set up on their tables, but without power or network connections. Things soon came together though, and although the event started a couple of hours late we were soon back on schedule again, with TOAST keeping track of the results from all of the competitions and uploading them to the web at regular intervals throughout the tourney, allowing everyone to follow the action as it happened. After the anarchic start, Friday went off amazingly well - we got down to the last two or four players in all of the competitions running that day (Unreal Tournament, FIFA 2000, Age of Empires II and Starcraft), and actually finished an hour ahead of schedule. Now there's something you don't see very often...
The Usual Suspects - Volume One
Photographs from Friday at the NYC Preliminary.
The Quake 3 competitions and the finals of the other competitions all took place on the Saturday, and that was when Battletop rolled out the VIPs and the press descended on the event en masse. Former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frasier, supermodel Kylie Bass and VH1 presenter Madison Michelle (a self-confessed Q*Bert addict) were on hand to add some glamour to the event, along with a singer who is currently appearing in the "Saturday Night Fever" show on Broadway. Pity the poor people playing their first round of Quake 3 duels as the woman belted out "If I Can't Have You" on stage with ear-piercing volume... There was much back-patting, and plenty of photo opportunities for the benefit of the press, while the early stages of the competitions kicked off. There were some upsets, as the competitions were all single elimination, and sadly the seedings on the Quake 3 duel competition were just random. As a result c3 and Zero4 found themselves facing off in one of the early rounds, with c3 ending up watching the rest of the tournament from the sidelines. c3 had picked up the first frag on DM13, but Zero4 shafted his way into the lead in the fourth minute and never looked back, going 4 : 2 up at half time and never conceding another frag as he dominated the map. Final score, 10 : 2 to Zero4. Meanwhile the Quake 3 clan competition was underway, with the favourites cK and Stickmen winning their places in the final as expected from a starting group of just four teams. The other competitions had mostly taken place on the Friday, with the last few games finishing off on the Saturday morning and into early afternoon as the event reached its climax...
The first of the finals to take place was for the Starcraft competition, with Pillar and [usa]Jolly competing for the big prize of $3500. Pillar seemed to be at ease, joking with the event's hosts on stage before the game. "So, what do you do?" the presenter asked. "Oh, I just sit around", Pillar replied. Throughout the competition Pillar played as the Protoss, with Jolly as the Zergs in a battle of the aliens. The first game kicked off with both players gathering up crystals and Jolly sending out one of his overlords to scout out the map as he started to build up his base and spread to a second site. Pillar had soon found him though, and the battle commenced. A big group of Protoss were soon cascading into Jolly's base, but Jolly managed to fight them off and launch his own counter-offensive, leading to a big scrap in the middle of the small map. Jolly set up a forward base, spreading his "creep" outwards as he built his forces for a new attack. Pillar launched another attack, but Jolly's mixture of land and air forces fought it off as he scouted out the rest of the map, setting up more creep wherever he found an open space. Both players soon launched another attack, the two forces running into each other as Jolly battled his way to the edge of Pillar's base, breaking their way in. It was already looking terminal when a swarm of zerglings emerged from Jolly's base and rushed into Pillar's base, his defences already crippled after the previous attack. It was game over. The second game got going quickly, with Pillar finding Jolly's creep early on and assembling a few troops to harrass his base. The damage was beginning to mount, with Pillar knocking down Jolly's buildings as fast as he could grow them. Jolly fought back with a small force of zerglings about five minutes into the game, but Pillar had soon built up some more troops and attacked again. Fighting off Jolly's last attack, Pillar broke into his base and began to systematically obliterate it, throwing more and more troops at it until it was all over. The two players had each one a game, so it was time for a decider... Jolly got together a group of zerglings and charged in early on, but Pillar managed to fight him off and launched his own little counter-attack. Jolly was soon back on the offensive again though, and kept hammering Pillar with a steady stream of troops, starting to cause some damage to the northern end of Pillar's base. Pillar's managed to keep fighting off the attacks though, preventing Jolly from getting deeper into his base, and neither player had the strength to make a decisive move. In the end it was Pillar who managed to launch a "big push", with his huge mixed force crashing into the northern end of Jolly's base and then pushing its way southwards, running battles continuing all the way in. Jolly managed to fight them to a standstill eventually, but by now he was in bad shape and Pillar was on a roll. The game was soon over, with Pillar taking the match and the $3500 first prize.
