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Specials
 Written by David Taylor  on June 18, 2007

Special: A gamer playing Dead or Alive 4 while simultaneously watching Cinemax at 2 AM couldn???t get more skin in one night.


In the end each franchise received a wide range of players with varied strengths. The balance for Project Gotham Racing 3 arguably tilted in Chicago Chimera???s favor. Its manager Brian Flander managed to draft both of Fatal1ty???s top picks for Project Gothan Racing, Wesley ???Ch0mpr??? Cwiklo and Jason ???Jason X??? Exelby, in the first few rounds.
Female competitors Marjorie 'Kasumi Chan' Bartel and Cynthia 'RasberryTea' Escamilla compete in a DOA 4 challenge called by a General Manager.
Other selections came as no surprise. David Geffon???s first choice was the Counter-Strike group Team 3D. Many people predicted this move since Geffon himself was once a member of the team. Geffon also managed to draft Matt ???Wizakor??? Wood, who was Wendell???s pick as the top FIFA 2007 player. The General Managers had planned many of their picks in advance based on the draftees??? performances at the three day CGS Combine that took place from June 9-11. At the Combine, hundreds of players competed against one another on a video-screen laden sound stage at 20th Century Fox???s lot. The large room was divided into four sections by game. Models served Mountain Dew at a bar in the center while fog machines gave the room the most epic feel this side of a Tony Scott movie. The manager???s and their scouts (some incognito) closely scrutinized every aspect of the players in an effort to whittle down their choices. Not only was their skill important, but also their sportsmanship and charisma. Additionally, a special computer program developed at Stanford University allowed the General Manager???s to review each player???s hand-eye coordination and reflexes. On several occasions a GM would call a challenges between two players or teams outside of the tournament to see how they faired against one another. The results of each match aided the GMs in making their difficult choice between top players. Often these one on one challenges attracted huge crowds, such as the DOA 4 battle between Emmanuel ???Master??? Rodriguez against Ryan ???OffBeatNinja??? Ward.

A crowd gathers as Manny "Master" Rodriguez and Ryan "OffBeatNinja" Ward go head to head in a challenge.
In observing them, it became quickly apparent these players were not the stereotypical basement dwelling nerds found in every movie since Weird Science. These players were genuinely skilled individuals who came from diverse backgrounds. For instance, Adande ???sWooZie??? Thorne, who is a self-described ???Christian gamer???, came to the U.S. from Trinidad. He even managed to survive his first gaming experience of E.T. for the Atari, a feat that almost makes his selection by the Los Angeles Complexity team pale in comparison. Despite coming from such varied backgrounds, many shared similar ???origin??? stories. They started playing video games at young age, many of whom, such as Emmanuel Rodriguez, had been forced to ???practice??? by their older siblings. Their overall dedication was readily apparent. Most advocated the strong need to keep themselves physically fit to aid in keeping their minds sharp for the 8 hours of daily game playing required to reach and maintain their current skill level. This sort of passion and dedication is seemingly on par with any major sports athlete. After the draft, the players took over the mansion grounds. There they indulged in the open bar, refreshments, and eye candy in the form of both Playmates and Bunnies. The tone was congratulatory and surprisingly bereft of ego. It was clear that many players, such as Vanessa Arteaga, were beginning to develop a degree of celebrity. On one occasion, a group of players ushered Arteaga through the crowd while humorously calling out, ???Number one draft pick coming through.??? The celebration reached its climax when a joyous Emmanual Rodriguez and Dallas GM Alex Conroy both jumped into the grotto???s pool fully clothed. In the meantime, several playmates gave tours of the surprisingly compact mansion grounds. Playmate Cassandra Lynn (February 2006) led our group through the game room and tennis courts while giving delving out bits of trivia about each room as well as ???the man??? Hugh Heffner himself. Players were able to see sights such as the mansion???s private zoo with its vast collection of birds and gregarious primates. Unfortunately the nearby trampoline remained devoid of bunny activity It is an understatement to say these new E-athletes had worked hard to be there that night. While months more of hard work awaited them, on June 12 it was their time to celebrate, to be young and most importantly to mock their friends at home with plenty of pictures with women dressed as rabbits. The full results of the draft can be found at the Championship Gaming Series??? website along with streaming video of the draft itself.
More from CGS 2007: The Draft | Adanade 'sWooZie' Thorne Interview | Kat Hunter Interview | Jason Lake Interview | Johnathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel Interview

