For the grand opening of this blog and the premiere of its “Blast from the Past” topic, I have chosen to embark on a journey back to a tournament held in 2001. Now, that might not be Thresh-old, or even Shub-old… But nevertheless, this stuff is pretty damn old! I will spend the following few weeks reminiscing over the tournament in question and its participants, and ultimately presenting demos of some of my favorite games. This week will feature one of the semi finals, and the name of the tournament is simply: “Simple”.
Simple was a one-day bash between the Scandinavian titans of the time, held on December 22nd 2001. It was invite-only, initiated by thaigo and Cedion, and hosting the following players: Purri, Provi, Damiah, Cedion, Syanid, thaigo, xircuit, Slappa, R3js, chk, Dimmu, Stuff, Croba, Jent, Fette, and yours truly. It consisted of four rounds of games, where the clashing combatants were picked by the lottery gadget “thaigo with pieces of paper and a hat,” followed by quarter finals and so on. q2dm1 only, and best out of three maps. Also, back then it was not uncommon with 10 minute official games, which is well proven here.
The initial rounds meant for some unfairness, as some players received less advantageous draws than others. One who can especially testify to this, is chk, a.k.a. Miraculix. Probably unknown to most people today, he was around 2001-2002 regarded as one of the top 10 Swedish duelers. He received the most horrible opponents thinkable in the Simple tournament – in chronological order: Damiah, Purri, Provi, and finally Cedion. In spite of that, he was actually able to collect five points all together, and end up with a top 10 rank in the competition. He outplayed Damiah, and was able to bring home one map each versus Provi and Purri, but Cedion’s berserk towards the playoffs, he wasn’t able to stop at all. He ended up just outside the playoff bounds.
The whole Simple event is interesting, partly because it was around this time that Purri started making a claim to fame, having appeared in the scene just months before as a potential powerhouse. He reached the quarter finals, where he was bounced out by another hungry newcomer, namely Provi (or ProvideR, if you will). Provi’s show of strength was somewhat of a surprise at the time, but it certainly bore witness to what was to come.
However, arguably the most important reason for this single competition’s relevance, is that it’s one of (I believe) only two tournaments where the Finnish icon thaigo (a.k.a. thg) actually showcases his abilities [edit: there is an additional couple of tournaments where he does show off – EDL #4 and Edge #1 – but this is in later years, and he didn’t reach beyond the quarter finals stage at either event]. The myth that surrounded this man at the time, is probably hard to grasp for people who wasn’t around back then. There were no demos of his games – due to the fact that he’s (almost) always uncompromisingly refused to share them with his peers (some would say he’s just headstrong, others that he’s pig-headed) – and you would never catch him on any servers, at least not willing to play. People would talk about the one or two times they had seen him somewhere, and they would rave about it, calling him one of the true contenders for the throne and all that… And the people who did get to go up against him, they all came back in body bags – and as you know, dead men tell no tales.
So this marks the second and possibly last occasion on which we’ll ever see thaigo in the final stages of a championship. Prior to this event, he was the victor in SDL #2 (the main Finnish dueling championship in those days) in early 2000. He would never again reach the same heights, and the fact that he resigned from The Invitational just a few months later, in early 2002, when he could have given anybody a good run for their money, will forever embody another of the many lost treasures of the Q2 world.
All this took place in a time when Sweden and Finland was still the dominating force in Q2. I would say it was about half a year before we started hearing about highly skilled East European duelers. Therefor I would also say that the Simple tournament is highly relevant because it features the majority of the absolute top players of the time.
Careful and unusually smart gameplay, where one has a big advantage for the greater part of the game, whilst the other struggles to not fall off the map. This is a thriller that is neither slow nor ever gets boring. Really one of the better q2dm1 games from this era, showing players well before their time in skill and understanding. Great sportsmanship as well. The only real cons are that a) it’s a spectator demo (which messes up the location of sounds, and in my opinion also makes it harder to get your mind into the game), b) it’s from the Xania era (which sort of hurts one’s eyes these days), c) the time limit, and d) a smaller amount of blunders on the players’ part. Otherwise fabulous!
Judge Dredge’s verdict: 8,3 points