Somebody has finally found something useful to do with the Millenium Dome, the now infamous giant tent which has hoovered up vast quantities of government funding and corporate investment here in the UK, and the sole redeeming quality of which so far was its brief appearance in the intro sequence of the last James Bond movie. Korean based company BattleTop chose the Dome as the venue for their debut British event, running a large computer games tournament there which covered the usual Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and StarCraft, as well as Age of Empires II and soccer game FIFA 2000. Up for grabs was a total of around £30,000 in prize money, making this the largest event of its kind held in the UK so far.
The first of the competitions to be completed was the FIFA 2000 contest, with Karma Killer and DomiGod battling it out in the grand final, with both contestants playing as England. The fools, the mad, mad fools. To keep things concise, game time was running at what appeared to be about a ten to one ratio, condensing the entire match down to about ten minutes. Karma Killer got off to a strong start, scoring his first goal after just nine minutes of game time (about one minute real time), knocking the ball into the net as DomiGod fumbled it. After a near miss, Karma Killer managed to pick up a second goal on sixteen minutes, DomiGod's goalie not quite reaching the ball in time as Karma Killer's striker picked it out from under him and popped it in the net. It looked like it was going to be a walk-over, but DomiGod managed to recover somewhat, holding Karma Killer off and eventually pushing into his half. Finally, just before half time, DomiGod got his chance, only to see Karma Killer's goalie stop the ball short of the goal line. Karma Killer was on the defensive, but he managed to hold on until half time, still 2 : 0 up. The second half proved to be somewhat more vicious and closely fought, with some rather dubious tackling going on while the referee turned a blind eye. Eleven minutes into the second half though it was DomiGod who was on the offensive, with a frantic scramble around the penalty box before Karma Killer's goalie managed to grab the ball. DomiGod was thrown, and Karma Killer managed to pick up an easy goal soon aferwards to take it to 3 : 0. With an hour gone, the referee finally decided to do something about the rather crude tackles Karma Killer was inflicting on his opponent, giving DomiGod a free kick after one of his players was brought down just outside the penalty box, but he was unable to capitalise on this. Then, with 77 minutes gone, one of Karma Killer's players (Batty) was given the red card! With his opponent a man down, DomiGod managed to get into the penalty box, but his attempt to score was rather feeble, and was easily saved. And then Campbell, another of Karma Killer's players, got the red card! Talk about playing dirty. DomiGod now had the upper-hand, but with only a few minutes left before full time it was too late to overhaul that 3 : 0 deficit. As the game went into injury time, DomiGod was awarded a corner. The ball flew across into the penalty box, was knocked back across the net again, before finally being popped into the back of the net by a thid player. But it was all over, Karma Killer taking the match 3 : 1. Never mind though - both players will be flown to Korea to represent the UK at the World Cyber Games Challenge...
Next up was the Starcraft finals, with veteran strategy player Daishi facing Duellist, who certainly deserves some kind of award for sheer persistence if nothing else, as he seems to be at almost every major event in the UK playing one or more games... Duellist chose the hive aliens known as Zergs, while Daishi played as the familiar Humans. Both players got stuck into nearby supplies of blue crystals, gathering up the resources as the game began, with Daishi already building up an impressive collection of barracks as his workers swarmed over the crystal outcrop. Unfortunately both players had started almost next to each other on what was already a fairly small map. Duellist tried to attack, but his troops were cut down en masse by a Terran marine squad. It looked painful, with little splatters of blood all over the map where his troops had been pinned down. Daishi had soon expanded his base of operations up to another crystal outcrop, which turned out to be right outside the main exit from the area Duellist had started in. Effectively Daishi now had him surrounded, with terrain penning him in on all sides and the only exits now blocked by Daishi's troops. With such an advantage, it was only a matter of time before Daishi won. Duellist gathered his troops and tried to break the blockade, but it was ultimately futile, his swarm of aliens picked apart by Daishi, who now had turrets in place to back up his marines. Duellist tried to set up a new base, growing a patch of "creep" near Daishi's blockade and setting up some new buildings on it, but whenever he tried to move his troops forward from there Daishi made short work of them. Before long Daishi had moved in and demolished Duellist's forward base, and now it was just a short hop to his main headquarters. The terrans moved in for the final battle, with a mass of infantry supported by a few tanks. The result was a total slaughter, as Duellist just couldn't muster any kind of defence by this point. And so it was all over. Daishi took home first prize, but both players will be flown to Korea to compete in the $300,000 World Cyber Games Challenge event.
