Board 8 Wiki

As written by Vlado during the 2008 contest season.

The best time in Board 8's year - CONTEST TIME, has come! This is most pleasurable, hopefully we get some quality users along with it, too. Last year we got the incredible L-Block supporters, but, sadly, barely any of them stayed with us afterwards... If we get half as many awesome people this year, I'd be more than glad. Even if they only stayed as short as the brilliant L-Block people did.

Anyway, down to business... I've decided to make a thread where I'll post my predictions for the contest matches, and/or analyse the results. Since I don't visit every day like I used to a couple years ago, I might miss some matches, but I'll do my best not to. I'll also post my bracket picks and who I want to advance every day. My vote is the first character that I want to advance, unless specified otherwise.

Round 1[]

Cecil Harvey vs. Jade Curtiss vs. Wario vs. Zack Fair[]

So, time for Matchday 1:

Cecil Harvey vs. Jade Curtiss vs. Wario vs. Zack Fair

For once, Nintendo would have lost the opening match, if only Zack didn't have another two RPG characters leeching his votes. I think Zack will be a decent midcarder, below Tifa and Vincent's level, but still decent. I'd most likely take him to beat Wario, one of the least impressive Nintendo representatives ever, if this were one-on-one... But it isn't. Nintendo is Nintendo, Wario has no-one to lose votes to, and he'll get a bit of a boost from Brawl. He has this one.

My prediction: Wario > Zack.

Percentages: Cecil - 18.76%, Jade - 8.93%, Wario - 39.70%, Zack - 32.61%.

My bracket: Wario > Zack.

I'd like to see: Zack > Jade.

Link vs. Luke fon Fabre vs. Shadow the Hedgehog vs. Zidane Tribal[]

So, Zack actually beat Wario in the opening match. Let's hope the contest continues in this direction, Final Fantasy VII can't get nearly as much credit as it deserves. We had 3 RPG characters against a Nintendo one, and the Nintendo one suffered a crushing defeat - in fact, Wario will be struggling to break 1/3 of the total votes. Imagine if it were a direct match - Zack would be destroying Wario!

But then again, let's not get too optimistic - as Hochiminh said, Wario is fodder. Even if he is a Nintendo character, even if he got somewhat of a Brawl boost, he simply isn't that liked. We'll see how the stronger Nintendo representatives do in future matches.

Another thing that has to be noted is the awesome picture Zack got. He reminds the voters so much of the invincible Cloud Strife! It was only natural they chose him over the boring Mario anti-type.

Funny how some people tried to make fun of me because I called the match wrong... As if they got it right. Remember what Jesus said about throwing the first stone, people. Congrats to those that did have Zack over Wario but... The biggest drama is to those, who, unlike me, don't have Zack advancing in the next round...

Now, on to Matchday 2:

Link vs. Luke fon Fabre vs. Shadow the Hedgehog vs. Zidane Tribal

Hm, after today, I'm not THAT confident in my pick, but Zidane is Zidane... Despite being a really awesome, positive character, a definite change in FF leads from Cloud and Squall, he's proved in the previous two contests that he's little more than fodder - barely more popular than Cecil. So yeah, I think this one is pretty clear. The badass Shadow, despite inevitably losing the most votes out of the three to the juggernaut that is Link, should still have no problems taking second. Luke will have a fate similar to Jade's today - in fact, I think he'll do even worse, simply because Link is here and he takes votes from ANYONE... Those two's fans should be proud they made the contest at all.

My prediction: Link > Shadow.

Percentages: Link - 61.85%, Luke - 5.12%, Shadow - 18.69%, Zidane - 14.34%.

My bracket: Link > Shadow.

I'd like to see: Zidane > Shadow.

Duke Nukem vs. Kefka vs. Marth vs. Niko Bellic[]

Zidane pulled the first major upset of the contest, defeating Shadow, who was heavily hurt by Link. Zidane himself also deserves credit, though, he did much better than expected. I think the evidence so far is clearly pointing in one direction - Square is back. Maybe, Sonic characters have also gotten weaker... But I don't think the difference could be significant there. Is it the excellent FFVII-themed contest logo, is it that simply we've gotten more quality users in the last year... Who knows. Maybe we'll find out by the end of the contest.

Time for Matchday 3:

Duke Nukem vs. Kefka vs. Marth vs. Niko Bellic

Speaking of Square, Kefka is in this one. But... I'm not so sure if the results so far guarantee his success. Cecil didn't really impress yesterday... But Kefka is definitely stronger. This spike could actually just affect 3D Final Fantasy characters. It is a possibility... Anyway, Smash Brothers-happy Marth should be the favourite here. While he would have normally struggled to get third in such a group if he relied solely on his Fire Emblem fame, Smash really makes him into a heavy favourite here. There's little doubt in my mind that he'll win.

In contention for second place, we have Duke, who didn't do half badly last year, Kefka, who always chokes, and newcomer Niko Bellic from the critically acclaimed GTAIV. Let's start with Niko... Frankly, I think he won't reach the somewhat respectable Vercetti level, which could possibly get him through this group. GTA has proven again and again to be a joke in these contests, for whatever reason. Especially its characters.

Then, we have Kefka, who has disappointed again and again... If it weren't for my blind faith in him, I would have jointly won the Villains Contest... Alas, I had him over Diablo in that one match. Afterwards, I skillfully predicted his results. This time, he's in another tough match... We already established he'd beat Niko, but what about Duke? Hm, this is tougher. Duke managed to beat Gordon Freeman last year, which is definitely quite an achievement for him. Since then, there has been information that Duke Nukem Forever would actually release. Will that help him? I doubt it. PC gaming has its fans on GameFAQs and the Duke is more or less a PC gaming icon, but Kefka should have a bit more support than him, especially after the Square success of the last two days. Dissidia has reminded people of Kefka and it should help a little bit, too. I think it'll be very close between Kefka and the Duke, but Kefka should manage to prevail, even if Duke will likely keep decreasing his lead throughout the day and until the late evening.

My prediction: Marth > Kefka.

Percentages: Duke - 24.06%, Kefka - 24.83%, Marth - 36.43%, Niko - 14.68%.

My bracket: Marth > Kefka.

I'd like to see: Kefka > Duke.

Altair vs. Guybrush Threepwood vs. Isaac vs. Lucario[]

Blah... Three days, not one fully correct pick. Maybe tomorrow? Duke proved his strength, defeating Kefka and Niko. Marth is the one who's doing much below what I thought, maybe Nintendo's no longer the destructive force it used to be... Last year's contest was a sign, but it could have been luck... Could we actually really have better quality users on the site now than 2 years ago? Still a lot of time left, this question is yet to be resolved...

Kefka also underperformed, which is slightly surprising, considering how well Zack and Zidane did. He'll even end up in last here. Oh well... Guess the supposed Square increase influences just 3D FF characters. I think Kefka's defeat could mean bad news for Chrono Trigger characters, too... But it's a bit early for that.

Now, it's time for Matchday 4, another one that should be easy:

Altair vs. Guybrush Threepwood vs. Isaac vs. Lucario

Lucario's the juggernaut here, no question about it. Although his actual contest strength wouldn't be anything really impressive, in this company, he has no choice but to win - and with at least 10% above number 2, too. Reasons for that are clear enough - Pokemon, which, despite being on a huge downward spiral in gameplay quality since Crystal, is still insanely popular, and, of course, the internet gamer's wet dream - Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I think that makes things quite clear.

Now onto the more difficult question - who would take the second spot, if only to inevitably fail in the next round. Guybrush, while being another PC gaming legend, is nowhere near the strength level of The Duke. Last year he did pretty poorly, and I don't think this time it'll be that different. The weak competition could help him not get utterly embarrassed, but that's about it.

So then, it's between Altair and Isaac. Isaac's game came out a long time ago and, while it does have its fans, its popularity can only be fading through the years. Solely based on his art, he'll get a good chunk of his votes from hardcore JRPG-style fans, though, as he's the only such character here. I think Altair will confidently take second, though. He looks REALLY badass, his game is considerably popular, as well as visually excellent and an enjoyable gameplay experience. Quite possibly one of Ubisoft's finest works ever. I think he should take second here with ease. He even might surprise and win this... But, much as the results these year tell me to expect ANYTHING, I doubt it - it's worth mentioning the possibility, though.

My prediction: Lucario > Altair.

Percentages: Altair - 26.79%, Guybrush - 14.64%, Isaac - 19.54%, Lucario - 39.03%.

My bracket: Lucario > Altair.

I'd like to see: Altair > Guybrush.

Liquid Snake vs. Luigi vs. Roxas vs. Sho Minamimoto[]

Okay, time to do some quick recollection. Out of the 8 advancing so far, I've gotten 6 (didn't get Zidane and Duke Nukem). No matches fully correct, but 4 matches x 2 points means my performance so far is completely mediocre.

Today's match is pretty damn cool. Altair is kicking ass, and I'm kicking myself for not actually going ahead and taking the risk of predicting he'd win this. Brawl is apparently nowhere near the force I expected it to be and Lucario's barely beating Isaac. I think this makes things clear - Nintendo is nowhere near the force it was 2 years ago, or even last year. We have to take this into account for the future matches. Too bad we can't submit our brackets again. Oh well...

Anyway, Altair is proving to be considerably strong. Even against such opposition, the 42% he has so far are worthy of praise. Some people are speculating he might even be stronger than Zack, but I wouldn't go as far - after all, there were no Square characters in the poll today. But next round should also be no problem for him. Do we have a new star in the contest? Quite possibly so, at least for this year. A real shame second round is as far as I have him going in my bracket.

Moving on to Matchday 5:

Liquid Snake vs. Luigi vs. Roxas vs. Sho Minamimoto

Hm... Another interesting match, where we have clear fodder in the face of Sho, and three characters who could make it through. Luigi doesn't really have anyone to lose votes to, so, despite Nintendo choking quite a bit so far, I think he'll manage to win this. He is, more or less, a gaming icon, and the likes of Liquid Snake and Roxas shouldn't be able to get the best of him.

The biggest question here should be who will take second. Roxas is the sole Square console character here, albeit a not very popular one. That alone gives him huge chances to advance. However, his opponent is Liquid Snake. Last year, he even managed to narrowly beat the almighty Alucard in their first match, although Alucard easily got his revenge later. Liquid also eliminated Ness last year. This year, he's getting a considerable boost thanks to Metal Gear Solid 4, although not nearly enough GameFAQs users have PS3s. Still, thousands upon thousands have played and loved this masterpiece, where Liquid played a vital part. It'll probably be somewhat close, but he really shouldn't lose to the likes of Roxas. Still, Roxas will take enough votes from Liquid (it's well known Square and Metal Gear share fanbases) to prevent him from challenging Luigi for first. Nevertheless, Liquid will end up closer to Luigi than Roxas.

My prediction: Luigi > Liquid Snake.

Percentages: Liquid Snake - 30.40%, Luigi - 32.51%, Roxas - 25.17%, Sho - 11.92%.

My bracket: Luigi > Liquid Snake.

I'd like to see: Liquid Snake > Roxas.

Bowser vs. Deckard Cain vs. Geno vs. Phoenix Wright[]

Have to make this quick... Liquid and Luigi did more or less as expected, Roxas was the one who disappointed in today's match. With Bowser in sight next round, Liquid just make progress another round as well, but we'll get there eventually...

Matchday 6:

Bowser vs. Deckard Cain vs. Geno vs. Phoenix Wright

Hm, this is a pretty strange match. Sure, we all know that Bowser will win, but, when you look at each of the other three, you can't really say "This guy will advance". Let's face it, the other three are fodder, and the one who advances will simply be the least weak of them. Deckard Cain will get fairly decent support from Diablo fans, but, much like Sarah Kerrigan, I don't see him making much of an impact. Geno should do well enough, many people love him from Mario RPG, but Bowser will take a good chunk of his votes, probably enough to keep him from catching the only semi-serious contestant for second here, Phoenix Wright...

Sure, his series is really cult, but he held his own against Gordon Freeman a while ago, and made it past Round 1last year, defeating Bomberman. Phoenix Wright could only have gained fans since last year. I think he'll repeat his feat here, if again only thanks more to the weak competition, than to his own strength.

My prediction: Bowser > Phoenix.

Percentages: Bowser - 43.32%, Deckard Cain - 15.61%, Geno - 18.55%, Phoenix - 22.52%.

My bracket: Bowser > Phoenix.

I'd like to see: Phoenix > Deckard Cain.

Fei Fong Wong vs. Knuckles the Echidna vs. Mario vs. Zelda[]

Today's match is going exactly as I expected, I think even Geno will hold onto the third spot, although that won't get me any points... Bowser is getting between 40 and 45%, as expected, but it has to be noted that his competition is pretty weak, so that's not an indicator of incredible strength or anything. Phoenix is breaking 25%, something I didn't expect him to do. I think his series has risen above the "cult" level, 25%, even with such competition, is pretty good recognition.

But all that matters no more...

Matchday 7:

Fei Fong Wong vs. Knuckles the Echidna vs. Mario vs. Zelda

...As it is time for THE MATCH OF THE FIRST ROUND! Why, you ask? Because a Xenogears character, the main protagonist Fei, finally makes his debut in the Character Battles! I am so happy he made it, when I nominated him and made topics here and on the Xenogears Social Board to try and gain more nominations, my hopes really weren't high at all. Was it a pleasant surprise when I saw the bracket right before I went on vacation, or what?!

Fei... Such an extraordinary character, from an even more extraordinary game. If you haven't played Xenogears yet, you should definitely do so, especially if you are an RPG fan. It is a gaming masterpiece, a title I'd give to no more than 4 games I have ever played. Fei's personal story is so interesting and intense, with many twists, touching and beautiful. Some may say they'd rather have seen Citan here, but Fei, as the main character, is the more deserving one, in my opinion. Although I did nominate both of them.

Well, anyway, this all doesn't really matter much in this contest. I just wanted to share my joy that Xenogears finally found character representation in the contests after kicking Pokemon's ass TWICE in the game one and then bowing out to Final Fantasy VII.

Fei is the sole Square character here and, although he faces really tough competition, this should help him do respectably. Not THAT respectably, though, as, unfortunately, there are many Square fans that haven't even played the masterpiece that is Xenogears. And won't recognise him. Give them Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts... I'd be very glad if Fei gets more than 15%. I have to admit he has very small chances of getting a position other than last in this grouping... If only he were in Phoenix's place today, for example. I think he won't be complete fodder, though, Xenogears, even if not all that popular, is still pretty well liked, as its game contest results show.

Mario is easily taking first here, no question about it. I have little doubt that he'll break 50%, actually - even with relatively tough competition. He'll SFF both Zelda and Knuckles (Zelda to a greater extent, though). So the real question in predicting this match is whether Zelda would lose enough votes to Mario to allow Knuckles to advance. Sonic characters started pretty badly, Shadow going out to Zidane (someone who can't be much stronger than Fei...). Let's not forget he was SFF'd by Link, though, normally, Shadow would have undoubtedly been the one to advance.

You know what match this one resembles? Knuckles's first match from last year. Except now the headliner is Mario, not Yoshi, which means the remaining three will have even less votes to share. Rikku has Vaan to lose votes to, just like Zelda has Mario to lose votes to... Which means one thing - those two will be considerably close again. Still... Zelda was a complete joke in SFF environment last year. Yes, that time it was Link, so she never really stood a chance to begin with, but just look at her percentages... Less than 8%, that's really pathetic. It proves that Zelda really bleeds badly to SFF. I think this should be enough to give the second spot to Knuckles, who will likely be slightly weaker than last year.

Such a shame that the fame of Xenogears could only have withered away since 1998-1999... Fei needs about 23-25,000 votes to guarantee himself the second spot... Serge got 17,000 last year in the company of Tidus, but without a powerhouse like Mario to draw votes from everyone else... Fei should be slightly above Serge's strength... Bah... Sadly, I can't really make a case for him here. But let's hope he surprises me pleasantly.

My prediction: Mario > Knuckles.

Percentages: Fei - 12.37%, Knuckles - 18.62%, Mario - 51.68%, Zelda - 17.33%.

My bracket: Mario > Knuckles.

I'd like to see: Fei > Knuckles.

Lloyd Irving vs. Mudkip vs. Tom Nook vs. Mega Man X[]

Man... This match was ****ing horrible. Mario doing so badly definitely wasn't expected. I expected him to break 50%, and he's barely breaking 40... Zelda - the epitome of blandness, also beat Knuckles. Probably it's the jug factor, most likely the name factor that Shake mentioned earlier also plays a major part... Whatever. This was a complete disaster! Sonic character continue to do much worse than expected, both Shadow and Knuckles failing to qualify. Tails will most likely go out in Round 1, as well, and it'll be just the Blue Blur in the second round... At least Fei did respectably, although he failed to break 15%, as I had hoped.

Matchday 8:

Lloyd Irving vs. Mudkip vs. Tom Nook vs. Mega Man X

Well, at least this one is easy enough... Mega Man X wins for sure, and Tom Nook is fodder. Only question is who'll take second. Lloyd did respectably last year, breaking 20% and almost qualifying in an admittedly easy four pack. But Mudkip not only made it past round 1, but also did respectably in a tougher four pack with Luigi and Ganon in round 2. Why I doubt he'll do nearly as well as last year, him being a Pokemon will help him defeat Lloyd for the second spot here. Despite Lucario's choking.

My prediction: Mega Man X > Mudkip.

Percentages: Lloyd - 17.82%, Mudkip - 21.44%, Tom Nook - 11.12%, Mega Man X - 49.62%.

My bracket: Mega Man X > Mudkip.

I'd like to see: Lloyd > Mega Man X.

Crash Bandicoot vs. Nightmare vs. Raz vs. Samus Aran[]

A boring match today, I really expected much more from Lloyd, but he disappointed. As expected, X and Mudkip occupied the top two spots, the Pokemon actually doing pretty well, getting 30% in a group with X.

Matchday 9:

Crash Bandicoot vs. Nightmare vs. Raz vs. Samus Aran

Another boring match, with clear winner and runner-up. Raz is lucky to even be here, and I doubt he'll get more than 10-12%, Crash, a gaming icon once, is now fodder (he should still be able to pass Raz, though). Samus is the absolute favourite here, and will likely break 50% with such puny competition. Nightmare managed to make it past one round last year, and I don't see why he wouldn't do it again, probably with a similar result to the one he got then.

