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WHO MOURNS THE FALLEN?

22nd May 2012

In most sports, relegation casts a long shadow on teams and individuals alike; Mega Drive Championshippery is no exception.

the proud badge of Scarborough FC

The North Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough once boasted a football league club whose claim to fame was an FA Cup tie against Arsenal in the 1992-93 season, which the Seasiders lost 1-0. Relegation from the football league Third Division occured on 8th May 1999 when a 1-1 draw at Peterborough was not enough to save them from falling into the Conference. Relegation is failure. Before English football underwent a restructuring during the 2000's, the Conference was a graveyard for football league clubs and Scarborough dropped out of the football league to die. On 8th May 1999 Scarborough lost a part of its community, on 25th April 2007 the football club was liquidated beneath a mass of debt and a mediocre team who gave one final performance beating an equally obscure football club, Hucknall Town, 1-0.

Relegation is cruel and it bites hard. Arguably the toughest relegation in the world is the drop from the English Premier League to the Football League Championship costing an estimated 40 million per season, the second is likely the drop between divisions 1 and 2 in the English Mega Drive Championships. The Plumb was the unfortunate one who will drop out of the upper tier at the Twenty-Fifth Tournament this summer. Although, financially, The Plumb is highly unlikely to suffer to the extent of such clubs as Portsmouth, Leeds United or Blackburn and although an entire community probably won't be devastated by The Plumb's fall from grace, nor will groups of fans now have to watch an inferior product at an extortionate price, relegation between the two leagues will have an impact.

The Pitfalls of Relegation
Even Worse Games:
Nobody ever believes it, however, the games used in the two divisions have been selected extremely carefully. While there are some common titles shared between the two, there are numerous Division Two equivalents, or "poor man's" versions of Division One titles. The Division One titles are designed to require an array of 16-bit skill and a mastery of numerous genres required to win the league. For Division Two titles, games have less complex techniques and can be winnable from the off even through that age old technique of button-mashing. For example: Mega Bomberman is used in both leagues, however, in Division Two the only course permissible is the default one, while Division One members might be drawn, at random, on any included in the game. If ever a Third Division were added, there are already a number of titles selected for its participants. For our relegated hero, The Plumb, a tournament in Division Two may not be a tragedy as he will get to battle (and win) on his favourite game: Sensible Soccer.

Genre

Division One Title

Division Two Equivalent

Additional Rules/Comments

2D Fighting

Super Street Fighter 2

Eternal Champions

8-Direction Fighter

Streets of Rage 3

Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 3 possesses more moves and interactive scenery

Arcade Fighting

Golden Axe 2

Alien Storm

Platform

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Mystic Cave Zone is restricted to Division One

Platform Racing

-

Sonic 3

Puzzle

Columns

Columns

The difficulty level is adjusted, with Division Two playing with less colours

Puzzle Racing

-

Marble Madness

Racing

Virtua Racing

Road Rash 3

Sports (Football)

World Cup Italia '90

Sensible Soccer

Sports (Non-Football)

Pete Sampras Tennis

NHL '97

Strategy

Mega Bomberman

Mega Bomberman

Division Two members only play on the default course

Top-down racing

Micro Machines: Military

Micro Machines '96

The addition of weapons gives Micro Machines: Military an extra dimension

Uncertain

Ball Jacks

Ball Jacks

No escaping one of the most hated games of the tournament

Player Rating
While it is reasonably certain that nobody cares about player rating; a number out of 10 that ranks a players overall ability and usually displayed in the form of stars, it is influenced by the league a player participates in through his "division average". For example, Commander Graham has spent just six of his nine tournaments in division one has a "division average" of 1.33, Professor King who has spent two of his eight tournament in the higher league has a "division average" of 1.75. Our relegated warrior, The Plumb, will see his current "division average" fall from 1.33 to 1.43. Of course, other factors also influence player rating, such as overall points scored and an increased number of wins in Division Two can off-set the reduction in "division average". The more tournaments an individual participates in, the more stable this number becomes.

Reduced Prize Money
Currently there is no prize money in either division, although if Sky signs a multi-million pound contract for exclusive television rights before the next tournament, after Administration expenses (international business trips, yacht purchases, paying off gambling debts, sexy parties, etc) it is estimated that the fall in prize money between leagues could be as much as 9. For aspiring Mega Drive professionals this will severely limit the amount of 16-bit games that can be purchased from ebay and thus it might have a detrimental effect upon long-term ability. Although this assumed people play the Mega Drive outside the tournaments. A recent graphic provided by Earl Holbrook on the tournament forum provides insight into this:

Earl Holbrook provides a witty insight as to the committment of Mega Drive athletes outside the Mega Drive Championships

The "F" word
FAILURE! The psychological impact of relegation is phenomenal. It is estimated that 36% (there is no evidence whatsoever to validate this figure) of all people relegated from Division One go onto to suffer drink, drug, gambling or mental problems. Perhaps being under some form of influence is the only way to make games like Marble Madness seem good? Who knows. Some members are clearly deeply affected by relegation, with a few disappearing into the aether, never to be heard of again.

The Posititves
In order to get into the First Division in the first place, a member needs to show their competence in the lower league to earn their promotion. The theory is they should secure a couple of wins and finish towards the top of the table against weaker opposition on less skilful games. It's always good to have that winning feeling. However, bouncing back is certainly not guaranteed, and of the ten people who have been relegated over the past eight years, only four have managed to return to the higher division.

The Fallen
Doc Shakib, Baron Von Hooton, Captain Maltby and Earl Holbrook have all tasted the sour and bitter bile of relegationDOC SHAKIB (9th, 14th)
During his long Mega Drive career, Doc Shakib has fallen from the top league twice - the only tournament member to achieve such a fete. However, in spite of this, Doc Shakib is arguably the success story of this article. His form blows hot or cold and his league position and form fluctuates more than any other member. On some games he is phenomenal and dominant: Sonic 2, Super Street Fighter 2 and Virtua Racing; on other games he is abject tosh: Ball Jacks and Columns. Following his shock relegation at the 9th Tournament, Doc Shakib fought in an ultra-tight Division Two - finishing second behind Lieutenant Gareth. Yet, he was spared the animosity of continuing in the lower league with the merger of the two divisions for the 11th Championship. Fluctuating form saw relegation at the 14th Tournament, promotion at the 15th and winning the Championship at the 16th. Doc Shakib's form continues to vary and he has since won 3 more tournaments, however, has been perilously close to relegation on 2 occasions, but, as of yet, he has yet to return to Division Two.

BARON VON HOOTON (15th)
It was a game of Ball Jacks against Captain Maltby that case Baron Von Hooton into the abyss. Having been almost relegated at every previous opportunity imaginable, this time neither fate nor skill could save Baron Von Hooton from the drop. Since then Baron Von Hooton's patchy attendance (F.A.O. B.V.H's. Stalkers: He is believed to live in Bournemouth) with the Sixteenth Mega Drive Championship the final time he played in consecutive competitions. Three re-appearances at the Eighteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-Second tournaments gave Baron Von Hooton two opportunities to participate in Division One, however, his sporadic appearances seem to have his consigned to an eternity in Division Two. Truly the tournament fallen giant!

LIEUTENANT GARETH (17th)
Lieutenant Gareth had finished at the foot of the Division One table at the 16th Tournament, but was spared relegation owing to an expansion of the top table from four to five members. The scrap for the drop at the Seventeenth Tournament was one of the tightest to date, as Lieutenant Gareth and Doc Shakib both struggled against the fall into the lower division. The fateful fall was decided when Doc Shakib and Lord Dilks faced each other on World Cup Italia '90. A Lord Dilks win was inevitable, however, the scale of the victory was important and Doc Shakib's 16-0 defeat relegated Lieutenant Gareth by a single goal. Since relegation, Lieutenant Gareth has lived in a tournament limbo of yo-yoing between the two leagues: too good for Division Two, unable to establish himself in Division One.

CAPTAIN MALTBY (18th)
Captain Maltby had been tipped for relegation ever since he had achieved promotion at the 14th Mega Drive Championship. The whipping boy during the competitions infancy, he achieved his division one status as runner-up to Lieutenant Gareth ahead of Earl Holbrook and Dame Yada. Now, for the first time in his long history, Captain Maltby was not the favourite to return to the Second Division and he promptly disappointed - finishing two-points behind a newly promoted Earl Holbrook and an underperforming Doc Shakib. His stint in the lower league was swift; promotion achieved at the first time of asking, but Captain Maltby once again found himself in Division Two at the Twenty-Fifth Championship after being unable to attend the previous tournament. Here, Captain Maltby finished in last place for the first time since the Thirteenth Championship in January 2005.

