BCO's First Fan-Run Tournament (Interview with the Champion!)

13ird's BattleCON Brawl

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Hey, everyone! Marco here to tell you guys about something REALLY cool! So, in case you didn't know, community member windup13ird actually ran a fan tournament for BattleCON Online! Gathering various people of skill, ranging from favorites like Charles (3-time BattleCON World's Champ) to new-comers like Jugan, windup13ird ran a tournament that yielded in some VERY exciting matches! Those of you who have watched the latest Making CONnections may remember a masterfully-played Kimbhe VS Cadenza game:

That, however, is the FINAL game! So, if you don't want to spoil who wins or loses, I suggest going to the first game found HERE!

We at Level 99 Games simply LOVE it when our community takes the initiative to create events like this, so we, of course, provided the winner with a hefty sum of premium BCO currency to buy all sorts of cool skins with! We would like to thank everyone who participated!

What follows assumes that you're OK with knowing who the winner is!


The CHAMPION & the Interview!

It is, therefore, without further delay that we congratulate Aliphant for winning 13ird's BattleCON Brawl with Shekhtur, Luc, and Kimbhe! Your skill was definitely displayed in those games and we hope you enjoy your prize!

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Many of us in the community were very much invested in finding out who won and, while Aliphant is definitely a very strong player, others though that the favorite, 3-time world Champ Charles AKA Moon Knight, would simply take the whole thing. Excited to find out more about our winner, windup13ird interviewed Aliphant after the tournament.

W: Who are you?

A: My name is Aliphant and I'm a BattleCON Online player from Singapore.

W: How long have you been playing BattleCON?

A: I haven't really kept close track. Around a couple of years. I discovered BattleCON on the #tabletop channel of the Parahumans.net IRC and it got me into the wider BattleCON community.

W: What made you get so deep into BattleCON?

A: I really got into BattleCON after picking up my main, Seth Cremmul. It was a love at first sight affair with him. He is the reason why I decided to play BattleCON so extensively. I encourage all new BattleCON players to pick up a main. Not only does it force you to understand that fighter inside and out, but you also start to learn key concepts from the way they use their kit. At the same time, it doesn't feel like hard work because you're playing someone you deeply enjoy, and can motivate you to sharpen your play because you want to do well with them.

W: What is your playing style like?

A:

"Some consider that when I play I am excessively cautious, but it seems to me that the question may be a different one. I try to avoid chance. Those who rely on chance should play cards or roulette. Chess is something quite different."
– "Iron" Tigran Petrosian, 9th World Chess Champion

The above quote is the philosophy that I live by when playing BattleCON. My playing style is based around selecting moves that will win against most of an opponent's attack pairs. I do not believe in a reliance on making reads or understanding the mind of the opponent. These things are important, and I use them frequently, but I'd never base the bulk of my play around them. In an ideal game, my opponent would be able to predict what I was doing each and every beat and still lose, because I did not leave them any viable counters to my attack pairs. Therefore, controlling card lock and positioning as well as restricting opponent options are important for me, and I select characters that allow me to play to those strengths while minimizing the amount of reads I have to make and the number of risks I have to take.
I do read my opponent in BattleCON, but I don't try to definitively predict what move they will play. Instead, I try to predict what moves they will not play. This is far easier, and complements my doctrine of shutting out opponent options. For instance, it is not always possible to play an attack that beats every possible attack pair my opponent could make. However, it's more frequently possible to play attack pairs that beat all but one or two attacks.
Luc's Unique Base, Flash, is a good example of this. Because of its speed and Ignore Stun Guard, it usually wins against most attack pairs except Burst. As such, if I calculate that my opponent won't play Burst (because I have a number of Burst counters in my hand, because they have historically showed a reluctance to play it, or because they have far juicier options this beat) then I will easily play Flash, secure in the knowledge that unless I read wrong, they won't be able to counter me this beat.

I think that this style of play is on the whole optimal for tournament play. Historically speaking, calculation-based players (as opposed to reads-based players who play on intuition or attempt to predict their opponent) have performed slightly better in tournaments, with the champions of BattleCON Worlds and the online BattleCON Sheets tournaments by tankbard both being calculation-based players like me. This is not to dismiss the excellent performances of reads-based players, some of whom are incredibly strong and good at the game, nor is it to say that a calculation-based playstyle is somehow superior. I just think that calculation-based playstyles tend to be more consistent, because they work regardless of whether or not you know your opponent well or can make the reads you need to make. Having a more consistent - if less flashy - rate of victory means that you tend to win more tournament matches, and therefore perform slightly better in tournaments assuming equal skill.