My prediction: Samus > Nightmare.

Percentages: Crash - 14.53%, Nightmare - 21.20%, Raz - 9.80%, Samus - 54.47%.

My bracket: Samus > Nightmare.

I'd like to see: Raz > Crash.

Frog vs. Ganondorf vs. KOS-MOS vs. Neku Sakuraba[]

Hm, today was a complete borefest, things went exactly as expected. It must be noted that Samus didn't impress, given that the rest of the characters are more or less fodder. Compare to last year's round 1 - Samus had considerably more impressive competition in Frog, Kingdom Hearts Axel and Sarah Kerrigan, and got a similar result. Seems Nintendo is really less powerful than last year, this match is yet another indication.

Matchday 10:

Frog vs. Ganondorf vs. KOS-MOS vs. Neku Sakuraba

Hm, this could potentially be interesting. Now, we know Ganon will win and Neku will be fodder... The question is who'll take second place, and I don't think it is THAT easy. Zelda's success was an indication that TJF plays some role in this contest... Especially with the relative lack of girls in it. Still, last year KOS-MOS did pretty poorly and can only thank Arthas and Diablo for splitting their votes almost evenly, helping her advance past the first round. While Frog had also gotten weaker, losing to Scorpion in round 2, I think he's still stronger and will survive this match. Chrono Trigger DS hype should help him (and the rest of the CT representatives) a little bit, too. Too bad it didn't come out earlier, it could have worked wonders for them.

You know, it is cool that Chrono Trigger is even as strong as it is now. For a single non-Nintendo game that wasn't nearly as marketed as Final Fantasy VII to be so popular on one of the biggest gaming sites on the internet is quite the achievement. Besides, we can always remember the wonderful day in 2004 when Crono got his revenge for the two shady losses to Mario, or the other wonderful day when Magus owned Ganondorf in 2003. Or, of course, Chrono Trigger's glorious victories over Link to the Past and Mario Bros. 3, allowing it to place second in the Best. Game. Ever. contest after just the mighty Final Fantasy VII, to which it lost quite respectably.

My prediction: Ganondorf > Frog.

Percentages: Frog - 25.82%, Ganondorf - 43.51%, KOS-MOS - 21.55%, Neku - 9.12%.

My bracket: Ganondorf > Frog.

I'd like to see: Frog > KOS-MOS.

Falco Lombardi vs. GLaDOS vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Wander[]

Yes, this was another mind-numbingly boring match, which I predicted quite masterfully, save for Neku breaking 10%. KOS-MOS never even got close to Frog, despite the awesome picture she had. In fact, I think the picture contributed to her doing better than last year.

Matchday 11:

Falco Lombardi vs. GLaDOS vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Wander

Another match that looks quite easy, Vincent is the clear favourite, Falco is the Nintendo representative and Wander is fodder, as proven last year. The only one who is hard to judge is GLaDOS, who will likely get decent support from Portal fans, but not enough to help her advance over Falco of Star Fox and Smash Brothers fame. Third spot is what she's realistically looking at.

Fox made it very far last year, thanks to a weak and Nintendo-infested part of the bracket. Falco is surely a bit weaker than Fox, but him being a top tier character in both Melee and Brawl will surely help him advance without much trouble here.

My prediction: Vincent > Falco.

Percentages: Falco - 26.46%, GLaDOS - 15.62%, Vincent - 48.16%, Wander - 9.76%.

My bracket: Vincent > Falco.

I'd like to see: Vincent > Wander.

Balthier Bunansa vs. Big Daddy vs. Gordon Freeman vs. Scorpion[]

Vincent only got ~45% in this easy pack, which may not be a very good sign for him... We'll see. GLaDOS did pretty well and deserves some praise, Wander sucked again. Falco did exactly as expected from a lower tier Nintendo contest character. He's quite lucky to be the only Nintendo character in this group of 8, he might even make it through another round, if he's lucky.

Matchday 12:

Balthier Bunansa vs. Big Daddy vs. Gordon Freeman vs. Scorpion

An interesting match... Even if it's between 4 not-that-impressive characters. Balthier was a major joke last year, people expected him to be strong and he couldn't beat Ada Wong and Amaterasu... Pathetic!!! Shows how much people liked Final Fantasy XII... 2 years ago Gordon got his first contest victory, and last year he advanced out of a tough pack with Duke Nukem and Ike. Half-Life 2 and the following episodes have definitely helped him turn from fodder capable of losing to anyone into a respectable mid-tier character. Big Daddy will probably steal a few votes away from Gordon, but far from enough to keep him from getting second... Scorpion will naturally take first, last year he proved to be stronger than even Frog, which means a lot.

And here comes the worst part... For some weird reason, I have Balthier taking second in my bracket... What was I thinking? I should have checked last year's contest results before the deadline in order to remind myself just how much Balthier sucked. Oh well... 2 free points down the drain.

My prediction: Scorpion > Gordon.

Percentages: Balthier - 24.02%, Big Daddy - 11.95%, Gordon - 30.48%, Scorpion - 33.55%.

My bracket: Scorpion > Balthier.

I'd like to see: Gordon > Scorpion.

Amaterasu vs. Crono vs. Frank West vs. Kaim Argonar[]

Everyone has to face it, Gordon's gotten stronger. The episodes, all the HL2 spin-off games have helped him a great deal. He deserves this - HL2 is such a revolutionary game. In fact, it's sad he's losing to some ninja from one of the crappiest (if not THE crappiest) fighting game series ever. Even if it is a popular series. Even if it is a badass ninja. But hey, even this itself is magnificent performance by Gordon - imagine Big Daddy wasn't in this and, say, Ada Wong was, instead... Gordon would've taken it with ease!

Anyway... Scorpion leads with over 650 votes now, and it seems it's all over for Gordon. He held on for long enough to earn a lot of respect, though... And you know what? I think he has every chance to make it through another round! We'll see what happens by then, though...

The other thing that should be mentioned is the decent performance by Big Daddy - definitely better than most expected.

Time for another quick recollection... With 3 divisions done and 24 having made it to the second round, I've missed just 3 - Zidane, Duke Nukem and Zelda. With my predictions, I would have had 38 points, although I have just 36 in my bracket due to the botched pick today. I'd say that's not too bad, especially considering I finished the first division with half the possible points.

Matchday 13:

Amaterasu vs. Crono vs. Frank West vs. Kaim Argonar

Little to talk about here... Crono wins easily, Amaterasu gets second. After the flop last year, why did people insist on nominating Frank West again?! Waste of a spot. I'm glad Kaim made it in, Lost Odyssey is apparently an awesome RPG and deserves to be tested. Sadly, he'll likely be in last here, if he had any chances to beat Frank, they're more or less gone because of Crono's presence in the bracket. Amaterasu should do decently, the Okami Wii port should have made her even stronger than last year. The only remotely interesting thing here will be whether Crono manages to break 50% - if he does, then the Chrono Trigger DS hype probably plays some role. Though, at any rate, even a blowout in such a weak match doesn't mean too much.

My prediction: Crono > Amaterasu.

Percentages: Amaterasu - 26.73%, Crono - 51.56%, Frank - 13.08%, Kaim - 8.63%.

My bracket: Crono > Amaterasu.

I'd like to see: Crono > Kaim.

L-Block vs. Meta Knight vs. Ryu vs. The Dog[]

Today's match went more or less as I expected. Crono is failing to break 50% so far, which is slightly disappointing, but he still shows to be at least as strong as last year. Amaterasu has become a bit stronger after Okami was ported to Wii, as expected. Frank and Kaim never stood a chance.

Matchday 14:

L-Block vs. Meta Knight vs. Ryu vs. The Dog

A very interesting match that will be a sign for things to come in the contest. Quite an unpredictable affair, but I'll do my best not to let you down. Sure, it may not be the wisest choice to judge L-Block by his performance in the final matches of last year's contest... Okay then, how about we start from his first three matches? He showed really consistent strength, getting 28-30% in them and crawling through circumstantially, but also thanks to his incredible consistence. There's really no reason why he'd get less than that number this time. This time, he also has a sizable bracket support and champion bandwagon votes (as few as they are). Sure, he'll also get a portion of anti-votes, but the problem is that there are three other contestants that'll take them and those won't hurt him much.

In terms of who advances, it's quite clear that the other guy would be Ryu. A more interesting question is who'll actually win this... Ryu or L-Block? We'll answer that soon. Meta Knight... Many have taken him to take second over the block, but, given the circumstances, I really don't think that'll happen. In fact, in my inherently flawed bracket, I've also taken Meta Knight over the champion... Before the contest I thought Brawl would dominate everything. The matches so far have proven that that is not the case by a long shot. Last year Meta Knight barely beat Peach, which proves he's not that strong. Surely, he's become a bit stronger thanks to Brawl, but not enough to even come close to taking second here. Going by Falco's match from a few days ago and the undeniable fact that he'll lose votes to the block, I think he'll be around 20-25%.

Then, we have The Dog from Duck Hunt... Does anyone not dislike him? This is a pretty damn poor choice for a "joke character" to nominate, as many, many people hold negative feelings for the one who laughed at them so many times when they failed to take down those ducks... The Dog will undoubtedly be dead last here, and I really doubt he'll break 15%.

Finally, we have Ryu - the man who beat Bowser twice last year, made it damn far (quarterfinals) and proved to be even more of a force to be reckoned with in this format. Street Fighter IV is coming soon, which should help him some more here. He'll undoubtedly lose some old school votes to the block, too, the question is how many... Enough to lose the top spot? A difficult estimate to be made... Still, Ryu stands out the most among these four characters and should lose the least votes to last year's champion.

My prediction: Ryu > L-Block.

Percentages: L-Block - 30.70%, Meta Knight - 24.76%, Ryu - 32.82%, The Dog - 11.72%.

My bracket: Ryu > Meta Knight.

I'd like to see: L-Block > Ryu (I'm kind of on the fence here - while I do like Ryu a lot, seeing L-Block win the match could mean a very, very interesting contest again).

Alucard vs. Captain Falcon vs. Diddy Kong vs. Kratos Aurion[]

Jeez, what's with all this hating on the block? Joke, shmoke, come on, admit he has legitimate strength already. The "joke" (bandwagon voting, to be more precise) last year didn't even start until the quarter-/semifinal with Snake! In the first three, even four rounds L-Block's success was perfectly legit. He had some pretty good luck with the draw throughout the contest, too (well, except for the final, of course, but he had gained momentum and was unstoppable by then). I can't agree with the notion that him doing well here means he'll magically win the contest again... There's a long, long way to go, and thinking L would again get massive support in the semis and final (if he even goes that far...) really has little ground.

And now he's even stronger! Ryu was 600+ up at one point, but now L has brought that down to under 200 and has every chance to even win this match! For the first time, I have to do my next prediction before the outcome of this match is clear. Even if L-Block wins, though, I have to say I predicted this relatively well - Meta Knight and The Dog never even came close to advancing. Well, next round with Crono, Ryu and the champ should be very, very interesting.

Matchday 15:

Alucard vs. Captain Falcon vs. Diddy Kong vs. Kratos Aurion

A second difficult match in a row. The only thing that's relatively certain is Alucard's victory... Though he has sadly dropped in popularity in the recent years and will have a very tough time making it through more than one round... Still, last year he made it through the first round over the likes of Ness and Zidane, which means he's still not someone to be underestimated. He is an absolute badass and will get plenty of votes thanks to that in this weak group, which will help him win comfortably.

The second spot is really up to debate, and it has to be noted that even Kratos "Nobody" Aurion has a chance to take it, if Captain Falcon and Diddy split their votes fairly evenly. Falcon proved to be quite the flop, last year he couldn't even beat Wario for the second spot in a Nintendo-heavy group in the first round. I think he'll easily be last here. Diddy Kong will get a lot of love from old school fans, as well as a decent boost from being in Brawl. He shouldn't be much weaker than Donkey Kong. Common sense would have him advancing, but maybe Falcon will hurt him just enough to send Kratos through.

Kratos is apparently the strongest Tales character, but we really shouldn't expect more than 20-22% from him here (though him being the sole RPG character in the match should help him a little). So he'll have to rely on Alucard really owning this match in order to advance. It'll be close, but I'm more inclined to believe that Alucard wouldn't win by that much.

My prediction: Alucard > Diddy.

Percentages: Alucard - 34.57%, Captain Falcon - 17.60%, Diddy - 26.97%, Kratos Aurion - 20.86%.

My bracket: Alucard > Diddy.

I'd like to see: Alucard > Diddy.

Arthas Menethil vs. Ike vs. Pikachu vs. Spy[]

lol, looking at the guesses and the users who made them in L-Block's match on the Oracle challenge website is hilarious. Can you say "predicting what they wish would have happened"?

Alucard won even with a horrible picture, and even outdid the percentage I gave him. This is quite impressive, hopefully it's a sign of good things to come in the next round. Diddy was the huge disappointment here, I really didn't expect he'd be that much weaker than Donkey. Kratos proved that his performance against Diablo was a huge fluke (he quite possibly benefited from the tons of bitter Kefka bracket owners in the villain contest earlier that year).

The surprise of the day was Captain Falcon. He did quite respectably, managing to stay within 10% of Alucard and proving to be stronger than last year. Apparently, the Smash fans here rallied heavily behind him, and it's showing. Yesterday someone thought to finish last here for sure, he actually advanced with ease.

Matchday 16:

Arthas Menethil vs. Ike vs. Pikachu vs. Spy

We have the first Team Fortress 2 entry here, Spy... He'll definitely finish in last, the question is just how much he can hurt Arthas. If enough, we could actually see both Nintendo characters advancing. Ike was quite strong even last year, where he went neck and neck with Gordon and Duke. He should have received a some Brawl boost, but by now we saw that the Brawl boost actually isn't nearly as big as we expected (even Meta Knight, who is one of the strongest and, thus, most used Brawl characters, flopped). Will that be enough for Ike to advance?... It must also be noted that Ike is The Great Edouble's Brawl character, which does earn him major props.

Pikachu loves this tough-on-the-anti-voters format, last year he even managed to beat Dante in their first encounter (who was SFF'd by Leon, but it was still easily the biggest disgrace in last year's contest). It's really quite impressive how well he did when there weren't too strong characters around. And there is little reason why he wouldn't repeat that this year, although I have a feeling he'll be just a bit weaker.

Finally, we have Arthas of Warcraft fame. He was really, really badass in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne - games too few have played, unfortunately. Of course, the majority of his votes will come from WoW fans, as he'll be the star of the next expansion called "Wrath of the Lich King". Last year, he even managed to beat Diablo - a really impressive feat, even if it lead to the two eliminating each other in the first round.

Arthas is not an easy character to judge - he should be about as strong as Diablo, but that isn't telling us that much, due to the only reliable Diablo data being too old (2005, and in the 1-on-1 format, at that). He'll probably take about quarter of the votes and will have to rely on one of Ike and Pikachu hurting the other enough to help him advance... This match is so damn hard to call. This is what my calculations and intuition tell me:

My prediction: Pikachu > Arthas.

Percentages: Arthas - 26.61%, Ike - 25.92%, Pikachu - 32.71%, Spy - 14.76%.

My bracket: Ike > Arthas.

I'd like to see: Arthas > Ike.

Donkey Kong vs. Miles "Tails" Prower vs. Tidus vs. Weighted Companion Cube[]

Hmm... We thought it was over for sure, but Ike is making a strong comeback right now. In just the last hour, he's reduced Arthas's lead by over 250 votes, and the Warcraft star's lead is under 2% and under 2000 now. Anyway, I'm going to go with the sensible assumption that Ike will simply run out of time like last time against Gordon and Duke. Pikachu is really holding him back, just enough to help Arthas take second, just like I expected. Arthas had a truly awesome picture which definitely helped him even more here.

Spy also exceeded my expectations a little, not a bad performance by him at all, given the tough opposition. All in all, characters from popular new PC (exclusive or not) games seem to be doing quite respectably. Altair, GLaDOS, Big Daddy, now Spy... The PC userbase on the site is certainly growing, and Arthas doing so well is yet another proof.

Anyway... This match concludes the first half of the first round, and one quarter of the contest as a whole. Time for some stats (I'll assume Arthas holds on to take second here in them). Out of everyone advancing so far, I have missed just four with my predictions - Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda and Captain Falcon. My predictions here are actually much better than my bracket which I simply didn't put enough thought into. My bracket will have 45 points after this match, my predictions are getting me 50. Not too bad so far, I'd say. And I'm hoping to do even better in the future, so those who follow this topic can only benefit.

Matchday 17:

Donkey Kong vs. Miles "Tails" Prower vs. Tidus vs. Weighted Companion Cube

Man, when do we get a break? I know when - in 3 days. But, until then, 2 more relatively tough matches. This one introduces the second object in the contest - Weighted Companion Cube... Many think he'll follow in L-Block's tracks and kick some ass... As if we don't have anything to judge WCC's strength by. But we do. It's last year's joke match after the final where WCC got less than 20% against the champ, the ? box and the Pong paddle. That's not an indication of big strength (although many might argue he was SFF'd by all the others :)). True, Portal has grown in popularity since. We also have GLaDOS' performance from a few days ago, which wasn't bad at all, in fact. That, combined with WCC being more of a "joke" character, should mean a pretty respectable performance, but will it be enough to advance from this group?

Before I say my final word on WCC, it's time to analyse the "normal" part of the contestants. Donkey should be a fair bit stronger than Tidus (especially after his recent flops), but in this match he'll no doubt lose some votes to Tails, who'll unfortunately definitely place behind these two - especially after Shadow and Knuckles' flops. That gives Tidus a slight edge... After all, he's the FFX main and the sole RPG character in the match. That should be enough. Yes, I know last year he lost to Pikachu, but let's not forget it was with Serge and Isaac in the match. At least for Serge, it's absolutely certain that he hurt Tidus way more than Pikachu.

So, where does all that leave us? Tidus > Donkey > Tails... But what about WCC? Well... Nothing. Maybe he'll do better than GLaDOS, but not THAT much better. And if GLaDOS never stood a chance against Falco, who's positively weaker than Donkey, that seals WCC's fate. Please, don't fool yourselves that every "joke" character will have L-Block's power. Not even close.

