Nerf Tournament in Des Plaines, Illinois (thanks, Des Plaines Park District!)
By: Vas The Stampede
Last year, the Des Plaines Park District hosted a Nerf Tournament. Darts were fired, and fun was had. The fun was so plentiful they went for a second go recently as well! From the looks of it, there were about 30 (24 in the group shot below) who showed up to play, that’s up from the (roughly) 17 in last year’s group photo. Given that this is one of the few (if not only, at least as far as I know) park districts near me that uses Nerf/toy blasters as part of its programming, this is progress. (Niles, Morton Grove, Glenview, I’m looking at you.)
Here are (some of) the pics from 2014 – the day started off with some free skirmishes for the teams to get warmed up, then into round robin and eventually the knockout round.
The Des Plaines Park District set up the whole event-
The game of the day was Capture the Flag – teams would hide their flag somewhere on their half of the field, then search out the flag of the other team. If a player was tagged with a dart (and only a dart) they had to run back to their end of the field, count to 5, and jump back into play. A team only needed the other team’s flag to win, if their flag was moved they just had to hustle the other team’s flag back to their own base before their flag reached the other side. If a flag carrier was tagged with a dart they would drop the flag and it was to stay where it landed, a team could not move their flag back to base.
A little different was teams could only use ammo they brought into the game at the start; reloading from darts off the field was not allowed (probably to speed up the game, as teams would end up putting up strong defenses and reloading magazines. Even in a 5 minute round, this got a little slow.) If a player was hit, they were to pick up ONE dart from the ground and drop it into a bucket at their base. If there was no flag capture by the end of the 5 minute limit, whichever team had the most darts (meaning their players were tagged more) lost the game. Eye protection was mandatory, and players supplied their own ammo. Obstacles were provided by the park district, along with some loaner blasters when necessary.
Here’s the gallery:
Interesting note, I didn’t see any off-brand blasters. Whether it was the marketing or just preference of the players, I’m not sure. The blasters were stock (from what I could tell, and mods weren’t allowed anyway) but from talking to some of the players were definitely aware of the larger community, yet here they were doing work on the field laughing and playing with stock blasters.
The players range from 6-14 (maybe? I hadn’t really asked) but the kids came to play. Park staff acted as referees through each game and resolved any disputes and rules questions, and things went through pretty smoothly. The whole event took about 4 hours to complete from briefing to awards.
The kids definitely came to play, they were hustling, talking strategy, scouting other teams, all hallmarks of really wanting be competitive and put on a good show during each game. Admittedly, the games I played in the past at other meetups are a little less competitive so it was refreshing to see Nerf through the eyes of a more competitive mindsetthan I normally see. (Ask me about “Cannonball” sometime to get a feel for how I Nerf.)
I provided a little tech support (and some photographic coverage) but ultimately these kids may be the ones to pick up the hobby and continue to demonstrate that yes, blasters are still a valid toy market! Thanks again to the Des Plaines Park District for letting me be a part of this event and hope to see some of these faces again next year!