In last week's blog I touched on the release of Dragonball FighterZ and my own personal excitement for the title, as well as touching on the general excitement surrounding the game at fight nights. The game has been out about 5 days now, and I'm ecstatic to report that the game is shattering expectations at almost every level. This past weekend was a bit of a FighterZ Fest from start to finish, so here's a short chronicle of some of the events happening in the area, things I learned and what I'm looking forward to in the future.

Fight Nights & The Learning Environment 
I'll start things off by touching on Thursday Fight Nights and Dragonball FighterZ place in the weekly events in the future. To those who may not know, every Thursday night starting at 6pm, LAN Mob holds a special "Fight Nights" where players gather together to play and compete in twelve different fighting games, followed by friendlies/training afterwards. Points are awarded every week based on general performance in the games that get selected for each match and every week we also award additional points based on a vote cast for the player who is helping other players improve by sharing knowledge. These points feed directly into leaderboards for each game, and portions of the buy-ins feed into sponsorship buckets which will pop and allow us to send players to events for each game. I think the system can seem a little odd at first, but considering the actual goal of fight nights, I'm very proud of what we're trying to accomplish here. I think generally speaking one of the only things holding back fighting games on smaller platforms is mindset and negativity. We've been running all sorts of events here at LAN Mob for almost three years now (holy crap!) and I've seen some incredibly talented players fall prey to their own mindsets and give up on something they were incredibly passionate about. I've written about embracing failure in the past, but it can be difficult, I think everyone understands that. I'm happy to see that Fight Nights has been an incredibly positive environment, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The best players at the shop are guys that are helping newer players learn and grow from their own failures, and honestly they're going above and beyond to offer some genuine and real advice. Don't get me wrong, I think the raw cutthroat passion of fighting games has its place, in fact what would the FGC be without it? However, warriors need a training grounds, and I think Fight Nights is perfect for that. I'll touch on it a bit more in the coming section, but fight nights is an excellent place to learn from some of the best local talent around here, especially for Dragonball FighterZ, and I can't stress that enough. Don't be so afraid of failure, let it forge you into an incredible player. That being said, every Thursday night Dragonball FighterZ will be in the rotation of games we'll be playing and I look forward to seeing everyone level up. Shoutouts to CATS for bringing an early copy in last week and helping some guys get in some early practice!

Weekend Events
This last Friday was the first of many tournaments for Dragonball FighterZ in the CNY area, and thankfully some of the LAN Mob crew was able to make it out to compete and hang out. I was ecstatic to be able to go and play with the Sucker Punch community and meet Kinyon, the TO of the event. (awesome dude!) The tournament was held at Wizard's Pinball in Syracuse, which was a really unique and memorable venue, so kudos to those guys for landing such an awesome "emergency" venue. It was an interesting experience to be able to play pinball between our matches, definitely a first. On top of the DBZF launch event, there was also a free SFV Arcade Edition tournament going on as well, with some awesome non cash prizes including exlusive Pop Figures and mystery bags! Check out a video of the venue courtesy of The Boss Lion on YouTube! (Bonus points for spotting LAN Mob employees!)

Ultimately I'm a little disappointed with my own personal performance, going 2-2 and tying for ninth place. Obviously I have a lot more to learn, but I'm more motivated than ever to put in the practice time and compete at a higher level. Not only as an employee of LAN Mob but also as a local player, it was so awesome to see fight night regulars CATS and Chris D break top 5, not to mention Ladon winning the whole event. These are the guys I get to learn from, and it's exciting they're willing to share the knowledge. I feel like I level up every time I play with these guys, and I know it can have the same effect on other players willing to learn. Once again, huge shout outs to Syracuse Sucker Punch for throwing such a fun event, and I really look forward to attending more in the future.

Check out the full bracket here! Woo Ladon!

To finish off the weekend we threw a lock-in event for DBZF, and despite being a small bracket of four brand new players, it was a lot of fun. Even if one wouldn't consider themselves a "fighting game player", it's an easy game to draw people to thanks to the obvious insanely popular source material and how relatively easy the game is to pick up. Bluesteel5 managed to pull a victory by understanding how Dragon Rush works, how to counter it and how to cancel combos into supers, and that base knowledge was enough for him to be able to pretty much clean sweep the bracket, which is pretty impressive.

Upcoming Events
The best part about all of this is that everything is just getting started! Outside of fight nights there are more events on the horizon and more opportunities to level up along with them! Outside of Fight Nights every Thursday right here at the Mob, here is a list of upcoming events in the CNY area for Dragonball FighterZ -

This event is completely separate from fight nights - including a special $100 pot bonus. We hope to see a big bracket and tough competition. Matches will be streamed on Twitch so come make your mark!

Syracuse Salt Mines III
Another event out in Cuse! On top of a Dragonball FighterZ event (with a $100 pot bonus!) there will also be Tekken 7 & Windjammers with pot bonuses, as well as Injustice 2, SFV: AE, MVCI and even Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo!

If there any other local events for DBZF that you know of, let me know and I'll drop them here! Thanks for reading everyone, we hope to see you competing in DBZF in the future!

I've been in the mode to play some Street Fighter 5 thanks to our Thursday Night Fights. While cycling through the character themes of SF5 it dawned on me, Street Fighter has some great music! I wanted to put together some of my favorite songs from the different Street Fighter. I had to make a second draft of this list after realizing a majority of the songs I picked comprised of Street Fighter III and Street Fighter IV's soundtrack. It's hard for me to articulate why I like each song but I'll do my best! I'm not sure if my words will do each song justice but I urge you to give each song a listen!

