Index Pre-Event Build-Up 2 Introduction The UK Team Friday 3 Arrival Evening 4 Rocket Arena 3 matches Saturday 5 Much Ado About Nothing Royale With Cheese 6 Match 1 - Q3DM6 7 Match 2 - Q3DM7 8 Match 3 - CPM4 9 Match 4 - Q3DM8 10 Match 5 - Q3DM14
Thanks to UK Team sponsors AMD and our hosts at the LAN Arena event.
Back at the end of 1999 the Online Gamers Association took the UK Quake 2 team to Paris to take on a French national side. The UK side emerged victorious, defeating the French by five games to nil, pausing only to take photographs in front of the Eiffel Tower and drink copious amounts of champagne on the way home.
So this year French national pride is very much at stake as the OGA returns with a UK Quake 3 team. The five man British squad will be taking on the creme de la creme of French Quakers at the massive 800 capacity LAN Arena 5 event in Paris this weekend, and once again EuroGamer is on site to cover the build-up, the matches, and the aftermath (or at least as much of it as we can print). There's fighting talk from the French already, who say that the Brits won't have as easy a ride this time. Can they put their rockets where their mouths are? We should know within the next few hours as the first matches get underway...
Preparations for the event have been underway for some time now, with a panel of experts from the UK Quake community picking out ten players from amongst the many who took part in team trials throughout December 2000. Finally a five man squad was chosen to take on the French, and shipped out to Paris on the Eurostar thanks to sponsorship from AMD.
The UK Team
Chris "Blokey" Hoare Brighton's Blokey has rapidly become one of the best known duellers in the UK thanks to his impressive placing at the Babbages-CPL last month, when he caught many American players and pundits by surprise. Finishing sixth, he came in ahead of the likes of Makaveli and Fatality. Previous results include a top 24 finish at the Razer-CPL and third place at LAN Arena 4 earlier in the year. As a member of one of Britain's top clans (UNR) and a veteran of the UK Quake 2 team back in 1999, his teamplay credentials are also impeccable, and we expect him to put in a strong showing this weekend. Luke Coulter Scotsman Luke is another member of Clan UNR, and also a veteran of the UK Quake 2 team. Back in 1999 he almost got us thrown off the Eurostar train thanks to his profuse swearing, and with a good conduct clause in our sponsorship contract we're keeping him on a tight leash this time! Although he is not well known outside of the UK, Luke has consistently placed in the top four at British CPL qualifier events, and has been considered one of our best duellers since the Quake 2 days. Shan "Rude" Ogilvie Rude has been a member of clan UNR for over three years now, joining within a couple of months of the clan's formation and competing at the EuroQuake tournament in London as well as winning the UK LAN Party 5 Quake 2 duel competition. He's been taking a break recently, and the Babbages CPL qualifier a couple of months ago was his first real Quake 3 tournament, coming in a respectable 9th. He's certainly one of the less well known players in our team this weekend, but don't underestimate him - he's got plenty of experience despite his relative inactivity last year. Greg "Tasan" Williams Tasan is the founder and leader of UNR, one of Britain's most successful clans. Do you see a pattern emerging here? He's also our token Welshman in the UK squad, so insert the obligatory sheep joke here. Because he hasn't taken part in many duel events he isn't very well known outside of the UK, but with more than three years of experience with a top UK clan he is a strong teamplayer. His only possible weakness is that he hasn't taken part in any major international tournaments since EuroQuake two years ago. We doubt that will prove to be a problem though. Daniel "Mozilla" Bunting Mozilla is odd man out this weekend, coming from another of Britain's top clans - Demonic Core. He's no stranger to representing his country either, having played as part of Barrysworld's England team in their recent European Quake 3 tournament. Although he's more at home with teamplay, he has also taken part in numerous duel competitions in the UK, getting top ten placings at recent CPL qualifiers in London.
The weekend got off to an auspicious start as we gathered at Waterloo station in London, named of course after the famous battle of 1815 in which the British trounced the French. There we were met by an angel .. or at least a very friendly young lady in a silver PVC suit and wings, who was handing out leaflets for a French mobile phone company.
Then it was on to the Eurostar and through the channel tunnel to France, arriving only to find that Paris had laid on a special welcome with some traditional British weather. After a brief foray into the Paris metro we popped out at Port de la Chapelle at the northern end of the city, sadly with no real idea of where the hotel was. We did manage to find our way to the venue though, hidden away at the back of an industrial estate next to a motorway. Somehow we got the whole UK team to the venue in one piece, despite the best attempts of several hundred Parisian motorists and Tasan's excess luggage.
