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KO94 Diary Entry: kingraph


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Long post, I just kept typing what I remembered...

September 11th, 2015

I woke up around 6 am on like 3 hours' sleep, but still was hyped up and ready to get this weekend started! It's been months of waiting, but the day was finally here. I couldn’t sleep the night before, with all the excitement and anticipation for the big tournament and meeting all these guys I’ve chatted with online these last few years. Chaos was picking me up in a few minutes... we were taking the same flight and sharing the hotel room.

I packed 4 6-button controllers, 4-way adapter, Sega Genesis 2, the ‘94, 2v2 and Everdrive carts, as well as my laptop, adapters, power plugs, splitters, and any other electronics I could think of to make sure we had everything ready to play! Oh yeah, I also threw in some clothes and toiletries as well.

Chaos arrived and pretty much packed up the same stuff as me, along with SNES gear and his awesome upscaler. We joked that our bags would be checked at security with all of these crazy outdated electronics. We arrived at Newark airport, already checked in online and went straight to security. Lo and behold, TSA said, “we have to open up your bag sir” to Chaos.

For some reason they let me through, but I got quite a kick out of watching the TSA agent swab the SNES and Genesis consoles for whatever bomb dust they were looking for. :P


Once that was over, we were ready for the 1.5 hour flight on Porter Airlines. It was a relatively small prop plane, but the flight went smoothly and quickly. We arrived at Billy Bishop airport in Toronto! We exchanged some USD for CAD (the exchange rate at this time was 1.32 CAD for 1.00 USD) and then cabbed it to the Hilton DoubleTree to check in.

It was around 11 am, but they wouldn’t allow us to check-in until 3pm. Right at that same time, Brutus posted on AIM that he was in the lobby. We turned the corner and the barrier between online and real-life people was initially broken by the good bud known as Brutus Khan! The 3 of us immediately started chatting and decided we should walk down to the Real Sports Bar & Grill to grab lunch and potentially meet up with others.

After a quick walk, we arrived at Real Sports and told the wait staff that we may meet up with some people, but weren’t sure of how many. The three of us sat in a booth and within minutes, a tall gentleman walked up to us and asked me, “are you the king?” It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on, and then said, “oh yeah, yeah...I’m King Raph”. “I’m Coach Mac!” Awesome! Coach Mac was another person I was looking forward to meeting. Coach has always been a great community member with his resurrection of ‘92 and ‘93 leagues (in which Brutus and I participated) and various ROMs hacks. He joined us at the table. I remember being impressed that curling was on TV at 11 am. Good stuff, Canada. Before we could even order our drinks, a dude wearing a Winnipeg Jets jersey came out of nowhere up to our table.

“Hey, I’m KGman”

LOL. And so this surreal experience started. Mikey and Halifax showed up shortly thereafter, and we moved into a larger booth that could accommodate us all. While there are so many people I was looking forward to meeting in person, Halifax was probably on top of that list. When I think of my own journey to ‘94 online, it starts with this man named Halifax and his Classic Registration Spam E-mail, and through him I ingrained myself to the community and site. He IS the heart and soul of that community, and it was like meeting the President of ‘94.

We all started ordering food and drinks, when all of a sudden EricAnthony (EA) and his girlfriend Jill arrived on the scene. AngryJay then popped in and also sat at the table. I had already gotten to meet him in person just a few weeks earlier at a Connecticut tournament. Shortly thereafter Evan and his wife Alison (Egg) arrived. And everyone was excited to just meet each other in person for the first time. I had been fortunate enough to meet Evan earlier in the year a few times, but of course this is the Godfather of ‘94! Everyone is appreciative of Evan and his decision to start NHL94.com so many years ago, and hanging out with him each time is special.

The drinks continued to flow along with the conversations. A few of the SNES guys also popped in, like BobKudelski, who I was happy to meet. After we were fed and slightly drunk (I had 5 Guinesses according to the bill), we decided to buy some more brew, head back to the hotel, check in, settle down, and figure out where we were going to meet up for '94 action.

Chaos and I set up an AIM chat group for KO94 (of course!), and through that chat we knew that IceStorm was checking in, Sebe and TomKabs were on their way, and Smozoma and Dervin arrived soon too. I got texts from the Pittsburgh crew (Vocally Caged, BoKnows, and Wittgenstein) that they were crossing the border on the way to Toronto. The air was fueled with the energy of ‘94!

Chaos was able to secure a suite with a sectional couch, TV, and kitchen area. When we walked into that room, it was clear that this was going to be ground zero for ‘94! I was happy when the almighty Smozoma and his buddy Dervin came up to the room (we kept the door open). Anyone who is familiar with the community knows that Smozoma is one of the ‘94 legends, and he was (yet another) person I was incredibly excited to meet. And his buddy Dervin was the guy who made the ‘94 Genesis Roster extractor, which Chaos and I excitedly told him we use ALL the time. My mind was spinning from the colliding of the online and real world!


Chaos smartly took the other TV from the bedroom and set it up with 2v2 action on the dining room table. Now we had 2 systems going! Meanwhile, Mikey texted to ask if I was interested in accompanying him to a radio interview on Sirius (as the World Record Holder for ‘94) , and of course I said yes. While I really wanted to stay to meet everyone who was coming and play some '94, I would do anything to help Mikey. I was waiting downstairs for a while; Mikey was caught in traffic due to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), so I got to chat with KGman, and also meet Shaftman, who was heading out with Bob Kudelski to another hotel where the SNES buds were doing their own party! It was clear Shaftman was also enjoying the moment as he was so excited to hear who was coming to play 2v2 later. "The Internet is coming alive in room 2508".

