PDP, designers of the new Mortal Kombat fight stick held a massive Mortal Kombat tournament in Las Vegas this past weekend with a huge $21,000 prize pool on the line. The entire tournament was streamed flawlessly on G4TV.com by the talented Team Spooky guys and you can watch the entire tournament via their Justin.tv channel if you missed any of it.
Some of the top fighting game competitors from all over the country flew in for the big event including the illustrious Justin Wong and his buddies Ari “Floe” Weintraub, Joe "Long Island Joe" Ciaramelli, and Carl “Perfect Legend” White, who are all are making quite the splash in the MK scene.
The event started with pool play on Saturday afternoon and there wasn't too much drama or upset during pools. Everything went according to plan and those that practiced hardest with the PDP stick got to advance on to bracket play. What was interesting about this tournament was because the event was being sponsored by PDP, they enforced a rule where everyone, regardless of whether or not they preferred to play on an arcade stick or a pad/controller, had to play on the PDP stick. Not many tournaments enforce rules like this as you generally get a wider variety of applicants if everyone can play with their own personal weapon of choice .It was interesting to see everyone's talent on a somewhat equal playing field.
However, it did seem like players who prefer a fight stick over a pad, like Justin Wong, had a leg up. When asked if he felt handicapped by being forced to play on the stick, Perfect Legend said yes but he understood the move from the business sense and overall seemed to be just fine with the fight stick
On Sunday when the pool play had finished and the tournament transitioned in to bracket play was when things started to more serious. How it worked at this tournament was the top 8 players would get paid out, starting with $10,000 for first place and getting incrementally smaller for the other seven players, and eighth taking home $500. That's still a good chunk of change.
One thing that was hard to miss during bracket play was how only a few characters were being used, mainly Cyrax, Ermac, and Kung Lao. Throughout almost every single match it was almost always Cyrax vs. Kung Lao, or a Kung Lao vs. Kung Lao mirror. It proves that the game simply isn't balanced quite well enough yet. With this much money on the line it made sense that everyone was favoring the overpowered characters instead of choosing from the wide variety of characters in a game like Super Street Fighter 4.
A few matches really stood out during bracket play, the first being the one between Perfect Legend (Kung Lao) versus LI Joe (Ermac) in the winners bracket. During the first set Perfect Legend was easily able to take both rounds convincingly to get up one set up over Joe. Then, Joe changed characters to Cyrax and took the first round in set two, but Perfect Legend's crazy teleporting antics were just too much and PL was able to take rounds two and three to get up 2-0 over Joe in the best of 5 series.
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Then, Joe switched characters again, this time to Kung Lao, so now we had a mirror match. The two guys played the character differently, PL teleporting all over the place and Joe favoring spins and anticipating PL's teleports. Joe quickly took sets three and four after switching to Kung Lao, so the series was tied 2-2 with one game left to determine the winner. Joe was getting pretty pumped up at this point, as was the crowd, and, using Kung Lao with a ridiculously delayed spin he beat Perfect Legend in round 1. But in round two, Perfect Legend took control and won, so the set was tied 1-1 and it all came down to a final game. In the end, Joe's Kung Lao was just too much for Perfect Legend and he won the third round, freaked out, jumped off the stage into Justin Wong's arms, and it was probably the most spectacular moment of the entire tournament.
Another great series was the finals between Justin Wong and Floe. Before they started some of the only drama of the whole weekend perked up. It wouldn't be an eSports event without a little drama, right? Well, what happened was during the losers semifinals between Perfect Legend and Floe, Floe won 3-1 and later during the winners finals Justin Wong was using the same stick that Perfect Legend had been using and it malfunctioned. Perfect Legend complained that if the stick he had been using versus Floe was broken that he should have gotten a rematch, but the tournament officials denied him, saying that it was his own responsibility to take point on stick issues if they were happening during the event, and since he didn't he wouldn't get another chance at it. It was a legitimate complaint, but in the end it was too late.
The grand finals came down to Justin Wong and Floe. The two are practice partners and it was plain to see that they were both having a great time playing and that even though there was a ton of money on the line the two of them were cool, calm, collected, and had absolutely zero animosity between them. Sometimes it's fun to see rivals play against one another, but it's just as fun to see two friends play against each other as well. Unfortunately for the fans the finals were extremely one sided though. Floe was only able to take one game off of Justin who otherwise demolished him, going 4-1 and almost getting a flawless victory in set four against his buddy.
The fans watching the tournament, including G4's own Ernie Moreno, were absolutely blown away by Justin's performance. He proved that he was the defining champion of the MK9 scene with his near perfect play throughout the entire event. Wong took the $10,000 prize with ease and didn't even seem to break a sweat during the grand finals, it was amazing.
At the end of the day the PDP Mortal Kombat tournament was great fun and an extremely well organized tournament. It ran on time, had very few technical issues all things considered, and most of all the competitors and spectators, especially HYPE GUY seemed to have a great time. It bodes well for Mortal Kombat that such tournaments are already popping up when the game is barely a month old. I'm excited to see how these pro players are going to do at EVO when the game debuts there in July.
What was your favorite part of the PDP Mortal Kombat tournament? Let me know and be sure to stay tuned for even more coverage from the event coming soon including an entire episode of Fighting Words shot from the event.
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