|Former world record holder Steve Wiebe alongside current champ Robbie Lakeman on Day 2|
Photo: William McEvoy
August 1st, 2015 - The action at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh took a familiar turn today, setting an ominous tone for tomorrow.
For the third consecutive Kong Off, Jeff Willms has emerged with the event's highest score. If the format were the same as in previous years, the brilliant Canadian phenom would now be celebrating a three-peat.
However, the Kong Off 4 is a whole new game. Just hours from now, the players will meet for the final day, a single-elimination bracketed standoff between the 8 highest-scoring players from these first two days.
The format will entail a major change in strategy—one that emphasizes safety and survival over scoring pace—and has never been so much as tested before. Can Willms master it on the fly? Or will the Kong Off finally have a new reigning champion?
|Jeff Willms (right) taking a chess break with Ethan Daniels, Steve Wiebe, and Mitchell Elliot|
Photo: William McEvoy
Here is the final leaderboard for the high score segment:
Giving us these matches for Sunday's first round:
Lakeman vs. Daniels
Copeland vs. Chien
Saglio vs. Groesbeck
Wiltshire Bubbled On Last Quarter
There is never a shortage of "last quarter drop" drama in Donkey Kong tournaments, as veterans of past Kong Offs and Donkey Kong Online Opens will be quick to recall. Today's action stayed true to form, with not one but two players pushing through their hail-mary games to wrest their way into the finals.
After Hank Chien and Mike Groesbeck secured 5th and 6th, Steve Wiltshire sat in 7th, with Vincent Lemay rounding out the top 8.
Then, after last quarter was called, Ethan Daniels came alive to push Wiltshire to the edge of the bubble and Lemay out into 9th.
Time to take off the shirt.
Lemay, on his final game, had only one shot to retake top 8 standing... and the shot hit its target, beating Wiltshire by just 3,100 points.
"I might cry" Wiltshire said with a smile on his face, watching the action from directly behind Lemay's machine. They shook hands, Wiltshire departed in 9th, and a white-suited Billy Mitchell joined the shirtless French-Canadian bodybuilder in his obligatory celebration pose.
|Photo: Hank Chien|
Saglio Almost Breaks The World Record
Every ill-fated Donkey Kong world record attempt will fail for one of two reasons: either because the player reached the game's kill screen without maintaining the pace needed to earn enough points, or because he lost all four lives along the way.
Earlier today, Dean Saglio had the pace, but his four lives weren't enough. We came very close to seeing the Donkey Kong world record broken this afternoon, when the grandmaster unexpectedly succumbed on board 94 (of 117) with 960,300 points.
Taken to the end, the game would have beaten Robbie Lakeman's score, and to an extent that would likely have closed the book on the world record chase. Saglio already did the deed on the MAME emulator almost two years ago with a virtually unbeatable score, and many believe that he will ultimately be the last to hold the record on the arcade platform when he finally attains one similar to it on original hardware. But today would not be the day.
The Grand Finale
Action is scheduled to begin at 9 AM Eastern, and will be streamed at http://www.twitch.tv/richieknucklez. Join us then to see who will take home the belt, the barstool, and $4,000 cash!