K-JI: The signal bell goes off and that brings an end to round three of the PlayStation Universe Marathon Trophy tournament. I’m your master of ceremonies, K-JI along with the man with the plan, Saikou Hakkin. The mighty have fallen from grace this past round as we have the biggest shakeup of the tournament to-date. Not only did the round’s top ten get torn apart but also the team standings and individual standings. It is bedlam in Nagoya, ladies and gentleman.
Saikou: That is right, K-JI, last week Tim breaks the unbreakable record and this week he is tossed aside like yesterday’s news. Okay, I’m being overly dramatic as he only slipped down to third place, but after the dominance of the first two weeks it was still a shocker.
K-JI: Let us update the fans and viewers with the top ten scoreboard:
Supra wins the golden controller award this week, breaking Tim’s streak at two. It is given to the individual winner of each round. Beast came so close to coming out of nowhere to win it but has to settle for a well-earned second place. Jmar put up a good fight but slips to fourth place, and the rest of the pack trails off by a lot. Supra’s round winning score is the shocker in a positive way. The negative shocker is that Lasombra and Fenix’s lackluster scores somehow earn them a top ten placing from an overall weak round by the field.
Saikou: It is the tale of two cities, or scores to be exact. We have the bi-polar highs of Supra and Beast showing the crowd and viewers how the real trophy pros perform. Then there is Lavzee and Maxdamo hitting the bi-polar low with abysmally low round and overall scores. They have to wake up if they want to save face and not end up getting kicked out by their team when the tournament is finished.
K-JI: Tim and Supra are half-way to their target score of 50,000 points to win their brackets. Seeing how the individuals are doing is there any discontent among the competitors at the randomized brackets?
Saikou: Not so far but I think the discontent will be muted. Individually, unless something crazy happens, Tim, Jmar and Supra will win their brackets. Jmar is the least likely of the three only because his lead is not as big. The individual titles might be locked up, but it is the team title that will keep things interesting for rounds to come and it also helps balance out the individual numbers. Three of the five teams are close to each other, and each round they keep playing leap frog over the other.
K-JI: We have not talked about the team portion of the event a lot so let us focus on that this round. You said three of the five teams are close. Are the numbers valid or is it more certain individuals on the team keeping them in the race?
Saikou: That is a tricky question because every team has that one individual keeping the teams locked together. Take out Tim and Supra’s score and their teams would still be close. The difference is their overall score would be lower. Beast putting up hero numbers has put his team back into contention. Only The Outsiders do not have that one superman player. Not taking any credit away from Jmar because he has been a top three player to date, but his teammates have also been scoring consistent numbers. If Jmar, Tim, Supra and Beast were put into their own bracket then The Outsiders would have a bigger lead over everyone.
K-JI: You’re right, Saikou, it is a tricky question. Here are the current team standings after the third round:
The Outsiders 30705
New Epoch 16275
The Establishment 15900
The Outsiders slip back into first with barely a 400 point lead over Eurocorp and a 1000 point lead over the Neo-Collective. The other two teams trail far behind but they are also in a tight race against each other for the fourth spot.
Saikou: The fans have a lot to cheer about and analyze. New Epoch and The Establishment are far out of the running at the moment but their fans and neutrals have an exciting battle to watch. Even if they don’t win anything there are still bragging rights for not finishing in last place.
K-JI: Who are the top members for each to watch out for in round four? Who will make the round exciting for the neutrals in this head-to-head battle?
Saikou: I could say Beast again but instead I’ll choose Freak. He had a flash of brilliance in round two and he looks primed and ready to not be a flash in the pan. A match-up against Gaglaush would be exciting viewing. Gaglaush has had steadier numbers, even though he didn’t have the best of rounds this time, so expect to see fireworks from a fiery competitor.
K-JI: Freak vs. Gaglaush sounds like it would make for an interesting rivalry for rounds to come. It can’t all be about Tim vs. Supra. What other rivalries are immerging in the early stages, Saikou?
Saikou: Not surprisingly the battle lines have been drawn from last year’s marathon tournament. Not only are Eurocorp and The Outsiders boasting the only veterans of the format but they are neck-in-neck in the team standings, as well as individually. Brenden has a two platinum lead over Lasombra but Ace is barely ahead, and Jakintosh is slightly trailing behind. One round, one nitro boost, one decision to kick it into hyperdrive and this battle of the veterans can be turned on its head.
K-JI: Is there any bad blood between the two groups? There has not been a lot of trash talking between the competitors, even though it is early, and with everyone log jammed in the middle of the pack competitors are fighting for bragging rights.
Saikou: So far they have been classy, although having three of them on the same team would make the trash talking counter-productive unless they want to have all of their team chemistry evaporate in an instant. Spread them out onto one team each and the fireworks would easily have flown. But like you said, K-JI, these are the early stages. Give it a few more rounds and expect nerves to fray, teammates to bicker at each other, and the trash start to pile up.
K-JI: We’re ripping off an idea from our colleagues Skip and Max by introducing our newest segment, Saikou’s Game Plan. Each round he takes one individual and gives his expert advice on what that person needs to do to reach the top. This does not mean winning the tournament for some, but instead to get back a little of their dignity and not have their resume tarnished by a bad performance. Who are you giving a game plan to this round, Saikou?
Saikou: I’m going to go to the bottom of the leaderboard and help out someone who is in desperate need of a new game plan. Cloudja is stuck at 60 points; four bronze trophies or two silvers, however it wants to be divvied up. Time to take out the pen and paper and get this strategy session started.
K-JI: He is in last place, far from respectability. What does he need to do to top three his bracket?
Saikou: The first thing is the most obvious and that is to actually play trophy games. I am a huge fan of the PS1 and PS2 classics but they don’t have trophies. Spending all day on those will get you nowhere in a trophy competition. So first things first, start playing any game with a trophy. Cloudja is in the lucky position of being in a weak bracket. 3rd to 6th place is a platinum and a half difference. One round of grinding can put him into second place easily, so play something fun. There is no pressure in this situation. Find a couple fun games and put up an 800 point week. Suddenly it is top three territory in the bracket. The final tweak is to be consistent. It is good advice for any situation but especially so in a weak bracket. Consistent, stable numbers will prevent any burnout and allow him to enjoy his gaming but also get back his respectability. Remember, this game plan is not to win the bracket but to get back respectability.
K-JI: If he can follow through it sounds like it would be just enough. It is the end of the show, Saikou. What are three points to watch for during round four of the competition?
Saikou: First will be seeing how strong a spine Tim has. He had it easy during the first two rounds by being on the top of the world. He got knocked off his throne by two people so it is a true test to see if he is a paper champion with only a few rounds of nitro, or if he has the steel to push through the adversity. Next will be to look out for what the cellar-dwellers do during the round. Quite a few competitors are not living up to the expectations of even the greenest rookie, and knowing some of the managers they are getting chewed out pretty good. I am expecting one of them to finally show signs of life and reaching their expectations. Lastly, let the rivalries start to surface. Tim vs. Supra, Lasombra vs. Ace, Gaglaush vs. Freak, are all touted by the fans right now. I am expecting to see some others who are close in the standings to show signs of wanting to one-up each other. Maxdamo vs. Medicdog would be an interesting matchup.
K-JI: Thanks for the in-depth commentary. As always for Saikou Hakkin, I’m K-JI saying swing for your dreams. It is time for round four of the PlayStation Universe Marathon Trophy tournament to begin. Will we see another different golden controller winner? Will Cloudja take Saikou’s advice and show a flash of ability and skill? Will we have a team put up heroic numbers and break away from the pack? All these and more in our next installment, live from the Nagoya Dome.
Missed a round of the toughest competition in e-sports or want to see the overall scoreboard? Check out the marathon thread and cheer on your favourite comeptitor!
Dane Smith is the Japan editor for PlayStation Universe. When not out on the streets of Nagoya wondering why no one is looking for a Yakuza-style showdown, he can be found cracking open the newest RPG to hit the shelves. You can follow him on Twitter or read some of his past musings.