The reason I returned to California on this particular weekend was because of an invite I received to play in a local Zone tournament. The Glendale Open IX took place at Jungle Zone Laser Tag in Glendale, CA and while it ended with a third place finish for Team NYLA (the name is a combination of New York for me and L.A. for my teammates Kyle, Antonio and James)…
….for me it started when I got an email from Nick who reached out to me after finding this blog!
He actually invited me to a tournament way back in December, but the timing last year just did not work out, so I was really glad to learn that this event was happening during the summer when it was easier for me to travel. And after my last trip to California a year ago when I explored the laser tag sites in the northern part of the state I was enthused to have a reason to plan a trip to explore southern California this time around. Besides getting to explore a lot of arenas in the area I spent a lot of time at Jungle Zone learning a format that I had previously never played.
When I arrived on Saturday night for practice I was greeted by Violet (one of the owners) and Josef who organized the tournament.
Josef made certain that no matter what everybody had fun.
When I walked into their jungle themed arena for the first time I was greeted by the giant gorilla.
And as I walked around the two levels of the arena there were lots of decorative touches to add to the jungle theme.
But what struck me most about this arena was its size. Now, Josef had been communicating with me for the last couple months about my trip and I had asked a few questions including asking about the size of the arena. He told me there were two levels, but they only use the lower level for the tournament…and it’s probably around 1500 square feet. To be honest, I thought he was underestimating with that approximation, but in fact this was probably about right. It is totally possible to walk from one side to the other in about 10-12 seconds. Well, size isn’t everything and as it turns out the size of the arena actually was probably an asset for playing this particular format. The tournament was going to play team elimination, which is a format I have never experienced before. Even though I play elimination games like Highlander and the like, I quickly learned that this was very different.
In team elimination each player starts with a limited number of lives (six in this case) and once you are deactivated you lose a life. It will take three stuns to deactivate and once an entire team is eliminated (or time runs out) the remaining team or higher scoring team takes the win. And yes, friendly fire is on. The elimination games take much less time to play than standard games (like about two minutes in some cases) and I’d say they tend to be played much more cautiously.
As a sniper I found this format challenging (in part because of space), but mostly because I realized during practice that my sense of timing is not in sync with Nexus the way I once thought it was. It’s been quite awhile since the Mickey map at FJ2 and I had to re-learn a few quirks that I had forgotten about. But that’s what practice is for.
I really had a great time meeting the other players from this site. Everyone was very welcoming and really seemed to enjoy playing just to play. Nick (who I nicknamed “Glendale” because he called me “New York” the entire time) was definitely pushing to play as many games as possible. I’m not sure he was kidding when he kept saying “let’s go for 50 games tonight!” However, having not slept for better than 24 hours at this point I was ready to take what I had learned and well…sleep on it. So Saturday night ended around 11:00 P.M. for me and while I played plenty of tag the next day I would not be returning to Jungle Zone until tournament day.
So when the morning of the tournament arrived I had been forewarned about traffic on the L.A. freeway and I left so much extra time that I was actually the first one to arrive. So I sipped my coffee and chatted with Roobick (another of the owners) and got ready for an intense day.
As people slowly started to filter in we spent time playing some LOR in the vesting room.
And gradually other players arrived (including a top Quest player) and the tournament got under way. As is typical with tournaments not everyone made it to the starting gate and we were down at least one team (maybe two) from the start. But the teams that were ready to go included HPD (Josef’s team), Hitmen for Hire, Shockwave, NYLA and Advanced Access (Nick’s/BlueFlame’s team). I was appointed captain of Team NYLA (mostly ceremonial) and was excited to get the Round Robin games underway. We would play three rounds back to back (switching sides and vests in between) to determine the point total before the best 3 out of 5 rounds in ascensions. First up was Advanced Access vs Hitmen for Hire. AA took all three of their games. Then my team NYLA went up against Shockwave. We also won all three games that round giving us a good bit of momentum from the get-go.
As the games proceeded team NYLA lost to the top contender teams (HPD and AA) and kept it close when we went up against Hitmen for Hire. Ultimately we were seeded third going into ascensions.
Once the second half of the tournament got underway the intensity started to ramp up, although for me as a newbie to the format I was just enjoying playing some tag. I was glad that my teammate James kept the same chill attitude about ascensions because we were both of the mindset that our final placement in third was just fine as we watched things play out between the top two teams, HPD and Advanced Access.
And the final rounds between these two teams were definitely exciting! They went for a full five games to determine best 3/5. Want to see? Here are the final six minutes of the tournament…
And Advanced Access wins! Definitely well played and well earned. It’s always exciting to see a close game that comes right down to the wire. Congratulations to all the teams and thanks to Jungle Zone for hosting the Glendale Open IX.
And special thanks to Violet who sent me home with an extra special souvenir, an awesome t-shirt with a picture of five Nexus phasers on the front. Too cool!
I had such a wonderful time on my southern California adventure. Big thanks to Nick (aka Glendale) for the invitation and to Josef for putting together a really fun event. I had a blast and will take home lots of great memories…and also a particularly cool piece of tag swag. :)
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com