Mikey and I had to hop out of the cab and walk to the hotel where the Todd Shapiro radio show was being recorded. The streets were buzzing because of TIFF, but to me it felt like it was all for the King of 94! lol. We arrived late, and met with Mikey’s camera crew. There were many rooms with media and other shows covering the TIFF on the floor we were on. Mikey and I went into the radio show, and were given about 5 minutes to chat (Todd Shapiro apologized). Here’s a link to the section of the show:

360-september-11-2015 (mp3cut.net).mp3

Man, it's already been a non-stop crazy dream so far. Meanwhile, AIM and my texts were blowing up from IceStorm, Chaos, Seth, and the Pittsburgh crew asking what the plan was!


Sebe was on his way, as was TomKabs! I was telling everyone to go to our room to hang out and play. I invited Mikey to come join us and hang out after this radio gig. We cabbed it back to the hotel and made our way up to the room. When I walked in I saw KG, Brutus, Chaos and IceStorm playing 2v2 on the dining room setup, with jer_33 and AJ watching. I had never met jer_33 or IceStorm, so was excites to meet more good buds from the community! EA and Jill were then chilling with Mikey, mixing up some Cap’n and Cokes by the kitchen! Other guys were playing exhibitions on the main TV in the living room. As if this crazy dream wasn’t enough, Sebe, TomKabs, BoKnows, Wittgenstein, Vocally Caged (“The loudest man in North America” per Bok), Evan, Egg, Halifax all show up and we’re having a blast. Sebe was another of my ‘94 heroes I wanted to meet. He was instrumental in getting my game up to speed early on and was also the guy who introduced me to 2v2. His online persona was one that I try to emulate when newbs join the site. Open, encouraging, friendly and helpful...it’s what makes the site and community grow. And of course he was just as cool to meet in person!

I had to appreciate how witty BoKnows and Vocally Caged were. While playing 2v2, they had a comment/quip every 10 seconds about something. It was mostly absurdity, and really hilarious to listen to throughout the night (they never stop joking) Their comedy brought a light hearted mood to the atmosphere that I think everyone felt when playing the game. TomKabs was playing exhibition games, focused for the event for the next day, but I never got a chance to square up against him during the night. I know I played some 2v2, and some exis vs other people, but not TK. At some point I decided to order a few pies of pizza for everyone.

Meanwhile, later in the evening, Uncle Seth popped in, along with his brother Uncle Buck, with all the energy and excitement that his online personality also exhibits! It was great to meet Seth, with whom I have probably played the most exis recently as he is online nights. Unfortunately we suffer from very annoying online lag/speed problems. It really sucks. We were doing some friendly trash-talking right before Toronto, and I was really looking forward to playing him live, without the lag. As I write this recap now, I regret that I never locked up with Seth! He was #1 on my list of people to play live! AHHHHHHH! It really was a blur.

While the excitement to play all night was there, everyone knew we had the big tournament to play tomorrow and they didn't want to be tired. The crowd started dwindling down (Ice just disappeared one moment while looking for water). AJ asked to borrow one of my controllers for the tourney and I said sure, with a slight hesitation knowing the irony if he beat me tomorrow with the controller I lent him. But AJ is a real class act, another '94 guy I have a lot of respect for. I was happy to lend him a controller, the least I can do for the knowledge he provided with his great "Building Lines" series (which countless people use, including myself). KG woke up and left around midnight to head back home. TomKabs found out KG lives about an hour away, so he bravely offered up his spare bed. It was too late to catch KG out the door. TK eventually bounced as well and we were left with BoKnows, Vocally Caged, mike_mac, and Chaos trying to get 4 way NBA Jam to work. It was a pretty animated discussion as the Pittsburgh crew have been trying to get NBA Jam to work online for years (keeps desyncing). Wittgenstein returned from a walk around 1 am and that was the call for the end of the night. Right at that same time, Chaos got NBA Jam working, lol. To be continued the next night we figured.

Chaos got a garbage bag from the front desk and we cleaned up the room. It really wasn't that bad considering. With just a few hours sleep and this long exciting night, I was pretty spent. I had no trouble passing out.

September 12th, 2015. King of 94 Day.

Woke up, showered, got dressed, grabbed my controllers and was ready for action! Chaos and I grabbed breakfast with IceStorm at the hotel before we decided to head out to Real Sports. It was raining, so we were going to split cabs. We waited for Brutus to come down and the four of us left for the tourney.


Walking up to the bar we saw Mikey, and two attractive girls sitting at the registration desk. One was wearing a very revealing shirt, and she asked, "what's your name and what system?"

It took me a good 2-3 seconds to remember my name and where the hell I was. I eventually blurted out "Raphael, Genesis ". Once inside, the setup was awesome. We had a section with 8 SNES consoles and 7 Genesis consoles (1 short from the initial plan due to space), each with their own booth. T-shirts and hats were available, and I saw the Stanley Cup trophies for the winners. Cameras and lights were set up for the filming of the documentary. Players started pouring in, and it started to get a little crowded. IceStorm told me he saw some guy practicing pass shots on a shootout mode and was worried that this was the caliber of play of the unknowns. I glanced at the name tag and read, "Kyle". I said, "dude, that's Zeppelin".

"Oh, okay, whew, hahaha".