Street Fighter III:Third Strike - Jazzy NYC '99
I love me some jazz! I got into SFIII LATE but I religiously listened to the soundtrack. This track got me into SFIII!

Street Fighter Alpha 2 - Character Select
I played so much of Alpha 2 back in the day and the character select theme never failed to get me pumped!

Street Fighter Alpha  - Guy's Theme

Final Fight is one of my favorite beat em' ups! Guy's theme is a remix of Final Fight Stage 1's theme.

Street Fighter III:Third Strike - Dudley's Theme

All the songs of SFIII are super catchy.Dudley's theme is no exception!

Street Fighter Alpha 2 - Adon's Theme
Hate fighting against Adon but he's theme great!

Street Fighter Alpha 1- Charlie's Theme
I prefer Alpha1's version over Alpha2. It's more...exciting?

Super Street Fighter 2 - Dee Jay's Theme

It's really catch.I don't blame the bystanders for dancing!

Street Fighter 2 - Balrog's Theme

Street Fighter 2 - M. Bison's Theme
I thought it was super cool there's a bell playing in the theme and  a destructible on in this stage.

Street Fighter 4 - Character Select
I was so sad the character select theme was changed in the Super Turbo BBQ Arcade editions that soon followed. Both this theme and Indestructible were so good!
New year new games. Except I will be barely playing any of the new releases. Instead I will have to deal with my fat backlog and slowly chip away at it.

Persona 5

As of writing this, I have roughly 50 hours clocked into Persona 5. I've said this numerous times but the game is easily the best I've played in a long time. I hope to finally beat this by the end of February. 

Yakuza Kiwami

After beating Yakuza 0 I was engrossed in the world of Kiryu and Majima. I got Kiwami on release day but haven't touched it in hopes of seeing a remaster of Yakuza II. Sega announced late last year that they were in fact remastering the second entry in the series, but that means it'll be awhile before it comes to the states. With 6 coming in a few months I'm tempted to pick it up but I want to play through the whole story.

Nier Automata

Nier is next on my backlog list after these two are finished. I've heard so many great things about this game and from the hour I played it on release I really enjoyed it. Though work got in the way of playing farther into it. I won't let it get in the way this time!

Final Fantasy Dissidia NT

I can't wait for Tuesday! I've been cracking out on the beta trying to find my favorite characters. So far Cloud of Darkness, Squall, Cloud, and Zidane feel the most comfortable. I have been waiting for a console release of Dissidia since 012.
Shoutout to Spydude43 for taking me under his memewings to help bring this to fruition.

I haven't written a gaming queue post since November, so it seems like time to update what I've been playing! Rob wrote about the massive amount of game releases in just the first month of 2018 and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already overwhelmed. This month is dropping a lot of games I've been waiting a long time for, and at the same time I'm playing more evergreen games then ever before due to LAN Mob's fight nights and the 2018 ranked season for League of Legends. There's a very specific challenge to juggling a bunch of games, and honestly I have yet to find a good balance, but hey I'm trying. This queue is one of the longest I've ever written, so here we go!

LAN Mob's Thursday Night Fights are every Thursday from 6pm -10pm

This last week LAN Mob launched our first official week of Thursday Night Fights and it was so much funner than I thought it would be, and I already had high hopes. The night was filled with sets of every game, and win or lose everyone was having a blast. I was so pleased with the amount of knowledge being shared between everybody, and it really was an early rendition of our original image for Fight Nights. The one personal negative for Fight Nights if I had to pick one is that I really like basically every game available, but I'm really not capable of playing every single one as much as I'd like. I went into Fight Nights with a pretty deep knowledge of Smash 4 and Rivals of Aether but mostly for Injustice 2, but after just a few weeks I really want to improve in SFV and Tekken, so I've been labbing a bit at home while still practicing Rivals of Aether and Injustice 2. Some of our players are so good at swapping between games on the fly and I personally hope to be able to do so as well someday. I can confidently say I've played at least 1 game on the list every single day since preseason, and I look forward to continuing to improve overall. 

One game I wanted to touch on separately is DragonBall FighterZ, which releases this Friday. FighterZ has quite possibly the most hype I've ever seen surrounding a fighting game, and I thought MvC3 would hold that title for a long time. On paper, an anime style DBZ fighting game seems almost too good to be true, but it's 2018 and clearly anything is possible! I can't think of a better developer team to tackle the task then Arc System Works, the creators of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series and I'm counting down the hours until I get to play more of the game outside of betas. I look forward to watching tech evolve, and learning and growing with the community at fight nights. *Continues to count down the hours*

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory

I've mentioned my love of the Digimon games in this blog multiple times, so of course when the latest title dropped I was all over it. The Digimon games can be relatively polarizing, especially last year's Digimon World: Next Order, but I think the Cyber Sleuth games are a lot more inviting. These games of course have you raising monsters to combat the forces threatening the internet haven known as "Eden", but they play a lot like a traditional turn based JRPG. I think it's pretty hard not to fall in love with the atmosphere presented to you in Hacker's Memory, even if it's very similar to the original Cyber Sleuth game. I'm only a couple hours in, but I look forward to really diving in to Eden (heh) and seeing all the newest additions to a game series I love so dearly. Hacker's Memory allows you to import your save from the original game, which includes your playtime...I'm already sitting at 150 hours!