My prediction: Tidus > Donkey.

Percentages: Donkey - 27.83%, Tails - 18.46%, Tidus - 29.04%, WCC - 24.67%.

My bracket: Tidus > Donkey.

I'd like to see: Tails > Tidus.

Banjo vs. Captain Olimar vs. Mega Man vs. Nero[]

And thus, the match is heading towards an unexpected WCC victory... Uniting the PC and "joke" voters was enough to do it for him, but Donkey's extreme failure can't be disregarded as a factor, either. If he is beating Tidus, I can see the cube advance at least one more round.

Matchday 18:

Banjo vs. Captain Olimar vs. Mega Man vs. Nero

A somewhat interesting match, although I doubt it'll be that close. Banjo and Captain Olimar will undoubtedly be fodder. Banjo already proved as such, as evident by his match last year. Banjo-Kazooie 3 hype should help him a little bit (trailers look really awesome), but I doubt it'll be enough for him to take second. And Olimar will take enough votes from him Nero, although untested, is from a major enough game and has the badass factor. That should be enough, as last year we saw Vergil advance one round, as well, and against respectable competition like Thrall and Ratchet. I think Nero will be a bit stronger than Vergil. Mega Man takes the match easily, of course. He might SFF Nero a little bit, but I doubt it'll be enough to stop him from taking second.

My prediction: Mega Man > Nero.

Percentages: Banjo - 15.28%, Olimar - 11.64%, Mega Man - 52.35%, Nero - 20.73%.

My bracket: Mega Man > Nero.

I'd like to see: Mega Man > Banjo.

King Dedede vs. Pit vs. Ryu Hayabusa vs. Zero[]

And so, we march on... Mega Man owned everyone, breaking 50%, and Nero easily took second. The only thing that was slightly disputed was whether Banjo would take third, and he managed to beat Olimar easily, just as I predicted. Nothing more to say here.

Matchday 19:

King Dedede vs. Pit vs. Ryu Hayabusa vs. Zero

An interesting match where everyone knows who'll qualify, but I dare say that their order is not so trivial for guessing. Dedede and Pit are weaklings, and Brawl won't be enough to get them even close to advancing. They'll split the fanbase's votes, but, in fact, it's not too far-fetched to claim they'd not take second even if we combined their votes. Pit should be a bit stronger and take the third spot. As for Ryu Hayabusa and Zero, judging by the last contest, Zero should have the slight edge, as Ryu really embarrassed himself losing to Riku in the second round, while Zero advanced exactly as much as expected. But it must be noted that Ryu destroyed Riku the first round and simply suffered SFF at the hands of Solid Snake and Nightmare in the second.

The match setting definitely favours Ryu. He's the sole Xbox character and is not likely to suffer much SFF. Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Ninja Gaiden II could only have increased his strength since last year. That should be enough to get him pretty close to Zero. Add to that that Zero will likely lose some votes to Pit and Dedede and you have an "unexpected" finish - Ryu takes this match.

My prediction: Ryu > Zero.

Percentages: Dedede - 12.12%, Pit - 15.37%, Ryu - 37.63%, Zero - 34.88%.

My bracket: Ryu > Zero.

I'd like to see: Ryu > Zero.

Albert Wesker vs. Sackboy vs. Solid Snake vs. Vivi Ornitier[]

It feels nice being right. While I wouldn't go as far as to call the match yet, things are looking very nicely for Ryu (he has a lead of over 1000 votes right now). And I browsed through the Oracle thread just now to check out the other predictions, and I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe so few people called this match right (in fact, no-one on the last page there did. But I know that at least two people who posted here did have this "upset" in their brackets)! Wow... You should have seen this coming, of course Zero and Nintendo have overlapping fanbases. But yeah, sometimes there's just a bit too much consensus and too little independent thought among the regulars here.

I also called Pit over Dedede. :) All in all, a very nice day, especially when we add the fact that it was one of the rare occasions when the result went exactly as I'd have liked it to. Sadly, I doubt Ryu has much of a chance next round... He'll likely face the same fate as last year, when he also had the misfortune of facing Snake way too early. But there's still a lot of time left until then...

Matchday 20:

Albert Wesker vs. Sackboy vs. Solid Snake vs. Vivi Ornitier

And it's finally time for the debut of the mighty Solid Snake. After his appearance in Brawl, where he's one of the strongest characters, and the release of the masterpiece that is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake will be even stronger than in the last 2 years, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see him with another final appearance alongside the heaviest hitters in the contest. So yeah, it's perfectly clear that he'll win this match.

It's also clear that Vivi will take second. As always, he relies mostly on the Black Mage appeal than on Final Fantasy IX for his votes, but that'll be more than enough, at least in this round. In the next one, it'll be way tougher for him. Wesker and Sackboy will undoubtedly take the last two spots, and I'd say the order is way too clear there, too. Wesker has the fortune of being in a really easy group last year, and almost managed to take second... He had the lead against Lara Croft for a while, but then things came to their places and he had to settle with the third spot.

Sackboy will get some votes from the most informed gamers who know about the miracle that LittleBigPlanet will be, but, sadly, those are way too few to matter, not to mention that all the other three contestants reach into that potential fanbase, as well. He'll have to settle for last but... Maybe he'll be back next year, and things will be a bit different then. He's definitely getting my vote, at least. I just can't wait for the gaming revolution that LittleBigPlanet will be.

My prediction: Snake > Vivi.

Percentages: Wesker - 16.49%, Sackboy - 10.05%, Snake - 47.12%, Vivi - 26.34%.

My bracket: Snake > Vivi.

I'd like to see: Sackboy > Snake.

Chris Redfield vs. Fox McCloud vs. Sora vs. Tim[]

No surprises today. Snake did even better than expected, breaking 50%. Vivi easily took second, Sackboy's time has not yet come and Wesker is still fodder. Moving on...

Matchday 21:

Chris Redfield vs. Fox McCloud vs. Sora vs. Tim

Well, I think we all know who'll advance in this one... Sora and Fox. But who'll come in first? That's a more difficult question. Both lost one round before the quarterfinals last year with Fox outdoing several other Nintendo characters to get that far, and Sora crushing fodder in the first round and then getting past Aeris. Sora also embarrassingly lost twice to Squall... The first one not too badly, though, with less than 4%. Sora's big problem here is that part of his fanbase overlaps with Fox's, and he can't be completely sure to be favoured by those people (though he should be, in theory). Fox should have gotten some Brawl boost, while Sora's popularity could only have waned further... Going purely off the stats, Sora has this. But Fox could surprise.

Chris lost to freaking Pyramid Head last year... Yes, there is some Resident Evil 5 hype, but I really doubt that'll do much for him. In fact, he's not even sure to take third, as Braid has been quite the recent hit and many people will recognise Tim. The protagonist of the game of the whiniest developer we've come to know in recent years will probably have some joke appeal, as well. So yeah, we could even see Tim take third here. Wesker's utmost flop today (despite the Snake SFF) also points in such a direction. But then again, Resident Evil has virtually nothing to lose votes to here... So Chris should be able to at least take third and avoid becoming the laughing stock of the contest.

My prediction: Sora > Fox.

Percentages: Chris - 16.37%, Fox - 33.48%, Sora - 36.51%, Tim - 13.64%.

My bracket: Sora > Fox.

I'd like to see: Sora > Chris.

Cats vs. Nathan Drake vs. Squall Leonhart vs. Yoshi[]

Today was slightly surprising, and the reason for that was Chris Redfield. He did WAY better than anyone would expect him to after his huge failure last year. Seems Resident Evil 5 hype has about kicked in, it's really hard to believe he's closer to Fox than Fox is to Sora. As for Sora, he really kicked ass and things are looking bright for him before the next round. Maybe he'll manage to beat Squall this time? We'll see... Although, with 2 Nintendo characters in the poll, his chances for that (or even for advancing) aren't that great.

Thanks to Garquille14 for this awesome suggestion, from now on, I'll keep posting my contest score - both my flawed bracket's and the score based on the predictions I post here. All scores are AFTER the current match.

Current score: 67.

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 62.

Matchday 22:

Cats vs. Nathan Drake vs. Squall Leonhart vs. Yoshi

Yes, it is a historical match! For the first time ever, after 7 bitter losses, Cats will finally get the chance to beat someone. That is, of course, Nathan Drake, who is from a relatively popular PS3 game, but should by no means be much stronger than his namesake Hale was last year. Sure, PS3 was quite hated last year, and now people are realising how awesome it actually is, but Drake is still more or less a nobody in this contest, and Cats' die-hard 10-15% support should be enough for him to take third here. And I really hope it is...

Then we go on with the less important duel - Squall vs. Yoshi. Naturally, these two will advance, the question is who'll be first and who'll be second. Last year, Squall managed to advance incredibly far - to the quarterfinals, while Yoshi had to bow out one round earlier. It must be noted, however, that Yoshi faced Samus and Mega Man in his last match - a position which would have inevitably seen Squall go out, as well. This should be closer than Sora vs. Fox, and I think Yoshi has his chances. Squall will lose a small part of his votes to Drake, which is a small advantage for Yoshi... Then again, maybe I'm over-thinking it. With the apparent Square rise and the fact that Smash Bros. Brawl isn't that huge of a factor, after all, Squall should unfortunately take this one.

My prediction: Squall > Yoshi.

Percentages: Cats - 12.79%, Drake - 9.36%, Squall - 40.76%, Yoshi - 37.09%.

My bracket: Yoshi > Squall.

I'd like to see: Cats > Drake.

Axel Steel vs. Cloud Strife vs. Midna vs. Miles Edgeworth[]

All hail Cats! Finally, he has beaten someone in his GameFAQs contests career!

Uh-oh... In the match that kicked off the second third of the contest, Squall proved to be a really powerful competitor - maybe even more powerful than last year. He has high chances to even make it out of the division along with Cloud. Yoshi totally disappointed, right now he's over ten thousand votes behind Squall. He'll be in huge danger next round. Drake... Well, at least he should be able to finish with a better score than Tim.

Current score: 67 (71).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 62 (64).

Matchday 23:

Axel Steel vs. Cloud Strife vs. Midna vs. Miles Edgeworth

Cloud will naturally win this with ease. In fact, given the competition, I'd say 2/3 or at least 5/8 of the votes aren't outside his reach. This year he has a pretty good chance of retaking the crown he lost in 2004, and a great start here could be a sign of things to come. Edgeworth disappointed big time last year, and I doubt he'll do much better this time. He never gets a break, does he? Last year Link, now Cloud... Axel is apparently a cool guitarist from Guitar Hero, he'll surely get some support, but it'll hardly be enough for advancing.

Midna is the one who should take second here, although she's not very strong at all. Last year, she made it through the first round, but it was mostly due to unimpressive competition. Besides, back then Nintendo characters, as a whole, were stronger, and Twilight Princess was still relatively recent. She could only have gotten even weaker now. But the competition now is also even weaker than the two she beat last year, so she should be safe. Besides, those hardcore Nintendo votes have to go somewhere, right?

My prediction: Cloud > Midna.

Percentages: Axel - 9.34%, Cloud - 63.82%, Midna - 16.67%, Miles - 10.17%.

My bracket: Cloud > Midna.

I'd like to see: Cloud > Miles.

Mewtwo vs. Ness vs. Pac-Man vs. Travis Touchdown[]

Well, Cloud will finish around 60%, over or under is more a technicality than anything else. This is a bit disappointing, as he is facing a bit weaker competition than Link, yet he isn't outdoing his Round 1 score. But hey, the tournament is just beginning... Midna took second as expected, but will undoubtedly get eliminated in the next round. Miles didn't embarrass himself and Axel sucked quite a bit, more than I thought he would.

Current score: 71 (75).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 64 (68).

Matchday 24:

Mewtwo vs. Ness vs. Pac-Man vs. Travis Touchdown

Okay... This one is interesting. Mewtwo wins easily after his good performance last year and the fact that Pokemon are still strong, as evident by Pikachu and Mudkip advancing. Travis will be more or less fodder... And then we have Ness and Pac-Man, who'll have to determine who gets second. Ness did quite respectably last year, losing only by a couple percent to Alucard and Liquid Snake. However, there were no other Nintendo characters in the poll then, and now there's Mewtwo, who'll SFF him a bit. Heck, he'll lose some votes to Travis, too, as his game is a Wii exclusive. Of course, the Earthbound fans will still support Ness no matter what, but the vast majority of casual Nintendo voters will undoubtedly pick Mewtwo.

As for Pac-Man, yes, he lost really badly to Mario and Big Boss last year, but I dare say that Mario SFF'd him really badly. Let's not forget Pac-Man beat Revolver Ocelot in 2005. While he wouldn't be quite as strong as Ocelot in this format, he shouldn't be too far behind. And there shouldn't be much SFF for him here... at least not as much as there will be for Ness. Without a doubt, Ness is stronger between the two now, but with Mewtwo in the match... Who knows? There's definitely no safe choice here, and the stats barely support either of the two (unless you believe Pac-Man's poor performance last year wasn't due to Mario SFF, which is ridiculous). Pac-Man is a gaming icon against a more cult-ish character... So I think he should be able to take this.

My prediction: Mewtwo > Pac-Man.

Percentages: Mewtwo - 37.10%, Ness - 23.38%, Pac-Man - 25.16%, Travis - 14.36%.

My bracket: Mewtwo > Pac-Man.

I'd like to see: Pac-Man > Travis.

Big Boss vs. Jinjo vs. Kirby vs. Lucas[]

Pretty glad with my correct pick today, it seems quite a few people had Ness. "When in doubt, trust SFF". Pac-Man never gave Ness a chance, and he even has some decent chances next round. Of course, he'll have to hope Midna SFFs Mewtwo worse than one would expect. Mewtwo SFF'd Ness worse than I thought he would, other than that, he does as expected.

Current score: 75 (79).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 68 (72).

Matchday 25:

Big Boss vs. Jinjo vs. Kirby vs. Lucas

Big Boss is up against three Nintendo characters in this one (okay, Jinjo is Rare, but we know whose fanbase he'll have to rely on). Last year, he made it one round further than Kirby, he beat Magus with ease, and hung there with Mario. He has a cool picture, too. Kirby will lose votes to Lucas and Jinjo. The Metal Gear Solid 4 and Snake in Brawl boost should also help him. Frankly, there's no reason why Big Boss wouldn't take this one. Lucas will probably do moderately well, but I doubt he'll be close to Kirby. Jinjo will have some joke appeal, but I think he'll easily be last.

My prediction: Big Boss > Kirby.

Percentages: Big Boss - 37.04%, Jinjo - 11.23%, Kirby - 35.25%, Lucas - 16.48%.

My bracket: Big Boss > Kirby.

I'd like to see: Big Boss > Kirby.

Kain Highwind vs. Master Chief vs. Professor Layton vs. Raiden[]

What total ownage by Big Boss! Damn! Metal Gear Solid 4 seems to have really helped the characters of the series get stronger this contest. Of course, the awesome picture also helped Big Boss, but I'm pretty sure he would have won this even with his old man picture. In this match we also saw the biggest fodder this contest - Lucas... Jinjo also pathetically scored under 10%. Kirby did more or less as expected, he still retains some chances to advance next round, if Raiden SFF's Big Boss enough (although I don't find that very likely myself).

Current score: 79 (83).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 72 (76).

Matchday 26:

Kain Highwind vs. Master Chief vs. Professor Layton vs. Raiden

This match is as easy as they come, the only challenge is guessing the percentages well. Master Chief loves this format (last year he made it to the semifinals and it took the future champ and Snake to eliminate him) and there's no doubt in my mind he'll win this one easily. Raiden will take second, and would have even without the MGS4 boost which he'll inevitably receive (Kojima did his best to make him appeal to the fans after he wasn't that liked in MGS2). Professor Layton will most likely be super fodder and fail to break 10%, and Kain will likely finish in the teens, similarly to Cecil, despite being the only RPG character in the match. 2D Final Fantasy just doesn't cut it in these contests and that's that.

My prediction: Master Chief > Raiden.

Percentages: Kain - 14.38%, Master Chief - 48.31%, Professor Layton - 8.11%, Raiden - 29.20%.

My bracket: Master Chief > Raiden.

I'd like to see: Kain > Raiden.

Captain MacMillan vs. Leon Kennedy vs. Riku vs. Siegfried Schtauffen[]

A really surprising match, and, of course, what surprises most is how much Master Chief bombed. He'll more than likely finish below 40% against such pathetic competition... That definitely isn't a good sign for him in the future rounds. Kain was the one who impressed today, FFIV DS has definitely helped him quite a bit. Raiden did exactly as expected and took second... Next round, he'll serve as a distraction to Big Boss.

Current score: 83 (87). (Man, I would've been on the leaderboard if I had thought my bracket through well...)

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 76 (80).

Matchday 27:

Captain MacMillan vs. Leon Kennedy vs. Riku vs. Siegfried Schtauffen

Another boring match... Leon should win this one easily, although Riku might surprise unpleasantly. Last year, both made it through two rounds and, while Leon thoroughly deserved it, Riku can thank Solid Snake for SFF'ing Ryu Hayabusa enough to help him narrowly advance in the second round. Leon only got eliminated because he had the misfortune to face Dante in the third round. Here, though, he shouldn't be threatened by Riku, although Riku is the sole RPG character in this one.

Call of Duty 4 was very well received, so I guess MacMillan won't be complete fodder. Siegfried is most likely around Nightmare's level (he should be... for more reasons than one), and thus will stand no chance to advance.

My prediction: Leon > Riku.

Percentages: MacMillan - 13.45%, Leon - 35.20%, Riku - 31.52%, Siegfried - 19.83%.

My bracket: Leon > Riku.

I'd like to see: Leon > Siegfried.

Dante vs. Hogger vs. Laharl vs. Ramza[]

Leon kicked some ass today, breaking 40%. Really impressive performance by him, and most likely a sign of good things to come. Riku was just over 25% and didn't impress at all, but advanced nonetheless. The other two did more or less as expected.

Current score: 87 (91).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube.

Bracket score: 80 (84).

Matchday 28:

Dante vs. Hogger vs. Laharl vs. Ramza

Many people are saying this one is tough... But what have we really got here? Dante is winning for sure, and Laharl is fodder... All that's left is determining who'll take second place between Ramza and Hogger. First, I have to mention how happy I am to see Ramza back in the contest. He's one of my top 5 favourite video game characters and my favourite Final Fantasy protagonist. His courage and devotion to just doing what is right in a mad, war-torn world, are definitely admirable. I nominated him, but didn't hope for much. But, like Fei, he managed to make the bracket and make me happy with that. Unlike Fei, he has a pretty good chance to advance, too.

Okay, now, we don't have much data on Ramza, but we do have some - his 2003 contest appearance and Final Fantasy Tactics' performance in the "Best. Game. Ever." contest in 2004. Sure... Both those happened a while ago, and there's a chance Ramza's popularity has decreased some, but there's hardly better criteria to judge Ramza's strength by. In 2003, he lost quite respectably to Kirby, taking over 42%. I think that is a decent indication of strength by itself, but add to that Final Fantasy Tactics kicking ass in 2004 and only barely losing to the mighty Metal Gear Solid... And you get the conclusion that Ramza's strength isn't that bad, after all.

Let's look at Hogger, then. It's apparently some ugly monster from WoW that's really hard to kill... And the WoW servers will be down for maintenance or something. The likes of Albion Hero think this'll be enough for Hogger to take second place here. Well, I don't agree. Just how strong could Hogger be? Arthas level? No way. Thrall level? I doubt he'll even be that strong, there's just no good reason for him to be. Being an annoying enemy that kills you means that many people even within the WoW fanbase hate him and won't vote for him.

Sure, Ramza will lose some votes to both Dante and Laharl... But they shouldn't be too much. He's an incredible character from a memorable Final Fantasy, and he shouldn't lose here to some WoW boss... That'd be a major disappointment. Doing anywhere near what he did against Kirby in 2003 will be more than enough to advance here. I hope people haven't forgotten Ramza and he'll leave his mark in this contest.

My prediction: Dante > Ramza.

Percentages: Dante - 45.72%, Hogger - 18.58%, Laharl - 14.09%, Ramza - 21.61%.

My bracket: Dante > Ramza.

I'd like to see: Ramza > Dante.

Commander Shepard vs. Magus vs. Sandbag vs. Sonic the Hedgehog[]

This match was extremely disheartening... But the show must go on. *sigh* Ramza did really, really badly, I guess Laharl and Dante really hurt him - Laharl stole some SRPG fans' votes, and Dante stole some casual Square fans' votes. Hogger did as expected, if not worse, and would have had no chance if Ramza wasn't being leeched so badly. Sadly, reality is different. The amazing Final Fantasy Tactics hero has to bow out and a worthless WoW joke boss advances.

Current score: 91 (93).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger.

Bracket score: 84 (88).

Matchday 29:

Commander Shepard vs. Magus vs. Sandbag vs. Sonic the Hedgehog

Well, a Sonic character will advance to the second round for a change... Initially... There's no doubt Sonic wins this. John Shepard has no chance to advance, although he should attract a decent chunk of votes and manage to not look bad. Mass Effect is apparently a pretty awesome game, and I'm looking forward to playing it myself.

The question here is whether Sandbag will become the next "joke character" to advance, or Magus will routinely take second place. Last year, Magus easily won his first match, but still didn't impress, getting just over 30% against weak opposition. In the second round, he never even stood a chance against Big Boss for second place. Sure, Mario SFF'd him a bit, but that's hardly a good excuse... Chrono Trigger DS hype might help him a little bit, but will it be enough to avoid getting upset by Sandbag?

The more interesting question arises then... Just how well could Sandbag do? Ideally, he could be as strong as L-Block was in the first round last year. That'd be more than enough to take second. Will it happen, though? The question is whether Nintendo fans could actually unite around a "joke character"... If so, Sandbag could easily even win the contest. I don't think most of them have the sense of humour for that to happen, though... As soon as Sandbag faces a Nintendo character they like, they'll abandon him. However, he can attract many casual votes, too. It's hard to judge just how many, though. Sandbag has eyes and stuff, he's a bit different than L-Block and Weighted Companion Cube.

Hmm, you know what? Sandbag may as well win this one. No other Nintendo characters, so enough Nintendo fans will support him, ideally not less than Sonic. Sonic will attract plenty of casual votes... But so will Sandbag, thanks to the "joke" factor, which is indeed huge with him, at least as huge as with Companion Cube. Now... L-Block and the Cube only narrowly beat their opposition in the first round, and Sonic is stronger than Ryu and Tidus. But what does strength matter to the likes of L-Block, Companion Cube and Sandbag? They just win.

My prediction: Sandbag > Sonic.

Percentages: Shepard - 11.68%, Magus - 19.55%, Sandbag - 34.72%, Sonic - 34.05%.

My bracket: Sonic > Magus.

I'd like to see: Magus > Sonic.

Auron vs. Marcus Fenix vs. Rydia vs. Sub-Zero[]

It seems I called the match a tad too early. Sandbag has already cut Magus' lead in half, Magus is staying true to his horrendous day vote. We'll see whether the remaining hours will be enough for Sandbag to make a full comeback. Either way... I knew that Sandbag would either own everyone, or bomb. He's bombing. He has no chance even if he manages to beat Magus. Auron is much stronger and won't let him advance next round. Nintendo fans simply lack the sense of humour required to support a "joke character", and that is that. They may live to regret this. Sandbag could have repeated what L-Block did last year. And maybe he still will... People can change their minds, a lot of stuff can happen until the next round, if Sandbag manages to advance today.

Current score: 93 (94).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Magus.

Bracket score: 86 (90).

Matchday 30:

Auron vs. Marcus Fenix vs. Rydia vs. Sub-Zero

An easy match... Or is it? Yes, it is. Master Chief's bombing kills any potential chances Marcus had here (not that they were big to begin with). Thanks to easy opposition, he made it through two rounds last year, but this year he is doomed. Auron will win this, his strength has been quite consistent through the years, last year he and Fenix actually met, although both were eliminated in that match. Before that, however, Auron impressed much more, beating the likes of Ryu, Bowser and Shadow.

Sub-Zero will get enough of the casual and old-timer votes to easily secure the second spot. In fact, one might argue that, with the loli-fodder and painfully bland Rydia in the match, he might stand a chance to win it, but Rydia will hardly break 10-12%, so I don't think that'll be an issue for Auron. So yeah.

My prediction: Auron > Sub-Zero.

Percentages: Auron - 37.16%, Marcus - 22.15%, Rydia - 11.03%, Sub-Zero - 29.66%.

My bracket: Auron > Sub-Zero.

I'd like to see: Auron > Sub-Zero.

Nana vs. Ratchet vs. Sephiroth vs. Tifa Lockheart[]

Today, I feel more at ease about Tifa, as we saw a blatant demonstration of TJF's power. Rydia is beating Marcus Fenix, the guy who made it through two rounds last year, solely thanks to a picture showcasing her physical assets. Sure, Fenix is unquestionably weaker than last year, but it's not like Rydia is more than borderline fodder. So yeah... We are once again reminded of the very first Character Battle. Naturally, Auron and Sub-Zero will finish way ahead of the other two. I'd say Auron is impressing, and he could easily take first in the second round, too, despite meeting Sonic and Sandbag there.

Current score: 95 (99).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger.

Bracket score: 88 (92).

Matchday 31:

Nana vs. Ratchet vs. Sephiroth vs. Tifa Lockheart

Oh, Tifa, how cruel fate is towards you... If she were in Vincent's position in the bracket, she would have been looking at a potential final appearance. Instead... She'll have to settle for much less, as she is in Sephiroth's shadow here and until the end of her road. Tifa is such a wonderful, human-like character. She is not a perfect, cookie-cutter character like many other female leads in the Final Fantasy series. She fights her fears and insecurities all the while selflessly offering support to everyone who's ever troubled in Cloud's party. The fact that she considers Aeris - the one who tries to stand between her and Cloud without the slightest consideration of her feelings, her best friend, says a lot about how selfless and caring she is. Her being so shy and romantic also adds so much charm and realism to her. The famous scene under the Highwind is easily one of the sweetest and most touching moments in the game, one of the defining scenes in the story that make the game the masterpiece that it is. Of course, what she does for Cloud beforehand is also a vital point in the plot, and these two are some of the many scenes that make her so adorable.

It is true pleasure to see Tifa back in the bracket. Fortunately, this year my rally for her was successful, unlike last time around. Luckily for her, the other two in this match are relative fodder, so she should be able to take second. Her looking so beautiful on the match picture should also help. ^_^ I don't see how Nana could be much above Captain Olimar's level... Well, she's the sole Nintendo representative here, so that will guarantee her the votes of the most hardcore fanboys, but they shouldn't amount to enough for second place. On paper, Ratchet should have more of a chance to take second, especially since he's surely boosted a bit thanks to his latest PS3 game, but, although he would beat Nana with relative ease one-on-one, he'll be losing many potential votes here to Sephiroth and Tifa. So, he'll most likely remain last, although it should still be somewhat close between him and Nana.

My prediction: Sephiroth > Tifa.

Percentages: Nana - 13.81%, Ratchet - 12.44%, Sephiroth - 52.84%, Tifa - 20.91%.

My bracket: Sephiroth > Tifa.

I'd like to see: Tifa > Sephiroth.

Heavy vs. Jill Valentine vs. Kratos vs. Revolver Ocelot[]

Today's match was a pleasant surprise, Tifa doing so well and being over 28% at the moment is really awesome. This could mean her making it through one more round... Hopefully. We'll see what happens. Also, it seems barely anyone cares about Nana, Ratchet beat her with ease for third place.

Current score: 99 (103).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger.

Bracket score: 92 (96).

Matchday 32:

Heavy vs. Jill Valentine vs. Kratos vs. Revolver Ocelot

The last match of the first round should be an interesting one. Kratos made it through two rounds last year, I really don't think he'll have a problem winning this one, unless Ocelot has boosted a whole lot thanks to Metal Gear Solid 4. So then, the question is who'll take second. And the first one we write off is Jill. In the first round last year, she and Ocelot already met, and Ocelot won even with Cloud in the match. Knowing that Metal Gear Solid 4 will have inevitably boosted Ocelot at least a bit, it's certain he'll beat Jill. TJF would be Jill's last resort... But her physical assets really aren't showcased in the match picture at all. While Ocelot's picture is a really badass one from Guns of the Patriots.

Finally, we have Heavy... The sole PC character here, which might mean a lot... We have Spy's performance, but we have to keep in mind that he was in the same match with Arthas. That means that Heavy will probably do better than him. How much better, though? It's rather hard to judge... Still, I don't think it'll be even close to enough to beat Ocelot. As for third place, though... I'll still go with Jill, but it'll be relatively close.

My prediction: Kratos > Revolver Ocelot.

Percentages: Heavy - 18.88%, Jill - 19.98%, Kratos - 33.91%, Revolver Ocelot - 27.23%.

My bracket: Kratos > Revolver Ocelot.

I'd like to see: Revolver Ocelot > Jill.

Star and Disappointment of Round 1[]

Star of the round: Big Boss.

Wow, what a thrashing of Kirby, a win by over 15000 votes, and almost 50% of the vote. Big Boss was a true star in this match, even if the picture played a role. I still think it isn't that major. Shame Big Boss would have to face Raiden in the next match and thus stood virtually no chance to advance in the company of Master Chief and Kirby.

Disappointment of the round: Lucario.

The new Pokemon star was expected by many to even come out of his division before the contest started. Instead, he became one of the solid evidences of the post-Brawl Nintendo decline. In what everyone thought would be an easy match for him, he not only lost to Altair... He got absolutely slaughtered by almost 30000 votes and he was even losing the second position to Isaac by 8:30.

Round 2[]

Zack Fair vs. Wario vs. Link vs. Zidane Tribal[]

What a horrible disappointment today... The first round was supposed to end in a calm fashion, if anything, the last question was whether Ocelot would beat Kratos for the first place with his awesome Metal Gear Solid 4 picture... But no. For some reason, Jill got much more support than she should have and beat Ocelot. This is just terrible... Next round, she'll also hurt Tifa, which may mean that Kratos will advance alongside Sephiroth instead of her. But we'll see...

This is the end of the first round, and half of the tournament is over now. It could have been better, but here are my stats so far, showing I've missed a whole lot of advances - 7. My mistakes in the next round must be minimised.

Current score: 103 (105).

Missed advances: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 96 (98).

Matchday 33:

Zack Fair vs. Wario vs. Link vs. Zidane Tribal

The first match of the second round is a real non-brainer. Link wins, Zack takes second, the only question here is the percentages. Well, and third place. I believe in Link's ability to SFF anything Nintendo (and especially scrubs like Wario) into oblivion, so I think Zidane will be able to finish after the top two here.

My prediction: Link > Zack.

Percentages: Zack - 23.17%, Wario - 10.03%, Link - 54.43%, Zidane - 12.37%.

My bracket: Link > Zack.

I'd like to see: Zidane > Zack.

Favourites bracket: Zidane > Shadow.

Marth vs. Duke Nukem vs. Altair vs. Lucario[]

A pretty boring match today, going exactly as most people expected. Zidane managed to beat Wario, with Link in the match, this isn't surprising at all.

Current score: 105 (113).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 98 (106).

Matchday 34:

Marth vs. Duke Nukem vs. Altair vs. Lucario

Having the first round results, this match really becomes easier than one would initially think. At least as far as first and last place are concerned. After crushing the competition in the first round, I've little doubt that Altair will manage to take care of Marth and Duke, neither of which even broke 30% (admittedly, the competition wasn't weak, but still...). And Lucario, who barely made it in a match he was supposed to own, is definitely getting last. In fact, the only purpose he'll serve here is to steal some votes from Marth and potentially prevent him from qualifying for the next round.

The question is how much Altair will hurt the Duke... If Nukem doesn't completely collapse, he has decent chances to qualify. Of course, he'll also have to rely on Lucario to hurt Marth enough. Given that the Duke only lost by 3% to Marth in the previous round, I think he's got what it takes to make it to Round 3.

My prediction: Altair > Duke.

Percentages: Marth - 23.31%, Duke - 24.45%, Altair - 36.17%, Lucario - 16.07%.

My bracket: Lucario > Marth (don't laugh...).

I'd like to see: Altair > Duke.

Favourites bracket: Kefka > Altair.

Luigi vs. Liquid Snake vs. Bowser vs. Phoenix Wright[]

Today's match's outcome was most unexpected. Duke Nukem came out of nowhere and won it, beating the heavy favourite Altair. When we consider the facts, however, Duke's win makes sense. First, Duke Nukem 3D came out on the XBLA in the end of September. Then, Duke had a pretty damn awesome picture today. Add to that that he appears in the new contest banner (WHY do we have a new banner, though... It's way lamer than the Final Fantasy VII-themed one featuring L-Block as Cloud...), and we get today's result.

Current score: 113 (117).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 106 (106).

Matchday 35:

Luigi vs. Liquid Snake vs. Bowser vs. Phoenix Wright

We're in for another interesting match tomorrow. There's no doubt that Phoenix will be in last, but either two of the other three could advance. Liquid Snake has no-one to lose votes to here, and, if one of Luigi or Bowser hurts the other enough, he'll safely cruise to the next round. Bowser did pretty well in the first round, but his match was against three scrubs, while Luigi's had Liquid and 2 Square characters. I'd say Luigi's showing was more impressive. We also have a classic "hero vs. villain" match, a match where heroes typically win. Luigi also appears on the new banner, this will also help him a little bit. Thus, I am picking him to beat Bowser in this one, even though Bowser may seem a bit stronger on paper (after the last Character Battle, though, I seriously question that notion). King Koopa will lag several percent behind him, and I think that'll be enough for Liquid to sneak through. Phoenix will also steal much more votes from Luigi and Bowser than him.

"When in doubt, trust SFF" - this is a motto which is quite appropriate for this match. If anything, a more interesting question is whether Liquid Snake will manage to even win... But I doubt he can repeat or keep quite close to his performance from the first round, percentage-wise, which would be necessary for the victory here.

My prediction: Luigi > Liquid Snake.

Percentages: Luigi - 30.54%, Liquid Snake - 28.55%, Bowser - 27.24%, Phoenix - 13.67%.

My bracket: Luigi > Bowser.

I'd like to see: Phoenix > Liquid Snake.

Favourites bracket: Phoenix > Liquid Snake.

Mario vs. Zelda vs. Mega Man X vs. Mudkip[]

A VERY cool match today. It was easy to guess that Luigi would beat Bowser, but Liquid beating both certainly wasn't expected. This is great! Liquid managed to more or less repeat his first round performance, something I didn't expect, and, also with the help of Phoenix Wright, who's currently having the match of his Character Battle career (he's doing about 50% better than most expected him to be), he's now got this in the bag. Too bad for him that next round will be too big of a bite for him to swallow, though... He may have beaten Luigi, but Mario is another story entirely.

Current score: 117 (121).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 106 (108).

Matchday 36:

Mario vs. Zelda vs. Mega Man X vs. Mudkip

This match is crystal-clear. Mario struggled in the first round, Zelda saps him again, Mudkip saps him additionally a little... X has got this in the bag. Of course, his percentage won't be nearly as big as it was in the first round, but it should still be sufficient for the win. Second place goes to Mario, of course, with numbers even worse than in the first round. Zelda takes third, Mudkip's road fortunately ends here.

My prediction: X > Mario.

Percentages: Mario - 32.56%, Zelda - 16.83%, X - 36.91%, Mudkip - 13.70%.

My bracket: Mario > X (in my defence, I banked on Zelda not making it here and Nintendo being MUCH stronger than they are now...).

I'd like to see: X > Zelda.

Favourites bracket: Fei > Lloyd.

Samus vs. Nightmare vs. Ganondorf vs. Frog[]

A pretty lame outcome today, I managed to not guess fully correctly a match that seemed crystal clear. The clear conclusion is that X gets a huge chunk of his votes from Nintendo fans, and today he was with Mario, so... I think that next round he'll have even less of a chance to beat Mario, but we'll see... On the bright side, for once my bracket had a better and fully correct pick.

Current score: 121 (125).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 108 (116).