The Unreal Tournament duel competition came down to a match between clanmates DD_Destrukt and fifteen year old DD_XSJ_Pain, one of the youngest competitors at the event. A technical hitch with Destrukt's computer led to a lengthy delay, but in the end things got underway... The first game was played out on Grinder, with Pain grabbing the rocket launcher at the start while Destrukt found his way to the flak cannon. After a short exchange in the hallway, Destrukt chased down Pain and perforated him with his chaingun. He soon picked up a second, but Pain came back strong to pick up two chaingun kills in quick succession and equalise the score on 2 : 2. For a while things calmed down a little, with running battles as the two players lobbed rockets and shrapnel at each other, but it was all very hit and run with no casualties. Eventually Destrukt took the initiative to recover the lead, but just seconds later Pain's flak cannon had equalised the game again, and a flak cannon kill near the armour gave him the lead for the first time. For a while Pain settled down there, pitching his tent near the armour, setting up a nice little campfire, and toasting some marshmellows. Each time the armour respawned Pain was back there to grab it, but after a while of this he started to stray out further into the level, finally meeting Destrukt in the ripper room. The two players duked it out around the crates with their chainguns, with Destrukt coming out on top to equalise the game again, only for Pain to respawn, grab the bio rifle, and dollop some of the green stuff on to Destrukt to retake the lead. With five minutes left to play he started to extend his lead, but after a series of running battles Destrukt managed to claw one back with his chaingun. Time was running out, but that wasn't about to stop Destrukt, as he pulled back to within a single frag of Pain. Surely it was too late? Pain picked up a couple more frags, but Destrukt fought on and clawed another back, with Pain narrowly escaping a second time as he respawned nearby. With just a minute left Pain picked up one more frag, securing his lead. In the dying seconds of the game the two players met again in the lava hall, firing rockets at each other but unable to make it stick. The game drew to a close, with Pain 11 : 8 up. The second game was on Tempest, and this time Pain picked up the first frag, chasing Destrukt down ramps and stairs with his chaingun. He got a second with his rocket launcher a minute later, but soon became rather defensive, lobbing rockets at Destrukt across a room and then backing off again, grabbing health, armour and the jump boots. Meanwhile Destrukt was getting happy with the old shock rifle combo, massive electric blue explosions going off all around. Neither player could make a kill though, and this dragged on for three minutes before Destrukt got over-enthusiastic with his chaingun, and Pain took him down with a well placed rocket. Things were starting to heat up again, with Pain taking a beating during a close battle in the shock rifle room, withdrawing to find some health and barely escaping with his life. Then, about six minutes into the game, Destrukt finally scored his first frag of the game! Pain came back at him with the chaingun to make it 4 : 1, and went on something of a rampage. He couldn't make another kill though, and pulled back to regroup. Then, with just five minutes left, Destrukt picked up a second frag. Pain was keeping his distance to hold on to his faltering lead though, and it was going to be tough for Destrukt to pull back... That didn't mean he wasn't going to try though, and a minute later he picked up his third frag, promising us an exciting climax. Pain's entire body was shaking from nerves as Destrukt equalised with just two minutes left to play! He managed to hold it together though, creeping up on his opponent on the upper level as Destrukt approached the edge, violating him from behind with a rocket. The blast threw Destrukt off the ledge on to the ground below, and Pain finished the job with his chaingun. Pain picked up a second frag soon afterwards, but with just thirty seconds left to go Destrukt scored again to narrow the lead to a single frag. That's all it takes though, and Pain managed to stay clear of him for the last few seconds to take a hard earned victory, 7 : 6.
