Let me take you behind closed doors to a night filled with drama, Donkey Kong, and dance music; The Shacknews Champions League Afterparty.

With titles like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and Power Stone, this wasn’t the sort of competitive gaming scene I expected to be covering during E3, especially in 2019. Taking place at the historic Mayan Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the Shacknews Champions League Afterparty was held after the first day of E3.

Packed to a capacity that we were assured would be approved by a fire-marshall, partygoers were able to nosh on vegan tacos and hot dogs and get their pictures taken in an iron-throne reminiscent, HyperX-sponsored photo-op. However, the main focus of the night revolved around a tournament unlike any that I had witnessed in my history covering esports. An over-30 competitive gaming bracket, each round of the tournament featured a different game. A $10,000 prize-pool made this event especially juicy, and sets from Vicetone and Blau throughout the evening allowed for breaks in the competition and time for dancing.

Stations await the brave.
Stations awaited the brave.

The opening round of 32 saw competitors take to the classic Mortal Kombat II. Muscle memory that had been in hibernation for the past 25 years past took over. Winners from this brutal clash moved on to the next round as 16 hopefuls had their hopes dashed and went back up to the stands to take up residence at one of the four bars in the venue.

The next round saw a bit more drama as two groups of eight crowded around monitors to fight in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. The match looked close, but players quickly called out that the Switch Joy-Cons had swapped control schemes as the match launched, causing frustration and confusion throughout the round. Those unable to adapt to the control-scheme-kerfuffle were eliminated, and the top four from each group moved on to the round of eight.

Participants and spectators gather around the Smash Bros stage.
Participants and spectators gather around the Smash Bros stage.

Breaking the trend of fighting games, Rocket League appeared at this round, placing gamers on a digital pitch. Air horns blared out as goal after goal was scored, and at the end, four players stepped into the game I was least familiar with, Power Stone.

Capcom’s 3D arena fighting game was brought to the Dreamcast in 1999, and for some, this was their first time witnessing the game. Drama came following one of the semi-final matches between Ray C. and Ryan C. With both players controlling the same hero, Wangtang, confusion set in as the player on the right controlled the character on the left and vice versa. As “KO” hit the screen, both players raised their arms in victory. Even the commentators didn’t know who was controlling who. Eventually, this match went to the tapes to see who held which controllers, with Ray C. advancing to the finals against Rob Y.

The finals pit the two remaining players against each other in a best two out of three tournament of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 on the Nintendo Gamecube. Both players seemed a bit out of practice on this game, with a top score resting just under 100k. At the end, Rob Y. reigned victorious. In a surprise twist, Rob was given the opportunity to go against Shacknews' CEO, Asif Khan, to double his prize money from $6,000 to $12,000. However, Khan set a score in one move that shattered Rob's attempt, leaving the bonus cash out of reach with a massive 670,000+ point trick.

At the end of the tournament, Marc Rebillet took to the stage, playing an awesome set that you can watch on Twitch below.  

This makes the third of the Shacknews Champions Over 30 events since E3 and QuakeCon in 2018, but this one was by far the biggest spectacle for them yet. With live musical appearances, good food, and an incredible spread of games and competition, "doing it for Shacknews" continues to be a lucrative and fun time every time they have an outing. We're ready to see what comes next.


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