Matchday 37:

Samus vs. Nightmare vs. Ganondorf vs. Frog

Another match that's supposed to be quite clear... Samus will SFF Ganon a bit, sure. But Frog did so much worse than him in the first round that, at first sight, he'll hardly have the chance to benefit from this... However, looking at the pictures, Ganon has a horrible one, while Frog's is pure classic. This may give him a chance to pull off another Frog-style miracle. But it's really unlikely... I'll be very, very happy if he does it, though. Nightmare will most likely get last place.

My prediction: Samus > Ganon.

Percentages: Samus - 37.40%, Nightmare - 14.12%, Ganondorf - 26.75%, Frog - 21.73%.

My bracket: Samus > Ganon.

I'd like to see: Frog > Nightmare.

Favourites bracket: Frog > KOS-MOS.

Vincent Valentine vs. Falco Lombardi vs. Scorpion vs. Gordon Freeman[]

Today's match went as expected... Frog never stood a chance to take second, unfortunately. Samus yet again proved her capability to SFF the weaker Nintendo characters badly, in result Ganon won't even break 25% after completely owning last round.

Current score: 125 (133).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 116 (124).

Matchday 38:

Vincent Valentine vs. Falco Lombardi vs. Scorpion vs. Gordon Freeman

This match is pretty hard to predict... It's clear that Vincent will win it, but what about second place? All three of the other characters have a decent chance to take it. Last match, Scorpion barely beat Gordon, but this time he has Falco to split votes with. Gordon will be hurt the least by any vote splitting, the PC fanbase is consistent, not to mention that he is most likely to get the Xbox fans' votes, as well, thanks to The Orange Box on Xbox 360. Falco didn't impress against much weaker competition for second place last time, so I don't see how he could make much of an impact here. If he only beat GLaDOS by 6-7%, no way he beats Gordon with Scorpion in the match. As for Scorpion, I think Falco and the silly non-ninja picture will hurt him enough for Gordon to sneak through.

My prediction: Vincent > Gordon.

Percentages: Vincent - 35.55%, Falco - 17.53%, Scorpion - 22.87%, Gordon - 24.05%.

My bracket: Vincent > Scorpion.

I'd like to see: Gordon > Vincent.

Favourites bracket: Gordon > Vincent.

Crono vs. Amaterasu vs. L-Block vs. Ryu[]

And thus, today's match goes exactly as expected. Vincent wins, Gordon cruises to the third round even more easily than I anticipated. What's much more surprising though, is how few people believe it would end this way. Among the "analysis crew", most people had Falco advancing (LOL), only Lopen and Soul had Vincent and Gordon, and just Lopen had the right order from first to fourth place. Wow... I thought this match was quite obvious. Whatever.

Current score: 133 (141).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 124 (128).

Matchday 39:

Crono vs. Amaterasu vs. L-Block vs. Ryu

A really major match tomorrow which could potentially determine the future fate of the contest. If L-Block advances, he'll certainly advance to at least the fourth round, and then, who knows... Well, we know one thing for sure - Crono will advance. The big question is who he'll take more votes from - L-Block or Ryu. It's a rather difficult one... Those two were really, really close to each other in the first round, and who knows what can happen this time.

But... We have the theory that L-Block's votes are fairly constant, that they can only really increase through matches and never decrease drastically. And by looking at L-Block's LEGITIMATE performances last year - the first three rounds, we see that this is more or less true - he dropped 2% in the second round and stayed at the same level in the third one... What does this mean? L-Block will once again get at least 28-30% - there's just no logical reason why he wouldn't. With Crono in the match, this means that Ryu will have to bow out. Tough luck, being paired with the champion from the very start...

One more question - will L-Block even beat Crono? Well... I don't think so. To do that, he'd have to perform as well as in the last rounds last year, and if that ever happens again, I don't think it would be this early in the tournament. Especially since in the first round he didn't hint at something like that.

My prediction: Crono > L-Block.

Percentages: Crono - 32.19%, Amaterasu - 12.72%, L-Block - 28.84%, Ryu - 26.25%.

My bracket: Crono > Ryu.

I'd like to see: Crono > L-Block (I'll vote for the champion if necessary, though).

Favourites bracket: Crono > L-Block.

Alucard vs. Captain Falcon vs. Pikachu vs. Arthas Menethil[]

L-Block easily won the second place today, but never threatened Crono. There's no doubt in my mind that these two will be the ones making it to Round 4, as well. Ryu never stood a chance against the champ, and, after making it really far last year, will have to end his participation quite early this time. Surprise of the day was Amaterasu, she got a few percent more than I thought she would. In an easier 8-pack, she might've had a chance to repeat her Round 3 appearance from last year.

Current score: 141 (149).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 128 (132).

Matchday 40:

Alucard vs. Captain Falcon vs. Pikachu vs. Arthas Menethil

This match is another one that's quite tough to predict. The only thing I'm sure of is that Captain Falcon will be last. Without a doubt, Pikachu will get the most Nintendo votes. Arthas will at least keep close to his Round 1 performance. If anything, he may even do better - Spy is gone now, and he's got an even more badass and recognisable picture. Being the character who'll share the least votes with the rest, Arthas is a very good pick to advance in this one.

Alucard won his first match with ease, but he was up against laughable competition. He'll do considerably worse in this match, and it's questionable if he'll even manage to advance. He'll lose some "badass" votes to Arthas, which is not a good thing. And then, we have the annoying rodent that made the quarterfinals last year... Pikachu really loves matches where he's the only Nintendo character, but that won't be the case here. Just how much will Falcon hurt him? How much will the two of them score in total? Somewhere between 40 and 50% (Marth+Lucario, Luigi+Bowser)... Given the competition, closer to 40. And Pikachu will get 60-65% of those (Falcon can't do nearly as well as Ike against Pikachu, Ike got less than 45% of the two's votes).

Quite frankly, Alucard will have a very tough time here... Unlike Arthas, he can only lose in percentage, compared to the first match. And he'll lose a lot... Hopefully he remains close to 30%, at least, so that he can advance to the next round. This one will be damn close.

Arthas with Ike, Pikachu and Spy in the first round. Gordon was with Blathier, Scorpion and Big Daddy... The two cases are kind of comparable in that both had a character to leech votes off them. Gordon then faced Vincent and Falco instead of Balthier and Big Daddy. Arthas will face Alucard and Falcon instead of Ike and Spy. Certainly, Gordon had much more of an increase in difficulty, yet he only lost four percent. This makes me believe Arthas will at least repeat his first round percentage. Will that be enough to advance, though? It may be enough even for first place, it may also not be enough for second...

This match is more or less guesswork, at the end. I hope I manage to get it right. At the end, I will trust in Alucard to win. Pikachu getting SFF'd by Falcon could help Arthas advance over him. But you know what... Last time Pikachu met two badasses (and much stronger ones) in Leon and Dante, he freaking won the match... It just wouldn't be reasonable to bet against him, so I'll take him to advance over Arthas. I wouldn't mind at all being wrong, though. Hopefully not wrong in the sense that Pikachu wins the match, though. -_-

My prediction: Alucard > Pikachu.

Percentages: Alucard - 28.81%, Captain Falcon - 16.84%, Pikachu - 27.39%, Arthas - 26.96%.

My bracket: Ike > Alucard.

I'd like to see: Alucard > Arthas.

Favourites bracket: Alucard > Arthas.

Weighted Companion Cube vs. Tidus vs. Mega Man vs. Nero[]

Well... Pikachu will likely win this one, although Alucard is putting up much more of a fight than I expected in the morning. Arthas didn't do nearly as well as I expected and he goes out without impressing. Falcon is over 19% currently, it's been a really good contest for him. It would also seem he and Pikachu didn't hurt each other much at all... Which is rather strange.

Current score: 149 (153).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 132 (136).

Matchday 41:

Weighted Companion Cube vs. Tidus vs. Mega Man vs. Nero

Damn... Is it time for Weighted Companion Cube's match already? You know what? Since his last match, I played through Portal. What an amazing game, I loved it a lot. And I really understand where WCC and GLaDOS's popularity is coming from! Both are really awesome. The great ending song of Portal is stuck in my head now. :)

Anyway, Weighted Companion Cube did very similarly to L-Block in his first match - barely beating his opponent. Of course, Ryu is a much tougher opponent than Tidus, so L-Block is still the stronger between the two, but what's similar about their second round matches is that they'll have to defeat the same opponent in order to advance. With a heavy hitter like Mega Man in the match, I think Tidus will collapse. Weighted Companion Cube should keep closer to his first round performance, and, thus, advance. Nero's presence will only assure Tidus' failure to advance in this one.

The loveable Cube will continue in L-Block's tracks... Will they ever actually meet? I'd hope not, as they'd only hurt each other's chances...

My prediction: Mega Man > WCC.

Percentages: WCC - 27.98%, Tidus - 24.47%, Mega Man - 34.21%, Nero - 13.34%.

My bracket: Mega Man > Tidus.

I'd like to see: WCC > Mega Man.

Favourites bracket: Tails > Mega Man.

Ryu Hayabusa vs. Zero vs. Solid Snake vs. Vivi[]

Weighted Companion Cube's performance is fascinating. Mega Man's beating him by much more than Crono beat L-Block, but their vote counts at this hour are almost identical... At 17:00, L-Block had 1700 more, but his match had almost 8000 votes more in total. So maybe we are looking at practically the same people voting for the two. And a huge danger thus emerges... If both of them keep rolling and make the final, they'll cancel each other out and Link will win with ease... That would be a most terrible scenario. So I can't help hoping that one of them bows out at an earlier point.

In other news, Mega Man is looking very strong in this match. Seems he really took a lot of Tidus' votes from the first match... Nero did a bit worse than I thought, but, seeing as he wasn't looking like he'd break 10% in the first couple of hours, his current percentage isn't all too bad.

Current score: 153 (161).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill.

Bracket score: 136 (140).

Matchday 42:

Ryu Hayabusa vs. Zero vs. Solid Snake vs. Vivi

A very interesting match tomorrow, of course, the fight for second place being its most interesting part. It's clear that Snake will win with ease, but who'll take second? If last year's contest teaches us anything, it's that Snake SFF's Ryu Hayabusa badly... Ryu was with Snake in the second round and went from thrashing Riku in the first round to letting Riku advance over him with Snake in the picture... Why Snake does that? Well, I guess it's "badass SFF" or something like that. But there's little reason to ask ourselves why... Let's just accept that Ryu will be SFF'd badly.

So, we assume Ryu will sink badly enough for Zero to cruise past him... If Mega Man's showing today is any indication, Zero should do respectably tomorrow. But we have one last contender, Vivi. Can he beat Zero? It is a possibility... But his first round showing is not speaking too well of him, and clearly indicates that Snake SFF's him, as well. Snake almost doubled him in the first round. Last year, he did respectably, and only Tidus' annoying presence stopped him from advancing over Pikachu in the second round. I think he'll once again make a decent showing, but will come short of the second position. As the one least influenced by Snake SFF, Zero will advance.

My prediction: Snake > Zero.

Percentages: Ryu - 18.03%, Zero - 22.55%, Snake - 39.14%, Vivi - 20.28%.

My bracket: Snake > Vivi.

I'd like to see: Snake > Vivi.

Favourites bracket: Snake > Sackboy.

Sora vs. Fox McCloud vs. Squall Leonhart vs. Yoshi[]

Today's match is quite interesting. Vivi is currently leading Zero in the battle for the second spot, but things are so close that it is way too early to announce a winner in it. If Zero wins, Mega Man will have a very tough time advancing with the absolute juggernaut that Snake is proving to be (Metal Gear Solid 4 and Smash Bros. Brawl boosted him even more) and Weighted Companion Cube, who doesn't seem like he'd ever go below 25%. It wouldn't be much easier even with Vivi in the match, though... He'd also draw a decent chunk of votes. Ryu absolutely collapsed today, why Snake SFF's him so much is still quite hard to explain.

Current score: 161 (165).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Vivi.

Bracket score: 140 (148).

Matchday 43:

Sora vs. Fox McCloud vs. Squall Leonhart vs. Yoshi

Well, this match seems a bit difficult at first sight, but, once we recall two matches from last year, it becomes crystal clear. Sora and Squall met twice last year. The first time it was with Aeris and Lara Croft and Sora kept a pretty damn close distance to Squall... The second time, Sonic and Sub-Zero came into the picture, and, while Squall still did very well, Sora absolutely collapsed. This shows how reliant Sora is on the so-called "kiddie" votes. And today, we have Yoshi and Fox in the match... Yeah. Sora won't stand a chance for second.

Yoshi lost to Squall by MUCH more than most people expected, once again confirming the Nintendo decline, but, even with Fox in the match, he should be able to prevail over Sora, who will be hurt by all three others in this match. Sora should take third, and Fox stands no chance whatsoever, though he could've advanced through one more round with an easier placing, like he did last year.

My prediction: Squall > Yoshi.

Percentages: Sora - 23.45%, Fox - 14.81%, Squall - 36.19%, Yoshi - 25.55%.

My bracket: Yoshi > Squall.

I'd like to see: Sora > Fox.

Favourites bracket: Cats > Sora.

Cloud Strife vs. Midna vs. Mewtwo vs. Pac-Man[]

Sora absolutely crushed Yoshi today, something few people foresaw. Props to Luster Soldier for foreseeing this upset. I didn't expect Fox to do so well, he cut into Yoshi's votes heavily and is a major reason why we're seeing Sora advance today. Squall won the match easily, but next round he'll have a really tough time with the mighty Cloud.

Today's match was also yet another indication that Nintendo have dropped quite a bit since last year. Only Link, Mario and Samus seem to be close to their former levels.

Current score: 169 (173).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 144 (146).

Matchday 44:

Cloud Strife vs. Midna vs. Mewtwo vs. Pac-Man

This match can't possibly go wrong... Can it? Cloud wins for sure, and Mewtwo takes second. There's a slight danger for Mewtwo because Midna is also in the match... But he beat Pac-Man by 21000 votes with Ness in the match last round. Sure, now Cloud will decimate all of them and the difference won't be so big, but Mewtwo should still win with ease. Midna somehow managed to break 20% in the first round, but is now doomed to last place, as Mewtwo will cut into her voting base (which would be quite small anyway).

My prediction: Cloud > Mewtwo.

Percentages: Cloud - 49.70%, Midna - 13.62%, Mewtwo - 22.37%, Pac-Man - 14.31%.

My bracket: Cloud > Mewtwo.

I'd like to see: Cloud > Pac-Man.

Favourites bracket: Cloud > Miles.

Big Boss vs. Kirby vs. Master Chief vs. Raiden[]

Finally, Mewtwo has pulled away with a relatively safe lead... He's apparently much weaker than most thought, just about no-one expected Midna to give him such a close match. Pac-Man disappoints and gets last place. And Cloud... Cloud is on fire! He's currently outdoing Link's result this round. Their competition is relatively similar in strength, so this is a pretty good sign for Cloud.

Current score: 173 (181).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 146 (154).

Matchday 45:

Big Boss vs. Kirby vs. Master Chief vs. Raiden

Well, this match is supposed to be clear. Sadly, Big Boss and Raiden will hurt each other and both will likely get eliminated. Big Boss doesn't even have a cool Snake-like picture this time, and that would've been his last hope... Master Chief didn't impress much in his first match, but he should still do well in the 30-35% range, which would secure him the top spot. Kirby will get the votes needed to advance for sure. If anything, he might even win this match. But I'll go with the safer pick and put him in second after the Xbox icon.

My prediction: Master Chief > Kirby.

Percentages: Big Boss - 21.34%, Kirby - 29.75%, Master Chief - 31.51%, Raiden - 17.40%.

My bracket: Master Chief > Kirby.

I'd like to see: Big Boss > Raiden.

Favourites bracket: Big Boss > Kain.

Leon Kennedy vs. Riku vs. Dante vs. Hogger[]

Big Boss was the star of the day. Not only did he own Raiden, but he also even built quite a nice lead over Master Chief before the day vote kicked in. Of course, when that happened, Master Chief ran away with the second place. If only Raiden hadn't been here... Big Boss really could have advanced over the Xbox figurehead. Kirby won the match because the Chief lost some votes to the Metal Gear strike force. In the next round, he'll also benefit from the fact all three of his opponents will share votes, while he'll be standing out. So he might make the quarterfinals.

Current score: 181 (185).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 154 (158).

Matchday 46:

Leon Kennedy vs. Riku vs. Dante vs. Hogger

Ugh... Ramza should have been here. What a complete joke, to have a worthless World of Warcraft character here, instead. Hogger will be certainly be in last. Well, in fact, this match is easy-breezy all around. Riku's performance last round wasn't impressive at all and even the apparent SFF between Dante and Leon can't help him. Dante is another character who really loves this format - last year, he made it to the semifinals, and he started this year very well, too - breaking 50% in the first round. Sure, it was against not-so-impressive opposition, but 50% are 50%. He'll SFF Leon quite a bit (last year, he caused him to get eliminated at the expense of Pikachu, after Leon had easily crushed Pikachu previously), but Leon should still easily be able to advance, especially since Riku will also get hurt by Dante to some extent.

My prediction: Dante > Leon.

Percentages: Leon - 29.89%, Riku - 22.17%, Dante - 37.41%, Hogger - 10.53%.

My bracket: Leon > Dante (yeah... I really should have checked last year's results before submitting my bracket).

I'd like to see: Dante > Leon.

Favourites bracket: Ramza > Dante.

Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Sandbag vs. Auron vs. Sub-Zero[]

Today's match didn't surprise, I only overestimated Dante a little bit. Dante and Leon being so close only makes the mystery from last year, when Leon had beaten Pikachu into the ground, but lost to him once Dante came into the picture, even bigger... If someone has a logical explanation to that, I'd be interested to hear it.

Current score: 185 (193).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 158 (162).

Matchday 47:

Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Sandbag vs. Auron vs. Sub-Zero

Well, the people who lack a sense of humour will finally be happy tomorrow - a so-called "joke character" will be going out. Sandbag proved to be far from L-Block and WCC in terms of strength, he barely beat Magus, didn't even break 25% and had patterns typical for a midcard Nintendo character. Well, a midcard Nintendo character would stand no chance against Sonic and Auron and Sandbag certainly doesn't.