Things finally got underway after Mikey and Halifax gave their opening welcome speeches. I wasn't scheduled to play until 11:30, so I wanted to help out any way I could, maybe ref some games. I helped some SNES guys find each other and did their coin flip. Same for a Genesis game. Once the first batch of games finished, a mob of people were crowding around Halifax to report scores. There were some technical difficulties entering scores. I felt terrible because I wanted to make sure this was a success and I couldn't really help. I couldn't even get close to Halifax because of the mob, but we may eye contact and he asked if I could find Smozoma. I ran off looking for him, and found him outside enjoying a sandwich. I told him Halifax needed some help and he went right in. Eventually everything was figured out and games were being played. We all got into a nice rhythm and knew to just play games if a console was free and you found your opponent.


I watched KG, IceStorm, and EA annihilate their first round guys, but noticed Zeppelin had a pretty close game going. I think it was 4-4 going into the 3rd, and Zeppelin went on the pocket two more goals to victory. At the same time there was still all this excitement and buzz going on in the bar. I was excited to watch some of the premier games later in the bracket. One of the first was KG (LA) vs IceStorm (NYR). KG won the coin flip, so IceStorm was home. There was a good few people watching this one, as it featured some elite players. They battled back and forth and IceStorm tied it late with about 15 seconds to go. KG wins the faceoff and gets a quick deke shot off on Vanbiesbrouck. Save! But the Beezer laid down, and I believe Gretzky pushed him through the goal...the siren wails and KG goes up 5-4 with 5 seconds left. Game over, vgg, tough loss for Ice . KG finishes first in the A bracket, Ice second. Brutus claimed the 3rd spot and Mike Sroka (from Settle it On the Screen fame) finished 4th.

I didn't get to watch much in the B bracket just due to everything that was going on. Zeppelin came out 1st, Smozoma 2nd, EA 3rd and an unknown (Jeff N.) 4th.

There were no surprises in the opening groups in the Genesis brackets, all of the online favorites qualified as expected.

That day also featured a Yankees/Bluejays baseball doubleheader. Both teams were playing for the division lead, so the rest of the bar was packed to watch these important games. As if that wasn't enough, right outside the bar was a Toronto Maple Leafs appreciation day, where Mats Sundin was going to have a statue displayed for him! Again, all of this with the TIFF just made for an electric atmosphere around the town and bar.


Before the morning groups were winding down, I got to meet my first round opponent and we chatted for a bit before playing our games. His name was Caio, and his buddy Roberto Z. was also there. They were originally from Brazil, where they used to play the hell out of '94 after one of their friends brought it back from the US. It was a wonderful story to hear, and these guys were really cool. It was almost time to play and I was super-anxious (along with Sebe) to get started playing. I mean, we've been watching and hearing '94 games for 2 hours!

Caio and I finally set up and I won the coin flip. I chose Dallas and Calgary without much thought. He took Dallas, and now my plan was to blow up his team with Theo. The game felt like it was moving through mud, which always happens to me when first playing on a console. I beat Ciao 6-2, but it wasn't even that close. Whew, first one in the books and I can relax a bit, but I was concerned about how the game felt. I was in the consensus toughest group that included AJ, Sebe, Evan and Uncle Buck, so I was nervous about making a mistake to an unknown and failing to qualify for the sweet 16. Caio asks if he can borrow one of my controllers and I say yes and wish him good luck.

I peer over and see AJ shutting out his opponent 10-0 mercy rule early in the 3rd. Dude is locked in. Sebe, Buck and Evan all move on in the first game in group D. I ran into Coach Mac who was elated to beat his first round opponent. I was really rooting for him to get out of his group, but knew it would be tough to get past Witt and Vocally Caged. TK and Seth were the other two favorites in group C that I was sure would advance.

My next match was against a guy named Frank P., who also had a forum name INOMORATA, but had no idea who he was. It ended up being someone who I had a conversation with earlier in the day. He and his buddy were playing an exi, which I felt was fair since he had a no show 1st opponent. Once they finished, we sat to play our match. I won the coin flip and chose Vancouver and Buffalo as the teams. No real thought, other than I could be happy with either. He chose Buffalo, and I was happy with Vancouver, a team I do well with.

He scored first, and that caused me to stop slouching and play! It ended up being a close first period, but I broke out in the 2nd with 4-5 quick goals to really put the game away. I was happy to win, but honestly didn't feel I was playing my best.

Sometime around there I ran into Witt, who told me "some Brazilian guy" beat him, and took TomKabs to a 7-6 game. Woah! This was the unknown guy we were all thinking might emerge from KO94. That guy was the friend of my first opponent Caio, Roberto Z.

Meanwhile Sebe, AJ and Evan also won in my bracket, setting up a great 3rd round match up of me vs Evan and AJ vs Sebe. I remember chatting with Evan and we both agreed to play in 10 minutes or so, to take a water / bathroom break. One of the camera crew guys found out we were playing and wanted to film us play ("world record holder" vs "founder"). That in itself wasn't a big deal because cameras were everywhere, but it took a good 20 minutes for them to set up a new station. We had to switch consoles for lighting, and all this crap. Evan and I just wanted to play our game, thinking they were making TOO big a deal here, but at the same time understood this was for the documentary. Meanwhile, because of all the setup, I missed watching Sebe beating AJ. That was a minor upset. Sebe is a great player, but even he knew AJ was the favorite in their matchup. It was an 8-7 WSH over NYI win, sounded like a good game, sorry I missed it. I was happy for my buddy Sebe because it meant he was in the final 16 for sure. It also meant the loser of my match had to play AJ. Yikes.

