Spring has broken, ladies and gents! For those of us in the North it's the season of flowers and mild sunshine. Why, I saw a crow perched on my window earlier this morning. Nevertheless in these times of turmoil it's best to keep your wits about you, which is why I invite you to sit down by the hearth, pull up a couch and tune into tonight's Gaoling broadcast, coming live from the stadium. I'm Kanan and beside me is my co-host, Ciquk. We're here as guest commentators, filling in for KevinY3 who was unable to make it this time due to personal reasons.
On an unrelated note, I've been asked to advise our listeners that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of one Kevin Y3, notorious menace and felon, last seen attempting to sell two hundred tons of assorted - and highly lethal - fish to a commercial mariner in the Northern Water Tribe. Police are offering upwards of five yuans in exchange for information leading to her arrest.
Thank you for that, Kanan. We have a strong showing with veteran competitors such as Incognito Subito, Mystef, Uro Shadow and Caesar Swar participating. I should clarify that in a departure from previous instances of the Gaoling tournament rather than having individual contenders attempting to seize first place we will be having teams of two playing off against one another. So, even though Mr. Subito has placed first in the last three consecutive tournaments, there is a possibility that his team will prove weaker overall than another one. The question of who our victors will be is in the air, and I do anticipate a much more instinctive and reflex-based style of combat to emerge over the course of the following hours.
Well said. But you've heard enough of our voices. The first match is about to begin so keep your ear to the receiver; blink and you might miss the event of the decade.
Winners Bracket - IchiSW4R (Earth) and GrndMageDecisnom (Earth) VS. Guru (Water) and FireLordIzumi (Earth):
And we're off to the races, with heavy hitters Guru and her highness Fire Lord Izumi in the ring. Quite gracious of the old Fire Lord to participate in our local event, don't you think?
That isn't the real Fire Lord. Rather, she's a political body double who legally changed her first name to Fire, her middle name to Lord and last name to Izumi.
Good to know that an international incident is out of the cards. Now, Ichi and Decisnom are both very defensive fighters, choosing to fall back in the face of Guru's mounting aggression. Meanwhile Izumi is playing on the periphery, making a nuisance of herself and forcing Decisnom to separate from his erstwhile partner as Ichi takes a tumble, putting him out of commission. Guru has the upper hand, he's putting pressure on all of Decisnom's weak spots, and with Izumi's support there's no way that the duo can go down.
Decisnom finally succumbs after a long but not necessarily gruelling battle. For the uninitiated, Guru has been a tournament champion three times in the past, making him one of only three persons to have ever accomplished such a feat. Though he's out of practice, it's quite apparent that he still has some vestigial remainder of the skill which earned him victory in those prior months.
Winners Bracket - CaesarSW4R (Nonbending) and MuffinSW4R (Nonbending) VS. Mystef (Water) and S3ventyS3ven (Earth):
Mystef, two time champion and tutor of the ever renowned UROShadow. S3ventyS3ven, not an especially successful soloist but quite renowned for his effectiveness during team play, coming quite close in our last team based tournament to first place. Coincidentally, he was paired with Mystef during it, meaning that they have more experience than most in working together. Meanwhile, Caesar and Muffin are both strong independent fighters, with Caesar having won his first championship in September of last year. As nonbenders, though, they may face a string of friendly-fire incidents as non-bending is prone to causing. While I think the tactical advantage has to go to Mystef and Seven due to the combination of their elements and their generally better cohesion, Caesar and Muffin likely outclass them for skill.
Mystef starts out strong with an immediate spear, striking Muffin on the flank and bringing him to his knees. Seven, meanwhile, presses the attack and launches into action, demonstrating his ability to draw attention away from his teammate. But Caesar makes short work of him, breaking up his armour with a grappling hook and pelting him with explosives! Is that even allowed?!
Well... no, but arena security aren't equipped to disarm such heavily armed individuals. Ever since that incident with Kevin Y3, we've learned not to try.
Mystef is moving between the pools very fluidly, keeping the middle distance from hostile elements so as to avoid their grenades. It's a fine balance to strike, staying close enough that his own attacks will connect but distant to a point where he isn't left vulnerable. Caesar is attempting to open up new sightlines, staying near the arena's vanishing point while Muffin places himself between Seven and Mystef, turning their large and powerful abilities against themselves. Mystef seems nonplussed, continuing his assault, but Seven is clearly reluctant to strike his own teammate. He departs to pressure Caesar but is once again chiblocked, being stabbed in the chest and thrown to a side.
Now free to do as he pleases, Caesar intercepts Mystef as he flees a bad engagement and catches him with a falcon strike! He's thrown into the air and forced back into the ground; his legs snap like matchsticks and end the match.
Winners Bracket - IncognitoSubito (Air) and IcedT (Fire) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth):
It's the battle of the titans, everyone: IncognitoSubito, three-time consecutive champion against Shadow, widely considered to be the greatest bender of all time with a string of his own tournament victories in the past. They're partnered up with IcedT, a relative newcomer, and Gentechian, a veteran fighter who, much like SeventySeven, has seen great success but never quite found himself on the champions' podium. Incognito, though, isn't playing at the top of his game by any means. If he was in his prime then I would think that it's a balanced match but in his current state? It seems inevitable that Shadow and Gent will win.
But he's making me eat my words, Incognito begins the match by rushing toward his enemy and catching them in a vortex, throwing them up into the air and down again over and over and over! Iced, capitalising on the opportunity, throws himself into the mix and uses his own ultimate technique, catching Gent's tail as he flees. He's probably dealt more damage to his teammate than anyone else but it's still put the earthbenders on the back foot, now having to adapt to a combat environment that they are woefully unprepared for. Shadow rightfully deduces that Incognito is vulnerable after that all-out attack, coming in close and hot with a barrage to sink a battleship. Meanwhile, Gentechian falls back and is pursued by Iced who presses him into a corner, throwing flames from the sky and staying above the ground where Gent's attacks can't reach him.
A shackle comes down on Iced, courtesy of Shadow; he's snuck up behind the firebender, choosing to ignore Incognito's relatively weak attacks in favour of just pummelling the biggest threat into submission. Gent knows that he has seconds to take advantage, after which Iced will surely escape and recuperate. He initiates a massive assault from the front, throwing Iced against the wall. He crumples, leaving Incognito to be shackled himself by Gent. He flounders, trying to keep his head above the sand, but the momentum has turned too thoroughly against him. He too is defeated.
Winners Bracket - BananaVirus (Air) and TikTacJack (Water) VS. Axeel_26 (Nonbending) and Seppizza (Fire):
Virus and Jack may not be all that well known, simmering in the middle of the rankings for most of their careers, but they've been competitors for a long time and in all previous 2v2 showcases they've appeared as a unit. They're the dream team, with years of experience both in the arena and as partners. Meanwhile, Axeel and Seppizza are complete strangers to one another, and both have chosen elements renowned for how much they can hurt their own teammates. I don't know which way the match is going to go, all I know is that it's going to be messy.
