AADL-GT 2006 Season Wrapup: FJW FTW
It's all over! The 2006 AADL-GT Super Smash Double Dash Championship Season has drawn to a close, and the Grand Champion was [gtplayer:737], who fought his way through 20 grueling matches, past formidable veterans and hopeful noobs alike, to win the final Kart Race on the infamous Baby Park Oval and claim the grand prize: a Brand-New Nintendo Wii! FJW's clan, We Are Hard, was not as successful in the 2006 Clan Cup event, losing in the Semifinals despite going into the Clan Cup with the highest score, while the #4 ranked Pocket Rockets came from behind to deliver a thorough drubbing to the ever-solid Bros & Co to take victory. With our biggest season yet behind us, let's take a few minutes to reflect on the top stories of the 2006 season, and start thinking about how next season can be even better.
The 2006 season saw almost 200 unique players and 17 Clans compete for glory, prizes, and simple superiority across 7 months of Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart Double Dash, with monthly single-player and team events in each game. From the preseason event in July to the December Grand Championships, alliances were formed, rivalries fought, and storied careers rose and fell amidst a maelstrom of turtle shells, banana peels, and pokéballs.
While the July preseason tournament set the stage for what was to come, and allowed clans to size up hopefuls and recruit new members, the season began in earnest in August, and it looked like it might just be the Season of the Turtles. Turtle Clan stormed to a decisive Clan Battle victory at Round 1, beating Bros & Co at Mario Power Tennis, and Clan leaders [gtplayer:143] and his brother [gtplayer:146] racked up a mind-bending 6000+ points for their Clan, representing in the finals of every event, and winning two.
However, the tables would soon begin turn as [gtplayer:737] secured the increasingly impressive skills of the Kalamazoo-based Royster Brothers ([gtplayer:606] and [gtplayer:614]) for We Are Hard, turning what was a decent emerging clan into an instantly near-unstoppable powerhouse. The Roysters delivered over 5000 points for WAH in Round 2 and got them to the Clan Battle Finals, where FJW and (was it) [gtplayer:738] defeated the Savage Brothers in F-Zero GX to seize Clan Battle Victory for WAH and moved them to within striking distance of Turtle Clan in the standings, with WAH member [gtplayer:504] closing to within a few hundred points of the mighty [gtplayer:143].
As the season wore on into Round 3, the team events began to take on increased importance and several frequent teams became widely feared names; The Royster's Team Silence, [gtplayer:788] and [gtplayer:509]'s NIXON'S BAAAAACK, The threateningly-named and honestly formidable BEATUSANDDIE ([gtplayer:737] and [gtplayer:504]), the Melee Mastery of [gtplayer:483] and [gtplayer:340], and the constant threat of [gtplayer:143] and his brother ([gtplayer:146]), who won the Kart Team event 3 out of 4 times, only taking second in Round 2 when they fell to Doll-E-Mart ([gtplayer:431] and [gtplayer:371]).
In Round 3, WAH once again sat atop the Clan Scores, propelled by solid performances from the Roysters and FJW, while Bros & Co miscalculated and lost to WAH at Shadow Battle from Four Swords, giving WAH their second straight Clan Battle victory and cementing them atop the Clan Standings.
Round 4 was when it finally happened for Bros & Co; as WAH fell in the Clan Battle Semis, they faced Turtle Clan at Gauntlet and emerged triumphant, although not able to make a dent in WAH's huge lead, especially as WAH's [gtplayer:737] and [gtplayer:504] took first and second in Single Player Kart and second in Team Kart, [gtplayer:614] won Single Player Smash and took 2nd in Team Smash with brother [gtplayer:606]. However, enough recap, let's get to the Grand Championship Results!
The Clan Cup got underway promptly at noon, starting with a set of 2 Mario Kart Team Races for the Clans ranked 5-8. The #7 Foreign Exchange won both races and coasted on to the next round, while #5 It's Called a Crew managed a 2nd place finish, enough to lift them past the #8 Vaccinated Monks and the #6 Black Shark Clan and on to Round 2.
