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Round Four


Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Ulti's Analysis[]

Poll 3300
Round Quarter Final
Match # 57
Match Date Thursday, November 13th, 2008
Link - 39.20%
Mario - 22.41%
Mega Man X - 20.93%
Zack Fair - 17.78%
Link first place (16pts) - 61.74%
Link second place (8pts) - 13.32%
Mario second place (16pts) - 40.90%
Mario first place (8pts) - 9.96%
Link - 75.06% (32,203)
Mario - 50.86% (21,820)

Until my dying breath, I will always believe Zack could have caught an unstoppable bandwagon had he pulled this thing off. The next match would have been Link, Zack, Samus, and Crono. Link would have SFFd Samus into the ground, and who knows how the Zack/Crono thing would have gone with all the ZackFAQs and FF7 v Chrono Trigger fuel behind him? From there, it would have been Link, Zack, Snake, and Cloud. Zack probably finishes last place there thanks to Blonde Cloud > Black Cloud, but still! We've seen crazier results!

In all seriousness, as a lover of bandwagons and silly fun, this one hurt. He was so close, yet so far away. Let's start with Link's continued and insidious domination over this contest. 40% in a 4way poll in the quarterfinals against this competition is ludicrous. Just ludicrous. This was some '85 Bears playoff run type shit.

Past that is where the fun was. One of these three Nintendo titans was bound to get dicked over, and it was apparent very quickly that Mega Man X was not going to be able to hack it. He was somewhat close to Mario for a little while -- and I will always maintain Mario has more overlap with Link than the Mega Man series -- but he fell off to a distant SFF-fueled third place. This left a clear Link > Mario > MMX order for Zack to try and squeeze into, but he just started so damn slow in this poll.

When this thing started, Zack was actually in dead last. This spelled his doom right from the jump, because it showed his support was more organic than joke type. He had a bandwagon, but not the kind of bandwagon he would need to work miracles. He was also sitting there behind two characters that were being SFFd into the ground by Link. Still, he gave us an incredible effort and went out almost exactly like he does at the end of Crisis Core.

First, he had to come back on Mega Man X, which took quite awhile. He was dead last early, but the gap with X was only 60 votes. It took almost an hour just to erase that lead, and when he did he was unable to make any headway at all. He and X stayed tied for another couple hours, before the typical Europe vote did X in and Zack started going to work. We should pause here and give X some credit for getting this far, and note that him being SFFd twice is not indicative of what his actual strength is. To this day, he is solidly either upper midcard or near-elite. I doubt that ever changes, because the guy is just too damn cool. The entire reason we all fell in love with him in the 90s was because he could do so many more things that vanilla Mega Man just couldn't do. HADOUKEN!

The funniest thing happened when Zack came back and finally caught up to X for good -- he was less than 300 votes away from Mario himself. Hey if he could come back once, why not aim for the king? It seemed unthinkable, but why the hell not go for it and give ZACKFAQs the match they all wanted?

And give us the match we wanted he did. It took all night of chipping away and chipping away some more, but Zack managed to claw his way up to Mario. Mario! FREAKING MARIO! It was insane! 100% of gurus picked Link to get first (obviously), but over 75% picked Mario to get second. 40 people picked Mega Man X. TWO picked Zack. Two! More people picked Liquid Freaking Snake to pull this magic than Zack.

Yet there he was, tied with Mario, with the morning vote yet to come. We all figured the match was over right about here, but then the absolute unthinkable happened. Zack started winning the morning vote and building a lead! It's hard to put this in perspective for those who weren't there, but a lot of you might remember Undertale since it was pretty recent. You know how happy Undertale fans were at the entire tidal wave in that contest? Remember how there was a counter bandwagon? Had Zack pulled this off, it would been all the love and none of the counter bandwagon. That's how hard we were pulling for him to miracle his way into second place here.

We all know the rest of the story. Zack only built up a 150 vote lead before getting stalled with the morning vote, and though it took Mario the entire morning, he did ultimately take control of the poll and slowly (very slowly) build a lead for himself. It was so slow in fact that Mario only led by 350 going into the ASV, which let people hold out hope that Zack might still pull it off. When Zack started cutting some votes during the beginnings of the ASV, people lost it all over again.

Unfortunately, around 4pm Mario finally stopped dicking around and ended the match. He did it by bludgeoning poor Mega Man X to death and stealing a bunch of support from him, but a win is a win and you do what you have to do to survive and advance. Mario turned a pretty close match into an 1100 vote win, but Zack did have one final bit of fight left in him to prevent the final margin from being bigger. Oddly enough, this match played out almost exactly like Crisis Core, right down to the ending and Zack refusing to quit. It was like Rocky Balboa meets his contest end or something, and it was remarkable to watch. Mario may have won here, but he didn't win our hearts.

Zack, bottom's up to you bro. You're the Star of the Contest.

For those hoping Mario would get his comeuppance for this, an old enemy of his was waiting in the wings, and this time he had friends.

Stats and Analysis[]

If you needed any more proof that Link was going to tear this contest a new bunghole... tadah!

Aside from Link, every other contender in this match had a pretty interesting run. Zack Fair of ZackFAQs fame managed to wow the board by getting some excellent numbers on the Hero of Time. (Nothing like Blonde Haired Zack, though.) Mario had just gone through what was quite possibly the worst division run he's ever had. The poster boy for bad bracket placement, he endured many underperformances thanks to our good friend SFF. Mega Man X decided to rub some salt on the wounds, and gave Mr. Nintendo two dangerously close matches, and proved that he's more than worthy of comparison to his classic counterpart. With two heavy hitters in the match with him, and Mario with the largest of all monkeys on his back, Link could have taken anyone out of this match with him!

The initial rush of bracket votes gave Mario respectable lead for second place, but Zack was making cuts. He pushed past Mega Man X in the early morning, and caught fire at around four and eventually took the lead. Mario would take the lead back in the following hours, but the two would stay amazingly close to each other until the ASV, when Mario built a basically insurmountable lead.

Mario may have won, but his fate was sealed. Despite the almost memetic nature of his strength, Zack was definitely no Vincent. Considering he was facing either him or Crono in the next round, there was absolutely no hope for the poor plumber. At the very least, he could put up a good fight while Link laughs maniacally at the top.

And with that out of the way, quite possibly the most hyped match of the contest was set to begin.

Match Trends[]


Ngamer's Same Day Analysis[]

Match Prediction[]

Bah, another bad Oracle pick. Got to reverse the trend! And how will I do that? Why, by picking the opposite of what I've been doing all year and finally putting a little faith in Mario, that's how. Let's hit it.

X-Stats from Round Two

  • Link - 47.63% (based on '07 Duke)
  • Zack - 28.59% (based on '07 Duke)
  • Mario - 36.49% (based on '07 Liquid)
  • MMX - 31.00% (based on '07 Liquid)

Ehh, both Duke and Liquid were clearly stronger in '08 than what we saw in 2007, but that is countered partially by their collapsing somewhat against the tough competition they ran up against in R3. So all in all these look like pretty reasonable numbers to me. As you see, Zack's got an upward climb ahead of him no matter how you try to tweak that.

On the plus side for Zack, he's got SFF working in his favor here, and in fact it's working overtime. Link's the King of SFF and has already laid a hurting on both Mario and MM, Zack will be the one standing out from the crowd, and Square always brings its A game against strong Nintendo competition, as I've mentioned many times. On the down side... these are REALLY tough competitors, and we've already seen the very dedicated fanbase of MGS crack under this kind of pressure. On the plus side, the FF7 base is about two steps up the rung from MGS... on the down side, Link is about five steps up from Luigi! Sure it would make for a great story, but nay, can't see Zack ever being in contention against Mario tomorrow- I don't think third place is entirely out of reach though, assuming X feels the Nintendo heat and weakens a bit from where we saw him last round.

Regarding Mario v MMX, I'm likewise not buying into the upset hype. X had the win handed to him on a silver platter last round (is there any character who could possibly disadvantage Mario more than his own brother?) and yet he failed me by not taking advantage of it. I'm now convinced that it was Mudkip more than Zelda holding the plumber back in R2, and since Zack is an independent draw like Liquid, I'd be surprised if X manages to get much closer than he did last round.

That leaves us with Link vs Mario, which... shouldn't be much worth talking about, really! The last time we witnessed Link v Mario v FF7 we were shocked that Link was only able to score 62% directly on the Nintendo mascot. I've got to imagine Link extends that percentage at least slightly in this one just because Mario and MM share deeper NES roots, but as I've discussed it would take a pounding more along the lines of the Battle Royale before I'd seriously consider either of those two catching up to him, so he ought to remain fairly safe.

In summary, while I'll admit to this match having excellent triple threat potential, I just don't think we'll get that lucky and the far more likely result is a 2 - 3 - 4 finish that, while fairly close, is never really in doubt. With that in mind, let's see what five minutes of pot stirring will result in.

  • Link - 38.22%
  • Mario - 23.33%
  • Mega Man X - 20.13%
  • Zack Fair - 18.32%

That looks like a result I have can some real confidence in! Too bad even when I've been able to say that I'm still wrong half the time this season...

Ngamer Says: Link > Mario

Next Day Review[]

Sore Thumb Factor strikes again! As I was talking about yesterday, even though I acknowledged how being the only non-Nintendo option would be important for Zack, I downplayed its significance just because he doesn't LOOK like a sore thumb in the match pics. Kirby and Sonic literally stood out like fuzzy, puffy sore thumbs while Zack just looked like one of two cool dudes with swords. But I guess I was wrong, as has so often happened this season! It's looking like Mario has built himself a big enough ASV cushion to survive Zack's SNV without much trouble, but still, heck of a showing from this black-haired cloud, and it will be very interesting to see how he holds up when we switch back to 1v1s next year.

External Links[]

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2008 Contest Matches

Round One
Zack > Wario
Link > Zidane
Marth > Duke
Altair > Lucario
Luigi > Liquid
Bowser > Phoenix
Mario > Zelda
X > Mudkip
Samus > Nightmare
Ganondorf > Frog
Vincent > Falco
Scorpion > Gordon
Crono > Amaterasu
L-Block > Ryu
Alucard > Falcon

Pikachu > Arthas
Cube > Tidus
Mega Man > Nero
Ryu H > Zero
Snake > Vivi
Sora > Fox
Squall > Yoshi
Cloud > Midna
Mewtwo > Pac-Man
Big Boss > Kirby
Master Chief > Raiden
Leon > Riku
Dante > Hogger
Sonic > Sandbag
Auron > Sub-Zero
Sephiroth > Tifa
Kratos > Jill

Round Two
Link > Zack
Duke > Altair
Liquid > Luigi
Mario > X
Samus > Ganondorf
Vincent > Gordon
Crono > L-Block
Pikachu > Alucard
Mega Man > Cube
Snake > Zero
Squall > Sora
Cloud > Mewtwo
Kirby > Master Chief
Dante > Leon
Auron > Sonic
Sephiroth > Kratos

R3 and following
Link > Zack
Mario > X
Samus > Vincent
Crono > Pikachu
Snake > Cube
Cloud > Mewtwo
Kirby > Dante
Sephiroth > Sonic
Link > Mario
Samus > Crono
Cloud > Snake
Sephiroth > Kirby
Link > Crono
Snake > Cloud
Link > Snake (Finals)
Classic > CD-I (Bonus)