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Specials
 Written by David Taylor  on August 02, 2007

Special: A sports event with all the fun but none of the steroids.


Celebratory confetti fell haphazardly through the air as ten players clad in grey T-shirts held their newly earned trophy high. These ten players made up the Chicago Chimera, one of the six video game franchises that participated in the new Championship Gaming Series (CGS) tournament in Los Angeles. After weeks of competition against the five other franchises, on Monday, July 30, the Chimera achieved a hard earned victory over the Carolina Core to become the number one team in the North American region.

The Championship Gaming Series is an attempt to make professional gaming into legitimate sporting event. DirecTV broadcasted the competitions live for the past several weeks at 7 PM PST on its Channel 101. Monday's final was the last until November, when both top franchises will go on to represent North America in an international tournament against teams from other regions such as Asia and Latin America.

Each franchise consisted of ten players. These players were further subdivided according to the four games at the tournament. Five players made up each franchise's Counter-Strike: Source team. Two players, one male, one female played Dead or Alive 4 (DOA 4). Likewise franchises devoted two players to Project Gotham Racing 3. This duo acted as a team during each race, similarly to a real-life NASCAR event. Finally, each franchise had a lone FIFA 2007 soccer player in their rosters. There were separate, gender-specific rounds for the DOA 4 players, thus dividing the entire competition into five segments although there were only four games.

The tournament functioned on a points system with each victory gaining the respective franchise a point. At the end of the night the points from each game were tallied up to determine the overall tournament winner. This functioned rather traditionally with sporting games like FIFA, where a goal meant one point. Other games like Dead or Alive 4 and Counter-Strike Source lasted several rounds, with a point given to the winner(s) of each round.



As with many sports events, Monday night's competition was fierce and suspenseful. At first the competition seemed incredibly one-sided as the Carolina Core dominated the Chicago Chimera in the first three segments. In Dead or Alive 4, the Core's Ryan ?OffBeatNinja? Ward and Katherine ?Mystik? Gunn triumphed respectively over Chimera's Jeremy ?Black Mamba? Florence and Marjorie ?Kasumi Chan? Bartell. Both Core players won out with a score of 5-2. Things went the same in the FIFA 2007 competition, as the Core's Nicholas ?Peekay? DePalmer, a clear fan favorite, led Andrew ?Anomaly? Brock, 2-0 at the end of the game.

At more than halfway through the competition, the Carolina Core towered over the Chimera at 12-4. However, in true underdog fashion Chimera managed to turn things around with its Counter-Strike: Source team. The urban map Inferno was chosen for this last night of the tournament. The Counter-Strike competition lasted eighteen rounds, with each side switching from the role of Terrorists to Counter-Terrorists and vice versa half way through. At the end of round eighteen the Chimera had demolished the Core with 13-5, bringing the total score to a tie of 17-17.

The outcome of the tournament thus fell to the Project Gotham Racing 3 players. Chimera went into the race with a slight advantage. Chimera's general manager Brian Flander had picked two of the top PGR3 picks, Wesley ?Ch0mpr? Cwiklo and Jason ?Jason X? Exelby, at the CGS Draft. These two players did not disappoint. The competition was fierce, but in the end the pair managed to pull ahead and earned the Chimera franchise its North American victory by one point, 22-21.

Perhaps the best way to describe the competition is a hybrid of a professional sports event and a LAN Party. The heavy emphasis on the former was readily apparent. The arena somewhat resembled a basketball court. The playing area was divided into two primary sections, one with a string of computers for Counterstrike and the other an Xbox stage. Teammates sat off to their respective sides and cheered on their comrades as they competed in various games. Fatigue was certainly not a factor since CGS sponsor Mountain Dew provided each team with a dispenser of its sweet yellow caffeinated substance.

Each franchise's fans sat in bleachers on either side of the arena. As one would expect these fans generally fell into the 18-25 age group. As the competition played out on the floor below, the fans would go wild and pound together inflatable batons provided by DirecTV. The Dead or Alive 4 matches were particularly frenzy inducing.

Spectators could watch the proceedings via large screens hanging from each wall. Before each individual game segment these screens would display brief pre-recorded interviews with various players or videos of the general managers giving pep talks to their franchise. The only time these screens were deactivated was during the Counterstrike round so the players could not pull a ?GoldenEye? and use this third eye to gain an advantage over the other team. During this segment the spectators were instead provided with large screen televisions that faced away from the players.

Meanwhile, commentators, led by video game champion Johnathan ?Fatal1ty? Wendel sat in a booth at one corner and gave a play by play analysis. General managers from the tournament's defeated franchises such as CompLexity and Optx sat in a VIP area. Also in attendance was Dead or Alive creator, Tomonobu Itagaki who watched as the game he created helped to potentially birth a whole new era of video game competitions.



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