I like fighting games. I’m sort of a masher who learns some tricks further and uses them. For much of my life, I’d lose myself for an hour or two in front of a fighting game and feel much refreshed afterwards. Soul Calibur 2 had been my favourite fighting game for many years, and my 2nd most-favourite game is Arc System Works’ BlazBlue, the latest iteration of, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, is my favourite.
(This is the second post today, don’t forget to check the previous one!)
For those who don’t know the game and might wonder what it’s doing here, it’s part of a sub-genre called “Anime Fighting Games”, where characters have much more mobility than in games such as Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat, and things progress much more rapidly. Back in July, the biggest fighting games gathering in the west took place, Evo 2014, and I’ve watched most of the BBCP streams, and from the top 16 onward, a legend was born. A legend named Tiku.
Before we proceed further, a couple of words on fighting games. There are “match-ups”, some characters are weak against zoning, and some characters are strong at zoning away others, this means that not all match-ups are “equal”, and that while one character may be considered weak, they could still be strong in a specific match-up, against a generally “stronger” character. But also, some characters are considered universally strong, and others are considered universally weak.
BBCP’s supposedly weakest character is Iron Tager, a slow grappler with limited mobility in a game where mobility is king, but if he catches you, he hurts. Kokonoe is considered the strongest character in the game by a healthy margin, even after a series of nerfs. Being universally strong, Kokonoe is played by many players, and the higher you go in a tournament scene, the more of her you see, as she destroys her opponents. Sadly, the only thing more boring than seeing someone play Kokonoe is seeing a Kokonoe mirror-match.
So, the top 16 rolls by, and everyone is amazed an Iron Tager made it this far, then he has the bad luck of running against Kokonoe players, more than one, and he absolutely demolishes them. Not only is Iron Tager considered the weakest and Kokonoe the strongest, this particular match-up is considered even more slanted towards Kokonoe’s favour than usual. And yet, against all expectations, Tiku doesn’t just win against the Kokonoe players, but decimates them utterly.
Watching this made me happy, it made me cheer him on, I felt like an actual sports-fan. Sadly, Tiku’s run would be stopped by Mu-13, a dedicated zoner, and so our champion was cast down (you can see that particular match here). This wasn’t just the story of an underdog rising up because that was the point of the story, but a case of someone structurally designed to lose rising against odds no one would’ve bet on.
The grand finals were amazing as well (Azrael versus Litchi Faye-Leng, which no one predicted), and lasted a full 32 minutes of reversals and close-calls, during most of which I was at the end of the seat as the way I’d only been when Fnatic xPeke went on to backdoor SK Gaming in League of Champions. Except, that backdoor lasted about a minute, and these finals lasted over half an hour, after which I was quite drained. Everyone live-tweeted about it on Twitter, so it truly felt like a sports-event one watches in their living room with friends.
So, dear readers, any story about an underdog doing the impossible? A sports show that you loved this past year, or a story related to fighting games?