When we arrived at the venue about 6pm things were still just getting going though, with a general atmosphere of chaos. The players were all in a line outside, and the event organisers were running around in a daze trying to get the network set up ready for people to start plugging their computers in. Eventually we decided to head back to the hotel while things got organised, but finding a taxi proved to be a challenge. When we finally got hold of a phone number for a taxi company, they only had one cab available for hire in the whole of Paris, and it couldn't come past the front gates of the business park, a good five minutes walk from the venue.
After some struggling we found another cab and headed for the hotel, only to find out that there were two Ibis hotels in St Denis, and that our driver didn't seem to know how to get to either of them, reading a map propped up against the steering wheel as he drove headlong through the pouring rain and gridlocked traffic, only pausing to shout "merde" every minute or two. When we finally got to the hotel it turned out to be the wrong one, and so it was back into the taxi and across to the other side of the motorway to find the other Ibis...
Having checked in and dumped our baggage in the rooms we headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner, which provided still more amusement, particularly as Mozilla tried to get a glass for his Heineken. "Glass?" asked Mozilla. "Glace?" replied the waitress, who was unfortunately the only member of staff who didn't speak English. "Glass", confirmed Mozilla, not realising that "glace" is French for ice, and was therefore rather confused when the waitress returned a minute later with a bowl full of ice cubes.
Once we had cornered our dinner and bludgeoned it into submission (note to self - next time ask for the meat "bien cuit"), there was time for a quick wash to remove the blood before we headed back to the venue. This time we tracked down Cereal and the French team, located our computers, and got everything set up. Originally the plan had been to play all of the games on Friday, but it soon became obvious that this wasn't going to happen, and in the end we settled for a friendly Rocket Arena match against the French as a warm-up. The actual UK vs France matches will now take place on the Saturday afternoon.
One vital ingredient was missing though - caffeine! Cans of coke were going for 25F (about £2.50) each inside the venue, so we sent Nick Loman out into the rain to track down a better supply of cola, with instructions to "buy as much as you can carry". Half an hour later Nick came in from the cold with five big bottles of coke and a few bags of tortilla chips, which served to keep the EuroGamer crew and UK team conscious over the next few hours. Finally at about 3.30am the Rocket Arena game got underway...
Rocket Arena 3 matches
The French were obviously at home in Rocket Arena 3 (it's big over here apparently), ganging up on the UK players and not giving them a chance to retaliate. "They've got the thing, whatever it is", called out a confused Blokey as the French descended on him in force.
The French picked up the first three rounds on map 1 before the Brits worked out what they were doing and mounted a come back, avoiding what could have been a really embarrassing defeat. With the score at 3 : 2, Blokey single-handedly took on four French players as they swarmed into a courtyard en masse, earning a huge round of applause from the audience as he took down three of them, before the last one finished him off to extend the French lead to 4 : 2. The UK team fought on, equalising the scores at 4 : 4, but in the end they couldn't overcome the French team's experience, and the final result was 5 : 4 to France.
Next up was map 3, with a thrilling first round seeing Blokey with just 3 health taking on three French players in succession, and killing them all! Luke found himself in the same position next round but was ambushed by a pair of Frenchmen who managed to equalise the score at 1 : 1. They soon took the lead, going 3 : 1 up before the Brits could get one back. The French pulled off a spectacular recovery in the next round though as the UK team took down three French players without loss, only to see their entire team gunned down by the two survivors after getting seperated. Final score was 5 : 2 to the French.
The next match was on map 4, and the Brits got off to a clean start in the castle, taking down the entire French team without losing a single man in the first round. The second round didn't go quite so well, with Luke left to fend off four Frenchmen and soon getting overwhelmed. The third round went much the same way, with the French getting cosy in a tower and picking off the UK players. The fourth round descended into farce as the two surviving UK players holed up in the mage's tower and spent the rest of the match spamming grenades out the windows and down the stairs. It wasn't a winning strategy, and the French went 3 : 1 up. Blokey picked up three in a row on the next round though to give the UK team a commanding position, with the rest of the squad finishing the job by watching the big screens on the walls of the venue to see where their last opponents were hiding. The UK team equalised on 3 : 3, but then Mozilla went sky diving off the outer ramparts in the next round, which didn't help matters, and after some tense cat and mouse action across the roof tops the French emerged victorious. The British players came back to equalise again though, taking the match down to a ninth and final round. The French got a strong start, taking Blokey out very early, leaving Tasan and Mozilla to face all five French players. After Mozilla got picked off by a lone gunman on the rooftops, Tasan was charged down by the rest of the French team, taking down two of them but eventually erupting in a fountain of gibs. The French took the game 5 : 4 again.
It had been a hard fought contest throughout, but in the end the French team's experience with Rocket Arena had proven too much for the UK team, most of whom had barely played the mod before this weekend. But it wasn't over yet, and the last two games in the five match series went ahead even though the French had already won the competition. First up was map 5, with Blokey on a rampage in the first round in the midst of a flurry of rockets and grenades, and Luke doing the honours in the second round, taking down three French players single-handed. The third round was much closer, with Luke and Parkha duelling it out at the end, a lovely rail across the main hall giving the Brits a 3 : 0 lead. The UK team had soon made it four, hunting down the French players one by one. Another storming performance saw the UK take their first win - 5 : 0!
It was 5am by the time the final game got underway on map 8, which is loosely based on the Warehouse (q2dm8). The French took the first round with just one of their players left intact at the end, and then did it again in the second round after a tense stand-off between Rude and Parkha. The French seemed to have recovered their form, and were soon 4 : 0 up as the Brits let themselves get seperated and picked off one by one like something from a cheap horror movie. It was all over, and the French took the game by 5 : 0 and the series by 4 : 1 as a rail reduced Mozilla to his constituent parts.
Tomorrow sees the real exhibition matches taking place though, on maps that the UK team actually knows. With any luck their performance will be somewhat better than tonight!
Much Ado About Nothing
Despite not getting to sleep until some time around 7am, the boys from UNR were determined to take part in the Quake 3 clan matches on Saturday and were back up and about by 10am. Popping Pro Plus pills and drinking prodigous amounts of Coca Cola, they managed to inject enough caffeine into their systems to take part in the competition as it finally got underway in the early afternoon after more delays.
UNR managed to defeat French clans BNL and RNF, as well as Dutchmen C, although they lost to German clans Shroet Kommando and OCR. The game with SK was a real eye-opener for UNR and, just like at the EuroQuake tournament back in 1999, they came away from the defeat determined to learn from their mistakes and improve their team strategy. Certainly their performance against RNF in the next match was far more impressive, with far more team work and communication than they had showed against SK. As team coach Pumpkin commented, "we're not used to getting beaten, and we don't know what to do when we're losing". The British Quake scene can be rather insular, and only a handful of British clans are able to give UNR a real run for their money, let alone to beat them.
Meanwhile the EuroGamer crew and DC.Mozilla were having a much-needed rest, finally stirring from our beds at lunchtime before heading out towards the venue. Along the way we managed to find a boulangerie and picked up a fresh crate of Coke and some baguette sandwiches for a rather late breakfast. When we arrived though it quickly became obvious that nothing was going to be happening any time soon, with both the UNR members of the UK team and most of the French team taking part in the clan tournament. Although UNR were willing to drop out of the clan contest to play the international match, the French wanted to finish their tournament games.
Royale With Cheese
Eventually we gave up and headed into central Paris on the Metro, leaving UNR to finish their clan games while we tracked down a McDonalds for them. Not being big fans of the big Mac, we first stopped off at a little restaurant to get a steak and frites. While St Denis (where the event is taking place) is something of an overgrown derelict industrial estate, central Paris is still all lit up from the Christmas and New Year's celebrations, with a huge ferris wheel at Concorde and sparkling blue lights all over the Tour Eiffel. Which is nice.
Having fed ourselves and done the whole tourist thing, we hailed a confused and rather incredulous cab driver to take us to the McDonalds on Champs Elysees, which is in a huge basement and comes complete with CD listening posts and a statue of Lara Croft. Oh dear. Ordering multiple burgers for eight people turned out to be something of a challenge, especially given the language barrier - the French really do call a quarter pounder with cheese a Royale with cheese. A Big Mac is a Big Mac wherever you go though, and no, we didn't try Burger King.
About ten minutes later the poor guy on the till had finally managed to scrape together the requisite number of Big Macs, Royales, McChicken sandwiches, milk shakes, fries and the rest of it. Stumbling outside we braved a zebra crossing, which in the UK are designed to allow people to actually cross the road. In Paris they just serve to herd pedestrians into a convenient mass to give French drivers a better chance of hitting one; it's all very Carmageddon. Luckily we managed to avoid adding to the roadkill and got a taxi back to the venue, only to suffer from the same problem we had on last night - just as there are two Ibis hotels in St Denis, there are two Avenues de President Wilson in Paris (they must like the guy), and of course our taxi took us to the wrong one first. We soon managed to explain the situation though, and the driver reset the meter and set off again in the opposite direction. Almost three hours after we had set off from the venue, we finally got back with the (by now rather cold and soggy) McDonalds.