There, they were joined by the #4 Pocket Rockets and the #3 Turtle Clan for two rounds of Melee for each of two teams. The Pocket Rockets, clearly prepared and with high aspirations for the day, won 3 of their four matches and moved on, while Turtle Clan lost three matches and was eliminated. It's Called A Crew and the Foreign Exchange were tied with two wins apiece, so they each sent a representative to what would be the day's only tiebreaker: a round of the venerable classic, Marble Madness. [gtplayer:382] of ICAC and The Right Honourable [gtplayer:325] of the Foreign Exchange fought an evenly matched battle, with both reaching the treacherous Aerial Race, but neither able to complete it. With a thin edge on points, [gtplayer:325] won the tiebreaker and led his clan on to the Clan Cup Semifinals.
Here, the ascendant Pocket Rockets and the capable Foreign Exchange faced the two top clans of the season: #2 Bros and Co, and #1 We Are Hard, with two matches of Melee and two races of Co-op Kart for each team from each clan. The Pocket Rockets astoundingly won all four of their Melee matches to jump out to huge point lead, while WAH went 2-2 and FX and Bros & Co each only managed one win. The Pocket Rockets then proceeded to get totally stomped in Kart, with their teams finishing 6th and 7th in the first race, and 5th and 8th in the second, but their 400 points from the Melee phase was enough to lift them past all competitors and secure the #1 spot in the Final Mystery Round. That #2 spot was the subject of a pitched battle, with only 20 points ultimately separating 2nd from 4th place, as the ever-scrappy Bros & Co, the only clan to make it to every Clan Battle this season, score 450 points to advance to the finals, while the underdog Foreign Exchange just missed a trip to the final by 10 points, and odds-on favorite We Are Hard was also eliminated.
So, the Final match of the 2006 Clan Cup began, and the mystery final game was revealed to be Wario Ware Single-Controller Survival. Both Bros & Co and the Pocket Rockets had all 6 members present, so each clan had six 'lives' to try to complete as many microgames as possible. Bros & Co. went first, but only managed to complete 13 microgames before losing all their lives, allowing the Pocket Rockets to easily coast to their first victory with 3 lives to spare, claiming the Clan Cup prizes and highly-coveted trophies.
On to the Wildcard tournament, or the 'Festival of N00bs' as I like to call it, as the broadcast began with 34 hopefuls vying for 8 spots in the Grand Championship Bracket. Most notable was the return of [gtplayer:136], 2005 prize winner and Grand Championship Semifinalist, who had missed most of the 2006 season doing something called 'sports'. Fulfilling expectations, [gtplayer:136] finished the first round of 4 matches tied for 2nd, behind season regulars [gtplayer:217] and [gtplayer:776], and then went on to be the only player to win all 4 matches in the second and final round of the Wildcard Tournament and finish in first place. The final 8 wildcards to advance to the Grands only included one other non-rookie, [gtplayer:458]. The final Wildcard winners were as follows:
We were then on to the Main Event: The 2006 Grand Championships! With 44 prequalified players plus the 8 wildcards, 52 total squared off for a shot at the hottest game console on the planet, the Nintendo Wii. Each round again consisted of two Melee Matches and two Kart races for each contender, with score-based elimination resetting each round. The very first cut, from 52 down to 32, saw some highly regarded players fall, including [gtplayer:509], [gtplayer:789] and [gtplayer:790] of the Pocket Rockets (as captain [gtplayer:788] just squeaked through in 32nd place), the elimination of wildcards [gtplayer:905], [gtplayer:923], and [gtplayer:927], and the shocking knockout of the well-rounded [gtplayer:340]. Favored [gtplayer:143] also narrowly dodged early elimination, finishing just one spot above [gtplayer:788] in 31st place.