Quake 3 Clan
As expected, the finals of the 4 vs 4 Quake 3 clan competition at the NYC Preliminary was between cK and the Stickmen. Both teams include star players - Razer-CPL winner Fatality is in cK, while the Stickmen have Wombat (playing under his real name, Larsen). Unfortunately I missed the first match, a closely fought game on Q3DM6 which ended with the Stickmen just five frags up, taking it 144 : 139. The second game was on DM7, and after a very long warm-up they finally got it on... Stx's Ranger picked up the first frag, melting Fatality with his plasma gun, and his team began to pull out a decent lead, reaching 8 : 1 at one point. cK were soon fighting back though, and by the end of the first minute they were only two frags behind. The two teams seemed evenly matched, but cK overhauled the Stickmen and gradually pulled out a slim lead. cK bedded down for the night at the red armour, helping them to build up a 25 : 19 lead by the third minute. Both teams were being rather camp, and the game was starting to look like something of a non-event as the two teams settled down at opposite ends of the map, aiming to control either the quad or the red armour. cK's resident Spook got hold of the quad at five minutes, but he couldn't make it count, and the score was still just 32 : 27 at this point, with cK still making themselves at home in the red armour courtyard. Finally, seven minutes into the game, the Stickmen managed to over-run the red armour. It wasn't to last long though. Fatality with a quad is not a pretty sight, and having tooled himself up with a plasma gun he charged into the courtyard, cutting down most of his opponents and clearing out the room. By the eighth minute cK were back in residence at the red armour, with a 53 : 38 lead. The Stickmen managed to force them out again by half time, but cK were still 15 frags up, and all four Stx players were now at the red armour. Just past half time cK re-took the red armour courtyard, and there was some heavy fighting around there as Stx tried to grab it back. With at least three of their four players in there at once though, cK had the room locked down, with the rest of the action centering around the quad. cK's lead mounted, and it looked like it was all over for Stx. As yet another battle broke out over the quad, seventeen minutes into the game, cK were 108 : 85 up. The Stickmen put up an incredible fight in the last minutes, but with just a minute left to go Stx were still 14 down, and cK players weren't bothering to respawn, typing "gg" as the clock ticked down. In the end they took the victory by just eight frags, 114 : 106. With both clans now having won a game, a decider was needed on DM14. cK picked up the first quad and took the early lead, 11 : 7 up after two minutes. The quad was, as usual, the center of attention, and as it came up again Fatality was there to grab it in the midst of a shaft battle. Slowly his clan teased out their lead to 30 : 18 in the fifth minute, and the game seemed fairly uneventful, with cK apparently with the upper-hand. Little did we know... Stx had managed to peg cK's lead at 17 frags by half time, with Ranger pummeling cK's Ouija, and a quad run from another of the Stickmen all helping the cause, as Fatality took a stumble and toppled into the red mist. A couple of minutes later Stx started to turn the game around, closing in on cK rapidly to cut their lead to 59 : 52. Fierce battles erupted around the quad again as the game came alive, with the score closing to 67 : 64 with just five minutes to go. Stickmen's Billings grabbed the next quad and let rip, railing cK's czm to equalise. Then, just seconds later, Stx took the lead! cK weren't about to throw the game at this late stage though, and fought back hard to equalise again, taking the score to 79 : 79 with just three minutes to go. Ouija grabbed a battle suit, but then dived headlong into the red mist, helped along by a rocket blast. With two minutes left the score was back at 79 : 79 again! It was nerve-wracking as the two teams matched each other frag for frag, with cK eventually coming out on top, taking it to 85 : 81 in the final minute as Wombat took his turn to fall in the red stuff. In the final seconds of the game cK sealed their victory, with Fatality grabbing the last quad and going on a rampage to secure the win. Stx tried their best to recover, but with little time left and cK once again refusing to respawn, it was all over. ck took the game 95 : 85, and the match 2 : 1. They certainly had to work for their money!