Monster Hunter World

Oh boy, Monster Hunter World comes out on Friday, I don't think my body is ready. If you spend time around the shop or are in our Discord server, you've surely gathered that Enrique and Kolunas are beyond hype. I'm pretty excited, I had a lot of fun with the beta, but the main reason I'm picking this one up is to play with friends. As much as I enjoy the competitive side of games, it can be extremely exhausting to try to keep up with, especially when it's ALL you play with your friends. I look forward to some cooperative monster slaying with friends and taking a breather from all the stressful competitive scenes for a bit, I think it's important.

League of Legends

League is one of the few constants in my life and despite memes I think I'll play the game forever. Rome Revolution's League team keeps me relatively busy understanding the meta, working with players and even exploring competitive mindsets as a whole. Season 8 arrived last week, along with the return of competitive regional series like LCS and LCK. I'm not playing as much as I'd like, in fact I'm playing far less than I'd like, but I'm watching, learning and absorbing more than ever before. Apparently I'm a full blown insomniac now, so LCK has been a lifesaver. I really want 2018 to be the Season that I dive into Ranked and really push with all the knowledge I've been gathering, and I really hope I can make it happen, but also fighting games. Maybe Riot should just make a League of Legends fighting game...

Suikoden III

Whenever people ask me "What you're favorite video game?", I'm proud to be able to answer the question extremely quickly. (If you asked me my SECOND favorite video game, I'd have to consider for a few weeks...). Konami's Suikoden II is the best game I've ever played in my entire life, and honestly I feel like nothing has come very close to dethroning it. Local Smash player and good friend Xifaxan is also a big fan of Suikoden 2, and when he caught a whiff that I haven't played the whole series yet he generously gave me his copies to finally play. So I'm looking forward to seeing what follows up one of the greatest plots of all time, starting with Suikoden III. So far so good.
What better way to ring in the new year than to painstakingly remember all the mistakes I've made in the previous year! I thought a fun blog idea would be to go through check all the game queue blogs I've made over 2017, tally up the games I've received and how many I played through!


Over 2017, I bought 33 games(!!) and played through roughly 70% of them! Of those 33 games, 5 of them were PC games I picked up during a steam sale and 1 of those games were for my Xbox One! The majority of games acquired in 2017 were for my PS4 or Nintendo Switch.

Now for the games I did not play. 10 or 30% of the games I acquired I did not get to play for one reason or another. 3 of those games were for my 3DS, which I could not play because I lost my charging pack and was too stubborn to buy another one. 4 of those games I borrowed out while taking a break from them and never got back into the game.

2017 Highlights/Lowlights!

Have to say, my favorite games to play through were Nioh,Persona 5 and Shadow of War. Before going into the demo, I never thought I would like Nioh because of my dislike for the Dark Souls/Bloodborne series. Persona 5 had great music and a captivating story that left me in disbelief that I had a around 100 hours of playtime. For the most part, Shadow of War doubled down on what I liked about Shadow of Mordor and added in loot box system that did not matter until the very end of the game. I liked Shadow of War a bit more than how much I hated the mechanics that ruined the game for me.

In contrast, the games I regret the most for not playing are Nier:Automata (sorry Cody!!), Tales of Beseria and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I've wanted to play those games so bad but you need to dedicate a fair amount of time into them. IN FAIRNESS, I'm playing through Xenoblade Chronicles 2 right now, just a month late. At the time, I was trying to juggle Final Fantasy XV and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but wanted to focus on FFXV before ultimately giving up on it. Similarly, I was juggling Persona 5 and Nier before loaning Nier out to a friend while I focused on Persona 5. I have no excuses for Tales of Beseria!! I was so determined to buy Tales of Beseria that I sold almost all my TF2 items for it...then I had to wait for it to go on sale.

In an effort to make sure I play through all the games I buy, this year I haven't looked into any games as far as as two months away. Dragon Ball FighterZ and Monster Hunter World come out on the same day and I cannot wait for either game. Bayonetta 1+2 come out on Switch in February and I have a great fondness for Bayonetta 1 & 2. Here's hoping this year I have at least an 80% completion rate!!
This past week, AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) began. For those who don't know, AGDQ is a full week stream of nonstop speed runs from all different types of games spanning all systems. Hundreds of people gather together to speedrun games they enjoy for the goal of gathering donations for different charity organizations. This year was for Prevent Cancer. At the end of the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild run, they accumulated $2,261,883.19 in donations, beating last year's record of  $2,222,790.52. It's a ton of fun to watch people that have a passion for speedrunning attempt to break world records and have an all around good time. While there are always set backs during some runs and even some awkward moments, it's always a pleasure to watch. Of course I didn't have a weeks worth of free time to watch every run. I tried to tune in as much as possible and I was lucky enough to be able to watch quite a few runs. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most.

Ratchet & Clank (NG+) - ThaRixer
A short run, but it's one of the best! The runner and commentary was very well spoken along with all the other runs on this list. One of my favorite games on the PS2 and it was crazy seeing all of the tricks that were pulled off. 

Super Mario Sunshine (120 Shines) - AverageTrey
Super Mario Sunshine runs are always awesome to watch. Last year's run was a 4-man race but this year had AverageTrey doing a 120 Shines run.

Metal Gear Solid (Any % Extreme) - plywood
The mustache.

Rayman - Glackum
It was awesome to see one of my favorite games get a speedrun. The fact that it got beaten in 1:21:16 is unfathomable to me.

