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East Coast Tournament 2020

How far would you travel to play laser tag? For Laserforce players looking to enjoy the competition and camaraderie of this year’s East Coast Tournament (ECT) all roads led to The Fun Warehouse in Syracuse, NY and many of the competitors came from much further away than you might expect.

Some players arrived from overseas and others from across the country to participate in three full days of Space Marines 5 games during this annual tournament event that had a few particularly notable elements this year. The distance that many individuals were willing to travel was impressive and the tournament included international players from Germany and the United Kingdom as well as competitors from across the United States who arrived from as far away as California and Colorado to spend up to 15 hours of preliminary round play each day leading up to the finals. Considering this was not a national level event it’s really quite a testament to the enthusiasm these players have for the game that they would come so far just to have an opportunity to play.

An interesting observation about this particular event is that this year’s tournament drew a significant number of female players who accounted for 25 percent of the field of competition. Now, laser tag is a game for everyone to enjoy and there are no age or gender limitations, but the reality is that in tournament play the competition typically tends to skew far more heavily towards male players than female. So, to have 12 women competing out of a field of 48 players was what many participants perceived to be a record percentage for a tournament like this. Some see this as an indicator that the competitive scene is expanding and encouraging more players feel welcome to get involved. And if you have 12 players that is exactly enough to fill out a game of Space Marines 5, so prior to the start of the tournament an exhibition game was played just for fun with teams made up entirely of the female competitors. A few participants considered this to be a bit historic, while others just enjoyed the fact that new friendships were being made by all.

Space Marines 5 is considered the official Laserforce tournament format and players are assigned to play a specific role on their team, which requires good communication for the team to be successful. Positions including Commander, Heavy, Ammo, Medic and two Scouts make up the roles that must be filled on each six-player team. For this tournament teams would do a blind roll of dice to pick their positions, so while a player’s skill level is important there is also an element of luck at play because competitors are often times more experienced in playing one position versus another. This is one consideration that could impact a team, but perhaps an even larger factor is the make-up of the team itself.

A first for this Laserforce tournament was the implementation of a salary cap on the teams based on the skill levels of the players. Prior to the tournament all players were assigned a numerical value for their skill level ranging from 3-10. Teams were able to assemble any combination of players so long as the team’s total “value” didn’t exceed 38. This is a variation on the way random draw tournaments have been done in the past, however they key difference is that it allowed for teams to select the players they wanted to play with while simultaneously balancing the field so that there was a more even spread of abilities and player strength among the teams. Markus “El Diablo” Welsch of Germany noted that this tournament in particular caught his interest because of the balanced teams and random draw for positions. He also commented “I love the atmosphere and enjoy challenging games very much.”

A few other players took some time out from the competition to share their thoughts about why they traveled so far and what they love about laser tag and the tournament experience.

Over the course of the preliminary days the eight teams competed in two groups with teams known as Impaired Hybrid, Misfits, -24K and Hart Foundation playing in Pool A and Meme Teme Extreme, Rick Rollers, Taghub Play Hard and Sanch Cult in Pool B. All of this competition was leading to the third day finals where the intensity really started to ramp up. Every tournament gets a bit more intense during the final games as everyone wants to take home the trophy, and let me say, these trophies were particularly impressive as several were custom created with the symbols for each of the SM5 game positions.

When all was said and done the final outcome was the result of many hard-fought games and incredibly intense competition. Michael “Beanz” Brandt, manager of the Fun Warehouse, observed that “All the games for the tournament were fairly close in score. Most games were within 3,000 points of each other and came down to who had their bases.”

Congratulations to the top teams and players. Results are as follows:

Congratulations to the Hart Foundation team for taking first place in the tournament.

Sanch’s Cult came in second place.

And the Rick Rollers took 3rd place.

The All Star Awards were given to the top players for each SM5 position including PHNTM (Scout), SCYTHE (Ammo), Beanz (Heavy), Brew (Commander), Princess (Scout) and Ghostyy ox (Medic).

Brew was also the stats based MVP and took home a very special trophy.

Ultimately the sentiment that was expressed the most during this tournament was that the players feel like they are part of one big family in the Laserforce tournament community. And so the tournament concluded with the players doing just what any family would do at the end of an intense experience…they all went out to dinner. It was wonderful to observe this tournament with a bird’s eye view of the distinctive factors that made the event both a destination and a journey for the players from across the nation and the globe who have found a shared experience through laser tag that has left them with wonderful friendships, the feeling of having an extended family and lots of tournament


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