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Saturday, August 24th, 2002

Ulti's Analysis[]

Poll 994
Division West Division Semi Final
Match # 55
Match Date Saturday, August 24th, 2002
Vote difference 34
Samus - 31.75%
(5,323 brackets)

This match was supposed to be a simple victory for Sonic. He had flat-out dominated in his first two matches, while Samus had two ho-hum victories against the Street Fighter duo. But even before the contest started, Sonic was a 1 seed and was expected to not have any challenges whatsoever until at least the Elite 8, where he would then face either Sephiroth or Mega Man. Better yet, many people expected Sonic to win the division, and possibly even challenge for the contest as well. Through the first two rounds, there was no reason to believe otherwise. He was clearly on the elite level after his slaughter of Pitfall Harry, and he had an easy win against arguably the strongest chraracter of the 128 bit era. When paired with Samus's victories, there was no indication at all of what was about to happen.

The first issue for Sonic was the two hour poll delay. Board 8 was highly pro-Sonic in this match, and because of the massive delay, few people stayed up until 3 AM to vote early. Because of this, Samus was able to withstand a very mild initial onslaught and keep the match close early. Sonic would eventually recover however, and when the Sega morning vote began kicking in, Sonic started running away with the match. Slowly but surely Sonic increased his lead, and he continued doing so even when the traditional Nintendo day vote started kicking in. However, Sonic was never truly able to pull away during the match, and it was surprising in and of itself that Samus was keeping it as close as she was. After all, she was expected to get killed.

It was at this point that I feel that the contest became less about what GameFAQs members favored and more about outside influence. First off, Penny Arcade had a direct link to our contest posted after Pac Man's loss. That in and of itself helped increase vote totals; furthermore, Samus may have been losing, but it wasn't by much at all. Samus fans saw an opportunity to pull off a shocking upset, and began spamming for her all over the internet. To counter this, Sonic fans did the same. Buddy lists, chat rooms, online gaming chats... you name it, it was spammed for votes. The end result of this was a turn in the contest that lasted until this day. You may never again see a match decided solely on GF preference again.

But despite the clear spamming, Sonic continued his methodical lead gain through all of Samus's best efforts. Samus did an amazing job staying close, but in the end, Sonic and his iconic status proved to be a bit much for both Samus and the advertising going on on both sides. Despite all of Samus's best efforts, she found herself down by 1500 votes at 10 PM, with 3 hours left in the match and the Nintendo voting block all but gone completely. It was little more than a walk to the end for Sonic at this point, and even though Samus gave Sonic the fight of her life, the fact that Samus had not starred in a game since Super Metroid clearly hurt her in this match. Maybe if this match had taken place two years later, Samus may have done better, but for now, she simply wasn't strong enough to hang with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog and his amazing lineup while not having a recent lineup in her own right.

But then, off in the distance, as if the entire force of every weapon Samus had ever possessed in any of her games all came together in one microcosmic moment of nuclear hell, the unthinkable began to happen.

As soon as the clock struck 10:00 PM EST, Samus began unleashing absolute holy hell upon Sonic's ass. For anyone who has ever played a Metroid title, this match wound up playing out exactly like a Metroid game. Samus started off weak as hell, but as the match went on, she only grew stronger and stronger until she finally became the lethal weapon from hell ready to blow the living hell out of anything stupid enough to think of breathing at her the wrong way.

The same thing happened here. Samus started off weak, but regained her composure during the day vote despite never being able to cut into Sonic's lead at all. But once 10 o'clock hit, she became a Phazon Suit, Hyper Beam, intergalactic bounty hunter who began unleashing every bit of firepower she could possibly think of upon Sonic. What was a lead of 1500 votes began dropping like an absolute rock, and as if she were in a battle for her life, Samus became stronger and stronger as the comeback wore on. No matter what Sonic did to try and halt the advance, Samus simply *****-slapped him back down to earth before commencing her relentless assault upon the lead.

In the beginning it was a question of whether or not Samus had enough time. As the comeback wore on, it only became a question of when. Samus was clearly riding football-like momentum all the way to at least tying the match, and in the closing minutes, tie the match she did.

What happened in those closing minutes would not only change the direction of the 2002 contest, but go down in the annals as one of the single largest stunners in contest history. As soon as Samus tied the match in the closing minutes, Sonic finally decided to pull his head out of his ass and fght back. From there, Sonic and Samus were absolutely dead even for the final two minutes. Attention quickly went to the Poll Results Page, as well as everyone's Refresh buttons. The two went back and forth at each other like true warriors with everything they had, and the only man who could stop them was CJayC himself.

After one of the biggest and best fights in the history of the contest, the poll closed. When the dust settled, we learned that Samus managed to complete her comeback by being lucky enough to have a lead of 34 votes upon the closing of the poll. Sonic gave Samus everything he had in those final few minutes, but Samus simply had too much momentum going for her to lose after making up such a large gap in such a short time.