Resident Evil 7 (New Game Madhouse) - Carcinogen
A very entertaining run with amazing commentary.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Any % Race) - wusscake, Bawkbasoup
Speedrun races are always entertaining, this one is no exception.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Open NMG Randomizer Race)
I'm not a big Legend of Zelda fan, but this run was extremely entertaining to watch. It was a different approach and I hope to see more runs like this in the future.

Super Dram World 2 (100%) - grandPOObear
A highly anticipated and one of the most hyped speedruns from the whole event. Super Dram World was intense and was nonstop entertaining. The platforming in this game is unbelievable I can't even imagine trying to attempt it.

Awful Games Block - 14 Games
One of the most entertaining blocks AGDQ has had, The Awful Game Block was nothing but terrible games for a good 3 hours. Whether it be from voice acting, controls, graphics, or all of the above. Each run is worth a watch. NOTE: There are plenty of other runs if you are interested in watching the rest. They're all available on their YouTube Channel all uploaded around the same time so you'll find the others grouped up with the videos below!

Warcraft III - sajiki
A fun run to watch with an enthusiastic commentary. It was clear that the group was happy to be there running this game for everyone.

Dragon Warrior - NESCardinality
A great run showcasing RNG (Random Number Generating). With each frame counting towards this entertaining run, NESCardinality and his crew kept the run interesting with their commentary and had you paying attention all the way to the end.

There was a time where Magic the Gathering ruled every aspect of my life. I'd spend hours a day thinking about standard legal off meta combinations, researching older sets for modern play and even assembling fully synergistic EDH decks. It got to the point where it was pretty bad, and I was spending more money then I had any business spending on cards, accessories and trips to game shops. Ultimately, I'm happy to say that I'm a recovered Magicholic, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the lifestyle sometimes, especially drafting. To those of you unfamiliar with card drafting, it's a mechanic used in all sorts of card games where players pick cards from a limited subset to gain advantages/build a final deck (based on the game being played.) Drafting generally takes a very specific understanding of card value, statistics, and raw experience and the mechanic has cropped up in other video games, like Blizzard's popular card game Hearthstone and various other online card games. Enter Slay the Spire, an early access title developed by "Mega Crit Games", utilizing deck building and card drafting mechanics to help create one of the most unique dungeon crawling roguelikes I've ever had the pleasure of being frustrated at. I'm certainly not alone either, it's been doing incredibly well on Twitch. In fact just last night I was ecstatic to see it sitting at number 3!

Slay the Spire is available via Steam Early Access! 

Slay the Spire is primarily a game that aggressively tests your ability to make decisions and set yourself up for success. While it certainly employs typical "roguelike" elements such as permadeath, randomly generated dungeons and a relatively high learning curve, adding the complicated process of deck-building makes for some extremely deep strategy. Slay the Spire starts off with a players selecting one of two very unique characters (Mega Crit Games has formally announced a third is on the way), The Ironclad and The Silent. Each character has a completely different pool of cards to draft from save for a handful of colorless cards and an experience bar that will unlock items/cards for future runs. Once you choose you're plopped into the Spire, armed with your starter deck (both characters have a relatively the same starter deck, minus a few cards), a starting relic based on your character and an early decision from...well from a whale. I don't really get it, but it's fine.

Thanks, Monstro.

Once in the spire players are presented with a map, and they get to choose which direction they'd like to set off in. Each branching path has a multitude of options outside of simply battle, but the majority of the time you'll be facing off against a distinctly grisly bestiary. Enemies include thieves, demon armies, various blobs, bird cultists and even a book..that stabs you! Combat is pretty straight forward, players have X amount of energy at the start of each turn and each card in your deck costs a certain amount of energy to play. Enemies are not restricted to drawing and playing cards and simply perform actions each turn, and you can only respond with the deck that you've built. Early on things are relatively simple and clear cut, but of course as you progress and your deck becomes thicker and enemies become tougher combat can become quite complicated. For example, it one of my late game Silent runs, my average turn involved utilizing a pool of around 7 energy every single turn, and I was essentially cycling through my entire deck multiple times in each turn. After a battle players are rewarded with some gold, sometimes a potion, but most importantly a choice from a handful of cards -

Sometimes the best option is the skip button on the left. 

Players decide on which card they would like to add to their deck and move on, leaving the other cards behind. As you can imagine, over time these choices lead to some really synergistic combinations or in some cases...something that closely resembles cat vomit. This drafting system in addition to the various Relics that add passives (such as "Gain 2 additional energy at the start of a fight following a rest") make up the majority of the synergy you're going to want to be looking for. As you make your way through the Spire you'll also come across other events, traps, shops, etc etc. These variables make for an interesting and relatively different run every single time; one game I found myself making a deal with a vampire to modify my deck with a whole bunch of lifesteal and in another I desperately searched around inside a slime carcass to find an item and ultimately just dug myself in a hole. These variables matched with Relics and Card Drafting kept me incredibly hooked for my first 20 hours and I just wanted to discover more and more of what the Spire had to offer, but overtime I definitely started to look at the Spire in a different way.

"Trigger a Trap" usually ends in getting useless crap in your deck :)

As mentioned above, you can plot your path before you set off.

There are hundreds of cards between both classes, The Silent remains my favorite for now. 

