What is Blono Tecmo? Blono Tecmo is a group of friends from between the cities of Bloomington and Normal, Illinois who get together annually to celebrate the beloved game of Tecmo Super Bowl. Their tournament is not a high stakes display of skill mastery and big money rewards, but rather a day of celebration with close friends and family. It celebrated its 14th year in yesterday's tournament. To my knowledge, it would be the longest running annual Tecmo Super Bowl tournament in the country.
I wanted to attend this tournament last year after meeting many members of this group at Tecmo Madison. Last year I just missed the deadline and vowed to make it this year. Right around the announcement for Return of the Mack registration I got back into contact with a college friend who I used to play Tecmo with. Fatferris61 has rekindled his desire to play and decided to travel with us to Madison this year. In preparation for the best skill level in the country we have been meeting to learn, practice, and play each other. I figured this Blono Tecmo tournament would be ideal to have fatferris61 get real console tournament experience without the pressures of a typical tournament. With this in mind we signed up.
A day or two before Blono Tecmo XIV, fatferris61 had an issue at work that prohibited him from going. I had already paid entry for the two of us, got a sitter for the kids, and reserved a rental car so not going was out of the question for me. I scrambled to find a replacement, if anything, just for a travel companion. I tried all my Tecmo buddies around Indianapolis and even Ohio, but on short notice, it just wasn't feasible for anyone. I then moved on to family and my brother of all people said he was interested. Never in a million years did I think he would want to go to this sort of thing, but late Friday night he texted me back and said he was in. Kevin hasn't played Tecmo Super Bowl since I was in high school.
I had already picked up the car rental before closing on Friday night so I threw on the Nigerian Nightmare jersey and picked up my brother around 8:15 AM. I don't talk to my brother as much as I should so we caught up on quite a bit during the 2.5 hour drive to the tournament. Very little discussion about Tecmo happened. He pretty much said he didn't care. We stopped and ate Subway breakfast about 20 minutes before our destination.
We arrived at a warehouse storage facility in Bloomington to find Bud Light cases taped to the door. Surely we found the right place. I came in, reacquainted with tournament directors Tim M. and Chris R., and set up a system I brought to use. The venue was awesome. In the front were two easels with very organized pool play grids and full color tournament brackets. Next was a wheel barrel full of ice, bottled water, and cans of beer. Adjacent to the wheel barrel was a full bar with every soda known to man and top shelf bottles of liquor. Behind the bar was several long 8-foot tables with food. Italian beef, submarine sandwiches, fried chicken, various chips and dips, snacks, fruit, etc. Opposite the food and beverages were several systems and television for the tournament. In the middle were tables and chairs for downtime. A beer pong table completed the layout near the door.
Kevin and I played some games with Donny B. and Tim Mo., two Madison regulars. After the scrimmages, director Tim M. went over the basis and rules of the tournament. Like many tournaments, many side-prizes were available to win. Many of these were of the adolescent-humor variety and may be discussed at a later time. I had trouble controlling my laughter. Next was pool play. Toss was decided with commemorative Jenny Jizz coins. So you could call facial or "tail" to see what the game was going to be. So here are my games.
My first game was against Chris J. He seemed really excited and said he has only been playing for a year or two. He said he thought he was pretty good and wanted to see how his good stacked up against good here at the tournament. I won the toss and called CHI vs CIN. He took the Bengals. His first half defense was descent and I had a few things go bad. I was only up 7-0 a minute or two into the third quarter. Then an avalanche of fumbles, good offense plays, and solid defense stops were implemented. The game ended pretty one-sided.
In the second game I played Kasey W. Kasey was well respected by other players for his talent level in the game. I noticed in his first game he was wearing blue surgical gloves. Being a first for me, I had to ask why he wore them. He said it eased the wear and tear on his fingers and thumbs. This opening conversation before our game led to a variety of topics about social anxiety, life, religion, science, evolution, etc. I was so interested I really didn't even want to start the game. Kasey actually has written a book on the topic, but has not had the chance to get it published. A preview of these concepts and his books can be found here. I highly encourage you to view this.
I won the toss again and called MIN vs. WAS. He took WAS with no hesitation. I really played a complete game here. I know this guy is better than this score indicated. Most of our game was talking about life and not really being focused on the game.
