Event Recap: 2017 Splatoon Cup Grand Finals for Australia and New Zealand
On the 29th of April, excitement and tension was buzzing through the air as the 2017 Splatoon Cup Grand Finals for Australia and New Zealand took place. After weeks of intense competition, the two teams left standing were none other than $¢arthace and the Blue Ringed Octolings. The Blue Ringed Octolings had actually lost to $¢arthace previously in the Semifinals, so seeing them bounce back for another chance at the cup was incredible.
The event opened at 11 am on the Saturday. Bright lights illuminated the venue as Splatoon 2’s theme song blared over the voices of everybody at the event – which wasn’t many at the time. In fact, there were so little people at first that me and the few friends I had come to the event with were consistently and constantly roped into playing the Splatoon 2 demo units that lined the wall, since the game required 8 players and all. Not that we minded, of course!
As the day went by, that gradually changed. More and more people filled the room and by the time lunch was just about done, the event was bustling and alive. There was a variety of attendees gathered all sharing the common interest that was Splatoon, spanning children seemingly younger than 10 to people well into adulthood. It was an absolute delight to see.
Haiwon of Squid Hero 4 and Dr. Arkaos of Double D, two other teams that had competed in the tournament spoke to us about their overall impressions of the event itself. Haiwon mentioned that “it was nice to see how we all come from diverse backgrounds and places and differ in age, but have a common interest. I enjoyed spending time talking about what I love with others who could actually understand what I was saying.” Dr. Arkaos had similar thoughts to share. “It was really cool to meet people from this community and I hope that this is the start of more events of its kind in Australia.”
While the general public was interacting and chatting over a glass of the event’s self-proclaimed ‘Splatoon Slushies’, $¢arthace and the Blue Ringed Octolings were behind the scenes preparing for the big showdown, each in their own way.
We spoke to Spongebev, Bickibird, Latias and MadiKuma of the Blue Ringed Octolings and Scarth, Jafa and Spaceman of $¢arthace to get their thoughts on how they all felt leading up to the Grand Final event. $¢arthace’s Sicky was unfortunately not available to comment at the time of writing.
“The entire situation was surreal”, Spongebev told me. The rest of the team agreed. Bickibird stated “because $¢arthace beat us quite badly in the second heat (they scored 4-1 against us), I didn’t feel overly confident we could win against them. I was just happy that we all made it as far as Melbourne.” The unfamiliar environment that they had to play in turned out to also be a factor in how they were generally feeling. Latias added to this, saying “We’d been given a small amount of time to practice playing in LAN conditions, in which I hadn’t done so well.”
The Blue Ringed Octolings obviously weren’t the only ones who were nervous, either.
“Flying to an event outside of my city isn’t something I’ve done before and it was nice to meet both my teammates who I wasn’t familiar with – having been acquainted with Sicky and Jafa only briefly before and knowing Spaceman for about a year and a bit – and meeting BRO.” Scarth explained as he reminisced over the event. Spaceman jokingly claimed, “Nervousness peaked early on in the day during some… unexpected photo shoots followed up by video interviews, which will hopefully never surface on the internet for all our sakes.” So, the team was nervous – but they were also feeling sure about their victory. They were ready to take the gold. “I was confident that we could win” Jafa told me. This sentiment was shared throughout the team.
After hours of casual socialising, the clock struck to 2:30pm – it was finally time for the Grand Finals to begin. The curtains that were hiding a whole area of the floor parted, revealing an impressive set up in which the competitors would have their final clash.
Soon after, a heart-warming and touching video message from Hisashi Nogami (the Producer of Splatoon) played, striking a chord with the hearts of not only the players involved – but everybody at the event. He lamented on not being able to attend the event in person but wished everybody luck nonetheless.
The two teams soon locked horns, with commentator Alethea Lim, otherwise known as Alecat online, overseeing the tournament. “Commentating on the grand finals was quite different from the streams we had run in the lead up! At the grand finals, I was aware throughout that there was the possibility that the players might overhear my comments and had to be careful not to reveal anything that might affect gameplay” she commented.
