Northeastern Championships 20
The Northeastern Championships (otherwise known as simply NEC) had been one of the biggest if not the biggest annual event organized by Big E Gaming, (one of the best Tournament organizer of the SOULCALIBUR Franchise) all throughout the year! Not only that, it is also one of the premier events which features SOULCALIBUR VI as one of its leading FGC events of the night. Its 20th itineration occurs on November 29, 2019 to December 1, 2019 at the Lancaster Marriot at Penn Square in #25 S Queen St., Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. Notably, it is also the first tournament that will be featuring the second season of SOULCALIBUR VI!
Although getting a much fewer entrant numbers of 102 (compared to last year’s) due to the fact that the event was held around Thanksgiving, it is still a stacked event featuring a lot of top players in the USA and France. After a lot of matches in the pools which featured a lot of hype battles and upsets, the top 8 players of the tournament was determined consisting of BDG | Bluegod, IRMaxi, Oplon | Skyll, AXL | Boom, JJJ, Linkorz, GETV | KOA Sandman and DF | Saiyne.
The First sets of the tournament got by fast wherein the winner’s side saw sweeps made by Bluegod and Skyll against their opponents IRMaxi and Boom, respectively, and another sweeps made by Linkorz and Sandman against JJJ and Saiyne, respectively, eliminating them. The next sets, on the other hand, proved to be much more competitive most notably the battle between defending NEC champion Linkorz and IRMaxi during the loser’s top 6.
One of the newest features of the game is the Resist Impact (or simply RI), a move which uses half of your gauge to Guard Impact any move of your opponent even if it’s an unblockable, guard break or soul charge/attack animation. There were talks within the community questioning this new mechanic’s usefulness during fights. In the tournament however, IRMaxi (IRM in short) just showed how important this RI is during fights especially when he defeated Sandman within the pools.
Starting the first match, IRM used his patented Maxi to fight against Linkorz’ Siegfried. In the first round, it was a fast win for IRM when he hit Linkorz with a Lethal hit continuing it with a combo to RO the latter. Next round, IRM got an early lead hitting Linkorz with a launch and a combo thereafter. Linkorz’ attempt to strike back was RI’d by IRM which he continued with a number of hits. In the final seconds, a punch from Maxi made Linkorz lose the match. In the next match, an exchange of blows left the two in equal footing mid-match. However, Linkorz managed to hit IRM with a Critical Edge. IRM then made a come-back in which Linkorz used Soul Charge to stop. But IRM, expecting it, activated Resist Impact to avoid the wave thrown by the SC and hit Linkorz with low kicks for a sweeping first match set!
His Siegfried 3-0’d, Linkorz used his Geralt in the second match. 1st Round, the fight was close between the two until a surprising reverse RO was made by IRM. 2nd Round, Linkorz got back and won it by playing more cautiously and patiently whiff punishing IRM’s attacks and RI attempts. 3rd Round was another close round between the two but IRM’s Soul Charge new attacks hit his opponent to win it. The 4th was a display of dominance by Linkorz hitting IRM with everything he dished out. In the final round, Linkorz got into early advantage until IRM made another RI counter to steal the round. Despite IRM efforts though to beat his opponent, he lost the match by an Aard to the face from the defending champ.
Into the last match, Linkorz started with a dominating 1st round win. IRM then countered a dominant win of his own in the 2nd match featuring again the potential of Resist Impact. The 3rd match was an even battle between the two which was won by Linkorz taking advantage of Igni’s range to hit IRM. In the 4th round, Linkorz fell victim by another reverse RO win by IRM. In the final round, Linkorz made sure to beat his worthy opponent by dominating the round and ending competitive battle with Geralt’s Critical Edge.
Although he lost the match, IRMaxi exhibited a memorable great performance featuring one of Season 2’s newest mechanics in high-level tournaments and against a top player in Linkorz. Hoping to see more of his game.
Meanwhile in the other sets, Skyll won a commanding 3-1 set over Bluegod during winner’s finals and Boom defeated Sandman in the other top 6 loser’s set.
A Champion Dethroned
Linkorz, last year’s champion had a harder path this tournament wherein he started in the loser’s side of the top 8. However, he showed why he is the defending champ by beating the likes of JJJ (2-0), IRMaxi (2-1) and Boom to enter the loser’s finals of the tournament. However, waiting for him there is Bluegod, his rival for the spot of USA’s best which got his numbers lately after beating him during the SOULCALIBUR World Invitational.
