It's April! That means we'll be having overly corporatised April Fools Jokes which attempt to give a face to faceless, monolithic, international corporations and, more importantly, the April Bending Tournament, this time with a losers' bracket! Why, you may ask? Well it's because almost nobody actually appeared for the damn thing, with only eight competitors revealing themselves in the end, one of them almost twenty minutes late.
There will be upsets tonight, ladies and Gentechians. Pitched struggles of determination and grit; two fighters at a time tussling in the ring, both desperate to claw their way to victory in what was one of the closest tournaments we've ever had! No spoilers just yet but the grand finals turned out in a most unexpected way. I think you'll get a kick out of how that one turned out in particular.
TheThunder8 (Airbending) vs. _Gent (Earthbending):
Gent was not as aggressive as he usually is at the beginning of the round, erecting a wall and apparently preparing to spend the fight avoiding Thunder's rumoured "one shot combo", the secret weapon which he claimed to have prepared well in advance to defeat Gent with. As soon as Thunder saw this, he attempted to capitalise but his charge was immediately shattered by Gent, who - repeating a trick from the last tournament - switched from a defensive stratagmen into an extremely offensive one. He was able to shackle Thunder twice and his high mobility even protected him from a windslam, mitigating a great deal of damage while dealing much of his own. His use of earth surf was beautiful, landing several extremely difficult hits - including an earth shackle - while on the move and unable to turn his head without reorienting his entire body. Gentechian demonstrated a level of skill which hardly any benders could ever aspire to, completely dominating his match and rapidly taking down Thunder, who many persons had assumed to a hard counter to Gent's usually ponderous and earthbound style of play.
Losers' Bracket - TheThunder8 (Airbending) vs. YaBoiTobi (Earthbending):
Though the announcers expected the round to be relatively close, it was clear that Tobi had inherited some of Gent's intimidation factor as the match began. Thunder, remembering his last awful loss, stayed on the run and never committed to any particular angle of attack, seeming content to throw his opponent around the arena and to use the occasional air spear, never managing to do anything more than lightly scratch Tobi. Tobi's stratagem, it seemed, was to copy Gentechian, attacking with far mroe gusto than was typical of his playstyle and even making use of earth cage, not usually a part of his toolset. Tobi took very little damage from his opponent, managing to eschew two windslams and shackle Thunder multiple times, at one point trapping him within an earth cage, but he didn't seem to be dealing much damage. Thunder's mobility was completely insurmountable. Nobody was entirely sure of who the victor would be; even though it appeared that Tobi was completely dominating the match, Thunder's evasive and at times reactive style of play was clearly finding some success against the ever mobile, something predictable Tobi. With every passing second the tension mounted, the expectation of triumph just grew and grew for supporters of both sides. Their healthbars seemed to fall in tandem but ultimately Thunder was able to land an entire windslam, the key to his victory. It was enough. He'd spent the last five minutes tenderising Tobi, now came the skillet: he diced and fried the earthbender in thirty seconds flat, earning his place in third round.
_Gent (Earthbending) VS. MrCafeMan (Nonbending):
Seeing Gentechian pummel Cafeman renewed old traumas for your tournament report writer. It was a horrifyingly short and brutal affair; Cafe hardly landed a single attack, serving more as a dummy than an opponent to Gent, who took no pleasure yet provided no mercy as he simply broke Cafe to pieces.
Axeel_26 (Nonbending) VS. SuperHaggis123 (Nonbending):
Haggis was playing as nonbender in this tournament in spite of having historically been a firebender. In the weeks prior to the tournament he'd demonstrated great potential in the arena, going toe to toe with legends such as UROShadow and CaesarSW4R. Indeed, in spite of Axeel having a decidedly tremendous advantage in regards to experience, he was the one continually running away from Haggis all throughout the round. While Axeel was able to force some of his best attacks to connect, Haggis' general control over their dynamic allowed him to utilise practically every move in his arsenal to its full potential, rapidly seizing the win and knocking Axeel into the losers' bracket.
UROShadow (Waterbending) VS. YaBoiTobi (Earthbending):
YaBoiTobi, formerly Kakashi69_. A young and talented earthbender who'd more than shown his grit in the last tournament, carrying his erstwhile partner - KevinY3 - to third place overall in one of the most stacked brackets of all time. Shadow, the most skilled bender perhaps ever with the sole exception of CaesarSW4R and one of the contenders for best living waterbender. The round began with an earth jump from Tobi, leaping in to take advantage of Earth's ability to rumble and shackle their opponent in quick succession. However, Shadow was able to reverse the situation and trap Tobi within an ice cage, using ice blizzard and creeping ice to deal tremendous damage without allowing the earthbender a chance to recuperate. Tobi rapidly succumbed, unable to leave his trap of his own volition and being tagged by an ice spear soon after escaping.