Evan and I finally started. The coin flip was won by Evan (which we had to re-shoot to capture the moment, lol). He picked MTL and CHI. Now, if there was ever a time I wanted to throw a match, it was here. Evan was the last guy I wanted to beat in the opening bracket (and ours was the group of death) The winner of our match gets 1st or 2nd seed (play Sebe) and the loser has to play AJ (high chance of losing again) to survive. I didn't think Evan had a chance against AJ, so I knew this was a pivotal match. I chose Chicago. I thought Evan was going for a strong goalie game given he chose the top 2 in Roy/Belfour. The camera guys wanted us to talk during play, especially if Larmer was involved because he was featured in the documentary. Larmer got an interference penalty, so I made some comment about that. The final score was 4-0, and I had to send Evan off to play AJ. We did a post-game interview, Evan was his usual classy self, congratulated me and we moved on.

Sebe and I caught up to congratulate each other on moving on, and we also had to play each other for 1st and 2/3rd seed. We were asked to play on the feature table with the lights set up and talk while we played. The good news is it wasn't a stressful game, but I know Sebe didn't appreciate the lights in his face. I won the coin flip and chose HFD and PHI. They are both mid range teams that I enjoy using. Sebe thought for a while and chose Philly. It was one of those games where everything clicked for Hartford and Verbeek was putting everything in the net. I jumped out to a big lead, I can't remember exactly what, but I think it was 7-2. Sebe pushed hard all game and clawed back during the third, closed to within a goal and I said, "I've seen this too many times before, no way can I ease up on you!" I scored one more goal and the final was 8-6. It was a fun game, almost had the feeling of an exi since neither of us didn't care much if we lost.

So now I was 4-0, feeling good to have made it through my group undefeated. While I was playing Sebe, AJ took out Evan (didn’t see game). So now Evan had to play Uncle Buck (Seth’s brother) to get that final 4th spot out of group D, while Sebe and AJ met again to decide on 2nd and 3rd seed. It was exactly what I predicted when I saw the brackets announced. I watched the game between Evan and Uncle Buck, as that was an elimination game. I watched next to Uncle Seth, who was rooting for his brother, and I was rooting for Evan. Buck won the coin flip and picked TB and NYI. Evan chose the Islanders (which I thought was right) and the game started! I thought Buck was controlling most of the action in the game and held the lead for most of the game. Evan turned it on a bit late, with a lot of pressure, but couldn’t put in the equalizer. Buck went on to win 5-4, and I felt bad. I didn’t have any animosity towards Uncle Buck, in fact I liked him after meeting the night before and was happy for him to move on, but I really wanted Evan to make that final 16.

At that time some freelance writer for a West Coast gaming site interviewed me and Sebe. He asked the usual questions (why the game is so great, what's it like, etc). I don't know the site (he said he would share with Mikey). After that I went back inside. At some point Caio returned my controller, he was knocked out of the tournament, but his buddy Roberto Z made it to the final 16 stage, defeating jer_33, Witt and Coach Mac. I was pulling for Coach Mac, he’s such a good dude and I remember how excited he was after his 1st round victory. I was surprised about Witt, who can be quite dangerous when focused, but after hearing about Roberto, I knew he must be pretty good.

I took some time to catch up with the SNES guys, talking to Bob Kudelski and Annatar (my pick to win the whole thing). They were saying the 90sJacket was eliminated (he was killing in exis the night before) and some unknown guy was playing great. I wished them both good luck and told them I was rooting for them (though Bob politely reminded me that I clearly chose Annatar to win, haha). I was very happy to see my buddy Chaos screaming, “5 AND 0 IN ELIMINATION GAMES BABY!” as he made it into the sweet 16. I also went to check on Halifax, and he also made it into the final group. I was very happy for both of them, and pulling for both of them in the SNES bracket, though it was impossible to follow it all. Sometime during that evening, I was able to meet up with Mike S. and Nick H. from “Settle it on the Screen” fame. It was another surreal moment, because I had interviewed with them when I first broke the world record over Skype, and have since seen them host their online show for Twin Galaxies, and watch their record attempts at 2-players vs computer in '94 (which I regret I didn't partner with someone to break this while we were there!). So again, it was a mashing of online worlds into reality, except I’ve actually seen these guys on screen before. So seeing them in real life was surreal (they are just as excited and fun as they appear on screen). It helped that Mike and Nick were wearing their Coffey and Sakic (Quebec) jerseys...awesome!

Now that the final 16 was set for Genesis, I saw my first opponent was Roberto Z. I didn’t appreciate my #1 seed oit of Group D until I saw Sebe (#2) had to play Vocally Caged and AngryJay (#3) matched up against Uncle Seth. While I knew Roberto was a good player, I KNEW those other opponents were extremely tough. So my match against Sebe earlier was more important than I thought. In addition, I was excited to see matchups of Smozoma vs Brutus and EA vs IceStorm. I thought TomKabs would get through Uncle Buck easily and the same with Zeppelin vs Mike Sroka (however both of those ended up closer than I predicted). KG’s opponent was a no show, which PISSED me off, knowing how many people wanted to make that final 16 and didn’t (like Evan).

I wanted to be one of the first to play, mainly to get it over with, but I also wanted to avoid any camera commotion (which I had dealt with the last two games) and I wanted to watch the other games! This was the time of the tournament we were all waiting for, some high level games with high stakes... it was very exciting. I met up with Roberto and we sat down to play our game. I won the coin toss and after taking a bit of time to decide, I picked the NJD and NYI. My thought was I didn’t want to play against a top goalie with a decent player (Terreri and Healy are not strong auto goalies), but each team also had a nice sniper I could throw at C, which suits my game. Roberto chose the Islanders, and I got to use the Devils, a team I was particularly familiar with having used them in the Classic league about a year ago. I didn’t have much trouble against Roberto, the final score was 8-5 and I wished him luck in the subsequent rounds.

