British Columbia

Fans of classic video game NHL '94 battle for world champion status in Richmond, B.C.

Vancouver man Jamil "Jammer" Karimani was crowned “King of ‘94” for winning an international tournament in Las Vegas last year. He will defend his title against approximately 100 other competitors in Richmond, B.C. Sunday.

NHL '94 is regarded as one of the greatest sports video games ever made

Jamil "Jammer" Karimani of Vancouver is the reigning champion of NHL '94 (for Super Nintendo) and will defend his title against approximately 100 other competitors in Richmond, B.C. Sunday. (Jeremy Allingham/CBC)

Vancouver man Jamil "Jammer" Karimani is the greatest player in the NHL.

Well, not quite: he's actually the greatest player of  NHL — NHL '94, to be precise — the classic Electronic Arts hockey video game that, despite being 25 years old, is still regarded as one of the greatest sports games ever made.

Karimani was crowned "King of '94" for winning an international tournament in Las Vegas last year and will defend his title against approximately 100 other competitors in Richmond, B.C. Sunday.

"We kinda thought, let's take a weekend off, go to Vegas, hit some golf balls, have some beers down there and see how we place in this world tournament," Karimani told On The Coast's Jeremy Allingham about why he and his friends decided to enter the tournament.

"Twelve hours later, we were in the semi-finals, I made it to the finals, and lo and behold, won it in overtime in a heroic-like fashion.

"It was a lot of fun."

NHL '94 is considered one of the greatest sports video games ever made. (Sega Genesis)

It might seem odd that grown men are spending their weekends nerding out over a video game so old that a Canadian team was still the champion of the real NHL when it came out.

However, Karimani says NHL '94 has a special appeal unseen in other sports games.

It's surprisingly realistic and it allows players to control their entire team in a way newer titles don't offer.

"Defense wins championships in '94," he said.

And, of course, it's rich in nostalgia value, he added. Not only does it feature fondly remembered NHL superstars like Joe Sakic, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Pavel Bure, but also entire bygone teams like the Hartford Whalers and the Quebec Nordiques.

And beyond that, for players like Karimani, it brings back memories of simpler times, like hosting mini-tournaments during lunch breaks in high school.

"We far exceeded the hour lunch break we got," he recalled. "We'd stroll into class late, palms still sweating from the controllers."

The 2018 edition of the King of '94 goes down Sunday at the Canadian Brewhouse in Richmond.

Spectators are invited and the event will be streamed live on Twitch.

Listen to the full story:

With files from Jeremy Allingham and CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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