Unsurprisingly the UK vs France matches still hadn't got underway, but there were rumours that we could get started when one of the French team members got back from dinner. We'll wait and see...
First Match - Q3DM6
Finally we managed to get everyone into a server together, and the matches got underway. First in the series of five was Q3DM6. Luke went off on an early rampage, but meanwhile the French had taken the quad room. The two teams matched each other almost frag for frag in the early stages of the game, with the French taking a slender lead two and a half minutes in as they camped down in the pillar room to wait for the red armour.
The French were timing the arrival of weapons and power-ups perfectly, and appearing in force whenever something worthwhile spawned. The UK players were fighting back hard, but they weren't working well as a team at this point in the game, and it started to tell as the French slowly pulled ahead. At the five minute mark Rude got the quad and took down a pair of French players as they swarmed into the main arena a couple of seconds too late. The UK team were starting to find their form again, and the French lead steadily slipped from five frags to none, with the UK finally retaking the lead after nine minutes of play, soon going 64 : 61 up.
At eleven minutes the French got the quad but were killed instantly, and the UK retained their lead. French snipers on the railgun ledge were proving quite effective though, firing off rails into the pillar room as Brits headed for the red armour ledge. In the end the French team massed and headed into the pillar room in force, grabbing the red armour and then going on to the quad by way of the rocket launcher ledge. Again their quad carrier was wiped out instantly though as the two teams clashed in the main arena. The UK team seemed to have taken control, and their lead was growing by the minute. At three quarters time they were 105 : 90 up.
A couple of minutes later the UK rushed the red armour but found the room empty, suddenly realising that they had forgotten the quad was coming up at the same time! It didn't make any difference though - the UK team was now 120 : 100 ahead, and although the French kept fighting to the end they couldn't make any impression on the British lead. Final score was 144 : 115, with the four British players proving very evenly matched, their scores varying from 34 to 37 at the end.
Second Match - Q3DM7
The French team got all the weapons at the start of the game, but they couldn't press their advantage. It was eerily quiet, and after a minute the score was still just 5 : 4 as the two teams passed like rockets in the night. Or something. In fact, it was so quiet that Rude even took time out to move his chair!
Things were very close though, and after three minutes the two teams were in a dead heat on 10 : 10. The French got the quad but it didn't last more than a few seconds, and everything went quiet again. The UK lurked in the big red armour courtyard, while the French were nowhere to be seen. Five minutes in they came out to grab the quad again, but again they were cut down almost immediately. The UK were now pulling out a healthy lead, going 20 : 11 up by the sixth minute. There was chaos at the megahealth as three French players made a grab for it only for Rude to pop up .. and then promptly vanish again in a shower of gibs.
The French got the megahealth just over a minute later though, coming out through the teleporter to grab it from right under the noses of the UK team. It wasn't to last long, and the UK extended their lead again, with a quad rampage from Luke helping to extend their lead to 40 : 28! A couple of minutes later Rude grabbed another quad for the UK, who were now a clear 20 frags ahead. Fierce battles continued to center around the quad as the two teams swarmed in with three or four players at a time to try and lock down the small courtyard there in the seconds leading up to a quad spawn. The French were beginning to come back now, and cut the lead to just 10 frags after 13 minutes.
The French next locked down the red armour and megahealth areas, and took back another five frags from the British. They grabbed the quad again at three quarters time, but yet again the UK took down the quad carrier before he could do much. It didn't stop the French though, who were on something of a role, first equalising and then actually taking the lead again briefly. But with just three minutes to play Luke grabbed the quad again and went on another rampage, equalising the scores. Some hard fighting from the rest of the team saw the UK going ahead again, and within a minute they had pulled out a slim five frag lead. Things continued to be close, but the French couldn't make their final quad count, and it was all over. Final score was 87 : 78.
Third Match - CPM4
The UK team's lack of sleep was starting to show now, with coach Pumpkin unable to concentrate and the team's timing erratic at times. At the start of the game the UK got most of the weapons while the French picked up the red armour. The Brits couldn't make any impression on the French though, who had gone 4 : 0 ahead by the end of the first minute. The UK tried to control the weapons, but the French seemed to know the map better and continued to pull out their lead, going 11 : 4 up after three minutes.
Mozilla got a quad at around quarter time and took down three of the French players, and Tasan grabbed the next quad but couldn't make much use of it. The French were about ten frags ahead now, but the UK team managed to take control of the rocket launcher room and the ledge which leads along to the red armour. By half time they had closed right up on the French, taking it to 45 : 43 as the two teams traded frags. The entire French team massed in the rocket launcher room for an offensive soon afterwards, but neither team could gain any advantage, and by the thirteenth minute the French were just two frags up.