Sonic and Auron are certain for the top two spots, but who'll take first and who'll be in second? This is the more difficult question, as Auron is one of the strongest Square characters, about as strong as Squall, who gave Sonic quite the tough match last year. Auron even won his first round match with a higher result than Sonic's, and it's quite arguable whether Sonic's opposition was much stronger. Additionally, Sonic will be hurt by Sandbag, and we have the undeniable decline of Sonic characters (all of them but the blue blur went out in the first round). This makes an Auron upset very possible here, especially since he has virtually no-one to lose votes to.

My prediction: Auron > Sonic.

Percentages: Sonic - 30.55%, Sandbag - 20.85%, Auron - 31.03%, Sub-Zero - 17.57%.

My bracket: Sonic > Auron.

I'd like to see: Auron > Sonic.

Favourites bracket: Magus > Auron.

Sephiroth vs. Tifa Lockheart vs. Kratos vs. Jill Valentine[]

lol Sonic... That's all that needs to be said. All Sonic characters but the blue hedgehog himself getting owned in the first round was no accident. Without a doubt, they're considerably weaker now, and it is perfectly possible that Auron would have been able to win this even if a more neutral character was in Sandbag's place. Speaking of Sandbag... What a flop. He couldn't even beat Sub-Zero. But the star of the day is, of course, Auron. The lead is 4700 right now... All day, it's only been growing. Square seems in great shape this contest. Could Cloud defeat Link again? We can hope...

Current score: 193 (201) (tomorrow, no-one on the leaderboard will have a score over 200).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 162 (166).

Matchday 48:

Sephiroth vs. Tifa Lockheart vs. Kratos vs. Jill Valentine

Jill beating Ocelot was a very nasty outcome for Tifa... She kept up quite well with Sephiroth in the first match, but this time things will be tougher. Jill will interfere and steal a part of Tifa's TJF votes, quite possibly enough to help Kratos advance... This is so depressing, she really could have made it through another round if Ocelot were here, instead. And now all seems lost.

Kratos will suffer from "badass SFF" against Sephiroth, but will it be enough to make him remain behind Tifa? In raw strength, Tifa is way stronger than Kratos, she's on the level of Vincent and Auron. But with Sephiroth in the match... And with Jill to sap some of the TJF votes away... The glimmer of hope lies in Kratos being untested against Final Fantasy characters so far. He might collapse against them... But him being from a completely different genre doesn't make that very likely.

Then, we have the stats... If Sephiroth gets around 40%, Tifa actually stands a very good chance at advancing, given her first round result. Kratos did make it very far last year, and even did quite respectably in his last appearance, losing to Solid Snake and L-Block... But it was mostly coincidental that he even made it to the third round, as he faced Kirby and Donkey Kong, who hurt each other in the second. There's little reason for him to do much better in this match than he did in the third round last year.

Tifa is considerably stronger than Kratos. Sephiroth didn't SFF her THAT much in the first round. Sure, she did do a bit worse against him than previous stats would suggest, but not much worse. If she could repeat that performance and Sephiroth gets around 40% (he shouldn't have much trouble with that), she'll make it through! As Auron showed today, Square is on fire, so why not... Unfortunately... As I already mentioned, she'll lose some of the TJF votes she got in the first round to Jill. Tifa REALLY would have made it through if Ocelot were in Jill's position today... Sadly, he isn't.

Please prove me wrong, Tifa!

My prediction: Sephiroth > Kratos.

Percentages: Sephiroth - 40.61%, Tifa - 21.51%, Kratos - 22.66%, Jill - 15.22%.

My bracket: Sephiroth > Kratos.

I'd like to see: Tifa > Sephiroth.

Favourites bracket: Tifa > Sephiroth.

Star and Disappointment of Round 2[]

Star of the round: Gordon Freeman.

Gordon has really come a long, long way since 2005, when he was considered capable of losing to anyone. He managed to easily defeat Scorpion and Falco in the battle for second place in his Round 2 match, proving that now he is a force to be reckoned with. The PC fanbase on the site has obviously increased, and The Orange Box releasing also on PS3 and Xbox 360 has certainly helped him some more. In the third round, Gordon would have no chance against Vincent and Samus, but he would be able to beat a SFF'd Ganon for the third spot and go out in an honourable manner.

Disappointment of the round: Mewtwo.

Mewtwo was supposed to easily take second in his match. Instead, he struggled ALL DAY with Midna, never building a four-digit lead. People expected Mewtwo to be on Pikachu's level, if not higher, but that is quite obviously not the case. After Yoshi went out, many thought Mewtwo would have an easy path to the quarterfinals... Apparently not. After eliminating Yoshi and with Mewtwo's laughable performance against Midna, Sora looked like the favourite to take second after Cloud in Mewtwo's next match.

Round 3[]

Link vs. Zack Fair vs. Duke Nukem vs. Altair[]

*sigh* This is the end of the road for Tifa. After I saw the bracket, I never thought she'd have a chance to make it to the third round, being in the same first round match with Sephiroth. As the first round went, and especially after her first round performance, there was a glimmer of hope, as it seemed TJF was a factor in the contest. On the very next day Jill upset Ocelot, though, and thus killed the only realistic hope Tifa had at beating Kratos in this one. Sephiroth is doubling Tifa now, and he only got like 60% on her in the first match. THIS is how much TJF matters.

Well, hopefully Tifa gets put in an acceptable division next year. I maintain that she is about as strong as Vincent, Squall and Auron, and could make it very, very far, given the right placing.

Current score: 201 (209).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 166 (174).

Matchday 49:

Link vs. Zack Fair vs. Duke Nukem vs. Altair

A VERY easy match to kick off the third round. Link wins, Zack easily takes second, Duke - third, Altair - fourth. Some think Duke would have a chance against Zack, but let me remind you that Zack was SFF'd by Zidane in the previous round and that's why he did rather poorly. Altair proved to be nothing impressive by losing to Duke in the previous round, and there's no reason to think he'd take more than last place here. A division with an eventual outcome I predicted well in my bracket... Nice.

My prediction: Link > Zack.

Percentages: Link - 48.85%, Zack - 27.21%, Duke - 13.72%, Altair - 10.22%.

My bracket: Link > Zack.

I'd like to see: Zack > Altair.

Favourites bracket: Kefka > Zidane.

Liquid Snake vs. Luigi vs. Mario vs. Mega Man X[]

Nothing to say about this one... Link's sadly breaking 50%, once again looking too strong. Zack is disappointing, he's obviously not on Vincent and Tifa's level.

Current score: 209 (225).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 174 (190).

Matchday 50:

Liquid Snake vs. Luigi vs. Mario vs. Mega Man X

It's clear that Mario and X will go through in this one, the only question is who will be first and who will be second. Last time, Mario beat X with Mudkip and Zelda in the match, now he's facing him again with Liquid and Luigi... Sure, Luigi will steal some votes from Mario, but I really don't think he'll do that much damage. However, we have the fact that Zelda SFF'd X some last time. But she did SFF Mario, as well. Mudkip also stole votes, mostly from Mario. And still the Nintendo mascot won by more than a percent. I really don't see how Luigi could do more damage to him than Zelda and Mudkip combined. It must be added that Mario and X's fanbases also overlap somewhat, and Mario definitely has the advantage among those people. It'll likely be relatively close between him and X again, but I'm pretty sure Mario has this.

My prediction: Mario > X.

Percentages: Liquid Snake - 23.22%, Luigi - 13.46%, Mario - 32.67%, X - 30.65%.

My bracket: X > Mario (well, I had both Luigi and Bowser here with Mario...).

I'd like to see: Liquid Snake > X.

Favourites bracket: Fei > Phoenix.

Samus Aran vs. Ganondorf vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Gordon Freeman[]

And thus, Mario is kicking X's ass even worse than I expected... Mario is in great shape and, if he can carry on to the final, Link will really have his hands full. One can only hope... Link, Mario, Cloud and Snake/WCC is the dream final this year. A repeat of last year's final is also acceptable, but by no means both L-Block and WCC in the final. Shame L-Block is in Link's half this time, Link, Mario, L-Block and Cloud would have been an amazing final. Well, anyway... Let's carry on.

Current score: 225 (241).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 190 (198).

Matchday 51:

Samus Aran vs. Ganondorf vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Gordon Freeman

This match is interesting, as one would normally expect that cool robot to win and Vincent to come second, without giving it much thought. I have to say that this is not the likeliest scenario at all, however, as we have Ganondorf in the match. Ganon proved last round that Samus can't SFF him THAT much, she only got about 62% on him and I doubt she'll get much more than that today. Vincent had almost the same score as Samus last round with slightly stronger competition. With Square being on the rise, I think Vincent will take this one. Of course, without Ganon in the match, he likely wouldn't have stood a chance.

The battle for third is also interesting. Gordon did very respectably in the first two rounds and proved that he is now a force to be reckoned with. Sure, he'll lose quite a few votes compared to last round, but I think he'll manage to stay a bit above Ganon, which would be quite the triumph, regardless of the circumstances. Man, this one is really tougher to call than the battle for first, but I'll trust Gordon. He didn't drop that much with a considerable increase in challenge between the first two rounds. He shouldn't collapse here, either.

My prediction: Vincent > Samus.

Percentages: Samus - 32.03%, Ganon - 17.18%, Vincent - 33.27%, Gordon - 17.52%.

My bracket: Samus > Vincent.

I'd like to see: Gordon > Vincent (voting for Vincent if necessary, though).

Favourites bracket: Frog > Gordon.

Crono vs. L-Block vs. Pikachu vs. Alucard[]

Samus unfortunately beat Vincent, I really cannot comprehend why she did so much better on Ganon in comparison to last match... Gordon managed to do respectably, as I expected, he is beating Ganon at this point and should be able to hold his lead by the end of the match.

Current score: 241 (249).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora.

Bracket score: 198 (214).

Matchday 52:

Crono vs. L-Block vs. Pikachu vs. Alucard

This match is very straightforward. Neither Pikachu, nor Alucard are anywhere near Ryu's strength, so they won't be able to threaten L-Block. Crono should manage to beat L-Block again by a few percent, and Pikachu will take third thanks to being the sole Nintendo character here.

My prediction: Crono > L-Block.

Percentages: Crono - 30.76%, L-Block - 28.44%, Pikachu - 23.13%, Alucard - 17.67%.

My bracket: Crono > Ike.

I'd like to see: Alucard > Crono.

Favourites bracket: Alucard > Crono.

Mega Man vs. Weighted Companion Cube vs. Solid Snake vs. Zero[]

One of the biggest upsets in the contest, and I really couldn't give a better comment on it than Luster Soldier, so I'll just quote his post here (seeing as not the whole topic is going into the Wiki and what not):

What happened?
L-Block failed to live up to his successful championship run last year. Seeing as L-Block managed to upset Link, there was little reason to doubt L-Block would be capable of going far into this contest (even farther than round 3) and potentially win this year's contest too.

Why it happened?
L-Block had showed potential of going very far into this contest after getting first place in the round 1 match, despite The Dog possibly holding L-Block back. L-Block had exceeded our expectations for the first round. This time around, L-Block had shown more legit voting trends, such as not dropping off hard in percentage after the surge of joke votes has settled down.

With last year's contest, L-Block had a ton of joke voters available to rely on and there were very few users who hated L-Block. Those who hated L-Block wasted their time anti-voting him, since those anti-votes were spread out among the other 3 characters, limiting the damage L-Block took. Fast forwarding to this contest, when it was known that L-Block would be in this year's bracket. Because of L-Block's past success in the contest, there is a bigger increase in bracket support for L-Block. This would be one of the reasons which has doomed L-Block to collapse before the final round. The increased bracket support for L-Block also gave L-Block more legit trends, such as not starting out the match with a very high percentage (over 35%) and not dropping hard in percentage after the surge of joke votes dies down.

During last year's contest, L-Block had gained a huge number of supporters. But when L-Block had been announced as a character in this year's contest, it seems as though many of supporters now became L-Block haters instead. Many of these users did not find the idea of L-Block winning this contest funny anymore. Anti-votes for L-Block were much more successful at taking L-Block down, since they were concentrated on the one target that would have the best shot of knocking L-Block out of the contest (Meta Knight for round 1, Ryu for round 2, and Pikachu for round 3). L-Block had to rely more on the bracket voters for his strength instead. As L-Block advanced farther into the contest, bracket support for L-Block decreased and so did the number of votes he received in the later rounds. The huge increase in L-Block haters this contest has also led to L-Block's collapse.

L-Block had barely beaten Ryu in the first round. In round 2, L-Block was able to more easily beat Ryu because Crono was hurting him. L-Block did not beat Ryu as badly I thought. When compared to L-Block's destruction of Kratos in round 3 last year, L-Block's lead over Ryu was only half of his lead over Kratos. While Pikachu is considered to be weaker than Ryu, Pikachu is not being held back by anyone else like Ryu did last round.

What could have been done to save L-Block?
In last year's contest, L-Block's strength was based solely on voters jumping on the joke bandwagon and a huge amount of internet rallying. It was already established before this contest started that L-Block would require massive internet rallying to win the contest again. A very strong rally effort would have been neccessary to save L-Block here. This means that the rallying would have been done as soon as possible into the match, to give plenty of time for the rally to help out L-Block. The rally effort would have to be pretty widespread across the internet, not something which was occuring at like 3 or 4 large forums. The rally effort would require the support of well over 10 forums, plus gaming websites which post news articles (Kotaku comes to mind), blog sites, and social networking sites (Myspace/Facebook, etc). Only a rally effort of this magnitude would have saved L-Block since the number of L-Block haters has outnumbered the L-Block supporters. If someone wanted to organize a counter rally to stop L-Block from advancing, it's very easy to do that with a large number of L-Block haters to rally on other sites.

What about the fate of WCC?
WCC is now the lone survivor among the joke characters now. At this point in time, I'd say the odds of WCC advancing farther are slightly better than L-Block pulling off a comeback sometime during this match. Yes, WCC is up against 2 Noble Nine characters, but one of them is going to be held back. Zero is present in this match, who could either severely hurt Mega Man to let WCC advance, or barely do any damage to him. Solid Snake is also present here, and he'll probably hurt Mega Man out of everyone in the match. Snake stars in a Nintendo game, Brawl in this case. This gives Snake a small amount of fanbase overlap with Mega Man, since Mega Man is more Nintendo than Capcom when it comes to SFF here.

WCC's performance this contest overall has been better than L-Block's performance. Being able to stay in total control of the round 1 match and stay in first place for the entire match is definitely an excellent showing from WCC. L-Block had lost the lead to Ryu twice during round 1. Then in round 2, WCC goes beyond expectations and manages to stay above 30% for over 2 hours, and still finish with the standard 28-30% that is expected of joke characters with L-Block level strength.

WCC has an advantage here in that he'll receive the support of the L-Block supporters. Even among the L-Block haters, some of them would be willing to support WCC, but not L-Block. WCC has way less bracket support, which may be why WCC did not collapse as badly as L-Block did. Let's also look at this poll prior to the start of the contest:

The most popular choice here is to see another joke character win the contest. About 30000 users voted for that option. Add in 13000 some votes that were made for L-Block, the small amount of bracket support remaining for WCC, and any joke votes from rallying, and he looks pretty good to pull off at least 40000 votes tomorrow, which should be enough to secure second place. But, even that is sort of stretching it there. 35000 seems like the least number of votes WCC would be expected to get tomorrow, which wouldn't be enough for second place.

Now, I don't entirely agree with Luster, there are small bits here and there where I think differently, but I think he put it pretty well, and elaborately enough. Thanks a whole lot for this, Luster!

I'll only add that, to me, it is really a mystery why 3-5% of L-Block's usual 27-28% seem to have simply vanished into thin air. Lopen said that "joke characters" simply weren't cool anymore, giving Sandbag's flop as an example, but why would it happen so suddenly? Why not 13 days ago, 7 before Sandbag's match, during L-Block's last match? Why not in the first round? Lopen's explanation makes no sense and is at best a partial explanation to what happened today. Sandbag doesn't even qualify as a "joke character" of L-Block and WCC's caliber in my eyes, and I predicted he wouldn't make it past the second round. Besides, he was trailing behind Magus almost through the whole match, L-Block or WCC wouldn't have had any problem whatsoever with him.

My own hypothesis is that some of the L-Block and WCC supporters figured out one of L-Block and WCC had to go out before the final or else they would nullify each other's chances in it. They also saw that many brackets had L-Block winning, after some time from the contest had passed already. So they voted against L-Block this time to make sure that just one of him and WCC makes the final and that not too many brackets get the winner right. After having already sent their message in the first two rounds. I admit this is kind of a wild guess, though... I guess we'll see how correct it is tomorrow.

Anyway, what's done is done. L-Block is out now... And only one "joke character" remains. Weighted Companion Cube.

Current score: 249 (257).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu.

Bracket score: 214 (222).

Matchday 53:

Mega Man vs. Weighted Companion Cube vs. Solid Snake vs. Zero

And thus, we have the match that will determine a lot this contest. If Weighted Companion Cube doesn't advance here, Link can more or less be crowned champ already, barring a Mario miracle consisting of the plumber making it to the final with the 4-time champ. If Cube advances, he will of course have to go through another heavy task against Cloud and Snake, so nothing would be clear yet. But at least the winner wouldn't be clear yet.

Anyway, let's not digress. First things first - Snake wins this with a considerable majority of the votes. Weighted Companion Cube's chance for taking second here lies mostly in the lucky occasion that Zero managed to beat Vivi last round and make it this far...

First, I don't agree L-Block's failure today automatically means Cube will fail tomorrow. Many people opposed an L-Block repeat victory just because it would be a repeat, and the vast majority of them would still support WCC winning. So you can expect many of the Pikachu voters today to support WCC tomorrow.

Second, this poll that Luster quoted...

A landslide win for "Another gimmick character will ruin everybody's brackets". Sure, some people were just being pessimistic, but I believe most people genuinely wanted that to happen. And what is the only option that fits at this point? Weighted Companion Cube.

Third, Zero is here... He will SFF Mega Man, and it shouldn't be just what we saw between Mario and Luigi a couple of days ago... If we remember this:

And add into account that both Mega Man and X are in the contest now, so the X fanbase should be slightly more likely to vote Zero in this case than before. Now, I don't think it'll be antoher 56/44 affair, maybe around 60/40, but it should still be enough to eliminate Mega Man's chances to advance IF Cube manages to at least remain around 27%.

