Up until recently, if you were labeled a professional gamer, most people would think that you must be involved in the rise of popular competitions for eSport games like Overwatch, Rocket League, League of Legends, etc. However, table top gamers have been waiting in the shadows for their chance, and now it is happening.
Enter Oomba and the Unrivaled Tournament Series 2017. Oomba, a tournament management system and social network for sports and games, has created a tabletop tournament series like none we have seen. This October, tabletop gamers will be flown to Las Vegas to play for a chance at $250,000 worth of prizes. Let’s break down how this all works.
Game stores across the USA and Canada use Oomba‘s service to create a qualifier match for each of the Unrivaled Tournament games between April and June:
- Epic Spell Wars
- Villagers & Villains
- King of Tokyo
The winner of said qualifier is then set to attend a regional competition in a knock-down, drag-out fight in their respective region. The regional winner (July – September) will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to play in the National Grand Final in Las Vegas for $10,000. The winner of the National Grand Final will not only receive a $10,000 prize for themselves, but the game store they are representing will also win a mirror prize of $10,000 as well. In addition, Geek Chic will be offering a custom gaming table to the 1st place winners. The Unrivaled FAQ also hints at more announced prizes to come.
All in all, if you are a tabletop gamer, this is your moment to shine. A chance to be on TV, or at least live-streamed on YouTube, playing some great tabletop games for all the glory and all the prizes. Who wouldn’t be excited? So, as a huge fan of Steve Jackson’s Munchkin, I decided to throw my hat into the ring and see if I have what it takes. Along the way, I learned a great deal from and about this competition. Here are some of the highlights, good and bad:
- I found an amazing game store/café (Aether Game Cafe in Hoboken, NJ) I may never have known about otherwise. Side note, the coffee is amazing. Trust me.
- I met a great group of people from Unorganized Play, a podcast group, and shared a love of games, competition and general nerd stuff with.
- While Munchkin was the only game of the six in the tournament I knew, I had the chance to sit down and learn Villagers & Villains, which I bought immediately and now play regularly.
- I won a Munchkin qualifier and will be headed to regionals!
- Overall, the stores holding events seemed lost. I called five stores over a few weeks’ time to try and find a Munchkin qualifier. While Unrivaled had suggested stores to call on their website, most stores had either not signed up to participate, or they did not know what I was talking about.
- Stores that did participate held multiple qualifiers to gain interest. Unfortunately, it seems that many stores (at least around the northern NJ area) had a low turnout for events. While I know that Munchkin has a rather large underground following, there were only four players in the two qualifiers that I attended. Ascension had the most attendees.
- The six games chosen are interesting, so to speak. At least one game is out of print, and most are games requiring more luck than skill or strategy.
- Regional matches are still (to this day) not posted. July – September is a long time to plan for, especially those that may be traveling through the summer months.
- Watching the Oomba live-streams have been, well….interesting. I know this is a new competition, but the play throughs have been rough. If you want to promote your brand, you need to step up your game. (Oomba crew, if you’re reading this, you need some help. A little pizazz, perhaps? I’ll gladly host your live-streams or other playthrough events. I have references, and I’m fairly easy on the eyes.)
- Geek Chic, the aforementioned masters of custom gaming tables, tweeted this out the other day: Geek Chic Ceases Operations . What does this mean for their sponsorship and prizes?
In conclusion, from what I gathered via the Unorganized Play cast and the staff at Aether Game Cafe, this is only Year 1 of Oomba’s Unrivaled Tournament Series. It is completely understandable that there are going to be bumps along the way to making this compete with the ever growing live-stream of nerd tournaments.
While it may seem that the cons outweigh the pros, I am really excited about this. Also, according to Aether staff, because of low attendee turnout, each store will be giving a “golden ticket” to one challenger for EACH game. This ticket will allow selected players to bypass the regional round and go straight to the Vegas finals. I can only hope to be chosen as Aether Game Cafe’s Munchkin golden ticket recipient.
If you plan on attending a qualifier, this is the last weekend to find a store to participate. Go, support your local game stores, “and may the odds be ever in your favor”. Stay tuned here on Nerd-Base while I continue to follow the series through the rest of the year and hopefully represent us all in Las Vegas. Happy gaming!
Also, if you find yourself in the NNJ/NYC area, stop by the Aether Game Cafe: 519 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030.
2 thoughts on “Can You Expect Survival in the ‘Unrivaled’?”
This is Michael Williams, the CEO/Founder of Oomba and I have to say I greatly appreciate this article and, frankly, I don’t disagree with the perspective at all. This is the first year for Unrivaled and it has certainly been a learning experience. Every week the size of the team and the cost of this adventure goes up, but there has been a wind at our back the whole time. It seems the idea of “tSports” vs. “eSports” has been well received and we find that very gratifying. I love your reference to “pro” tabletop gaming as an idea. How awesome would that be?
The publishers we have been working with on this first event have been great and we hope that the event’s very existence will help prove that there are other tournament games besides Magic. Don’t get me wrong: we’re all Magic players, but we love board games and card games in general and do not want this to become a one game industry. The idea of large scale Munchkin, Ascension and King of Tokyo tournaments is awesome. Villagers and Villains, Epic Spell Wars, and Nevermore have been our first and most loyal supporters and we’re convinced that we have increased interest in each of the games.
If tabletop gamers want it, then this will turn into an annual thing. Unrivaled 2018 is already looking like it will be quadruple the size of Unrivaled 2017 and people still haven’t seen what this finale will look like!
As to the events at game stores appearing disorganized, I have to say that the only reason this tournament is working at all is because the stores have been very good about running the satellite tournaments with only a modest amount of support by Unrivaled and Oomba. If they weren’t good at promoting and running events, then this event wouldn’t been as well attended as it is now.
So far, 1,418 satellite events have been run. 2048 winners have been named to go to the regionals. 4794 additional players have participated. We anticipate about 3,600 players at the finale.
The regionals start this next weekend with the first one being at the GameWorks in Ontario (July 1st). Then we’ll be at the GameWorks in Las Vegas (July 8), Jillians in San Francisco (July 15), GameWorks in Seattle (July 22) and GameWorks in Denver (July 29). Then we’ll be at game stores in Kansas City (August 5), Dallas (August 12), Atlanta (August 19), and New York (September 2). Finally, we’re at GameWorks in Chesapeake (August 26), Newport KY (September 9), Schaumburg (September 16), and Mall of America (September 23). The grand finals will be in Las Vegas at the end of October.
We will be livestreaming all of the events on Oomba TV (www.oomba.tv). The regionals and, especially, the grand finale is where most of our effort and money has been going. We hope (finger’s crossed) that it will show and that people will like the results enough that next year’s event will go off in a more organized fashion. It has been absolutely crazy hard work, but we love table top and we want this to be a major win for everyone.
If anyone wants to reach out to us, we’re easily reached at email@example.com. We need all the help we can get and appreciate tips and complaints alike.
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