The match was too close to call. At three quarters time Luke got the quad but was badly hurt, and as he tried to rush the rocket launcher room he found himself facing three French players. The French were starting to pull out a lead now, going 64 : 59 up. A minute later the UK got the next quad but couldn't make much impression with it. The French stayed ahead until the final minute, when Luke grabbed the last quad of the game and went on a run to help his team pull right back. With 30 seconds left there were just three frags in it, and in the dying moments they equalised! It was the French who got the first frag as the game went into sudden death though, taking the match 79 : 78 after a nail-biting battle.
Fourth Match - Q3DM8
Weapons were in short supply at the start of the game, with low scores until the French got hold of the first quad and raced away to an 8 : 1 lead. The UK team took control of the rocket launcher room and Tasan grabbed the gun as it spawned, but they were 23 : 6 behind by the third minute and things were looking ratty for them on one of the French team's favourite maps.
A minute later the UK got the red armour and plasma gun, but couldn't catch up with the French as they held on to a near 20 frag lead. Rupert "Rauper" Loman had replaced the exhausted Pumpkin as team coach for the last two games, but despite the change of lead they were still lacking in team work, and the French monopolised on the quad. Some nice railing from Luke helped to secure a quad for the UK at seven minutes, but they were still 50 : 40 behind. A couple of minutes later Blokey got another quad for the UK and picked up a run of three kills to help the team pull back to within a single frag of the French at half time.
The French team had soon recovered though and took back a ten frag lead. They picked up the next quad at the eleven minute mark, though it didn't last long. The French were still pulling ahead though, and there seemed to be little the UK team could do to respond. Thirteen minutes in the French took the quad room by force and grabbed the all-important power-up, but again the carrier didn't last long. It was 95 : 79 to the French by this point though, and they continued to hold on to the lead as they gathered at the megahealth, chasing down Luke as he wandered in from the quad room unsuspectingly.
With three minutes left it was all starting to look a little frantic as the Brits struggled to get back into the game. They got the next quad but yet again it didn't last more than a few seconds, and they were still ten frags behind. Blokey went on a bit of a rampage on the plasma gun ledge, taking down two French players who had been lurking there before a third killed him. With a minute left to play the last quad appeared, with the French managing to grab it only for the Brits to kill the quad carrier instantly. It was too late to do anything though, and although the UK charged hard in the last seconds, the final score was 139 : 130 to the French.
"Who is the weakest link?" joked Rupert as the match ended. "Place your votes..."
Amazingly only one British player (Mozilla on +8) had managed to get more frags than deaths in the game. It's probably no coincidence that he got four hours more sleep than any of the other UK team members last night. Everybody was exhausted as the competition went into a final decider game on Q3DM14.
Final Match - Q3DM14
Things weren't looking good for the UK team as they warmed up for the final game, with Tasan missing the chair he was trying to sit on by a couple of feet and landing on his arse on the floor. Whoops.
The UK got an early run as the game got underway, but the French soon fought back and took the lead. Then Rude picked up the first quad for the Brits and helped bring it back to 9 : 8 after a minute of action, with everyone on the team tooling up with rocket launchers. The French got the next quad but couldn't find much to do with it, with the scores dead even on 19 : 19. The UK team started to pull out a slender lead, but then they missed the next quad completely, leaving the French to run away with it and went ahead again. Seven minutes in Luke got the next quad and once again the scores were dead even, with just one or two frags in it either way.
Finally the UK team got the upper-hand, taking another quad and then pulling out a 46 : 39 lead by the ninth minute. A couple of minutes later Luke got another quad for the Brits, and put it to good effect as they started to amass a respectable lead. Even Mozilla was falling asleep now though, blowing away team-mate Luke just before his quad ran out. It was now 58 : 42 though, and everything went quiet as the French team regrouped. They were soon back though, battling their way into the quad room to close up by ten frags. Now it was the UK team's turn to regroup, gathering by the quad ready for its next appearance. The French attacked, but after a fierce battle Rude managed to get the quad and kill a couple of hostiles. It was still a little too close for comfort though...
Things started to look up for the British team as they got the jump on the French in a running battle in the courtyard which is home to the rocket launcher and red armour, and they soon extended their lead from five to ten frags with just a few minutes left to play. The French weren't about to give in, and closed right up again in the last minutes of the game, getting within two frags of the Brits. But the UK kept their cool and a run of kills in the last minute of the game left them 98 : 89 ahead. And so, after seemingly endless delays and hours of hardcore fragging, the UK team came out three matches to two up on the French. The result was a lot closer than last time, showing that the French have come a long way in the last year. Congratulations to all involved on both sides!