Game three was against Jason L. He won the toss and called T.B. vs. WAS. I took WAS. I ran a playbook to make Haddix pretty unusable. This guy was the best of the three I played in group. His defense was good and I earned the points I got. I did fumble going in for a score from about the 15 and a drone sacked me in the end zone for the safety. Weird score, I know.
So after group play I was 3-0 with a 80-16 differential. The most surprising news of group play however, was my brother Kevin, who also went 3-0 with a 13 differential.
After group play I got some grub and ruined the progress I started on my diet. The food was awesome. I did however stay away from any carbonation and soda. There was a long wait between group and the tournament.
In the opening round of the tournament I played Jason M. He won the toss and called GIA vs. ATL. I asked him if he was sure. He said yes. So sometime in the second quarter he asked if this was a good match up and I said I would never in a million years call this match up. He said it was on the list of the suggested match ups provided by the organizers.
When I grabbed the sheet I asked him to show me where it said that. He pointed at NYJ vs. ATL. I said man that means Jets not Giants. He laughed and said he didn't remember the Falcons being any good so he thought something was up. Good sport and tough game.
My next game of the tournament was against tournament director Tim M. I won the toss and called PHI vs. MIA. I prefer MIA in this and I was quite surprised that he took the Dolphins. I played a great game and executed perfectly. I made zero mistakes.
Tim played really well and the game was 21-14 in the 4th quarter, but a long sustaining drive by QB Eagles sealed the deal when I scored the final touchdown.
My next game was against the other tournament director Chris R. a.k.a. Big Poppa Poops. I won the toss and called S.D. vs. DEN. He took controller one and I took S.D. Game started bad for me on offense, but my defense was strict keeping him inside his 10 the first three drives. His only early score was a fumble by Butts which he returned for a touchdown.
In the second half Butts ran wild and Vlasic came in completing every pass he threw. The next game would be the winner's bracket final of the competitive side of the tournament.
In the winner's bracket final I played Geoff S. a.k.a. storksdaman from the online world. Geoff has beaten me before online, so all this talk about running away with the tournament before it even started was nonsense to me.
I won the toss and went with CHI vs. RAI. I could tell he wasn't happy, but he picked the Raiders, the team in which he was donning a jersey. I put Neal in at WR and really played perfect. My offense clicked on all cylinders, moving the ball for first downs, and my defense shut down the Raiders. Besides one long run from Bo on a bump block, the Raiders really had no offense during the game. That mixed with some fumbles and some interceptions was a recipe for disaster. The 4th quarter was basically Geoff and I punting back and forth to each other to run the clock out. I told him to come back and play me two more times.
After the game with Geoff I waited 3 hours before I would play again. This is never a good thing and I probably should have played some pick up games. During this time, the Beer League division champion was crowned. During this time, my brother Kevin had won three games in the competitive tournament. He had lost once to Jason L. from my group. In his elimination game he was playing Phillip A., another Madison regular. Kevin was up 14-3 at halftime. Phillip managed to score on a long drive making it 14-10.
Kevin then got saftied on a called play making it 14-12. In the 4th quarter Kevin drove down to the five yard line and threw a pick with Elway in the end zone. This would have sealed the deal. Instead, Phillip drove the length of the field and he threw an interception at the other five yard line, BUT Dennis Smith insta-fumbled it and Phillip A. ran it in to go up 19-14. Kevin brought in Kubiak and had two tries at the full field bomb, and the last second bounced out of Mark Jackson's hands incomplete to end the game. Such a heartbreaking loss in such an unexpected showing in his first tournament. I would love to see what my brother could do if he took the time to learn the game and start playing more frequently.
As I waited, it came down to Jeff S. and Tim M. with the winner to face me for the championship. Jeff won a 14-3 RAMS over PIT game.
So the final arrived. We moved to what seemed like an 80 inch television, at least compared to what we were playing on all day. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seemed fast/weird playing on it. Geoff won the toss and called DAL vs. PHX. This is a match up that has kind of haunted me lately. I had thought he already called this match up against another opponent earlier in tournament, but I wasn't 100% sure so I didn't say anything. I was 100% sure he played it and was on the one-player side, but I do not know for certain that he called it. I took the Cardinals. Get ready. This is a blood-pressure barnstormer.
