Despite a close semifinal game, Clamp the 16-year-old wunderkind, not only controlled the finals of the Seismic Showdown, but he also kept a massive lead over former pro Kornelia in the bonus round, going on to win a total of $1000 in gift certificates from NewEgg.com. The 64-player Quake 4 tournament was hosted by GameSpot, and ran December 15 and 16. Fans were able to gather 'round the old monitor and watch, as the finals were webcast on the Internet (an archived copy is viewable on GameSpot).
On Thursday, all of the contestants virtually gathered to duke it out on a private GameSpot server. Over the course of several hours, four semifinalists emerged victorious: Clamp, DP1, Lysis, and Raistlin. The quartet returned on Friday to try to lay claim to the title of Seismic Showdown Champion.
The first match was between Clamp and Raistlin. Early on in the game, the two mostly played cat and mouse, keeping the score close. Five minutes in, however, Clamp jumped out to a 7-4 lead. The advantage was temporary though, as within two minutes the game was tied again. However, a few minutes later, Clamp was back in the lead, winning admiration from Kornelia, who watched on. "Nice," the former pro remarked as Clamp picked Raistlin out of the air with a well-timed rail. Toward the end of his first match, Clamp began letting the clock run down, taking the full time to allow his character to respawn after being fragged. Waiting for the respawn rather than forcing an immediate regeneration definitely helped Clamp hold on to his lead. Raistlin started to mount a late-game comeback, but was cut short in the 18-16 match. Clamp said the avoidance played heavily into his strategy once he had the lead. "I was very dodgy."
Even before the second match began, Lysis admitted he considered himself the big underdog in his match with opponent DP1. True to form, DP1 took an early lead, holding a 4-0 advantage early in the game. A few minutes later, however, the match was tied up at four kills apiece. As the match continued, DP1 slowly pulled away, holding a commanding position of 16-8 with four minutes remaining. Lysis valiantly tried to regain control, but ended up losing 16-13.
Despite the disappointment in the semis, Lysis seemed in good spirits on the phone afterward. "Good times," he remarked. DP1, however, seemed nervous about the choice of playing fields, "The Fragging Yard 1v1."
"I really don't like that map," DP1 said. "Lysis made me pay for every mistake I made."
In the finals, those words would come back to haunt DP1. Despite taking the first two kills, Clamp dominated in the finals, holding a massive lead of 11-2 at the halfway mark. Kornelia remarked that DP1 needed "to regain his patience," and after the match, DP1 even admitted he considered giving up at that point. He began to slowly fight his way back, clawing for every inch and frag he could get. Even though DP1 had a good run in the latter half of the game, Clamp sealed the championship 16-10, winning the $750 gift certificate prize.
"I was so scared," Clamp said, "[I was] at 5 health a lot. He was on his way to a comeback towards the end."
Even though he was still frustrated by the map choice, DP1 had nothing but nice things to say about his opponent. "He's a great player," he said. "He was just hitting me up the bum with rails, but I was on the comeback so I was a little more frantic where he could be more careful."
As the tournament concluded, Clamp was given one last task, the chance to play against Kornelia Tactacs, the former pro player, for another $250 gift certificate. Kornelia said before the game that she expected a hard match.
What most fans expected from the Clamp-Kornelia matchup differed from reality. Clamp took an early lead, scoring seven kills in the first four minutes of the game. He didn't let up on the intensity, holding Kornelia scoreless nearly 10 minutes into the 15-minute match, at which point he had already racked up 21 frags. Near the end, Kornelia was starting to push slowly toward regaining ground, but Clamp had already sealed the deal. The game finished at 30-10 in favor of Clamp.
"He's amazing," Kornelia said of the teenage Clamp. "It was very frustrating. That was really good."
Clamp, who is seeking a sponsor, is restricted from most tournaments he can enter because of his age, not because of his skill. Victorious, he was still modest about his abilities. "My rail was very on that game," he admitted. "I was surprised in myself. The tournament was run very well and it was very fun."