Madden players from around the region dropped by Winlock on Saturday and Sunday for the first video game tournament organized by Winlock-based Gamer's World League, an effort by local residents to help stimulate growth and investment in the area by drawing crowds from out of town.
The first tournament held by locally-based Gamer's World League (GWL) may not have had the turnout organizers were hoping for, but it at least served as proof of concept that serious gamers are willing to travel to Winlock to test their skills.
Held last Saturday and Sunday at the Winlock Miller Elementary School gymnasium, around a dozen entrants vied for a $1,000 grand prize if they could out-run, out-maneuver and out-score their opponents in Madden 2015. The final rounds were held in the lead up to the Super Bowl itself, with participants and spectators both being able to watch the game live from the gym.
"There's nothing like this in Washington, Oregon, Idaho," said organizer Tim White, a Winlock resident hoping such tournaments will serve as a means to stimulate growth and investment in the area.
Though a number of individuals who expressed interest did not attend the tournament, said White, those who did came from all over the region, such as player and tournament enthusiast Chris Brown, who said he has been looking for such gameplay since moving from New York City to St. Helen's, Ore., last summer.
"I've been looking for a Madden tournament since early August," said Brown, stating his siblings and cousins, and now nieces and nephews, are very involved in video games. "I was really fortunate that I found out about it."
Brown said a friend happened across an announcement for the tournament in a local newspaper announcement and, after Brown found out, he promptly went online to register.
Brown said, after seeing what GWL has to offer, he feels they provided a clean, accessible environment in which to play and, with as many stations as were open to players, the tournament itself moved at a brisk pace. Brown said, of the attendance, he feels GWL would benefit from a greater presence on websites and social networking pages dedicated to gamers, and doing so could make future tournaments far more successful.
"I'm going to try to turn this into something special," said Brown of GWL, stating he would share information about the league's upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare tournament, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 28, on his Twitter feed.
By the end of the tournament, Brown claimed second place and a prize of an Xbox One, while third place and $100 cash went to Toledo resident Ryan Votaw. The first place prize of $1,000 and a replica Lombardy Trophy went to Pe Ell resident Andrew Nelson.
There to present the award, as well as sign autographs and hang out with gamers, was former Denver Bronco and University of Washington graduate David Richie, who had pledged his support to the tournament early on. Richie grew up in the Kelso area and has talked recently about a desire to move back to Southwest Washington, and is expected to be called upon for future GWL events.
Despite lower-than-expected participation, White said the tournament was a success, at least from the perspective of local sponsors. White said the tournament could not have been possible without TVs from Aaron's Furniture, generators and other equipment from Chehalis Rentals, signage from Precision Printing, and contributions from Plaza Jalisco, Cedar Village IGA, Shop 'n' Kart, Guadalahara, Sandy's Pizza, Kinder Kreations and Gamer Soda.
White added, due to the support from sponsors, he expects to be able to make donations to the Winlock School District as well as the Seattle Children's Hospital Burn Unit, while donations of food gathered during the tournament will be given to the Winlock/Vader Food Bank.
Judging from how the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare tournament plays out, White said he will determine where to go next with GWL, stating he is depending on the local community to help make the event a success.
To register for the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare tournament, or learn more about GWL, visit their website at www.gamersworldleague.com, or call White at 360-520-4110.
Pe Ell resident Andrew Nelson (left) accepts the first place prize of $1,000 and a replica Lombardy Trophy from former NLF player and Super Bowl champion Dave Richie (right).