And since I see no good reason for that not to happen, I'll take Cube to take second in this one.

A few thoughts for those who haven't played Portal... You do realise that many Portal fans genuinely love Weighted Companion Cube, right?


I felt genuine compassion for him and didn't want to burn him even though that was supposedly required to pass the level. I tried to find another way to pass the level... To no avail. And a short while after I beat the game, I gave a copy of Portal to my girlfriend to play, I hadn't told her anything about the game except that it was a lot of fun and was in first person. And, after she beat it, I asked her about WCC, and guess what... Without me having mentioned anything about feeling bad for killing him, she said she felt sad for him, that he was with her through the whole level to aid her and it was awful she had to kill him at the end. And that she also tried to find an alternative way to pass the level...


So yes, WCC is not just some ordinary cube lying around there...

My prediction: Snake > WCC.

Percentages: Mega Man - 23.54%, WCC - 27.64%, Snake - 36.21%, Zero - 12.61%.

My bracket: Snake > Mega Man.

I'd like to see: WCC > Snake (yup, I'm voting WCC. He needs all the support he can get).

Favourites bracket: Snake > Sackboy.

Squall Leonhart vs. Sora vs. Cloud Strife vs. Mewtwo[]

Weighted Companion Cube is fighting bravely and is in second at this point. Unfortunately, he's doing worse in percentage than I expected and I don't know if he'll stand a chance in the next round even if he does make it through... I can only hope for the best, as the last hope for this contest lies with Cube. We cannot allow GameFAQs to go back to the old ways of Link totally dominating and kill any point of future Character Battles. Weighted Companion Cube must carry on L-Block's legacy.

Current score: 257 (273).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu.

Bracket score: 222 (230).

Matchday 54:

Squall Leonhart vs. Sora vs. Cloud Strife vs. Mewtwo

This match was up to a lot of debate last week. First, Sora upset Yoshi and made it through with Squall, making people completely certain that Mewtwo would easily qualify to the quarterfinals with Cloud due to Square SFF killing off Squall and Sora. However, on the next day Mewtwo proved to be a complete flop, only barely managing to qualify over a weakling such as Midna. Sure, this time there'll be no other Nintendo characters to hinder him, but I really doubt that will be enough.

Sora proved last round that he overlaps the usual Nintendo fanbase quite a bit by defeating Yoshi. Sure, now he's up against just one Nintendo character, instead of two, but Mewtwo is also nowhere near Yoshi's strength. He's at best around Fox's. That's far from enough in a match like this, where Cloud will own everyone, as usual. As for Squall... Cloud will simply kill him.

This is enough proof. Sora won't be hurt nearly as much, as his fanbase is fairly independent from Cloud and Squall's, like his last round performance proved. Squall might have a chance for third over Mewtwo, I guess. But I doubt it. Being the sole Nintendo character in a 4-way poll, being at least well-known, even if you're relatively weak, should still be enough for third, even against 3 Top 20 contest characters who are, however, all Square.

My prediction: Cloud > Sora.

Percentages: Squall - 15.03%, Sora - 21.86%, Cloud - 43.60%, Mewtwo - 19.51%.

My bracket: Cloud > Yoshi.

I'd like to see: Cloud > Sora.

Favourites bracket: Cloud > Miles.

Kirby vs. Master Chief vs. Dante vs. Leon Kennedy[]

First of all, I have to congratulate everyone who voted and supported Weighted Companion Cube yesterday. It was truly a glorious victory over one of the strongest characters, Mega Man, and, even though everyone is writing Cube off after this match, I believe he can pull off a miracle against Cloud and Snake on Saturday and sneak through to the semis. Cube holds the last glimmer of hope for the contest.

Today, Sora didn't do what I thought he would and bombed badly, failing to get even third place... Mewtwo, despite proving to be a scrub last time, united the entire hardcore Nintendo vote today and is comfortably in second, Squall is doing more or less as I expected him to, but is still ahead of Sora. One of the worst Final Fantasy characters ever getting eliminated in this match is the only good thing about it.

Current score: 273 (281).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo.

Bracket score: 230 (238).

Matchday 55:

Kirby vs. Master Chief vs. Dante vs. Leon Kennedy

Man, what a match... Each and every one of these characters could make it through. Last time, Dante didn't blow Leon out like he did in their encounter last year, but I guess he was slightly held back by Riku this time. With Kirby, who'll at least split the Nintendo vote with Leon, in the match, I don't think Leon stands much of a chance... He'll most likely have to settle for last. The big question here is how much Dante and Master Chief will hurt each other... And will both Leon and Chief hurting Dante allow Kirby to pull off an unlikely win?

For some reason, Kirby is actually not immune to "badass" popular characters himself. Last year, he had 44% in the first round, then Kratos appeared and Kirby+DK scored 38%... Leading me to believe Dante will hurt Kirby a bit. We know that Leon will, as well, since they share some voters from the Nintendo fanbase. Man, what a match! All four scored over 30% in the previous round... This might be the most unpredictable match in the whole contest.

Master Chief is kind of disappointing so far, but one can't deny that he lost only about 5% when fodder characters like Kain and Professor Layton were replaced by Big Boss and Kirby. He shouldn't lose much now, either, and the dedicated Xbox fanbase makes his chances to advance pretty decent.

At the end, I think Leon and Kirby will hurt each other enough to allow Dante and Chief to advance. Dante, being the strongest and most convincing of the four so far, should be able to come in first. Another good reason for these two to advance is that they both made the semifinals last year, and at least one of them has very good chances to do the same this time. I'm pretty sure about Dante, Chief may flop badly and allow Kirby to advance. It's quite likely that Kirby will lead Chief at least in the first few hours, but, unless he pulls away by a lot, Chief should be able to come back with his killer day vote. Kirby really sticks out in this one, being the only "kiddy" character among three badasses. Last match, this helped him narrowly win, but this time we're talking two much tougher opponents than Big Boss and Raiden.

My prediction: Dante > Master Chief.

Percentages: Kirby - 25.18%, Master Chief - 25.89%, Dante - 27.43%, Leon - 21.50%.

My bracket: Master Chief > Dante.

I'd like to see: Dante > Leon.

Favourites bracket: Ramza > Big Boss.

Auron vs. Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Sephiroth vs. Kratos[]

This match went interestingly, Kirby managed to only lose a tiny bit of his votes from the previous round despite Big Boss and Raiden being replaced by the considerably stronger Dante and Leon. Master Chief once again proved to be a huge flop this year, I don't know why I bothered picking him to advance here... Bah. Leon, someone truly capable of making the quarterfinals under different circumstances, got last place... And that's the only position I got right today. -_-

Holy ****, a whole lot of Nintendo characters did advance to the quarterfinals after all, didn't they? Despite the apparent Nintendo decline, there are enough hardcore voters to support even the weaker Nintendo links (Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby) when they are the lone Nintendo characters in their matches.

Current score: 281 (285).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby.

Bracket score: 238 (238).

Matchday 56:

Auron vs. Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Sephiroth vs. Kratos

Well, this match is very easy. Sephiroth obviously has it, and Sonic will get second place because Sephiroth will SFF Auron badly. The only real question is whether Auron will manage to beat Kratos for third place... Frankly, I think Kratos will collapse here, this opposition is too much for him. Auron should be able to hold his own and get enough votes for third place. Last year Cloud beat him pretty badly in their match, but I think the margin between him and Sephiroth will be smaller this time - firstly, Cloud is stronger than Sephiroth and secondly, even though they are from different games (same series, though) Sephiroth is a villain, while Auron is a popular hero.

My prediction: Sephiroth > Sonic.

Percentages: Auron - 16.88%, Sonic - 26.46%, Sephiroth - 40.19%, Kratos - 16.47%.

My bracket: Sephiroth > Sonic.

I'd like to see: Sephiroth > Auron.

Favourites bracket: Tifa > Magus.

Star and Disappointment of Round 3[]

Star of the round: Kirby.

After losing his first match badly to Big Boss, Kirby came back to narrowly win over Master Chief in Round 2. In this round, not only did he win by an even bigger margin over Dante, but he also barely lost any percentage in comparison to Round 2, despite Big Boss and Raiden being replaced by the considerably stronger Dante and Leon. Kirby proved to have a really loyal fanbase and deservedly made the quarterfinals. He has nothing to lose there, but there is a slight possibility of upsetting Sonic, which would be a huge accomplishment for him.

Disappointment of the round: L-Block.

The champ fell one round earlier than most expected, and to Pikachu of all characters. L-Block's collapse in percentage between the second and third rounds was totally unexpected, as Ryu and Amaterasu were replaced by Pikachu and Alucard, who can't be considered that much stronger. Something just snapped for the Block here. Win or lose, though, the magic of his victory, the revolution he lead when he defeated Link last year, will be remembered forever and will remain in the Character Battles' history as their most glorious moment.


Link vs. Zack Fair vs. Mario vs. Mega Man X[]

I predicted the last Round 3 match fairly well, I just overestimated the amount by which Sephiroth would SFF Auron by a little bit. Things went exactly as expected, Auron holding onto his third position over Kratos in the closest battle of the day. Time to kick off the quarterfinal round...

Current score: 285 (301).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby.

Bracket score: 246 (262).

Matchday 57:

Link vs. Zack Fair vs. Mario vs. Mega Man X

And what a match to kick it off with! Link will of course win with ease, the question is who'll take second place. X seems to be the obvious answer, due to Mario getting SFF'd by Link and Zack proving to be nothing impressive in the last match.

However... I can't take that. X will be SFF'd by Link, as well, quite probably even worse than Mario will. Mario is still an icon and will not be owned too badly by Link. Their encounter last year was with Sephiroth and Vincent in the match and Mario still got over 22% of the votes, meaning about 38% on Link. I think Mario can do at least as well against Link now in comparison to then, and I am positive he will not get doubled.

X will, however. Mega Man got destroyed the last time he met with Link, in the semifinal in 2004. Crono did WAY better against Link than him then. I doubt X will fare that much better on Link than Mega Man back then, even if Mario is here. You know what this means, right? X is out of the picture for second place. What about Zack, though? Interesting question... At first sight, he stands out the most, so he should at least be considered for second place... But, given his performance in the third round, I don't think so. Just 22% with Duke and Altair in the match? lol... Now Mario and X take their place. Guess what that means. Exactly. Zack will collapse and remain in last place here.

Mario will go through with Link to keep the second dream - the one of Cloud winning because of Link and Mario being both in the final, alive.

My prediction: Link > Mario.

Percentages: Link - 39.85%, Zack - 14.74%, Mario - 23.91%, X - 21.50%.

My bracket: Link > X.

I'd like to see: Zack > X (ready to vote Mario if I need to, though... The dream has to be kept alive).

Favourites bracket: Fei > Kefka.

Samus Aran vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Crono vs. Pikachu[]

Despite Zack's valiant effort, it looks like the logical will happen and Mario will advance from this one. I voted Mario for the first time ever today, just to keep Cloud's dream alive. Anyway, Zack has to be commended, he basically kept the same percentage despite Duke Nukem and Altair getting replaced by the WAY stronger Mario and X. This speaks of a very loyal and hardcore fanbase, much like in Kirby's case last round. Zack also makes a nice bid for "Star of the round", if nothing unexpected happens by the end of it. There's still a chance that he even takes second; if Mario doesn't build a big enough lead by the evening, anything is possible.

Current score: 301 (333).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby.

Bracket score: 262 (278).

Matchday 58:

Samus Aran vs. Vincent Valentine vs. Crono vs. Pikachu

Let's start with the best thing about this match, namely the fact that the annoying rat will finally get eliminated. He'll also be in last place. Nice punishment for the heathen that eliminated the glorious L-Block - the champion, the figurehead of gamers' revolution against fanboys that shook the site last year.

Samus will of course win this, while Vincent and Crono will battle it out for the second position which will practically mean a place in the final with Mario advancing today. Crono lost to Vincent in this format with Link and Zero in the match last year. Will he manage to get even tomorrow? I personally really like Crono and I'm voting for him... A lot of people here have been hyping him all contest... But I really can't say he's looked more impressive than Vincent so far this year.

In the first round, Crono faced WAY easier competition and only got like 4% more. In the second one, the mighty L-Block got in the way and Crono understandably dropped a lot, but Vincent's competition really wasn't that much worse and he got 8% more. In the last round, Crono only beat Pikachu by 4% and barely got a better percentage than Vincent who had Samus in his match... Samus will also hurt Crono a little bit, thanks to her SNES fame. Sure, Crono is stronger now than he was in 2006 when he so woefully lost to freaking Sonic... Sure, the Chrono Trigger DS hype is probably helping him a bit, and next year he may be a beast. But the game isn't out yet. Hype can only do so much for you.

Link/Crono/Cloud/Snake would be a pretty nice and diverse final, despite Link being the clear favourite in it. But I don't think it's happening, Vincent will beat Crono and will most likely kill Cloud's title chances by advancing through the semifinal, too.

My prediction: Samus > Vincent.

Percentages: Samus - 33.41%, Vincent - 25.05%, Crono - 24.35%, Pikachu - 17.19%.

My bracket: Samus > Vincent.

I'd like to see: Crono > Vincent.

Favourites bracket: Alucard > Crono.

Solid Snake vs. Weighted Companion Cube vs. Cloud Strife vs. Mewtwo[]

Crono is fighting valiantly to steal the second position from Vincent, who is holding it currently... The match is way closer than I expected (and I expected them to be within 0.7% of each other...). It's also pretty sweet Crono and Vincent combined are beating Samus and Pikachu. A sign of good taste... But we know well that if Link were in Samus' position, things would've been way different. Well, Vincent is winning for now, but really anything can happen in the next 2 hours or so. I personally hope to see Crono win, I like him better and the final would be more diverse with him there. Not to mention he'd get to beat Mario again. :P

Current score: 333 (365).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby.

Bracket score: 278 (310).

Matchday 59:

Solid Snake vs. Weighted Companion Cube vs. Cloud Strife vs. Mewtwo

Well... Cube only sneaked through in the last match thanks to Zero hurting Mega Man. And even then, it was damn close. Cube is really nothing like L-Block from last year... The rallies are on a smaller scale, Portal is not nearly as recognisable as Tetris and can't draw such universal support, at this point, Cube needs a complete miracle to make it through in this match.

Cloud and Snake are the obvious choices, Cloud of course taking the top spot. Cloud will SFF Snake some, which is Cube's chance to sneak through. But it can't possibly happen unless there is substantial rallying at various places. Mewtwo will concentrate the votes of the most hardcore Nintendo fans, and those really won't amount to that much. Many of the people who supported him last time will vote Snake now, and some will support Weighted Companion Cube. Unless Cube completely collapses, Mewtwo should definitely finish in last place here and share Pikachu's fate from today.

Well... What can I say? Despite being a huge Final Fantasy VII fan, I'll vote for Weighted Companion Cube, I'll do my best to help him get some more votes from places where Portal fans go, but I really can not predict him advancing here against two beasts like Cloud and Snake. After all, I am a journalist and I have to try to provide my audience with the best content and most accurate predictions possible. I have far from given up, but, at this minute, Weighted Companion Cube's chances look bleak.

My prediction: Cloud > Snake.

Percentages: Snake - 26.96%, WCC - 22.38%, Cloud - 36.55%, Mewtwo - 14.11%.

My bracket: Cloud > Snake.

I'd like to see: WCC > Cloud.

Favourites bracket: Cloud > Snake (Irony? I thought so...).

Kirby vs. Dante vs. Sephiroth vs. Sonic the Hedgehog[]

Well, Weighted Companion Cube lost... He just couldn't stand up to the power of Cloud and Snake. His bravery and faithfulness will never be forgotten, though... Thus, one of the last remaining hopes for the contest was killed. Now, everything lies upon Mario, who has to do the impossible and defeat Crono in order to help Cloud win the contest.

Current score: 349 (381).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby; Quarterfinals: Crono.

Bracket score: 294 (326).

Matchday 60:

Kirby vs. Dante vs. Sephiroth vs. Sonic the Hedgehog

The last quarterfinal is a match that could actually be interesting. Of course, Sephiroth will win, and he'll likely kick quite some ass, as he is finally free of SFF, Tifa and Auron having been eliminated. Dante will be last, the fact he couldn't beat Kirby last time really seals his fate here.

Sonic is definitely the favourite for the second position, but I think Kirby will give him a good challenge. Sonic has performed below expectations all contest, he got owned by Auron in Round 2 and he was just lucky Sephiroth was around to obliterate Auron in the following round. Kirby, despite losing his first match badly to Big Boss, kicked quite some ass afterwards. Although it must be noted that he didn't have any Nintendo fanbase-affiliated characters in his matches in the last two rounds (maybe Leon, but I'd say his fanbase is relatively independent from the typical Nintendo voters). And now, Sonic is coming into picture, meaning Kirby will definitely do considerably worse than last round. Same goes for Sonic, though, Kirby will hurt him a bit, as well. Who'll remain on top at the end? I think Kirby will have a slight advantage with the Nintendo crowd, but Sonic should benefit considerably more from the casual vote. At the end, I think Sonic won't collapse enough to allow Kirby to advance over him here.

My prediction: Sephiroth > Sonic.

Percentages: Kirby - 20.51%, Dante - 16.77%, Sephiroth - 40.71%, Sonic - 22.01%.

My bracket: Sephiroth > Sonic.

I'd like to see: Sephiroth > Sonic.

Favourites bracket: Tifa > Ramza.

Star and Disappointment of the Quarterfinals[]

Star of the round: Kirby.

I can't possibly give it to anyone else, although Zack looked like the favourite early on. Sure, Kirby just upset a struggling Sonic, but it's just amazing how he came back from a crushing defeat to Big Boss to shock everyone in the next three matches. Excellent work, Kirby! With a solid amount of luck, he might even make the final... But someone too Solid is in the way.

Disappontment of the round: Sonic the Hedgehog.

Wow, what a joke Sonic has become... First Auron beats him with ease, and now Kirby... And while in the first match there was some SFF with Sandbag and Sub-Zero, now Sonic has no excuse whatsoever. Kirby is simply stronger than him right now. Who saw this coming? It is both Kirby's strength and Sonic's weakness this year that made this happen. So they take both the prize and the anti-prize of this round.


