|Division||South Division Semi Final|
|Match Date||Sunday, August 24th, 2003|
|Mario - 48.84%|
17 for - 29 against
|Mario - 65.42%|
No match was more debated before the contest than this one, and for good reason. All of those stupid little factors that people fling around like fact in every debate actually mattered in the rematch of the century. Never mind the sheer appeal of seeing these two in a match again, but the backstory itself was off the charts.
In 2002, Mario was the overwhelming favorite to win it all, but the big question was Mario versus Cloud. After an epic match that saw Cloud go up by 1000 votes before Mario's clutch kicked in (namely Super Mario Sunshine being released on the day of the match and PlanetGamecube's linking to the homepage) to barely save him, Mario became Public Enemy #1 on GameFAQs. People swore to not allow Mario to win that contest, regardless of who he was up against.
Enter Crono. After an amazing run that saw him defeat the beloved Simon Belmont, the beloved Dante, the favored Lara Croft and the huge fan favorite Solid Snake, Crono was thrust right into the middle of the mess surrounding the hate for Mario. People vowed to support Crono, even if they knew that he had little to no chance of actually winning the match regardless.
When the match began, Crono slowly fell behind by 1600 votes despite the best effort of everyone to put him over the top, and people had all but resorted to hoping that the winner of Link/Sephiroth would have enough gas in the tank to take Mario out come the final. But then the miraculous happened. The evening vote hit, and much to the shock of everyone watching, Crono had actually begun coming back in the match! Crono mania took over GameFAQs, and Crono's comeback gained more and more steam as the evening hours marched on. Crono eventually won an update that put him in the lead, and absolute pandemonium took over the entire site.
Unfortunately, everything quickly died down once CJayC announced that a vote-stuffer was largely responsible for Crono's comeback, though he wouldn't say how many votes were stuffed until two years after this match. CJayC took 400 votes away from Crono (though after Starcraft/Wind Waker, he admitted that he should have taken away 3000) with less than 30 minutes remaining in the match. Crono's momentum allowed him to take off over 250 votes in that time, but it wasn't enough for him to win.
You think people didn't want to see a rematch after Crono was robbed so badly? Of course they did, and CJayC knew it. Crono wasn't underseeded this badly by accident, nor were the two characters given such soft paths to each other by accident. The rematch was on before this contest even began, and the characters that Crono and Mario tossed aside could easily be considered collateral damage.
Save for one: Shadow the Hedgehog. Of the four matches involving Mario and Crono leading up to this match, Mario/Shadow was the only one in which either character looked like complete crap. It was also the only one that allowed us to see whether or not either character had an advantage going in, because let's be honest, anyone who felt that they knew who would win this match with 100% accuracy was fooling themselves. This was all about two characters with equal chances to win being put on the biggest stage of them all, and the hype leading up to this thing practically led to liquid tension all over the boards. And to boot, the match was a Nintendo/Square affair at a time when both companies were amazing. Pity that Square has done nothing since.
People didn't have to wait long for the match to start either, because CJayC ended Sonic/Aeris 20 minutes early, which caused Mario/Crono II to begin 20 minutes early. This would eventually go down as the single dumbest choice CJayC ever made in these contests, and you'll notice that CJayC has since added language related to this to the official contest rules. But more on this when the time comes.
When the match finally began, voting was clearly going to be at an all-time high. Everyone and their mother was ready to go for this match, and it all led to Crono having a slight lead at the first poll freeze. It wouldn't last however as Mario jumped out to a lead of over 120 once 1 AM (which is when the poll should have started) finally hit. But Crono would weather the early bracket voting storm and begin his march toward a lead of his own in a flash. Crono stalled Mario the second the 120 vote lead occurred, and it took all of 30 minutes more for Crono to go berserk and win an update by 130 votes to give himself a 50 vote lead. Mario was unable to do much after this, for Crono was able to spend the entire night building up a lead for himself. Mario stalled Crono in an update every now and then, but these stalls were little more than blips in the radar en route to Crono building a lead of 750 at 6:00 AM EST. 750 may not sound like much, but in a match this large with two even characters, a lead in the hundreds is a good one.
But just like in Mario/Cloud, the lead that Crono worked so hard to build began to slip away once the morning vote hit. At 6 AM, Crono had a lead of 750. It only took Mario until 10:30 to tie the match, and Mario's momentum gained more and more with each passing update before finally tying the match, to the point where it looked as if the match were over well before Mario even tied it in the first place. In the three updates involved with Mario finally tying the match and taking a lead, he won by 135, 124, and 103 votes. Football-like momentum carried Mario all the way past Crono, and given that CT characters perform like crap during the morning and afternoon, it seemed as if Crono's dream of scoring the all-time biggest upset of these contests had come to an end.
