|Match Date||Thursday, July 17th, 2003|
|Mario - 97.99%|
And finally, the analysis reaches the South Division. You kids think that Division 128 hype was bad? It had absolutely nothing on this.
The South had a little bit of everything, and just about every match was widely debated and up in the air. Mario, Crono, and Sephiroth were all packed into one division after their wonderful 2002 runs, and they were all on a collision course for beating the hell out of one another. Wario was hyped, Shadow was overlooked, Kefka was hyped beyond belief, the Kirby/Bomberman fourpack was back in swing, and we even had yet another match that caused Gordon Freeman to be overestimated.
But the highlight of the division was Mario/Crono/Sephiroth, hands down. A great case could be made for any of them winning the division at the time, and all of the massively hyped newcomers added to the melee. This division really stood out as being the best of the contest, and this was before anything even began.
The first match was a fairly mundane SFF beating in Mario's favor, though there are a few interesting notes to make about Mario's performance. With all of the hype surrounding Link, Mario was the forgotten Nintendo character in this whole thing. He didn't exactly get the attention he deserved (outside of the debates on who would win the division) until he started pummeling the hell out of Olimar, though SFF was in full swing by the time this happened and most people didn't think much of it. People also remembered that Mario was fairly ho-hum against non-Nintendo fodder, so this match was a given to get the division going and little else.
Looking back, I'm actually surprised that Mario wasn't able to break 90% in this thing. Granted Mario Sunshine was a disappointment, but come on... Pikmin? It was tough to really tell if Mario was in it to win it after this one match, especially given that people hadn't exactly forgotten about what he pulled in 2002. Even if the miraculous occurred and Link went down, would Mario even be able to take advantage? Only time would tell, but Mario had to get out of his hellhole division before worrying about winning the entire contest.