Write-up: Streamer Showdown at VirtualSportsNW – AlexanderESmith vs BizSnes

Oh MAN, the first ever Streamer Showdown with VirtualSportsNW was AMAZING! I wanted to write this review two days ago, but my day job has got me pretty busy before the holiday break. C’est la vie.

Note: I’m not going to talk about who won until the spoiler section below. Feel free to read on before watching, or skip to the spoiler section if you just want the details (but you should TOTALLY watch the event, it was epic!).

I’m a long winded bastard, so if you’re looking for a TL;DR, head to the spoiler section.

So, the evening started out at about 7pm. Well, it was actually closer to 7:10pm because traffic was a DISASTER between Redmond and Tukwilla. Ugh. Anyway, BizSnes was already there, and we sat down at the bar and had a chat for a bit while Justin (the MC of this event) got things ready. Once the setup was ready to go, we sat down and the cameras started rolling just before 7:30pm.

The showdown consisted of 3 events. Here’s the basic rundown;

Nidhogg: 3 matches of 3 rounds each. For each match, best of three rounds wins the point, for a possible 3 points.
Trials Fusion: Same as above. 6 total points possible so far.
Laser tag: 4 rounds, 1 point for each. We were playing with a group of pro players, so a round was won based on the player’s (either BizSnes or myself) individual point total. If either player wins all 4 rounds, 3 ADDITIONAL points are awarded to that player.

So, all told, if you completely biff the first 2 events, but dominate Laser Tag, you can still win, 7 to 6. Of course, you could also sweep and win 13 to 0, heheh.

I’ll talk about the events in the spoiler section, but right now I’d like to talk about the experience itself. BizSnes is a natural streamer. He has a background in improv comedy with (if I remember correctly) proper schooling in the performing arts. He is, and has, an amazing personality, and the event was an exercise in banter and witty repartee. Each match against him was super fun and properly challenging. I mean, it’s true that I’m a creative streamer on Twitch, but I’m no slouch in the gaming department, and I think I was able to hold my own against someone I consider to be an extremely seasoned gamer.

Justin was great too. I think he did an amazing job as not only the announcer, but the host and the producer of the stream. He was able to play off of our musings at the same level, so it was a really well rounded conversation the whole time.

The only bit of the event that I wasn’t super excited about (within the context of viewer experience) was the Laser Tag section. It was super fun, and SUPER challenging, but the view to the end user was a Night Trap like affair, and I don’t think it was easy to follow who was where. Streaming from the gun-mounted cameras would have been a better experience (especially if they did a video-game split screen setup). To Justin’s credit, he set up the scores on the bottom, so even if you couldn’t decipher the action, you could tell who was winning at any given time within a specific round.

Also, I’m super happy that we scored the Laser Tag section like we did (individual player score, rather than team score). We didn’t have a lot of control over our respective teams, so a team score wouldn’t have represented the Streamers skill or abilities or etc. If we’d used team score, it would have been a shutout, one Streamer would have won pretty much by default (and basically at random), and I don’t think it would have been as much fun at the end. Again, good call on Justin’s end, and a testament to his planning ability for the event.

Overall, I had a great time, I’m super happy that I got to be in the first showdown, and I highly recommend that many more people partake, especially those who frequent the Seattle Community Meetup (sponsored by Twitch).

Also, shoutouts to VirtualSportsNW; The Laser tag setup is pretty hardcore (high quality changeable layout, great tech and equipment, active community of players, great refs/techs/moderators), they have a lot of great stuff upcoming (VR/Vive arcade anyone?), and they’re EXTREMELY awesome for hosing the meetups for the Twitch group each month. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend playing them a visit!

Check out the videos here:
Nighogg and Trials Fusion
Laser Tag
Evening wrap up (this does include some game play, so I highly recommend checking it out!)

Spoiler section of the review

Oh man, where do I start? So first, the TL;DR is at the bottom of this section. If that’s what you want, have at it.

Ok, here’s how the matches broke down;

Nidhogg

So, I never played this before. I saw Swift_Sh0t play it once, and I saw a Steam trailer for it a long time before that, I even had the chance to get it cheap in a HumbleBundle, but I never got around to trying it out. First, I have to say, this game has a TON more depth than I thought it did. Where you hold the blade, how you move, anticipating the other player’s movement… Just SO many things that can go right, or very, VERY wrong! It’s so much fun to play, and I’m glad I was introduced to it now.

Now, BizSnes HAD played this before, so he started out with an advantage. It was generally agreed that my skill increased pretty rapidly, so by the end I was definitely able to hold my own. By the end, we had reached something of an equilibrium, which was amazing fun. More on this later, but for the first event, the scoring went down like this;

Match 1: BizSnes
Match 2: BizSnes
Match 3: AlexanderESmith (woo!)

