Joseph “JoeyGats” Chiltowski of Philadelphia three-peated in the world championship of Tecmo Super Bowl last night, prevailing in a taut, 21-13 defensive struggle over a longtime veteran making a breakthrough run to the final.
Entering the tournament, Chiltowski, the top overall seed at Tecmo Madison 14, had been beaten only twice in the preceding three years of competition. Despite being only the second repeat winner in Tecmo Madison history, Chiltowsky represents something of a new guard — younger than most of the field, and not from a snow belt region.
His final opponent was grade-A Tecmo Madison timber: Matthew Vogt, 33, of Cincinnati, whose 87 victories in Tecmo Madison and its affiliated tournaments are seventh-most all time. Vogt may have pulled off the greatest comeback in Tecmo Madison history in 2014, but the furthest he’d ever made it was a loser’s bracket final in 2010.
This year, Vogt cleaned out the rest of the old guard to make a long-awaited first appearance in a Madison final. He showed three of the top four seeds the exit in the tournament’s double-elimination knockout stage: Francis “Mort” Buennagel of Buffalo, the winner of Tecmo 6 in 2010; Kyle “Regulator” Miller of Elkhart, Indiana, champion in 2014’s Tecmo 10; and Chet Holzbauer of Madison, Wisconsin, the tournament’s founder and winner of Tecmo 8 and 9 in 2012 and 2013. It’s also the first time Vogt had beaten Holzbauer at Tecmo Madison.
Chiltowsky advanced to the final unblemished by shellacking Buennagel 21-7, Chicago against Cincinnati, and then sending Holzbauer into the loser’s bracket with a 24-17 win, Kansas City against the Bears. Vogt dismissed Buennagel, then crushed out Holzbauer in a strength-on-strength matchup of the Chiefs (Holzbauer) and, astonishingly, the Los Angeles Raiders, whose powerful offense makes them rare in the pairings offered at Tecmo Madison. (Coin toss winners propose a matchup; losers pick the team they will play).
Vogt slays a giant to survive
In their first game, Vogt avoided elimination with a 17-7 victory over Chiltowsky, just his third defeat in four tournaments. Vogt, as Cincinnati, trailed 7-0 early and then shut out Chiltowsky, as San Diego, the rest of the way in a defensive showcase. The Bengals are Vogt’s best team over a competition history spanning 113 games. Likewise, the Chargers are Chiltowsky’s best squad.
That set up the winner-takes-all finale: Vogt as the Chargers this time, with Chiltowsky as the Vikings. Both scored on their initial drives to level the score at 7-7. The first big break came for Vogt when he stuffed Vikings running back Herschel Walker for no gain twice, on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, to squelch Chiltowsky’s scoring drive and take over deep in Vikings territory.
But Chiltowksy responded by dropping Chargers running back Marion Butts for a loss twice, stalling Vogt out at the Minnesota 8, and forcing him to settle for a field goal and 10-7 halftime lead.
Chiltowsky had possession to begin the second half. On his first drive, he connected on an 82-yard moonball from Wade Wilson, standing in his own end zone, to Anthony Carter at the San Diego 11. Running back Rick Fenney, whose rushing power and rushing speed is equal to Walker’s, was substituted in as the primary running back, and he strolled in for the 14-13 lead.
A costly sack practically decides the game
The next possession likely decided the game for Chiltowsky. On 3rd and 2 from the Chargers’ 31, blanket coverage in the secondary left Vogt with no options and he took a nine-yard coverage sack, leaving him with 4th-and-11 from his own 22.
With 3:27 left in the game, there was no way he could punt and get the ball back. Because of Tecmo Super Bowl’s fast clock and timing rules, a punt the length of the field runs off 30 seconds of game time while the ball is in the air, and Chiltowsky could likely run out the clock with possession and less than three minutes to play.
Checking in on his players’ conditions, Vogt found that both Butts and Anthony Miller, his best runner and receiver, were both in bad shape. (Tecmo Super Bowl has a rudimentary progressive-performance mechanic where players arbitrarily go from “average” to “bad” or excellent condition.) Vogt substituted in Mark Vlasic as quarterback, because with the lower “pass speed” rating, he can get more air under his throws than Billy Joe Tolliver, and throw up to the length of the Tecmo Super Bowl field. But Chiltowsky knew exactly what Vogt was planning, and sacked Vlasic with Chris Doleman to take over on the Chargers’ 15-yard-line with 3:21 to play.
All was not lost, though. Vogt forced Chiltowsky to 4th and 4 on the San Diego 9 with 2:39 left. A field goal would still give Vogt the ball back with plenty of time to win the game. Chiltowsky went for it, rolling out with Wilson to the bottom of the screen, throwing back across the field to find Walker, who stumbled in from the three-yard line to make it 21-13 and a two-possession game for Vogt. Tecmo Super Bowl has no two-point conversion attempts.
In desperation, Vogt moonballed from Vlasic to Miller to reach the Vikings’ 20. He opted to take the field goal there and try for the onsides kick later — although Vogt was player two in this game, and a P2 onsides-kick recovery is, if not impossible, at least unheard-of.
But Chiltowsky blocked the kick with Mike Merriweather, and Vogt recovered at the 25. He tried another field goal, Chiltowsky blocked that one, too, and recovered with Darrell Fullington with 0:28. Chiltowsky punted to run out the clock, and won Tecmo Madison 14.
The final six matches: Chiltowsky-Buennagel, Buennagel-Vogt (Buennagel eliminated), Chiltowsky-Hozlbauer, Holzbauer-Vogt (Holzbauer eliminated), and then Chiltowsky-Vogt I and II, can be seen via Twitch below.