GOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! Oh, does that part go at the end? Whoops!
Greetings, adventurers, and welcome to the first event of the Blogger Blitz semifinals! My name is Ian and I will be your host in this wacky and wonderful battle of bloggers. There’s a chance that you find yourself in the audience today confused, unsure of what’s happening here. Maybe you saw the word “soccer” and decided to check it out. Maybe one of your favorite characters is competing in this event. Or perhaps a blogger you follow and enjoy shared this post on their blog or on social media and you decided to come check it out. Regardless of how you got here, if this is your first time then it’ll be helpful for you to know what exactly is happening.
Blogger Blitz began with eight brave souls who submitted a single champion to compete in the tournament. Those eight souls fought valiantly, but only four managed to proceed to the semifinal round. These four mighty heroes must now face off in even more complex and dangerous events, where they will show off their skills for five wonderful judges. Those judges are Destiny (representing Adventure Rules, but you can check out her own work on Instagram), Athena of AmbiGaming Corner, Geddy of Nostalgia Trigger, James of Quickly Tap X, and Chris of Overthinker Y. You can click the name of their blog to go check out their work, or you can click their names to go to their appreciation post from the Blogger Blitz Judge Appreciation Week!
For today’s competition, LightningEllen of LightningEllen’s Release and The Well-Red Mage of, well, The Well-Red Mage, are competing with their chosen heroes to see who can accomplish two things. Thing one: survive for a full 24 hours in their opponent’s world. Thing two: Defeat their opponent in a no-holds-barred game of soccer (or football, depending on your country of origin). You can see Ellen’s argument for her shero here and the Mage’s argument for the Blue Bomber here. I recommend reading those right away, as we’re about to dive in to the real competition at this very moment!
Because of the two-part nature of this event, this week we’ll look at each character one at a time before then comparing the articles together for the final results. So put on those chirpy chiptunes, because first we’ll look at Lightning as she faces off against the harsh future of 20XX!
Lightning’s article begins by telling us a little bit about Lightning herself, setting the stage for what’s to come. It reminds us of everything that Lightning has already been through and ends by saying that, comparatively speaking, a game of soccer should be nothing. It’s a pretty good start and the darker tone of these opening lines sets the stage for the entirety of Ellen’s article, very tense with the sort of brooding gravity that Lightning Farron is known for.
This is foiled in a very interesting way by the manner in which Lightning casually jogs through Mega Man’s world. She plays up the retro nature of the games by referring to the characters as these lesser, 8-bit goons that she can just sweep aside with no issues. It’s exactly the kind of meta-level nonsense that Blogger Blitz is made for, and most of the judges enjoyed seeing it. Athena stated “I liked the imagery of Lightning simply being larger than the enemies in an 8-bit world and simply ‘kicking [them] aside,'” and James enjoyed “Lightning Ellen’s tongue-in-cheek references to the retro nature of Mega Man’s world, and her suggestion a modern Gaming character – with their massively advanced weaponry and whatnot – would likely breeze through the challenges posed by the so-called ‘bosses’ of yesteryear.”
While most of the judges enjoyed this approach, there was some concern that treating the villains of Mega Man so dismissively could be problematic for Lightning’s argument. Chris noted that “Lightning then slices apart a few foes with ease…it would have been good to see some more research and evidence that actually backs up whether she would be capable of doing that or not.” Destiny, though, felt that “her weapon would pretty easily get rid of the robots, it would be pretty easy to just cut them in half ,” so while not every judge was totally convinced of Lightning’s ability to wreck robots, she managed to prove to most that survival in Mega Man land would be pretty simple for the l’cie.
When it came to the soccer match, Lightning’s “bumbling randoms” turned out to be her teammates from the series, which Athena really enjoyed. She complimented Ellen on choosing “‘bumbling’ teammates are only ‘bumbling’ in [Lightning’s] mind,” but the fact that Lightning’s own allies were her soccer teammates ended up playing in her favor in another way: the strength of their bonds together.
“Her team has heart and synergy,” said Geddy, and James elaborates upon that thought: “this was a team comprised of people already bonded and strengthened by years of shared experience and companionship, highly attuned to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” Quality teamwork is key in any team sport and LightningEllen chose companions for her champion that reflected this. She also jokingly excluded a goalie from her assigned teammates and had Lightning summon Odin to do the job.
This choice was a bit controversial. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue against Odin’s skills as a goalie. The mechanical eidolon is powerful and much larger than a typical human competitor, making him a great fit for stopping the soccer ball from entering the goal. Destiny felt that “the fact that she could call down ‘a god’ to defend the goal gives her a really good chance of not letting the other team score.” Chris, however, questioned whether adding Odin to the party really fit the spirit of having bumbling teammates. “She’s not boosted her numbers unfairly, but having a goddess-created creature of power as your keeper instead of the mandated ‘random android’…seems to be pushing the rules maybe a little too far.” While Odin’s inclusion is certainly clever, it might incur a flag on the play for Team Lightning.
