Victory, Sweet Victory: A Forum Goer’s Hunt for the Perfect Rock Band Tournament

iamtheddrman is a soon-to-be college grad and Rock Band fanboy.  He enjoys Sour Patch Kids, banging on the drums, and goofing off in class by posting on the forums.  Ironically, he now sucks at DDR.

November 12, 2009:  A day that will go down in history.  A day in which The Avi8rs, my band, finally tasted glorious Rock Band victory.  The day of the UAHuntsville LAN Party and Rock Band Tournament!* 

While The Avi8rs had long been competing online through Battle of the Bands (and taking names while doing so), they had yet to meet any of their opponents face to face. Thus, the search for a local tourney began.  There were a few hurdles along the way, the lead guitarist had moved over an hour away while the other two members, (me and the bass player), were working to finish our college degrees.  Despite these obstacles, we remained determined to find a local tournament. 

Finally, the UAHuntsville LAN Party appeared on our radar.  The tournament showed promise, as the LAN Party had become an annual tradition at the school.  After reaching out to Harmonix to ask for their blessing in our noble quest (and receiving it!), we were in!  Harmonix was gracious enough to send the Metal and Country Track Packs, 5 Rock Band t-shirts, and tons of stickers and buttons to be offered up as prizes at the tournament.

On November 12, 2009, the tournament took place.  The rules were laid out in a clear and fair manner, allowing each band to select one song and adding a random song which could be vetoed if both bands agreed.  The winner was determined based on stars, then average percentage in the event of a tie.  First place in the tournament won their choice of the Metal or Country pack, with the second place band getting the other.  The fan favorites were to receive a t-shirt for each member of the band.  A bracket was set up allowing each band to see their path to the championship round. 

Before the tournament even began, there was quite a lot of setup to be done.  The tournament was to take place on a stage, complete with sound-activated lights, a massive projection screen, a plasma TV, and a sound system about two sizes too large for the room.  I  arrived early to help calibrate the tournament Rock Band system, as well as set up his own The Beatles: Rock Band setup.  Calibration went smoothly, but setting up the The Beatles: Rock Band setup was a bit trickier.  After many hurdles, the system was setup and the crowd began to form.  The Beatles: Rock Band was a huge hit, with dozens of people taking turns playing the instruments and attempting the vocal harmonies.  It’s yet another shining example of how this game can bring together people of all kinds into a group with the common bond of love.  My setup was not the big event for the night – it was the tournament itself.  The stage was set, the game was calibrated, and the bands were ready to rock!  Cue Round 1.

During Round 1, every band was forced to play on Hard.  The round consisted of The Avi8rs vs. TMNT, the crowd favorites. The band clearly had some showmanship and really played up the crowd.  After the first song, however, it became clear that The Avi8rs could win it with a well-executed set.  As luck would have it, the mystery song was “Battery.”  The Avi8rs consulted with TMNT and decided to veto the song and try again.  This time, it was “Go Your Own Way.”  The Avi8rs 5-starred and moved on to Round 2.

Round 2 was where The Avi8rs met The Terrorists, and the competition heated up with each band playing on Expert.  In the interest of time, the number of songs was also cut down to one song per band per round, with that song being the random song.  With a name like “The Terrorists,” one would suspect a fearsome band that could crush all competition, and this was not far from the truth.  The Terrorists were a 2-man band, consisting of a guitarist and a drummer.  Both were proficient at their instruments on nearly every song in the game, as displayed in the pre-tournament warm-ups.  The Avi8rs knew that this was the band to beat if they were going to win the tournament.  Fortune once again smiled upon The Avi8rs as we Gold-Starred the song and secured a spot in the finals.

This is what it all came down to:  The Avi8rs vs. Shadows, for a place in history (and choice of Track Pack).  Shadows had proven to be a formidable opponent in previous rounds, being the only other band to score gold stars.  They, too, were a 3-person band without a singer.  The finals were going to be an all-out slugfest, with the greatest Rock Band band in North Alabama left standing.  Both bands wished each other luck before the round began, and both agreed that “The Trees” would be a song with enough epic impact to be worthy of the finale to such a great competition.  However, the tournament official, Daniel, insisted that we stick to the rules to be fair.  We agreed, and began the random song selection.  After vetoing “Visions” and “Alabama Getaway,” we finally settled on “One Step Closer.”

Prior to playing the song, my bandmates Ryan and Hunter noticed that someone had switched the guitars, meaning that the track they were playing was now on the opposite side of the TV.  Having swapped instruments many times at home, this was no big deal and they performed well on the song.  However, the guys from Shadows did not pick up on the switch and their bassist failed. 

Daniel announced that the winners of the tournament were The Avi8rs, to stunned and silent crowd.  Being sportsmen, and not wanting to win on such a technicality, we told Daniel that The Avi8rs wouldn’t accept the prize until Shadows played again and got to truly show off their Rock Band chops.  The officials decided that Shadows would play the tournament encore but first place would still go to us, The Avi8rs.

The LAN Party had other tournaments, including Halo 3 and Team Fortress 2, but the crowd favorite was clearly the Rock Band tournament. During the tournament, more and more people crowded into the room, culminating in a total attendance of approximately 475 people. Long after the tournament was over, bands were still performing on stage and mosh pits were still forming in front.  All in all, the party was a huge hit, and the support from Harmonix just made it that much sweeter.

*UAHuntsville is the University of Alabama in Huntsville