IncognitoSubito (Airbending) VS. Ariessa (Nonbending):
Ariessa was Caesar's student. Incognito was a student of pain, of being annihilated in the arena again and again yet standing back up. It still stuck in many of our minds, the way that he had started his career: two hundred and fifty losses in the Gaoling arena with no victories to his name. Yet he came back, kept trying, standing shoulder to shoulder with the best that the server had to offer and ultimately surpassing them all, seizing three tournament championships in a row, something to be remembered and perhaps never repeated forevermore. While Ariessa was able to put up a good fight, taking advantage of arrow rain and blowdart to great effect, she simply wasn't able to stand up to Incognito's prodigious skill. He kept well out of range of her strongest abilities while always being close enough to take advantage of his own, eventually dispatching her with a windslam right after she missed her own chiblock.
Losers' Bracket - MrCafeMan (Nonbending) VS. Axeel_26 (Nonbending):
Both nonbenders started the round by whiffing a falcon strike; Cafeman was the first to try and left himself an extremely easy target for Axeel, but they managed to miss theirs too in spite of having a stationary target! To be fair to both fighters, each of them recovered with grace; Axeel landed a chiblock while Cafeman did the smart thing and started running away. From there they both tried their best to survive, keeping close to their opponent and using relatively safe, low-damage moves in an attempt to while away the seconds until their best moves became available again. Then Axeel falcon-struck Cafe and he died instantly. Anticlimax.
Losers' Bracket - TheThunder8 (Airbending) VS. Ariessa (Nonbending):
Expectations were high heading into the round. The audience had just seen Thunder pull a hail-Mary victory over YaBoiTobi, one of the frontrunners in the tournament and one of only two earthbenders, the element of merciless beatings. Ariessa was decidedly the underdog in spite of possessing the usually dominant power of nonbending. Both of them were extremely cautious of the other; Ariessa used smokescreen to keep Thunder from swooping in while Thunder constantly stayed as far as he could from his opponent, making only tiny excursions to use a windslam or wind shock before retreating. While Ariessa had a few opportunities to turn the tables in her side with chiblock, she was never able to take advantage of the move and it was ultimately Thunder who won by virtue of attrition.
UROShadow (Waterbending) VS. IncognitoSubito (Airbending):
While the general consensus heading into the round was that Shadow held the advantage, not just in elemental choice but also skill, it had been demonstrated in the days before the tournament that Incognito had a genuine chance of winning the round, having faced off against Shadow's earth, fire, nonbender and even waterbender with some success. Though, he'd never been able to achieve a greater-than-fifty-percent winrate. Nonetheless, he'd shown the ability to engage in spontaneous growth in all previous tournaments, playing like a completely different - and decidedly more powerful - player on the day of the match. Shadow used very typical anti-airbending tactics, using creeping ice and ice cage to protect himself or ensnare his target while always staying in the water pools, mitigating the potential for fall damage. He was able to land an incredible mid-air spear and an ice cage when Incognito attempted to retaliate, using a blizzard of sharps to shred the unfortunate airbender who, in a departure from form, had trouble tunnelling his way out. Not an unexpected result, but a tight match all the same.
SuperHaggis123 (Nonbending) VS. _Gent (Earthbending):
Gentechian was determined to frustrate his opponent as much as possible apparently, raising earth walls and using earth surf when it would've served him better to just attack. This strategy did not serve him well: his refusal to dedicate to offence allowed Haggis to land two chiblocks, several sand attacks in quick succession and a parade of slashes which to all watching appeared to spell Gent's doom. However, even after driving himself quite literally into a wall with earth surf, he managed to recover, having lost shockingly little health in spite of all his misplays; he completely reversed his own fortunes, annihilating Haggis in a matter of seconds and with but a few coins and blasts. An intimidating show of strength.
Losers' Bracket - Axeel_26 (Nonbending) VS. IncognitoSubito (Airbending):
Axeel had been quite fond of running away from his opponent in previous matches, only coming into his own during his bout against Cafeman, who may or may not have thrown his own match. In this one, Incognito was the fisherman and Axeel was his fish, unable to fight back but able to decide whether or not to take the bait being dangled in front of his face. It didn't really matter, in the end; Incognito ditched the rod and speared his prey, putting an end to their little game of cat and mouse.