Quake 3 Duel
Perhaps the biggest competition at the NYC Preliminary (in terms of prize money and public interest) was the Quake 3 duel contest, although sadly it was a single elimination competition with random seedings, meaning that many good players were knocked out in early rounds. The grand final was far from an anti-climax though, with Canadian Dy Syng putting up a strong performance against the better known American player Zero4, who had already won a trip to Korea at an earlier Battletop event. The first game was on DM13, with Dy Syng getting a good start, picking up the megahealth and the yellow armour in front of it before grabbing the shotgun. Running into Zero4 he blew him away, then picked up a rocket launcher and earned himself a second frag with it soon afterwards. Zero4 fought back hard, pulling one back only to catch a rocket from Dy Syng as they both headed for the ever popular megahealth. With the first frantic minute over, the score was 3 : 1 to Dy Syng - something of an upset! Zero4 managed to get another frag back, chasing Dy Syng out from above the megahealth and on to the bridge across the main courtyard, and eventually catching him with his shaft. Dy Syng was soon back in action though, taking down Zero4 with a rocket launcher again to go 4 : 2 up in the third minute. There was some controversy though, as Dy Syng's domination of the megahealth in the early stages of the game was no doubt helped by his use of a timer to allow him to tell exactly when the power-up was about to respawn. This is something which is illegal in many Quake 3 competitions, but as the rules of the Battletop event were somewhat vague there was nothing to stop him using it. After a couple of minutes of megahealth hoarding by Dy Syng, a rocket battle broke out in the main courtyard, with the players battling their way down through the teleporter below the red armour, into the pentagram room, and then up the bounce pad to the grenade launcher before Zero4 finally managed to finish off the Canadian player. He soon scored another frag to close the score to 5 : 4, and Dy Syng was beginning to get frustrated, shouting out "that's right, I'm your daddy" as he sent Zero4 scurrying for health. Zero4 was on a roll though, and took the lead five minutes into the game, 6 : 5 ahead. It wasn't to last long - Dy Syng went through the teleporter into the pentagram room with Zero4 in chase. Laying down a few grenades, Dy Syng waited for the inevitable, and a few seconds later Zero4 emerged from the teleporter amidst a blossom of explosions, a well-placed rocket finishing him off to even up the score at 6 : 6. Dy Syng recovered the lead after another rocket battle through the teleporter soon afterwards, but Zero4 respawned nearby and finished off the wounded Canadian to make it 7 : 7. Just past half time Zero4 regained the lead after a brutal shaft and rocket battle in the courtyard, and started to pull out a small margin, getting another shaft kill and following it up with a flurry of rockets as he took control of the game, going 10 : 7 up by the ninth minute. It was all over, and Dy Syng's game collapsed. With five minutes left Zero4 was comfortably ahead by 15 : 7, and even though Dy Syng managed to claw a few back, Zero4 managed to stay in front throughout. In the last minute the two players clashed in a corridor round the back of the courtyard, their rockets blowing each other in a shower of gibs. Zero4 took the victory 21 : 14. The second game, on Q3Tourney4, followed much the same pattern, with Dy Syng starting strongly and then fading towards the end of the match. He picked up the first megahealth and then took out Zero4 with his rocket launcher at the bottom of one of the bounce pads. Zero4 soon got one back, but Dy Syng picked up another frag to make it 2 : 1 at the end of the first minute. He soon took Zero4 down with his rocket launcher again, but by now he was down to just four health! Managing to escape, he restocked with health and armour and got to the megahealth just ahead of Zero4, but with only a shotgun to defend himself he decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and legged it. A couple more kills took Dy Syng 6 : 1 ahead at one point, but Zero4 had found his stride and started to come back, getting a run of four frags with his rocket launcher and shotgun to close the game right up again, 6 : 5. He was on a rocket rampage now, projectiles flying in all directions as he overhauled Dy Syng and began to pull ahead, finishing up his run with a plasma gun kill to take him 8 : 6 up after five minutes. Dy Syng managed to get one back with a nice railgun shot, but Zero4 took another three kills to extend his lead to 11 : 7. The game was far from over though, and Dy Syng fired off a mid-air rail, catching Zero4 perfectly. Two more rocket kills closed the score right up again, with Zero4 just ahead on 11 : 10. A series of bad spawns ended the game for Dy Syng though, with Zero4 picking up a string of relatively easy kills to take him 15 : 10 up just past half time. Dy Syng picked up the next red armour though and gave chase, blasting Zero4 clear off the top balcony that runs around the outer ledge of the level, then reduced him to gibs with a second rocket as he hit the ground. It was pretty much all over bar the shouting at this stage though, with Zero4 recovering to go 18 : 12 up after ten minutes, depth charging Dy Syng through the flimsy metal walkways, the blasts damaging the Canadian through the thin ledge as the rockets hit the underside. Dy Syng wasn't about to give up, but it was all starting to look futile. "Zero4 has an eight frag lead", the announcer called out over the loud speakers, to which Dy Syng replied "not for long". He could talk the talk, but unfortunately he couldn't walk the walk as Zero4 clung on to his lead. The two players matched each other almost frag for frag during the closing minutes of the game, and Dy Syng could do nothing to recover. Two minutes from the end Zero4 was still seven frags ahead, but on the run now. Dy Syng managed to pluck him out of mid-air with a well timed rail shot, but Zero4 came back to extend his lead to a safe margin again. With just a minute left and still seven frags behind, Dy Syng knew it was all over, typing "gg man" as the two players traded shots in the final seconds of the game, taking the score to 29 : 19 at the end. "You're buying me a beer", joked Dy Syng as the players shook hands after the match. With another king size cheque for $10,000 under his arm, Zero4 could afford to...
