Monday, February 22, 2016

Tecmo Madison "The Mecca of Tecmo Super Bowl" - A Retrospective

If you are reading this and do not know what Tecmo Madison is you could read this article by Owen Good first:  The Super Bowl of Tecmo Super Bowl Comes to an End

If you do not want to read it here is my summary:  Tecmo Madison is the Mecca of Tecmo Super Bowl Tournaments.  You have not lived if you have not attended, and your life has been greatly enhanced if you have.

When I began searching how to play Tecmo Super Bowl online around 2009, I stumbled upon this piece of magic:

After viewing this video about ten times consecutively I told myself that I will go to the next tournament these guys put together.  This is also when I started to play online.  I found there were leagues for Tecmo Super Bowl with current rosters and everything in between.  I played a great deal of Tecmo Players Circuit (TPC) games and slowly joined multiple leagues.  I created a name for myself by devoting a great deal of time creating artwork, logos, signatures, and videos for the online community.  

At the beginning of this new online career I also played in my first live tournament in Fairfield, Ohio at Midwest III.  Little did I know I actually played Chet from the video I viewed, losing 3-7 (T.B. vs. DAL).  I was eliminated in the Sweet 16 round by Jon Bailey 24-21 in overtime (CLE vs. SEA).  I finished my first live tournament 3-2, losing only to Tecmo Madison members.  Later that same year I played in the only Chicago tournament and went 1-2.  One of those losses came to Kevin "Buzzsaw" Miller (Tecmo Madison V Champion) in overtime 21-28 (S.D. vs. DET).  At this same Chicago tournament I started the elimination bracket playing the number one seed of the tournament Josh Holzbauer (Tecmo Madison I Champion).  A few minutes into the third quarter leading 14-10 (WAS vs. S.D.) and with the ball, I was told that the tournament organizers had made a mistake on the mathematical calculations and I was not supposed to be in the game, but another competitor was supposed to play instead.  We stopped the game and I traveled back to Indianapolis.

After the Chicago tournament I told myself that I needed to get better, but that I was not too far removed from these elite console players.  I devoted time to learning more about the game and sharpening my timing by playing in online leagues.  I wanted to be like these guys.  I knew i had the tools, I just wanted to be accepted and accomplish something.  Then the time came.  My opportunity to play in the tournament I waited so long for.  Tecmo Madison.

That initial tournament turned into six.  I found myself playing in HALF of the Tecmo Madison tournaments. During those tournaments I amassed a 31-9 record, never missed the elimination bracket, and won Tecmo Madison XI.  Here are my nine losses:

Games in BOLD is where I called the matchup.
  1. Seth B. (St. Louis, MO) - HOU vs. RAI (28-14); this was when Drew Hill could run
  2. Isaac L. (Madison, WI) - JETS vs. PHX (24-21); in the rematch of the same teams I won 0-39
  3. Kevin Miller (Milwaukee, WI) - S.D. vs. CIN (10-20)
  4. Lucas Streiber (Kiel, WI) - PIT vs. PHX (14-7); chose the wrong team
  5. Josh Holzbauer (Madison, WI) - ATL vs. N.O. (24-26); the infamous cramp game
  6. Matthew Cobb (Chicago, IL) - G.B. vs. N.O. (14-17); won the rematch 42-7
  7. Chet Holzbauer (Madison, WI) - S.D. vs. CIN (21-31)
  8. Matt Tarrillion (Perryville, MO) - GIA vs. HOU (17-14); won the rematch 24-6
  9. Cory Schultes (Johnston, IA) - HOU vs. BUF (24-21); played a perfect game

If I had to rank the fun I had at the six tournaments I attended it would go like this:
  1. Tecmo XI Appocolipps Now - obvious reasons
  2. Tecmo X Gannonball Run - camaraderie at it's highest / Matty V.'s run
  3. Tecmo VII The Hoss Whisperer - time with my wife / seeing the real thing the first time
  4. Tecmo XII - There's Something About Barry - new crew / great games / ESPN coverage
  5. Tecmo IX - Marino Royale - exciting games / first "large" crowd
  6. Tecmo XIII - Muster's Last Stand - ESPN Films / worst finish

My only regret about Tecmo Madison is that I wish I found out about it sooner, and I wish I could have attended them all.

Long Live Tecmo?????

