Category: Player Profile

All Toned Up: Illinois native made name known at Tecmo MADSION XII

By Chris Vogt | @MWTecmo
TSB Writer

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.”

Orenga fumbles at the 1yd line, surrounded by the @OrengaPosse.

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.”

Toner will be toned up for Tecmo  Madison XIII, now. Watch his journey unfold on the livestream. Broadcasts will be on Facebook.com/TecmoSuperBowl and Twitch.tv/TecmoBowl

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.

Handle: joeygats
Known As: Gats/Joe
Madison Record: 18-2
Madison Champion: Tecmo XII
Elite 8 Appearances: 1

Joeygats is an interesting study in how the real-life version of a player is different than the person with the handle on the message board. One of the previously most hated players in the online community, Joeygats has been mired in a few minor scandals and has been banned at various times from online leagues. Gats’ crimes include rampant cheating, accusations of repeated rage quitting, and a general sense that Gats is always up to something when playing online. Joeygats, however, is one of the best live Tecmo players around, his quiet personality and unusual way of sitting and playing the game creating a riveting spectacle. The constant theme running through Gats’ play both online and in live play is a frightening dedication to the game itself and to winning. The cheating, the rage quitting, the frankly bizarre antics at tournaments are all because the game literally means more to him than anything else in the world. Tecmo the game is literally his life – he has no other passions, no other pursuits. Joey is the person who managed to surpass Sconnie’s record for games played in the Tecmo Players Circuit, spending hours at the Philadelphia Public Library using a computer there to rack up game after game after game. Tecmo is his love, it is his life, and it is our fault if we do not understand that dedication.

Joeygats’ play style is built around the pass with a grudging acceptance that running is important. Not the greatest tapper, Joey spends games making sure his runners have blockers and that his receivers have space to move. Given enough acceleration room and the right player, Joey has an array of feints, fakes, and maneuvers to insure he’s gaining positive yards while setting up the man defender for a block from a drone or a small misstep costing speed. He is a dedicated defender, trying at all times to force a ball carrier into a gang tackle with himself and his drones. His play style is built around numbers on both offense and defense while using his superior experience – 1000+ recorded games and counting – to overwhelm his opponent. Unfortunately for Joey, his play style is also attached to his personality. If he isn’t comfortable, he falls apart. Joey does not necessarily lose because he is worse than his opponent, he loses because his mental strength disappears at the wrong time.

A good analogy for Joeygats is Dabo Swinney. Like Dabo, Joey is going to throw the ball around the park as he considers this the best way for him to win. Like Dabo, he’ll grudgingly run the ball since that will keep defenses honest and allow him to score enough to win. Like Dabo, his defenses will be built around throwing as many bodies at the problem until it’s solved. Like Dabo, he’s a quirky guy with an odd sense of what works and what doesn’t on the field. And like Dabo, his dedication to winning above all things lands him into hot water occasionally and his need for things to be his way causes any deviation from script to be multiplied exponentially.

Watch a reply of Joey’s championship game:
Watch live video from TecmoBowl on www.twitch.tv

Joeygats’ recent Thunderdome IX Elite 8 match vs DisastaMasta is one to watch.
Watch live video from war_machine0323 on www.twitch.tv

Name: Dave Brude
Handle: bruddog
Known As: bruddog (brew-dog)
Madison Record: 12-4
Madison Champion: N/A
Elite 8 Appearances: N/A

No one tournament player has delved deeper into the inner workings of the game than Bruddog. He has plumbed the depths of the code, done notation on it, and has revealed more insight into the game than any tournament player ever. This depth of knowledge actually has a practical application in tournament play – He literally knows what’s wrong with your team, what’s best about his team, and what is going to happen if certain players interact with each other. This makes Bruddog an incredibly difficult player to play against because you can’t overcome the knowledge deficit. Unfortunately, this knowledge has yet to translate into deep runs in the tournament. Partly, it’s luck – the draw at times has been very unforgiving for him; however, the other part is that Bruddog cannot tap. Being the worst tapper in the world is not a detriment to a player’s game, but he seems to find himself in situations too often where his lack of tapping causes all kinds of issues. This forces him to play almost perfectly, which is a difficult thing to do over the course of 9+ games.

Bruddog’s play style is a wonderful thing to watch. His playbook is no different than anyone else’s at the top level. It’s how he plays the playbook out that is the best thing about his game. He rarely has a play called, he doesn’t lean on any one play, he throws when the opponent calls run on defense, he runs when the opponent calls pass on defense, he mixes up his plays effectively, and doesn’t make many mistakes. He is a highly technical player who thrives in matchups that tend to favor those with the best skill and knowledge depth. He seeks out matchups and teams that give him incremental edges across the field and uses his knowledge to compound those increments into victories. His losses come to superior tappers that know how to isolate Bruddog as a ball carrier or isolate Bruddog as the lone defender; or he loses to players through matchups that require little knowledge to maximize advantages.

Bruddog is the Tecmo version of Bill Belichick. He is the consummate student of Tecmo with knowledge unparalleled at the tournament level. His experience and ability to play with any team in any potential way make him a difficult opponent. He can overcome most anything opponents throw at him. However, the inability to adjust his game to accommodate his lack of tapping is – like Belichick’s maniacal belief in his way over all others – a flaw in an otherwise great player.

Bruddog is one of our picks to make a deep run at Tecmo Madison XIII. Do you think Tecmo XIII is his year?

Bruddog had an epic battle vs Drake in the online tournament, Thunderdome IX Round of 20. This is worth 20mins of your time.
Watch live video from war_machine0323 on www.twitch.tv

Name: Kyle Miller
Handle: Regulator
Known As: Regulator/Reg
Madison Record: 35-5
Madison Champion: Tecmo X
Elite 8 Appearances: 3

Regulator’s 4-year quest to dethrone Chet and establish himself as the pre-eminent player in tournament Tecmo would make an unbelievable movie. Regulator started in Tecmo VII, taking a rough loss in the second single-elim round, but learned enough about what he needed to do to make it at gigantic large tournaments to begin an amazing run. In Tecmo VIII he loses to Chet in the final. He wins Detroit, then loses twice to Chet in the finals of Tecmo IX. He goes through a slump at Detroit and Ohio, but emerges with a new, improved game and walks through everyone including beating Chet twice to take a much-deserved title. He proceeds to win Ohio, Detroit, Ohio (again), Iowa, Detroit (again), before losing to Aaron Toner in the Sweet 16 of Tecmo XII. That run cemented his status as an all-time great in tournament Tecmo Bowl, and his overall record and win total make him one of the 3 best tournament Tecmo Super Bowl players ever.

Regulator’s game was originally designed around one thing and one thing only – tapping. He had zero challengers as a tapper and actually earned a mocking label as “just a tapper” from the community. And it was partially true. Because he could out-tap literally anyone he played, he never developed any other skills. His defense was built around using man controlled defenders to isolate and take down ball carriers. Reg was an elite player with one elite skill, which in modern Tecmo Bowl isn’t enough. He learned from his defeats to Chet and finally started developing the all-around game that separates the best from the merely great. Once he established the ability to pass short, pass intermediate, run with blockers, and defend the field with drones and man controlled defenders, his tapping ability was amplified creating one of the best ever.

Jim Harbaugh is the first name that comes to mind when thinking about a coach analogous to Regulator. When playing, Reg is an intense, crazily competitive player. And he prefers that Harbaugh-like smashmouth football, but can pass his way out of most jams now. Much like Harbaugh, Regulator will take his team and crush you with it, then take your team and crush you playing his team. He really is that good.

Coming off his most recent undefeated run through Tecmo Madison qualifier, Tundra Bowl IV, Regulator is the man to beat. He will be Tecmo Madison XIII’s top seed and it is rightfully deserved.

Regulator is featured throughout the NFL Films doc.

Chet & Josh - Tecmo Madison Co-Founders
Chet & Josh (right) – Tecmo Madison Co-Founders

Name: Josh H.
Handle: sonofpatbeach
Known As: Josh
Madison Record: 60-17
Madison Champion: Tecmo I
Elite 8 Appearances: 2

Josh H., alias sonofpatbeach, is not merely a cofounder of the Tecmo Madison tournament series. He’s also one of the most established veterans of the competitive Tecmo Super Bowl scene.

