We’re reviving this recurring segment in which we get a behind-the-scenes tour of different local Netrunner scenes and talk to community organizers from all over the world with an interview of Alex, aka internet, the tournament organizer for New York City. As a special treat, we’ve asked a member of the NYC community to interview him for us, and Patrick, aka Shiiuga, agreed! Over to him!
Today I’m chatting with “internet”, aka Alex (none of us are sure which is his real name). Internet has been the TO for the New York City community for several years now, known for, among other things, the Sovereign of Subways tournaments. It is one of the most active metas in the country, with an extensive calendar of events from casual level all the way up to regionals running every year. Internet recently announced that he would be stepping down from the role, so we wanted to thank him for his dedication and get his thoughts on the experience of being such a long-standing TO.
Shiiuga: First of all I want to say thank you on behalf of the entire NYC meta for everything you have done for us over the years as our resident tournament organizer. How long have you been the TO there, and how did you end up in the role?
Internet: Thank you! It’s been a pleasure to run events for such a great community. I started to organize events in 2015, after the previous organizer stepped back from the game. I really enjoyed going to events to play Netrunner and see friends, and decided to step up to keep regular events going.
Shiiuga: Had you been playing for long before you took on the role of tournament organizer? What was it that inspired you to take on the responsibility?
Internet: I started playing in the Summer of 2014 at the NYU meetup, and started going to tournaments later that year. Mostly, I just wanted to keep going to events, and figured that it was a way to both keep the community active via tournaments and to be more involved in our local gaming scene.
Shiiuga: You must have run quite a few tournaments over the years. Are there any events that you ran or played in that you remember particularly fondly, or any moments (in or out of tournaments) that stand out to you as special during that time?
Internet: I’ll never forget my first GNK, where I got second place with Aesop’s Whizzard. 2018 Regionals, which was the last big FFG event that we held, was special because of how emotional it was. The Sovereign of Subways events are always excellent, both for the team event and bringing folk across BosWash to NYC. For out-of-tournament events, the big one has to be my work with Billions.
Shiiuga: Aesop’s Whizzard?! Was that a thing? Actually, don’t answer that question. I’m not sure I want to know.
Internet: 2014 was a weird time, and Cache was an exciting card.
Shiiuga: I was going to ask about Billions! I remember meeting with you in a café somewhere in Manhattan to play a demo game for a very bemused but enthusiastic producer. How did that come about?
Internet: I got a cold-call message on Facebook asking about Netrunner for an unnamed media project. I honestly thought it was a scam because it sounded so weird, but I figured I’d play along for a bit, and it turned out that the writers of Billions wanted to have a scene of characters playing Netrunner, and needed help making it convincing. I worked with the writers to make the gameplay look legitimate and include cards that made sense for the flirting, demoed the game with you, and demonstrated the actual game motions to Mike and Asia. One funny thing is that, between writing the scene and filming, the first rotation happened, so we had to rewrite it at the last minute. I was asked if I could wrangle some players for the actual scene. I learned that telling Netrunner players that they can play, be on TV, and get paid for it is a very convincing argument.
Shiiuga: I think the catering helped, too. How much input did you have into the scene itself? Did the writers do most of it and you just tweaked it to make sense, or were you given a bit more of a free reign?
Internet: They set up the scene (I certainly did not expect a vineyard!) and the general outline, and provided the actual lines. I set up the in-game bits, told them about cards that might fit the action, and came up with the gameplay.
Shiiuga: Did they ever tell you why Netrunner?
Internet: No idea, although they had early copies of the Revised Core Set, so I suspect that FFG was also involved.
Shiiuga: You’ve been organizing tournaments for a long time now. Is there any advice you can give to budding Tournament Organizers who want to put an event together?
Internet: Just do it! Just find a good venue (game store, bar, café, etc.), post the event via flyers/online, and you’re officially a TO. It can feel a bit intimidating at first, but game stores are thrilled to have regular events, and having something on the books will get people to come out and play. Tools like AlwaysBeRunning and Cobra make it very easy to run events, so you don’t need to worry about managing things like pairings and strength of schedule calculations. I do strongly recommend having a decent understanding of the rules, as you’ll also likely be the judge for the event. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia (the Rules Reference and OP Guides are great resources to have handy), but knowing common interactions helps keep games moving.
Shiiuga: That’s all great advice! Finally, can you tell me your favourite Netrunner moment or story?
Internet: Too many to count! Regionals 2018 was probably my most memorable tournament, both as a farewell event (🤔 –ed.)and just being a really great tournament all around. Gameplay-wise, I’m a huge fan of snake drafts. I drafted a Near-Earth Hub deck (shocker) with all the tempo pieces I could ask for, and in one game quickly got to 6 points. The Runner installed The Black File, so I decided to get rid of agendas in HQ by continuing to score them out – to 15 points in all! Sadly, it did not count as winning two games.
Shiiuga: One day I will convince the rules elves that firing SYNC BRE one time means I can never lose another Corp game. Thanks so much for talking to me! And thanks again for everything you have done, not only for the NYC Netrunner meta, but for the wider Netrunner community as well. Whoever takes over from you in NYC will have some big boots to fill!
Internet: Thank you!