As soon as the bell goes off both Sepp and Virus throw themselves at each other, meeting in the middle and beginning a twisting, whirling brawl that I can only describe as a knot. They're like wrestling snakes, fangs showing and belly to belly. Axeel and TikTac move around the perimeter of the arena, tossing out projectiles from a distance, probing the other team's weaknesses. It's not looking good for Virus, who's been consistently no-selled by Sepp from the first second of the match. His attacks aren't connecting and he's taking a lot of hits in return. Finally, he breaks from the action and falls back. Axeel takes his chances and makes a mad dash for TikTac, shattering his defences and leaving him vulnerable to a caustic gout of flame.
Virus tries to come to his teammate's aid but it's too late! His efforts are rebuffed while TikTac goes down, meaning that Virus now has to carry this thing on his own. But he's tired and out of breath while Sepp is just getting started, ready to move from one kill to the next. It's like watching a hawk descend on a field mouse, it's just no competition; Seppizza and Axeel win! Am I impressed? Is water wet? That was an incredible showcase; bravo, bravo!
Winners Bracket - Agresor (Water) and AJHO (Air) VS. IamthepowerfulE (Air) and JoeyCheese (Fire):
In continuation of a pattern observed over previous rounds, each team involved in this match has an obscure and relatively more well known member. On the left, AJHO has been in most monthly tournaments since the event was arranged while IamthepowerfulE has consistently been his parallel, both seeing relatively moderate success while never contending with the upper echelons of the competitors' ranks.
It begins with an attempted spear, though it misses Joey by an inch and indicates to him that Agresor is ripe for reaping. While AJHO and PowerfulE strike at one another, jousting in the air with a combination of shocks and bursts, Agresor evades Joey's attacks while returning fire, wearing the firebender down. For his part, Joey seems not to realise that his attacks are not connecting, leading to him taking far mroe damage than he ought to be in the opening seconds of the round.
Meanwhile, AJHO seems to have the better of PowerfulE, ensnaring him in a windslam and warding off the counterattack. Neither of them are capable of turning the tides of battle on their own, being attrition-based combatants, and are therefore determined to simply survive for as long as they can. Agresor successfully subdues Joey, blinding him with a burst of steam before putting him before a deluge. As expected, E falls shortly thereafter, having little ability to contest a skilled waterbender. In an unexpected turn of events, JoeyCheese and Agresor - despite being less well known than their teammates - seem to be the more influential contenders on the field; AJHO and PowerfulE served as a backdrop to the primary conflict instead. Those two are to be watched out for.
Winners Bracket - Mandocuhh (Fire) and Licahng33 (Air) VS. WingArmor (Fire) and MatteoCallebaut (Air):
Mando and Wing are forced to engage immediately, neither one capable of relying on their ally to be the vanguard. As the firebenders, their responsibility is to deal as much damage as they can and to leave the periphery to their more mobile counterparts whose specialty is in disruption. They circle around one another for some time before choosing a moment to attack and while Licahng is there with his partner Matteo chooses to go behind enemy lines and to force them to divide their attention. This, however, separates the teammates and makes it all but impossible for WingArmour to avoid friendly fire. As his explosive attacks land on the wrong body, Mandocuhh and Licahng stay mobile and avoid being pinned down.
The situation evolves in Matteo's favour as Licahng, this being his first tournament, flies into a wall and takes some damage. While he struggles to ascertain his whereabouts and recover his tempo, Matteo and Armor are free to push back against Mando, forcing him to retreat. An attempt at a breakout eliminates WingArmor and Matteo follows shortly, with Licahng still dazed and confused on the opposite end of the arena. The battle was hard fought, and though Matteo was able to seize the initiative towards the end, he was unable to overcome the disadvantages that the opening of the match left him at.
Losers Bracket - S3ventyS3ven (Earth) and Mystef (Water) VS. IncognitoSubito (Air) and IcedT (Fire):
The competitors are squaring up, neither side willing to flinch. Incognito has really gotten the shaft this time around, being put up against possibly the best benders in the entire bracket in his first and second matches, but it's no wonder that such a thing happened: he's won three championships in a row, he's now considered to be among the best or even the best ever. Still, with his particular choice in skills and specialisations, he's at a distinct disadvantage compared to his former self. And with a teammate whose performance has been as of yet only adequate, it's unlikely that he'll be able to bring anything to the table which Seven and Mystef haven't seen before. Yet, the crowd seems to expect an upset. Nevertheless, we move onto the match.
Mystef hangs back while Seven pushes ahead, taking the fight to Iced who, rather curiously, stands still and fires straight at Seven while taking a truly tremendous amount of punishment. He doesn't seem to know that of the two he's receiving the decidedly worse end of the deal. Incognito, meanwhile, skirts around the edge and tries to throw off Seven's aim with a lateral angle of assault. It doesn't work, Mystef's just too on top of the game; he puts an ice spear into Incognito's side while he isn't looking and I swear I hear the snapping of ribs! Seven realises his mistake and gets out of there before Incognito can do anything else to disrupt him. IcedT breaks off his pursuit and comes to Incognito's aid but is thrown back by Mystef, unable to land any of his best moves.
Meanwhile Seven acts as a sniper, taking potshots from the back which push Incognito and Iced towards their icy doom. Unable to find stable footing or anywhere to run, Iced leaps to the skies but is shot down by a calculated strike from Seven! Meanwhile Incognito is Icarus'd by Mystef, who clips his wings and sends him tumbling to the ground. He makes an admirable attempt at a comeback, stunning Mystef with a windslam, but Seven is there to take the heat off his friend. It's a one-two knockout, with Mystef and Seven proving that they've still got it!
(Ciquk, It's not pronounced like that. It's 'Seventy Seven' not 'Ess-three-venti-ess-three-ven'.
Then... why did he enter the competition under that name?
It's memorable. Maybe that's all he needs.
Personally I think that it simply takes an eccentric to succeed in this business.
That's a fair estimation. Hold on, are we...) Sorry folks, I forgot that we were live. Today's broadcast is brought to you by Flameo Noodlebox, the only service in the world which delivers fresh ingredients from all corners of the globe straight to your doorstep. Do you live in Republic City but crave Fire Nation cuisine, or do you live somewhere other than where you grew up and miss the taste of home? Well, Flameo has the solution for you.
Flameo Noodlebox is a subscription service which delivers raw noodles and condiments to your home at the end of every week, allowing you to boil your own broth and tune your noodle experience to your own culinary desires. There are several meal plans to choose from. My personal favourite is the Northern Water Tribe oasis diet plan, which includes delectable items such as dried sea prunes harvested by Agna Qel'a's very own Society of Horticulture, pink salt from the hot springs around the nation's Eastern edge and fillets of Kodaina Kanashimi, a freshwater species found exclusively in the Spirit World. In fact, I have an example of the service's cuisine right here in its uncooked form. All I need to do is add water and then I'll have a delicious, boiling bowl of ramen right before me.
Listen to that. The sound of cooking noodles. I'll be enjoying this after the show. Now Kanan, what's your favourite meal plan?
(Kanan, it's your turn. The script is on the table.)
There's a silhouette in black... beckoning me... across a grey and endless river...
(You didn't eat any of the Kanashimi did you?)
Everything... is going... dark...
(For the love of turtle ducks, pull yourself together.)
It seems that my co-host has lost his voice. Please bear with us while he recuperates. I'll see you shortly for round two of the Gaoling Bending Tournament.