I got up to watch IceStorm and EA play the remainder of their match. I would play the winner of these two and I wanted to see if I can get any last second insights on their game. Mainly EA, who I never played before. They were somewhere late in the 1st period, Ice had Vancouver and EA was using Montreal. EA was winning, but Ice was never more than a goal or two away. I remember Ice made a few costly goalie mistakes and EA took advantage. I found it interesting that EA used "the claw" style to hold his controller, where he used his three fingers for the A/B/C buttons instead of his thumb. He was incredibly quick, pocketing a one-timer with 1 second left in the 2nd with two players extremely close to one another. *Click click!!* Ice came close to tying, but EA held on for the impressive 8-7 victory.


Similar to my first game, I wanted to get my 2nd game started soon. I was hyped and didn't want to slow up for interviews. EA was ready to play too, so we didn't take long to set up. EA won the coin flip and chose VAN / CGY. (I noticed days later that he chose that same matchup in the early rounds, a mistake against the rules). I quickly chose Vancouver as I play well with that team (won Classic A with them) and I dislike Calgary. Easy choice for me . We started and it was one of those games where EA couldn't get Calgary to click at all and Vancouver was flying. He tried a few line changes here and there (Calgary has so many options), but nothing helped. I won an easy one 9-1. EA was classy as hell about it and I wished him luck in his next matches.

It was around 5-6pm and I was getting hungry. Since I knocked out my first two games quickly, I went downstairs to get a sandwich and drink from the market. I returned to Real Sports and saw Caio and Roberto outside. We exchanged email and phone numbers so I can get Roberto playing online. Roberto was sending pictures and stuff back to his boys in Brazil and they all wanted to come the following year. Awesome! As I was eating and talking, I refreshed the brackets and saw that my next opponent was Zeppelin. I was surprised, but happy because I recently swept him 4 games in the Blitz regular season games and I also swept him in our Classic playoffs (I was Boston, he was Winnipeg). So I had a good record vs. him. I didn't notice until later that he had beat AJ to advance. Impressive, that was another game I wished I could've watched, but I HAD to eat. I wrap up my conversation and go inside to find Zeppelin.

We get setup and I win the coin flip. I pick EDM and PIT. I thought Zeppelin would pick Edmonton because he likes to isolate a superstar on a team, so Klima would be attractive. If he did that, I'd focus on stopping Klima. Edmonton is really thin after Klima. Zeppelin also plays passive D, so Pittsburgh's weight wasn't an issue for me. If he chose Pittsburgh, the plan was to use Kevin Todd as a lightweight bug and check the hell out of Pittsburgh. Zeppelin chose Edmonton and the game plan was set. He took out his tablet to read up on AJ's lines, which I thought was funny, but also made me feel like I picked the right teams. "Take your time, bud"

I remember controlling the game early, and then I injured Klima out for the game in the 1st period. That was a huge blow, pretty much a death knell, particularly for Zepp's style. His buddy was screaming how lucky I was, but we still had 2 periods to play. However, Zeppelin really couldn’t generate much after that and the final ended up 8-3.

"Tough break dude, good luck, hope to catch you again"

So now I was 7-0 on the night, and had to play the only other undefeated guy, KGman, who beat Vocally Caged and TomKabs to get there (first round was the no show). There was so much other action going on, but it went by like a blur. I didn't watch any other games or know what was happening in the rest of the brackets. Sometime during that break I talked with Nick H. and the streaming girl for a while as they were broadcasting. I was happy to chat, but I really wanted to get back to watching! This upcoming match with KG was on the feature table, with the camera and light crew. So we had to wait for all of that to get setup again. I had beaten KG in our last few online matches, and an exi the night before. That, coupled with my 7-0 record got me feeling pretty confident. I won the coin toss and picked Buffalo and Detroit. I figured I'd use strong teams, and make this a good game. The gameplan was to overpower on offense. KG selected Buffalo, and I was happy to take Detroit, which may be the best team in the game. KG puts Mogilny on wing, leaving LaFontaine at Center. I thought that was an even better lineup for me to defend.

I scored first early. Yay! ....but that was it. KG shut me down, period. He destroyed me 8-1 that game, and there was nothing I could do. KG’s reaction time was great, I was very impressed with his defense -- he was exhibiting that amazing b-check skill that he is known for. Offensively, he had an extra step on his deke that really threw my manual goalie off. It was just this split second extra wait, it was very crafty and difficult to defend. I was disappointed, not so much for the loss, but more because it was such a horrible game. Not very exciting or entertaining. Up until that time, I had a relatively easy schedule, so maybe I wasn’t prepared? How the hell can I only score 1 goal with Detroit? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure.

I ran into Coach Mac afterwards and we started to chat. And he started to coach me, naturally! He told me that kind of game happens and I should know that it’s unlikely to happen again. I got a bad game and I should put it behind me. Good point. I was thinking about my game vs EA earlier, where I was on the flip side of that coin. He then told me a story of a football team he was coaching. I forgot the names, but the gist is they got creamed 72-14 (or something) during the season. Later they played again, and his team came out to win a 42-41 game! It’s a classic motivational story, but having Coach tell me his real-life version was great. I didn’t realize just how meaningful his story would end up being!