Despite my initial addiction, I think the strongest moments of Slay the Spire come much later when you really start to understand the relative value of every decision you make. It really does feel like the old MTG games, and I'm trying my very best to put together a real and functioning deck, especially when you understand your entire pool of cards. It slowly becomes a little less about discovery and more about flexing all the knowledge you've gained to create synergies that actually work. Naturally, being a roguelike comes with some unexpected variables that can add some serious difficulty, which only get multiplied by the fact that Slay the Spire is essentially a card game. I've frequently started drafting a killer deck, only to pick up a contradictory relic or vice-versa. Sometimes you get presented with a pretty terrible map layout and sometimes you draw an entire hand of defends when you need 1 more damage to end the fight! These happenings are basically part of the game, there's only so much control we have over some of the RNG elements, but Slay the Spire certainly offers a bit more choice thanks to the drafting mechanic. Only drawing defends? Maybe you should have removed some from the deck/drafted more card draw. Quite frequently I'll lose a run and think back and pin point where my own decision in the past led to my own downfall. Something I wish I knew very early on is how easy it is to encumber yourself with a deck that's far too thick, but all lessons come in time I suppose.

Ultimately, Slay the Spire shattered my early expectations for it. Going into the game I kind of expected RNG to reign supreme and find myself more frustrated than anything, but I'm glad to report that's usually not the case. Every run lasts less than an hour, but manages to capture the genuine feel of a dungeon crawling RPG as you battle your way through some seriously terrifying creatures and boss fights, but appeals to those of us who want to play a cerebral card the same time! Like many early access titles on Steam, the game is certainly lacking a little bit of polish and despite the clear replayability of the game I find myself wanting so much more. After roughly 20 hours I have achieved every unlock for both characters, and I feel like I've had the opportunity to play some of the most absurd synergies in the game. On the store page Mega Crit proclaims "We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could..." and when I find myself up at night thinking about card values and synergies, I genuinely think they accomplished just that. To anyone that enjoys a good card game, Slay the Spire is right up your alley. A lot of popular Twitch streamers are helping to bring the early access game to the limelight and I sincerely can't wait to see what Mega Crit adds next. Blue mage-esque character, perhaps? Entirely new keywords and mechanics? More floors to the Spire? The beauty of Early Access is there's so much to look forward to, and I can't wait to learn it all.
The final week of Zehn Masters qualifiers have come and gone! Thank you to everyone who has participated as a spectator, competitor and sponsored national player. We began this process back in late October with the Project Veigar and Bastion teams, and now have just a handful of nationals left to attend as Rome Revolution sponsored players. All the weekends details are below.

Tekken 7

We had a great turnout for the Tekken 7 tournament, including some really talented Romans that we hadn't met before. In the end ZTS out of Syracuse took down the tournament and won himself a jersey and entry into the $500 national on Sunday January 28th. ZTS is regarded as one of the best players in New York State and we expect he'll be a competitor at the national. When he's not rolling people in Tekken ZTS is a film student at SU working on raising money for his first independent film Maria, which he describes as "a cross between Pinnochio and the Terminator". If you would like to support a local gamer's film follow this link:

ZTS stated this was the best lighting for the shot.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite National

Ladon had a 3rd place finish in the MVCI National with wins over TGF and Evo. It's been great getting to know Ladon and we're really looking forward to his presence going forward as our fight nights develop. As much as we've struggled with the nationals for fighters due to online fighters being not ideal for tournaments, running the fighters has introduced us to a lot of new players locally. We hope you guys will come check out the upcoming Thursday night fights, season 1 begins Thursday!


League of Legends National

Team Supernova took 4th place, with a win over ECG and losses to TGF in both winners and losers brackets. TGF featured a bot lane duo ranked Master & Challenger and went on to place second in the tournament. Supernova is always fun to watch and we had a bunch of Project Veigar members sitting and watching the stream next door. Great job to the team!

Team Supernova

CS:Go Round 2 Winners

Congrats to Team Onliners on advancing to the second CS:Go $1500 national on January 27th! They were all attendees at our first CS:Go qualifier back in December that ended up running 12 hours, with multiple matches with Team The Chill going the full 15 games. We're looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the national!

Flawless Victory

Catch Us Live

We'll be streaming as many of the upcoming nationals as we can live at - here are the upcoming dates to watch for!

Friday January 19th 9 PM - Madden 2018 featuring K Good
Saturday January 20th 1 PM - Call of Duty 4v4 featuring Team Gutterslugs
Sunday January 21st 1 PM - Hearthstone featuring Farfignewton
Friday January 26th 9 PM - NBA2K18 featuring Daygan
Saturday January 27th 1 PM - CS:Go 5v5  featuring Team Onliners
Sunday January 28th 1 PM - Tekken 7 featuring ZTS

The Sega Genesis was my first console. Handed down to me after my Brother got his PlayStation 1 and my Sister got her Nintendo 64. Luckily I had quite a few games at my disposal and I played them constantly. This system holds a special place in my heart and though I haven't played a ton of the games in the Genesis library, I have played enough to be able to make somewhat of a decent list.

15. World of Illusion
World of Illusion is a solid platformer with a great two player dynamic. The level designs are vibrant along with some solid platforming sections all throughout. The game truly shines when you have a second player going through the experience with you. It also has next to no difficulty so even if you're not so great at these kinds of games it's a great substitute! Though it's mostly here due to nostalgia I find this game to be tons of fun.

14. Battletoads
Meme aside, Battletoads is an amazing game. Punishingly difficult but still so much fun. I was lucky enough to have a friend give me his copy and I played it nonstop. Unfortunately it got ruined in a flood but it remains as one of my favorite Genesis games of all time, even if it is an NES port.

