Here's a tip for those considering competing in Saturday's "Guitar Hero" tournament at Mystic Lake Casino: Chris Chike, who holds the Guinness World Record for the highest score in the game, won't be there.
Finally, someone else has a chance to win.
Chike's nimble fingers have taken him to the heights of "Guitar Hero" godhood, but his record-setting prowess can't make him age instantly. At only 16, the junior at Century High School in Rochester is too young to get into the Prior Lake casino. The so-called Rock the Lake tournament, which is being billed as the state's largest "Guitar Hero" competition, is open only to those 18 and older.
Chike said he's OK with that. No offense to the old fogies in the crowd, but Chike said he thinks he would win if allowed to compete.
"I'm glad they're holding a 'Guitar Hero' contest," Chike said. "It's a great game and requires skill and rhythm to win. It will be interesting to see how the 18-plus crowd performs."
Chike drew international headlines in March when he was recognized by Guinness World Records for achieving the highest score in "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock." He cranked out 880,920 points -- hitting 97 percent of the notes on expert level -- for the finger-burning "Through the Fire and Flames" by speed-metal band DragonForce. Several days later, he bested that official record with a score of 889,256 (98 percent completion rate) at the Play N Trade video-game store in Bloomington as part of a national tournament with nearly 1,000 contestants.
Mystic Lake is preparing for a capacity crowd of 2,500 to compete in its tournament. Mystic Lake's Bryan Prettyman said the casino has already had several hundred people compete in a prequalifying event at the Mall of America and has received e-mail inquiries from as far away as Texas and California. If more than 2,500 people show up, the casino will hand out tickets and call out numbers randomly until it reaches capacity.
Prettyman argued that the casino's tournament is no different than a neighborhood bar having a "Guitar Hero" night -- but with better rewards. Those include a grand prize of $10,000 among more than $20,000 total in cash and prizes, including a free T-shirt for all competitors.
Spectators will actually be able to see how the contestants do. The final rounds will take place on the stage of the Mystic Showroom, the 2,100-capacity venue where the casino presents real rock concerts.
But before that, the tournament will take over the casino's entire conference facility with 25 qualifying rounds of 100 people each. Competitors will stand at 50 PlayStation 2 systems, two to a unit, and rock out all day on "Guitar Hero III." Those with the highest scores will progress to the next rounds. Each station will have an official to ensure that everything is run properly and to make sure contestants, who will be wearing headphones during the prelims, behave properly and don't use offensive language.
Prettyman said the Rock the Lake event will be easier than the "Guitar Hero" contests Chike has won.
"Most tournaments are hosted with the difficulty stage set on expert," Prettyman said. "Our tournament is set on medium and hard, so it's giving the novice players more of a chance to participate, if not to hold a position within the tournament, not to be immediately eliminated by a more seasoned player."