I was now in the 1 loss bracket, and I had to play the winner between Zeppelin and AngryJay. They were playing their game right behind me, so I got to watch the 2nd half of the game. AJ was Pittsburgh and Zeppelin was Boston. Zeppelin was winning the entire game, and it was pretty high scoring. Back and forth they went. Zeppelin was up one goal with about 30 seconds to go when AJ scored to tie the game. I was distracted by some texts I was receiving from back home, so I missed the goal. I was typing a reply when all of a sudden the game was over...AJ had scored in OT to win. He let out a huge sigh of relief, you can tell that was an incredible game! I’m sure he and/or Zeppelin can recount it better than I.

Well, now it was me vs AJ to see who goes to face KGman, and who moves one step closer to elimination with a 2nd loss. I had beaten AJ in 2 games in a mini-tournament in Connecticut a few weeks earlier, so I knew I could beat him, but at the same time knew I couldn't beat him ALL the time. He’s too good for that. We quickly get settled into a booth and AJ wins the coin toss. I have no idea what he’s going to pick.

“Quebec and Edmonton”

Oooof, I don’t know what it was about those two teams, but I didn’t feel good about selecting either. I had to think about it for a while, it really stumped me. I didn’t think Edmonton suited AJ’s style. Again, I find the most success with Edmonton comes from abusing Klima, and AJ’s style seems more well rounded. I select Quebec, and the choice was that I’d rather AJ play with Edmonton than him with Quebec, if that makes sense. Now on my side, Quebec was one of those teams that I love on paper, but never play well with (see: Calgary, Boston). But maybe they would gel for me this game. My starting lineup was Sundin, Sakic and Kovalenko, with Duschene and Leschyshyn on D. I normally like Kamensky, but wanted Kovalenko to shadow Klima. When the game started, Duschene took a penalty early, one of those hooking calls behind the play that killed a drive and I screamed “DOUCHE! Come on dude”. I managed to kill off the Power Play and Duschene came out of the box on RW and actually scored my first goal! “DOUCHE!” He had made up for his error. Duschene got another penalty shortly after, and I concluded that he just liked to play RW. Meanwhile, the game continued to be a tight one, as expected. I felt okay with Quebec and was happy I wasn’t getting blown out so far. Sometime in the 2nd period, AJ knocks out Sakic for the period. As a replacement, I put in Kamensky at C, who I really like. I score 2 goals with him in the lineup and the team is feeling better. That Sakic injury was actually good fate for me, I decided at the end of the 2nd to sub Kovalenko out for Kamensky, putting Sakic and Sundin back. Kovy wasn’t doing much on defense (which is why I put him in there to begin with) and the team chemistry was working with Kamensky. That continued for the rest of the game. I remember there was a major turning point sometime late in the 3rd, and I can’t remember the score, but AJ was pressing hard and I was holding on to a one or two goal lead. Something crazy happened, like a missed open net, goal post, flubbed one-timer...something, where I dodged a bullet. Had AJ scored, he would have either tied it, or closed to 1 goal, I just can’t remember. I scored on the next rush and it was a huge momentum turner, likely the deciding factor in the game. There was about a minute left, and I scored to seal the game 6-3. It was a good game, I was happy the way I played. Now it was time to face KG again.

At this point, if KG won, he would go right to the winner bracket and I would play in the 2 game loser bracket. If I won, both KG and I would have 1 loss each and we have to play again to see who goes to the finals and who goes to the 2 loss bracket. So winning the first game for me was huge. KG and I sat down and I felt a crowd develop around us. It wasn’t on the lighted feature table, but closer to the entry desk. Since I won the coin flip the first time, it was KG’s turn to pick teams. He picked Hartford and the New York Islanders. It felt like a common matchup, and I chose Hartford because I like that team. I really don’t remember much about the specifics of the match, other than it was a high scoring affair and we were going back and forth. I think I was behind most of the match, usually by a goal or so. I could hear the crowd (whose voices were now familiar to me -- Brutus/Seth/Ice) commentating on saves, plays, posts, etc, and reacting when a goal was scored or a big play happened. I remember being down 7-6 late in the 3rd and I scored a goal to tie it up late, with like 17 seconds left. “OOOOOOHHHHHHH!” It was a huge goal, but it was only to tie it up. Time ran out and we were going to overtime. Whew, this was definitely the toughest and most exciting matchup of the night for me. Overtime started and the action was moving fast. I really can’t remember what happened or how long we were in OT, but I remember the final play. I was driving down (home team shooting down in OT) on the right side of the boards and I let a pass fly across to center right before I got hit into the boards. The puck went through a defender and was a few pixels from Glenn Healy (the goalie) when Verbeek connected on the one-timer and scored the winning goal. It was an improbable pass and goal, the crowd roared and I exhaled like never before. My heart was racing. KG and I looked at each other and smiled. We were even, and now we had to do this crazy dance again!

“Ready? Ready.”

We double checked the rules with Halifax to make sure we didn’t have to do a coin flip again. This time it was my turn to pick. Hmmmm...pressure. Last time I picked vs KG I got destroyed with Buffalo vs Detroit. I kept scrolling through the teams, trying to “feel” if something felt right. I picked Toronto vs Boston, with the hopes that KG took Toronto as I was familiar with Boston (even though I dislike using them, strangely) from my last Classic. KG took Boston. Welp! I put in Clark and Borschevsky, with Gilmour at center, and Ellett and Gill on D. No changes for KG (Neely, Oates, Juneau, Bourque, Sweeney). KG was carrying the puck a lot with Sweeney, which wasn’t what I was expecting, but I was able to stop him and get some breakaways with his D-man trapped. I came out strong and scored 3 goals early with Gilmour, all pass-shots that were flying in, to put the early pressure on KG. It may have been momentum from the previous OT win, but I really felt in control of this game the entire time. I avoided chasing checks and just tightened up my defense all game, playing mostly passive D. Gilmour was shockingly great to use on both sides, he was tough to catch with his skating and he was good defensively. I never give him enough credit in GDL. I managed to hold off KG the rest of the game, moving to a 7-3 victory, in probably the best game I’ve played all night. I felt the best I had all night! I just beat KG man twice, and I was now guaranteed 1st or 2nd place. Whoever I played next had to beat me twice, and I had to beat them once. I couldn’t believe it...I really couldn’t believe it was happening. Assuming my opponent had a 50/50 chance to beat me in a game, I had a 75% chance of winning it all, and only 25% of losing 2 in a row. My mind was in a different world.

