Some of the world's best Tecmo Super Bowl players converged on downtown Madison for Tecmo Madison XIV, one of the most successful and long-running eSports events in the country, and the end result was a competitive and entertaining championship bracket that highlighted the best aspects of this particular community.
At the outset, Tecmo Madison XIV was the culmination of the growth of the event from the trial balloon of Tecmo Madison XIII the year prior. The event, under new executive direction, sought to expand beyond a one-day competition among a small, yet tight-knit community into a true destination event, complete with multiple competitions and a host venue large enough to handle the ambitions of the Tecmo Super Bowl community.
After XIII, a handful of other Tecmo Super Bowl tournaments, some of them already relatively established in their own right, became satellite events of the Madison tournament. These play-in tournaments expanded the reach of the crown jewel of the Tecmo Super Bowl event series beyond the borders of Dane County; now, other regions could partake in an official capacity with Tecmo Madison.
Additionally, in order to become a destination event, Tecmo Madison had to expand beyond TSB, so a few other tournaments (including NBA Jam) were part of the Friday festivities.
Tecmo Madison XIV itself was largely the same as it has always been: 200+ competitors duke it out to crown a champion at the end of the night. Some tweaks this year included running separate consolation brackets in addition to the championship bracket. One of the main differences from the experience last year, however, was a larger venue to handle non-players, and a venue that seemed almost built to handle a unique event like Tecmo Madison.
Like any tournament, Tecmo Madison XIV featured its share of upsets and Cinderella runs. The final four competitors had combined for five Tecmo Madison championships in the past, and the only one of the four without a prior Tecmo Madison championship defeated all four number-one seeds in the tournament this year (the final four is double-elimination). Most of the later matches were pulled straight out of the Tecmo Super Bowl playbook for how to compete at the highest level; while some of the earlier matches were predictable outcomes based on turnover margins and busted plays, the tournament hit a groove after a short layover to set up the final 16 competitors.
Without diving into specifics, the champion of this year's event became Tecmo Madison's first-ever three-time winner (a three-peat) in JoeyGats. While southern and eastern Wisconsin are Tecmo Super Bowl hotbeds, several states were represented as the event advanced to the later stages. The champion, a native of Philadelphia. The runner-up, an Ohioan. Looking at the list of hometowns represented, it had the feel of a national competition.
After an exciting finish, it will be interesting to see how Tecmo Madison XV can top this year's events.
The Best Jerseys of Tecmo Madison XIV
My personal experience with the event this year was much different than last year. I was stepping in blindly into a long-established community, into a very specific corner of eSports that I wasn't familiar with as a competitor (in my free time, I speedrun games, although I'm not very good at it compared to what you'll see at RPG Limit Break or AGDQ/SGDQ). It's true that sports and video games are probably in the top three of my personal interests, so it's not like it was hard for me to agree to be a part of Tecmo Madison. However, the work to prepare for the event as a professional broadcaster was a much different route than what's required calling college or high school sports.
First and foremost, the people who are experts on Tecmo Super Bowl are incredibly knowledgeable. To the point that what a casual gamer like me could dismiss as luck or "how the game works" is actually a direct manipulation of pixels, stats, timing, and code. Much like how speedruns rely on minor glitches (I don't do the major glitch categories because that's boring) to find the quickest path to the end goal, certain exploits in Tecmo Super Bowl, from setting the correct playbook to timing a route or jumping "grab" (the official term is "JJ" but this page is rated PG) can accomplish the same thing, offering advantages over competitors that the average person wouldn't even consider. To boot, most of this is actually documented and readily available online.
So, preparing meant having to become an expert on a game that this specific community knew the intricate details of, and as a non-player, that can be a little overwhelming in a few weeks. With a full year to work on it, this year was pretty easy relative to what I was attempting in 2017.
Second, it really helps to be at 100% on game day. I was pretty sick last year. No such issue this year.
Finally, being open to new challenges, ideas, and an entire community made the transition this year nearly stress-free. I wasn't guessing during the call; I wasn't filling time with prepared notes. It was pretty loose.
I thought the venue (the Red Zone in Madison) was outstanding; the atmosphere was incredible as well, especially as the day pressed on. The competition itself was entertaining, especially in the later stages. I have no idea if I did a good job (you can watch below and decide for yourself) but I enjoyed my time and hopefully, I'll get to be a part of it next year.
I want to thank everyone for letting me a part of the fun this year.