The Tecmo Super Bowl tournament began in Madison in 2006, and grew big enough that NFL Films produced an episode documenting it in 2012, but it almost ended last year. Brothers Josh and Chet Holzbauer, who co-founded the tournament in Madison, got too busy with life and decided they didn’t have time to run the tournament anymore.
In swooped Dave Murray, who ran the live stream for previous tournaments, and his partner Casey Paquet, both of whom are based in the Tampa, Florida area, to revive the tournament. They took it over in the hopes of “taking it from a good event to a legit eSports tournament that crowns the world champ,” Paquet says. This year, the video-game football tournament moves to the High Noon Saloon, taking place April 7 and 8.
Tecmo Super Bowl is an NFL game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. Since then, modified versions have been released with updated team rosters.
Murray and Paquet braced for a drop-off in interest when the brothers bowed out but interest piqued and registration maxed out at 300 players.
“So many people were pumped that it wasn’t actually going to die that we had far more demand than we expected, thus having to cap it at 300,” Paquet says.
Josh and Chet will still be playing (Chet is a No. 1 seed in one of the regions). But Murray and Paquet are making their mark with a few notable changes. They’ve modified group play and brought in more TVs to help speed up the early rounds. They brought on sponsors like the Bo Jackson Foundation, which will raffle off a chance to meet Bo at his celebrity golf tournament in Chicago. The live stream will be professionally produced and will feature on-air talent. The finals will take place in a ’90s living-room set built on stage.
And Paquet says the move this year from Badger Bowl to the High Noon will give both competitors and spectators a better view of the action.
“If you’re in the venue, it’s wild. There’s a lot of energy when you get that many people playing a historically very competitive game,” Paquet says.
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