Now crowds were watching the SNES guys battle it out as well as they were also coming towards the end of their brackets. Annatar (my SNES pick) was actually in the same position as me, needing to win once or lose twice in the finals. I found out that AJ eliminated TomKabs (man, I missed so many good games!) and was now going to face KGman, and the winner of that match would face me. The crowd was huge for that matchup and I couldn’t see what was going on and I couldn’t watch the game. I stood up on a chair to try and watch, but didn’t know which guy was what team and there was so much commotion going on about us having to leave the bar soon and everything. I couldn’t focus, so I decided to take a few pictures (I kept reminding myself to take pictures, I didn’t take enough!) to capture the event. This was all around the featured SNES and GENS booths (right next to each other).


I saw that KG beat AJ 3 to 1 using Detroit vs Vancouver. I’m still unsure who won the coin flip (wasn’t recorded in the sheet), and I can’t even guess who it was. All I knew now was the I had 2 chances to beat KG to win the whole thing.

I dropped of the chair and quickly sat down next to KGman. The SNES guys were next to us, loudly cheering for whatever was happening. It was KG’s turn to choose the teams, and he picked Dallas and Calgary. I immediately chose Dallas, much like my match against EA, I didn’t like Calgary, but felt I could do some damage with Russ/Modano/Gagner against Vernon. Obviously I want to finish this in one game, and I was ready to play. Unfortunately I couldn’t get Dallas to work for me. KG was shutting me down, playing great defense, not allowing me any room to work. I don’t remember much about the game, only that I switched Russ and Gagner after the 1st or 2nd period because I had McPhee in for a penalty. It didn’t help, nor did a timeout. I wish I could remember more, but I have no recollection of that game. KG wins 6-2. s**t.

Now it came down to the final game and I choose the teams. Knowing KG is a Winnipeg Jets fan and I’m a New York Rangers fan, I thought it would be fun to play as our teams, so I choose NYR vs WPG, thinking he would take WPG. He chose the NYR. Welp again! While I was surprised, I didn’t think it was a problem as I was comfortable using Winnipeg. We wished each other luck and the game started. It was tight in the beginning, but then KG ended up with a goalie lock early in the 1st. I took advantage and scored. I immediately felt like an a**hole, and I really wished I had dumped the puck out of play for a faceoff. Maybe it was all the pressure of the game, I felt panicked. At the same time I had no time to reflect, the puck was dropping! I went up 4-1 after the first period and was really controlling play. I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning. KGman gets upset and say, “f**k! What the hell am I doing?” And then he turns to me and says, “I’m winning this game”. We’ve been trash talking each other for almost 5 games now, and it didn’t really affect me. But man, it worked. I was on my heels the entire second period, where KG scored 4 goals to go up 5-4. We had to pause to let Mikey come over with the camera crew, where he was wrapping up the SNES celebration. The pause felt like an hour. I don’t know how long it was. The pause helped me more than KG as I could use a stoppage in the momentum that KG had put. One period left, down 5-4. Finally everyone was ready. Here we go.

I don’t remember the specific play, but I was shooting down (3rd period away team) and I scored to tie it up at 5. I remember feeling great at that point, thinking I could control Gartner and play the rest of the game like I had in the 1st. Then, breakaway New York! I bodycheck and a penalty shot is called. I believe there is a little over 1 minute to play. I can’t remember who the shooter was. Now, normally on a penalty shot I would dive out with the goalie and poke check at the same time to surprise my opponent (the goalie gets up from the dive to perform the poke check because there is no other person to switch to). But I felt KG was too slick for that and would react fast enough to score. So I decided to play back in the net and look for a side he was going to shoot. I also knew KG wasn’t a pass-shooter, so I shouldn’t expect anything quick. He came down the left side and started skating towards the right side of my goalie. I shadowed with Essensa and felt like I had him stopped. There was little room left to shoot, but then KG turned back up, deked again and scored. My heart sank. “I can’t believe you did that cheesy s**t” I told KG. See, the “gentlemen’s rule” is to play a penalty shot with NHL rules (no skating back, no second shot on a poke check), but it’s definitely not a requirement. I was a bit disappointed, but again, had no time to really reflect as the game continued on. And Since I scored on a goalie-lock in the 1st, I told myself this was my karma and that all was fair. I actually have no recollection of the game after that penalty shot, or the final 2 goals that KG scored. The final score was 8-5.

I just lost twice to lose King of ‘94.

Ugh, I was devastated. The dream I was in quickly turned to a nightmare. But I didn’t have any time to let that sink in. I wanted to make sure I was a good sport, so I immediately got up, clapped and congratulated KGman on his incredible victory. Strangely, I was actually happy for him. I was rooting for all of my guys from the community. The guys who I’ve played against online and met for the first time last night. And KG really played like a champ.

