Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep – Great Baddie Bake Off (Xehanort vs. Thel Vadam)

Good morning fight fans and welcome once again to the Blogger Blitz arena! I imagine that this arena is one with the ability to transform into new shapes, as last week it was a wintry manor and this week it’s a chef’s kitchen. Regardless of what the stadium looks like, it’s a good day to be here because today we’ll see two excellent bloggers pit two dastardly villains against one another in glorious battle! This isn’t just any battle, though – it’s a bake off for the ages where our competitors are fighting for their lives as much as they are fighting for the right to proceed to the semifinals. If this is your first Blogger Blitz experience, you can meet the competitors and check out the event schedule while you wait for the match to start.

This week our two competitors are once again returning veterans from last year’s competition. In the red corner is Chris (@overthinkery1) from the blog Overthinker Y, who is sponsoring the mastermind behind the entire Kingdom Hearts series, Xehanort. In the blue corner is Luna (@xgamersunitedx) from Gamers United, and she is sponsoring the most intimidating arbiter in Halo history, Thel Vadam. Their mission this week was to bake a cake from scratch, gathering all of the ingredients while avoiding the eager knife of a Tonberry. What’s a tonberry? The scariest monsters in Final Fantasy, that’s what!

Once again the competition was adjudicated by our three thorough and patient judges: Pix1001 from Shoot the Rookie, Kim from Later Levels, and Destiny representing this very blog, Adventure Rules. Interestingly, this particular event was co-designed by one of our judges and one of our competitors (though at the time they didn’t know their ideas would be fused together). So special thanks are due to Pix and Chris for contributing the ideas that got jumbled into the Great Baddie Bake Off! With all of that out of the way, it’s time to put an end to these formalities; I hope you’re holding on to your seats, fight fans, because this one is going to be a doozy. Let’s start those ovens!

Great Baddie Bake Off Template
I suppose a cooking game theme would maybe make more sense, but I think only a race can truly capture the sort of urgency that comes with escaping a Tonberry.

We’ll tackle the post formatting first. This match stands out from the one before in that we’re seeing two different formats, one of which has not been done before in Blogger Blitz history! This was the format implemented by Chris, who chose to convey his villain’s story in the form of an interview. Chris himself served as a neutral, relateable vehicle through which we as the audience could experience Xehanort’s tale of baking triumph. This gave Chris the opportunity to portray Xehanort at full ridiculousness and it added a great bit of character to the submission.

Meanwhile, Luna chose a narrative approach in a first-person style, which is distinct in that we generally see third-person in the Blitz. If I recall correctly, Luna is the only competitor to have employed this technique last year too, and it certainly gives you an insightful glimpse into the villain’s head. It also helps Luna’s style to feel fresh, as it differs from the most popular format generally used for the competition. We got a double-dose of that this week, and our judges certainly appreciated the variety!

When it comes to formatting, both bloggers did well. Pix particularly liked how Luna utilized Vadam’s internal monologue and pointed out the moment where Thel muses about adding Tonberry to his army as one of her favorites this week. But while both competitors did well in this category, Chris knocked it out of the park with his interview style. All three judges cited the interview format as a particular strength of Chris’s post; Destiny described it as being “executed really well” and Pix added that it was “a great platform to deliver the story.” Kim particularly appreciated that she liked “how Chris included himself in the post but still kept Master Xehanort as the star.” So while both bloggers hit the ground running as soon as this race began, Chris and Xehanort got a bit of an extra boost to help them take an early lead.

Great Baddie Bake Off Interview Boost
Looks like Chris gave ole Xehanort the extra push he needed!

Something else that set both of these posts apart from the typical Blogger Blitz fare was the incorporation of images into the posts. Now while these two are certainly not the first to use visual media to enhance their submissions (who could forget the headbanging Mega Man in last year’s Dance Off?), they both incorporated images into their posts not just as background supplements but as elements which added humor or clarity to their submissions.

Kim particularly pointed out “back of recipe” as one of her favorite visual gags, and she also complimented the Heartless apron designed by Luna. Destiny stated that “[Chris’s] pictures were pretty interesting and creative” and that Luna struck “a good balance between pictures and story.” Pix praised the reference to Sheikah Plate in Chris’s post and thought it was priceless when there were no results for coconut cake. So while we all agreed that future competitors shouldn’t use this round as an indicator that images are a necessary part of the Blogger Blitz competition, they were a fun inclusion this time and were worth including as a category for judgment since both competitors used them.