Winners Bracket - SuperHaggis123 (Fire) and NeutrinoBoi (Fire) VS. IchiSW4R (Earth) VS. GrndMageDecisnom (Earth):
Decisnom starts the round by leaping forward and shattering the ground beneath the firebenders' feet, tossing them into the air. Unfortunately, that's precisely that's where they want to be. NeutrinoBoi evades their attack, anticipating a highly aggressive style of play from his opponents which fails to materialise. Instead, his dodge to the side at the start of the match only isolates him from his ally and forces him to waste a jump on rejoining the battle. From there, Neutrino deliberately breaks into Decisnom's earth cage and uses a solar burst at close range, breaking through his armour and completely ripping through his fragile body.
Meanwhile, Haggis stays in the sky and pursues Ichi as he attempts to provide support to Decisnom. Haggis makes good use of kickback and flame shot, striking Ichi from the back while Neutrino stays close to his opponents and uses blast wave to keep them off the ground, preventing them from bending or evading. While Neutrino takes a great amount of damage in return it's a good tradeoff for him with a build centered around absorbing attacks and trading health with the greatest efficiency possible. As Decisnom is pressured into a corner by Haggis, Neutrino sweeps the leg and brings down Ichi in spite of all his armour. Decisnom is defeated almost immediately thereafter, with the complex interplay between all competitors eventuating in a landslide victory for the more dynamic, more cooperative firebending team.
Winners Bracket - CaesarSW4R (Nonbending) and MuffinSW4R (Nonbending) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth):
Predictably, the earthbenders open with walls while Caesar throws a knife as soon as the match begins. It bounces, nearly striking Muffin, but they deflect it just in time. Gent somehow ends up in the corner where Muffin successfully disarms and cuts at him, throwing him into the air and uses explosives to their advantage. Gent is thoroughly tenderised by the incident, and rather than attempting to counterattack, he runs away in order to find safety in proximity to UROShadow, who is himself struggling to keep up with Caesar - having missed most of his shots against the ever mobile Caesar while taking a number of attacks himself. Though, of the two earthbenders, Shadow is absolutely in a better position.
Gent is again separated from his partner by a well placed grappling hook, dragging him across the arena floor and into Muffin's line of fire. Meanwhile, Caesar and Shadow occupy one another, playing evasively and not committing to any particular angle of attack. Each of them understands just how unstable their situation is and how quickly the tide could turn against them should they make a single mistake. After pushing the earthbenders to the fringes of the arena, Caesar and Muffin combine forces to eliminate Shadow, who is knocked off of his own earth cage by Caesar and falls to his death. Gent falls back and fortifies himself within a cage but in another case of the earthbenders' terrain modifications being turned against them, Muffin breaks through the shell and slashes him to death. Though the battle was largely disorganised, more a series of miniscule decisions made from moment to moment rather than the product of a coherent battle plan, it is decidedly one-sided and won by the almost instinctive bond shared between the SW4Rs.
Winners Bracket - Kakashi69 (Earth) and KevinY3 (Nonbending) VS.Axeel_26 (Nonbending) and Seppizza (Fire):
In a shocking turn of events KevinY3 returns to the arena, filling in for another competitor who failed to appear. I wonder if those two events could have anything to do with one another, hm? Never mind, I shouldn't say too much. While Kakashi and KevinY3 are mostly equals within the match, with Kakashi having greater survivability and KevinY3 having more experience as a damage dealer, Seppizza has to be relied upon to carry his side of the match, as Axeel has had no prior appearances in the tournament and little to no practice with his element.
Like in a game of checkers, the opening moves from each side are calculated and precise, almost mathematical in nature. While Seppizza and Axeel move in opposite directions, fanning out to create a formation like a crab claw, Kakashi counters Axeel's advance with a coin - knocking him back several metres and stunning him for some time - and KevinY3... stands still. No, really, he's just sitting there like a log. I don't understand it either. Hang on, now he's walking into Kakashi's line of fire and taking hits from his own ally...?
(Yujin, are you sure he's a tournament winner? Are you really really sure? ... were the other competitors handicapped babies?)
While Kevin accidentally hits Kakashi with a mine and throws sand in his face, Kakashi pushes Seppizza back and casually dodges many of Axeel's best attempts to inflict some harm, side-stepping his knives and grenades while landing coins and blasts against Sepp. However, Sepp recognises that Kakashi is focusing on him and stops running away to blow flames into his pursuer's face, discarding his previously evasive style of play in favour of burning Kakashi down as quickly as possible. Kakashi responds by tearing up the ground, causing Seppizza to trip, and leaps away while KevinY3 coincidentally lands a falcon strike on the immobilised firebender. The attack would've missed if Kakashi hadn't set it up for Kevin.
Seppizza throws himself at his opponents, attempting to cover Axeel who has been targeted by Kakashi, but Axeel is killed before he can arrive, being forced up a wall and skewered by KevinY3. Sepp lands nearby and looks to be making an attack from the rear but Kakashi is able to suppress and break him.
Winners Bracket - Agresor (Water) and AJHO (Air) VS. Mandocuhh (Fire) and Licahng33 (Air)
AJHO and Agresor are obviously defensive fighters, with physiques and techniques oriented towards maximising vitality and survivability. Mandocuhh and Licahng, meanwhile, appear determined to always have matches turn based on their own decisions. They act in a forward, aggressive manner, starting the round by taking to the sky and slamming themselves into the earth their opponents. Agresor stays relatively immobile, submerging himself in a pool while warding off Licahng's attempts to force him out - at one point leaping into the pond himself to use air burst - and leaves AJHO to his own devices. Mando, then, flickers between both of his enemies, never allowing one of them to get a read on him. He utilises a solar burst against AJHO and successfully kills him off but his ally is killed while attempting to run away from Agresor, who seems to specialise in long distance engagements.
Mando, then, is left to fight Agresor alone. They trade flame shots and water blasts for some time but Agresor's tendency to stand still leaves him vulnerable to the firebender's greater offensive capabilities. He's thrown back again and again until he's hardly even able to take advantage of the water which he is standing in. He's killed without managing to mount a meaningful resistance, leaving Mando the victor; a great upset and a warning to anyone who might choose to underestimate their opponents.
Losers Bracket - UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth) VS. BananaVirus (Air) and TikTacJack (Water):
I expect this to be an extremely one-sided round in the two earthbenders' favour. Though, as the last round proved, expectations don't always line up with reality. Gent locks BananaVirus in a cage while Shadow starts a sandstorm outside, leaving deep gashes all across his body and causing him to fall back in a subversion of his usually aggressive behaviour. Gentechian uses a sandstorm himself against a trapped TikTacJack, his team clearly demonstrating that they aren't taking the other side seriously. A third sandstorm comes out from UROShadow, eliminating BananaVirus and TikTac as they desperately snatch at life. Their bodies, lacerated and sandswept, are testaments to the sheer brutality with which Shadow and Gentechian operate. They know that they are capable of victory and are determined to see it through. They'll undoubtedly do exceedingly well in future, though the competition is far from decided.
Losers Bracket - Axeel_26 (Nonbending) and Seppizza (Fire) VS. S3ventyS3ven (Earth) and Mystef (Water):
Axeel and Seppizza know that they are in a dire situation. Either Seven or Mystef could defeat them alone. Combined, they are essentially unbeatable. Seppizza is no worthy adversary but as the senior member of his team he has a responsibility to at least try his best, if for no other reason than for Axeel's sake. There's a moment of calm right as the match begins. Axeel teleports forward and takes in his situation while Mystef walks backwards into a pool of water. Seven, meanwhile, makes himself scarce and moves to the side where he can properly support his teammate without getting in the way.