Losers' Bracket - TheThunder8 (Airbending) VS. SuperHaggis123 (Nonbending):
Haggis had absolutely no reason to feel threatened by Thunder, knowing that for all of non's flaws, a weakness to airbending was not one of them. He had the instantaneous mobility to avoid windslam, the chiblock to dissuade air shock, the knife to counter air jump: by all accounts Haggis had everything he needed to make the match a complete slaughter in his favour. However, Thunder was able to demonstrate a shocking amount of control over the battle, not only avoiding every single one of Haggis' chiblocks - thereby never giving him an opportunity to land falcon strike - but also running literal circles around him, landing attacks that Haggis had easy means of countering. Thunder played not with air but with the element of confusion, always taking his enemy by surprise, always being outside of Haggis' comfort zone. After landing a full windslam and nullifying a falcon strike with shield, there was no doubt in anyone's minds that Thunder, not Haggis, was the one who'd have to work in order to lose the match. He was simply too in control, too able to predict Haggis' moves, to be beaten. At the dawn of the fifth minute, Thunder had a 2:1 advantage over Haggis in terms of health, having 245 to the nonbender's measly 125. Haggis himself admitted in chat that he had no intention of winning the round, having abandoned and hope of victory within the first thirty seconds, having seen how little hope he had of beating Thunder. In the end, it was a climactic windslam which spelled Haggis' end, propelling Thunder forward into the the next round.
Losers' Bracket - IncognitoSubito (Airbending) VS. TheThunder8 (Airbending):
The first mirror match of the tournament. Everybody had been expecting it to happen. Eventually, in spite of all of the organisers' efforts and the audience's prayers, it had come back to this. Air. VS. Air. The announcers were prepared to be there for the rest of the day. Incog didn't really appear to have much investment in the match, using tactics which were completely ineffective against airbenders such as the windcarry-into-burst, whose only purpose is to disorient the target and potentially set up incredible amounts of fall damage. Obviously, against a fellow airbender, it lost most of its utility. The round was a mirror match in more than one way, with both airbenders effectively using windslam simultaneously, both taking a terrifying amount of damage within seconds. It was Thunder who came out of it with the short end of the stick though. In fact, just in general, Incognito seemed to be doing a better job of trading hits and staying on the move, using scooter so that he could keep his burst mobility - wind dash and air jump - in reserve. Thunder, meanwhile, was pulling out all the stops all the time, maintaining a straightforward playstyle in an attempt to simplify the complicated landscape of the battlefield. This simplicity, however, made him predictable; Incognito closed out the round with a windslam, apparently the most prolific killer of the tournament right behind UROShadow.
UROShadow (Waterbending) VS. _Gent (Earthbending):
Shadow had chosen to run with 55 strength for the duration of the tournament, granting him a level of offensive gravitas which very few waterbenders could achieve. In fact, in a departure from tradition, Gentechian was actually the one with the disadvantage in regards to damage dealing potential. Gentechian, knowing that he couldn't take Shadow in a straight fight, stayed on the other end of the arena from his opponent and placed walls to keep himself safe from ice spear. This gave Shadow enough of a window of time to cast heal, recovering some of the damage that he'd taken in the opening seconds of the match. However, it was clear that he'd landed no significant hits upon the very closed off earthbender, who was apparently determined to play like an airbender and not commit to the attack even once. That was, right up until the last five seconds. He jumped, clearing Shadow's ice spear, and landed an earth shackle, setting himself up for a devastating combo which ended Shadow's reign of terror.
Losers' Bracket - IncognitoSubito (Airbending) VS. UROShadow (Waterbending):
In spite of Incognito's best efforts, he was not able to replicate Gent's achievements in the semi-finals. While he was able to avoid Shadow's ice spears, the threat remained a pressing issue for him right up until he landed the one-shot combo and instantly killed Shadow from full health. That was... terrifying?
IncognitoSubito (Airbending) VS. _Gent (Earthbending):
In spite of all appearances, it seemed as if Gent would not be as vulnerable to the one-shot-combo as Shadow had been, what with his constant utilisation of earth surf and earth dodge, both of which prevented him from taking fall damage. If Incognito was going to win this round, he was going to have to do so without making use of any issues with the bending system. In fact, the opening seconds of the match were extraordinarily by the book; Incognito took to the skies and Gent stuck to the earth. However, after an unfortunate episode during which Incognito sort of fell into Gent's line of fire and didn't really know what to do, he took a shackle and a series of earth blasts which whittled him down to what had to have been almost nothing. Then he used the one-shot combo.