The carnage only grew as 4 more matches cut the field from 32 to 16, with the elimination of [gtplayer:198] and [gtplayer:166] of Bros & Co, the underrated [gtplayer:457] of Black Shark Clan, [gtplayer:797] and [gtplayer:788] of the Pocket Rockets, [gtplayer:396] and [gtplayer:328] of the Foreign Exchange, and many more. Most suprisingly, [gtplayer:136] missed the cut by 10 points, and Season 1 champion [gtplayer:143] finished at the bottom of the pack and was eliminated.
With the contest truly heating up, another round of 4 matches cut 8 more players as the stakes, the competition, and the consensual stalling heated up. This round saw the elimination of the two remaining wildcards ([gtplayer:217] and [gtplayer:776]), Melee Titans [gtplayer:483] and [gtplayer:614], [gtplayer:154] of Turtle Clan and [gtplayer:183] of the Black Sharks, plus the formidable [gtplayer:852] of the Usual Suspects and Chairman of the Foreign Exchange, [gtplayer:325].
With only 8 players remaining and only one more elimination before the prize round, the pressure to excel and to leverage any advantage available was great. Up-and-coming prodigy [gtplayer:821] of the Pocket Rockets was first to fall, but will surely be a future force to be reckoned with with 6 season of eligibility still to come; [gtplayer:795] was also eliminated, the highest-finished player without a clan affiliation. Then, Turtle Clan's [gtplayer:146] fell, the victim of a 3 on 1; and Bros & Cos [gtplayer:197] missed the cut by 20 points and was eliminated as well.
That left four warriors, who had fought their way to this moment through countless rounds, wins, losses, and struggles; four warriors who had just two matches of Melee and two races of kart left with which to prove their worth and claim their prize and the glory of victory. These chosen four were:
From Bros & Co:
[gtplayer:736], who had taken the prizeless 4th place in the 2004 Grand Championship Finals and was hungry for more than a t-shirt, and clanmate [gtplayer:168], who had been to the finals 4 times in the 2006 season, assembling a complete set of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishes;
and from We Are Hard:
[gtplayer:737], whose multifaceted skills were undeniable, and whose leadership had brought together the forces that made We Are Hard the standout story of the season, and clanmate [gtplayer:606], whose Melee prowess was undeniable, but whose vulnerability in Kart could cost him Victory, and put the mesh of allegiances that formed We Are Hard to the test.
[gtplayer:606] won both of the melee rounds, while [gtplayer:737] took second in both, setting the stage for an intense and deeply emotional final set of Mario Kart races. [gtplayer:606] had a 40-point lead, but [gtplayer:737] had a skill advantage in Kart; and with the final races being Rainbow Road and Baby Park, it required a lethal combination of skill and luck to survive.
In the first Kart race, [gtplayer:737] took 1st place, as [gtplayer:606] took 3rd, with [gtplayer:168] taking 2nd and [gtplayer:736] coming in 4th. [gtplayer:606] still had a chance, but he had to beat FJW on Baby Park. As the final race came to a ferocious end, [gtplayer:606] finished 4th, and FJW was able to overtake him, seizing first place and the Wii. [gtplayer:606] took second, and chose the iPod over the DS for the first time in GT history, leaving the DS to third place [gtplayer:168], and the lousy t-shirt to now two-time 4th place finalist, [gtplayer:736].
With new controversies born, Clan allegiances possibly shaken beyond repair, and almost all of the big guns due back for one more season, the 2007 GT may be the hottest one yet. Thanks to all of you for your participation, your sportsmanship, and for giving me the privilege of having the coolest job in town. I hope to see you all at DS Fest and Open Play next week, Tuesday-Thursday, from 4-8 PM, and at the Season 4 Planning meeting at Pittsfield Branch, Saturday, 2/10, from 1-4 PM. There will be food, open play, and we'll be doing wrapup interviews for the DVD (which will be done more promptly this year).
Thanks again, guys, and see you next season!