The time has come, fight fans. After months of preparation and competition, the second annual Blogger Blitz tournament has reached the final moments. Two villains and their eloquent sponsors will enter the arena one last time – only one pair will emerge victorious and join the illustrious hall of champions. Or rather, the small room of champions; we won’t get a whole hall until there’s more people to put in there. Still, I imagine Ellen and Lightning would love some company, but who will join them? Teri Mae, the second time championship contender? Or Michael, newcomer to the competition? The only way to find out is to see the competitors in action!
The championship event, One Thousand Strong, is quite the challenge – a 2000 word post describing the defeat of 1000 Heartless with the assistance of previous opponents from the competition, all in preparation for a glorious wedding. If you haven’t yet read the match posts, now is the moment to do so: you can read Teri Mae’s argument for Ganondorf here and Michael’s argument for Frank Fontaine here. You should also go follow them on Twitter at @sheikahplate and @gitgudatlife to send them your congratulations and commiserations once the match is over – if you’re not following them already, today’s match will certainly show you why you need to start!
Once the posts were submitted on Monday, it fell to our three sagacious judges to compile their thoughts and select a winner. Pix of Shoot the Rookie, Kim of Later Levels, and Destiny of Adventure Rules all took time out of their busy weeks to make this event a possibility, and have done so again and again throughout the course of the competition. Their enthusiasm for reading the posts, their skill at analyzing the text, and their sacrifice in spending many hours of the last two months hard at work to make this competition possible made each one a joy to work with. Again, if you’re not following them, now’s the time to do so!
The submissions have been posted. The judgments have been passed. All that remains is for the results to be declared. So today, fight fans, I reveal to you the champion of the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep. Let’s go!
Let’s start by talking about each competitor’s formatting decisions. It’s interesting to see how the same event prompt can inspire two completely different interpretations. Over the course of the competition, Teri Mae and Michael have both showcased their unique styles. Teri Mae writes her arguments as short stories, this time moving from third person to first and allowing us a direct line of sight into Ganondorf’s psyche. Conversely, Michael’s style is unpredictable – he experiments with formatting every round and you’re never quite sure what to expect from him. For the championship event, he chose to have Fontaine delivering the best man speech at the wedding.
The judges loved this approach from GGAL. “Michael nailed it with his choice of format and I loved the way he carried Fontaine’s voice throughout it and even included a few dodgy jokes to add to the effect,” Kim said. “After his movie script entry last time, I’m not disappointed.” Pix added “I particularly liked the way he weaved the golf references in – I’m sure people are always talking about golf in speeches but not in quite the same way.” And Destiny felt that both the text of the speech and the various references to previous rounds added a great humor element to the post. She went on to say that out of all three rounds, this was the best realization of Michael’s unique approach.
As great as Fontaine’s presentation was, though, Ganondorf was no slouch either with his wickedly insightful inner monologue. “We’ve all been in Ganondorf’s position where we’re really not looking forward to a wedding but know we have to go because it’s for a close friend!” said Kim. “His disdain at the beginning of the post led into the rest of the entry really nicely…the personality and frustrations of the villain really come through in Teri Mae’s post.” Pix felt that Teri Mae’s portrayal of Ganondorf’s personality has been consistently strong throughout the competition, a point with which Destiny agreed. Destiny did have one weakness to point out, though – one of the characters included in Teri Mae’s post was not supposed to be there.
“I don’t want to give Teri Mae bad marks for including the wrong character,” she began, “but it’s still worth mentioning that Bowser should have been her ally instead of Xehanort.” The description of the event stated that each competitor could bring their two previous opponents and the defeated enemy of their semifinal opponent. This means that Ganondorf should have had Marjolaine’s original opponent on his team, which is to say, Bowser. Now all that being said, at first read Destiny made the exact same misinterpretation as Teri Mae and thought Xehanort was the right character to have, so she didn’t end up docking points for the mistake (psh, as if we have points). On top of that, none of the other judges pointed out the issue at all. So Ganondorf dodged a bullet and managed to come out of the formatting round neck and neck with Frank Fontaine!