So who got the edge in the image competition? This round was pretty close because while Chris’s images were generally considered to be funnier or more effective, they also congested the post a little bit. “It was hard for me (personally) to focus on the reading, because there were so many comics,” Destiny noted. However, in spite of the bit of over-saturation the judges determined that when it comes to images, Chris’s added more to his submission and were a big part of the charm!

Great Baddie Bake Off Uh Who is That
Plot twist: I sent Tonberry to murder the competitors this week because funny images are MY part of this competition!

The increased presence of images wasn’t the only unique aspect to this week’s match. While typically in Blogger Blitz we see characters taking a more direct role in their stories, this time around both competitors had some help getting the job done. Luckily, neither blogger gave in to the temptation to push off all the hard work onto their helpers – the most important parts of the competition were still preserved for the competitors themselves. So how did these villains use their minions, and who delegated the most effectively?

For Xehanort, “minions” consist of his various manifestations spread throughout the Kingdom Hearts universe. This included not only younger versions of himself, but also individuals he has, uh, mind controlled or something? It’s been a long time since I played Dream Drop Distance, okay?! Meanwhile, Thel Vadam has a less mystical form of gaining minions – he’s got a whole army of grunts at his command. If you’ve ever played a Halo game, you know that these bumbling morons aren’t good for much of anything except for a good laugh and target practice, and luckily that’s exactly how Luna incorporated them into the post. Thel is clearly the one in charge, simply taking advantage of his soldiers’ incompetence and manipulating them into furthering his own evil plans.

So who incorporated their minions more effectively? Turns out, the judges couldn’t choose just one when it came to this aspect of the competition! “Luna could have just thrown grunts at e everything but she tied it together really well,” Kim said. “For example, the way their blood was used to sabotage Xehanort’s cake and then make him slip at the end. It felt as though they were more a part of the story because of that, rather than just a solution.” Pix stated “What struck me was that although they did both utilize help, the form their help took was entirely reasonable. Both characters could have been reasonably expected to have those things at their disposal.” So good job to both of our bloggers for using their minions responsibly!

Great Baddie Bake Off Poor Minions
“You got: Grunt Blood! You’re not sure what this is for yet, but it may come in handy later! You put the grunt blood in your ITEM bag.”

Now that we’ve got these post-level considerations out of the way, let’s zoom in on the fiction and talk about the villains and their nefarious schemes. Great Baddie Bake Off had two main components for the competitors to address: gathering ingredients to bake a cake, and avoiding the Tonberry’s anxious blade. Focusing on the ingredients first, our villains took some very different approaches, so we’ll discuss them one at a time.

Xehanort decided to make a coconut cake, which is convenient because he could gather most of the ingredients in a location that Kingdom Hearts fans know well: Destiny Islands, the place where it all started. This required him to rope in multiple versions of himself and traverse the very fabric between worlds! It’s a task that Xehanort is well-suited for but still quite an exercise for his many abilities.

Thel Vadam, on the other hand, didn’t have to travel very far in order to gather ingredients. Luna constructed her post as if the competitors were in an actual baking arena (is that even what you call it? I gotta watch Cupcake Wars or something), so the Arbiter only had to jog a short distance in order to get all of the necessary ingredients from a refrigerator. While the baking arena idea was brilliant and highly praised by the judges for being so very On Brand (TM), putting the ingredients in a conveniently-placed fridge was a little harder to swallow.

The judges felt that this decision hurt the strength of Thel’s argument. Destiny “felt that the act of getting ingredients should be more difficult” based on the event description: each villain must bake a cake from start to finish, but the ingredients aren’t just sitting out in the open – its going to take some evil ingenuity to locate milk, eggs, flour, and whatever toppings might be desired for this sweet treat. And Kim stated that while Xehanort did just that, “Thel just went to the fridge.” Xehanort’s superior ingredients helped him to prepare a cake that performed much better with the judges, and ultimately earned him Destiny’s vote at the end of the deliberations!

Great Baddie Bake Off Cake Time
I just can’t help but feel like we’re forgetting something…

It may seem at this point like Xehanort has this event on lock. Better ingredients, better pizza, right? Chris chose an engaging interview format that showed off Xehanort’s personality, his images added a layer of humor to the article, and he focused much more on properly gathering ingredients for the competition. His lead is massive, his victory seems guaranteed – but there’s still the little matter of the Tonberry.