Overall, the judges felt that Ellen’s post very much captured the spirit of the Final Fantasy XIII games. They also identified that Ellen has really come into her own since the first round. Destiny remarked that Ellen seemed a lot more confident this time, and Athena was “happy to see how comments from the judges were incorporated into their writing. I saw this especially in Lightning Ellen’s post. She’s been studying!” Ellen and her partner Lightning learned the lessons their last victory had to teach and brought a renewed spirit to this second match. It’s going to be a difficult combination to overcome; can the Well-Red Mage and Mega Man handle it? Let’s turn on that Final Fantasy music and pan over to the Blue Bomber in his weird new environment!
Once again The Well-Red Mage has brought us his argument in an efficient list format, logically outlining his points like any good robot would. Not that the Well-Red Mage is a robot, of course. 😉 Mega Man’s argument relies primarily on his adaptive versatility, the ability to install the weapons of his defeated opponents and put them to use himself. This would allow him to use Lightning’s world as a training grounds, learning everything he could about her and building up his arsenal so he’d have even more tools at his disposal to defeat her in the soccer match.
Adaptive versatility is an effective weapon that certainly gives Mega Man a strong early advantage. Athena felt this was a solid argument in favor of Mega Man and said “he’d be more than a match for the challenges presented to him in Square Enix’s world.” Destiny noted that “not only does he have his normal abilities, but he has all of the abilities from Lightning’s world too, so he has a massive arsenal at his disposal.” Chris, too, stated “[adaptive versatility]’s a very compelling point in the Blue Bomber’s favor to get started with,” but he went on to address a potential chink in Mega Man’s robo-armor.
Can Mega Man’s adaptive versatility function work on non-technological sources? That’s the question Chris found himself asking; “it sort of sounds as if he can only adopt abilities from robot masters.” While he went on to state that he was willing to give Mega Man the benefit of the doubt, more evidence that adaptive versatility would work against living beings like the l’cie (or, to an extent, the c’ieth) would have been much appreciated. James echoed this sentiment, saying “I felt there was a bit of jumping the gun in how, before describing how he’d use one foe’s power to vanquish another, it was just kind of assumed that he *would* beat the first guy, and there was no real explanation of *how*.” Some of the judges felt there needed to be more evidence that Mega Man’s signature ability would work in the world of Cocoon, and that he could survive the early encounters before he absorbed any abilities from its residents.
When it came to soccer, Mega Man worked hard to make sure there was no question that he could win the competition. The Well-Red Mage made point after point about how Mega Man’s skills – and the ones he appropriated from Lightning and Co. – would be perfect for the sport. Applying robotic logic to the game would allow Mega Man to reduce soccer to its mathematic components and make perfect shots in order to score. He’d use the power of the fal’cie to plant visions in their l’cie to mess with the heads of his opponents, turn back time whenever the other team scored, and lead his plucky, unqualified team to victory with the leadership skills that Mega Man always demonstrates with his own plucky, unqualified sidekicks. Unable to resist a quick jab at Lightning, he also included the pitiful critical and fan reception of the FFXIII series as well as using many of the spells from Lightning’s world against her.
The knowledge that The Well-Red Mage demonstrated of Lightning’s game world definitely worked to his advantage. Destiny said “I like that he did his research on both characters and games, and that he knew the spells that he would get from Lightning’s world.” Chris agreed with that point, saying “I can’t fault WRM’s research, I have to say. He’s got an absolute pile of points, with evidence and reasoning, in Mega Man’s favour, and he’s clearly brushed up on his foe and the world she inhabits too.” Using the knowledge he gained from the fal’cie and Lightning’s allies, Mega Man knows how to hit her where it hurts and use Lightning’s volatile emotions to his advantage.
Now that we’ve taken the time to look at each article individually, let’s see what the judges had to say when comparing each one directly. The heroes may have been able to survive in each other’s worlds, but can they survive team sports? It’s time for sudden death!
Comparing these two articles side by side, the first thing you’ll notice is that comparing them is tough as nails; the judges did not have an easy time of it this week. Coming to a final decision required looking at very small, nitpicky sort of details – and a pizza break! We already know that Lightning and Mega Man both had strong points in their initial arguments, and some flaws too. So let’s look at what’s unique about the way these articles interact.
There’s a fascinating back-and-forth between these two that almost seems planned. Athena describes it as “serendipitous,” how points that one writer brings up are incorporated in some way in the other writer’s article. A great example of this trading of blows? LightningEllen chooses her shero’s allies from Final Fantasy XIII as her teammates for the soccer game. The Well-Red Mage has Mega Man project thoughts of Lightning letting down those same teammates into their heads, without even knowing his opponent would choose those individuals specifically to be her team members. Ellen then proceeds to explain how Lightning and her team harnesses their rage and frustration at being vilified to unite them and give them the power to win the game. Their arguments go back and forth together as if these were written cooperatively, which is not only an awesome coincidence but also cancels out some points that might otherwise have been devastating blows.
