HISTORY OF THE MEGA DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Part 1

The First Mega Drive Championship consisted of three college students, who had too much time on their hands, battling through nine games to determine the Mega Drive Champion. The Sixteenth Mega Drive Championship, which took place in January 2007, marked the six-year anniversary of the competitions and contained sixty games and almost a dozen members. From such humble beginnings the competitions have grown and now three knockouts have been added to the league system dreamt up over half a decade ago.

First Tournament Members: Lord Dilks, Mr Smith and Doc Shakib

The tournaments can trace their origins to December 2000 when Doc Shakib thought it would be a good idea if he and Mr Smith raced on Sonic 2 to see which of them was the better player. This idea quickly evolved into a knockout style competition on, Sonic 2, which would require four people in order for it to work. The four players would race through Emerald Hill Zone with the losers facing each other in Casino Night Zone and the winners battling in the Mystic Cave Zone. Lord Dilks, a close friend of both Doc Shakib and Mr Smith, an avid Mega Drive player, was invited to join the Sonic 2 race. He accepted and a short while later suggested that there should also be a "triangular tournament" on World Cup Italia '90 running consecutively with the Sonic 2 competition. Eventually the idea of a triangular tournament was adapted to Sonic 2. Inspired by the football league three points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a defeat. A matter of minutes before the competition was started it was decided that the classic arcade fighter, Golden Axe, should also be included in the "Tournament of Kings" and a crude set of fixtures was drawn up.

Doc Shakib suggested he and
Mr Smith race on Sonic 2 to see
which one of them was better

The first tournament game was
Lord Dilks against Doc Shakib
on World Cup Italia '90

It would have been fitting if the first tournament game was the Sonic 2 race between Doc Shakib and Mr Smith, however, Mr Smith was occupied typing up the fixtures and so instead the first game was Lord Dilks against Doc Shakib on World Cup Italia '90. Lord Dilks gained the first victory of the Mega Drive Championships consigning Doc Shakib to defeat. The Tournament lasted for three hours before the title was resolved. Mr Smith won it with four wins from six games. Sonic 2 was his main strength beating Doc Shakib and Lord Dilks comfortably. Lord Dilks proved his superiority on World Cup Italia '90, winning convincingly in both his games and finishing in Runner-Up spot. The three games on Golden Axe had been the most exciting with each player wining one and losing one - Doc Shakib's 1-0 victory over Mr Smith becoming the first classic battle. Yet the biggest reason for holding a Second Tournament was nothing to do with the competition but just how enjoyable it was to sit around with a few friends playing video games.

"The First Tournament was a beautiful thing. We brought the Mega Drive back from the grave. This was the earlier "noughties" where everyone was looking at next gen consoles, but we were different. We all knew the Mega Drive still had something to give. From when we first picked up our controllers we didn't know that this thing would become so big."
- Doc Shakib

"The First Tournament was very pure. Mr Smith, Doc Shakib and myself are in no way surprised at how big the tournaments have become from then."
- Lord Dilks

"The First Tournament was amazing. Everything just sort of gelled together. Nowadays we go through processes but then everything just clicked. I am very proud to say I was the first Mega Drive Champion."
- Mr Smith.

Mr Smith, Lord Dilks and Doc Shakib were all keen to fight for the title of Mega Drive Champion again and the Second 'Two Day' Tournament was held a month later. A new game, in the form of Pete Sampras Tennis, was included and Golden Axe was dropped in favour of Golden Axe 2. The biggest change was the decision to include a fourth member to the Championships. Baron Von Hooton was invited to the challenge but was unavailable. So it was Captain Maltby who became the first member to join the tournaments. The number of games played shot up dramatically. The First Tournament had been nine fixtures during a three-hour period but the Second Mega Drive Championship needed twenty-four games and required two legs in order to be completed. Eventually it was Lord Dilks who won the Second Championship. He kept his 100% on World Cup Italia '90, as did runner-up Mr Smith on Sonic 2. Doc Shakib ended up in third place while the new member, Captain Maltby, finished last.

It was an unwritten rule that
the winner of the Lord Dilks Vs
Mr Smith Golden Axe 2 game
would become the Mega Drive Champion

It was around this time that the idea of a tournament website emerged. There seemed no better way to show the world the purity and passion associated with the tournaments. A rough outline was designed and, although it was never placed on-line, "Sega-Net" was a big hit with the tournament faithful. The initial pages had basic stats, tables and a Blaze Fielding tribute page. It wasn't until April 2001 that there was anything of the tournaments on the Internet. A crude page, of which the most interesting item was a picture of the Sonic 2 title screen, featured a brief description of what the Mega Drive Championships were and a list of the tournament winners. It wasn't until the end of April 2001 that the tournaments found a home at www.geocities.com/megadrivechamps. This new site incorporated the stats and tables created for "Sega-Net", the Blaze Fielding tribute page was not uploaded.