Sepp seizes on the opportunity that Mystef has given him. As he's in the twilight zone between land and water, falling through those few inches of air that separate the two, Sepp leaps forward and blasts Mystef against the wall, forcing him out of his element. Seven does not rush to his ally's aid. Instead, he calmly dodges to a side and lines up a series of shots so that even if they miss Sepp who is right in front of him, they are all but guaranteed to pass through where Axeel will be as he moves toward Mystef. His gambit succeeds and Sepp is temporarily blinded by a pebble daze. He takes to the sky to avoid any further harm but strikes Axeel several times with kickback, unfortunately setting his own ally ablaze in confusion.
Things are already turning against the less favoured duo and they're barely three seconds into the round. Sepp takes back some ground, hitting both of his targets with rain of fire while Axeel calms down in a corner. Seppizza tries to give Axeel some room to breathe by pushing in on Mystef but is caught up and killed by a whirlpool. Axeel attempts to finish the fight on his own but is predictably rebuffed by Seven, who pulls him away from Mystef and traps him between the edge of the arena and a wall. Axeel makes an attempt at a melee combo but is unable to close the distance, being buried under a mound of sand. Seven and Mystef show off their prowess in another completely effortless victory.
Losers Bracket - Agresor (Water) and AJHO (Air) VS. Guru (Water) and FireLordIzumi (Earth):
Both waterbenders make for a spear but miss their shots. While Guru retreats to find a more defensible position, Agresor advances alongside AJHO to eliminate the lesser of the two perceived threats. Izumi moves up behind his opponents while they're preoccupied with his ally and fires a shackle but in an act of either true brilliance or sheer coincidence Agresor submerges himself in the water and causes Izumi's shackle to overshoot, closing around Guru instead of his intended target.
Izumi catches AJHO in an earth cage but rather than initiating a sandstorm he opts to use an earth shatter which falls short. It turns out to be an even greater mistake than anticipated, as an ice spear strikes him from behind and keeps him from intervening as Agresor pursues Guru and beats him into submission. AJHO is killed in the crossfire between the two waterbenders, his contributions to the battle up until that point being minimal. Guru dies not long after in spite of Izumi trapping Agresor in a cage, being burnt by an unexpected steam explosion.
Izumi has an easily quantifiable advantage, not only having more health and energy but also possessing an element which the arena favours over water. He traps Agresor in another sandstone dome and shackles him, though the result is kept hidden by a layer of stone. Agresor, in desperation, casts high tide but Izumi avoids it by an inch. While Agresor evades for his life, tossing out two ice spears which connect with Izumi to vast impact, it seemingly has no effect on the extraordinarily survivable earthbender, who has to this point survived no fewer than three spears and countless more blasts, splashes and bolts. Agresor is too mobile and is dealing too damage for Izumi to sustain himself for much longer. But there is no need to, Agresor crumbles beneath an earth coin, the last straw on the proverbial donkey's back. Izumi seizes the victory in Guru's name, proving not just his reliability but also his tremendous ability to absorb blows.
Welcome to the second intermission. Kanan's had to go to the hospital so for the foreseeable future he won't be back. In the meantime I'd like to introduce you to my new co-commentator, Siku, who volunteered to host the show after hearing that one of our own had come down with an illness. Could you introduce yourself?
Hi everyone! I'm Kori Aisushinga but you probably know me better by my stage name, Siku. I'm so glad to be here.
And we're glad to have you. If you don't mind my asking, what brings you to Gaoling?
I'm a fan! Or, well, I used to be before life caught up with me. As a kid I'd be glued to the radio every month, listening to QuietDove recount the arena matches. I was a fan of the sport but also of the competitors; I had a crush on Katsu even though I didn't know what he looked like. For my twelth birthday I begged my parents to get a poster of him. It's so funny in retrospect but back then it meant the world to me. I just happened to be passing by the city and decided to pop into the arena for a few rounds and to get a good feel for how bending has evolved while I've been absorbed by my career.
So of the competitors today who is your favourite?
Ah, don't ask me such personal questions! But um, probably QuietDove. He's a waterbender, he's stylish and he just has this aura about him, you know?
N-no, I meant who do you think is going to win. And, QuietDove? I didn't know he was competing.
Didn't you hear? Guru fell into the pit. He had to be rushed to the hospital.
Fair enough. You'd think we'd have a railing or something but... it doesn't matter. Onto the third round where we'll likely see both the skill level of our competitors and the closeness of each match increasing exponentially.
Losers Bracket - UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth) VS. IamthepowerfulE (Air) and JoeyCheese (Fire):
I'm really rooting for PowerfulE here! He and JoeyCheese have had to work really hard to get this far and I'm a real sucker for an underdog. For first timers they've done well for themselves, beating Ichiswar and Decisnom in their last match, something which I think anyone would've found pretty difficult. PowerfulE just goes for it, tackling Shadow and taking him to the far side of the arena while Joey pulls Gent forward, doing an admirable job at dodging his attacks and throwing out a few bombs here and there to keep Gentechian on his toes.
PowerfulE gets shackled but ducks and weaves, bless him he's really doing his best. Can't last though, but he leaves Shadow with a spear as he departs. Joey's partner is down but he isn't giving up, he's still there with Gent, putting his all into winning the match. Respect the air shock, he's got nothing to lose and nothing to fear. But oh, that's a painful hit; the match is over. An awesome display from each side, and I love how much respect Shadow and Gent gave their opponents, taking them seriously. It's just some brilliant sportsmanship!
Losers Bracket - QuietDove (Water) and FireLordIzumi (Earth) VS. S3ventyS3ven (Earth) and Mystef (Water)
Dove wastes no time getting into the action, taking it slow and shooting at Mystef from a distance, keeping his teammate safe while Izumi creates a big sandy tornado in the corner, destroying the cute little sand castle that Seven has erected. Mystef is being pretty chill, taking potshots and not really trying all that hard. It's a very relaxed round and nobody's really trying to win, they're just having a good time. Seven stays near the bag and talks with Dove a little - they seem to have some kind of understanding that neither of them want to hurt each other - and Dove uses a high tide on nobody to show Seven just how much trust he has for him. D'aww.
Mystef and Izumi run at each other in the meantime and Mystef pulls off an insane ice spear trick, curving it like an S and hitting Izumi in the chest. Wow! That's some impressive control. Things are heating up a little, Izumi and Seven are really going at it now and trying to take each other down, and now Seven is coming in to support his friend. Dove's gone, I didn't really see what happened to him but he must've let go after a while. You know, giving Mystef and Seven the win out of courtesy.
Mystef and Seven slap each other around a bit as partners do, just harmless fun. Meanwhile Izumi is on his last legs, running around and back off as he fires at the other two competitors. Oh wait, but now he's going all aggressive, weaving left and right and fighting like someone twenty years younger! He's looking all healed up too, what's up with that? Mystef and Seven seem pretty confused and so am I.
Those two are pummelling Izumi now, throwing him around while he just sort of runs in circles and throws out the occasional rock. And Mystef goes down, right after healing! Wow, Izumi really has an incredible amount of stamina here, he's taking hits like a champ and returning them in equal amounts. I can't believe it, he might actually pull this one back from the brink! I bet Dove'd be proud. Seven dodges, Izumi whiffs a shackle, it's all down to these final few seconds.
I can feel the anticipation in my veins, both of the remaining contenders are beaten up and bruised. Seven lands a coin but it bounces off Izumi's armour, he's got to be close to defeat now; he leaps up into the air and goes for a rumble but it misses! Seven sticks to the opportunity like honey and knocks Izumi down, GOOD GAME! It evolved from some light ribbing between friends into a seriously intense match. I'm at a loss for words, that one left me on the edge of my seat!
Winners Bracket - SuperHaggis123 (Fire) and NeutrinoBoi (Fire) VS. CaesarSW4R (Nonbending) and MuffinSW4R (Nonbending):
The bell has only just rung and the ring is already on fire! There's nothing being held back, everyone's just doing their best to win; Neutrino goes for the tackle but Caesar weaves through the attack. He tries to get his own back with a big aerial strike but he misses, ouch! Meanwhile Muffin and Haggis are throwing everything they've got at one another. Haggis is breathing fire and Muffin's swinging his knife all crazy like, it's a wonder neither of them have been seriously injured yet. It speaks to just how skilful they are, attacking so ferociously and staying so safe simultaneously.
Caesar joins the fray and helps to turn the tide against Muffin, he's really taking a lot of damage now from all direction. A few good blast waves throw him about and Caesar seems to only just be realising what's happening to his beloved teammate. He rushes in to help and grabs Neutrino by the collar, through him out into the middle of the arena for a close-quarters duel. It's steel on bone, fire on muscle, I can't imagine how hot it must be down there for all of them. Neutrino makes use of a super clever distraction tactic to keep Caesar occupied while his rain of fire closes in, setting the nonbender alight and really putting the hurt on. Meanwhile Muffin's got Haggis' number and is stabbing him over and over, pushing him toward the fringes of the arena where there's nowhere to go.
Bam! Haggis is down, collapsing after a knife to the ribs. Caesar runs in to strike the final hit and grabs onto Neutrino. They're wrestling with each other, grenades and blowdarts whizzing past fire blasts... and it's Muffin who strikes the final blow, putting a knife into Neutrino through Caesar! Round of applause everyone, what an intelligent play! And for Caesar to set that up for his partner, what more could someone ask for that the ultimate sacrifice? I can't believe how well these two nonbenders are synergising, it's like they're linked at the waist or something. This is what we're here for folks, we're here to see people coming together and working side by side to make great things happen. Woo!
Winners Bracket - Kakashi69 (Earth) and KevinY3 (Nonbending) VS. Mandocuhh (Fire) and Licahng33 (Air)
Clap Let's go everyone, final match of round three. Mandocuhh takes to the skies which is a really smart decision to make when you're fighting against earth. KevinY3 moves to intercept though and manages to knock him down where he takes a real beating from the nonbender. Meanwhile Licahng, in spite of his inexperience, is really bravely choosing to stand up to Kakashi and to absorb some attacks that his partner wouldn't be able to, since he's so much more protected and mobile. Now Mando is on the move, leaping over Kevin's head and making it really difficult for any hits to land. I like the strategy, Mando and Licahng are trying to tire their opponents out and to make them start to make mistakes. And with all this friendly fire I think it might even work!
A brawl in the corner involving Kakashi and Licahng turns into a big kerfuffle with KevinY3, Mando and Lucahng all in the mixwith Kakashi trying not to hit his teammate from outside of the commotion. KevinY3 seemingly comes out of it with the upper hand, chasing a chiblocked Mandocuhh and slashing him in the back, causing him to stumble. Meanwhile Licahng gets hit by a rain of fire which bounced off of KevinY3's shield, what an unfortunate incident! It softens him up enough that Kakashi can land the finishing blow and that leaves just Mandocuhh in the arena.
Mando makes a really valiant effort to survive, taking advantage of Kakashi's cages and walls to find cover while staying low and hidden, precisely where Kakashi - who's more experienced with forward-facing attackers and tanks - doesn't want him to be. KevinY3 just sort of stands by watching his teammate do all the work and throws out a few lukewarm grenades but it's really a duel between Kakashi and Mandocuhh now, both totally focused on the other person. Mando throws out a rain of fire and fire wall, throwing off Kakashi's pursuit, but little does he know that Kakashi's thick armour makes him impervious to fire: walking straight through the flames he takes Mando by surprise while he's attacking Kevin, hitting him with an unexpected rock and sending the airborne firebender crashing to the ground. An amazing feat all on its own on top of an already astonishing series of performances earlier in the tournament. Congratulations to both sides, you're all legends!
It's the third intermission, everybody! It'll probably be the last one too, since we only have six matches left to discuss. Anyway, I just want to say how glad I am that all of you are here and listening! These tournaments are really difficult to arrange and we only want the best for you so it's heartwarming to see you turning out in such numbers to support us.
At this point in the competition I anticipate that the victory will be go to either one of two teams, those being Shadow and Gentechian, and Caesar and Muffin. The earthbenders are at a decided disadvantage, having few tactical answers for the equipment which the nonbenders have brought to bear against them, but they stand a better chance at victory than the next best team, Mystef and Seven, who we've already seen losing to Caesar and his partner during this very tournament.
Not to tread on anyone's spirits though! The fighters so far have shown themselves to be chock full of surprises, it's no wonder they've made it this far; they're genuinely breathtakingly good at this. Nobody here's a slacker and no matter what position they earn they're now guaranteed to be in the top six, which is already pretty incredible when teams such as Incognito and IcedT have already been eliminated. Honestly, I'm not even sure if I care about the winner any more. I'm just excited to see how each person evolves and changes as the tournament progresses. Shadow has really had to adapt himself to work better alongside Gentechian and vice versa.
Two versus two tournaments do tend to test very different skillsets. There's an element of cooperation on top of now needing to manage not hitting one's ally, which is much easier said than done. Although, with the exception of KevinY3 and Kakashi vs. Mandocuhh and Licahng, there hasn't been much friendly fire tonight. They clearly know the value of communication and self control.
Yep! If I was in there I'd probably be nervous about hurting my friend as well, it'd be really disheartening if we lost a round because I made a mistake. Anyway, it's time for the winners' semi-finals and the fourth losers round. My heart's racing just at the thought of it!
Winners Bracket - CaesarSW4R (Nonbending) and MuffinSW4R (Nonbending) VS. Kakashi69 (Earth) and KevinY3 (Nonbending):
Before the match begins I want to ask: who do you think will win? I'm hedging my bets on Caesar and Muffin.
I agree, it'll almost certainly be them. Each of them alone would be capable of subduing either Kevin or Kakashi. Together, they've demonstrated a much greater capacity for teamwork and cooperation than their opponents here. This might be the most one-sided fight from now until the finals but as you said yourself, there's always the potential for an upset.
Right on! And right as the countdown reaches zero Muffin and Kakashi leap to the side, hiding in the corners while KevinY3 and Caesar begin a duel! They must've arranged this beforehand, I'm glad to see that they're honouring whatever agreement they've got going. Honestly, this probably turns the tide in KevinY3's favour, since up until now he's had a real problem with hitting his teammate.