13. NBA Jam
BOOMSHAKALAKA. NBA Jam is still one of the best arcade games I have ever played. It's highly fast paced and intense games left everyone playing it infatuated with it. The announcer yelling after every shot and getting the "On Fire" status was a good middle finger to your opponent. The console version is faithful to the original release and includes cheat codes that turn your team into Scorpion, Sub-Zero, or even Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's a game that still gets regular play from me.

 12. Beyond Oasis
The Genesis had it's fair share of RPG games. From Shining Force, Phantasy Star, etc. Beyond Oasis is one of my favorites. Beyond Oasis had a great story behind it to boot with it's excellent Legend Of Zelda influenced gameplay. You'll get all different types of weapons to use on your quest along with spells. It doesn't exactly pose much of a challenge but the overall experience is an enjoyable one. It's available dirt cheap on Steam but of course there are always emulators!

11. Streets of Rage
Beat 'em Up games were reigning supreme on the Genesis and SNES. Streets of Rage was one of those games that made some SNES owners upset that they didn't have the other console. Each character had a cool look and the level design was fantastic. The boss battles too were a ton of fun and provided a strong difficulty curve. With a combination of outrageous as well, Streets of Rage is a must play game with a friend.

10. Golden Axe
On the other side of the Beat 'em Up spectrum, there was Golden Axe. A Fantasy themed game with choice between a Male and Female Warrior and a Dwarf. Being able to collect potions with each one leading to a stronger special move. You use these to your advantage to advance through waves of enemies to eventually slay the evil entity Death Adder.

 9. Tiny Toons
For a Sonic the Hedgehog "clone" Tiny Toons was damn good. Konami seemed to use the processor of the Genesis to the max and this game 1000% benefited from that. The gameplay is very fast paced and is uncluttered even with it's intense platforming moments. The heavy amount of levels that had quite a bit of variants never made the game seem boring or too rehashed. Of course you can't be disappointed with anything Tiny Toons.

8. Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat II is one of the most balanced fighting games I have ever played. There weren't many characters that felt too easy to fight against as it always came down to pure skill. Plus at the time the fatalities both from characters and stages fascinated me when I was younger.

7. Columns
Columns is an excellent puzzle game made by Sega. It's a game that I frequently play when I want to just relax and zone out for awhile. During my most stressed out moments I would go to my friend's house or vice versa and we would just zone out and play for hours.

6. Lost Vikings
An excellent puzzle-platformer from Silicon & Synapse. You might know them now as Blizzard Entertainment. Before they entered the foray of PC, they were well versed on the Genesis/SNES releases. Releasing games like Blackthorne, Rock 'n Roll Racing, and The Death and Return of Superman, The Lost Vikings is a well designed and funny game that is a joy to play all the way through. With it's intricate puzzles only achievable by switching between the three Norse brothers to advance. Though the Sega version is lacking in musical quality compared to it's SNES counterpart, it makes up for it with extra levels and a higher resolution.

5. Dragon's Fury
I love pinball. A goal when I get my own place is to get a nice Pinball Machine and just waste my life away on it. Dragon's Fury is a game that keeps me at ease with this and is such a time sink. Everything about it is great when a console pinball game shouldn't be. The design of the levels and bonus modes makes the game feel so much more than what it should be. The two player mode as well can make things intense. My Mother and I play this quite frequently but I always seem to lose (She cheats).

 4. Toejam & Earl
A unique game that is still pretty damn fun to play. There is no pressure you can just do whatever you want at your own pace. With all of the quirky characters/enemies and level design, it works very well and has such a high level of charm and it's funky soundtrack it never fails to put a smile on my face. The two player mode as well gives it much more replayability. Now to only wait for the new entry of the series to come out in 2018! I'm so excited!

3. Aladdin
Another Disney/Movie/Virgin Interactive game. Aladdin was just as much fun as The Lion King. The gameplay was solid and the graphics at the time were very impressive. Being able to showcase the amount of color within the game showed how skilled the developers were. There is the argument between people on either the Genesis or SNES version is better but I would have to go with the Genesis due to the fact that Sega didn't put many restrictions on development. Nintendo wouldn't allow Aladdin to use a sword as a weapon due to it not being family friendly. Seems like a petty reason to not like a certain version, but I think it suits Aladdin more than just throwing apples. This would be another game I would like to make a speedrun attempt at. I will become the best Genesis speedrunner NA.

2. Lion King
Usually if you mention this game to someone who has played it, you'll get the general consensus that this game is quite difficult. Reasoning being behind the dreaded "I Just Can't Wait to be King" level was because back when this was released rental stores were at their peak. Disney wanted Virgin Interactive to make a level so difficult that kids couldn't beat the game within the rental dates, leaving kids to wanting their parents to buy the game so they could beat it. This easily is one of my most played games on the console. I've beaten the game plenty of times so many times that it would be routine with my friends at the time to beat it whenever we would hang out. I haven't played it in awhile but recently I've had the itch. Next thing you know you'll see me making speedrun attempts going for the world record.

1. Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Everyone knows that back in the day you were either in Mario's corner or Sonic's. Sonic was improving with each entry in both level design and controls, adding in new moves with each title. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 blew expectations out of the water and revealed a game with seamlessly connecting levels and flawless platforming. Not to mention it's even better if you have Sonic & Knuckles available to you as well! It's a shame to see the path that Sonic has went down. Though Sonic Mania has shown that Sonic as a series does it's best when it is in a 2D format.

