Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars Semifinals – Hotel Hijinks (Tyrande Whisperwind vs. Morgana)

Good morning, fight fans, and welcome to the first match of the semifinal round of Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars! It’s been a wild and wacky competition so far and this week’s posts certainly demonstrated that the semifinals will be no different. For the first semifinal match our competitors faced off in an event called Hotel Hijinks (which is apparently supposed to be hyphenated?) where the focus is all about making the best of a holiday where someone has totally wrecked the hotel beforehand.

Our match this week takes place between two competitors who came to the second round in very different ways. FlameFlash, blogger on Monk of Mists and sponsor of Tyrande Whisperwind, won a decisive victory against his opponent in round one – the only competitor to win by unanimous vote in the first round, in fact! Meanwhile, Winst0lf of Winst0lf Portal and his sponsored character Morgana had a very different experience – due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, their opponent had to forfeit, allowing Winst0lf to make his way unimpeded to the semifinals. But don’t think this man is a slouch: Winst0lf had the highest numerical score of any competitor in round one! Both of these competitors are mini record-holders in their own right, so for them to face off in the semifinals will be a truly epic clash.

Here’s how the match works. On Monday, FlameFlash posted this article and Winst0lf posted this one. That was the signal for our judges Jace of Zen Mind Zen Life, Andrew of Serial Book Seller, and Heather of Just Geeking By to get to work. They read each article, analyzed it according to the judicial criteria, and then shared their comments while casting a vote and giving a final score to each competitor. Once all those comments and scores were submitted, I organized them into this results post and threw in some cruddy goofy fanart to liven things up a bit. Now all you have to do to find out the winner is read this article to the end. So without further ado, let’s dive into Hotel Hijinks, the epic duel between Tyrande Whisperwind and Persona 5’s Morgana!

Hotel Hijinks Start
You call it a reach, I call it topical.

If you’ve been reading since the first round, then you know the three points on which all Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars articles are judged. The structure of the post, the compliance with the event, and the portrayal of the relationships of the characters are the core components of the competition. Ordinarily I focus on structure first but structure is so significant to this round that I’m going to switch things up! We’ll start with event compliance, touch briefly on the relationships between the characters, and then finally discuss structure at length.

Since event compliance is all about meeting the terms of the prompt, it will be helpful to fully understand the prompt and also the content submitted by each blogger. The prompt had three key elements which are best summarized by its final sentence:

Tell us all about the location from your world that you chose to visit, how your previous opponent wrecked the place, and how in the world you plan to fix it and bring this vacation back from the brink.

These are the standards our competitors needed to meet, so now let’s look at an overview of each article to see if they each managed to do so. FlameFlash shared with us a story about a visit to Binan Village, a location in World of Warcraft that may not be “ritzy” in the traditional sense but which serves as a great vacation spot nonetheless. Through describing the food and the amenities FlameFlash did an excellent job of telling us all about the place he chose to visit. Jace pointed out that as someone deeply unfamiliar with WoW, “the exposition leading up to the actual event is educational for others in the same boat.” He then goes on to describe how the hotel was destroyed by Ashley Williams and even compares it to elements that the WoW characters would be more familiar with. Finally, he shows how Tyrande and Malfurion work reconstruction into their vacation.

Winst0lf chose to have his characters visit the cutely-named Hawaii-Kawaii hotel, and described the location through correspondence with the hotel manager. He skillfully worked his description of what the hotel should have been like into the apology letter which then quickly went on to explain the damage done. This allows most of the article to focus on the third piece where Morgana and Ann work together to restore the damaged hotel. On the topic of event compliance, Jace stated “I feel like Winst0lf tackled it quite well, with the descriptions of the trashed hotel and the cleaning process.” As it turns out looking at event compliance alone doesn’t present a clear winner for the competition – both bloggers did exactly as they were asked. So let’s see if a different category offers us a bit more to bite in to.

Hotel Hijinks Pulled in Two Directions
This is how I feel when I need to write a blog post but also need to do chores but also am depressed and just want to go to bed.

Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars is a competition about relationships, and so the couples (whatever kind of couple they happen to be) are a big emphasis in each event. Restoring a trashed hotel gives us an opportunity to see how each pair handles an unexpected change of plans, and both groups did so with grace and style.

FlameFlash focuses on the way in which Tyrande and Malfurion have always strengthened their relationship through the conflicts that they survive together. These two are warriors at heart and their passion is for helping others with their gifts. It is spending time together in this way that strengthens their love for one another. Jace described this portion of the article as “nice and sweet” and even gave extra points specifically for the last line of the post and the way that it summarized the relationship for the reader. The main complaint about this aspect of FlameFlash’s submission was that the relationship came across as a bit of an afterthought. Heather elaborates: “other than a few small paragraphs at the end there’s not much that even suggests it’s about Tyrande and Malfurion.” So much emphasis in the early parts of the article was given to the description of Binan Village and the damage done to it that the relationship took a bit too long to work into the scenario.