The intimate nature of the area led to the teams not being able to communicate with each other in the slightest! Any word spoken would be heard by those nearby – so this was a radically big change from what the players were normally used to. “It was weird playing with an audience considering I’m usually sitting alone in my bedroom, haha. It was amazing though!” MadiKuma recalled. “Hearing the cheering from the crowd and the excited commentator (Ale did a fantastic job) when you started to make a push really got the adrenaline running. For the most part, I didn’t really pay attention to the fact $¢arthace were sat in front of me, too absorbed in what I needed to be doing.” The rest of the team shared similar thoughts, with Spongebev adding that “once you really get into the battle, it’s easy to block out everything else and play to your full potential” despite feeling intimidated early on.
“It was certainly a very different environment compared to playing online for sure! I had no issues with the audience being so near us and thought it was pretty cool. Although, I guess I felt slightly more conscious of the audience seeing me make bad plays, haha.” It seems the competitors, like Jafa here, thought having an audience watch was a great experience. However, the anxiety of having the crowd’s eyes on their every move seemed to be a recurring theme among some players across the board.
Latias elaborated on her personal experience of also dealing with this. “At first, I was scared of the crowd. They could openly watch me fail. You could hear the audience cheering whenever a game changing play was shown on the monitor. This either made me feel bad for being outplayed or helped boost my confidence. Nevertheless, it added to the pressure I was feeling before the Grand Finals.”
With the rounds underway, the qualifying winners of the Grand Final would have to win the best of 9 matches. For the first few matches, both teams were very evenly matched – with both at 2 wins each. At this point, nobody was sure who could potentially steal the victory. It was anyone’s game.
That wouldn’t last for long.
$¢arthace stepped on the gas. There were no bars held as they took win after win. The score was now 4-2. Just one more victory from $¢arthace, and it was over. The end.
It didn’t end so easily, however. The Grand Finals were far from over. Perhaps it was $¢arthace thinking that they were in the clear that led to this twist of fate, or perhaps it was the Blue Ringed Octolings feeling the increasingly blistering heat of the furnace that was called the Grand Finals. Either way, what soon followed the Blue Ringed Octolings’ seemingly definite loss was nothing short of miraculous. The Blue Ringed Octolings had pushed hard. One, two, three wins and it was done. They had won the game 5-4.
“After the big upset happened in our gruelling hour long 9 match confrontation, all I can say is I was absolutely drained – yet content with our defeat as BRO pushed us to our limit, outlasting us and outperforming us right to the very end.” Spaceman mentioned as he looked back on the tournament after everything had wrapped up.
This applied to the Blue Ringed Octolings as well. To say $¢arthace gave them a run for their money would be an understatement. The fact that they actually won was something that BRO took a lot of time processing. It was totally unbelievable to them. “I was in shock and it still feels surreal to me. Especially since they took that 4-2 lead. That made me way less confident about us winning. To be able to take the next 3 games still astounds me. I’m just so happy for my team.” Bickibird told us.
She wasn’t the only one happy for her team. That feeling extended to the members of $¢arthace as well, with the team captain expressing his thoughts on the results of the tournament. “I’m not really sure how to properly describe my feelings after. I’m happy for BRO’s success though and hope that Nintendo can see the potential for LANs outside Japan and competitive play in general. It would be great to have more official events going into Splatoon 2.”
Haiwon told me while I was asking her about her thoughts on the Splatoon community. I felt like it was something we could all connect with regarding having amazing events like this here in Australia.
“After everything that happened today, I took away that it’s okay to like what I’ve been liking all these years – which is playing video games! I learnt that there are people like me out there who love them as much as I do and enjoy talking about them too. It only reaffirmed to me that no matter how old I get, I want to keep on gaming and watch others game too. As long as I can support myself, I wish to keep playing great video games – like Splatoon – and supporting gaming events like this.”
We can only hope Nintendo AU NZ will continue to foster their fans and the support the wonderful community we all share for years to come. Until then, in the comments below, be sure to show $¢arthace some love, and wish the Blue Ringed Octolings the best of luck as they make their way towards E3 for the 2017 Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational.