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Monday, September 20th, 2004

Ulti's Analysis[]

Poll 1767
Round Hyrule Division Semi Final
Match # 50
Match Date Monday, September 20th, 2004
Vote difference 6,265
Crono - 50.03%
34 for - 20 against
Crono - 38.31%
(12,727 brackets)

This match was easily the biggest disappointment of the entire contest, simply because of the history these two characters have with one another. In 2002, Crono made a miraculous run to the Final Four after taking down Simon Belmont, Dante, Lara Croft, and Solid Snake in succession. But in the Final Four, he was expected to get defeated easily by Mario. After all, if Cloud couldn't take down Mario, then what chance did Crono have? But as the match got underway, Mario was unable to simply blow Crono out of the water. The best that Mario was able to manage was a stagnant 1000 vote lead throughout the day, but even though Crono was doing better than expected, he was still well on his way to a loss.

But Crono was not going to let Mario into the finals quietly. He began to fight back against Mario with a tenacity rarely displayed by characters in a contest setting. What began as Crono slowly chipping away at Mario's lead soon became a full-fledged comeback effort that was nothing short of shocking. Here we had a mute protagonist from a game that a great deal of people hadn't even played taking it to the single biggest icon in the history of video games. Crono staying within 1000 votes was a shock in and of itself, but Crono managing to make a push at defeating the icon of video games was nothing short of orgasmic. With every passing update that occured in the poll, Crono hysteria took over the board even more. Crono kept up the pressure until the last hour of the poll, and in an update that everyone on GameFAQs was waiting for, Crono took the lead against Mario. The upset to end all upsets was a mere minutes away!

Sadly, it was not to be. Thanks to a vote stuffer that was dumb enough to get caught, CJayC removed 400 votes from Crono's total. Not only that, but CJayC would admit over a year and a half later that said vote stuffer cheated 3000 votes for Crono, not the mere 400 as originally thought. Crono tried to keep up the pressure after the monumental setback, but he was unable to keep the magic that he had for hours leading up to the penalty. Mario went on to win the match against Crono before getting killed by Link in the finals, but even though there was penalized vote-stuffing involved in the match, Crono gave us a match for the ages on that fateful day.

With this fresh in our minds, why not pit these two characters against each other in a rematch in 2003? CJayC felt that this was the best option, and decided to vastly underseed Crono in order to guarantee us a Mario vs Crono rematch. From the moment the SC2K3 bracket was released, Mario vs Crono 2 was the most anticipated match in the contest. Not Link vs Cloud, not Vercetti vs Mega Man, not the Tidus/Ganon/Magus trio, not even the other matches that were hard to call; Mario vs Crono 2 caused hype that could be concealed in liquid form, and dear God, did they ever deliver on it.

Mario and Crono were fed Captain Olimar and Tom Nook in the first round that year, and both handled their business quite well. It was the second round that caused the match to not have a clear favorite. While Mario was busy barely breaking 55% on Shadow the Hedgehog, Crono was beating the absolute hell out of Kefka. Crono seemed like the favorite going into the match, but because of how 2002 went, there was no way to truly tell. All anyone had to go on was momentum.

Finally, after literally months of waiting, round two began. Mario jumped out to an early lead again, but unlike 2002, Crono fought back far more valiantly. Not only did he reduce Mario's slim lead to nothing, but Crono himself managed to build a lead of 800 votes. But Mario is not the icon of gaming for nothing, and he soon caught the day vote en route to not only taking down Crono's lead, but building a lead of 200 as well. But yet again, back came Crono. Despite Mario's best efforts, Crono managed to use the evening vote to its full advantage and build a lead of 830. Mario tried as hard as he possibly could to come back, but every single time Mario made any push at coming back in the match, Crono kept him down and kept his lead at 830. All Crono needed to do at this point was play out the final 2½ hours of the match and take home the win, because it was quite clear that he was about to get his revenge.

....or was he? Mario managed to win a couple of updates at this point, but despite this, he wasn't doing nearly enough damage to actually mount a comeback against the Chrono Trigger lead. But once Mario started winning updates in which he was taking off over 100 votes at a time, the entirety of GameFAQs was yet again completely fixated on the poll. Surely Crono wouldn't blow it all away after coming this close, would he?

But no sooner did everyone notice Mario's comeback did Mario put even more pressure on Crono in the poll. After the 12:45 AM EST update came around, Mario was only losing to Crono by the slimmest of margins. With the next update, every Crono fan had their worst fears come to life as Mario capped off his comeback by taking the lead on Crono with the last possible update after Crono looked like he had the match all but secured. After a bit of research by CJayC, he deemed the results official, and Mario was declared the winner of the match. One of the single biggest board explosions in the history of GameFAQs came soon afterwards, but what's done is done.

Cheating accusations flew all over the site after Mario's miraculous comeback, partly because the nature of the comeback in and of itself was odd, and partly because the poll was supposedly extended by CJayC solely to allow Mario the chance at victory.

I don't know how valid the cheating accusations were, or whether or not the infamous Male/Female poll had anything whatsoever to do with Mario's comeback, but I could honestly care less. How Mario came back is beyond the knowledge of any of us, but all of this BS about CJayC extending the poll in 2003 needs to stop. The people who constantly say that the poll was extended always leave out the fact that the poll began 20 minutes early. Was CJayC supposed to close the poll at 12:40 the next morning? Of course not. Mario took the lead with the 1:00 AM EST update, and whether unpunished cheating went on or not, the time that Mario took the lead was completely legitimate. The poll was never extended merely to give Mario an advantage, but rather was allowed to run until 1:00 AM EST.

The fallout from that match lingered even after the contest. Crono supporters maintained that Crono was the true victor of the match, while Mario fans could not have been happier with the way Mario won the match. Crono choked worse than the Yankees in his 2003 duel with Mario.