Link vs. Mario vs. Samus Aran vs. Crono[]

Well, I have to apologise to everyone, it was really very stupid of me to pick Sonic here when I had been saying Kirby could upset him for several days before that. It sucks I was afraid to take the risk and call this match right, I did it with Auron, but here I had a doubt that Sonic might win enough Nintendo votes to advance. Apparently not. Kirby impresses yet again. And lol Sonic. He's really become a joke now.

Current score: 381 (397).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby; Quarterfinals: Crono, Kirby.

Bracket score: 326 (342).

Matchday 61:

Link vs. Mario vs. Samus Aran vs. Crono

Well... We reached the point when there's no way any serious predictions go wrong. This is also the match where any hope for the contest dies. Mario has to advance in order for Cloud to win the final. But sadly, with Link and Samus in the match, it won't happen. Link wins this, Crono takes second easily. That's all there is to it. The new installment of Crono vs. Mario will end with an easy victory for the true Hero of Time, reminding us of the glorious match between the two in 2004, when Crono finally delivered some justice after 2 borderline cheating Mario victories over him in the previous two years. It's kind of nice Crono makes the final in a contest with everyone in the field for once... But it's sad that he'll prevent Cloud from winning it all.

My prediction: Link > Crono.

Percentages: Link - 36.89%, Mario - 19.55%, Samus - 15.21%, Crono - 28.35%.

My bracket: Link > Vincent.

I'd like to see: Crono > Mario (ready to vote Mario in the off-chance he actually has a chance to take second, though. But I have to say it's more likely for Crono to beat Link than that).

Favourites bracket: Alucard > Fei.

Cloud Strife vs. Solid Snake vs. Sephiroth vs. Kirby[]

Today, the last hope for the contest died with Crono destroying his old foe Mario. With Link and Samus in the match, Mario never stood a chance, and it was clear this would happen after Mario struggled with Zack in the quarterfinals. The only good thing is that Crono will finally make an appearance in a final in a contest with all characters in the field. Sadly, he'll cause Cloud to lose badly to Link just by being there to steal votes from one of the two legendary characters who have crushed Link in the GameFAQs Character Battles.

Current score: 397 (461).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby; Quarterfinals: Crono, Kirby.

Bracket score: 342 (374).

Matchday 62:

Cloud Strife vs. Solid Snake vs. Sephiroth vs. Kirby

The second semifinal is marginally more interesting. After all, we don't know who'll be in third and who'll be in fourth. With Cloud here, Sephiroth may not get enough votes to finish ahead of Kirby. Cloud will win this even with Sephiroth here, and Snake will take second. Kirby will hurt Snake a bit and won't allow him to beat Cloud, however. Snake should still finish closer to Cloud than he did in the quarterfinals.

Which leaves us with Sephiroth and Kirby in the battle for third place. If the previous year teaches us anything, Cloud won't double Sephiroth, but he'll come close to it. Kind of like Link and Mario today. Kirby should more or less keep his support from the previous round. He'll lose some votes to Snake, I guess, but not much. Kirby should be able to take third fairly easily, actually. What an incredible stroke of luck for him to be the sole somewhat strong Nintendo character in the final rounds in the lower part of the bracket. There is a tiny possibility that he even challenges Snake for second, and some people on the board (like Lopen) are wildly calling such an enormous upset, but, frankly, I don't see it happening. Snake is just too strong, he is no Sonic.

My prediction: Cloud > Snake.

Percentages: Cloud - 33.21%, Snake - 26.64%, Sephiroth - 18.44%, Kirby - 21.71%.

My bracket: Cloud > Snake.

I'd like to see: Cloud > Sephiroth.

Favourites bracket: Tifa > Ramza.

Star and Disappointment of the Semifinals[]

Star of the round: Solid Snake.

Who else could it be? Before the contest, and especially after last round, pretty much everyone thought Cloud would not have much trouble with Snake in their semifinal... But not only did he give Cloud trouble, Snake actually went and WON the thing, increasing his percentage in comparison to last round! This was a good sign that people had switched from Weighted Companion Cube to him. Thus, Snake had taken the weight of the hope for the contest on his shoulders. A nice way to celebrate the amazing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the final entry in his legendary series.

Disappointment of the round: Crono.

This might look like a weird choice, but no-one really bombed in the semifinals, and Cloud's percentage was high enough for him to avoid this spot despite his surprising loss to Snake. Sure, Crono gave his old foe Mario a sound beating and advanced to his first final in a contest with everyone in the field with ease, but he really didn't impress at all. He only got just over 25% in a poll where he was the sole non-Nintendo representative... A supposedly strong character should have done better than that. Sure, there is significant overlap between his and Link's fanbases, but this performance was still underwhelming... I expected him to at least get closer to Link than Mario would get to him. Apparently not. Not by a long shot.


Link vs. Crono vs. Solid Snake vs. Cloud Strife[]

Snake is currently leading against Cloud and could actually achieve a very nice upset. This really wasn't expected after Cloud swept the floor with him last round. It's very interesting that Snake actually increased his percentage from last round. It seems many of the Weighted Companion Cube voters supported him here. Kirby made a nice challenge for second in the first minutes of the match, but quickly ran out of steam and will finish in third place.

Current score: 461 (493).

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby; Quarterfinals: Crono, Kirby.

Bracket score: 374 (406).

Matchday 63:

Link vs. Crono vs. Solid Snake vs. Cloud Strife

And thus, it's time for the final battle... Link wins, of course. Crono will be in last (but him even making it as far is an awesome achievement). The question is whether Snake takes second or third place. Crono should hurt Cloud at least as much as Sephiroth did today. Snake will also have momentum from today's awesome performance. He will, however, lose a major part of his votes to Link... But still, he shouldn't be hurt by Link as much as Cloud will be by Crono. So yeah, I think I have to give the nod to Snake here. Metal Gear Solid 4 and his Brawl appearance have made him into a huge beast who seems to not be too far from Mario in strength.

My prediction: Link > Snake.

Percentages: Link - 35.55%, Crono - 15.09%, Snake - 25.44%, Cloud - 24.92%.

My bracket: Link > Cloud.

I'd like to see: Cloud > Crono.

Favourites bracket: Tifa > Alucard (interesting fact: my four favourite characters were in bracket positions allowing them to theoretically all advance to the final).

Star and Disappointment of the Final[]

Star of the match: Solid Snake.

Of course it is Snake. Until 6:40, he was holding the lead against Link and, even though he collapsed until the end after the votes of people who cared about the contest wore off, he still kept second place with ease, beating Cloud by over 2000 votes. There are several factors to Snake's triumph, which, added together, made it possible. Firstly, it is of course Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the amazing final game in his spectacular series, and, to a smaller extent, his appearance in Smash Brothers Brawl. But the events that occurred in the last few days were more important. Neutral (non-Nintendo/Square) people and people who wanted to save the contest chose to support Snake this time, much like they chose L-Block last time. This lead to Snake beating Cloud in the semifinal (also thanks to Sephiroth being in the match). That gave Snake a tremendous momentum which he used to hold the lead in the first six and a half hours of the final. Many typical Cloud voters also voted Snake in the early hours, seeing that their favourite had no chance to challenge Link. Of course, they ultimately cost Cloud the second place, but who gives a damn? For Cloud, it's either all or nothing. Second or third is still a failure for Cloud. Anyway, Snake was truly the star of the final, the hours of him leading against Link were most pleasing to all the people who cared about the contest being saved. I am personally quite happy for Snake's success, although a victory would have been even more fitting.

Disappointment of the match: Crono.

No doubt about it... I expected Crono to at least break 15%, but he completely bombed and finished barely over 12%... Sure, Chrono Trigger DS hasn't released yet and he'll surely be stronger next year, but this really wasn't a nice finish of the contest for the true Hero of Time. Still, his victories over Vincent and then Mario make this contest an overall success for him.

Final Stats[]

Snake did amazingly today, he held the lead against Link for about 6 hours, and that was absolutely delicious from start to finish. Afterwards, the kiddies woke up and Link took the win with ease, but that doesn't matter... Solid Snake is the true hero of this year's contest. Even if he fell short at the end and couldn't repeat what L-Block did last year, Snake earned the support of neutral fans and showed that many people on the site still care, and won't ever settle with the endless Link dominance. If only Mario were in the final instead of Crono, then Snake would have definitely triumphed...

This was also a nice ending of the contest for me, I guessed correctly that Snake would have momentum after yesterday and take second place over Cloud today. Of course, I didn't expect him to destroy Cloud so badly, but that is just a small detail. This correct pick in the final marks the end of a fairly successful series of predictions in the three installments of this thread. Some people mocked me in the beginning when I failed to get the first few matches fully correctly, but afterwards I got into shape and it was a successful ride until the end. My one major regret is that I didn't call Kirby's upset win over Sonic despite warning it was possible for days before the match happened. But I think today partly makes up for it.

Final stats:

Score: 621.

Projected bracket score: 583 (wouldn't have gotten points from: Round 2: Duke Nukem (2), Weighted Companion Cube (4); Semifinals: Crono (32)). This would have earned me joint 45th place on the contest leaderboard, in the 99.8881 percentile.

Missed advances: Round 1: Zidane, Duke Nukem, Zelda, Captain Falcon, Weighted Companion Cube, Hogger, Jill; Round 2: Sora; Round 3: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Kirby; Quarterfinals: Crono, Kirby.

Actual bracket score: 470.

Final Oracle score: 2958.49 (it's lower on their site because they didn't count my prediction for one of the matches).

Average: 46.96.

Final Oracle ranking: 27th.

Final Oracle ranking based on average: 29th.

Overall, I'd say this is not too bad of a performance.

Final Comments[]

Time for some final comments on the contest.

Despite the sad ending, it was a relatively fun ride. Sure, it can't even compare to last year when the 4-way format was first introduced and when L-Block eventually shocked everyone by becoming the figurehead of a true revolution of neutral gamers against blind fanboys, advancing to the final and crushing Link with ease. But what can compare to such an amazing contest? So we needn't judge Character Battle VII too harshly, as, despite the predictable Link victory, it had its merits.

Nintendo is no longer the juggernaut it once was, and that was already evident in the very first match, when Zack beat Wario with ease despite being in an SFF affair with Cecil. Later on we got more and more examples, and we found out that just Link, Mario, Samus, Pikachu and Kirby have remained about as strong as they were before (Kirby maybe even got stronger). I attribute this to the Wii being an incredible failure in terms of games in the last year or so. Aside from Mario Galaxy and Smash Bros., Wii owners got almost nothing and their Wiis collected dust for most of the time. And it doesn't seem like things will change in the future, either. Nintendo mocks its fans with stuff like Wii Fit, Wii Music and the DSi, showing them that they care about money first and foremost - the one thing for which Nintendo fans often hated on Sony and Microsoft in the past. For the first time, a console generation will be won by a console other than the one with the best games in terms of quality and variety... A console with minimal third-party support, and when even first-party titles can't compare to what they were in the previous generation... A huge shame. So yeah, the fact that lesser Nintendo characters lost a lot of their power is no surprise at all.

The second day outlined the second group of characters who are not nearly as strong as they used to be - Sonic characters. None of them except for Sonic even made it through Round 1, Sonic got owned by Auron in the second and then by Kirby in the fourth. Many "stat-heads" say his loss to Kirby makes no sense and all that, but they're dead wrong. It made perfect sense - Sonic characters sucked, Sonic himself was very underwhelming in all his matches, while Kirby kicked Master Chief, Dante and Leon's asses and was showing nothing but strength until his match with Sonic. This match is my one huge regret - I really knew this upset was quite probable, and yet I failed to call it. But I disgress. While Nintendo characters still had the exceptions that had kept their strength, Sonic ones all went down by a lot. Maybe Sonic Unleashed and the silly Sonic sword game will change that a bit for next year... We'll see.

PC/multiplatform characters in the face of Duke Nukem, Altair, Gordon Freeman, Weighted Companion Cube, GLaDOS, Arthas, Hogger, etc. did quite respectably. Altair owned his first round match and made it to Round 3, as did Duke, Arthas kicked ass in the first round and went out respectably in the second, GLaDOS did well in a very tough match, Hogger took advantage of Ramza's weakness, Big Daddy and the Team Fortress characters also didn't do too badly. Gordon Freeman was the star of this group, he proved that he's nothing like the guy who used to be capable of losing to anyone. Half-Life 2 and The Orange Box have really increased Gordon's strength, and this nice format is also helping. Gordon managed to not only advance to Round 3, but also beat Ganon in his last match - something definitely worthy of praise.

Square characters have somewhat increased their strength from previous years, Squall and Auron being the prime examples of this. Their easy victories over Yoshi and Sonic, respectively, showed that Square is still a force to be reckoned with, especially in the earlier rounds. Later on, they fell out one by one, Squall and Auron being destroyed by Cloud and Sephiroth, while Crono was lucky to be relatively unchallenged in the top half, managed to win his big match and get revenge on Vincent for last year, and made the final. Tifa made her return this year, but was really, really unlucky to be placed in the same Round 1 match with Sephiroth. She managed to advance from it, but didn't stand a chance in the second one. I maintain my position that Tifa is about as strong as Auron, Squall and Vincent, and could make it very far with a proper bracket placement (if she were in Vincent's position, she could have been looking at a place in the final). Cloud and Crono disappointed in the final two rounds, but Cloud basically became victim of Sephiroth, while Crono will have the chance to rebound next year with Chrono Trigger DS out. Old school Square characters all got wiped out in the first round, but it must be noted that FFIV characters did well for themselves, the DS remake of the game obviously helping them. Kefka just continued to disappoint.

Metal Gear characters seemed very, very strong after the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, and just Revolver Ocelot got eliminated in the first round (his loss to Jill is easily one of the strangest result this contest). Big Boss kicked Kirby's ass in the first round, and confirmed his power in the second one, where just the presence of Raiden stopped him from advancing over an underwhelming Master Chief. Liquid Snake managed to beat Luigi and eliminate Bowser in the second round, then did respectably in the third one. Solid Snake was, of course, the star of the whole contest, his wins over Cloud in both the semifinal and the final, and especially him holding the lead for over 6 hours against Link in the final, are going to be remembered for a long time. Snake had the honour of becoming the neutral fans' choice in the final two rounds, which lead to his victories over Cloud and the scare he gave to Link in the early hours. Taking over in this position from a legend such as L-Block, Snake didn't disappoint, despite ultimately losing the final. Unfortunately, Snake missed probably his only chance to become the champion. MGS4 and Brawl pushed him to the limit, and next year he'll undoubtedly be weaker. His only chance would be MGS4 going multiplatform and him earning the love of Xbox fans, as well.

Speaking of Xbox... Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, who did very well last year, were quite the disappointments this time around. Marcus lost even to freaking Rydia (in a match with Auron, at that), and Chief managed to advance to Round 3 (mostly thanks to Raiden being there with Big Boss in his second round match), but failed miserably there. Despite being the console with the best and most varied games in the current generation, Xbox just can't manage to earn the love of GameFAQs...

Several badass characters like Alucard, Mega Man (and X), Zero, Dante, Leon, both Ryus, Kratos, did more or less as expected. Alucard did even better than I thought, actually, apparently Castlevania: Symphony of the Night releasing on the XBLA and PSN helped him a bit to stop falling down this downward spiral he had been on in the last years. Ryu Hayabusa upset Zero in the first round, but was once again absolutely slaughtered by Snake in the second one (can anyone explain why Snake SFF's Ryu so badly?).

Finally, we come to the so-called "joke characters"... We had four of them this year - the returning champion L-Block, Weighted Companion Cube, Sandbag and The Dog from Duck Hunt. And L-Block was given a very tough draw, as Bacon put him up against The Dog in the very first match. Despite that, L-Block not only managed to advance, but even beat Ryu. Weighted Companion Cube also won his first round match, and "joke characters" were really looking strong. Sandbag managed to go through the first match, but it was clear he had no chance after that, as his patterns were completely those of a lower mid-tier Nintendo character. L-Block and Cube easily marched through the second round, still looking strong... And then they somehow just collapsed. After beating the stronger Ryu twice, L-Block lost to Pikachu, and by a lot, at that. I still have no good explanation for that, for some reason people just abandoned L-Block after the first two rounds. Weighted Companion Cube manage to cause some stir and fanboy whining by eliminating Mega Man in Round 3, but even then it was clear he'd stand no chance in the quarterfinals, as he had consistently dropped in percentage from the first to the third round. And he went out, even if it was in an honourable manner. After last year, many people thought "joke characters" winning was "no longer funny". And many of them apparently figured that out exactly in the third round, when both the reigning champion and Cube collapsed. Why exactly then? I have no idea...

The last thing I'll mention here are the few mysteries of this contest - outcomes and trends which I really can't quite comprehend.

1. Ryu Hayabusa absolutely collapsing when Solid Snake comes into the picture. It happened last contest, it also happened this time... Why does this happen? How could Snake and Ryu's fanbases overlap that much? I have no explanation to this.

2. Leon finishing very close to Dante in Round 2. Okay... This isn't really a surprise by itself. But it is absolutely shocking when we compare this match to their third round match from last year:

Leon owned Pikachu in Round 2 last year:

..but got completely destroyed by him when Dante came into the picture. That made me think that Dante, for some reason, SFF's Leon badly. Yet, their Round 2 match this year proved that this is not the case. Making last year's match where Pikachu beat them a complete mystery. Anyone got any reasonable explanation to this phenomenon? I don't.

3. L-Block suddenly collapsing in Round 3 after two VERY impressive showings in the first two rounds. Why did that happen? If it were people being tired of "joke characters", why then and not earlier? Makes no sense...

Well... Again, it was a fun ride. Overall, I'm very satisfied by this thread series and the interest it generated. My predictions were also at a good level, a managed to call a few "upsets", and I have just one major regret which I already mentioned - not having the courage to call Kirby's win over Sonic, despite having seen and talked about the very apparent possibility. I'd like to thank everyone who followed the thread and acted respectfully, and especially Luster Soldier, XP1337, Shaggy, Surskit, Safer Sephiroth 777, Swift, Kleenex. Maybe we'll meet again for another installment next year.