PROFESSOR KING (19th)
Professor King had been promoted at the 18th Tournament with a plethora of passion for playing in the top league. His ambition of battling in Division One had existed since his first tournament, but he was cruelly denied by goal difference, at the 17th Championship, in favour of Earl Holbrook. This rivalry was re-ignited at the 19th Tournament where Professor King was seeking vengeance for his previously narrowly denied promotion. The pair tussled frantically throughout the contest in a relegation dogfight that neither wished to lose and, as the fixtures would have it, the penultimate game saw Earl Holbrook (4pts) face Professor King (3pts) on Streets of Rage 3. In what was voted the 9th most memorable tournament battle of all time Earl Holbrook secured the victory and dumped his rival back into Division Two. After three distinctly average performances from the Professor, he romped home at the Twenty-Third Tournament to earn his place back in Division One. After securing his place there last time, Professor King will line-up at the Twenty-Fifth Championship looking to continue his campaign at the top table.

Samurai Taguchi and Lieutenant Gareth have both faced falling from the top divisionSAMURAI TAGUCHI (20th)
Retrospectively, Samurai Taghuci's promotion to Division One was one of those "how the hell did that happen" moments? New members getting promoted is not a rare occurrence, however, following his promotion at the 19th Mega Drive Championship, Samurai Taguchi performed in a manner similar to Coventry City Football Club: never finishing above halfway in the table irrespective of what league they are competing and defying the stereotype that all Asian people are awesome at video games. Just two wins from twelve was enough to cement Samurai Taguchi to the bottom of Division One at the 20th Tournament and relegate him back to the icy depths of Division Two. He finished second from bottom and then bottom of the lower league before his time studying in the UK ended and he returned to his native Japan.

FIREMAN SAM (22nd)
Fireman Sam was a rising star, a diamond in the rough, a damned awesome Mega Drive player. He turned up as an accessory to Liam Forrestt Esquire at the 19th Mega Drive Championship and set the seven-man second division alight - achieving promotion by a comfortable nine-points. His performance at the 20th tournament earned him a place in Europe where he travelled to Lisbon with legends Mr Smith and Doc Shakib to represent England. Relegation came as quite a surprise at the 22nd Tournament, finishing two-points behind a struggling Doc Shakib, in a league that would have looked more realistic if reversed. In spite of still being in the relegation zone heading into the final quarter, nobody realistically expected to see Fireman Sam fall from the First Division, however, after failing to win any of his final three games, it was indeed Fireman Sam who took the plunge. Fireman Sam has been absent since his drop into the lower league - although he has stated his intention to return for the Twenty-Fifth Tournament.

EMPEROR TEBBS (22nd)
Emperor Tebbs was another member whose relegation caused a total disappearance. All communications between the Mega Drive Championships and Emperor Tebbs have gone unanswered; he is presumed dead, imprisoned or fled to join a circus. Nobody cares; he was designated the most anonymous tournament member to date.

EARL HOLBROOK (23rd)
Earl Holbrook was a well-established tournament member when he secured his promotion to Division One after a tough run-in with Professor King. Some speculated that Earl Holbrook was the best of a poor lower league and tipped him for an immediate fall from Division One. The day of the 18th Tournament drew close, but it was not Earl Holbrook who was relegated that day; nay, He survived the drop and returned for the 19th Tournament where he fended off the challenge of Professor King and condemned his rival to the plunge down the leagues. So began a period of consolidation for Earl Holbrook; for the next three tournaments he gave convincing performances, seemingly banishing the spectre of relegation, Earl Holbrook would have represented Team England in the 2011 European Mega Drive Championship - had the competition not collapsed. The 10th Anniversary Tournament marked Earl Holbrook's demise. With his capitulating form he was unable to muster a victory until the third-quarter of the competition; defeat against Commander Graham on Columns condemned him to the drop. Earl Holbrook gave a significantly better performance of himself at the Twenty-Fourth Championship where only goal-difference denied him promotion. Second-place in Division Two means that should the Tournament Administration decide to expand Division One for the Twenty-Fifth Championship, Earl Holbrook will be the first person used to fill any void.

THE PLUMB (24th)
With the exception of the Knockout and Challenge competitions, where The Plumb has proven himself to be an elimination master, there has been an element of luck tugging The Plumb into the higher echelons of Mega Drive Championshippery. Promoted into Division One for the 21st Tournament, not through finishing in a promotion place, but by the competition administrators who found a number of Division One absentees created an imbalance between the two leagues - The Plumb had the best record of those who attended that day and was awarded a place in the higher league. The step up, however, seemed too much and The Plumb finished bottom of the division signalling a quick return to Division Two. Yet he was spared the shame of battling again in Division Two, as the competition administrators retained him in the higher league when attendance expanded. In spite of once again finishing in the relegation spot at the Twenty-Fourth Championship, the general low turnout at that competition could well reprieve him of the fall into Division Two this time around should the number of participants increase. Surely nobody is so lucky as to have their Division One status secured on three occasions owing to the bequest of the benevolent Tournament Administration (without bribery)... ... ... ...