So how does one finally decide which character was the true victor? How about three separate "Mario vs Crono" matches in the Spring Contest, followed by Mario vs Crono 3 in the summer? The idea sounded good, but all signs pointed to a very anticlimactic finish. Chrono Trigger took down three of Mario's best games in the Spring Contest. If that wasn't enough momentum for Crono, compare the matches he had with Mario between 2002 and 2003. Mario essentially won the 2002 match by 2700 votes, not 100. CJayC admitted to there being 3000 cheated Crono votes in that match, but he only took 400 of them away. In 2003, all of the votes were left in the poll, and Crono effectively made a 2600 vote swing. When you factor in the high vote totals in the match, this swing becomes all the more impressive despite the fact that Crono took the loss.

Momemtum was clearly in Crono's favor going into the match, but the true telling sign of what was to come lied in the second round in the 2004 contest. Crono and Mario had back to back matches in the second round against Magus and Bowser, and the results were nearly identical. Assuming static voting patterns, Crono was clearly stronger than Mario after the second round, simply because of Magus being stronger than Bowser. There is SFF and all that to take into effect, but if there was no SFF in the two matches, then Crono would be assumed to be stronger than Mario based off of those matches in and of themselves. Mario was clearly the one that had a hill to climb in the match, despite the fact that the match picture was on Mario's home turf.

Another hint of what was about to happen was the fact that the match itself got no more hype than any other match in the contest. Mario vs Crono didn't have the same feel to it as in the past, and the match didn't stand out from other tough matches as being the match of the contest.

Sure enough, the match was over right after it began. Crono jumped out to an early lead, and despite Mario stalling Crono's after each gain of 100 that Crono made in the match, this pattern continued for the entire match. Crono would simply gain 100 votes, deal with a minor push from Mario, then gain 100 more. This was the entire match from start to finish. Boring, isn't it?

This was so damned anticlimactic that people were flat-out begging to something drastic to happen. Even the most devout Crono supporters agreed that the match absolutely sucked, and despite everyone's hopes of seeing Mario pull a miracle, it was not to be. This was Crono's day for revenge, and in the end, he managed to get it. Mario was never in the match, and if I remember correctly, Mario only won a single update throughout the day. The one bright side to this of course was the fact that Crono got his revenge. But aside from that, there was nothing good to say about the match at all. The vote totals weren't nearly as high as they should have been, the match was ho-hum (and borderline predictable before it even started), and no one was even surprised at the prediction percentage.

Mega Man vs Zero wound up being more exciting than this. MEGA MAN VS ZERO!! Honestly, there is something wrong with this. I understand that we needed to have a match to decide the final winner of this duel, but the duel is over. Crono has won. Stop giving us Mario vs Crono, because it may never again give us the magic seen in 2002 and 2003.

How did this happen? Well, it could be any one of a hundred different reasons, but I feel that the biggest one of them all is the fact that Mario hasn't put out a decent game since Super Mario 64. And no, I don't count Mario Golf, Double Dash, or SSBM as Mario games. I'm talking about platformers involving Mario as the main character. Mario has gradually gotten weaker ever since the 2002 contest, and unless something with regards to Super Mario 128 is released soon, the same could happen to him next year. You could argue that Mario getting his Super Mario World sprite hurt him in the match, but I doubt that this allowed Crono to gain enough votes to beat him so soundly. Or maybe the overall population of GameFAQs has outgrown Mario, or maybe they've stopped caring about the contest enough to throw their support Mario in the way that they used to. For all we know, Crono could have been stronger than Mario from the start.

Regardless, Crono has finally won the duel, and hopefully we never see this match again. At least not until after Super Mario 128 is released. But no matter how boring this match was, nothing can ever take away from the fun we had with this match in 2002 and 2003. They were two of the single best matches to ever take place on this site, if not the best outright. Crono may have clearlt been the better character on this day in the end, but nothing can take away from the magic caused by the first two matches between these two. I can only hope that we see a rivalry like this once again.

On a side note, I feel sorry for Mumei. This was his first Mario vs Crono match, and it sucked >_<

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2004 Summer Contest Matches

Round One
Link > CATS
Ganondorf > Alucard
Yoshi > Ryo Hazuki
Luigi > Pac-Man
Magus > Luca Blight
Crono > Conker
Bowser > Guybrush
Mario > JC Denton
Mega Man > Earthworm Jim
Tidus > Shadow
Vercetti > Max Payne
Zero > Protoman
Frog > Liquid
Master Chief > Crash
Knuckles > Kefka

Snake > Tanner
Cloud > Duke
Vyse > Laharl
Kirby > Kain
Squall > Bomberman
Ness > Jak
Auron > Scorpion
Vivi > Donkey Kong
Sephiroth > Sly Cooper
Sonic > Terry Bogard
Tails > VJ
Dante > Ratchet
Sora > HK-47
Ryu H > Jill
Sam Fisher > Gordon
Samus > Lara

Round Two
Link > Ganondorf
Yoshi > Luigi
Crono > Magus
Mario > Bowser
Mega Man > Tidus
Zero > Vercetti
Frog > Master Chief
Snake > Knuckles
Cloud > Vyse
Squall > Kirby
Auron > Ness
Sephiroth > Vivi
Sonic > Ryu
Dante > Tails
Sora > Ryu H
Samus > Sam Fisher

R3 and following
Link > Yoshi
Crono > Mario
Mega Man > Zero
Snake > Frog
Cloud > Squall
Sephiroth > Auron
Sonic > Dante
Samus > Sora
Link > Crono
Mega Man > Snake
Cloud > Sephiroth
Samus > Sonic
Link > Mega Man
Cloud > Samus
Link > Cloud (Finals)