But that was only the first round! As Incognito had clawed his way up from the losers' bracket, he had to win twice in succession against Gent in order to earn the championship title. On the other hand, Gent had to win but one match in order to become the tournament champion. He was sure to be much more cautious this time around, using sandstorm in order to completely deny Incognito the opportunity to land the oneshot combo. Nonetheless he tried, leaping straight into sandstorm and taking a massive amount of damage in an attempt to close the match immediately; while he was able to fling Gent into the air, he wasn't able to make anything of the opportunity and was forced to watch as his opponent gracefully reconnected with the earth, taking no fall damage. Gentechian went on the offensive, trying to take advantage of Incognito's moves being on cooldown, but slammed into a shield and accidentally hit his own shackle which bounced off the barrier, silencing himself and opening up a chance for Incognito to throw him into the sky once more. However, luckily, Incognito was too far away to do anything with his suddenly vulnerable opponent. He made another good attempt at the oneshot, putting Gent into the air, but failed again to accomplish anything substantial with the opening. Gent was on his last legs, clearly, using earth cage and rumble into thin air, desperate to end the fight before Incognito could make the oneshot combo work. This sloppy style of play paid off somewhat, allowing him to shackle Incog by sheer chance and to nearly end the match in his favour. However, Incognito held on by the skin of his teeth and kept of scootering, now apparently abandoning his previous style of play in favour of a more typical, safe strategem. It was too little too late: he'd lost almost all of his health earlier in the match, having taken risky gambles in repeated attempts to kill Gentechian. In the end, Gentechian was able to overcome his elemental disadvantage and find victory, having stayed in the winners' bracket the entire time, losing only one time to IncognitoSubito. Finally, he'd made his mark; he'd won a bloody tournament.
1st Place - _Gent: "When I was a young boy, I had a dream. That dream was to be a superhero. Sadly, I had to settle for a tournament win on an avatar themed Minecraft server after losing 12 straight tourneys in a row. It’s been a long hard journey, and as the only winner to ever use earthbending, I’d like to use my platform say some things. First, why call it climate change? Why not just call it “Hot Cold Apocalypse” or “The Climates, they are a changin”. Secondly, we need more people of color in bending. I don’t see enough of them. All I see are skins of black and white porky. Where’s the purple, the yellow, the green. I need variety, yknow? And finally, bottom of my heart, thank you all for giving me a place to be cooler than I am in real life."
2nd Place - IncognitoSubito: "Nerf 1 shot"
3rd Place - UROShadow: ":)"
Best Fighter: There is only one winner this month, and it's the obvious choice. _Gent has finally broken his duck, he is the champion. The long awaited tournament win alone would be enough to give him this award, but the fact it was done in such style is the real reason behind it. A truly exceptional final performance that rivals any that we've seen in the long history of Bending Tournaments.
Best Fight: Once again, there is only one winner here. I am quite comfortable in describing the final fight between _Gent and IncognitoSubito, potentially, the greatest fight of all time. The highest ot stakes, the highest of drama, two of our finest fighters giving everything for victory. Simply superb, I urge you all to watch it back.
Champagne Moment: You can tell the final was a good one, because it's given us all three of these awards! I am going to award this to Gent's stunning clutch saves during the fight with Incog. He was flung up into the air on multiple occasions, each time looking like it would be the killer blow. However, Gent was able to use Earth Surf in the nick of time, triggering it just before hitting the ground and saving him from fall damage. Brilliant to watch, and brilliantly executed. A well deserved clean sweep of Dove Awards!
What a tournament it was! In spite of more than half of the competitors failing to show up, including stars such as Seppizza, Spugeti and the ever elusive Mystef, the remaining competitors were able to have an absolute blast and came out of it with a newfound appreciation not just for how skilled their peers are but also how broken airbending is!
In all seriousness, the fact that IncognitoSubito and Gentechian were able to make it further than a legend like UROShadow goes to show that tournaments truly are anyone's game, with upsets and defiances of expectation being the norm rather than the exception. This tournament was short, sweet and fashionably violent: just the way we like it.
As always, thanks goes to CaesarSW4R and FireLordZuko for providing commentary, and to the combined efforts of BarelyDecisive and ShootItzStar, who organised and ran the entire thing. I'll see you next month for the May Bending Tournament; let's hope that this time, the competitors will actually appear.