Not that anyone on our board was happy about it, of course. Of all the board explosions you people have ever seen, none of them can compare to some of what went down in 2002. After the poll was closed, CJayC created a topic to state that the results were official and that Samus was the victor. This place went absolutely insane afterwards. Most close matches have somewhat equal support on both sides, but on this board, nearly everyone was rooting for Sonic. People were so upset at the fact that no cheating was detected in such a large-scale comeback that they went insane all over the place. It got so bad that there were a mass of moderations and even threats to sue CJayC. CJayC noticed all of this, and created a second topic to state that the results were final. The only other time I can recall CJayC making more than one topic in such a match was for Starcraft vs SSBM, and those who were here for that particular match can guess how a board almost double the size it is today would have reacted to such a surprising match. About half the board were rooting for SSBM. Next to no one was rooting for Samus, and with a board so large during a contest so unpredictable, one can only imagine what was going on that night.

The complaints were so noticeable and so plentiful that no one seemed to notice that fact that the highly anticipated Sephiroth/Mega Man duel was underway, and that Mega Man had jumped out to the early lead. But even then, the Mega Man match took a back seat to the Sonic/Samus backlash. That only goes to show just how large the backlash truly was.

The obvious question to ask was how in the world this could have happened. It was nice seeing such an amazing comeback, but the way it happened was questionable at best. CJayC may have said that there was no cheating, but it's not like anyone believed him when he said it. Samus became the dark fly on everyone's bracket that everyone began rooting against from here on in. Cheating or not, Sonic was beloved by the board and did not take his loss lightly. Even to this day, you'll find a select group of people who refuse to believe that he actually lost that match.

On the winner's side of things, Samus pulled off something that we may very well never see again. A 1500 vote gap being sliced off in less than three hours is no easy feat, and the ending was so surprising that one of the GF servers crashed due to the massive refreshing. Because of Samus's surprising closing speed, it would be Samus, not Sonic, facing off against the Mega Man/Sephiroth winner. No matter what truly went down during this match, it is difficult to deny the impact that it would have not only on the 2002 contest, but every contest afterwards as well.

Fun facts:

  • Because of the server crash, a 15 minute poll update was soon implemented to prevent future similar server crashes in the future.
  • Three 1 seeds all lost in a row, and all of them lost to the respective 5 seeds in their division.
  • The 34 vote margin of victory stood all the way until the Summer 2004 Contest, when it was broken by Ryu Hayabusa vs Jill Valentine's 27 votes, and it was then broken again by Master Chief/Frog's 7 votes.
  • Despite the upset, Samus's odds of winning the contest were actually higher than Sonic's. Crono's win over Lara Croft actually had a higher prediction percentage.
  • These two wound up going at it again in 2004, but this was after Samus had Prime/Fusion/Zero under her belt; she easily kicked the crap out of Sonic with her newfound strength.
  • Lastly, this match scored 84,000 votes despite only running for 22 hours.

Speaking of those 22 hours, do not forget that the loss of the first two hours may have cost Sonic the match. There is no doubt that Sonic would have received a sizeable mass of board votes early, which may have very well allowed the lead to be a possible 200-300 votes higher, possibly even more, come the time of Samus' eventual comeback. What I truly found amazing about this match was the fact that Sephiroth vs Mega Man was playing out in shocking fashion early on, yet no one seemed to notice. The Sonic/Samus backlash was that imminent.

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2002 Contest Matches

Round One
Mario > Servbot
Morrigan > Spyro
Aya > Terry Bogard
Donkey Kong > Bub
Alucard > Tails
Duke > Iori
Pikachu > PaRappa
Cloud > Fox
Lara > Chop Chop
Ryo Hazuki > Guybrush
Crono > Simon
Dante > Q*Bert
Aeris > Kasumi
Tina > Gordon
Knuckles > Akira

Snake > Squall
Pac-Man > Goemon
Kyo > Abe
Scorpion > Kazuya
Max Payne > Dirk
Bomberman > Kane
Jill > Kirby
Strider > Raziel
Link > Little Mac
Sonic > Pitfall Harry
Tidus > Claire
Samus > Ken
Ryu > CATS
Mega Man > Ms. Pac-Man
Serious Sam > Mr. Driller
Sephiroth > Gabe
Crash > Ulala

Round Two
Mario > Morrigan
Donkey Kong > Aya
Alucard > Duke
Cloud > Pikachu
Lara > Ryo Hazuki
Crono > Dante
Aeris > Tina
Snake > Knuckles
Pac-Man > Kyo
Scorpion > Max Payne
Jill > Bomberman
Link > Strider
Sonic > Tidus
Samus > Ryu
Mega Man > Serious Sam
Sephiroth > Crash

R3 and following
Mario > Donkey Kong
Cloud > Alucard
Crono > Lara
Snake > Aeris
Scorpion > Pac-Man
Link > Jill
Samus > Sonic
Sephiroth > Mega Man
Mario > Cloud
Crono > Snake
Link > Scorpion
Sephiroth > Samus
Mario > Crono
Link > Sephiroth
Link > Mario (Finals)