For Winst0lf’s part, the relationship between Morgana and Ann takes more of a “show don’t tell” approach. We see their personalities through Ann’s letter to the hotel manager (aptly named Mr. Hotelsson) and through the cheeky humor in Morgana’s travel log. Morgana and Ann are teammates and the core of their relationship centers around witty banter, and we certainly see that play out during the course of the post. Andrew was particularly impressed: “one of the hardest things to capture in writing, especially with someone else’s IP, is voice, and I think Winst0lf has a lot of that.” Heather added that “Morgana’s log added the personal touch with just the right amount of sass and humour.”  By incorporating the personality of his characters throughout the post, Winst0lf managed to pull ahead a bit in this category.

Hotel Hijinks Banana Peel Classic
Can’t beat the classics.

This brings us at last to post structure, with Winst0lf just slightly in the lead. It’s important to note for those who may be reading a results post for the first time what structure means for the Blitz. It refers not only to the format of the submission, but also to key writing components like grammar and tone. Structure became the crux of the judging process with this event, partly because both competitors made some daring structural choices. Each of them not only chose a different structure from each other, but they also used a different structure than their previous submission.

Winst0lf chose to structure his post in three distinct sections. The first is a pair of letters exchanged between Ann Takamaki and Mr. Hotelsson, which establish the scenario: Lightning Farron, Morgana’s previous opponent, wrecked their hotel after losing, so Ann and Morgana agree to fix it in exchange for some free stuff. The second section consists of a travel log written by Morgana that tells the tale of how the two friends manage to fix the hotel. Finally, we get an epilogue in the form of one final letter from Hotelsson that wraps up the post with a few final jokes.

This structure was a huge hit with the judges. Everyone had great things to say about it. “The letters and travel log format was an inspiring choice,” said Heather, and Andrew added that it was “fun to read, [and] the back and forth of the letters was witty.” The letter-and-travel-log structure wasn’t the only key to what made the post work, though. Winst0lf’s tone is funny and endearing, and many of the judges were able to point out specific moments that they found the most humorous. “Am I going to hell for laughing at ‘sad velvet Titanic?'” Jace asked, and Heather stated “I was laughing out loud at the hot tub incident.” Winst0lf cleverly used letters to allow us to hear the entire post in the voice of three unique and hilarious characters, and that went a long way towards impressing the judiciary.

As for FlameFlash, he chose to forgo his typical narrative style and instead to speak with the readers directly in an informational and descriptive article. He follows the prompt precisely and describes each piece step by step. First he tells us all about the location where Tyrande and Malfurion will be staying; he then goes on to describe how Ashley Williams burned it down somewhat unintentionally during her drunken haze before finally telling us how the couple reconstructs the village. Speaking in his own voice allows FlameFlash to get directly to the point of things, which Jace appreciated; FlameFlash “put a lot of thought and description into the location of the hotel and even talked about the foods and a specific festival, which I thought was a nice touch.” However, his choice to move away from his classic prose into this new style did not resonate well with the judiciary as a whole.

As an experienced World of Warcraft player, Heather found the elements of the post to be a bit too similar to the way an actual quest plays out in the game. “Everything from the boat ride to the village to the enemy mobs is exactly what a player does, so essentially FlameFlash has just plopped Tyrande and Malfurion into a quest area and treated them as a World of Warcraft player,” she explains. This ties into a larger point about how, because FlameFlash mixes in what I’ll refer to here as out-of-character statements, the text actually became a bit confusing at times. One of the judges submitted a comment which, upon a second reading of FlameFlash’s post, reflected a mix-up where they misunderstood him as saying that a character from StarCraft wrecked the village. That’s not the case – FlameFlash does specify that Ashley Williams is behind the destruction – but it points to a larger structural problem in the post where it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between FlameFlash’s side commentary and the actual meat of the post itself.

Ultimately, all three judges agreed that while FlameFlash performed excellently in the first round, his experiment with a new structure this time around set him back quite a ways. “I really liked their style in their Sick Day Savior post and I do believe they could have done this post in the same style wonderfully,” Jace said. Conversely, Winst0lf’s new direction built upon his existing strengths to emphasize even more what makes his characters fun to read about. With a final average score of 2.67 versus 4, it’s clear to see which new direction landed well and which left the judges wanting more.

Hotel Hijinks Winner
Well done, Winst0lf!

While FlameFlash certainly met the terms of the prompt and he did a good job of emphasizing the core of the relationship between his characters, the structure of the post he used to deliver that message led to some confusion and lacked the punch of his previous submission. Meanwhile, Winst0lf sharpened his craft and delivered a post that met the prompt while also capturing the hearts of its readers with well-incorporated humor. Commiserations to FlameFlash for a match well fought, and congratulations to Winst0lf as he makes his way to the championship match!

Thanks everyone for reading, and be sure to tune in next week for the second and final match of the semifinal round!

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