As dawn rose on the second day of the Ozhadou Nationals 14, the air was thick with excitement and anticipation. The elimination brackets of the previous day had been grueling with hundreds of competitors whittled down to only a fifth.
Smash, the underdog game in an underdog industry was the first to begin with the top 32 singles rounds for both Super Smash Brothers WiiU and Super Smash brothers Melee carving their way down to the top 8 by the evening. Capturing the top positions for Smash WiiU was Victorian player Extra with the potent duo of Mr Game and Watch and Wario with NVO|Ghost from Western Australia running up with the hefty roster of Cloud, Bayonetta, Diddy Kong and Mewtwo. Spud representing Sin gaming, claimed the top position for Melee with the duo of Marth and Falco while NVO team member S.D claimed the runner-up position with Fox.
Turning to the main stage, the finals of the Virtua Fighter 5 competition were the first in line with several hard fought battles. New South Wales player Mike having lost his first round to the Japanese Itabashi Zangief found himself having to scratch and claw his way back into contention scoring well-earned victories over fellow New South Welshmen Made Man and MegadetH. Sadly in spite of his enduring will to succeed, Mike was once again defeated by Ita-san in the finals going down 3 rounds to 0.
Following Virtua Fighter was the always gruesome and gory Mortal Kombat X, the first of the major finals to consist of entirely Australian players. Queensland player Castiel found quick and decisive victories early on winning both his first and second round matches without conceding a single match to his opponents. NSW player NVO Cabjoy found similar success although his second round was much harder fought match against longtime roadblock Arnold Desu. Having finally vanquished his demon Cabjoy moved on to defeat Castiel in a Mortal Kombat inversion of the state of origin, sending the Queenslander down into the losers bracket. Defeated but not deterred Castiel conquered fellow NuovoGaming team member NVO Gilbagz to earn his runback and a chance at the championship.
Though the battle between them was close at times, Cabjoy would eventually earn both his redemption and the championship defeating Castiel in a hard fought 3 rounds to 2.
Taking second position in the finals cue was Tekken 7 the second and final competition to feature an entire Australian list of competitors and in spite of the lack of blood and gore seen in the previous game the combat was no less brutal with Victorian Jack 7 Player Dee On and Queensland Claudio player JabuTheHutt cutting a swathe of destruction through their opponents as they made their way to the finals. Eventual 3rd place winner Channel No. 6 was no slouch either scoring a number of convincing victories in the early rounds with the gymnastic fighter lili before finding defeat at the hands of Dee On.
Tragically for JabbuTheHutt, the final match up ended in a similar fashion to his first round encounter with Dee On ending in a 3 rounds to 1 decimation.
Following the conclusion of the Tekken tournament, competitors and spectators alike were treated to a visit from Bandai Namco representative Stephen O’leary who in addition to generously providing the setups for the tournament, wished to thank
the community for their support and urge them to continue to support the game.
In the background of the Tekken finals, “The Beast” Daigo Umehara took some time to sign copies of his book “The Will To Keep Winning” following on from his signing the previous day. As the clock ticked onwards, it eventually came time for both “The Beast” and the remaining top 8 SFV players to take the main stage and decide their fate.
Of all the Finals these had been the toughest for the Australian players with only two managing to make their way into the top 8. South Australian Player Falco alongside New South Welshman ShangTsung were the last hopes for an Australian champion with fierce competition ahead of them. Making up the rest of the top 8 were Hong Kong player Humanbomb, China’s Jiewa representing Panda TV, Taiwanese veteran Gamerbee, The always happy K-Brad representing the US and last but not least the Japanese duo of Itabashi Zangief and Daigo Umehara.
Opening the top 8 was the duo of DS|Falco and ZW|Gamerbee pitting Chun-Li’s defence and technique against Necalli’s all out aggression and offence. Falco put up an admirable resistance against the veteran scoring victories in at least one match however he quickly found himself overcome by Gamerbee’s pressure going down 3 rounds to 0.
