Last week, GameCenter, the new premium gaming service from GameSpot, held the GameCenter E3 Challenge. The Challenge was an exhibition tournament held live on the E3 show floor that let everyday gamers take on several World Cyber Games champions for prizes and the distinction of getting owned by the best. It was also the first chance for the public to play on GameCenter-hosted servers.
On the first day of competition, GameCenter's sponsored champion, eVeNfLoW (real name: Nicholas McCabe), who represented New Zealand in the 2004 WCG in San Francisco. Some 32 men and women stepped up to challenge him in Unreal Tournament 2004, but he was totally dominant on the DM-1v1-Roughinery map. The top score was a grand total of 1, but a few guys got a lucky frag against him. So the daily total was 3 to 308.
The action heated up in the daily finals, which saw all four top seeds from the challenge return at 4:00pm for the finals. After the semifinals and a third-place bracket, the grand finale--which consisted of the best of three deathmatches--kicked off.
After a tense couple of matches on DM-Rankin, James Lee beat John Palamarchek to win a $2,500 voucher for a Fragbox. The other finalists went home with an assortment of gaming accessories from Logitech as consolation prizes.
On the second day of competition, several top-tier competitive gamers showed up to watch and participate in the competition. eVeNfLoW certainly welcomed the chance at an even matchup, and after yesterday's nearly total shutout, day two provided the only two individuals to truly score against him.
The highlight of the day was an exciting series of matches with two other World Cyber Games champs. The first, Lauke (hailing from the Netherlands), was last year's WCG UT2004 gold medalist. It was an amazingly close match. After a short, very tactical three-minute qualifying bout on DM-Rankin, it went about a minute into sudden death overtime. After a couple of changes in momentum, Lauke scored the decisive frag.
The second champ to play was Falcon, who stepped up next for his chance to qualify, making for another action-packed round. He and eVeNfLoW quickly traded frags to go 2--2 into the final seconds. Then Falcon scored a final blow with just seconds left to win the match.
Both qualified for our daily finals, along with two other gamers who showed their skills. But Falcon couldn't return, so the fifth seed, sWeeTfLoW--eVeNfLoW's girlfriend and a successful competitor in her own right--stepped up. She went down to Lauke in the semifinals but took third place for the day. Lauke went on to win the first-place prize, a $2,500 voucher for a Falcon Northwest gaming PC.
But perhaps the most entertaining action took place in an exhibition round. Lauke and eVeNfLoW went head-to-head in a 10-minute match on DM-1v1-Roughinery that saw several momentum changes. However, Lauke took an early lead to go 9-6 by the end.
Right after that, Lauke walked over to Fatal1ty's booth, a short way across West Hall, and was randomly picked to compete against the storied player in his $2,500 cash shoot-out format. It was a total upset. After dominating Fatal1ty in a 11-1 match, Lauke came away with the cash, as well as the $2,500 voucher from GameCenter. $5,000 for eight hours of playing games? Not a bad day's work...
The final day of competition was strictly for the amateurs, with one Erik Tande winning the top prize: another $2,500 voucher from Falcon Northwest. For more on the event, watch GameSpot's video coverage and screenshot gallery. For more on GameCenter, check out its official Web site.