But just like in their match in 2002, one could almost give credit to the miraculous when it seemed that Crono needed ethereal help the most. Somehow, some way, Crono was able to hold Mario at bay during what is historically his worst part of every match. After Mario stormed past Crono, Crono was able to regain his footing and prevent Mario from getting a lead of over 200. By the time noon hit, Crono had already begun fighting back and taking Mario's 200 vote lead away from him. Crono kept Mario deadlocked for another hour, and was able to bring the lead down to 120.
It was at this point that Mario began to run out of gas, and Crono didn't wait long to let the killer instinct take over. When Mario's lead was 126 at the halfway point of the match, Crono proceeded to take off over 200 votes over the next 30 minutes en route to a lead of nearly 100 votes. Crono won the next update by 140 votes to take a lead of over 200, and it was at this point that people really began to feel that this was simply Crono's year. Mario threw everything possible at the mute one, but Crono took all of it and kept on rolling. Crono began to use his newfound love from the afternoon voters to his advantage, and he slowly began to extend his lead. Mario was able to stall Crono every now and then and even at times looked to be on the verge of making a big move, but the overall landscape of the afternoon vote is that Crono was able to use both it and the early evening vote to build a lead of over 800 votes. When Crono finally got his 800 vote lead, the time was 8:30 PM EST. Mario then won an update by 51 votes to scare everyone half to death, but Crono was easily able to recover. And given how well Crono did in the evening against Mario one year ago, people began to concede that this match was over.
There was some disdain from some circles, but since the board was mostly for Crono winning this match there was an overall feeling of happiness and relief that Crono was able to pull this thing out. Mario gave Crono his best shot, but it simply was not enough on this day. Crono made it clear multiple times in this match that he wasn't going to be stopped, and he was finally able to reap the benefits at the end of it all. It was around this time that Heroic Mario and his concession topic became famous. He had talked a lot of trash in the weeks leading up to Mario/Crono II, and to see him concede was the nail in Mario's coffin.
In Summer 2003, I picked Mario to win this match. I used pretty bad logic, too: "If Mario beat Crono one year, why couldn't he do it again? Crono needed to cheat to stay with Mario in 2002, anyway!" I remember reading over the boards, looking at all of the topics congratulating Crono and feeling pretty down about it. I knew nothing of Chrono Trigger at the time, and wasn't even rooting for Mario to win out of fanboyism; I just had a good chance to win that contest had I gone perfect the rest of the way, and I remember asking myself how many people were in the same boat as I was. Even when the match was essentially over, I still checked the poll every 15 minutes in hope of Mario pulling off a miracle. Yet all I kept seeing was 50.3X% next to Crono's name; nothing was changing in the poll, and maybe Crono really had pulled off the stunner to end them all.
Mario finally gave a tiny bit of hope to the few remaining that were rooting for him when he won an update by 48 votes, but this quickly ended when Crono came back to win the next update by 15. At 11:00 PM EST, Crono was ahead by just under 800 votes. Even the most diehard Mario/bracket supporter didn't possibly believe that Mario was going to come back from this, and there were a ton of hugs and handshakes among the Crono faithful. Crono had finally taken Mario down!
Mario won the next update, but no one thought much of it. It was only an update win of 26. Mario won the next update by 88 votes, but even then no one thought much of it. It was 11:30. Crono was up by 675 votes with all of 80 minutes remaining in the match, two hours if CJayC felt like extending the match to 1 AM. It took Mario 30 minutes to take 100 votes off of Crono's lead, and even then most felt that the match was over.
But then, the absolutely unthinkable happened. Mario won the next update by 104 votes, and Crono's lead was taken down to 571! Absolute panic set in all over the place, and it would only grow larger as this poll continued. Mario win the next update by 60 to bring the lead down to 511 at midnight. This left Mario a now-massive 40 minutes to take off another 500 votes.
When the next update hit, absolute madness set in. Mario took off another 130 votes from Crono's seemingly insurmountable lead to bring it down to 381, and people on both sides started losing their minds. Mario supporters were back in the game and frantically rallying for votes, while Crono fans had no idea what had just hit them. They too began to rally in an effort to help Crono hang on to his ever-slimming lead.
Mario won the next update by 86 votes, which brought it down to 295. Crono fans were relieved at this point, because there was no way in hell that Mario was going to overcome a 295 vote lead in ten minutes. At this time, it was 12:30 AM EST. Remember, this poll started at 12:40 AM the night before. Had this match lasted 24 hours, the poll would have been over in 10 minutes. Even though Crono had tried his hardest to lose this match, it seemed as if he would hang on to pull it out anyway.
Much to everyone's horror, the match did not end at 12:40 AM. Or 12:41. Or 12:42. People began to realize that this match was going to run until 1 AM, and the complaints began to roll in like you wouldn't believe. And could you really blame them? Crono's loss in 2002 could easily be blamed on a vote-stuffer, and it was likely that Crono wouldn't have come anywhere close to beating Mario without the additional help. But this time around, CJayC took the full blame for what was going on.
