AL ITA MASTER411 wins King of the Ring Week 1!

It’s taken a while, but we would like to bring you up to speed on what took place for Week 1 of King of the Ring, a competitive mini-series for Killer Instinct brought to you by Stream.Me and The Dutch Brawlers! Read on for the Week 1 results!

Leading off the Loser’s Bracket is CWOTC with Gargos and TDB H0TSH0T with Cinder. H0TSH0T sustains a lot of damage right off the bat, but a Counter Breaker on his Shadow Trailblazer allows him to bring it all the way back in the first round. However, COWTC’s use of Instinct allows him to trade a Shadow Portal Punch with Cinder’s extended Inferno, beginning a combo sequence that leads into a game-winning Counter Breaker from the Gargos player. H0TSH0T realizes right there that his lack of patience cost him, so he slows down his pace in the second game. His use of the backdash to avoid Gargos’s wake-up Reckoning into Instinct proves instrumental to his performance, as does the infamous Domi bomb juggle which results in colossal damage!  With CWOTC down to his last legs, he gets a combo, calls out a minion and tries to retreat, but H0TSH0T runs him down and anti-airs him. CWOTC fails to break his combo allowing H0TSH0T to get the recapture and an Ultra JUST before Gargos’s minion can disrupt his victory! TDB H0TSH0T takes it 2-1 after an excellent recovery from the first match!

The second match would feature a character line-up that is so rarely seen in competitive Killer Instinct: a Shadow Jago mirror match with TDB Fang and TDB WhatUpEth! The distinction between the two players’ styles is evident, with Fang focusing on divekick-oriented offense while WhatUpEth prefers the DP option off a dash. A combo drop in the first game almost costs WhatUpEth, but he makes up for it to nab his first win. TDB Fang delivers a brutal response in the second game, throwing out one overhead after another to punish WhatUpEth for his crouch-blocking. Fang achieves a Supreme Victory with the swiftness, tying up the set 1-1, but the final game showcases a ruthless brawl between the two. The divekick’s instant recovery on whiff further aids in Fang’s offense, as does a Counter Breaker. WhatUpEth tries to enforce the fireball game only to be punished by a full-screen slide from Fang almost every time. In the end, WhatUpEth misjudges his meter as he tries to surge his divekick only for the regular one to come out instead, leaving him open to a punishing Ultra from his adversary. Fang takes it 2-1 over his comrade to survive in Loser’s Bracket!

The tournament makes a switch over to Winner’s Bracket where TG Coopstar (Jago) takes on HW Valoraxe (Cinder). Valoraxe immediately retreats before coming right back in with air trailblazers, a decision that eventually leaves him on his back right in Jago’s face. Coopstar’s hit-confirms off the overhead are phenomenal, giving him notable damage when opening his combos. Valoraxe tries to control the mid-range with his Inferno attack, only to eat a Shadow Wind Kick followed by Jago’s Ultimate. Flustered, Valoraxe defects to the powerhouse Tusk. At first Coopstar struggles in close quarters against the character due to his enormous attack sizes and the Deflect mechanic. The potential damage from Tusk’s grabs slowly adds up, eventually culminating in a lost life bar for Coopstar, but he strikes back by tossing fireballs to stop Valoraxe from abusing his Deflect. Another successful hit-confirm from Coopstar closes out the set 2-0 in his favor!

