Sunday 15th July 2012 at 1pm is when the sound of buttons being smashed in anger will next be heard across England's green and pleasant lands. Prospective champions shall gather together for the glory of 16-bit
gaming, an orgy of coffee and the finest pizzas you can purchase from a supermarket at a reasonable price. For a year now the consoles have been silent, but soon battle will be renewed and, in the spirit of pride, passion and Pete Sampras Tennis, one of the valiant warriors will walk away as
Supreme Overlord of the Universe Champion.
Throughout the long history of Mega Drive Championshippery, there could not be two men less alike than Lieutenant Gareth and Professor King. Both would now be considered long-term tournament members:
Professor King joining at the Sixteenth Championship in 2007; Lieutenant Gareth has been a tournament regular since the Fourteenth Championship in 2005 (although his debut was in 2002 at the Tenth).
Both men possess turbulant tournament careers, fluctuating between the top of Division Two and the foot of Division One, they have shared seven promotions and relegations in just ten tournaments. This is where the similarities end.
3rd, Division 1
Highest League Finish
5th, Division 1
2nd, Division 2
Lowest League Finish
5th, Division 2
Best Knockout Finish
Total Games Played
Total Games Won
Total Games Drawn
Total Games Lost
Lieutenant Gareth is a reserved sort, humble, with most of his emotions venting themselves in the form of violence. Professor King is more extrovert, goading his opponents and brimming with passion. Quite how
these two men became rivals is uncertain, but it is believed it has something to do with Road Rash 3. Historically, Lieutenant Gareth and Captain Maltby were fierce rivals, while Professor King saved his venom for
encounters with Earl Holbrook. For the 24th Tournament, Captain Maltby and Earl Holbrook will be battling in Division Two, leaving Lieutenant Gareth and Professor King in the top flight to focus upon each other.
It was the Eighteenth Mega Drive Championship and Lieutenant Gareth was gunning for an immediate return to Division One after a surprise relegation at the previous tournament, Professor King had been piped to
the top flight at the Seventeenth Championship on goal-difference, both were desperate to play Division One Mega Drive at the Nineteenth Tournament. In the end, since there were two promotion places, both men
ascended, however, not without earning the other as a bitter rival.
Thus far, this article is a choppy as a 2-player on Road Rash 3 where the police helicopter intercepts and the Mega Drive struggles to cope with the ambition of the game and it is Road Rash 3 where the notorious
Lieutenant-Professor rivalry emerged. Road Rash 3 had replaced Road Rash 2 at the Fifteenth Tournament - a game which Lieutenant Gareth had been the best ranked player. Professor King on the other hand had a
mixed record on the game, however, head-to-head the promotion contenders engaged in a passionate bout on the UK course and after a disaterous fall on a trecherous corner, Lieutenant Gareth handed the victory to
Professor King, which allowed his rival to go two-points clear at the top of the table. As fate would have it, the pair were then drawn together in Round Two of the Tournament Knockout on Road Rash 3! This time on the German course the victory went to Lieutenant Gareth who would go onto win th Tournament Knockout. Fate would see the pair clash once more on Road Rash 3 before the end of the competition: The Final of the
Division Two Cup saw the rivals battle on the Italian course and it was Professor King, a Division Two Cup expert, who won this final bout and took the number of Eighteenth Championship Road Rash 3 victories to 2:1.
The two men were now sworn rivals.
Of course, building up such a rivalry means Sod's Law will intervene and that one, or both, of these men will fail to attend! Neither has committed to a return to the Twenty-Fourth Tournament at the time this article
In contrast to Lieutenant Gareth and Professor King, Doc Shakib is the longest serving tournament member and in his long career has never created anything that amounts to a rivalry. During the late period of the "old-
style" tournaments there was the potential for something developing between himself and Baron Von Hooton, as the latter improved and the former waned, however, since the Fourteenth Mega Drive Championship,
promotion and relegation separated the pair preventing any true league hostility to develop and, since the Seventeenth Championship, Baron Von Hooton has not been in regular attendance. In reality Doc Shakib's
changeable form and unpredictable league finishes add to this situation, as well as the simple fact he is just a decent guy who is regarded with veneration as a tournament institution, just as capable of winning the
competition as fighting relegation.
