|Match Date||Monday, August 4th, 2003|
|Squall - 39.99%|
6 for - 53 against
|Squall - 38.10%|
There have been a lot of unexpected upsets through these contests, but no poll has ever generated a more insane "WTF?" reaction than this one did. For those who weren't here in 2003, I say again that Luigi was hailed as the second coming of Mario. He was supposed to tear through his fourpack before being a true threat to Samus, and given how hated Squall was at the time there was no reason to think that Luigi would do otherwise even after Squall's impressive showing against Jill Valentine. It's just Jill, right? Who cares? Luigi was going to smoke Squall like no other.
One person was vocal enough to challenge all of this: nanasilencer. She's the biggest Squall fan to ever post on these boards (You think Leonhart is a fan of his? Pfffft.), though even she had her doubts about him going into this match. Her support was out of fanboyism more than anything else, though this didn't stop the board in its entirety from remembering every little thing she said. And when the poll began and Luigi was winning, there were a few "Take that, nana!" topics sprouting up all over the place. Little did these people realize that Squall had begun taking away Luigi's slim lead even before the first update hit.
And then the second update came. Squall was in the lead. But... but how? And when the third update came and it was clear that Luigi was about to get his ass kicked, all hell broke loose around these parts. nanasilencer rubbing everyone's nose in it was only the tip of how bad things got that night.
Not even Mario/Crono 2 brought as many cheating accusations as this match. Wylvane also committed account suicide over this match, which spearheaded a massive suicide movement from legions of Luigi fans. People were also getting banned from PlanetGamecube left and right, because the place was mail bombed and spammed to holy hell all night long. Thankfully, the idiots over there learned their lesson after the Mario/Cloud 2002 debacle and did nothing.
Not that it would have mattered anyway. Everything that Luigi's supporters threw at Squall was met with Squall's furious push that lasted throughout the entire match, and one can imagine the reaction that came from the people who fully expected Luigi to kick ass, only to see him barely over 40% when they woke up in the morning. The board explosion lasted all through this match and well into the next one, and some of the most ridiculous reasons ever were brought up as to why Luigi lost.
I should say Uigi actually, because people actually bothered postulating that people didn't know who Luigi was due to what the match picture read -- there is an L on Luigi's hat, and CJayC cleverly put "uigi" after it. And on top of the account suicides, there was a massive amount of flaming, trolling, and flooding that literally led to thousands of moderations throughout the match.
By the time the dust settled, Luigi flat-out got his ass whipped en route to not even breaking 40% come match's end, and he went from being the favored Nintendo newcomer to a character whose stock was lower than Jill Valentine herself; she actually managed to break 40% against Squall in the prior round. Luigi hasn't been the same since, either. He was put in a very winnable situation against Yoshi in 2004, but choked. Come 2005, people finally stopped putting faith in Luigi. Against Tifa, in a match where he could have finally redeemed himself, he again lost. He has yet to make it out of the second round of these contests, and it will be difficult for people to put real faith in him even after the recent widespread Nintendo boost.
Squall used this match as a launching pad to a good contest career, though some would argue that he has never been as strong as he was in 2003. This match also drew another line in the sand between Square and Nintendo, and I believe it also marked the beginnings of all the "Kingdom Hearts Factor" talk. What other factor could there be for Squall making such a large jump in popularity out of no where? KHF was a factor that would eventually become a fairly mainstream saying, though Squall was far from the last character who would give us evidence to such. But more on KHF later on in the analysis.
It wasn't long before the focus turned to a Squall > Samus bandwagon. If Luigi was a threat to beat Samus, then why couldn't Squall be as well? You know how this board is. Every time a major upset happens, they rally around the character that wins out of not wanting their overrated character to look so weak. Remember all of the recent Kuja > Master Hand hype? Maybe Knuckles > Squall rings a bell? Squall > Samus was in the same category, and it should be noted that this was the first poll of Summer 2003 in which the character winning in the first few seconds didn't win the poll outright.
It also wouldn't be the last.
Though this match seems easy to predict by today’s standards, it was a massive upset back in the day and was also one of the only 2003 matches where the eventual winner didn’t lead right out of the gate. Luigi was one of the most hyped newcomers in 2003, one many people felt could give Samus a run for her money. Squall, on the other hand, had lost badly to Snake last year and most didn’t think he could get past Jill Valentine.
Well, the match started off normally, with Luigi winning, but Squall then absolutely ran away with it. I am not exaggerating when I say that the subsequent outcry and accusations of cheating rival those of any GameFAQs match in history, so much so that after this CJay cut off the board’s access to any accounts below Level 15 (fun bit of history for ya). This was the Magus/Knuckles of its day, and was possibly an even bigger upset, given its placement in the bracket and Squall’s crazy surge in strength.