Last night, 256 competitors faced off at 8 EB Games stores across the country for a chance to compete in the National Finals in Sydney.
The player count represented the upper limit of players the competition could accommodate, and entrants were granted positions on a first-come, first-serve basis, although over 1000 players registered nationally.
This was the quietest EB Games store in the history of shopping centres, as people scarcely blinked for fear of putting off a single competitor.
Mark Azzi, last year's Australian champion, competed at the Top Ryde City EB Games qualifier. Azzi, who was whisked away from his nine-to-five job at a pharmacy, went on to take third place in the world after winning the Australian title in 2011, but was knocked out in the finals of the qualifier by Mikko Quilala.
Quilala, 27, was shaking and shocked after the event drew to close, barely taking in the notion from the event representative that he'd potentially need to be available for radio interviews.
Quilala said: "My hat's off to Mark. He played a great game, and it's just such a surprise. It's such an intense game. I guess this means I'll have to start playing a lot more of this and put down Star Wars: The Old Republic."
One entrant, Samuel Lage Liberato, 23, was over in Sydney from Brazil, and learned at the last minute about the qualifiers. Event reps pointed him to a few remaining free spots in the Newcastle event, so Liberato caught a train all the way there to compete, taking the competition by storm.
All 8 winners will be flown to Sydney's National Maritime Museum on 4th April to compete in the national finals where MCV Pacific will be on hand to cover and MC the event, and where there will be a Grand Finale Afterparty.
Congratulations to Mark and Samuel, all the qualifier winners and all competitors.
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