Both of them circle around each other and it's Caesar who breaks the silence, lunging forward and right over Kevin's mines and knives. He tries for a falcon strike but Kevin manages to dodge it just barely. But ah! He's blinded and grabbed by a grappling hook, throwing him into the air from where he slams into the ground; that's a devastating hit, absolutely terrifying for the already fragile nonbender! Caesar strikes a few more glancing blows and Kevin is down, an almost perfect victory!
Now it's Kakashi's turn to represent his side and he's doing pretty well for himself, keeping Muffin at bay while he makes for a grapple and a chiblock. The former one connects, pulling Kakashi forward into Muffin's melee range, precisely where he loves being. He juggles the earthbender, throwing him haplessly into the air and keeping him from connecting with the ground, it's so unfair that I might throw up! Kakashi takes a tumble and that's it! Both members of his team were defeated by gravity! That has to be a big win for Caesar and Muffin. They each won a single half of the semifinal by their own merits, imagine how much stronger they are when they're working as a unit. I can't wait to see what they deliver next!
Losers Bracket - SuperHaggis123 (Fire) and NeutrinoBoi (Fire) VS. S3ventyS3ven (Earth) and Mystef (Water):
Mystef, as is to be expected, initiates with an ice spear which does not connect. However, as it passes around the side of the two firebenders, it forces them in the same direction, making it very likely that they're area-of-effect abilities will hit one another as they attempt to capitalise on the same opportunities and make for the same target. NeutrinoBoi makes an abortive attempt to leap forward toward Seven but is halted by a protrusion in the ground, becoming caught. It's likely that this sudden interruption saves him from Mystef, who was prepared to slither his way behind enemy lines but decides against it due to how Neutrino is still keeping up Haggis' rear.
Haggis moves in pursuit of Seven, chasing him between three major nodes: the large bodies of land between the trio of pools in the arena. Seven is displaying excellent tactical awareness, staying near to a position where his teammate can provide support while also maximising the chances of him being able to knock one of the firebenders into the water should they attempt a close range engagement. However, Neutrino is able to move above Seven's line of sight and drops on him unexpectedly, catching him against a wall with a series of powerful attacks. Seven is able to break from the bad situation but Haggis notices that he's just exhausted his mobility moves and takes advantage, disrupting Seven's aim with a fire blast, causing him to miss a shackle.
Mystef almost immediately puts himself between Neutrino and Seven, judging his own health to be more expendable than that of his teammate, and prevents Neutrino from approaching Seven, who appears to still be trying to attack Neutrino even as Haggis persecutes a lateral angle of attack, one which Seven is equipped to either seal off - as he's standing on a small sliver of land beside a pool which could easily be blocked off with a wall - or retaliate against.
Mystef accidentally moves to the other side of the arena, perhaps as a result of internal miscommunication, and Seven is left isolated. Haggis and Neutrino simultaneously assail him but Seven makes the right decision and rejoins his teammate, slipping out between one of Neutrino's combos. Haggis is now on the run, unable to establish a favourable situation for himself. He's black on both health and energy. The match has now progressed into its later stages, where the durable Seven and evasive Mystef are strongest. Now that they have a read on their opponents, a suicidally aggressive gambit - one courtesy of the firebenders - can no longer find much success.
Mystef narrowly misses an ice spear against Neutrino, who is forced to dodge into Haggis' wall of fire, taking some damage and forcing Haggis to disengage. Seven takes the opportunity to make his way to the centre of the arena, granting him coverage of the entire arena floor. Mystef, meanwhile, constantly places himself behind whoever is attacking Seven. As Seven's kinetic attacks hit, his targets are forced toward Mystef whose arsenal of powerful but short-ranged moves have been largely unavailable until this point, owing to the airtime and mobility of Neutrino and Haggis.
Haggis is incapacitated by Mystef and Seven shackles Neutrino, eliminating any opportunity which he might've had to seize on the brief period of vulnerability which occurs when one competitor dies and their killer is left to reorient themselves. He attempts to find solace in the sky but is brought down before he can make it especially far. He uses blitz and kickback in order to stay alive, demonstrating a surprising level of agility as he avoids not only an ice spear but the lion's share of Seven's armaments. However, right as the match's momentum is turning in his favour he falls back to earth and lands right on top of an earth coin, earning Seven and Mystef another victory. It's by an insurmountable margin too, with neither of them being more than halfway to defeat in spite of having just fought two of the most experienced and capable benders in the tournament. It's likely that they'll see only further success, though the possibility always remains that they'll be eliminated by a spat of bad luck.
Losers Bracket - Mandocuhh (Fire) and Licahng33 (Air) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth):
Gentechian goes for a hop leap and skip, long-jumping his way across the arena floor and instantly catching Mandocuhh in an abrupt earth shackle. Meanwhile Shadow hangs back and sets up a wall, clearly in preparation to cover his teammate in case Licahng tries to outflank Gent while he's busy pummelling Mando. It's this kind of smart interplay that I like to see. Rather than simply combining what firepower that they possess, they're making smart decisions about how to apply themselves and how best to keep their teammate alive.
Licahng meanwhile tries to make his move but ends up undershooting with an air jump, not nearly making it close enough to Shadow to start hitting him; he's caught at the periphery of a sandstorm, one which Gent cast at a helpless Mandocuhh stuck inside an earth cage. WHile Mando is able to break out shortly he still looks worse for wear. He and Gent come to blows at close range but because of Gent's ongoing sandstorm Mandocuhh is unable to maneuver around Gent's barrage of blows, all of which serve to push Mando into Shadow's range. Right as he comes out of one shackle, Mando is hit by another and forced into yet another earth cage and sandstorm! Licahng uses windslam on Gentechian, trying to fling him into Shadow's storm, but Gent smartly evades it, instead tossing Licahng into the yellow vortex.
While Licahng uses windslam to prevent Gent from landing another shackle - since you've got to be pretty close and therefore vulnerable to hit someone with one of them - Mando ambushes Gent and gets a few good licks in before having to take his leave. Meanwhile Shadow throws an absolute haymaker and downs Licahng. At the same time, he fires a shackle but it's obviously no good because it was intended for someone who's now out of the match. So, he turns around and makes the shackle turn with him, affecting its trajectory by a whole one hundred and eighty degrees, straight into Mandocuhh! What an absolutely amazing feat of aim, and what makes it even more impressive was that Gentechian was standing right next to Mando: Shadow really is a master!
Mando's caught in another shackle, the poor sop, and is now on the run. He's doing very well for himself, weaving between the earthbenders' best attempts to take him down and even predicting a shockwave from Gent, but he can't last for long. While Shadow immobilises him with an earth rumble, Gent stops him in his tracks with earth blast. If that match was a food then it'd be candy: super sweet and superbly enjoyable! And while we should celebrate the winners I also want to appreciate just how well Mando was able to do against his opponents when for most of the match they were focusing him down, landing so many shackles that he was unable to bend for something like a quarter of the entire fight. Kudos to him!
