Think you're the best at air hockey? Prove it at the Denver County Fair.

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Justin Lee
There's no crying in air hockey.
There's no crying in air hockey.Do you consider yourself a gladiator in the arcade?

When the Denver County Fair hosts the 2014 Air Hockey World Championships next weekend, all of Colorado's rec-room warriors are free to join -- but the competition sounds stiff.

See also: "Beer pavilion out, super-sized pot pavilion in at Denver County Fair"

Playing a featured role in the fair's new sports pavilion, the air hockey championships will feature everyone from out-of-state professional air hockey players to people who've never played the game outside of a friend's basement. And according to ournament director Chris Lee, there will be cash prizes and contests for competitors at all skill levels. "We have something set up for everybody," Lee says. "There's three different events, so everyone can have fun."

Still, the competition is no joke. This isn't just some guy putting together an air hockey tournament and calling it the world championship" The singles tournament is nationally recognized, and Lee's been in contact with ESPN about filming the championship round.

There will be a doubles tournament and the Mile-High Challenge (a handicapped tournament) on Friday, August 1, and the singles championship will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 2 and August 3. Pre-registration and an entrance fee are required for the doubles tournament and singles championship by August 1; the winner of the singles championship will win $1,000.

Lee says the difference between ranked-players and people off the street is very noticeable, and so he's giving fair warning to those with big enough balls to enter the singles championship without much practice. "You can tell within ten or fifteen seconds if someone knows how to play or not. It's about getting possession of the puck and setting up your shots," he says. "At this level, it's more of a chess match because top-level players can hit anything."

The doubles tournament matches are played to the best three games out of five and go to seven points. A player from each team will stay on the table until scored upon, which will result in a substitution. Eccentric uniforms and friendly trash talk are encouraged.

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CO Air Hockey
The Mile-High Challenge will handicap world-ranked players against anyone who chooses to join. Participants will be assigned a level of 0-6 based on experience: 0 for beginners, 6 for professionals. Matches are best two out of three and go to seven points, but the lower-ranked player will be awarded points at the beginning of the game indicative of the difference in experience, For example, if a level-0 plays a level-5, the level-0 will be awarded five points before the game even starts.

"We'll have cash bounties on the professionals," Lee says. "So if you're a level-0 and have to play a pro, you have a chance of winning some money."

You can register for the tournament online. If you want to see how you stack up against the rest of the world in air hockey, register for rankings at the Air Hockey World website.





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