On the 12th February President Barack Obama gave the 2013 State of the Union Address. His task could have been worse; he could be discussing the state of Mega Drive Championshippery.
The President of the United States of America stood before congress, ignoring the ever increasing partisanship in Washington, causing gridlock, he passionately discussed the improving position of the United States. After five-years the world seems to be turning away from the despair and dejection of the global recession. The exception to the rule is with Mega Drive Championshippery; Silent Mega Drive consoles on the weekend of December 8th-9th 2012 show the depths to which International Mega Drive Championshippery have fallen and with the domestic scene is struggling too, 2013 promises to be a decisive year for 16-bit tournaments.
The twelfth anniversary of the competitions was equally muted; like a Division Two game of Columns - nobody is paying attention. It appears the current problems facing the tournaments stem from two huge areas: declining interest in domestic interest and a lack of long-term planning at European level. We shall consider both and wonder whether there is any way to wake the contests from their slum, or is the Sega Mega Drive console finally so obsolete that there is no salvation?
ENGLAND (2001 - Present)
Over the long history of the Mega Drive Championships the English competition has seen attendances vary from three to fifteen participants battling for the much coveted honour of "Champion". Although numbers are traditionally smaller than their overseas counterparts the competitions boast an intensely passionate group of individuals who are significantly bigger personalities than players. Internationally England are considered Europe's whipping boys having finished last in all competitions they have participated. The English employ a league structure that currently comprises of two divisions, as well as a Knockout which includes all participants. One of the highlights and anomalies of the English competitions is the Challenge event in which a different game is selected each time around. Domestically, although numbers appear to be in decline, there were an unfortunate number of circumstances that blighted the recent 24th Mega Drive Championship, but it is believed this will only be a temporary fall.
• Lack of democracy in game choice stifles the country in European competitions.
• The league structure is often criticised for not allowing new players the opportunity to win the title.
• Multiple divisions are prohibitive to members who can only participate in the occasional competition.
In spite of a dejected 24th Tournament, the English Mega Drive Championships have enough about them to endure 2013. The summer tournament will hopefully see new energy injected in the competitions with members returning to the fold to engage in some 16-bit battles. The Plumb could also find his Division One status restored; which will give some spice to the Division One rivalries. But, as the "core" membership continues to drift away from the city that hosts the competitions, there is always an element of uncertainty over how this will alter future tournaments.
PORTUGAL (2005 - 2012)
On the international scene Portugal have established themselves as the premier Mega Drive nation; having won each European Mega Drive Championship they have participated in. Competitions have been held across the country in Lisbon, Porto and Braga, however, there is nothing resembling a "national" Portuguese tournament and, of the three cities who have hosted competitions, it is uncertain as to whether there will be further competitions in any. The last official Lisbon Mega Drive Championship took place in 2010 when creator, Alberto Campos, who had been running the competitions since 2005 decided to call time on the events. Since then Alberto continues to host 16-bit events, however, they are closed door affairs. The event held in Porto in 2011 has yet to be repeated and is largely considered to be a one off. The northern city of Braga hosted its first Mega Drive Championship in 2012, although whether this expands into an on-going series of competitions or stands as a single event, remains to be seen.
• No recognised continuous competition
• No integration between various regional organisations.
• Cabal style access to European competitions.
2013 promises to be another low-key year for Mega Drive on the Iberian Peninsula. The biggest hope of rekindling the competitions is dependent upon whether those who created the Braga tournament decide to host a second tournament. News will be forthcoming should any arise. Portugal currently has a potential that far exceeds that of the other European nations, however, it is a big ask that the three times Champions of Europe will fulfil this promise.
GERMANY (2009 - Present)
By 2010 the German Mega Drive Championships were considered the jewel in the crown. Having successfully established themselves domestically, Germany hosted participants from across the country and with alternating league and leaderboard style of competition made the system extremely accessible for the seasoned pros and plucky amateurs alike. Then came the greatest coup for the Germans; hosting the 2010 European Mega Drive Championship, Europe's finest assembled to battle for supremacy on the continent. This unprecedented success has since fallen to pieces, partly through dissatisfaction with the International organisation, partly due to an unexpected collapse in attendance the Seventh Mega Drive Championship was cancelled. Disappointment and despair was expressed through the departure of German Mega Drive legend Sebastian Sponsel from the European scene, although he is still very much active in the domestic German 16-bit scene.
• Unexpected collapse in participants.
• Departure of legend Sebastian Sponsel promotes an uncertain future for Europe.
Detached from the main "Mega Drive Championships" Germany will be continuing its own route. It is hoped that they will host a tournament in 2013 and it is hoped it is successful. Germany clearly has the organisation and passion to succeed, however, the mystery as to why attendance for the Seventh Championship collapsed will be key to progressing.