And rightfully so. There was absolutely no reason to run this poll for longer than 24 hours, but that was secondary compared to seeing what the results of the next update would be.
Come 12:45 AM, people were greeted with the largest update win of the entire match, and it once again went in Mario's favor. Mario had taken off 144 votes in 15 minutes to bring Crono's lead down to a measly 151. Absolute insanity took full hold on the entire site at this point. People could not believe that CJayC was allowing this to go on, yet despite this Crono was still in good shape to win the match. For Mario to win, he would have to follow the biggest update victory of the entire match with an even bigger update victory, and certainly Crono's supporters couldn't have had enough of a mental lapse to allow this to happen. Right?
It's almost impossible to put what happened next into words. You really had to be there. When the 1:00 update hit, Mario came out with a lead of 92 votes after being down by 151 all of 15 minutes before. This means that despite there being no update win of more than 144 votes through 23 hours, 45 minutes (and there were only two updates over 140 through the entire match outright), Mario was able to win the final update by 243 votes to clinch the match.
A lot of people will tell you that CJayC extended the match from this point to allow Mario's victory, but make no mistake. Mario was in the lead at 1:00 AM. The extra five minutes, so CJayC claims, was to check for possible cheating on both sides.
For those five minutes, Crono's fans were almost certain that CJayC's little investigation would turn up cheating on Mario's behalf. Coming back from being down 800 with such speed is bad enough, but winning the final update by 243 votes? Something sure as hell was amiss about all of this.
CJayC made a topic to state that there was no cheating detected and that Mario was the winner. He mentioned that he extended the poll to 1:05 AM to check for cheating, but gave no reasons why the poll was started 20 minutes early or why the poll wasn't closed at 12:40 AM 24 hours in.
The biggest board explosion I've ever witnessed began mere seconds later, and CJayC's topic hit 500 in less than ten minutes. Almost all of the topics were filled with the standard order -- cheating accusations, celebrating, whining and the like -- but a few were actually filled with legitimate complaints. Why was such an important match begun early? It's not like CJayC didn't take into account that this could have happened one way or the other.
The other major complaint came in the form of people reporting that they had been asked to take part in an "Are you male or female?" poll through various means. Apparently, people went out to spam for Mario votes by asking a trick question among internet sites that were predominantly male-oriented; those reporting that this poll existed said that they were spammed to take it via AIM, e-mail, and most notably there were AOL users claiming that the poll was spammed all over chat rooms. There were also allegations of the poll showing up on various message boards all over the internet, thought I don't remember a link to any such board.
How could such a poll alter the results of a poll on GameFAQs, you ask? The top option was "Male", and the bottom "Female". The top option in Mario/Crono was "Mario", and the bottom "Crono". If such a poll redirected you to vote on GameFAQs upon answering...
I don't know how valid the whole Male/Female controversy was, but it's hard to deny that something very odd happened in the final two hours of that poll. Regardless, CJayC said that Mario would advance. We couldn't exactly do much about it other than complain, valid as the complaints may be.
The board explosion stemming from this match lasted for a very long time. Most people went to bed before Crono's collapse began, which led to everyone waking up to "Mario WON?!??!?!" topics all through the next match. This would easily go down as the most controversial match by far in the history of these contests. It's not that we haven't had cheating accusations or close matches before or since, but there has yet to be a match as large as this one. This match went beyond the hype when almost nothing ever does, and regardless of which side you were on, this match was one of the most memorable in the history of GameFAQs.
For the second year in a row, Crono fell just short of defeating Mario. But in 2004, Crono would get a good measure of revenge. In the Spring 2004 Contest, Chrono Trigger took down Super Mario RPG, Super Mario World and Super Mario 3 en route to making the finals of the contest and losing to Final Fantasy 7. In Summer 2004, Crono himself was again stuck facing Mario in the third round. Crono began that match by blowing Mario the hell out, and there would be no miracle comeback that would save Mario from getting his ass kicked. Crono would beat Mario by over 6000 votes in that contest.
The two again met in Summer 2005, in the grandest stage of them all: the finals. Crono fought to stay with Mario early, but Mario would eventually return the 2004 favor by beating Crono by almost 8000 votes. The rivalry has been a good one through the years and has had many great matches. Crono even managed to pull out a win in several of them. But you will be hard-pressed to find any match in or out of the Mario/Crono feud that tops this one. It had everything, plus so much more.
If you take only one factoid from Mario/Crono 2003, let it be this one: There is no 24 hour voting block in this match that Crono lost. Mario only won because of getting 27 highly suspicious extra minutes to work with. And as a random aside, even the Mario backers felt dirty about this match. Everyone knew Mario cheated to win it, and everyone knew CJayC allowed the cheating to happen.
External Links Edit
Cool Screencaps Edit
- Mario takes the Board Vote (well, 5-1 at least)
- B8's reaction to Mario surging ahead right at midnight
- B8's reaction after the polls close, at 16 minutes past the hour
- The classic picture