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More from CGS 2007: The Draft | Adanade 'sWooZie' Thorne Interview | Kat Hunter Interview | Jason Lake Interview | Johnathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel Interview


Techno music boomed in the background as scantily clad women danced under colored lights. Nearby a huge crowd of twenty-somethings dawdled around a bar while openly imbibing stimulants. What might sound like an eastern European rave was actually the first ever Championship Gaming Series (CGS) league draft held at the famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on June 12. The women in this case were Playboy Bunnies and the aforementioned stimulants were sponsor Mountain Dew???s namesake caffeinated product.

The crowd consisted of dozens of expert video game players who turned out in hopes of being drafted into one of the new league???s six professional video game playing teams. These players had all worked hard to get noticed by each of the teams??? General Managers during the three day CGS Combine competition that preceded the draft. A one-year salaried contract of $30,000 (with the potential to make 100k annually with bonuses) awaited those souls lucky enough to be chosen.

The CGS is an effort to turn competitive gaming into a professional sports league. It differs from other competitive gaming tournaments in that it is structured like many sports with elements such as general managers and team franchises. Even the league???s commissioner, Andy Reif, comes from a sports background. He was the chief operating officer for the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour since 2001.



The draft was for the general managers to choose ten players to complete their team???s roster for the league???s first season. A total of sixty players would be chosen for the six teams. These ten players include one team of five Counter-Strike players, two Dead or Alive 4 players (one male, one female), two Project Gotham Racing 3 experts, and one FIFA 2007 (for the PC) player. When the season starts July 9th, each player will compete in their chosen game against players from other franchises. At the end of the season, the best player or team from each game will be given a championship title, as will the franchise with the overall best performance.

North America is divided up into six regional franchised teams ??? San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Carolina and New York. The league is further divided into worldwide regions. These include North America, Latin America, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Asia (which will incorporate Australia and the Middle East). The top two franchises in each region will compete at a Grand Slam event. The winner of the Grand Slam will gain the opportunity to face international players at the World Championship.

Each competition will be broadcasted to 100 million homes worldwide via Direct TV (the Americas), BSkyB (United Kingdom) and STAR (Asia and Australia) networks. On Direct TV the competitions will take place for two hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. The draft took place in a large pavilion erected near the mansion???s famous grotto. As the Playboy Bunnies pretended to be interested by conversations with the VIPs outside; inside, dozens of players eagerly waited for one of the six General Managers to call their name.

Each manager sat at a desk on the V-shaped stage, three to each side. As the draft began, players crossed their fingers, took a sip of their sweet, sweet Mountain Dew and listened as the three commentators, led by twelve-time world champion gamer and CGS global spokesperson Johnathan ???Fatal1ty??? Wendell, made their selections.



The draft order had been chosen two days earlier during the CGS Combine at 20th Century Fox studios. Kat Hunter, GM of the San Francisco Optx, was the first up to bat. She quickly wrote down her choice and slipped a piece of paper to the waiting Playboy bunny. To the dismay of the other GMs, Hunter chose Vanessa Arteaga, a female DOA player who many, including Johnathan Wendell, had predicted to be the number one draft pick.

Vanessa quickly took the stage where she was given an Optx T-shirt and cap. As the cheers dissipated, the next General Manager, Jason Lake was given one minute and thirty seconds to possibly revise his selection based upon Hunter???s choice. Not surprisingly, Lake chose Complexity, the Counter-Strike team he founded, as his first pick.

A similar pattern followed in the remaining five rounds of the draft. Individual GMs were quick to acquire some of the most impressive players in the first few rounds, forcing the others to resort to their second or third choices. DOA 4 player Emmanual ???Master??? Rodriquez got his wish and was chosen by Alex Conroy???s Dallas franchise Venom. The Carolina Core subsequently snatched up Ryan ???OffBeatNinja??? Ward, another skilled DOA 4 player.