Speaking of the villainous allies, let’s talk about them next. If you’ve never played Kingdom Hearts II and experienced the Battle of 1000 Heartless (one of the two ideas that inspired this event), there’s this sequence during the scene where you battle groups of Heartless alongside characters who have made appearances throughout earlier parts of your journey. It’s full of great banter and it’s great getting to see the various characters in action – some for the first time! To capture that in One Thousand Strong, competitors were permitted to use previous opponents as allies.
Teri Mae had Ganondorf summon each of his allies one at a time, giving all of them a moment in the spotlight with their significance and impact on the battle building with each one. This approach particularly resonated with Pix: “I love the way Teri Mae builds the story, starting with the completely useless Sigma, moving to the slightly more worthwhile Marjolaine and then finally presenting what looks like a real threat in Xehanort and then turning it on it’s head by having Xehanort woefully underestimate Ganon.” Destiny enjoyed it because it meant that Ganondorf stayed the star of the entire post. “Ganondorf was definitely the main character in this post – even though other people were helping him, Teri Mae focused more on Ganon than on the side characters. I liked that she kept that focus.”
While Ganondorf’s allies turned out to be rather useless, Fontaine’s were integral to his master plan. He describes in detail how each one was key to his ability to defeat and eventually control the Heartless, and they also play into his final gambit at the end of the wedding. “The use of the other villains was excellent because it really utilized important things from each of them,” Pix said. “I really like how he calls Jericho’ Charlie’ like they are old villain buddies.” Kim felt it was a great strategy on Michael’s part. “Fontaine cunningly used each of them to perform a part of his plan: Xehanort for information, Jericho to get the Heartless to where he wanted them, and the Arbiter to take out the captains.”
Both submissions had strengths in this area to be sure, but they had some weak points as well. Destiny felt that Ganondorf could have used his allies – particularly Marjolaine – in a smarter way. “I like that she was giving a nod at the Kingdom Hearts game by having one ally help her at a time, but I think it would have been really useful to keep Marjolaine there to keep them stunned while she had a third person join. It doesn’t make sense to get rid of her since she was still helping.” Kim couldn’t help but wonder about the ease with which Sigma fell to the Heartless menace. “Would Sigma be easier to possess due to his lack of a heart? Or would he be immune to the effect of darkness because of it? Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of Kingdom Hearts knowledge for me to know the answers to these questions.”
For Fontaine, his expert use of his allies to do his dirty work also meant that he himself didn’t have a lot of action in the post. “I think it would have been nicer to see his character actually do stuff,” Destiny said. Pix, too, acknowledged that Fontaine seemed pretty hands-off in Michael’s submission: “Here Fontaine leaves the hard work up to the other villains and sits back and watches.” However, she goes on to say that by the end of the post, she’d had a change of heart. “In the end it seems it was all planned from the start, so whilst Fontaine doesn’t physically do that much, he is the brains behind the whole thing.”
With positives and negatives on both sides, this became another category where the two competitors were quite evenly matched. Sure, Ganondorf could have used his allies more effectively, but emphasizing their weaknesses makes sense in Blogger Blitz canon – Kim notes that “his villain ‘helpers’ are just not up to the job this time (which cleverly fits in with why he’s succeeded in the competition so far).” This also allows Ganondorf to be front and center throughout his post, making him the obvious star of the show. Conversely, Fontaine utilizes his own allies more effectively, but this means that he has very little direct involvement in the conclusion of his submission. Being the mastermind behind it all is certainly an impressive feat, but which is better? Ganondorf’s direct approach, or Fontaine’s cunning schemes?
Now while the defeat of the 1000 Heartless may be the main event for these villains, for other participants in these posts there’s something a little more important going on: a wedding! Each villain had to clear out the Heartless menace for the wedding to go off without a hitch – or should it be with a hitch, since people are getting hitched? At any rate, the bride and groom of each wedding is an important part of the event, and luckily both competitors found some really interesting ways to talk about the wedding in their submissions.
