Congratulations to Kong Off 2 champion Jeff Willms, who, along with second-place finisher Dean Saglio, proved that MAME players can not only adapt, but dominate utterly!
Willms has, until this weekend, played Donkey Kong exclusively on a PC. If anyone holds any remaining doubts that the game is emulated perfectly by the MAME software, or whether MAME-based players merit the respect of arcade machine players, they've been seriously challenged by this historic performance.
In my pre-event predictions, I had pegged Willms as a contender but not a front-runner, not because of any doubts as to his ability or understanding of the game, but because I had no clue as to how he would cope with the live environment and all the visual and ergonomic differences of an arcade cabinet.
When a contestant is competing at his first arcade event, and has literally never played on a machine before, only a fool or a psychic would venture to say "that's the guy!", no matter how good we know he is on MAME.
The photo above is my favorite image from the tournament, showing Willms at work, honoring the Maple Leaf (thanks to Michael Groesbeck for the pic). He made his country proud, and for that matter, this country too!---
Here is a video of Jeff Willms' achieving the score, securing victory, and a little crowdsurfing for good measure. Thanks to Mario Ruiz for this (and for actually being named Mario!)