With the Quake 3 duel over and the 6.30pm deadline looming, the players were cleared off the stage to make way for the closing ceremony, which managed to be both spectacular and somewhat ridiculous. To kick things off, the smoke generators over the stage let rip a big cloud of white smoke. Earlier in the day they had been tested during the grand final of the Age of Empires II competition, and one of the players had been forced to pause the game while the smoke cleared, because he couldn't see his monitor clearly! A man stumbled on to the stage through the haze, dressed in black trousers, a silver apron, silver swimming cap, goggles, and what looked like black velvet boxing gloves. Things went pretty much downhill from there as the "Gotham City Boxers" took to the stage. The man keeled over and lay on the floor as four women wearing tight black PVC trousers, little antennae and fake breasts wandered on to the stage, gathered around him, and then did a bit of kick boxing, followed by a dance routine as the man got up again and boogied down with them before being shoved around and collapsing again. Quite what all this was in aid of, we have no idea, and the rest of the audience seemed just as baffled. It was kind of funny in an unintentional sort of way though. With that out of the way, the stage was cleared and everybody backed away from it. "Get behind the black line!" the bouncers shouted at us, making sure everybody was at a safe distance before a fireworks display (yes, fireworks inside the venue!) was set off, with sparks flying high into the air and flash-bangs going off along the edge of the stage. It was bright, noisy, and no doubt something of a fire hazard, with the two PCs used in the finals still sat at the back of the stage, and a huge banner hanging over it. Nobody seemed too concerned though, and everything went to plan with no casualties. All that remained was for the table full of trophies and giant cheques to be handed out to the appropriate players, a process which took quite some time with seven competitions completed and as many as four prize winners for each of them. And so it was all over, stumbling out into the daylight again...
Extra Curricular Activities
It wasn't all hard work though, and the EuroGamer crew had time to relax and take in the sights of New York while we were over there. Our web designer Jay Adair had ventured out to the Empire State Building with me on the way to the venue on the Saturday morning, and the view from the top was truly stunning. On the way back towards XS, the arcade where the NYC Preliminary was taking place, Jay picked up a mini-scooter. These things are all the rage amongst the yuppie population in London, although in New York they seem to be more aimed at kids. Either way, we found a souvenir shop selling them for just $60 including tax, half what they cost in the UK, and Jay just couldn't resist. Neither could Yoo Sup Oh, the President of ICM, the Korean parent company of Battletop, who saw Jay skating around the venue on his scooter and asked if he could borrow it. The next thing we knew the multi-millionaire was speeding up and down the sidewalk outside the venue on the scooter, apparently having the time of his life. The real highlight of Saturday for the EuroGamer posse was dinner though, as we headed out to Morton's for the mother-of-all steaks. The restaurant has a "show and tell" menu, and it was soon obvious where Douglas Adams had got the inspiration for the talking cow at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe from the "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy". The waiter wheeled out a tray smothered in chunks of meat and bits of vegetable, and proceeded to introduce us to all the various culinary delights the restaurant had in offer, in their raw uncooked form. It was rather overwhelming, and luckily there was a printed menu (referred to as "the crib sheet") to consult after the presentation. It was all too much for poor Jay Adair though, who had drunk a few too many bottles of the high caffeine drink "Bawls" at the NYC Preliminary earlier in the day and was feeling rather ill by this point - he decided to head back to the hotel to recover. Rupert Loman whimped out and went for the smallest steak on the menu, while I settled for a Cajun Ribeye steak, an impressive hunk of cow, marionated in spices for two days before being cooked. Meanwhile our resident Australian Mat Bettinson decided to brave the Porterhouse, which was described as two steaks in one, and weighed in at 24oz. There was a 48oz version of the Porterhouse on offer as well, but we all decided that this was rather over the top. Strangely, when the steaks arrived they were twice as big as the ones we had been shown, and the people who had been suckered into ordering a hot dessert started to regret it as the sheer size of the meal overwhelmed them. The vegetable platter alone could have fed an entire family, the lobster was massive, while Mat's Porterhouse steak seemed to still be alive, oozing blood when prodded and apparently growing new meat as fast as he could eat it. There was still half of it left when he finally gave up after an hour of hacking away at the damn thing. What with six steaks of varying sizes, a vegetable platter, a lobster, and various types of potato on the side, as well as oysters, shrimps, smoked salmon and a salad for starters, and glasses of beer and wine to wash it all down, it was certainly a feast fit for a king. It came with a price tag to match as well ($600 including the tip!), but it was worth every penny in my opinion. Of course, I wasn't paying for it...
