I have to think that this weekend's King of 94 tournament can only be labelled a great success, congrats to @kingraph and Mikail on the championships (Mikail's 2nd) , and @halifax and @smozoma for organizing another great event.
This was my 2nd King of 94 tournament (attended the 1st in Toronto 2015), and my 3rd competitive tournament overall. Without question, this one was stacked both days with incredible talent. As they were announcing our group of 8, it seemed like I knew them all from the forums... @corbettkb, @smozoma, @aqualizard, @Coffey, myself and 3 guys unknown to us. As it turns out, Nick (Thrillhouse) was the best of the bunch and took 3rd overall, with @corbettkb, @smozoma, @aqualizard and myself slotting in the top 10. Both finalists came out of different groups, but our group of 8 accounted for 50% of the top 10 finishers.
We played 6 randomized round robin games (*randomly excluding 1 player from your group), 3 home and 3 away so there were no coin flips. You needed to finish with a .500 record to advance to the bracket play (top 16). I managed my 3 wins in 4 games, and was lined up against @corbettkb in game 5. We had played a couple of exis pre-tournament, and there is a lot of history here with online leagues and tournament games played in Green Bay in 2018. I picked the match-up HFD/NYI and he won by a 5-2 margin using NYI. My last game of the RR was versus Nick, who wanted to play on the stream. He picked the CHI/BUF match-up and I grabbed CHI as the home team. The game went to overtime, with Nick scoring the winner. Looking back, I guess things may have gone different if I had managed to squeak out that OT winner, because I was matched up against Nick again once the bracket play opened up.
I was pretty thrilled to have made the top 16, given that I'd just missed the cut in the first Ko94. At this point, I knew Nick was pretty good - but maybe didn't peg him for a guy that could make the run that he did. Our first game, I picked a WPG/QUE match-up and we played a close 5-2 game with Nick coming out on top. Second game was an 8-3 blowout, TOR over LAK. That put me in the "loser bracket" and I waited for my next series opponent.
I wandered over to chat with @AtomicRaven, who I had yet to actually meet in person. He'd lost his opening series as well, so we were busy commiserating when it was determined that we were matched up against each other in the next series. Double elimination here, so one of us was going to knock the other out of the tournament. We grabbed a set-up, were joined by @aqualizard, and proceeded to hammer out 2 games CGY/VAN and BOS/LAK which I managed to eke out by 4-2 and 3-1 scores. We shook hands and I awaited my next series in the bracket.
Looking at the remaining players in the "losers bracket" was a real wake-up call, @kingraph got knocked down by @smozoma, @aqualizard was fighting to stay alive after getting knocked down by @IAmFleury'sHipCheck (who had just been knocked down by @angryjay93). My opponent ended up being Kevin B, who I'd never met - but was ranked #6 in the field. I managed a single win against Kevin, who ousted me in 3 games. Kevin went on to face @IAmFleury'sHipCheck in the next round, losing in what turned out to be an excellent run of games by the forum veteran who also goes by "EA".
A quick note about "EA", if @halifax is the visionary that pulls this all together, and @smozoma is the brains that puts it all in a spreadsheet and brackets - then "EA" is the heart. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a great competitor, and played some incredible NHL94 this weekend. But he also goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcome, draw people into conversations, and introduce them to others. Whether intentional or not, that is what builds great communities, and that's what I witnessed for two full days this weekend. Guys smiling/laughing and having a generally good time during the early match-ups, and hanging around together to witness the excellent games played at the finish.
If you haven't watched the finals for either Sega (Twitch link) or SNES (Twitch link), do yourself a favour and hit the links. Halifax's call in both series was on par with anything I've witnessed in a televised championship event.
Venue was obviously a dream for hosting (didn't need find/bring TVs), and streaming (place literally had it's own production room)
The return of a lot of top players from the previous Toronto tournament, PLUS a good number who competed in Vancouver
The "could be better":
Better co-ordination of hotels - somehow ended up with players in 4-5 different hotels in the area
A limited number of eating options - basically pizza/subs nearby
No beer (but I didn't hear many complaining)
Venue is a trek from the airport AND downtown, making travel difficult without a rental car