Teri Mae hilariously had the wedding in her post be the marriage of Ganondorf’s servant Ghirahim to none other than…Ghirahim? That’s right, there’s no one in the world fabulous enough for this demon except for his own sassy self, and this particular decision left the judges rolling in the aisles. “The fact that the marriage was of Ghirahim to himself was perfect;” “Love the inclusion of the text of the invitation sent from Ghirahim to Ganon – that was a really nice touch;” “I thought it was funny that Ghirahim was marrying himself – it was very in-character!” All three judges enjoyed that clever bit, so it earned Teri Mae and Ganondorf plenty of points. Pix also “loved the little aside about Ganon pondering the absurdity of marriage in terms of it being a power sharing union.”
While Teri Mae and Ganondorf went for hilarity, Michael and Frank Fontaine went sinister. Fontaine was the best man at the wedding of Andrew Ryan, an old rival who caused Fontaine Futuristics quite a bit of trouble. Michael does an incredible job of setting up the scene as Fontaine being willing to forgive the past transgressions, all while building up the entire wedding to be the ultimate revenge scheme. “Fontaine leads into his speech with a thank you to everyone attending, as though he’s putting aside past grudges with Andrew Ryan and the rest of Rapture’s social elite,” Kim says. “But then the tables are turned and his gets his own back in the best possible way, showing what a true villain he is.” Destiny, too, loved the turnabout at the end of the post.
Up to this point, our competitors have been quite even, but the wedding category is the one in which someone was able to edge out a clear advantage. While Michael’s post gave great significance to the wedding, weaving it into everything from the formatting to the finale, Teri Mae used Ghirahim’s wedding as little more than an adventure hook for Ganondorf to get caught up in other business. “I would have liked to see part of the wedding, or Ganondorf getting to the actual wedding, since that was part of the event,” Destiny said. Kim said much the same thing: “I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get to hear more about the wedding itself or see Ganondorf arrive at the event.” While both judges cited this as a minor gripe, every little blow counts in the championship match. Michael’s excellent incorporation of the wedding into his post gives him a clear edge here, so Fontaine finally manages to draw first blood in the competition!
And now we come at last to the heart of the matter: the Heartless. 1000 beings made of darkness who consume the hearts of the living. Dealing with these little buggers is perhaps the most significant part of the event, and each blogger devoted tons of energy to making sure that their villain did so in a way that proved their superiority. What turned out really interesting about this round is that both bloggers decided that rather than destroy all of the Heartless, their villainous competitor would actually take control of them. The Heartless submit to beings of great willpower and evil intent, so it’s only natural that two of the greatest villains to grace the gaming universe would gain their loyalty.
Funnily enough, the mistake that led to Xehanort’s involvement in Teri Mae’s post actually allowed her to build in a fun twist: Xehanort was the mastermind behind the Heartless attack against Ganondorf. This is totally in character for him and it gave the competitor an antagonist with a little more teeth than a simple horde of Heartless. “I really liked the way the appearance of the Heartless was a set-up by Xehanort, which then backfired on him when he underestimated just how evil Ganondorf is,” Kim said. Destiny appreciated the cleverness of the solution, how rather than just bashing heads Ganondorf “defeated the Heartless by using his evilness and had them join him. That was a creative way to solve the problem.” Like with the Guardians in Breath of the Wild, Ganondorf realizes that the best weapon he has at his disposal is to turn his opponent’s forces against them.
Now we see the same strategy play out in Michael’s submission, with Frank Fontaine having his eyes on the Heartless not only for their value as evil servants but also for their ability to cross dimensions. “Tying in the Heartless’ ability to perform inter-dimensional with the BioShock lighthouse and Fontaine Futuristics attempts to crack the code succeeded in connecting both game worlds, making the whole thing seem (slightly!) more believable,” Kim said. Pix, too, praised the references throughout the piece, and particularly enjoyed how Michael referenced earlier Blogger Blitz rounds to great effect. Michael’s submission expertly combined BioShock, Kingdom Hearts, and the Blogger Blitz itself to tell its story, all giving solid justification for why Fontaine would wish to control the Heartless rather than destroy them.
