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Country's Best Killer Queen Gamers Flying to Chicago for Epic Tournament

By Paul Biasco | October 7, 2015 5:48am
Killer Queen Arcade Game at Logan Arcade
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DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner

LOGAN SQUARE — The buzz surrounding the rare arcade game Killer Queen is attracting players from all over the country to Logan Square this month.

The first-of-its-kind, five-on-five arcade game caught fire in Chicago about a year ago when it was introduced at Logan Arcade in Logan Square.

The barcade is now set to host the world's largest Killer Queen Arcade tournament to date.

"It's kind of incredible. I was just thinking about it this morning, 'Wow people are actually going to be getting on planes and traveling across the country to play in this tournament,'" said Nik Mikros, a Brooklyn-based game designer and co-developer of Killer Queen. "It just kind of blows my mind, honestly."

 The regulars at the Chicago Killer Queen league night.
The regulars at the Chicago Killer Queen league night.
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Logan Arcade was the first public establishment to get a Killer Queen cabinet a year ago. There are only about seven across the country today.

The tournament, Killer Queen X, is set for Oct. 17 at Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton Ave., and will include about 100 players.

The two biggest Killer Queen scenes outside Chicago are in New York and Portland.

A few teams from Chicago flew out to New York in July to play in a tournament at the Kickstarter headquarters in Brooklyn and cleaned house.

They then flew to Portland in August and won that tournament, too.

"The momentum was there. Portland and New York wanted to avenge their losses," said Josh Eklow, the 29-year-old organizer behind the Chicago tournament. "We have talked about doing a national tournament, but wanted to make sure if a big tournament happened it was going to happen in our home arcade."

The tournament will be part of a weekend packed with events centered around the arcade game including a league night on Oct. 15.

The big event, the Saturday afternoon tournament, will be open to the public for anyone interested in seeing what the buzz is all about.

There also will be a more casual tournament Oct. 18 with randomly drawn teams mixing players from all national scenes.

Neither the designer nor Eklow can put their finger on exactly what has made the game so addicting and a lasting passion for its players.

The graphics are simple and game play is uncomplicated.

"The easy answer is oh, it's the social aspect of it," Mikros said. "That is a really big part of it."

A bigger part is the changing strategies that have emerged in different scenes of gamers.

The game is played five-on-five on opposite sides of the console, with the teams facing each other and separated by their respective screens.

There are three ways to win.

Each team has to work together to either kill the queen, place a set of 12 berries on the screen's center-top platform or ride a snail across the bottom of the screen.

"it is a good game, I would say it is a great game — not to toot my own horn," Mikros said. "As a designer you are pretty happy when you can strike gold that way, but there is something else about it that people seem to be gravitating towards."

The Chicago scene hosts a league night every Wednesday during which it regularly broadcasts a stream of the matches online.

Most league nights have around 50 people, but some have a lot more than that, according to Eklow.

"One of the most wonderful things about the game is how it's brought people together, not even just here in Chicago" Eklow said.

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