Xehanort’s Tonberry plan seemed an afterthought compared to the other details of his submission. He threw some Organization people at it and when that didn’t work, pulled a Xi-blade-ex-machina and BAM, that’s the whole story of how Xehanort defeated Tonberry. Chris did a good job of showing via the canon of Kingdom Hearts how this would be possible, but relegating one half of the event to such a small moment left the judges feeling rather unimpressed. Pix gave the following explanation: “I don’t like that he chose to actually destroy the Tonberry in the end – I thought this assumed too much about what it would take to kill it, given that they only had to avoid it.” The event description clearly established that Tonberry was intended to be a formidable foe – that definitely wasn’t the case in Xehanort’s submission.

Luna, on the other hand, did an amazing job of portraying a drawn out conflict with the Tonberry. We see Thel Vadam encountering it for the first time, slowly learning what it did and that he lacked the firepower to kill it outright, trying different weapons and methods all while preparing a cake and sabotaging Xehanort’s cake at the same time! While Xehanort dismissively stated he was not intimidated by Thel Vadam, the Arbiter made sure to mess up his opponent’s plans and rub it in his face with a Sora cake at the end. “Luna gets my vote because I felt her piece was most in-keeping with the spirit of the scenario,” Pix said. “She made it feel very much like a live bake-off but with large amounts of added villainy. The way she dealt with the Tonberry, at first disregarding it and then adapting as she learned of it’s indestructibility was brilliant. I also like how she dealt with her opponent, in fact utilizing him as a way to distract the Tonberry whilst Thel made his get-away plans.”

Failing to address the Tonberry properly did some serious damage to Chris’s argument, while Luna’s masterful incorporation of the enemy as well as her forethought in creating a contingency plan for Xehanort allowed Thel Vadam to catch up in a match where he seemed to be eternally behind!

Great Baddie Bake Off Sabotage!
In retrospect, Xehanort probably should have questioned why his CocoNort cake turned out the same purple color as grunt blood…

So here we stand, with two competitors neck and neck, each with one judge’s vote under their belts. Only Kim remained – and because of the manner in which the judges voted, she was totally unaware that her vote was the one which could decide the entire match. Even without that knowledge, having no idea that her two companions in the judiciary had each voted for a different competitor, Kim still didn’t feel ready to cast a vote just yet. “I’ve had real trouble deciding who to vote for in this round, because both Chris and Luna submitted great entries,” Kim said. “They’re also opposite in their focus – Chris on the ingredients and Luna on the Tonberry.”

While the other judges had already made final decisions, they echoed Kim’s sentiment. These two posts were equal in quality, and because each competitor gave a greater focus to only one half of the event, choosing between them felt like choosing which aspect of the Great Baddie Bake Off was more important – gathering ingredients or defeating Tonberry. Destiny described her vote as “a tough decision,” and Pix stated “this is even harder than the first round!”

Ultimately, though, a decision had to be made. Multiple angles were considered. Should the final vote come down to which aspect of the event was more important? Who had a stronger portrayal of their villain? Which one struggled more in addressing their post’s weak points? Regardless of what was chosen, it seemed that this incredible match would come down to the smallest of points. No matter who won the competition this week, the other had been right on their heels. Unfortunately, there cannot be two winners, so a decision had to be made. After a day of tough deliberation and re-analyzing all the key points of each posts, the judges finally settled on a winner:

Great Baddie Bake Off Thel Gets Norted
Xehanort takes the cake!

Chris and Xehanort! While Luna and Thel Vadam portrayed an excellent battle with the Tonberry, skillfully capturing that aspect of the event, the ingredients were glossed over and simply located in a fridge nearby. While Xehanort’s weak point may have been the Tonberry, he did at least demonstrate his ability to defeat it. In addition, all of the extra little touches in Chris’s post that developed Xehanort’s personality and style gave him just the tiny edge he needed to cross the finish line first.

“That being said though, this round is such a close call. Luna’s entry was just as good but in a totally different way.” Kim, like our other judges, felt that these two posts were equal in quality. Luna and Chris both made excellent submissions and their dastardly villains fought hard to earn the win – the distinction between these posts had to come down to the most minor of details. The Great Baddie Bake Off is one of the closest matches that the Blogger Blitz has ever seen, and we for one are simply happy to have witnessed these two titans in action!