Since the announcement of the final installment of the Tecmo Madison Tournament several have speculated about the continued tradition Tecmo Madison has done over the years.  Some have speculated that Tecmo Super Bowl tournaments will die out and some have speculated that with the coverage from ESPN that the next "national" tournament or the next "big one" will be larger than ever.  He is my take on this.  LEAVE THIS ALONE!  Do not try to make the next big one.  Do not try and emulate what Tecmo Madison has done.  Definitely do not have a "Madison" tournament at the Badger Bowl.  Do not try and take this thing to Las Vegas.  I think you owe this to the the Holzbauers and the Tecmo Madison Crew.  What is acceptable is to continue having Tecmo Super Bowl tournaments.  Have it in your city.  Have fun. Keep the spirit alive.  Put a new spin on your tournament.  Make your tournament unique and build the three things that Josh and Chet did with theirs:
  1. Camaraderie 
  2. Nostalgia
  3. Spirit of Competition

The Tecmo Madison Crew has done something that I think few people understand.  They took a small group of people having fun and gaining bragging rights to creating the largest Tecmo Super Bowl tournament in the country.  I have been involved with tournament organizing and planning for two other tournaments and I can tell you that the time spent planning and preparing is great.  This is for small tournaments of 25-50 people.  I cannot imagine what this looks like for 270 plus.

  1. Exposure - For crying out loud these guys were on Sports Center.  An ESPN camera crew was at Tecmo XII for the entirety of the group play.  ESPN writer Michael Rothstein was at the tournament the night before, the morning of, and the entity of the whole tournament.  It is my understanding that a piece will be done for the ESPN website.  NFL Films did a documentary of Tecmo VIII.  Not to mention the local news stories, local and national radio podcasts, and national websites doing articles and interviews for this.
  2. Planning - This crew has to learn about 256 competitors skills levels, sift through previous tournaments including Madison and others, find out which competitors are riding/staying together, and figuring which competitors have played each other before so they can make groups for group play.  Have you ever heard of anyone legitimately be mad about the groups?  No.  This is the one thing that shows how successful Tecmo Madison has been, and they have been doing it for 12 years!  The planning that goes on site with programs to tabulate scores from different regions and different groups is seamless and has never had extended waits or issues.  With the chaos of people being mad drunk, all of the members of this crew NEVER lose their composure, always handle things professionally and fairly, and put on a happy face as if they are having as much fun as we are (which they are not).
  3. Venues - During my six years of Tecmo Madison the tournaments were played at the Badger Bowl and Logan's Madtown (no longer in business).  Both were very accommodating and provided an atmosphere that cannot be forgotten.  the tournament outgrew Logan's space, but both had Tecmo "specials' and had excellent service for food and drinking.  in wanting to host my own Tecmo tournament, this has been the most challenging thing for me to do,  Every year they lock up a venue where the establishment wants them back for more.
  4. The Example - Tecmo Madison has been the example for the other tournaments that have popped up around the country.  Everyone models their tournaments after the World Cup format, the coin toss for matchups, and the trophy presentation.  
Here is a tribute made by Owen Good of Polygon:

Josh and Chet Holzbauer are the brain-children of this monster.  Everything these guys have done has been top-notch and done in the most professional manner.  They always have time to talk with the field and make everyone feel at home.  I remember at my first Tecmo Madison I was invited to Tony Orenga's place for scrimmages.  Josh and Chet gave me suggestions on what to do/see with my wife while we were there.  These guys didn't know me from the next guy, but it didn't matter.  The wives, fiancees, and friends of the Tecmo Madison Crew all took heat from this tournament over the years. I know all of us are happy they were able to sacrifice for the tournament as long as they have.  That is why I am fine with this tournament ending it's own run.  They are deserving of this time.  I wish each and everyone of them the best with their families and their time together.  I hope that as this tournament fades away that you stay in contact and communicate from time to time, keeping us updated on the important things in life.

The Tecmo Madison tournaments have created some of my best friendships.  It has allowed me to be on local radio, local television, local newspapers, national magazines, and national television.  I have traveled to parts of the country I have never been before because of Tecmo Madison.  Tecmo Madison helped strengthen a bond with my son.  Tecmo Super Bowl and online Tecmo have taught me new computer skills which I use in my classroom everyday.  What I am trying to say is when I watched that video seven years ago, it changed my life.  It has become a part of who I am.  Even more so than the countless years and hours playing the game in my youth.  Josh, Chet, and the rest of the Tecmo Madison Crew are a huge part of this.  I cannot thank you guys enough for this.  

May god bless your families and your future endeavors,

Derek "Tecmo Psycho" Ruble
- Tecmo Madison XI Champ


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  2. Well said Derek. Nice to meet you this weekend. I came to this tourney relatively late ( attended IX, played in the last 3) but have enjoyed it immensely. Being local to Madison I hope there is a way to somehow keep the tradition going, it truly is a special experience!

  3. Well said Derek. Nice to meet you this weekend. I came to this tourney relatively late ( attended IX, played in the last 3) but have enjoyed it immensely. Being local to Madison I hope there is a way to somehow keep the tradition going, it truly is a special experience!

  4. Enjoyed this write-up. This was my 2nd Madison event. I am jealous of you, who yourself was envious of those that have been apart of this from the start. You are a huge part of this tradition. Your name alongside Tecmo Madison Champion is a testament to your effort. And now with it over, your name will never be overlooked amongst the 8 other names etched in Tecmo Madison lore.