S3ventyS3ven (Earth) and Mystef (Water) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth):
Though in earlier rounds of the tournament there was room for Seven and Mystef to demonstrate their blase attitude toward the event the quality of their fellow competitors has now reached the point where they are no longer capable of not caring. They share few to no responsibilities during combat, with Seven largely acting as the vanguard and Mystef providing support and harassing from whichever favourable positions he can find. It's an extremely artificial style of fighting, with clearly defined roles for each of them and limited room for innovation.
Shadow and Gentechian, on the other hand, have consistently demonstrated a lack of cohesion and deliberately attempt to pull matches in the direction of being two separate duels. They spend most of their fights far apart from one another, keeping their opponents from ever mounting a defence or finding a safe spot to hide in. While neither method is necessarily inferior to the other, Mystef and Seven are undoubtedly the more collaborative pair. With pools of water now being placed in the arena, it's unlikely that the terrain will necessarily be to Shadow and Gent's favour either. Still, they've demonstrated a striking capacity for success in the past, so they're anything but to be underestimated.
Shadow and Gent, learning from their observations of how Mystef acts, start the round by dodging and throwing a pebble at him respectively, disrupting his initial attempt to throw an ice spear by placing themselves behind cover or simply keeping him off the ice. As Mystef takes to the air, Shadow builds an earth wall inside the pool of water which he plans on landing in. However, he leaves a single block of water available which Mystef is able to leverage to his advantage, making it the source of a steam explosion which forces Shadow to fall back, giving Mystef a window of opportunity during which he flees to another pool and throws an ice spear at Gentechian from behind, who up until this point has been duelling with Seven in the middle of the arena.
The spear misses, unfortunately striking one of Seven's walls, and while Mystef is still attempting to come to terms with his miss Shadow snares him and casts sandstorm. However, at the very last second, Mystef is able to break apart the cage and eject himself from it, narrowly avoiding what might have been an attack powerful enough to put him out of commission. The sandstorm doesn't go to waste however, as Seven inadvertently lands inside it as he flees from Gent, not only being injured but also having his armour chipped away by the storm. Shadow uses walls and blasts of earth to keep Mystef out of the water and against a wall but he once again uses steam explosion to give himself the opportunity that he needs, vaulting over Shadow's barrier and into the pool from where he makes a series of maneuvers, ultimately landing right in front of Gentechian and striking him from the front with an ice spear.
Gent is no longer able to meaningfully contribute to the fight, having taken a number of devastating hits while being pressured by Seven all the while. He escapes, leaving Shadow to attempt a 2v1. He's actually relatively successful, making use of earth shatter to obstruct Mystef's projectiles while also shackling Seven. The feat goes to waste, however, as Seven moves behind a vestigial wall left over from earlier in the fight when Gent was attempting to defend himself from Mystef. Just as Mystef casts ice cage on himself to throw off an impressively accurate barrage from Gent, Seven lands next to his teammate and is trapped by one of Shadow's earth cages. As they're side by side, Shadow uses an earth shatter which connects with both of them, tearing up the ground enough that Mystef's water sources are almost completely blocked off.
Mystef and Seven are floundering now but Gentechian isn't giving them any opportunity to, keeping them dazed and disorganised with a ferocious charge, driving Mystef away from the pools. Seven seems to be torn between his two available targets, trying to split his fire to little effect. Mystef makes a gambit, leaving his teammate as a sacrifice so that he can cast ice spear, but it once again misses Shadow by a hair's breadth. Then, right as he realises his mistake, he's shackled and has to run for his life. Shadow is in pursuit but is hit by Seven's shackle, a parting attempt to salvage the round. Shadow gets up on a wall in order to stay out of Mystef's range but is spotted and taken down to ground level, dying unceremoniously of fall damage.
Mystef now rejoins his teammate, who has been holding his own against Gent. However, there's now a tremendous imbalance in health... in Gent's favour. He's more healthy than both Seven and Mystef combined. While earlier on Gent was the target of a truly incredible amount of hostility, he's taken little damage since. Now, both Mystef and Seven are so weak that even a single attack might spell their ends. And spell their ends it does, with Mystef succumbing before he can make any meaningful contribution, making an attempt just before his death to run away, perhaps realising just how strong Gent is. Seven is demoralised and attempts to fortify his position but Gent unexpectedly leaps toward him, landing a decisive shackle. It's mere moments before Seven collapses, being brained from behind inside a pool of water.
The duel was incredibly close but in retrospect was in Shadow and Gentechian's favour from the beginning. Gent's supposed weakness was a symptom of his very defensive stratagem, with him deliberately pulling attacks from both Mystef and Seven - who Gent knew to be extremely prone to capitalising on perceived vulnerabilities - so that Shadow could deal the damage which would ultimately win them the game. Though there was a brief period during which Mystef had the upper hand against Shadow, Seven was consistently unable to land any significant hits against Gent and so his talents were essentially wasted for the fight's duration. When Shadow was killed, sacrificing himself in an attempt to eliminate Mystef before he could find an opening during which to heal, Gent transitioned into a much more dynamic and aggressive mode of attack. To Seven, it likely felt as if Gent had been replaced with another player entirely. While Shadow and Gentechian undoubtedly do not communicate as much or efficiently as Mystef and Seven, they are independently tactical masterminds, highly adept at reacting to the other person's decisions.
Kakashi69 (Earth) and KevinY3 (Nonbending) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth)
They must be flying high on the wings of their last victory, Shadow and Gent. I won't lie, I was shocked by just how quickly Gent was able to turn that match around! For the longest time it looked like he was losing but all of that fragility turned out to be nothing more than a ruse. I aspire to that level of cunning!
Anyway, I think everybody is expecting Shadow's side to win. KevinY3 has admitted themselves that the element which they do worst against is earth and Gent is widely considered the best anti-nonbender earthbender to have ever lived, so the cards are really stacked in that side's favour. But never say never and don't count your chickens before they've hatched. Let's give it up for our two teams, only one of which can make it to the finals! They'll be facing off against the unstoppable combination of Caesar and Muffin so they must be very nervous. Kakashi and Kevin seem intent on winning their current match but Shadow and Gent aren't taking it as seriously, dancing around their glass box and looking forward to the finals. They've got their eyes on the prize; maybe that absence from the present moment will spell their demise? Who knows! Their fate can only be decided one way, so let's get this show on the road.
KevinY3 makes for Gent with everything he's got but stumbles head first into a shackle, taking a number of hits which he just can't afford to be taking at this stage in the fight! Meanwhile Shadow stares Kakashi down and baits him into the corner of the arena where he makes use of his classic trick, earth cage into sandstorm. It's always a surprise to see it come down and it's just a delight to see how it turns out, whether it works or not. In this case, Kakashi only escapes by the skin of his teeth and unfortunately lands right next to his teammate! Gent traps them both in an earth cage and Shadow throws an earth shatter into the mix, beating Kakashi and trapping KevinY3. In one last show of defiance, choosing to fight until the end rather than handing over the win, he dashes at his opponents. Shadow makes the ground rise up to swallow him, ending the match.
That was a short and terrifying display of just how well Shadow and Gentechian can work together. Neither of them were ever at a loss for what to do and both seemingly always had their teammate's interests in mind, with one of them shackling a target so that the other could take advantage. In some ways their model of teamwork - getting in the other person's way as little as possible and doing what they can to capitalise on any opportunities that come their way - is better than what Mystef and Seven had going on, which was a dynamic completely defined by their interactions with one another. The latter model makes it impossible to succeed if one teammate is either incapacitated or defeated whereas the former doesn't have any prerequisites for success. You have to admire those two, they really know how to make the most of a situation!