On Luna’s submission, Chris left the following comment: “May the best baddie win 🙂 I hope we’ve given the judges a good time and a major headache!” Little did he know just how true those words would be! With the second match now ended, I encourage you to go and show your support to both of these amazing bloggers by following their blogs. Be sure to send them some congratulations and commiserations on Twitter as well! Luna, well-fought – getting knocked out in the first round does not do justice to how well your post was composed. And Chris, congratulations on a victory hard-earned – we can’t wait to see you and Xehanort in the semifinals!

With all that said, this week’s match has officially come to an end. But there’s still plenty of Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep fun to be had. After all, on Monday August 13th we’ll have two more posts submitted to the competition as Teri Mae (@sheikahplate) and Monk of Mists (@flameflash) compete in the Blogger Blitzception event! Be sure to follow them on social media or their blogs so you don’t miss their competition posts, and of course remember to come back here next Friday to see the results of that bout as well. If you’re not following Adventure Rules on Twitter, that’s the place to be for interviews, smack talk, and other various Blogger Blitz announcements, so come say hi and join in the conversation. A big thanks once again to our judges for all of their hard work this week, and thanks to all the fans who keep us going throughout the competition! Have a great weekend!

14 thoughts on “Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep – Great Baddie Bake Off (Xehanort vs. Thel Vadam)

Add yours

  1. I’m genuinely surprised and flattered at the result! I’ve gotta hand it to Luna, when I read her post I was like ‘oh, heck, I’m done’; I said this about probably everyone that went out in the first round when I was a judge last year but it comes down to such little things and everyone genuinely contributes such brilliant stuff that anyone could be the winner of the whole thing! Much love to Luna (and judges, and Ian – my first time seeing one of your results post be about something I’d written definitely lived up to expectation!) ❤

    Now I just need to work out how to top it in round two…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Congratulations! I’m glad the results lived up to your hype, and I totally agree about how close the competition is – the single elimination format really doesn’t give everyone the chance to shine to their full potential. Regardless of the outcome, this was a very close match and both of you did amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Luna and Chris both deserve so much praise for the posts they created – I think they were unlucky to be drawn against each other as I think both could easily have made it to the second round if things had been different. Commiserations to Luna and congratulations to Chris, you are both awesome and reading your posts was a pleasure!

    It’s funny how both matches so far have had only 1 vote between them, with no clean sweeps. I think this really shows the quality that exists in the blogging community. Looking forward to Monday already (never thought I’d say THAT on a friday afternoon!).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ha, that is an odd sentence! I guess an unintended positive side effect of the Blogger Blitz schedule is that Mondays don’t completely suck. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats Chris! You put up a great fight and as usual this competition was so much fun to compete in. Thank you judges and Ian for haosting. Good luck to all competitors left!

    -Luna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Luna, excellent job! Pix has already said it, but I could easily see a world where you drew a different opponent and progressed further in the competition. Your post was absolutely semifinals worthy and I hope you were able to come away from the results knowing that. Thank you again for competing and for giving us a great match!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In the audience, right behind the judges, Sigma stared at two slices of cake.

    His visual receptors began analyzing, and he then sniffed at both confections.

    “Cake?” He tilts his head slightly in confusion before producing a fork and sampling both items.

    Processing food was a rather inefficient practice compared to the superior mechanical energy recharging methods he typically used and he made a note in his calendar’s memory to empty the appropriate waste disposal container once he had returned to his realm.

    His sensors appropriately recognized the ingredients in each cake but he seemed to fail at actually appreciating either one.

    “It must be an organic weakness,” he comments to the human audience member next to him, who visibly shrinks back. Sigma failed to notice the reaction, instead passing both pieces to the same individual. “They both appear equally palatable and performed their tasks impressively well. It is curious this process of ‘judging’ and ‘competition’ when conquering would provide an acceptable alternative.”

    The fellow audience member appears to desire to be anywhere else but sitting next to Sigma.

    “I believe it is time to check on my simian. I will have to monitor this Xehanort further.”

    Pressing the appropriate button on his wrist the nervous audience member hears a faint whine before Sigma suddenly blinks away in a beam of light.

    Liked by 2 people

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