Daigo and Humanbomb were the first to take the stage in a character match-up that immediately put “The Beast” at a disadvantage. Matches were fast and heavy with both players taking rounds back and forth until both stood with two apiece and only 1 match between either player and victory. With conservative play and match-up experience, Daigo was able to eke out a win to thunderous applause. A world class set from world class players.
First up in the loser’s bracket was China’s Jiewa against the Japanese Itabashi Zangief in a set that featured piledrivers a plenty as Itazan quickly went to work in taking down his opponent capturing the first round. Jiewa would retaliate in turn capturing the second as quickly as he lost the first however victory would be short lived for the Chinese national as Itazan was to follow up with a pair of victories taking the set 3-1.
Rounding out the first round of the finals was Australian ShangTsung and American K-Brad which placed the returning Nash against K-Brad’s signature Cammy. Though scoring an early match victory against the visitor, the Aussie was unable to secure a round, going down 3-0 and exiting the tournament tied in 7th place.
The second round of the finals began with a clash of titans that saw Gamerbee take on Daigo in a bout that left many of the edge of their seat. Gamerbee was the first to claim victory with Necalli’s seemingly insurmountable V-trigger earning back to back match wins and securing the first round. As the matches continued in intensity Daigo’s legendary adaptability came into play with “The Beast” quickly altering his play to space out the powerful but slower opponent and avoid his crushing special. In the end the hard fought victory belonged to the legend 3 rounds to 2.
Following on, Itabashi Zangief clashed with Humanbomb in similarly hard fought battle with both players taking their fair share of wins. In the end Zangief’s power overcame Humanbomb and Chun-Li’s defenses and versatility claiming the bout 3-2.
With ShangTsung eliminated in the previous round, it was left to DS Falco to carry Australia’s championship dreams coming up against K-brad in the final bout of the semi-finals. With similar capabilities in control and pressure it seemed the matches themselves would come down to the individual player’s experience and in that department K-brad had the unquestionable advantage. Though seemingly flustered by early losses Falco was able to rally and capture a round against the more experienced American though in the end it wasn’t enough with Australia’s final competitor eliminated tied in 5th place 3 rounds to 1.
With naught but the international competitors left, it was time to ramp things up with K-brad taking on Itabashi Zangief in losers finals. Seemingly resigned to his fate from the get go the American put on an impressive display of offense and control only to find himself overpowered at almost every turn. Disappointingly K-Brad never managed to make it out of the starting blocks going down 3 rounds to 0 and finishing in 4th place.
With only one more round between him and the Grand final and a handful of impressive victories under his belt, it seemed as though things were going well for Itazan however, his next challenge proved to be his greatest in the form of Gamerbee and Necalli. Though his play was flawless and he found himself in the lead on many occasions, the Virtua fighter champ would fall short of his goal going down 3 rounds to 2.
At long last after two days of grueling competition, the Grand final was upon us with all eyes turned to the main stage as Daigo Umehara and Gamerbee faced off in a rematch from the Semi-finals. though their match had been close beforehand it was now an uphill battle for the Taiwan veteran with Gamerbee needing to defeat “The Beast” not once but twice in order to secure the championship. The battle was once against hot and heavy with Gamerbee taking an early lead only to once again find himself outclassed by the legendary Daigo. In the end any advantage Gamerbee may have had was lost in their first altercation with Daigo securing a comfortable victory 3 rounds to 2 avoiding the reset and claiming his second consecutive championship in the tour thus far.
Though lacking the big tournament experience of the visitors, the Australian players put up a valiant effort and with nearly 600 competitors and over 13000 viewers on twitch not only was the Ozhadou Nationals 14 a raging success but it also proved that Australia and Sydney are a worthy addition to the Capcom Pro Tour lineup with a promising future in the International FGC community.
For information on upcoming competitions and replays of the event be sure to visit the links below
Chris Senz is a gaming writer and contributor to PN2.