First things first, Troy and Leif deserve a huge credit and thank you for making Edge of ’94 Midwest an amazing experience. Like many of us, I have loved ’94 since the days of playing friends over and over again on the console. To see the growth of the game through this website, leagues and online play, and now tournament competition is incredible. As someone who joined this website in 2005 and had the privilege of playing against many of the long-timers like AngryJay93, IceStorm70, EA, and Smozoma, thank you all for keeping the flame alive.
Edge of ’94 Midwest was my first live tournament. Leading up to Saturday, I hadn’t touched the game in maybe four years, online or off. Upon signing up, I made a commitment to myself that I would dust off my controller and devote some time to attempt to knock off the rust. There was a lot of rust.
On the day of the tournament, I met up with a friend with whom I have logged more ’94 console hours than anyone. Both of us are local. We grabbed breakfast in St. Paul and went over the teams and tournament tiers. It was starting to come back. We arrived at the Pourhouse at around 11:00 a.m.
Walking up to the Pourhouse was surreal. Juxtaposed against the Uptown hipsters going about their Saturday rituals were the nostalgic sounds of ’94 – the checks, shots, goal horn, and organ music— all blaring out into the streets. I stepped into the bar and was blown away. Multiple CRT TVs in a ring at the center of the bar with consoles and controllers aplenty. On stage was a huge projection screen with Troy and the sound console close by. In the back, my friend and I discovered an arcade version of NHL ’94 that I had never seen. The bar TVs were even live streaming ’94.
Once the tournament got underway, I was placed into a group with @AngryJay93, @DanTML7, DPS, and Eric. Of the four, I had only ever played AngryJay93 online, and years ago at that, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Feeling that I didn’t want to take any chances in my first game, I selected my most used team and went with Winnipeg against Eric. That paid off with a much needed confidence boost and a 7-1 victory. My second game against DPS played out similarly and I won 4-1.
My third game in group play was against AngryJay93. I kept my delusions of grandeur at bay for the most part, until we made it fairly deep into the game tied at 2-2. Despite my best efforts, AngryJay then put up 2 more goals to seal the victory, 4-2, L.A. over Montreal. Playing AngryJay relatively competively after such a long layoff was the highlight of the tournament for me.
Rounding out group play, I faced DanTML7. It felt like Dan controlled most of the game, and I was pretty sure that I would lose. Somehow I managed a last-minute goal to send it to OT, and then capitalized on a one-timer early on in the extra time. With that, I turned in my sheet to Troy having gone 3-1 in group play with a plus 8 goal margin.
In bracket play, I was seeded against Tyler Votaw. @Votaw took the first game 3-2, but I rallied and notched shutouts in each of the next two games to take the series. That left me to face AngryJay93 in the final 8. He put up 5 goals on me with both Edmonton and Quebec, and I lost successive games 5-2 and 5-3 to end my run in the Genesis tournament. Troy’s comment to me at the tourney serves as a fitting endcap here: “Not bad for a guy off the street.”
All in all, I had an absolute blast at Edge of ’94 Midwest. It was great to meet so many of you guys in person for the first time. Of course, I now have that unquenchable thirst to play NHL ’94 every waking second of the day again, and I have all of you guys to thank. So I will be seeing you on RetroArch and at future tournaments, from now until they take our controllers away.