Age of Empires II
The Age Of Empires II final was confusing to say the least. For some reason the organisers had chosen a particularly small map to run it on, and to make matters worse the competitors had chosen yellow and green as their team colours, almost impossible to distinguish on the big screen. Both sides had soon scouted out their enemy's base at the beginning of the game, as their villagers descended like a plague of locusts on the berry bushes and hacked down nearby trees in an impressive display of deforestation. The main battle though was over the center of the map, and DevilZ.HigH was the first man to get there, ahead of his clanmate and opponent DevilZ.Loko. Before long he had set up a fairly large farming community, his villagers were swarming over the gold and stone deposits, and he was setting up towers to defend the area. Loko wasn't about to give up though, and the two players stayed very closely matched in terms of score throughout the game, exchanging the lead repeatedly as fierce fighting erupted. Soldiers and villagers clashed as watch towers peppered them indiscriminately with arrows, while buildings burnt on both sides of the battlefield. Loko brought up some battering rams and managed to do some damage, but before long HigH had destroyed them and sent his cavalry on a rampage through Loko's villagers as they tried to build new barracks to the north. Loko managed to get some towers and walls up, but it didn't do him any good, although the score was still very close and vicious fighting was continuing across much of the map. Just as it looked like the game was going to turn into a battle of attrition, it was all over! To be honest I have no idea what happened, but whatever it was HigH had taken the victory and walked home with first prize. Both of the finalists were Scandinavian though, so presumably somebody else will be flying to Korea to represent the UK...
With the strategy games out of the way, next up was the Unreal Tournament final, with Liberator and Dougal battling it out on Deck16. Liberator took the first frag, but seemed to have developed an unhealthy attachment to his sniper rifle, using it almost exclusively. Dougal sent a few rockets his way to discourage him, but it didn't work - Liberator dropped down from the ledge above the top of the lifts and ate another face full of rockets, allowing Dougal to equalise. Another nice rocket kill by the top of the lifts gave Dougal the lead, 2 : 1, and a shock rifle combo blast just round the corner from there gave him his third. With five minutes left Dougal seemed to be dominating, taking it to four and then five frags, with yet another rocket kill at the top of the lifts, which seemed to be the main battlefield. Finally Liberator's perserverence with the sniper rifle paid off, as he popped a cap in Dougal's ass .. yes, by the top of the lifts again. He soon took a second as well, this time out in the main hallway, shooting up at Dougal as he came down one of the walkways from the top ledge. A quick switch to the shrapnel thrower proved to be a good move for Liberator, as he added a few more holes to Dougal's body. With just over two minutes left, the score had closed to 5 : 4! Dougal managed to hold on though, picking up another frag to extend his lead as he embedded a rocket in Liberator in the corridor around the back of the main hall. Liberator was back to his favourite sniper rifle again, chasing hard but failing to catch Dougal as the game entered its final minute. In the end it was Dougal who picked up the last frag, securing his win with a rocket kill in the last ten seconds of the game. A surprisingly close match, and again both players will be flown out to Korea to represent the UK at the massive World Cyber Games Challenge...
Quake 3 Arena : 4 vs 4
The Quake 3 competitions were the most popular though, and took most of the afternoon and evening to play out. I was busy helping to organise the Quake 3 duel competition for most of this time, but managed to break off to see the finals of the 4 vs 4 clan competition... Ironically, as this was the British Battletop event, both of the finalists in the 4 vs 4 competition were Scandinavian clans - Clan 9 and All Stars. The match was to be played across three maps, starting on DM6 before going on to DM7 and finally DM14 if a decider was needed. 9 took the early lead in the first game, picking up the first two frags and staying just ahead for the first minute as the All Stars fought back hard. Something went horribly wrong for Lakerman and the All Stars at this point though, as 9 went on a rampage and totally routed their opposition, pulling out to an incredible 22 : 8 lead just a minute later. Although the All Stars have some strong players on their team, they haven't been together as a clan for long, and their inexperience showed through as 9 pulled them to pieces on Doomer and friends' favourite map. By the fifth minute 9 were 45 : 18 up, and it was looking painful. The All Stars just couldn't get control of the weapons and armour, and 9 were simply dominating them by outnumbering and outgunning them at every turn. Within eight minutes 9 had pulled out a 40 frag lead, and it was looking bad for the All Stars as NutCase ran around the back corridor wielding his gauntlet. It took twelve minutes for Clan 9 to notch up their 100th frag, by now about 50 frags clear. The All Stars seemed to be spending all of their time scurrying around at the bottom of the map, while the 9 players held the all important upper levels, harrying the All Stars every time they made a break for the rocket launcher or the yellow armour in the pillar room. With five minutes left NutCase went on a little plasma gun rampage, taking down three Clan 9 players in quick succession, but it was more the exception than the rule. Clan 9 held on to a 50+ frag lead throughout the last minutes of the match, ending up 159 : 103 ahead. The second game proved to be much closer though, with neither side able to pull out a clear lead as they traded frag for frag throughout the fifteen minute match. The two teams settled down for a quiet night's camping, with the All Stars taking control of the red armour while Clan 9 concentrated on the quad. Despite a few attempts by each team to rush their enemy's base, neither side could gain much advantage over the other. In the end Clan 9 came through just two frags ahead of the All Stars, but it was a controversial victory. The All Stars had apparently expected the match to run a full 20 minutes, when in fact it only lasted 15. As a result they were sitting camping the red armour when their time ran out, and Clan 9 walked off with the first prize of £5400.
The Usual Suspects
Our now traditional gallery of photographs taken during the lengthy event, including pictures of the contestants, venues, and topless models Jo Guest and Jordan (sadly fully clothed at the time)...