The early history of Norwegian Quake, written by Erlend.
Quake was eagerly awaited and quickly attracted a Norwegian following after its release in June 1996. Home computers and Internet access being fairly common by those days' standards, Norway was a dominant part of the European Quake scene from day one, along with Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
The first few years, clan matches were decided on aggregate score after two freely chosen maps. The TB3-maps DM3 and DM2 quickly became the most popular, but E1M3 was actually more common than E1M2. Other regular choices was E3M3 and E3M7, while the occasional match was played on E1M1, E1M5, E2M1, E3M2 and E3M6. E4M3 is also worth mentioning, a map Norwegian clan The Vicious Vikings made their own. Though hard to picture today, 4on4 matches were also played on DM6 and DM4 (!).
Connection issues and huge ping differences were not uncommon, according to early match logs. Servers were often changed at «half-time» to even out the disadvantages. Thus, winning 100-30 at home could easily be followed by losing the away map by similar figures. As there were few clans, LPB and HPW teams regularly played each other, despite the unfair conditions.
The first Norwegian clan, The Vicious Vikings, was formed in August 1996. Spawn Clan and Carnage Clan (known as Cyber Quakers in 1996) quickly followed. The trio established themselves as the top Norwegian clans, and Carnage Clan was soon considered as one of the best - if not the best - LPB clan in Scandinavia.
It took about a month before the Quake scene was big enough for matches to be regularly played. The first Norwegian clan match was played October 5th between The Vicious Vikings and The Lost Vikings (the vicious ones won). The Norwegians often had to look abroad for opponents, and The Vicious Vikings and Spawn Clan played legendary clans like Teddy Bears, Swedish Chefs, Crusaders and Nasty Beasts Inc during the fall of 1996.
In November 1996, the clan ranking page A Frag in the Darkness was started, which soon became a meeting point for Nordic clans and one of the biggest Quake pages in Scandinavia for the next couple of years.
This was the year leagues and tournaments became professionalized. What A Frag in the Darkness had started the previous fall, now really took off with sites like the duel ladder Scandinavian Mighty Ones, the clan rating site Automatic for the People and the Norwegian Quake League, a national league like in Sweden and Denmark. News and community sites like FragZone and Blue's News became popular. These sites and leagues spawned a lot of activity, and a lot of new players and clans joined the scene.
The first of a series of ten AskerLANs were held in February. These LAN-parties were a huge success and became the heart of the Norwegian Quake scene for the next couple of years. The best Norwegian players were always present, with Stalin and Sectopod battling for the title as Norway's number one.
1997 was also the first year for national teams. Norway had an LPB team and a HPW team, and played against Sweden, Denmark and Finland on various occasions from early 1997 and on. The Swedes conquered the title as best country.
Scandinavia's first all-female Quake clan, Sisters in Quake, was formed during the fall. The strange phenomenon of clans purely for fakenickers also emerged this year. An explanation could be that several Norwegian clans had become so big there simply wasn't enough game time for everyone. Thus, clans like Ernie Killers, Mikke Mus Klan and later on Rectum Intruders could have been an opportunity for players to finally get some 4on4 action.
Three of Norway's top clans were dissolved in November. It started when several of the top players of Carnage Clan, Spawn Clan and Insomnia all left their clans to form the new clan Game Over. Shortly after, the players they had left behind also formed new clans, like The New Breed and 7th Sphere, though several of them would also end up in Game Over eventually.
In retrospect, the biggest change of 1997 was QuakeWorld. Though released in December 1996, it wasn't until the summer before the majority started to make the transition to QW.
Quake II was released in February, but ended up as a disappointment, unable to match the gameplay experience of its predecessor. Other FPS games like Half-Life and Unreal also tried, and failed, to push Quake from its throne as the number one online game. QuakeWorld, which had really taken off the previous fall, was developed with new features like Kombat Teams, Rocket Arena, new spawn modes and the Qizmo-proxy.
The new «super clan» Game Over dominated the Norwegian scene, including the new Norwegian Clan League and existing leagues like AFITD and AFTP. Previous attempts at making a Nordic league had been unsuccessful due to high ping and connection issues between boarders, but with ISDN replacing more and more modems, it was possible for former HPWs to get pings close to 100 on servers abroad. During the summer of 1998, plans for a Nordic league was in the making.
North-European Clan League began in October. NECL was the biggest tournament this year, featuring all the best North-European clans. The top division was won by Clan Z, but the Norwegians did good, with Game Over and The Vicious Vikings finishing 2nd and 3rd - beating clans like Orkney Clan, Schröet Kommando, Nasty Beasts Inc, Medieval Spawns, Demonic Core, Teddy Bears and Wrecking Crew.
The final big year of Quake. Even though the game was almost three years old, and constantly being challenged by other releases, the Nordic QuakeWorld scene was still thriving in the first half of 1999.
The biggest competition of the year, and probably only matched by the legendary Clan 9 vs. Death Row matches in European Quake history, was True Gamers Invitational in Gothenburg. The tournament gathered the best duel player from all over the world, and Norwegian star player Sectopod ended up 3rd. The final between LakermaN and Kane is legendary and probably the most exciting and intense duel ever played, given the circumstances.
Another big happening was the invitation-only tournament Rapture 99 in Scotland in July, where eight selected players from North America and Europe clashed in a continental battle.
As many as 60 clans, including most of Europe's best clans, were signed up and waiting for the second NECL season. The first season had finished in January, with Norwegian clans Game Over and The Vicious Vikings being arguably the 2nd and 3rd best clan in Northern Europe. The second season was supposed to start in February, but never came, as it was delayed and delayed until it was too late; the QW scene had started its rapid decline.
Looking back, it's hard to define what suddenly lured players away from QW. The beta release of Quake III Arena in April probably played a big part, as Q3A was a big step forward compared to the disappointing Q2. Norway's first official Q3A clan match was played May 17th 1997 between The Vicious Vikings and Game Over, which the latter won. Quake and QuakeWorld also faced competition from new games like Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike, of which especially the latter would go on to dominate online gaming.
Naturally, few new clans were started compared to previous years. Many existing ones were dissolved or moved on to other games, but were leaving players who still wanted to play QW behind, and most of them ended up in Game Over and The Vicious Vikings, two of the few Norwegian clans still active in the fall of 1999.
The QW scene is still in decline. I February 2001, for the first time in almost five years, a Quake game is not the top online game in the world. Counter-Strike has taken over the throne, and its popularity will continue to grow.
Looking at the clans formed during the 2000s, a pattern emerges: A lot of players are jumping from clan to clan or being members in several clans at once. For example, Norwegian player The Chosen One seems to have been a member of every Norwegian clan active from late 1999 to 2003. Players like PreMorteM, TiMMi and Pusling also have most of the Norwegian clans this decade clans on their CVs, and the same goes for several other players. In other words, it seems almost every Norwegian clan during the 2000s was a spin-off of a predecessing clan, and that only two or three clans have actually been active simultaneously. A small bunch of around 15-20 players seem to be behind most of the activity. Another pattern from the 2000s are few new people. Most of the Norwegian players this decade were active also in the 90s, and had either played continuously or made comebacks.
There seem to have been a drop in activity between 2003 and 2007. The return to QW in the second half of the decade - marked by the comebacks of Norwegian players Rikoll and Trygve - is probably closely connected to European Quake League starting up in the fall of 2005. EQL was a huge success and attracted a lot of activity, among them a lot of old school clans, and, it seems, several old school Norwegians who resurrected the clan The Axe Men in 2008. As of 2014, EQL is running its 18th season. Other notable competitions this decade was Challenge Smackdown (2000) and Duelmania (2001).
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