Thursday 17th November saw the finale of a ten month long battle to find the UK’s top Xbox LIVE “LYNX Player”.
The fantastically urban Shoreditch Studios was the venue for the event which was hosted by presenter, film maker and all round gnarly dude, Christian Stevenson and Xbox LIVE editor Dan Maher (AKA Mr PointyHead).
Since its inception earlier this year, LYNX have brought Xbox LIVE gamers together in a series of Play & Win events across a range of titles culminating in the final showdown to crown the top Lynx Player of 2011. I was lucky enough to be invited along to enjoy the spectacle of competitive gaming and the ‘comfortable’ surroundings of the Lynx ‘Fallen Angels’.
I took along my local gaming bromance buddy to act as my wingman (and navigator) for the trip down to the big smoke. Once we’d been handed our wristbands and beer tokens (yes, a couple of free drinks too), we headed inside to mingle with the modest and intimate crowd of around 200. Divided into two areas, the bare brick and iron construction of the studio space was bathed in ‘Xbox Green’ lighting which made for a very crypt like atmosphere. On our way to the small bar area and its attentive staff, our gaze was diverted to the photography stage where attendees could grab an official snap with the Lynx ladies who I have to say, were very welcoming and chatty.
Drinks in hand we then had a wonder, brushing past the gaggle of gamers and invited guests, giving a nod of the head to the handful of other Mo Bros that were enjoying the evening. There were a few gaming pods set up around the studio with various titles on offer to keep our gaming fix topped up while we were out in the wild. One of these, worthy of mention, was a demo of Trials Evolution, the upcoming sequel to Trials HD, the game that wore out my ‘back button’. If you thought this was going to be more of the same, you’d be wrong. Fresh graphics, out in the open gameplay and simultaneous four player racing. Its certainly revved itself to the top of my must have games and somehow managed draw my gaze away from the lovely ladies. Ooh, what’s this? Mini gastro pizza’s? I think I will…thank you.
We were soon ushered into the main studio space where our ‘MC’ Christian invited the fist five contestants to take their seats on the main stage for the first session. The game? Gears of War 3. Horde mode. Starting at Wave 25! The player with the biggest pile of cash at the end of the round would be through to the final. Each Lynx Player was paraded to the stage through the crowd, Lynx lady on their arm, accompanied by suitable rousing intro music with Dan adopting a very competent boxing announcer style introduction for them all.
The game kicked off with Dan and Christian providing some great commentary on the frantic gun play across the five screens. For the crowd a huge projector fired the action onto the far wall, switching between the players so everyone got a sense of the tension with a sound system that boomed, cracked and ripped with the unrelenting Lancer and Hammer Burst shots that rang out. We soon had our first finalist; Jeremy ‘Jezza’ Wilks was the last to fall and came out victorious.
Then there was a quick break (dash to the bar) and I got a chance to chat with Christian and personally thank him for making the seminal snowboarding movie “Day Tripper” which was an inspiration for me and the missus when we started riding together. If you’re a lover of snow, track it down and if nothing else enjoy its ‘phat’ music. Oh, as I found out later, Christian also compiled the soundtrack for Dirt 3.
Back into the action for the second round with fresh competitors to find the out who would be joining Jezza in the final. I had to let out a solitary cheer when I spotted one of the contestants immediately head to the options screen and invert the controls. That’s the way real gamers play.
For this group, there were some serious tactics in play. Should you revive one of the other players and pocket the extra in game cash reward, or leave them to bleed out and thin out the competition?
Lynx Player Adam Snee was holding a decent lead even though he was all out of ammo and was down to flicking the Locust Horde with a wet towel. He spotted one of the other players had hit the bricks (or as Mr Pointy Head commented “…oh and he’s down on the ground looking for his contact lens…”) and rushed over to revive him, much to the delight of the crowd. Within moments the tables were turned and it was Adam that was on his knees…desperately trying to claw himself out of the way of Locusts, hungry to curbstomp his face into the pavement. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he was revived by the player he had just saved and he was back in the game desperately trying to hold on to his lead. But one by one, the Lynx players fell to the ground in quick succession before they’d managed to finish the round and it was Adam that got through to the final.
Time for another breather before the last game of the night. It was going to be between Jezza and Adam. One of them would be walking away with tickets for a holiday. It was all down to the best Forza 4 single lap time. One at a time they were brought through the crowd to take their solitary seat on stage. Audi R8 on Silverstone. No changing the settings! Jezza, hailing from Scunthorpe, was up first with shouts of encouragement from the crowd, but it was clear that the racing genre wasn’t quite his forte; but he put his foot down and did his utmost to stick to the tarmac and put in a good time. Anxiously watching from the VIP area at the back, our other finalist must’ve been willing him through the cones and into the gravel traps. It was ‘Eye of the Tiger’ time and Jezza managed to cross the line setting a time of 2:22 for his rival to beat. Had he done enough to secure the win?
Coming on to the stage with a rapture of cheers from his entourage of buddies, Adam Snee hiked up his jeans, mopped the sweat from his brow, and settled in for what must’ve been the most nerve racking two minutes of his gaming life. It was clear that he was not a great fan of Forza either, braking as he turned into corners sending him out wide so the back end was licking the grass.
As he approached the final bend it was incredibly tense as the clock got closer to the 2:22 mark. Final corner (2:13), down the finish straight (2:15) , over the grid markings (2:16) and through the finish for a time of just under 2:18! The lad from Scunthorpe had done it. Starting out as one of two hundred and fifty thousand gamers, down to the final and just one lap of Silverstone, here he was tonight to claim his prize of Xbox LIVE Lynx Player 2011.
He was joined on stage by the beautiful Lynx ladies and handed his trophy, which he proudly hoisted aloft.
Commiserations to runner up Jezza and all the other finalists that were there who all showed great sportsmanship and fairplay.
Well, with the competition out of the way, it was time for DJ Doorly to hit the wheels of steel and get the party started for the rest of the night. A few gamers hit the dance floor, busting moves and throwing shapes with some of the Lynx models, but there wasn’t enough alcohol in my blood stream to join them. We went off to mingle with the crowd, chat to a few MoBros and say thanks to Dan for the invite, who as it turned out had never had a go at hosting a live event, which I must say, he managed with aplomb.
A few more quick goes on Trials Evolution (yeah, you know that game is the definition of “one more go”) and it was time to say our goodbyes and head home. It was great to share time with such a decent bunch of people and once again prove that we gamers know how to have a bloody good time.
For more photographs of the event, head on over to the Lynx Facebook page.
Maybe next year, it could be you?