2016 Mega Drive Championship: 15 Year Anniversary Contemplation
5 June 2016
The year 2016 marks many things – the 1079th anniversary of King Athelstan’s victory over a combined force of Scots, Welsh and Danes at the Battle of Brunanburh, the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, the 50th anniversary of England winning the World Cup, the 45th anniversary of the start of the Cold War – these are but a few.
Amongst leading historians however, it is widely acknowledged that the most significant anniversary of 2016 is the 15th anniversary of The Mega Drive Championships, an event that will be marked and honoured in the summer of this year.
It was oft said that The Mega Drive Championships had run their course after that veritable dry-hump of a 25th Tournament back in 2013, and that the Mega Drive Championships had reached the 15-year anniversary by default, as nobody it seemed, throughout the entirety of 2014 and 2015, had the heart to pull the plug and put the events out of their misery.
The Mega Drive Championships lost 50% of its members between the 22nd and 25th Tournaments and failed to replace them. Whilst nobody would deny that the Mega Drive Championships had sunk to a level of stagnation not seen in tournament circles since the dark and repetitive early competitions, the decision to end them for good was never mooted. Instead, what we have seen is the Tournaments go on an extended, and vitally important, sabbatical – one in which options could be weighed and decisions ultimately made.
The decision was of course made to awaken the Tournaments from their self-imposed slumber. Whether this decision would have been reached had 2016 not been the 15-year anniversary, who knows – it may have been, it may not – this is largely academic, for as I have said, 2016 IS the 15-year anniversary and the Tournaments ARE returning. Sufficient is it to say that the 23rd, 24th and 25th tournaments provided the Glorious Administration with enough warnings as to where the events were headed, and what needed to change in order for this anniversary event to be the Tournament rebirth that we were all so hoping for, each time we filed into Bramcote Memorial Hall, unsure as to numbers, and desperate for the event to conclude before it had even begun.
Indeed, the aforementioned 23rd Tournament was in itself an anniversary event. It marked 10 years since Doc Shakib, Mr Smith and Lord Dilks first gathered round a small television screen and a hastily borrowed Mega Drive in Bramcote to see who would be crowned the 1st Mega Drive Champion. It is my rueful belief that we did not do enough to honour this event at the time. An anniversary cake was provided (and this was ceremonially cut by the Glorious Administration) along with a bottle of champagne. World Cup Italia ’90 was chosen for the Knockout fixture – in a nod to the fact that this was the first ever game played competitively in a Mega Drive Tournament – but that was it, nothing more was done to celebrate the event. It is not entirely surprising then that the 23rd Tournament really did set the alarm bells ringing, heralding the fact that all was not well with the events. The following two tournaments from the 23rd were lacking in just about every commodity the events had prided themselves on having before – challenge, passion, members and enjoyment. The coffee and 16-bit games did, however, remain true to form.
So, after what will turn out to be a three-year absence, the Mega Drive Championships, finally, will be reborn. It is fair to say that the format and structure of this upcoming event will be like nothing seen before by past members of the competitions, such are the changes put in place by the Glorious Administration, reassuring long-serving participants that these changes are not only for the best, but are entirely necessary as well. The Mega Drive Championships are headed in a new, purer, more passionate direction. Whilst we should be rightly proud of where we have brought these competitions from, we should not be looking back with wistful eyes at the failed Division 2 experiment of 2002, we should not be yearning for the days when Lord Dilks would stick 44 goals past Captain Maltby on World Cup Italia ’90, nor reminiscing of Chaplain Womersley and Old Spice Lock’s dance around Bramcote Memorial Hall. Instead we should be looking forward. The Mega Drive Championships are entering new areas and taking on new challenges – looking to expand to be a more inclusive, more competitive and an overall purer entity. This needs to be embraced, nurtured and supported. Familiar old faces will no doubt drop away at the herald of this new dawn, whilst others will be welcomed in to the warm, comforting bosom of the Glorious Administration for the first time, to do what three college kids did way back in 2001, and begin writing their own chapters of Mega Drive Championship history...