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I was influenced in adopting this kind of playstyle by playing my main, Seth. He's very sub-par if played by making reads. The best way to play Seth is to play defensively and adopt the calculation-based strategy outlined above. Seth's playstyle is often colloquially referred to as "the casino" because of his reliance on the law of large numbers and setting up unfavorable odds for his opponents. The more attack pairs I counter, the less chance there is that they win the beat. Over time, the house always wins. I believe that being a Seth main has shaped the way I view the game and I often find myself thinking about how to win games from a Seth-like point of view, even when playing totally different fighters like Shekhtur. I enjoy this, and I think it makes me a more consistent tournament player as a whole.

My playstyle also places emphasis on character knowledge. In BCO, character knowledge isn't as important as it is in paper BattleCON because the characters are relatively simpler. That means that it's only very important rather than one of the main factors that decides games in high level play. Despite this, I try to at least have as much experience on my tournament characters as possible. Character knowledge is especially important because it allows me to quickly identify methods to secure won beats through heuristics and pattern recognition. It also allows me to learn new techniques or tricks that I can use to blindside opponents that may not be as familiar with my fighter. It helps me get a deeper grasp on their interactions with other characters, which is important due to how essential matchup knowledge is.

Matchup knowledge is essentially an understanding of the unique dynamics inherent in each matchup. In a game between a defensive fighter and a rushdown, each fighter has clear game plans. One tries to guard and mitigate their opponent's damage, the other tries to kill their opponent as quickly as possible. It falls to the player to understand which tools of each fighter can be used to break their opponent's game plan. For instance, the rushdown player needs to know how to use their Ignore Stun Guard to break their opponent's defenses. The knowledge of how each character's unique kit interacts with my opponent's is extremely important when it comes to calculating what options are available, and where I should be positioning to set up favorable options for me in the future.

Thus, my playstyle can be said to be an essentially defensive one, focused on calculating the optimal line of play, and I strengthen this through character and matchup knowledge. It is my belief that this is the most consistent way of playing BattleCON as it is heavily reliant on your own knowledge and is not affected by random factors such as opponent psychology. If this is executed correctly, barring extreme disparities in matchup, your position will be unassailable no matter what your opponent tries to do.

W: What is the reasoning behind your tournament picks?

A: My first pick, Shekhtur, was an easy one. Firstly, she's the BCO character I have the most experience on. Secondly, I considered her to be the strongest character in BCO at the time. (She has since lost this position due to a combination of new character releases, shifts in the meta and a series of nerfs to her kit.) Thirdly, she plays to my strengths very effectively. Shekhtur can often cut off or counter many opponent moves. This means that she's a rather safe character to play, and her effects are reliably triggered as she's a fast character who usually goes first. Shekhtur is one of the most effective fighters in BCO at setting up "sure-win" beats, owing to the aforementioned effects in conjunction with her momentum-based fighting style.

With these factors in mind, I selected Shekhtur as my first pick immediately. Shekhtur did not perform much during the tournament as she was consistently banned. Although it was disappointing that I only got to play one game with her, she played an important role in my team by acting as ban bait so I was free to use my other characters.
My second pick, Luc, was one that I also felt was solid. It has been criticized because of Luc's lack of confirm, but I believe that his mobility and versatility make up for that. I consider him to be the first or second best character in the current roster. One of the most important things about Luc is that he is very well suited to my playstyle. With the large amount of option select he has with options like Eternal, Chrono and his 3 Time ante, he can often set up beats that are very safe.

Luc has no problem going for risk-free null beats, especially dodges, as they allow him to accumulate Time. In addition to this, he has good speed, large damage potential and effects that often allow him to dodge opponents, such as Feinting Burst or advancing into a ranged opponent's minimum range with Chrono. Finally, the usual counters against rushdown characters are not as good against him. Trying to dodge or stay away from him only makes him stronger, and it is not easy to set him up in an awkward position like you can with Shekhtur due to his large amount of mobility. Thus, opponents are forced to choose between fighting a fast, strong character with multiple options at melee range, or trying to dodge away and letting Luc accumulate Time. This ensures that no matter what happens, I have an advantage to leverage against them.

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My third pick, Kimbhe, is a pick that I regret making in hindsight. Both of the games I lost in this tournament were as Kimbhe, but I attribute that to my own lack of skill at Kimbhe rather than the character being inherently weak. I felt that I got better at Kimbhe after she clicked for me and I hit my stride midway through the tournament. However, this doesn't excuse the fact that it was an unacceptable mistake to pick a character I was not confident with in the first place. Nevertheless, I was pleased with Kimbhe's performance during the finals and believe that her strong statline and positioning ability makes her a strong tournament pick in general. She has few clear weaknesses and constantly threatens the opponent with a rotation of high power attacks that do not have many answers. It is also not very easy for an opponent to exploit her obvious weakness - namely stealing her staff - against a competent Kimbhe, and it is nearly impossible to try to control her with the current roster.

