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Red Annihilation, a Quake competitive eSport event held in May 1997, appears to be the first nation-wide video game competition held in the United States. In the final match of the tournament, Dennis "Thresh" Fong defeated Entropy of Impulse 9  to win the event and took home John Carmack's 1987 Ferrari 328 GTS cabriolet as the grand prize.
The tournament was developed and organized by Rob Esterling, executive director overseeing Intergraph Computer Systems's commercial and consumer graphics group, and his Integraph team including Jim Terzian, the tournament's director and Victor Johnson, the team's Art Director.
In 1996, Microsoft's DirectX group hosted game competitions, first at the Computer Game Developers Conference, then as a separate event, selecting the players and flying them in to compete. These Microsoft-hosted competitions might be seen as the first nation-wide video game competitions held in the United States, as players came from throughout the country.
About the same time, a championship Quake tournament was conceived by Michael "Hawthorne" Shearon as the Kings of Capture Quake Tournament.
When a further Microsoft DirectX-organized event, intended to be held at Naval Air Station Alameda, was cancelled, Intergraph announced it would host a tournament that would be an open, national computer game competition and chose Quake as the game to be played.
Intergraph brought in Quake developer id Software, 3D computer graphics chipset maker Rendition, and online gaming company Mpath Interactive as partners in Red Annihilation, and selected Will Bryant and Frank Cabanski of the Quake ClanRing to operate the game competition (because of their prior pioneering experience running large scale gaming tournaments).
The initial phase of the tournament was held on Mpath's MPlayer network with over 2000 participants from across the United States competing online in one-on-one matches.
The top 16 players were flown to Atlanta, Georgia for the concluding phase of the tournament, where they competed inside the World Congress Center in a gaming arena Intergraph built on the floor of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). This phase of the competition used vQuake, the hardware accelerated version of the game, played on Intergraph PC computers equipped with Rendition V1000-based Intense3D graphics accelerators. Players were able to use their own keyboards, mice and other pointing devices if they wished.
E3 being an industry exhibition open to the trade only, most spectators watched the final competitions online via in-game cameras orchestrated by Bryant and Cabanski. The final morning of the tournament was also covered from the show floor by NBC's Today and The Wall Street Journal.
It was discovered during the award ceremony that tournament winner Fong, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, would not be able to drive his prize as he was not insured for such a vehicle. Carmack agreed to underwrite Fong's insurance for a year so the latter could enjoy his new car.
Who were the top 16...
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