Honorable Mentions
Mean Bean Machine The Revenge of Shinobi
Earthworm Jim
Phantasy Star IV
Shining Force II
Decap Attack
Castlevania: Bloodlines

Last week I published Part 1 of my top 10 anime blog, and to much delight it definitely sparked a bunch of conversation online and around the shop. I am ecstatic that my post sparked a handful of people to "finally watch Mob Psycho" and "look into BECK". The rest of the conversation has been centered around guessing the rest of my Top 10, so here's the second half! It's important to note that this is also in no particular order because I'm not capable of making difficult decisions like that!

One Piece

If one examines the history of anime, I think it's safe to say that Shonen series are generally always the most popular and generally the most influential. However, if you examine trends a little closer, the most popular and influential series of all time are generally extremely long running Shonen, such as Naruto, DBZ, Bleach and of course One Piece. These series are legendary for a lot of reasons outside of sheer run-time, and in my opinion One Piece is king of the specific genre. One Piece aired in 1999 and is still running to this day. That's 19 years! Universally these shows tend to take over pop culture in more ways than one, but on the flip side One Piece manages to avoid the biggest struggle of these long standing series - drop in quality/long hiatuses. This is due in part to the Eiichiro Oda's, (the manga's author) superhuman vigor; the guy has been at this for two decades and continues to produce quality content and his creativity never seems to suffer. One Piece's 821 episodes follow Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew as they explore the Grand Line in search of the world's ultimate treasure - the "One Piece". Spoiler alert - after 821 episodes the Star Hat Crew has yet to find the One Piece, and yet I'm not the least bit uninterested. One of the common strengths of these timeless series is the run-time, I can essentially say I've grown up with One Piece playing on my TV for the last 20 years. However, like I mentioned, these run-times can be the biggest weakness as well, and the long standing joke is these series fall back on some god awful filler arcs or year long hiatus'. Not in One Piece's case. One Piece has done an excellent job at using every single episode to strengthen bonds, develop characters and present new and genuinely interesting areas of the Grand Line. Some arcs are certainly stronger than others, but for me One Piece's quality has never dipped below fantastic, and its extremely long run-time has never been detrimental. I love the art style and the generally positive message of the series and no matter how much I watch I always want more. I certainly understand how hard it is to take on the task of actually starting a series this long, but I would recommend challenging yourself to do so. It's just a matter of time before you're infactuated with Oda's world.

Berserk 1997

I feel like the original Berserk is one of the most polarizing anime of all time. Most anime buffs either LOVE the series or know somebody who does or have never watched it, despite its extremely positive critical reception. Berserk is widely regarded as the absolute best example of dark fantasy in Japanese manga, and the original 1997 anime series meets the heavy expectations, in my opinion. Berserk follows the "Black Swordsman" arc of the manga, but changes a bit to create a well rounded anime adaptation. The 1997 Berserk series is mainly about the adventures of Guts and his days serving the mercenary group "The Band of the Hawk", led by a man named Griffith. The plot takes some extremely dark turns into the supernatural and really drives home potent themes of ambition, duty and friendship, while portraying a deeply violent and disturbing atmosphere. I saw the original 1997 anime before I read any of the manga, and despite genuinely being bothered by some of the extremely grotesque and brutal scenes, I was absolutely entranced. I think I was around 15 or 16 and the series was my first exposure to such a deeply dark anime series, and it really changed my perceptions of the media as a whole. Initially I wasn't a very big fan of the main character, Guts. His brooding disposition and unnatural strength comes off as a bit overdone and cliche, but in time it's very easy to empathize with Guts. Much like the main cast of Cowboy Bebop, Guts is a man forged of his own dark past, which has inevitably led to him expressing himself through violence and brutality, yet somehow he retains incredibly human elements. Guts' and the supporting cast's complicated relationships essentially make up the heart of Berserk, and despite the deeply tragic plot I think the original Berserk series is a masterwork of the genre, I only wish I could say the same for the latest iterations. 

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is seemingly about a bunch of teenagers piloting huge bad ass mechs to fight off "Angels" and the ultimate end of the world, but I would argue that Neon Genesis is really a psychological study of people and how we interact with each other. As far as anime goes, NGE is brilliantly crafted, especially for a 1996 series with a very low budget. Animation is excellent, music is on point and the voice acting has stuck with me (even the dub!). The psychological aspects of NGE are really what cemented the series as a must watch in many anime fans' eyes, but I would definitely say it's not for everyone. Nowadays it seems to have a bit of a rap of being "overrated", which is fine, people certainly have different tastes. However, I would argue NGE is like a classic novel and it's historical significance to anime as a whole is pretty important, even if you don't enjoy it. It's a very serious show about humanity and the psychological trauma we potentially share, there are very deep religious tones and heavily inspired by Hideaki Anno's (the author) deep depression. It's a show that has spawned college thesis essays, hour long examinations of YouTube and quite possibly the heaviest anime in existence. Check it out if you haven't, and draw your own conclusions, NGE deserves it.