If I had to repick my tournament team, I think I would swap out either Shekhtur or Kimbhe for Karin. I initially wanted to pick Karin, who I have a lot of experience with, but was afraid of her poor matchup against Shekhtur, who I expected to be a popular pick. In the end, Shekhtur wasn't picked that much, and I probably would have banned her out anyway since Shekhtur is so strong I was probably going to use my ban on her. Karin is a very mobile and strong character with a mix of control and stats. Like Luc, she hits both hard and fast, and she has a variety of tricky techniques that can really shine in the hands of a player with a lot of character and matchup knowledge.

If she can get an opponent to her favored ranges and positions, it is reasonably easy for her to set up safe beats as well, and I have had a very good winrate with her in quick match. Her one weakness is that she's very sensitive to priority contests, so I think that she might fall off as a tournament pick if a lot of fast characters enter the roster. If that's the case I will probably replace her with another character. One good thing about Karin is that her control effects and mobility are often very potent against heavyweights, which is especially useful in the current heavyweight-dominated meta.

With the shifts in the roster and meta making Shekhtur less suitable, I think I would replace her with another character as well. As of now, I am not totally sure who, but I have Cadenza, Alexian, Magdelina and Marmelee as potential candidates.

W: Have you ever taught BattleCon to someone new?  If so, what did you find worked best in introducing the game?

A: Yes, quite a few times. The most useful exercise I find for teaching newbies about the basics of the game is to play a game with them using only the standard bases, without any Styles, Unique Abilities or Unique Bases. This allows the newbie to build confidence in an arena that they don't feel hopelessly lost in and teaches them the basic feel and flow of the game and how things like advances or stun work. At the same time, it ensures that they have a strong foundation. Right from the beginning, you ensure that they know essential concepts like the base pentagon, card lock and positioning and how they tie into your ability to hit or lack thereof, as well as the basic properties of the board (eg. Burst being useless when cornered).

W: I think it is exciting that BCO is a "living" game, in that characters are subject to change.  Is there a change you would like to see in a current member of its cast?  Either a specific change or a more general idea that may not have a present answer?

A: The overall game balance of the current BCO cast is quite solid. The balance team has put in a lot of work in ensuring no character is too overpowered or underpowered. If there's anything I'd like to see, it's not a change in the current member of the cast, but rather more diversity in the cast to allow for a more flexible meta and a wider variety of picks. I think BCO is in fairly good shape right now and doesn't need too many changes.

W: Without considering any knowledge of the game's development, which character would you most like to see in BCO?  What about the least?

A: I would like to see Seth Cremmul implemented the most. He is my main and I think I could do very well with him. If he is implemented, my aim is to try to become the best Seth player in BCO. That will be a difficult task, but it will be rewarding to know that I am the best Seth in the world. As for the character I'm least looking forward to, I'm happy to see any character implemented. But I think Alumis is boring and not very strong so maybe her.

W: Is there anything you would like to plug (Meetups, websites, etc)?

A: The guides on Level99Games are very good, as are the various video series by TheMechanicritic, particularly Making CONnections. New players who wish to improve should thoroughly study those sources.


And that's the run-down of 13ird's BattleCON Brawl, BCO's First Fan-Run Tournament with official prize support! It was exciting, awesome, and AMAZING!

Are you sad that you weren't able to participate? You wanna tag along and watch it as it unfolds? Want to register? Well, you've lucked out, dear reader! windup13ird is organizing yet another tournament: The Argent Arena!


The Argent Arena Sign-Up

It's time for another big BCO tournament!  Welcome to The Argent Arena!

What: a double elimination BCO Tournament!  Pick 3 characters and ban 1 of your opponent's.

When: March 30th - April 14th.

Prize: BattleCoins (amount tbd)

What’s needed to enter:
1) Message Windup13ird (#7285) on Discord asap with the following: Discord Name, BCO name, and preferred name to be used for Bracket, Youtube videos, and audio commentary.
2) 3 Characters you will be using.  These will be locked in Thursday, March 29th.
3) Time Zone and general hours of availability for the two weeks.  TOs reserve the right to deny registration to those with times that heavily conflict with majority of other participants.
4) Willingness to send match replays to Fasthippy (#0585) for viewing/potential uploading.  Tournament Organizerss will provide tutorial to registered players (low-tech and low-hassle I promise).

Sign up Availability:
From now to Tuesday,  March 27th.

Tournament rules and info can be found here:
https://challonge.com/dw0ud6xr