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
We were planning a night out for after the meal, but within minutes of getting back to the hotel both Nick Loman and TOAST co-programmer Mark had fallen fast asleep as the blood rushed to their stomachs to try and deal with the sudden influx of beef. We were also hoping for an early start the next morning, as we weren't due to leave the city until mid-afternoon, and wanted to do some more shopping and sight seeing while we were there. Unfortunately the Lomans all slept in, and so we finally staggered out of the hotel to the Starbuck's across the street just before lunchtime. Meanwhile Jay and myself had been subjected to the Wing Commander movie, which was showing on one of the hotel's 78 cable TV channels that morning. I feel very, very sorry for Jurgen Prochnow, star of classic World War II submarine movie "Das Boot" back in the 1980s, and now reduced to being one of the flight officers in this piece of tripe. The FMV in the Wing Commander computer games had better acting, dialogue and plot than the movie, which is truly an abomination. Avoid at all costs! Having escaped from the awful movie, we recovered in Starbucks and then split up to explore the Big Apple. Jay, Mat and myself headed off down towards Time Square and Broadway, venturing into an HMV along the way only to discover that everything was just as expensive as in the UK. Something's wrong there. Luckily we found a huge video shop down the road, and while Jay sat around looking bored stiff, we proceeded to spend a couple of hundred dollars on cheap DVDs. Then it was a quick hop across the road to TGI Fridays for a round of beers and lunch in the form of combo Fajitas. Mmm... More beef - just what we needed after Saturday night's meal. Ahem. Anyway, we survived that somehow, and headed on to Central Park to chill out for an hour or two, and to mess around on Jay's scooter again, whizzing down hills and scaring the kids. Actually, the kids all had their own scooters, and were even more inept at controlling them than I am. Which was really frightening. Eventually it was time to head back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the EuroGamer crew and head out to the airport. Little did we know that we were about to leave the joint in style, as Paul Loman had hired us our own stretched limo to carry us to the airport! With seven hours on a plane in front of us, we took full advantage of the ample leg room, and sat back to admire the view as we whisked out to Newark airport in air conditioned, mood lit luxury. Aw yeah.
All in all the NYC Preliminary had been something of a success, and a massive improvement on the rather chaotic London Preliminary which had taken place at the Millenium Dome in England just a week earlier. We were rather worried when we arrived at the venue on Friday morning to find all of the computers still in boxes just a few hours before the first game was due to take place, but in the end everything came together, and although things got started an hour and a half late we were actually ahead of schedule by the end of Friday! There were problems of course, with a few complaints about the Unreal Tournament competition, most of them hardware related. As I only really saw the finals, I can't comment on whether those complaints were justified or not. Other than that, the only big problem was the random seedings in the Quake 3 duel, which upset some of the top players at the event, many of whom found themselves knocked out in the early stages after coming up against Zero4 or one of the other highly rated players. The Age of Empires II and Quake 3 clan competitions which EuroGamer was in charge of were seeded, as were some of the others, so quite why the Quake 3 duels weren't I don't know. Hopefully this is something that Battletop will learn from for their future events though - they have already raised their game significantly just in the last week. Otherwise everything went fairly smoothly, and our TOAST admin system, just a couple of months old at this stage, did a good job of managing the brackets, registration and results for all of the competitions (apart from the Unreal Tournament one). We were all kept fairly busy, both covering and helping to run the event, but we also enjoyed our stay in New York.
The Usual Suspects - Volume Two
Photographs from Saturday at the NYC Preliminary.
The Usual Suspects - Volume Three
Photographs from Saturday and Sunday at the NYC Preliminary.