|Match Date||Thursday, July 3rd, 2003|
|Ganondorf - 47.72%|
We saw our first debated match on the second day of the contest, but it was the third day of this contest that gave us a real ass-kicker of a match.
But let's back up for a moment. Despite the 5-12 seeding discrepancy in this match, there was a general consensus about this match (and this fourpack in general, but we'll get into that in a second). Most people felt that Ganon beating Tidus was a lock, for several reasons. Tidus was hated, Ganon was a hyped newcomer (weren't they all back then?), Ganon had SSBM exposure behind him, but most of all, Link had won the Summer 2002 Contest and this was clearly going to allow Ganon to steamroll Tidus en route to a tough second round loss to Magus. There were a few Tidus/Square fans in the mix, but even they had their doubts about whether or not Tidus could actually win this thing. For those who weren't here back in 2003, know that Ganon and Zelda were hyped to such extreme lengths that it's funny as hell to think back on as I type this.
(Side Note: Despite the overwhelming belief that Magus would beat Ganon with ease in the second round of this contest, many people were hoping for the "upset" because they wanted to see a "more fun" Link vs Ganondorf match. True story, and Slowflake can attest.)
As many of us have come to realize, unexpected close matches are usually the best kind. Ganondorf started off as planned, though there was a slight glitch before we saw actual poll results (the first 100 or so voters got an error message). He was ahead, though not by the dominating numbers that many expected. Still, after Tidus gave Ganon a slight struggle early on, Ganon was able to build a lead in the high hundreds and it seemed as if Tidus's minor early fight in the poll was but a fallacy.
Yeah, whoops. We didn't know about voting demographics with relation to the time of day back then, so once people began to see Tidus making a comeback they all went insane. And before thinking that we Summer 2003 fans were all idiots for this, put it in proper perspective. There were no X-Stats, no Square Night Vote, no Zelda Morning Vote, and nothing to suggest that Tidus's beginnings of a comeback was a simple glitch in the system against the heavily-favored Ganondorf. All we saw was Ganon's lead dropping ever-so-slightly with each passing 15 minute update before Tidus went insane in the early morning hours.
Now if this poll happened today, we'd all call the match over once Ganon built a lead of nearly 1000 votes regardless of what Tidus did due to everyone knowing that Zelda dominates in the morning when ALL T3H KIDDAYS WAKE UP omg. But back in 2003, everyone was literally losing their minds and wondering how in the world whimpy little Tidus was even making a game of this, let alone making a comeback that would eventually make it look as if Tidus was going to actually win.
It should be noted that this match began the tradition of update topics. Some guy I can't recall made a topic once Tidus began coming back, and his updates looked something like such:
Tidus down by 500
- next update*
Tidus down by 450
Tidus would eventually slice Ganon's once-massive lead of nearly 1000 votes down to 170 before the two stalled. Ganon then caught fire during the morning vote and was able to pull away by a few hundred, though Tidus was able to make it interesting in spots. However, despite Tidus's best efforts Ganon was able to slowly increase his lead to over 1000, and eventually hundreds more. Tidus was able to use the evening vote (remember that polls closed at 1 AM EST at the time) to stall Ganon, but Tidus was never able to make a game out of the match again.
As the match was closing and people realized that Ganon had it safely put away, the talk of the match was the update topic. People who were asleep during all of the best action were beyond grateful for a topic being around that showed how intense the match truly was. A 1600 vote match may not sound like much by today's standards, but back then it was a huge deal; we simply hadn't become so desensitized to such things like we are now. The update topic showing every little detail from every little update was even better for those who weren't insomniacs, and its popularity soared afterwards. It eventually had to have a very specific format, and people fought for claims to the update topics for the rest of the contest, especially for heated matches. Creativename has since created an auto-updater on his site that does all the work for us (and update topics have pretty much become pointless as a result), but nothing beats the drama of the old days. We'd all sit around, refresh like mad every 15 minutes, comment on the results and then flood the update topics with our fanboyism when we weren't busy yelling OMG COMEBACK in new topic titles all over the board.
The other, more subtle motif of Tidus's near-upset was how he managed to get that close to such a heavily-favored character in the first place. Or was he even favored at all?
This was one of the first cases of Board 8's arrogance and/or past contest knowledge almost biting everyone in the ass ("Did you see how easily Link won in 2002? OF COURSE Ganon is going to win this! He might even beat Magus!"), and it's sad that that little tradition hasn't gone away yet. There always seems to be a conflict of the casual bracketmaker versus the hardcore when it comes to some matches, and matches like this started all of that. What we felt was obvious in this match was actually the upset, as evidenced by the prediction percentage. We all believed that Ganon was a lock to win, but the reality is that people were split on who the favorite actually was, for several reasons. Square vs Nintendo, Tidus being an FF lead, Ganon being a newbie, the seeding.... the list goes on.
Though people got over Tidus's unexpected strength real quick when they realized that Ganon's allowing Tidus to get so close obviously meant that their beloved son (Magus) would see no resistance whatsoever en route to the true final of the contest: Link vs Magus.