Non-the-less, Doc Shakib's twenty-three tournaments of experience should be sufficient to keep him towards the top of the table, however, he will not be alone. Commander Graham is to Doc Shakib what the north pole is to the south pole, ultimately, when everything is done, and the league table filled, there isn't much of a difference between them, but subtly they are exact opposites. If Commander Graham is good at a game then Doc Shakib is likely to be tosh at it and visa versa. Ball Jacks, Columns, Golden Axe 2, Mega Bomberman, Micro Machines: Military, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are all Division One titles where one of the pair is awesome and the other tosh! Is this the worst analogy on the website? Possibly; luck of the draw could well have an impact on the outcome of the tournament title, but surely this states the obvious.
Don Derek has battled in Division One for the previous two tournaments and he too will have a say, unless he does a "Fireman Sam" and gives two stunning performances before a swift relegation! Don Derek, however, is an all round gamer who is ranked in the top-third of every individual Division One game, although cannot be said to dominate any game other than Streets of Rage 3 where he has won all three of his fixtures on that title. Whatever draw emerges Don Derek should find himself near the top of the table, but whether this is enough to secure the Mega Drive Championship depends on whether the draw goes to his opponents strengths. Both Commander Graham and Don Derek will be looking to add a second tournament title to their name; Commander Graham winning the 20th and Don Derek the 22nd, while Doc Shakib can claim victory in the 7th, 16th, 19th, 21st and 23rd tournaments!
Finally, a Division One discussion cannot be complete without mentioning The Plumb. He is more likely to be vying for survival than the title, however, his pedigree on sports games and general ability should see
him in the mid-table region albeit probably not comfortably. So, sticking our neck out, the Division One prediciton is: (1) Commander Graham, (2) Doc Shakib, (3) Don Derek, (4) Lieutenant Gareth, (5) The Plumb and (6) Professor King.
Division Two is always a difficult one to predict owing to the unpredictable nature of which members will attend and which of the new ones are any good. Historically, only four shiny new members have ever secured an
immediate promotion to Division One with experience often giving more payback than natural ability. Anywhere between four and ten members will contest the Second Division and, in reality, it appears that number will
be closer to four than ten. The obvious place to look when selecting the promotion chasers is experience and, for the Twenty-Fourth Tournament, the experience lies with Captain Maltby, Earl Holbrook and Fireman
Sam. The latter has been absent since relegation at the Twenty-Second Championship, having not been man enough to fight in Division Two at the Twenty-Third Tournament and having not confirmed his attendance
this time round we shall not focus on him except to say should he turn up he will certainly be in the mix for promotion to the higher league.
With fourteen tournaments of experience, albeit just two of those in Division Two, and having never finished below second place in Division Two, Captain Maltby is a prime contender to achieve a place back in Division
One. Earl Holbrook has participated in ten tournaments and will be battling in the lower league for the first time since the Seventeenth Championship, so will his time in the top flight have allowed his Division Two skills
to go rusty? Hardly! Earl Holbrook is a self-confessed button masher and the game pool in the lower league is selected to allow such techniques to flourish. This might count for naught, as, should the number of Division
One members drop below a certain point, Earl Holbrook's relegation will be reversed.
There have been a few modifications to the Division Two game pool since Captain Maltby, Earl Holbrook and Fireman Sam last participated at that level of Mega Drive Championshippery. The same ten core titles remain in the lower league, although only the first two periods in NHL '97 are now used, but in addition they will have to battle on Marble Madness, Mega Bomberman, Sonic 3 and WWF Super Wrestlemania. Mega Bomberman
is also a Division One title, so shouldn't cause a problem, while Captain Maltby and Earl Holbrook have previously experienced WWF Wrestlemania when it was briefly a Division Two title in the Fourteenth Mega Drive
Championship, that was over five-years ago! Marble Madness will be a very different pace of game for the three promotion hopefuls, while Sonic 3's run right style of game has just enough nuance to cause problems.
The Challenge title has also been decided and although the exact game is still being kept secret, it is more Super Hang On than Sonic the Hedgehog and more knockout than leaderboard!