CEO 2016 Recap
This past weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Panda Global, and what better way to celebrate than attending CEO 2016 in Orlando, Florida? Featuring tournaments in all major fighting game titles - and in part organized by our very own Bear - the beautiful Wyndham Resort welcomed 10 of the team’s players along with leaders Alan “SamuraiPanda” Bunney MD and David “Mashumaru” Wu.
Picking up medals in Mortal Kombat X, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, Pokkén Tournament, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Smash Bros. Melee; the weekend was an irrefutable success for many of the Pandas in attendance. However, CEO was not without its upsets, particularly when it came to the Smash community and FChamp’s early ticket home.
Panda Global’s Bear was on the ground all weekend, ensuring that everything ran smoothly behind-the-scenes. All those in attendance can attest to this TO’s dedication and passion, which contributed first-hand to the success of CEO. The event featured boxing-style ring entrances for all of the Top 8’s; but the Smash 4 players were the undeniable stars of the show. Bear had instructed them to use this opportunity to display their personalities and connect with the crowd, a challenge they delivered with full force. Fans were also intrigued by the 30-second coaching between games, which once again added a lively flare to the competition - and all the while Bear stood by, carefully timing the animated exchanges.
In Melee, Plup faced-off against Mew2King in the Top 8. The rivalry between the two players was perfectly exhibited in one of the closest Sheik dittos CEO has seen. The crowd was fired up as the set came down to one stock apiece in game 5. In a match-up that could have easily gone either way in the final seconds, Plup found himself heading on to the Losers bracket.
Perhaps still reeling with emotion due to his adrenaline-fueled battle with Mew2, Plup’s performance was visibly impacted in his following matches. As he fought to regain the composure our Panda fell to SFAT [1-3] in the Losers semis.
For Melee Doubles, Plup teamed up with Tempo Storm’s Axe, who - after a dominating run through the bracket - were overpowered by Hungrybox/Mew2King [1-3]. Working through SFAT/PewPewU in Losers Finals [3-1], the pair came back to Grand Finals against Hbox/Mew2: an intense match in which these four talented players grappled for the win. In yet another exceedingly close set, Plup/Axe were sent home with second place [2-3].
Coach Steve represented Panda Global in Pokkén Tournament, entering the Top 8 on the Losers side. He was confident going into the quarter-finals against Abadango, having just come off two victories versus Chadelure - including one against his practice partner CatFight. By carefully sticking to his gameplan he succeeded yet again [2-0]. However, his match versus Teejay’s Reshiram proved more difficult: frustrations with certain combinations led to a mounting imbalance and ultimately cost him the game [1-2], and Coach Steve settled into fourth.
RayRay entered the Top 16 in Marvel on the Winners side, but fell to FullSchedule in his first set [2-3]. After making his way through the Losers bracket - including a match versus his training partner Flux which was unsurprisingly even-grounded considering the two players’ experience battling each other - RayRay came up against FullSchedule once again in the Losers semis. The Panda was the first to admit that he was outplayed by FullSchedule that weekend, taking home fourth place after being double-eliminated [1-3] by his opponents seamless gameplay.
In Guilty Gear, MarlinPie delivered an impressive performance. Tossed from the Winners bracket by Japanese player Dogura [0-2], the Panda continued to drive for the top. In the Losers semis Marlin battled the other remaining American player in the tournament, KidViper. Capitalizing on his opponent’s demonstrable lack of experience with the Zato match-up, Marlin took control of the match [2-1] and advanced to the finals where he faced a second Japanese player, Kazunoko.
Marlin was confident going into the fight - having caught onto Kazunoko’s habits and playstyle - and took the first round for himself. However, Kazunoko then switched to Raven, a newer character that the Panda lacked experience against. Forced to learn on his feet, Marlin was able to make enough adjustments to take a few rounds off Raven: fighting for his life and his chance for a rematch with Dogura. Ultimately, it all happened too fast and Marlin had to settle for third place in the tournament [1-3].
We saw a new patient side of Scar as he fought through the Top 8 in Mortal Kombat X. In the Losers semis versus Semiij’s Mileena he demonstrated just how lethal he can be when on top of his game. After ending the match with a shockingly stylistic overthrow [3-0], Scar moved on to battle A F0xy Grampa for a spot in the Grand Finals. The two seasoned players traded round after round until Scar delivered a compelling punish to take the set [3-2].
SonicFox - the undefeated champion - awaited Scar in the Grand Finals, and in honor of the occasion Scar brought out some of his infamous pocket characters. After losing the first game to Sonic’s Gunslinger Scar switched to Hat Trick - using the rarely seen variation to tie the set. After Sonic took a game off Hat Trick, Scar switched over to another underutilized variation: Triborg Smoke. Despite Scar’s valiant efforts, he was unable to overcome SonicFox’s uncanny ability to read his opponents, and the Panda placed second in the tournament [1-3].
The Pandas now prepare for the summer’s most anticipated feature: EVO. Counting down the remaining weeks until this iconic event, players all around the world are cracking down on their training, rigorously preparing themselves for the sensational clash of eSports’ titans.