CaesarSW4R (Nonbending) and MuffinSW4R (Nonbending) VS. UROShadow (Earth) and Gentechian (Earth):
It's what we've all been waiting for. The grand finale, where all the defeats and victories and narrow, desperate scrapes come together to create something wonderful: the collection of seconds which we'll sear into our memories for weeks to come! Every decision matters and every second counts, there's no room for mistakes and no ceiling on how high these two teams can soar!
Caesar and Muffin represent one half of the dichotomy, having won every match that they've been in with little effort up until this point. While it can be assumed that they have an inherent advantage over their peers largely due to their superior equipment and technique, they've faced little challenge today and so might enter the arena with too lax of an attitude. Meanwhile, Shadow and Gentechian have been put through a crucible, hardened by the flames of desperation. Their match with Mystef and Seven left them bruised but they've come back stronger for it. I genuinely cannot predict a victor at this time.
And neither can I! Besides, regardless of who's left standing at the end, nobody's got anything left to prove. They've made it this far, faced down some of the toughest opponents that Gaoling, nay, the world has to offer. So let's just hope that they - and we - have some fun. Now get ready, the countdown's about to begin.
Three... two... one!
I've never seen Gent acting so aggressively, it seems like he's decided to fully transition into going all-out during his matches. He and Shadow start the round by throwing stones at their opponents which are luckily deflected by Muffin's shield. Meanwhile Caesar tosses out a knife which bounces back at him. If it hadn't been for Muffin's defence, they would've taken three hits just now!
Gent and Shadow are not moving foward, taking a defensive position near the back of the arena and erecting a wall between them. They want Muffin and Caesar to approach them directly. However, the nonbenders do not take the bait. Muffin performs a truly admirable feat of strafing, avoiding in excess of a dozen projectiles as he closes the distance between himself and Shadow but right as he arrives at his destination he's shackled and pushed back. Meanwhile, Caesar keeps Gentechian occupied.
No, wait! Caesar throws himself to a side, leaving Gent in the dust. He tries to use a falcon strike but Shadow's too quick on the draw. But Caesar, as he always does, has a backup plan: he uses grappling hook to throw Shadow into the air! He comes back down hard, unable to break his fall, and ends up getting slugged by Muffin from range. Gent rushes to his friend's defence and restrains Caesar from behind but Muffin is there to intervene, falcon striking Gent while he's distracted by Caesar. The nonbenders are at a huge advantage here, and it seems like they've turned Gent and Shadow's strategy against them! Every single time that one of the earthbenders has taken a big hit it's because they've been distracted by whatever their teammate is doing: they need to shape up fast or they'll lose in a landslide!
Shadow is hit by two consecutive earth cages as Gent and Shadow attempt to remove him from the equation. Muffin holds his own for a few vital seconds, using a combination of mobility and burst-offence to evade Shadow's assault. Meanwhile, Gent repositions, trying to keep both of his enemies in his line of sight at all times. But, unexpectedly, Shadow emerges from his cage - having broken through the shell before it could collapse on its own - and dislodges Shadow from his position in the corner, where earth is at its strongest: with few directions that they can be attacked from, they're all but invulnerable when their flanks are covered.
Now, though, Caesar and Muffin have Gent and Shadow pinned! They're using their long range moves, giving the earthbenders no room to breathe. Gent makes a breakout, clearly feeling the claustrophobia, but even though he manages to land a rumble at first he's quickly grappled into the air and caught at close range by Muffin, precisely where he can't afford to be: he takes a huge amount of fall damage and has to expend his energy just on staying alive! Meanwhile Caesar is dancing circles around Shadow, narrowly avoiding a shackle and shielding himself from an earth rumble. Shadow is clearly having a hard time keeping up with the flightly nonbender, I'm not sure if I've seen any of his attacks connecting with Caesar this entire time!
Gentechian is able to salvage his situation and shackles Muffin, who is then forced to move away from Caesar, now being obstructed by a series of walls erected by Shadow. The earthbenders are succeeding in taking control of the conflict, affecting not just where their opponents are located but also defining the tempo of the match. Neither Caesar nor Muffin have attempted to use chiblock in a long time in spite of its obvious availability, indicating that they have been unable to identify any openings in Shadow and Gentechian's mounting defensive capabilities.
Nope! Scratch what you just heard, Muffin comes up behind Shadow just as he's trying to escape and chiblocks him, tossing him around with slashes and mines. At the same time Caesar pulls off an unbelievable maneuver, jumping into Gentechian and using grapple straight downward, pulling the otherwise healthy earthbender into the air and bringing him down with nothing but fall damage, dealing something on the order of half his entire health pool! It's a devastating blow to Shadow, who's now being tossed around by grenades and knives, pretty much incapable of doing anything but reacting to whatever Muffin and Caesar choose to do.
Shadow makes extensive use of earth rumble and shockwave, warding off any close-ranged attacks, but it has the opposite of the intended effect. As soon as Shadow and Muffin realise that he has just used up whichever moves which could've protected him from a melee assault, they close around him as if a vice and throw him into the air with their swords, constantly renewing his airtime so that he is unable to bend. He lands and seems to be heading for the corner once more but before he is able to come up with a plan of action he's caught mid-jump by Muffin, who ultimately kills him with a falcon strike.
Even after all that, they just couldn't stand up to the nonbending duo. Caesar and Muffin are intimidating contenders all on their own but together? I don't think they've faced a serious challenge this entire tourney! I've got nothing but respect for those two, it's clear that they've put a lot of thought into their approach for the tournament and sunk a ton of time into practicing for it.
It was a tournament to be remembered, undoubtedly. Everyone, congratulate our new reigning champions, CaesarSW4R and MuffinSW4R. And thank you for tuning in to Gaoling FM. May the coming months only invite more fights like this one.
1st Place - CaesarSW4R and MuffinSW4R:
2nd Place - UROShadow and Gentechian:
3rd Place - Kakashi69 and KevinY3:
4th Place - Mystef and S3ventyS3ven:
Best Fighter - Firstly, let me just say that I was too busy teleporting people to actually watch any of the fights this month, so these awards will be a little bit different. The best fighter this month was QuietDove, for bravely stepping in at the last moment when Guru had to go and do something. I haven't done PvP for about two years, so I deserve some credit for at least hitting something and not dying straight away.
Best Person at Staying Sane - This one goes to Events Team Leader, AvatarKorra. Their incredible coolness in the face of yet another chaotic Doubles Tournament is the only reason it didn't completely derail. A well deserved first Dove Award!
The Champagne Moment Award - The end of the tournament, when Events Team could finally relax and thank Vaatu that there would never be another Doubles Tournament.
The 'No, really, give us alcohol' Award - This one goes to... Oh look, it's Events Team! All participants should be on their knees thanking them by name for keeping it going this month!
As mentioned above, this month really was chaotic behind the scenes. A huge thank you to everyone on Events Team for their work this month. Special mentions to BarelyDecisive and CaesarSW4R for handling the stream whilst Zuko was AWOL, it was very last minute for the pair of them.
I hope all enjoyed that Doubles Tournament, because it won't be happening again for a very very very long time.