Name: Francis Buennagel
Known as: Mort
Madison Record: 42-10
Madison Champion: Tecmo VI
Elite 8 appearances: 3
With Tecmo Madison 13 approaching closer every day, there’s one contender no one in their right mind is counting out.
He’s Buffalo, New York native Francis Buennagel. The Tecmo world knows him as Mort.
Buennagel has given competitive Tecmo much over the years. His well-documented Madison VI championship in 2010 was a huge promotion for the future of the tournament.
But Mort hasn’t kept the keys to his success a secret. In January 2013 he established Mort’s Tecmo College, a blog where the author talks about Tecmo strategy and his experiences in various Tecmo Super Bowl tournaments.
“The most notable thing I have done is share my playing style and what I have learned,” says Buennagel. “A few tutorials on a blog has played a small part in making the field more challenging and technical about playing the game.”
Buennagel is one of Tecmo’s premier scholars. Yet it would be a mistake to believe his scientific knowledge makes Mort’s play overly systematic.
Asked to describe his own style, Buennagel gave some insight as to why he’s such a wily contender to bring down:
“I adapt each quarter to what my opponent is doing”
“There is nothing I won’t try”
“There is no area of the game I will not try to master”
“I improvise and I create”
“I pride myself on being able to use every player in the game to his fullest capability”
An example which illustrates this last point is a match from Madison VIII in which Buennagel’s Cowboys faced off against the Broncos. Rather than sticking with Dallas’ strong corners, Mort frequently called on the modest skills of LB2 Eugene Lockhart in the face of Denver’s pro set formations. Even the heinously average LB1 Ken Norton saw some action on a couple passing downs.
Mort is a creative genius. It takes a whole lot more than flawless play to take upend him.
What does it take to defeat Mort?
In a word, knock him out early.
“My most memorable [moment] of Tecmo 12 was winning my first game in the elimination rounds. I had lost two close games in round one for the last two years. I knew I just needed one win to get back on track. Sure enough after that game I went all the way to the elite 8,” says the immortal Mort.
Living a busy life, Buennagel says he doesn’t have much time for tournament prep. If truth be told, he doesn’t need it. He knows the game inside and out.
In recent years his preparation has become more mental than physical. The tool he’s added to his belt in recent years is a little thing called “confidence.”
Says Mort, “Now my main prep is to believe instinctively that I will win. That each play will go my way.”
Mort expanded on this notion of confidence in a February 2016 blog post titled, “Visualization.”
“It won’t make up for a lack of skill, a lack of understanding of the game or a lack of experience. Yet what it can do is push you just a little bit ahead of where you are. That way you’re always the best possible version of you.”
Look for Mort to bring his best version of himself to Tecmo Madison 13. If he can get that coveted first elimination round win, look out.
But if you find yourself on April 8th in Madison, getting mowed down by a Tecmo Super Bowl elite such as Mort, don’t be discouraged. Buennagel has some positive words for you.
“Madison has evolved into something that is more than just a tournament. It’s more of a festival that covers the weekend.”
A festival that has no one to thank more than one Francis Buennagel.
Francis Buennagel emerged as the star of the NFL Films documentary on the tournament. He has a cult status among the community along with a small bit of fame in the general public due to the documentary.
Mort’s playing style is built around a blend of run and pass. Of the players who started their Tecmo journey online, he is the first one to fully embrace the pass as a weapon in the game. He embraces a cerebral approach to the game along with an old-school mentality of passing to score, taking a lead, and running to close out the game. He tends to catch more breaks than usual in tournament play, but his offensive game plan is built around not turning the ball over in specific situations – he throws deep at the end of halves or if he sees a 1 v 1 matchup he can safely exploit.
A good analogy is Brian Billick – he learned the game by playing the game constantly, developed a strategy that works for him, then learned where his weak points are and attempted to overcome them via repetition and film study. Like Billick, Mort tends to overthink his competition and occasionally outthinks himself into strange losses.
Mort’s appearance begins at 8:04