Gauntlet Defending Champs: Team Phoenix

Nelly Steiner Mox Gauntlet

We’re just a few days away from The Gauntlet, our annual charity gaming tournament at Mox Bellevue. Each year, twenty teams from our local area come together to compete in a day of games and giving, and we wanted to throw a spotlight on our defending champions: Team Phoenix!

While many of our Gauntlet teams hail from game studios throughout our area, we often welcome teams from our Mox community to join us in the competition. Emily and Joe Klopchic and their friends ended up playing a crucial role in The Gauntlet 2016 – when a team dropped out two days before the tournament, they assembled a team and swooped in to save the day. The team called themselves “Except All Substitutions,” and their eleventh-hour preparation paid off, earning them a fourth-place finish.

When they were invited back the following year, the team decided to step up its game. They spent the last two weeks of the fundraising period practicing games with family and friends, paying close attention to our scoring system and how each of the games were weighted. (All Gauntlet participants receive a packet that explains tournament logistics, including our scoring.) They really were in it to win it – competing in the Gauntlet meant so much to the Klopchics that they both turned down an opportunity to judge a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix that weekend.

And win they did. After a tense finale game, Except All Subs edged out 2016 champs Wizards of the Coast to take home the Gauntlet.

“It means a lot to win as a community team,” Emily said. “The large gaming companies that participate every year do an amazing job making The Gauntlet well known in their communities. The donations come from those communities, and we feel like we represent those players, as we play all of these games ourselves.”

After a rebrand and a slight line-up change, Team Phoenix is ready to defend their title at this year’s Gauntlet. While their strategy hasn’t changed significantly, they’ve ramped up their fundraising efforts and will be awarding T-shirts to donors who pledge $25 or more. All four members of Team Phoenix are longtime gamers, but they’re especially inspired by the prospect of doing good in their community.

“While winning feels great and gives us a feeling of accomplishment, the mere fact that what we are doing is directly positively impacting a local charity and giving us a good reason to play games all day is beyond words,” Emily said. “The gaming community’s willingness to come together for an event like this is a large reason we are all so proud to call ourselves gamers.”

Will Team Phoenix hold onto the Gauntlet for another year? Tune in to our livestream this Sunday, May 20th, and find out! You can still get involved, check out our donation page! All funds will go to Wellspring Family Services. 

  • See you at Mox!