Baron Von Hooton was admitted into the Third Championship. With five members the number of games shot up again and forty fixtures were required to complete each tournament. It quickly became apparent that no new games or members could be added without the fixture list shooting up to a ridiculous amount. The Third Tournament produced very few shocks. Lord Dilks was the dominate force on World Cup Italia '90 and Pete Sampras Tennis while Mr Smith bossed the competition on Sonic the Hedgehog 2. There became an unwritten rule in the early tournaments that the winner of the Lord Dilks Vs Mr Smith Golden Axe 2 game would win the tournament. Mr Smith won the Golden Axe game and the Third Championship. This was the only tournament in which a player has topped the table from the first game to the last. Second spot was not decided until the last game with Lord Dilks beating Doc Shakib into second after a tight 7-6 win on Pete Sampras Tennis. Baron Von Hooton finished his first tournament in fourth place. Captain Maltby once again finished in last place winning just one game in sixteen.

By the time the Fourth Tournament kicked off, less than two weeks after the Third had ended, an air of predictably hung over the Mega Drive Championships. Once again it was Lord Dilks and Mr Smith who battled it out for the title of Mega Drive Champion. Doc Shakib was in a familiar third position, Baron Von Hooton was stuck in a limbo between Doc Shakib and Captain Maltby, who was once again in a distant fifth place. Generally the seemingly endless games of Golden Axe 2, Pete Sampras Tennis, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and World Cup Italia '90 was getting very repetitive and with very predictable score lines the magic of the competition started to fade. Even so there were a few shock results to keep the interest alive. Lord Dilks lost his unbeaten record on Pete Sampras Tennis to Mr Smith while Mr Smith drew 3-3 with Doc Shakib on Sonic the Hedgehog 2, ending his 100% record. Lord Dilks claimed the Fourth Tournament after a game, often referred to as "the best tournament game yet", on Golden Axe 2 against Doc Shakib. The tie lasted for fifteen minutes before Lord Dilks secured a 1-0 victory and the Championship. Even this brilliant climax to the Fourth Tournament could not smooth over the cracks that were now becoming evident. The Fifth Tournament was scheduled for June 2001...

"Common sense said we were doing too much and it would kill it. We were stupid not to see this." - Lord Dilks.

Fifth Tournament Members

There was no draw for the first six tournaments. World Cup Italia '90, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Golden Axe/Golden Axe 2 and Pete Sampras Tennis were the only games used and each member played the others on all four. The tournaments were very long and by the Fourth Championship the games had become predictable and repetitive. The tournaments were held frequently, with only a couple of weeks break between them, although sometimes it was little more than a few days. Expansion beyond five members was impossible under this system, as it would have meant each tournament consisted of sixty games. Adding a new game to the competition was just as unworkable as it would only be a matter of time before that game also became boring. A rot was starting to set in, initially felt by the weaker players the tedium of the early tournaments soon spread to all members. The Mega Drive Championships were uninteresting, static and on the verge of collapse.

Captain Maltby left after
the Fifth Tournament

After the first leg of the Fifth Tournament Captain Maltby signalled his intention to leave. There had been no shock results and the table looked as stagnated as ever. It was during the second leg that drama fell upon the tournaments and even then it was nothing to do with the game play. Lord Dilks was taken ill a matter of days before the second leg. Unable to walk it was feared he would not be able to attend. Yet, in a momentous moment of non-Mega Drive history, Mr Smith bought Lord Dilks to the tournament in a wheelchair so the competition could continue. Luckily for Lord Dilks he only played two games in the second leg and unsurprisingly lost them both. Captain Maltby also made history for all the wrong reasons when he forfeited his game against Mr Smith on World Cup Italia '90. Doc Shakib became the first member to break Mr Smith and Lord Dilks's dominance in the tournaments as he claimed the Runner-Up spot - although this was attributed, in no small part, to Lord Dilks's illness. Mr Smith was a convincing winner with forty points. Doc Shakib's second place finish wasn't enough to break the tedious air that haunted the tournaments and Captain Maltby was its first casualty. He left the tournaments with four wins in fifty-nine games and a sombre mood of boredom settled on those who still remained.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen. Thank you for letting me join and letting me leave. Ive had four loses and will be back next time to give Baron Von Hooton my spoon. Id like to thank everybody here, my fans, Slowhand, Sega and the person who made this clock." - Captain Maltby (2001)

The Sixth Championship was a disaster, there can be no other description for it. Mr Smith and Lord Dilks's bizarre idea of hosting the tournament in Hull had never really gotten off the ground. Captain Maltby's departure was also a great loss to the Championships and it was assumed Baron Von Hooton would become the tournament whipping boy. Even though the expectation was low the Sixth Championship still turned out to be a disappointment. Predictable game after predictable game was produced and any enjoyment that had once been present was sapped from the tournament entity. The only respite from the tournament came with a break for lunch. After eight games Baron Von Hooton declared that he needed to leave in order to visit IKEA. Nothing could convince him to stay and he walked out before his game against Doc Shakib on Pete Sampras Tennis. It was a bitter blow to the tournaments that a Swedish furniture shop could take precedence. The three remaining members continued with a much more apathetic atmosphere. The entire mood was sour and with one game left, the classic Lord Dilks and Doc Shakib duel on Golden Axe 2, it was decided to call it a day and resume later in the year. It was generally assumed that there would not be another Mega Drive Championship following this catastrophe.

PART TWO OF THE HISTORY OF THE MEGA DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS