All Toned Up: Illinois native made name known at Tecmo MADSION XII
By Chris Vogt | @MWTecmo
MARTINSVILLE, Ill. — The Tecmo Super Bowl contingent know him. Now.
His performance at Tecmo Madison XII registers as one of the greatest Cinderella stories ever to be told in the history of Tecmo Madison.
Aaron “The Kid” Toner is his name. And he’ll walk into High Noon Saloon in Wisconsin’s capitol on April 8 with a hint of familiarity amongst him.
“It was a weekend that I’ll be able to tell my kids about and have them laugh at me for being a nerd,” said Toner, 22, whose magical run at last year’s Tecmo Super Bowl world championships fell short against Joseph Chiltowsky (Joeygats) in the title game.
“I’m not really sure where to start with that whole day,” Toner added. “It was a cool moment, that’s for sure.”
With minimal experience at Tecmo Madison, Toner’s conservative, turnover-limited play continually pushed him over the top with victories over powerhouses Regulator and Mort on his way to last year’s finals.
“I really should have lost my loser’s bracket group game. I played a pretty sloppy game, but was gifted a generous turnover margin,” Toner said. “I just got in a rhythm after my round of 64 game and didn’t look back.
It was a weekend that I’ll be able to tell my kids about and have them laugh at me for being a nerd. – Aaron “The Kid” Toner
“The best part about the whole experience was having my brother, Matt (tecmorox81), and friend, James (Player121Xk) cheer me on,” Toner added. “After kicking the game-winning field goal against Regulator, Matt and I high-fived and hugged. We almost did (the high-five) over Regulator, so I need to apologize to him for that. It was a really cool brother moment.”
THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Toner, an Information Systems Technologies graduate from Southern Illinois-Carbondale, remembers when his Tecmo days started.
It didn’t even have anything to do with the 1991 version of Tecmo Super Bowl.
“My uncle, Jim, edited the original Tecmo Super Bowl ROM using a hex editor,” Toner recalled. “I was probably six or seven and was fascinated by how he could change the code of the game.
“My brother and I started playing on Nesticle (emulator) on our father’s computer and became hooked,” he added. “My brother helped start TCS (Tecmo Championship Series), and I played in that when I was 12.
“I stopped playing online when I was around 14 because I just started losing interest,” he continued. “However, Matt and I would always fire up some games from that point on randomly.”
CONSERVATIVE IS HIS GAME
But Toner’s current Tecmo playing style doesn’t have much fire to it.
He said it’s conservative at best.
“My main focus is the turnover margin,” Toner said. “I try really, really hard to not make mistakes and put myself in positions in which the numbers favor me.
“For me, it is just a conservative, boring style of play,” Toner added. “Take what the defense gives and try to limit big plays on defense. I run with my QB quite a bit as well. My biggest strength is probably my patience. Outside of that, I’m pretty average with a lucky streak.”
A TOURNEY TO REMEMBER
While Toner confirmed a little bit of luck went his way at #TecmoXII, his game was on point after the Round of 64.
That included wins against Miller (Regulator) and Holzbauer (Holzy11), two of the world’s most renowned Tecmo Super Bowl players to ever pick up controllers.
“I just remember thinking that I don’t want to play Regulator. He’s the one I’ve feared. Regulator. Regulator. Regulator. There I am, playing him,” Toner said. “He was the only person against whom I felt overmatched last year.
“Chet and Joey are both unbelievably talented, but there’s just something about Regulator that was different.”
Toner pinpointed his top 3 moments of TecmoXII, and No. 1 was, in fact, playing against Miller.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the specifics of any game I played last year. In fact, I just watched them on YouTube for the first time a couple of weeks ago, which was really interesting to watch,” Toner said. “The game winning kick against Regulator by far ranks as the best. It was an extremely close game, and I got some lucky bounces to try and put together a game-winning drive.
“That was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in terms of Tecmo,” Toner added. “Trying to line the arrow up (on the kick) was really something else.”
Tony Orenga, who is accompanied by a posse of 20-plus screaming friends during each of his games, fumbling at the 1 yard line against Toner in the Sweet 16 also ranks up there in the Toner TecmoXII memory bank.
“The photos from that game are unbelievable,” Toner said. “I would have been knocked out if that fumble didn’t happen.”
Toner booting a game-winning kick to outlast Rikster falls in there as Toner’s No. 3 Tecmo Madison XII moment.
“I remember thinking that I’m kicking this field goal for several hundred dollars,” Toner said. “Outside of that, the tourney was just a complete blur.”
AN EVOLVED SUCCESS
Last year was Toner’s third Madison tournament. He said things didn’t really start to click successfully until about a week before it.
“I practiced and changed the way I mashed buttons and a few things about the way I played, which certainly helped me get to where I got,” Toner said.
His first Madison, Toner was matched up in a tough group with Madison’s own Rico Rieck and 2015 winner Derek Ruble (TecmoPsycho).
“I played them both close.”
His second Madison, Toner won his group and won his first round game. In the round of 32, Toner matched up against Chet and “I just completely freaked out. Instead of playing my normal game, I just tried to overthink every little detail. That loss probably helped just as much as anything. I realized that no matter how inexperienced you are or what the talent discrepancy is to just be confident, play your game, and let Tecmo handle the rest.
“That is probably my best advice I can give to anyone,” Toner added. “Also, a lot of luck doesn’t hurt either.”
Toner also noted to have a complete day of success at Tecmo Madison, you simply have to stay awake.
“I would have practiced staying up later last year,” he said. “I’m a go-to-bed-at-8:30 kind of guy, so my biggest struggle was trying to keep my eyes open. As the night went on, I was just pretty exhausted, which probably cost me more than anything else I did.
“I probably would have brought more peanut butter crackers to snack on, as well, because I wasn’t planning on being at Madison that long.”
Chris Vogt (@MWTecmo) is a Tecmo Super Bowl writer and enthusiast. He is a journalism graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the director of Midwest Tecmo.