Mikey came in and gave me the 2nd place trophy and $394 Canadian dollars, and KG the 1st place trophy. The $1,094 in prize money was on the table and already pocketed by KG, lol. I was still pretty numb to the whole thing. I didn’t think about the money at all. Later that evening, Annatar (who also lost twice to finish 2nd in SNES...we concluded that we both “messed this up”) came to me and told me, “I didn’t think of it at the time, but do you realize we both played a single game of NHL’94 for $700? That’s f**king crazy”. “No, I hadn’t, and this isn’t helping me feel better, haha.”


While the emotional part of me was burning with disappointment, the rational side of me was extremely proud and happy to have finished 2nd in such an incredible tournament. It’s a very strange set of feelings to be dealing with. I was so close to winning it all, and that’s what hurts. Would it have been better just to lose in the earlier rounds? On the other hand, what the hell could I complain about? I was so fortunate to make it as far as I did with the amount of talent we had there that day. And I got to play for the championship!

The night continued with some pictures, selfies, congratulations, reflections, drinks, etc. I was truly enjoying myself the rest of the evening, even though I had this tough defeat burning in my heart. There was some more KO94 stuff back at the hotel room, but I won’t reflect on that. For me, the tournament ended when the final whistle blew.


Whew, what a whirlwind. It went by so quick, and was so surreal that it was difficult to think in the moment. It was just an amazing, fun, wonderful, happy experience that I’ll never forget. Especially not since I just wrote 9,000+ words in this diary, lol.

To KGman, IceStorm, AngryJay, Brutus, jer_33, Smozoma, Mikey, EA, Aqualizard, Mike S., Nick H, AddisonBR, Caio, Roberto, EA, Jill, Evan, Allison, Zeppelin, mikey_mac, TomKabs, Uncle Seth, Uncle Buck, Frank P., BoKnows, Wittgenstein, Vocally Caged, Sebe, Coach Mac, Annatar, Bob Kudelski, CJ, 90sJacket, Schwarz, TylerDeanHill, and my boys Halifax and Chaos….and anyone else that I forgot….thank you all for a wonderful experience! I really look forward to seeing you ALL again soon.


KG and Me...GGS! :D

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Well done!

KingRaph is

Single Best Ambassador of the Game.

1st Ballot NHL94 Hall of Famer.

World Record Holder

and 127 Gens guys would have given anything to trade places with you Saturday Night.

BUT finishing second is tough in many ways, and can also produce a laser focus and hunger for next time.

The more I think back on last weekend the more amazed I am at what a great bunch of buds you all are.

I think we are all the guys from the neighborhood who never grew up and I don't mean that in a "I am wild crazy drunk guy" way.

Because many of you are very successful professionals or soon to be.

I mean that playing this game requires an imagination and child like joy that most adults lose.

I felt a kinship with you guys because you haven't grown up to the adult games like cards, darts, pool, or whatever.

I always think it is funny that people can't believe we play this game while they sit around playing cards.

Unfortunately our neighborhood is a little to spread out and while I am looking forward to playing more online now, it will never come close to matching LIVE!

Hopefully more of these happen soon.

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Great write-up

I think we need 2-3 days for the next tourney. I got a total of 4 exis in the entire time, 2 vs A.J., 1 vs K.G. and 1 vs T.K. None vs any other guys in the room. Definitely was looking forward to some marathon exis with you and the rest of the boys from the site, with nooooo laaaaag. We needed more rooms with systems to accommodate all the exis people want to play the night before. Thanks for letting us all hang in your place that night. It all went by too fast, barely got to know everyone with Saturday being "all business" and having to leave that night.

Dramatic final two games. In the first one, auto Vernon seemed to snatch up all your pass shots. In the final game, Gartner buried everything for KG. Why do I have a feeling if you'd have been NYR that Gartner would have been cold and missed everything? Nonetheless, I remember KG making a sweet tic-tac-toe play to take the lead in the final game and a clutch goal by you to tie it up.

Refs are strange aren't they? Sometimes a guy's on a breakaway and they call the penalty a trip, sometimes they award the penalty shot, and in other instances he makes no call at all. On that penalty shot, from what I remember, you played his deke very well. Even when you dove I thought you'd make the save, because the goalie's pads were right in front of KG's guy's stick. The part of KG's move that was impressive was that he had the patience and touch to elevate that shot OVER the goalie's pads, from such close proximity to the tender.

Edited by Uncle Seth
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Raph, I read half of this damn thing. It was a great read, but old Brute's eyes are crapping out.

Gonna have to read novel #2 next week or something.

Great write up though (at least so far!), and I'm actually glad you didn't try to edit it down. It's not time sensitive information, so we can all take our time and digest it at our leisure.

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Walking up to the bar we saw Mikey, and two attractive girls sitting at the registration desk. One was wearing a very revealing shirt, and she asked, "what's your name and what system?"

It took me a good 2-3 seconds to remember my name and where the hell I was. I eventually blurted out "Raphael, Genesis ".

Haha. My favourite line from the whole story. Awesome Write up raph. It was a great read!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Awesome write up Raph ... great reading for a Friday afternoon at the office.

Thanks so much for the kind words and it was really a privilege to have the opportunity to play against you in the tourney.

By the way, I didn't realize I chose Van/Cal in an earlier matchup. I was definitely aware of that rule and must have just panicked when I had to pick. I just remember when I had to chose the 2 teams before our game and sitting across from you while thinking "hmmm choosing these 2 teams is pretty much like the choice b/w lethal injection or electric chair... whatever I choose, it's going to kill me". ha

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