Because both bloggers utilized similar strategies against the Heartless – control rather than destroy – they ended up with some of the same flaws. By the end of the second post, Destiny was kind of hoping for some destruction. “It would have been cool if one of [the competitors] would have actually defeated all of [the Heartless], as I felt like neither of them had to fight their way through it the whole time.” Kim felt the whole thing left us with a bit of an untold story at the end – “Both ended up ‘owning’ the horde though so I wonder what would have happened if they’d come face to face?” With both competitors trying to control the Heartless horde, who would have won out in a direct conflict between them?
Fittingly, the championship event at last boils down to the very question asked by the entire competition. Who is the most evil of them all? Which of these villains has demonstrated through their submission that they are deserving of the Heartless horde when compared against their opponent?
Ganondorf is known as the King of Evil. It is a moniker given to him in The Legend of Zelda, and it’s a fitting title for him. Teri Mae demonstrates just how he earned that title through her post – he’s better than the competition. Sigma, Marjolaine, even Xehanort all fail to measure up to Ganondorf’s greatness. “Teri Mae’s story was wonderfully clever and entertaining and as always with Teri Mae the writing was perfect,” Pix said. “Ganondorf’s evil confidence meant that winning over of the heartless and thus his attending the wedding were assured from the start.” Teri Mae shows us just how evil Ganondorf is when the Heartless reject their original master in favor of the Gerudo king.
Then there’s Frank Fontaine, a man who has demonstrated again and again throughout this competition that just when you think he’s down for the count, he has a trick up his sleeve. Michael has never failed to surprise with one of his submissions, and his daring decisions each round have helped to solidify Fontaine as a character who defies expectations. “He gave us unique post formats that effectively conveyed Fontaine’s voice, with the best man’s speech being no exception,” Kim said. “And on top of that he managed to overcome each round with a villain who has no ‘special powers’ as such; at the start of Blogger Blitz I thought he may have been at a disadvantage because of this, but he proved us all wrong.” Michael, through Fontaine, showed us that it’s not the evil powers you command, but the evil in your heart that really matters.
All three judges spoke highly of both competitors. Destiny felt that Teri Mae and Michael have both refined their work throughout the competition and delivered their best yet during the final round. Pix stated that regardless of her vote, either competitor was deserving of a victory today. And Kim wanted to encourage both writers to continue pursuing fiction, as they’ve grown so much in their confidence and ability over the course of the competition. This truly was a battle between titans, the ultimate showdown between the vilest antagonists this competition could muster. Of course, only one of them could win, and that winner turned out to be…
MICHAEL OF GIT GUD AT LIFE AND FRANK FONTAINE!
While this match was close in many ways, in the end all three judges cast their votes for Michael and Fontaine. They shared many reasons in common. The twist ending in which Fontaine used the Heartless he now controlled to exact his revenge on Andrew Ryan was heinous and brilliant. His set up using the best man speech seamlessly connected all of the game worlds involved in the event and set up some hilarious jokes to boot. He made the wedding a key part of his plan, and made great use of his allies all while proving that it was his abilities as a planner and mastermind that enabled them to work so effectively. Michael delivered a post that showed Fontaine’s villainy at its finest, and in the end, that’s what Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep is all about. Congratulations, Michael – you consistently delivered excellent content throughout the competition and your championship title is well-deserved!
Commiserations are due to Teri Mae, who performed excellently in the competition and (despite the unanimous vote) gave Michael hell in the championship match. While this may be the second championship match which Teri Mae didn’t win, it’s also her second championship match, an accomplishment that should not be underestimated. She has demonstrated an impressive writing ability that allows her to perform consistently well in different events, with different characters, against different opponents. All three judges may have voted for Michael, but none of them felt that Teri Mae was outclassed or didn’t belong in the finals – she fought the good fight and Ganondorf can rest proudly knowing he proved his villainous worth.
I want to once again extend my thanks to the judges, and encourage everyone who enjoyed the Blogger Blitz competition to do the same. This couldn’t happen without them. I also want to thank all the competitors, not just today’s pair but everyone who sponsored a character this year. You all brought so much quality to the event, and it has been a blast to be your host. Thank you to those who may not have been involved in any way, but who stayed with the competition from week one and cheered on the competitors as fans. It has truly been a pleasure hosting the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep, and I hope you’ve enjoyed experiencing the competition in whatever role you participated.
And with that – I’m off to finally get some sleep!