Score so far: BizSnes 2 – AlexanderESmith 1

Trials Fusion

This time around, it was I who had the prior experience… after a fashion. See, I played Trials back on the Xbox 360, when it first came out. And not again since. Before that (and after) I’ve played similar 2/2.5d motorcycle games where the aim was basically “Don’t hit yer fuckin head on the floor, and also get past the finish line”, so I have some reasonably tangible experience here. Conversely, BizSnes’s review boiled down (roughly) to “Oh greeeeaat, a physics gaaaaammmeeee”. That should give you some idea of his level of excitement for this event.

Despite that, he did pretty damn well. He even carried me on at least two occasions (since if one player or another fell too far behind, they exploded and reset near the other player). The only time he seemed to have any specific mechanical trouble was when we couldn’t figure out which player’s bike was in which position (and no small mount of hilarity ensued).

Another instance of the brilliance of Justin’s planning for the event; Points were awarded not for style, grace, or even speed. The points were awarded to the first bike (or other method of transportation) to cross the finish line. This added a whole layer of strategy to the event, which definitely spiced things up.

Oh, and I mentioned other methods of transportation because the last round consisted of cats riding unicorns. If you haven’t seen this before, now’s your chance, and I highly recommend it.

Score breakdown:

Match 1: BizSnes
Match 2: AlexanderESmith
Match 3: AlexanderESmith

Score so far: BizSnes 3 – AlexanderESmith 3

Laser Tag

As I said before, unfortunately, there’s not much to see in this second video. The only item of note here is that is was /intense/ playing with a bunch of seasoned vets. They knew all the call-outs, tricks, and tactics. Basically, since our scores were counted on their own, apart from the team effort, BizSnes and I were playing our own separate game while a battle was being waged all around us. It was like being a special agent, on assignment in a battle zone, weaving in and out of other players to find the one target we were sent in for. Or actually, it was kinda like Quidditch, since the seekers can win the game at any time, regardless of what the team is doing. Crazy, and super fun.

The scores didn’t start out correctly displayed (BizSnes was vest 15, not 19), but a proper tally was maintained and it broke down like this;

Round 1: BizSnes
Round 2: BizSnes
Round 3: AlexanderESmith
Round 4: AlexanderESmith

Note: I mentioned above that based on team score, this would have been a shutout. That was because the team I was playing on completely dominated the other team. The reason I’m so glad we didn’t use the team score is because of what will follow…

Score so far: BizSnes 5 – AlexanderESmith 5

Well shit. Despite the scoring being set up specifically to avoid a tied score, BizSnes and I did exactly what none of us expected. Justin asked us if we wanted to call it as it was, but since we had to do the closing interviews in the studio anyway, and we decided that we were having too much fun to leave it at that, we decided to move to a tie-breaker in the game that we felt we were most evenly matched on…

Tie-breaker: Nidhogg

When I think back on the night, this is the section that stands out by FAR. If you only watch one section, this is the one I recommend. Now, so far through this review (partially out of a desire to entice you to watch the replay, and partially out of a bit of laziness), I only noted the scores for significant sections of play (matches for Nidhogg and Trials, rounds for the laser tag). For this section though, every round counted, so here’s the breakdown;

Note: Pay special attention to Justin’s callouts, because he has some pretty hilarious anti-bard’s tongue going on here.

Round 1:
A good warm-up to the match in general, but the best was yet to come.
Point: AlexanderESmith

Round 2 (the penultimate showdown):
This round lasted FOR. EVER. It was a hard-fought, tooth and nail, to-the-pixel melee throw-down. In total, the round lasted 8m:53s, and after it all, we were both weary from battle. In the end, though, only one of us could claim the round…
Point: BizSnes

– Intermission –

For the record, the banter between round 2 and 3 (starting at 15m:27s of the VOD) is, by my judgement, the highlight of the evening.

Round 3:
E-freakin-GADS. We literally could NOT have made this any closer. This is it, not just for the spoils, but for the GLORY. The round wasn’t as long, but it was no less hard fought, and ultimately a champion was decided…
Point: AlexanderESmith

Score at the end of the tie-breaker round: BizSnes 5 – AlexanderESmith 6

A Winrar is Me!

Holy CRAP, that was amazing. The games, the challenger, the general mood and energy of the night, just EVERYTHING was amazing. BizSnes was quite the opponent, and he put up a HELL of a fight, so kudos to him. I am super proud to claim the title of Champion for the very first Streamer Showdown, and I can’t wait to come back and do this again!

TL:DR;

BizSnes won the first event 2 to 1
AlexanderESmith won the second event 2 to 1 (now 3 to 3 overall)
– Laser Tag ended in a tie, which also tied the event so far (5 to 5)
– The last event (Nighogg tiebreaker) was an exceptional experience that ultimately resulted in an overall winner of AlexanderESmith!