He won the toss and elected to kick off. I received and nearly fumbled, but the ball went out of bounds. I recover and score making the game 0-7. Geoff comes down and scores a touchdown of his own making it 7-7. I foolishly went for a 4th down at midfield and came up 3 or 4 yards short giving him the ball with excellent field position, but he missed the field goal. We exchanged touchdowns and I think the score was tied at the half 14-14.
In the second half Dallas players were all in GOOD, but I was able to force a punt and get the ball back. At this point I felt good. I switched Proehl from bottom receiver to top and exchanged him with Roy Green who went into EXCELLENT. A called play and I threw to Proehl for a diving CC for a first down. Johnny Johnson got some runs to move the chains as well, and I drove the length of the field with a 4th and 7 from about the 15 yard line left. I went for it and had a wide-open receiver in the end zone. Geoff didn't have the angle to block the pass and he DROPPED THE BALL. Turnover on downs. Geoff marched the field and he connected on a series of defended/covered JJs and scored making it 21-14 with only time for one or two plays at the end zone. After the kickoff, I was at about the 16 yard line. With one or two chances left I drop to the back of the end zone with Rosenbach, launch the pass to Roy Green who is all by himself with Jeff the MAN defender. Green CCs and I out-tap Geoff to run it in sending the game into overtime. The crowd was going wild. You have all been there and know that situation.
In overtime, Geoff won the toss and started with the ball, a JJ, and a great run block for Smith, put Jeff in field goal range. After some called plays and stalling for the first down, he was going for a fourth down 30 yard field goal with about three minutes left in the overtime. Ken Harvey gets in. I see the numbers switch and I got the block. Dallas recovered, but Harvey made a dive tackle to give me the ball. Johnson gets Al Del Greco in field goal range and with 3 seconds left I use my final timeout. Field goal is up, no block after the cut scene, and good. What a ride! Great game Geoff !
Now before a get a ton of questions, I will explain this so it is not so confusing. This tournament was actually three separate tournaments in one day at the same location. Of the roughly 40 competitors there were players from Bloomington, IL who played in a Bloomington only tournament. These players could also play in the overall tournament which was divided into a Beer League Division and a Competitive Division. The winner of this Bloomington only tournament wins the championship belt you see pictured with me. This belt is a $500-$600 custom belt. The directors did not want the belt leaving Bloomington. They told me this when I registered and I completely understand as it is a Bloomington city traveling belt. As awesome as it would be for me to have it for a year and even though I would personally would drive it to Bloomington the next year, I understand their concerns. My only request was that I got to take a picture with it if I won.
So, there were two other trophies that were given to the winner of the Overall Tournament Beer League and the Overall Tournament Competitive Division. This may be the best trophy I own. I love it.
Overall Tournament Winner: Me
Overall Beer League Tournament Winner: Matt B.
Bloomington City Champion: Geoff S.
While I still love all Tecmo tournaments, this kind of tournament takes the cake. Many tournaments are starting to feel "too organized', maybe too high stakes, maybe too business-like for me. I had several people ask why I didn't go to Tundra Bowl, like many did this weekend. Here's the answer: It's too far. I had a chance to play Tecmo that was 2.5 hours away, it was a one-day deal, and I met new amazing people that share experiences similar to me. This is no knock on the Tundra Bowl, Madison, Midwest, and the like, but this family/friends loose atmosphere has got me thinking. There may be a similar style event coming to Indianapolis soon. I want to thank Timm and Chris for allowing my brother and I to attend. My brother doesn't do the Tecmo thing and he had a blast. Great tournament guys.
I am also announcing that this is my last Madison tournament win, lose, or draw. I actually wasn't going to go this year, but I didn't want Dave to think that I was dissing on the new administration and I do want to experience it the first year. So I am making a new rule for myself. I will play in tournaments that are no more than three ours from my residence. I will no longer play in tournaments farther than three hours unless:
A. I am invited
B. It is a new tournament that I have never been to before.
C. I have the fiances to do it.
All three have to be there if it is more than three hours. Tecmo is changing for me and really has since Tecmo Madison XI. It still will be an important part of my life, but it has a different purpose now.
Until next time,
Long Live Tecmo