Due to an illegal character pick from TDB LeChatNoir (Shin Hisako was banned for this bracket), ITA MASTER411 would automatically advance to Winner’s Finals. Meanwhile, LeChatNoir would face his teammate TDB H0TSH0T for the chance to stay alive in Loser’s. LeChatNoir plays it slow and steady, using his bats to ward off Cinder’s bombs while slowly walking his way in, not daring to air dash unless he sees an opportunity. He fails to anti-air the trailblazers and is forced to hold Cinder’s pressure as a consequence. Oddly enough, LeChatNoir refrained from breaking his opponent’s juggles a majority of the time, a decision that would come back to haunt him. While he defended the life lead fairly well in Game 1, his occasional loss of patience caught up with him, and H0TSH0T splats him into the wall before popping Instinct to link a manual into an Ultra. Game 2 gets off to a very rough start for LeChatNoir, but in retaliation he starts to exploit the gaps in Cinder’s offense while draining his own health to add to his damage output, enough for a 62% combo! H0TSH0T’s heavy trailblazers catch him slipping up in his defense, however, and the scales tip into Cinder’s favor yet again. A sequence of blockstrings ensues, lasting for as long as over ten in-game seconds which equates to about twice that amount when measured in real-life seconds. LeChatNoir eventually blocks a cross-up but fails to tech the follow-up throw which finishes him off. TDB H0TSH0T takes it 2-0 to stay alive in King of the Ring!

HW Valoraxe relinquishes the mic again to take on TDB Fang in an explosive match (no pun intended). Fang quickly dishes out his slides to tell his opponent, “Stop throwing those bombs!” But with a little help from his Shadow Inferno, Valoraxe racks up a ton of potential damage and cashes all of it out immediately afterward. Fang isn’t able to find a consistent punish against Cinder’s wake-up Fireflash, but he consistently cancels his attack into the Axe Kick overhead to punish his opponent’s crouch-blocking. Fang tries to punish a whiffed attack with his Shadow Divekick, but it does not reach in time and Valoraxe takes the opportunity to end the game with a Shadow Counter. With one win under his belt, Valoraxe quickly sends Fang down to his last legs in Game 2. As if a switch were flipped, Fang’s playstyle takes an aggressive turn. He continues using his overhead to “pseudo-punish” the Fireflash while implementing more dashes into divekicks and dragon punches. Eventually Valoraxe becomes unable to pressure his opponent due to Fang’s renewed abuse of the reversal DP. With Fang opting for a defensive approach while holding the lead, Valoraxe tries desperately to smother him with heavy trailblazers in the hopes of catching him blocking low. Fang keeps up his rock-solid approach to win the set 2-1.

With two TDB members set to play in Loser’s Semis, this would be the final time that the team would have to decrease its own numbers. TDB Fang must play the Cinder match-up again, but not with the same approach as last time. H0TSH0T’s awareness of Fang’s tendencies aids in his defense against the rampaging Shadow Jago, mix-ups or not. The two would occasionally engage in a fireball war until one player gives in to the urge to strike. Fang tries to approach by surging his divekicks and slides, but H0TSH0T responds to this tactic with a Light Fireflash on reaction to beat out the move. Fang takes the first game nevertheless, but is practically burnt to a crisp in the following match, the outcome leaving both players at a stalemate. They have a heated exchange of words via the chat for a brief moment before the final game ensues. Fang is quick to assert his domination to the point where he leads by over a full life bar. Unfortunately, a decision to press a button after blocking a Shadow Inferno causes him to pay with his first health bar. Panicking now, Fang attempts a surged divekick yet again, but is launched for another juggle that results in a max-level cash-out partly due to the potential damage from Cinder’s Burnout Ender used in H0TSH0T’s previous combo. Fang practically falls apart after the cash-out and H0TSH0T carries him right into the corner to finish the set off with an Ultra. We commend Fang for his run through King of the Ring, but H0TSH0T proceeds to Loser’s Finals as TDB’s last hope!

