|Wes Copeland (center) filters out the noise of Kong Off Row|
July 31st, 2015 - Day 1 of the Kong Off 4 has come to an end, and the young gun is out front.
Wes Copeland, who has only been playing Donkey Kong for less than two years, came to Pittsburgh this weekend to prove himself in his first Kong Off against a lineup of veterans—some of whom are old enough to be his father—and he's looking pretty convincing so far.
The leaderboard at the end of the first of two eight-hour days of high score competition is as follows:
You read those top 3 scores right: the tie for second place between Dean Saglio and defending Kong Off champion Jeff Willms was a total accident, and Copeland's 100-point squeaker to edge them out for first place is not the taunt that I initially suspected it to be. Donkey Kong world record holder Robbie Lakeman, in fourth, is only 1,100 points below them.
There's no conspiracy or skulduggery afoot on Kong Off Row engineering this strangely tight point spread. It's just the way today's cards fell.
Lakeman's 4th place run made history, with the world champion cracking one million points on his first man. The closest anyone had come before today was Ross Benziger's attempt in an online tournament last year that infamously came to an end when Benziger accidentally employed the "reverse weave" pattern on the 20th rivet board, dying just a few thousand points away from the one-man million. Lakeman now holds the distinction, and it's a sobering reminder to the rest of the field of what they're up against.
The fight for Sunday's bracket spots has been made much more intense by a surprise annoucement that came down late yesterday evening. Time constraints have forced a major last-minute change. The first round of the bracket competition is being eliminated entirely, meaning that rather than 16 players going on to Sunday's 4 rounds, there will only be 8 players and 3 rounds.
At this point, only Copeland, Saglio, Willms and Lakeman have a position that could be considered secure. It's unlikely that even the lowest of those scores (Lakeman's) will be in 9th place by the end of Saturday's play.
Below the top 4, though, things are more questionable. A low million, like Steve Wiltshire and Vincent currently have, is tenuous. At this point, it's anyone's game for the remaining 4 spots.
Saturday's action begins soon. And to reiterate a point from the previous post, official streaming of the event will not begin until Sunday. Bandwidth availability at the convention center is a problem during the ReplayFX event, and the Kong Off 4 has only been greenlit for streaming on the final day. Keep an eye on the blog for updates.
Photos: William McEvoy. Thanks to Jeff Harrist and Daniel Desjardins for updates and score data.