At the end, only one man is World Champion, but everyone is a winner.
In the last 15 years I've read dozens of summaries of World Cups by other people, but only this time I realized how different it is to actually be there. Let me try:FRIDAY:
Driving with Junior and a car full of hardware, arrived in Dublin only a few minutes after the playing hall, a former chocolate factory Danny found, had closed, so had to leave my loaded car in the Gresham hotel (different from the official one) car park. Fortunately nobody noticed the fortune that 9 Amigas on the back seat represent, and nothing happened to it
After check in, we went to meet the players for the draw on the Castle hotel's bar.
(Apology for the name typos... English is not Robert's first language)
It was good to review the 7 faces I knew from Luton 2009, even though I'm not sure all of them remembered me
Also great to meet that night some new players and others I knew from forums/social media. Looking back now, it's interesting to see how these strangers will bond over 48h of geeky hard work SATURDAY:
As much as we can plan ahead, getting the room ready takes longer than hoped & expected. We started a bit late after some hard work by Danny, Camber, Robert, Bob and I. As early as 10:30 the free free beer was already in some players hands, and the matches started...MAIN COMPETITION:
What to expect of a player who has played possibly 10 KO2 matches since Luton 2009? Not much - and that's what happened. Most of my games were actually a blur, but here's what I remember:
vs Andy: lost 6-1 in Luton and lost 9-1 in Dublin. That's now the 3rd World Champion I score against!
vs Robert: lost 13-2 (really? wow) in Luton and 8-1 in Dublin. Quite the improvement heh?!
vs Stephen D: Stephen was kind enough to score 2 own goals. Unfortunately, he also scored 4 regular ones
4-2 final score
vs Alan: two players with only losses, my better goal average would put me through even with a draw. And 1-1 was the score in injury time when I gave away a penalty
Oh well, that gave Alan the opportunity to experience the Silver Cup.STEVE SCREECH CUP aka BRONZE CUP:
4 players only on the bronze cup, and I'm totally out of practice. It's going to be grand, they say...
vs Daryl H: 3-2, 3-0. Daryl was possibly more out of practice than I was, and this was the right motivation to keep me going. Hey I'm suddenly scoring and not conceding (one of Daryl's goals was an own goal). Can I avoid the shirt of shame? Let's see...
vs Dino: 3-1 . Dino was leading 1-0 in the first match when disaster struck: The Shirt of Shame song started playing on the room stereo! Old fears of regaining this shirt took control of his joystick, and despite him singing along, I made a comeback.
vs Gary P: 4-0 . Gary likes playing defensively using lockout, so he didn't find it very easy to break through my "five fwee too".
By now I was making moves I had never done before. Stop & go? Check. Trapgoal? Check. Where is Pedro and who is this ugly mofo scoring goals who took his place?!SUNDAY
vs Dino 2-0 . On our second game, my 5-3-2 was exemplary and two breakthroughs made the difference. I think Dino was already resigning himself to the strong possibility of winning another Shirt of Shame! "I need to have some strong words with my game when I get home!" he joked.
vs Gary P: 2-0 . Once again a very defensive game from both sides where my more accurate shots on goal made the difference.
A very respectable 19-3 goal difference and top of group! By now I thought this was over and the cup was won but apparently the top 2 players had to play a final! So we did...
Final vs Gary P: 2-0, 2-0. Gary played very well and had some chances, but in the end his failed lob attempts and more defensive play made the difference. The first Steve Screech cup was mine!
"So you got a trophy Pedro?!" well not exactly! We decided to do this Bronze cup after we bought the trophies so in the end we opted to call it Steve Screech Cup (with his permission of course) and the prize would be an autographed KO2002.
We also gave another one to Gary P
Bar below the venue was closed on sunday, so nothing like calling for pizza! I asked for some extra (surely me and Junior don't eat two large ones... well teenager appetites are legendary!!!) so I could share with any of the players going in and out. Money well spent and bellies well fed!
(Jorn's photo here:)
In the meantime, I lost track of what was happening in the main competition until the semis, which we had to speed up due to lack of time (more on the semifinalists below).
After that... packing up and goodbyes, and a night drive to Galway.NEW NICKNAME?
"I see what you're doing!" Screechy jokingly told me "Losing all games in the first day, pretending not to know how to score, and then beating the opposition in a weaker competition, like those pool players"
"Oh, so I'm a hustler then! The Kick Off 2 Hustler!"
