Two consoles running MotorStorm Apocalypse. Two massive televisions. A lot of high quality junk food. And eight men. But only four places available at Sony's epic Apocalypse event in London next month. We're at a secret, highly coveted Brighton location (OK, the gig room upstairs at our mate's pub) to decide which of eight Eurogamer readers - scientifically chosen according to their gaming prowess/ability to fill in a web form - will be put forward to represent us against readers from other websites and magazines in bloody vehicular combat. Etc.
Anyway, that's enough scene-setting. Last week we began our search for four readers fit to bear the name Eurogamer against our rivals, and we were deadly serious about finding people who know one end of a DualShock from the other.
Not least because, more than the mere honour of being our ringers, the four finalists would each stand a chance of winning a trip for two to Los Angeles for E3 this year, plus a massive Sony Bravia 3D TV. Imagine if that went to someone from a magazine about tits and swearing. Unthinkable.
Our eight competitors begin to arrive at roughly the time we told them to - all except long-time Eurogamer favourite Razz, who materialises while we're setting up and proceeds to annoy us by wearing a scarf indoors and leaving his tablet PC lying on my seat. (Although he later redeems himself by offering us a roll of Munchies, which are quickly stolen and consumed by Eurogamer staff.)
With our magnificent new LED TVs set up on stage in the glare of amazing multi-coloured mood lighting, and with Eurogamer community manager Tom Champion manning an actual chalkboard, the whole event has an appropriately apocalyptic vibe (or at least a bottom of the barrel vibe). Many of the competitors also have an apocalyptic vibe. The affable Andee, for example, has travelled all the way from Glasgow, a pilgrimage of incalculable self-discovery that makes The Road look like someone getting confused on a zebra crossing without shaving.
The tournament format will be thus: competitors are split into two groups of four, which competitor Ignatius Cheese instinctively renames Group Awesome and Group Badass, reflecting the kind of thought leadership he would go on to exhibit across the evening. Evolution Studios has asked that we stick to three tracks for the event: the boardwalk and seafront-focused Waves of Mutilation; Off The Rails, a mix of canyon racing, storm drains and underground tunnels; and The Mile High Club, a perilous high-speed rollercoaster across the rooftops of disintegrating skyscraper.
Each competitor races one on one against each of his three direct rivals, and each race also includes six AI opponents on the highest of MotorStorm Apocalypse's difficulty settings - Veteran. Finishing first ahead of human and AI guarantees you three points; merely finishing ahead of your human rival is worth two; finishing behind your human rival but ahead of AI is worth one point; and finishing last is worth none (and potentially further sanctions on the forum afterwards).
In pre-tournament practice, AndyK looks to be the man to beat, although he comes under criticism by tournament organisers (i.e. me) when he is spotted playing on unauthorised tracks. He narrowly avoids a points deduction because it doesn't occur to me to impose one until I'm walking home four hours later.
But Ignatius Cheese makes the strongest actual start, first from start to end on Waves of Mutilation in his initial race, while AndyK can only manage fourth in his race against Jetset. Razz defies pre-tournament speculation that he lacks "big-match discipline" by building up an impressive group-stage points total, and thanks to creative accounting basically everyone has recorded some sort of score after a few races. Hearteningly for the competitors, it is then revealed that our ingenious scoring system has led to a two-way tie for first in Group Awesome and a three-way tie for second in Group Badass. Who planned all this rubbish anyway?
While the organisers stand to one side panicking until they invent a suitable playoff format, dinner is served. You have never seen eight large Domino's pizzas disappear so quickly amidst such complete silence as those who are in the room now have.
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