Welcome to the NHK

Welcome to the NHK is a bizzare slice of life/drama/black comedy/romance Japanese novel which was adapted into a manga and eventually became a 25 episode anime series in 2006. Welcome to the NHK is about a young 22 year old man named Satou, who struggles with being a hikikomori and a N.E.E.T. (Not in Education, Employment or Training). Satou believes his whole life is being steered by a conspiracy plot as he shuts himself off from the world and essentially becomes an isolated inner city hermit, until he meets a mysterious girl who seems genuinely invested in his recovery. I've watched Welcome to the NHK a handful of times, and to be completely honest outside of finding certain aspects of the show extremely humorous I feel like I missed a lot of the show's strengths the first time through. The show excels at blending comedy and drama in a way I've never seen before, but it's important to note that generally NHK is an extremely bleak look at struggling with depression, and it's hard not to root for Satou to overcome the obstacles in his way. The supporting cast is incredible, and their interactions with Satou and each other make for some of the funniest interactions in anime history (and some of the saddest), it really is an emotional roller coaster. I think some people are quick to write NHK off as an otaku hentai loving examination and it's somewhat true, but at the same time NHK is examining some very serious issues that are present in Japan's society. Suicide, depression and a very specific and in depth look at the negative elements of Otakuism on top of the positive. Despite some themes of existential nihilism the show's ending is perfect; it offers some closure but leaves some ambiguity. NHK is an easy recommendation thanks to how absurdly funny it can be, but I wouldn't recommend watching this one around your folks...or small children.


Mushishi is not only the most beautiful anime I've ever seen, it's one of the most beautiful examples of atmosphere in anime and media in general. Mushishi is essentially about ethereal primitive creatures called "Mushi" and their interactions with people in Japan between the Edo and Meiji periods. The main character Ginko is a "Mushi-shi" (which I guess is best described as a witch doctor) who travels around Japan in search of strange happenings that are caused by said Mushi. Mushi-shi's jobs are to identify and control Mushi to help solve cases and aid individuals who are put into odd circumstances because of their interactions with the mysterious creatures, since most individuals can't actually see these Mushi. The main character Ginko is one of these Mushi-shi and the series utilizes an episodic formula following Ginko around as he works with these Mushi. For the most part, Mushishi does not have a general overarching narrative, and each episode is about Ginko in a different environment working with completely different Mushi. I like this structure because it lets each episode have very different themes, environments, Mushi and overall atmosphere. Some episodes are pretty feel good and optimistic, then the next episode can be incredibly down trodden and solemn. It is quite possibly the most thought provoking series I've ever seen, and it does so without bogging viewers down with extremely heavy content and dialogue.

There we have it! Thanks for reading everyone! If there's a show on here that has piqued your interest definitely let me know, and I'm interested in hearing our reader's top tens as well!   

We're in the home stretch with the Zehn Masters LANs, with week 7 complete and one final week of LANs coming up. If you're a Tekken 7 or CS:Go player this weekend will be your last chance to qualify before the series enters the WAN-only phase.

LAN Winners

Daygan and Farfignewton both went unopposed in the LAN events for NBA2K and Hearthstone this weekend. Both will advance to upcoming $500 national events. Congrats guys!

The CoD event saw three teams competing in the 4v4 World War II event. We were expecting a lot more but perhaps the cold weather kept some teams away, with record low temperatures outside in the negatives. We ran a round robin event with team Gutterslugs taking it down 4-0. This team featured 1/2 of All Hail Balthazar, the last Call of Duty LAN winners. Congrats!

National Events

Friday night saw Landon competing in the Tekken 7 national. Tekken is admittedly not his game and he tied for 5th out of 8. Some of the other LANs ran into some snags with networks which resulted in delays, and we were able to host some games between Utah and Florida to help move the bracket along. Big shout out to Tim K for the work he did on our network some months back!

Saturday was the Overwatch national with Project Bastion making their debut on the national stage. This event only saw 4 teams nationwide, and Bastion went 0-2 on the day. It was great to see the team gather after the game and talking, and jumping directly into an 8-person practice at the LAN for the next few hours. This is a great attitude to see and we're happy to see them back at it putting in work. We'll continue to support the team at LAN Mob on a weekly basis and look forward to tournaments in the future!

Sunday saw team The Chill return to the CS:Go national, this time with 8 teams! The competition was tough and The Chill went 0-2. I was pleased to again see the team gathering and talking amongst themselves about what went wrong and how they can improve. These are the types of conversations that will help good teams grow into great teams, and I'm happy that can happen at LAN Mob.

Playing the Best

I've said it before in a prior blog post but I really see competitive gaming as a bit like an onion, with tens of layers the deeper you go. There are certainly things that can go wrong on game day that impact the outcome, but also so much of the outcome is dictated by skill and prior time invested. Through dedication you can slowly peel back the layers, and if you stick with it long enough - and have the right support structure around you - eventually you can climb your way to the top. I feel like being able to play against the best is a huge piece of that puzzle, and even if it feels like you're getting steamrolled, if you can pick up a handful of ideas or concepts from the process you've leveled up.

So that's one service we're happy to provide, and it doesn't come free: we rely on the tickets sold at the LAN events to make up our costs of entry. We're nearing the end of the series but if you know anyone who plays Tekken 7 or CS:Go please spread the word and send them to the Facebook events to check out the details.

We're constantly thinking about other ways we can help as well, outside of just offering a venue and a path to higher level competition. Our coaching teams for League and Overwatch I believe have had tremendous value on our players, and I'm working on a way we can grade that progress to show players in what ways they're improving. I'm really excited for the new competitive seasons and seeing how our teams place in competitive when they're ready to cross that bridge. Long-term we understand we need to find ways to allow our best players to make a living playing games, and that includes our staff and volunteers. That likely won't come from one source but several, and we've laid the groundwork for the path forward. The picture has gradually become clearer of what type of company we'll be one day and the journey towards that has been an adventure, thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride!
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