So there we go. Pedro, The Hustler
No really, I totally suck at this game. But I like the nickname THE SHIRT OF SHAME ... x2
Thanks to Michael Ma's "spare" SoS from 2013, both players in the Penalty Shootout of Shame were "lucky" to be awarded a SoS
So when Dino thought he was off the hook after winning the shootout and Daryl having been presented with Johnny Logan's "sponsored" SoS...
...Dino got yet another SoS for his collection! "Ohhh I can never escape it!" he said THE SHIRT OF GLORY
My preccccciouusssss...SOME OF YOU MAY NEED NEW GLASSES
"That's your SON?!" - "How old are you?" - "39?! Thought you were younger!"
Had quite a few people following this line of conversation with me during the weekend
Yes yes, the latin blood keeps me young and handsome but ... come on, people! BEST MOMENT
The Steve Screech Cup winner!WORST MOMENT
Just a few seconds after... the photo speaks for itself! FAUX PAS OF THE WEEKEND
I assisted Carley and Paul, two of the media people present, to have a go at Kick Off 2 in one of the Amigas. After about 1h, I spotted Carley and asked her "So, how did you enjoy your attempt at Kick Off 2?" . She forced a laugh and said "Attempt? That's a bit rude isn't it?"
Pedro you smooth talker you. Think quick and get out of that one now...
"Well, I've been attempting to play it for 25 years and I'm still terrible at it! It's a complex game."
Quick save, enough to follow up with some small talk, but still... A WORD ABOUT THE ORGANIZERSDanny
was the driving force behind this WC. Sometimes he looked exhausted, sometimes he looked lost, but he always kept moving and kept the WC running. We pulled it through mate, and it was great doing this with you. FOR RONAN!Jorn
was the voice of reason and experience for the last 6 months, keeping me and Danny on the right tracks. He was undoubtedly the 3rd Organizer. Bro, you're the man, and a worthy receiver of the Lifetime Achievement Award
I often call Gianni
by Champ and it has nothing to do with his KO2 titles
He looks after software, pairings, rules, gives a comforting word for those who need, has time to answer questions, seems to be in all places at all times and still has time to play the game at the highest level. A true gentleman, it's impossible not to love Gianni (NIAGW).
Danny's friend Winger
kept the World Cup going by looking at the small invisible things that need to be done. From trash bags to pens to helping with the scores to looking after the factory doors, he was always in action.Pedro Junior and Screechy Junior
took a crash course in Italian (just kidding!) and spent the weekend looking after the scores and the software.Bob Lewis
, an unknown amongst all of us, lent us hardware and came into the hall in the first day to help things up. Even went to the point of going out to rent more TVs for us! An unexpected organizer who was vital.
Thanks also to Robert for his voice
Jaaaaaacob for the disks, Ian for the water supply, all the people who helped carry stuff etc etc... and everyone in general. Wouldn't have been possible without ye.A WORD ABOUT THE SEMI FINALISTS
I watched Chris
play a few times and I was very impressed as how he played an organized attack with short/medium passes from defense to attack. Unsurprisingly, reminded me of Dagh. What I think played against Chris was his nerves - he seemed to be the most nervous of the 4, and I believe that had some influence. IIRC he even was ahead on the 3rd place final very close to the end when Oliver struck twice to take the lead and the bronze medal.
Anyway, Chris has skill and it wouldn't surprise me if we'd see him grab the title one day.Oliver
is a very quiet guy who got his best result ever. I don't have numbers handy but I believe his semi-final vs Andy was quite close. I think better nerves got him that bronze medal in the end. An overall solid performance and well deserved.
I said most what I could have said about Gianni
. It is really amazing how he's doing everything for the tournament and at the same time delivering high quality performances. This was not his WC, but I do not doubt that he'll bring the title back to Italy in the future. A legend of the game!Andy
's first KO2 tounament was my own very first KO2 tournament (Luton 2009). Now Dublin 2015 is my 2nd tournament and Andy's (first!) WC title
England regains the title with a new champion who is completely opposite from his 2002 predecessor (with the exception of the BLCs!
). Andy is a true gentleman who kept his cool and very deservedly won the title this year. His final is a masterclass of KO2 and I don't believe many players in the world can score so many past Gianni!FINAL WORDS:
I believe during the award ceremony Dino was a bit lost for words, but he caught me in the end while packing up and asked me to share his message with all of you:"Thank you for keeping my baby alive."
And, my own personal thank you, goes to all of you for making me feel I contributed to something so good and worthwhile some of you would consider Christmas. It's been a pleasure, and an honor, and I can't wait to see you all again.
PS: A dump of the photos Junior and I took can be found here: http://imgur.com/a/UmLdv