Three Local Tecmo Super Bowl Players Aim To Turn Dallas Into The NES Game's New Hotbed.

After years of being denied an expansion franchise in the NFL, Dallas oil baron Lamar Hunt and a handful of his ridiculously wealthy pals decided they'd just go out and start a league of their own in 1959. By 1966, the AFL was respected enough that its champions began playing the NFL's champions in the Hunt-coined “Super Bowl.” And, by the 1970 season, the upstart league was such a threat to the long-established NFL that the two decided to merge into a single entity.

Now, after making the 15-hour drive north last spring to participate in Tecmo Madison — the decade-old Tecmo Super Bowl tournament held in Madison, Wisconsin, each year, the subject of a 2012 NFL Films documentary and the competition that is believed to be the apex of all Tecmo-related Nintendo gaming competitions — Dallasites Brett Michael Strawn, Chris Derrow and Chris McDonald think that, in time, they can repeat Hunt's feat and legitimately churn out the world's top Tecmo talent here in Dallas.

On Sunday afternoon at Three Links, these three friends will host the first-ever Tecmo Texas tournament, which will find 32 competitors playing one another in the storied Nintendo Entertainment System game — all for a chance at mild Tecmo Super Bowl glory.

This, even if, unlike Tecmo Madison co-creator Chet Holzbauer, who has twice won his own tournament, the Dallas-based trio didn't necessarily do all that well at the Madison tournament themselves last year.

“I was the big hope from all my friends to go to this tournament and do well,” Strawn says. “And I didn't.”

In fact, the only match any of the trio won at Tecmo Madison was against one of their own.

“I play more than most of the guys,” Strawn says. “I can beat Derrow 19 out of 20 times. We get to this tournament, and my first game is against [Chris Vogt] that was in the documentary. [I end up playing Derrow in the losers bracket.] On the one hand, I was frustrated coming all the way out here and playing a guy I play all the time. On the other hand, I thought, 'I know I can kill this guy.' [But] I fumbled inside his 10-yard-line three times. He had this weird crazy mojo that he has about him everywhere he goes. Sure enough, he ends up beating me. So then he proceeded to go to the next round and get his ass kicked.”

So why, then, do Strawn and company feel like they've got a shot to compete with the big boys?

For one, says Strawn, even before Tecmo Texas kicks off its inaugural tournament this Sunday afternoon at Three Links, the event has already attracted some of the country's top talent. Tournament favorite Brent Boudreaux boasts a 14-5 record all-time at Tecmo Madison tournaments, and an elite eight finish under his belt. He's just one of the “ringers” participating in Dallas' initial tournament attempt.

Also working in Tecmo Texas' favor, says Strawn? Geography.

“This is Texas,” he says. “This is football country. There's no question that we must have huge fans of this game down here. I kind of envision that, if we do this tournament for a few years, we're going to find some players that no one in the Tecmo community knew existed. And I'd like to send some of the people that win this tournament up to Madison and see how they do.”

And, unlike Hunt's task, the Tecmo Texas endeavor isn't nearly as far-fetched.

“Tecmo Madison just kind of decided they were going to do this thing,” Strawn says. “They built it, and, all of a sudden, it's become the tournament to do.”

But before heading down the path toward growing Tecmo Texas into the kind of event that will eventually attract hundreds of would-be contenders from around the world like Tecmo Madison does, Strawn and company will use this weekend's inaugural 32-player tournament as a learning year before attempting to scale things up.

Already, though, there is promise: Just about a week after announcing the tournament on January 3, participation slots in the tournament had already been filled. Worth noting: These people aren't playing for free; their $20 entrance fees will go into a cash pot that will be divvied up among the top finishers.

How far Tecmo Texas will go from here, Strawn says, will be left up to the magic of the game.

“The guys in that documentary are Tecmo celebrities,” Strawn says. “The biggest crowds were at their games. It's a bizzaro celebrity world. I think it would be fun to kind of create that same thing here.”

Adds Strawn: “Everyone that was getting eliminated was just having a blast. I don't know what it is about the magic of Tecmo Bowl, [but it] just adds up to a great time.”

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