January 21st 2013 - Ross "Von Dummpenstein" Benziger didn't even sit down for his first game of Saturday's online-only Wildcard Rematch Tournament until the 22nd hour of the 24-hour competition.
With only enough time for a single full game, Benziger had his work cut out for him: after the day's play, Jeff Wolfe's strong top score of 869,700 was the mark to beat, nobody had yet claimed the "first kill screen" bounty, and Eric Tessler's "beat my 900,500" bounty was still on the table as well.
Two hours? No problem! Ross got to work.
Just before midnight, he hit L22 with a final score of 972,600, crushing the Tessler bounty, reaching the tournament's first and only kill screen, and winning the tournament by over 100,000 points. His total prize for first place and the two bounties was $450.
Not only that, but Benziger had managed to collect almost a million points in a game that skipped nearly every bottom hammer on the barrel screens, a feat never before accomplished in Donkey Kong.
As for his gameplay? The final screen before the kill was simply incredible. I could write an entire essay about this one screen alone, but I'll let you watch for yourself, since even a non-player can appreciate it:
I picked Ross to win the tournament for a reason! He's phenomenal, and has been around for longer than most of the currently-active scene. I don't think he'll ever try for the world record, because that kind of score might be too precise, technical, and tedious for a player whose free-flowing, improvisational style would be better described as that of a "Donkey Kong artist." He makes it up as he goes along. (The single-hammer million, for example, is something most players would never even think to attempt.)
Ross is proof that Donkey Kong ability isn't as simple as "highest score". There are other ways of being great at the game. Steve Wiebe, for example, has now been beaten by four players (three not-yet-official) in terms of pure score, yet who else can play two million-point games literally back-to-back? He's amazing.
Congratulations to "Von Dummpenstein", and thanks for this awesome, nail-biting game that came, literally, in the 11th hour.
Good On You, Mate!
Another major highlight of the tournament was witnessing the long-suffering Allen Staal (shown here alongside Billy Mitchell at the Kong Off 2) crack through his previous personal best score of 402,500 with a thrilling 539,600-point performance.
Allen is a 49-year-old security guard from Australia. He is, without a doubt, the most entertaining Donkey Kong live-streamer in the game.
For over a year now a panel of elite players has been showing up for Allen's semi-nightly streams, coaching him (ever so slowly) toward his next breakout score, while watching him rage, curse, do impressions, sing at the top of his lungs, and invent a seemingly infinite supply of catchphrases.
Allen (who had been going on all day about how hopeless he was about earning even the 250,000 points needed to place on the leaderboard) caused at least three heart attacks when the miracle game unfolded and he approached his personal best, topped it, and just kept on running. The game was at least as exciting as Ross's.
|Allen's message to Donkey Kong,|
just after beating his own high score.
Hank Chien, Vincent Lemay, Mark Kiehl, myself, and many others were on hand live to see Allen's big moment and we are all happy for him. Tears to our eyes, buddy.
What A Tourney...
There were some great stories from yesterday's tournament, but time constraints have forced me, unfortunately, to cut this report just a bit briefer than I'd like it to be.
Jeff Wolfe, who was one of my favored horses, came in 2nd, and Jonathan McCourt, who had some difficulties with his stream, was able to come back from a tough start to take 3rd place. Mike Groesbeck, very close in 4th, put up two very strong games, both over 800,000. We're all looking to him to be the next million-point player (especially since he almost did it already.)
Congratulations everyone on an awesome tournament, and thanks to Eric Tessler and John Salter for organizing it!