During the 1st match, Linkorz went with Groh to fight Bluegod’s Azwel. 1st round, Bluegod started strong having knowledge of Groh’s basic moves. Linkorz then started to use Groh’s new moves which threw his opponent off and almost won the match if not for a timed crouch by Bluegod on his grab attempt into punishing him with a hit and A. 2nd round, Linkorz’s better mind games and pokes overwhelmed Bluegod resulting him losing the round. 3rd round, Linkorz got early advantage by dishing significant damage during his SC duration. However, Bluegod fought back mightily with Axe attacks. He then activated Azwel’s Soul Charge but found no further use of it as he whiff punished Groh’s AA with his own AA to win the round. 4th round, Linkorz immediately activated Soul Charge to stop the pressure from his opponent and with it, made considerable damage and ended the match with BB. In the final round, Bluegod started winning the neutral battle with Linkorz thanks to weapon arts and 3 AAs. With health disadvantage, Linkorz activated SC and whiff punished Bluegod with 3BB. Not wanting to give his opponent a come-back, Bluegod answered back with his own SC activation. After the duration of each of their SC, a long standstill occurred between the two in which Bluegod won again with Azwel’s AA, winning also the first match set.
After a while of thinking, Linkorz changed his character into Geralt for the 2nd match. However, this decision might not be a good one as Bluegod won the match set 3-0 winning the first round with a Ring Out, the second with a lethal hit combo in a close match and a dominating third round win.
Down 0-2, Linkorz decided to finally use his Siegfried for the remaining matches. Unlike his previous decision, this turned out better than expected as he swept Bluegod the whole match set finishing the 1st round with a lethal hit combo, the 2nd round with a 6BB after a guard break and a Critical finish during the 3rd round to end the set. This dominating performance begged the question if Linkorz should’ve used Siegfried from the start.
Nonetheless, the next match started with both players using the same characters. Linkorz started the 1st round strong hitting Bluegod with his stance attacks. However, an exchange of blows counter-hit him in the corner which gave Bluegod an opportunity to ring him out. Unaffected, Linkorz continued to start strong in the second round which unlike the previous round ended in a dominant win for him. During the 3rd round, the same story occurred wherein Linkorz’ strong start was halted by a Ring Out win from Bluegod. 4th was a close match which Linkorz clutched out after an aB win. In the final round, it turned out the final match for Linkorz in the tournament as he fell victim to a counter hit by Bluegod and which left him open for the following Critical Edge. Despite his efforts for a come-back, Linkorz, the defending NEC Champ was eliminated by his USA rival Bluegod.
World Tournament Rematch
Bluegod and Skyll faced each other during the Grand Finals of SOULCALIBUR World Invitational which is technically the tournament closer of Season 1. Coincidentally, they found themselves facing each other again in the Grand Finals in the tournament opener of SOULCALIBUR VI’s Season 2. Considering the changes and new mechanics with their mains, will their Grand Finals rematch be different than before?
Turns out, it was not so much different as the match was a sweeping display of dominance for Skyll. All throughout the three of their matches, Skyll displayed high mastery of Misturugi’s new moves and forms despite a short notice of practicing it. He won the 1st match in a close 3-2 displaying the Shura Blade at the final round, the 2nd match 3-1 ending it with a Critical Edge, and the final match 3-1 after a devastating wall combo into Mitsurugi’s patented 1KB to be crowned as the new NEC champion. Similar on how he ended the Season 1 with a dominating win over Bluegod, Skyll did it again during the 1st tournament featuring the Season 2 over the same opponent showing everyone why he and his Mitsurugi are Season 1’s World Champions.
A Champion here and there, then and now
With Skyll’s win, it turned out that so far, there were only partial to no changes as to everyone’s gameplay that competed in the tournament. However, it’s understandable considering that there were only a few days of preparation before the tournament. It would surely be different in the next tournaments ahead especially now that a World Tour was just announced which will definitely increase the competitive level of the game going forward. Based on this, many more will be allotting a lot of time in mastering their mains new moves and changes, the different match-ups, etc. Moreover, new player will definitely participate in this tour and we might see some former veterans or top players joining the fray. Regardless, an exciting future will be ahead for all of us! Let’s all enjoy this upcoming great Calibur action!
Brackets links :