In the end each franchise received a wide range of players with varied strengths. The balance for Project Gotham Racing 3 arguably tilted in Chicago Chimera???s favor. Its manager Brian Flander managed to draft both of Fatal1ty???s top picks for Project Gothan Racing, Wesley ???Ch0mpr??? Cwiklo and Jason ???Jason X??? Exelby, in the first few rounds.

Female competitors Marjorie 'Kasumi Chan' Bartel and Cynthia 'RasberryTea' Escamilla compete in a DOA 4 challenge called by a General Manager.

Other selections came as no surprise. David Geffon???s first choice was the Counter-Strike group Team 3D. Many people predicted this move since Geffon himself was once a member of the team. Geffon also managed to draft Matt ???Wizakor??? Wood, who was Wendell???s pick as the top FIFA 2007 player.

The General Managers had planned many of their picks in advance based on the draftees??? performances at the three day CGS Combine that took place from June 9-11. At the Combine, hundreds of players competed against one another on a video-screen laden sound stage at 20th Century Fox???s lot. The large room was divided into four sections by game. Models served Mountain Dew at a bar in the center while fog machines gave the room the most epic feel this side of a Tony Scott movie.

The manager???s and their scouts (some incognito) closely scrutinized every aspect of the players in an effort to whittle down their choices. Not only was their skill important, but also their sportsmanship and charisma. Additionally, a special computer program developed at Stanford University allowed the General Manager???s to review each player???s hand-eye coordination and reflexes.

On several occasions a GM would call a challenges between two players or teams outside of the tournament to see how they faired against one another. The results of each match aided the GMs in making their difficult choice between top players. Often these one on one challenges attracted huge crowds, such as the DOA 4 battle between Emmanuel ???Master??? Rodriguez against Ryan ???OffBeatNinja??? Ward.


A crowd gathers as Manny "Master" Rodriguez and Ryan "OffBeatNinja" Ward go head to head in a challenge.

In observing them, it became quickly apparent these players were not the stereotypical basement dwelling nerds found in every movie since Weird Science. These players were genuinely skilled individuals who came from diverse backgrounds. For instance, Adande ???sWooZie??? Thorne, who is a self-described ???Christian gamer???, came to the U.S. from Trinidad. He even managed to survive his first gaming experience of E.T. for the Atari, a feat that almost makes his selection by the Los Angeles Complexity team pale in comparison.

Despite coming from such varied backgrounds, many shared similar ???origin??? stories. They started playing video games at young age, many of whom, such as Emmanuel Rodriguez, had been forced to ???practice??? by their older siblings.

Their overall dedication was readily apparent. Most advocated the strong need to keep themselves physically fit to aid in keeping their minds sharp for the 8 hours of daily game playing required to reach and maintain their current skill level. This sort of passion and dedication is seemingly on par with any major sports athlete.

After the draft, the players took over the mansion grounds. There they indulged in the open bar, refreshments, and eye candy in the form of both Playmates and Bunnies. The tone was congratulatory and surprisingly bereft of ego. It was clear that many players, such as Vanessa Arteaga, were beginning to develop a degree of celebrity. On one occasion, a group of players ushered Arteaga through the crowd while humorously calling out, ???Number one draft pick coming through.??? The celebration reached its climax when a joyous Emmanual Rodriguez and Dallas GM Alex Conroy both jumped into the grotto???s pool fully clothed.

In the meantime, several playmates gave tours of the surprisingly compact mansion grounds. Playmate Cassandra Lynn (February 2006) led our group through the game room and tennis courts while giving delving out bits of trivia about each room as well as ???the man??? Hugh Heffner himself. Players were able to see sights such as the mansion???s private zoo with its vast collection of birds and gregarious primates. Unfortunately the nearby trampoline remained devoid of bunny activity

It is an understatement to say these new E-athletes had worked hard to be there that night. While months more of hard work awaited them, on June 12 it was their time to celebrate, to be young and most importantly to mock their friends at home with plenty of pictures with women dressed as rabbits.

The full results of the draft can be found at the Championship Gaming Series??? website along with streaming video of the draft itself.

More from CGS 2007: The Draft | Adanade 'sWooZie' Thorne Interview | Kat Hunter Interview | Jason Lake Interview | Johnathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel Interview



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