When we start comparing the number of advantages that the characters are bringing to bear, it’s easy to see that Mega Man has an exhaustive list of abilities to use against Lightning. Beyond just his powers, his robotic nature gives him an advantage in that it allows him to reduce soccer to its basic formulas, simplifying the game to terms of mathematics and velocity that Mega Man can certainly excel at. Geddy stated that “Robots would eat up soccer, what with the ability to make impulsive yet exact calculations,” and “Overall, I think the Red Mage was more convincing that his squad would be up to the task of surviving the harsh environments of FFXIII as well as enduring the strenuous activity of soccer!”
But can soccer really be reduced to a matter of numbers? James didn’t think so. “Soccer also involves stuff that robots don’t excel at, and everything’s done, not in isolation, but within the context of your opposition. This incorporates psychology, reading subtle clues, shifts in momentum and morale, and adapting to unforseen or unanticipated events on the fly. These are things the human mind excels at and, indeed, in the world of actual robotics, soccer and team games in general are ones where robots still look decidedly rubbish (especially compared to human teams).” Efficiency can only get you so far in a team sport, and while Mega Man could give his team beneficial stat boosts, he couldn’t necessarily lead them in the way Lightning could. “If 80s/90s Hollywood films have taught me anything, it’s exactly that a group of plucky underdogs – working as a team, drawing on their mutual experience, and the bond that comes from being outcasts – can overcome any opposition.”
Chris found himself very much in accord with James as far as their thoughts on the victor and the reason for that victory. He too felt that soccer is a matter of more than just the feet, but of the heart, and that Lightning more so than Mega Man demonstrated the capacity for that heart. “It’s teams that win soccer games and I feel more convinced that Lightning’s team would work together as a true team.” He goes on to say that “I see Lightning as being more able to use everyone’s strengths to her advantage and work together to overcome the odds.” Lightning’s skills as a Commando really helped to sell her to the judges this round.
Destiny, though, felt like a win from Mega Man was inevitable. The massive series of buffs/debuffs Mega Man brought against his opponent, combined with time control and his inability to feel fatigue, left no doubt in her mind. “Since he has his abilities plus numerous abilities from her world, and can literally play the game forever, he would eventually win.” This is even on top of acknowledging how difficult it would be for Mega Man to score a goal against the vicious Odin.
It’s neck and neck, folks – both sides have suffered blows and both characters have proven their ability to overcome the odds. So what does it boil down to? What ultimately swayed the final judge?
“This match comes down to the smallest of details. While I accepted that [Mega Man] was trying to subvert Lightning, a few of his tactics seemed a little underhanded to me…I didn’t like how he tried to actively sabotage the other team. Show me what you can do, not what you can stop your opponent from doing.” Athena felt that resorting to time control and pseudo mind control (referring to L.C. Envision) were too underhanded and showed a sort of lack of confidence in Mega Man’s argument. If he needs to resort to such tactics to win, then that doesn’t speak well of his potential to truly win the match on his own merit. This places the vote of the final judge securely in the hands of LightningEllen.
And there’s Lightning’s victory song! In the end what it boiled down to was that the judges felt Mega Man didn’t quite prove he was capable of the exhaustive list of abilities he would use to win the match. In fact, it was the exhaustive nature of those abilities that made them ask questions. If he needs all of those abilities to win the soccer match, what if adaptive versatility really wouldn’t allow him to get l’cie powers? What if he ran into the most powerful monster in Lightning’s world before he had absorbed any new abilities? For James and Chris in particular, questions like these were the deciding factor. They felt that Lightning demonstrated her ability to survive Mega Man’s world on her own merit, but that things could go south for Mega Man if it didn’t work out just perfectly in the way he applied it would.
While it might seem that Lightning is a lucky soul benefiting from Mega Man’s self-undoing, she fought hard for her victory and what really earned her the win this week was her heart. In the Well-Red Mage’s article, his eighth point talks about how Final Fantasy XIII was received poorly by critics and fans. He intended this to disjoint Lightning’s team, but in a moment of impressive foresight, Ellen acknowledged that in her own article, referring to her team as “the one everyone hates” and portraying the whole crowd and even the establishment as being against her. Instead of being separated by that, her team is unified by it, and they work together to prove that they are something more than the black sheep they are made out to be. LightningEllen made a strategic choice by portraying herself as the underdog, a choice that worked greatly in her favor when facing the apparently insurmountable foe that was The Well-Red Mage.
So congratulations to Ellen on your victory, but to both of you for portraying what has been the most difficult match to judge yet! This is our first match with votes this close, and all of the judges pointed out that this match forced them to think about the smallest details in order to determine victory. “This was the hardest judgment by quite a long way.” “Both contestants did very well and I had a great time reading through both of their writings!” “I’m not going to lie, this was tough – and it took me a long time to even figure out where to start with my judging, let alone decide on a winner.” This was a crazy-tough match and both competitors fought their hardest, so go check out LightningEllen’s Release and The Well-Red Mage before you head out!
Be sure to keep your eyes open on Monday, September 11th, for the bout between Hundstrasse and Sheikah Plate, and come back next Friday to see the results of that match. Thanks for reading, adventurers!