Last February 2016,  he finished 5th at Tecmo Madison XII, but he doesn’t take his success for granted.

“It’s my goal every year to make the elite 8,” says Josh. “I’m more proud of making the Elite 8 the last two years than I am of winning the first one.”

While also the winner of Tecmo Madison I, Johs has reached the Elite 8 in exactly half the Tecmo Madison tournaments while advancing to the final four in three of them. He is one of two players to reach 60 Tecmo Madison wins, with a total winning percentage of over 75 at Madison and other major tournaments.

Josh’s other championship victory came in 2013  when he defeated his brother, Chet, at Tomczak Bowl VI. Josh cites his late 4th-quarter throw from “Marino-to-Excellent-Jensen” as a defining moment in his Tecmo career.

The Tecmo Madison tournament, which grew this year to 268 contenders strong, began with a bracket of 20 in 2004.

“We told all of our friends (naturally), and we made a single post on the discussion forums at Madison.com. That was all,” Josh says of Madison I’s promotion.

This year is the last time the brothers will co-lead Tecmo Madison.

“Throughout the [Madison XII] tournament, I took pictures with groups of 12-year guys, 11-year guys, 10-year guys, all the way down to 1-year guys,” says Josh.

What is it that has made him a top contender for twelve years strong?

“I don’t think my actual playing style is very memorable,” explains Josh. “The most distinctive thing is probably the senseless grunting and shoulder shimmies.”

Sonofpatbeach was in top form during the Tomczak Bowl VI semifinal match in which he dished a rare lopsided loss to established veteran Mort.

Scramble drill specialist

Josh’s Majik Man scrambling is on another level.

On his fourth offensive drive, Beach’s Don Majkowski concludes a time-milking drive in a fashion that would make Bernie Kosar proud. After stiff-arming Patrick Swilling while grapple-tossing Renaldo Turnbell, Majkowski jukes Vaughan Johnson only to slip the ‘skin to Woodside just out of reach of Mort’s Massey. Just like that, Beach pwns the Saints’ four best defenders like it was nothing, going up two scores in the fourth quarter.

Field position strategist

Beach performs two non-desperate onside kick to Mort. He seems intent on not only negating the threat of Tecmo’s top return specialist, Saint’s Ironhead Hewyard, but also diminishing the deep passing game so Eric Martin can’t beat painfully weak Packers free safety, Chuck Cecil (38ms / 31int), which led to Mort’s first score. Beach’s second onside kick has the desired effect: a key turnover is earned when Jerry Holmes (44ms / 50int), appearing to be in at least “good” condition, blankets Fourcade’s bomb to Martin for the pick.

Shrugs and shoulder shimmies

No matter the competitive stakes, Josh remains one cool Beach.

“Since I always drink when I play in tournaments, I always replicate that environment in practice sessions. It’s supposed to be fun, after all,” says Josh.

In the live recording of his semifinal versus Mort, Beach is seen insisting that a dropped red zone pass by Mort’s Woodside behind the line of scrimmage ought to be live.

“FUMBLE!!!” he says directly to Mort, obviously joking, which forces his opponent to secrete a rare in-game smile.

But perhaps Beach’s brother-and-nemesis captured it best. Two days after their championship face-off at Tomczak VI, Chet perfectly explains why his brother howled during his game-winning 4th quarter drive.

“It was an intimidation-based condition check. Josh knew Jensen was in excellent. Dan [Marino] knew Jensen was in excellent. And they both knew that I knew Jensen was in excellent. It worked.” [1]

Looking ahead to Madison XIII, Josh will be seeking his fifth elite eight appearance. Expect him to make the sweet 16 at the very least. Look for Josh add to his trove of Tecmo memories, and to have a hell of a time doing it.

Josh is featured throughout the NFL Films doc.

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  1. http://tecmobowl.org/forums/topic/56074-waterloo-ia-121413-tomczak-bowl-vi/?page=6#comment-386506