With our Top 3 locked in, TG Coopstar and AL ITA MASTER411 kick off the Winner’s Finals with a classic Jago vs. Thunder match-up. Throughout all three seasons, this is probably one of those match-ups that has seen the most adjustments. Primarily Jago’s goal is to play the keepaway game until he can plant Thunder onto his back, but Thunder’s current toolset makes him a truly difficult character to out-zone. Coopstar fails to out-zone ITA MASTER and is forced to endure the blender throughout the set. His reluctance in breaking combos causes him to sustain too much damage. For the second match, he opts to backdash often before chucking fireballs so as to catch ITA MASTER whiffing buttons, and while this approach proved somewhat effective, his backward jumps left him open to Thunder’s anti-air DPs. ITA MASTER closes out the second match with Thunder’s Ultimate. Seeing the match-up as a lost cause, Coopstar opts to make his last stand with Eyedol. Now suddenly ITA MASTER is the one on the receiving end of abuse, as his desperate button presses result in Counter Hit advantages for Coopstar. But eventually ITA MASTER gets back to midscreen and constantly challenges Coopstar’s full-screen zoning. Coopstar’s failure to block the overhead after an empty jump proves to be his undoing, and the result is a 3-0 sweep for ITA MASTER!

Fortunately for Coopstar, he gets a chance for redemption in Loser’s Finals, and TDB H0TSH0T finds himself on the wrong end of a brutal rushdown game. Unable to zone Jago out, H0TSH0T gets clocked repeatedly by overheads and the staggered lows. After a quick first loss, H0TSH0T finally abandons his Cinder in favor of the Shadow Lord, Gargos. But even though he manages to get the corner advantage and summon a minion, Coopstar quickly does away with his servant and takes the fight back to close quarters, evening out the life bars in the process. H0TSH0T once again fails to put up a defense of any kind against the Tiger Warrior. This costs him a second game and prompts him to switch back to Cinder. Unfortunately for Coopstar, his overconfidence pushes him to become too risky with Counter Breakers, giving H0TSH0T an opportunity to maintain his spark of life. Coopstar’s momentum suffers drastically from his first loss, though he is able to make a recovery during Game 4. He pushes H0TSH0T to the corner where he baits one Fireflash after another, but all of them go unpunished and Coopstar is left vulnerable to a counter-poke that snuffs out his pixel. Before H0TSH0T can rejoice in his comeback, he finds himself facing Coopstar’s pocket Eyedol. Yet again his defense begins to slip, and understandably so considering that Coopstar is burning his resources to cancel his attacks into a run or more offense. H0TSH0T is unable to contest his opponent from any part of the screen and is eventually zoned to death, thereby putting an end to his dream of a reverse 3-0 victory.

With his victory over H0TSH0T, Coopstar earns his runback with ITA MASTER in Grand Finals. He sticks with Eyedol to capitalize off the momentum he’s accrued with the character. The change in ITA MASTER’s style is readily distinguishable, likely brought on by uncertainty over how to approach this match-up. Coopstar does not hesitate to capitalize on this opportunity. He courageously challenges Thunder’s flip-outs with his own DP while managing a rapid switching of his stances. For the first time since the tournament began, we see ITA MASTER struggling to comprehend what is going on rather than the other way around. The matches are neck-and-neck, but Coopstar’s Eyedol overwhelms Thunder through pure setplay. With Coopstar one game away from forcing a bracket reset, ITA MASTER switches to Shadow Jago, but the character’s low damage output requires him to create more openings than he would need with Thunder. Coopstar makes it a point to stay on the Mage Stance in order to nullify his opponent’s zoning capability, and this strategy does him wonders, allowing him to take the first Grand Finals set! This leads to some delicious irony, as ITA MASTER had previously defeated him 3-0 in their first set and now Coopstar performs a similar feat to drag him into Loser’s Bracket.

As the second set unfolds, ITA MASTER jumps right back to his Thunder…and suddenly a switch is flipped. Gone is the somewhat reserved style he’d displayed in the first set, replaced by the ruthless aggressor he’s known to be. Coopstar had gained enough courage to break out of Thunder’s combos in the previous set, but ITA MASTER would make him pay for his decisions by landing one Counter Breaker after another. The first two matches are best described as absolute slaughter, since Coopstar simply cannot deplete a single health bar, let alone initiate any offense. It would now be ITA MASTER on set point – no, tournament point as this was Grand Finals. Finally, Coopstar lands consistent punishes on Thunder’s dropkicks and ITA MASTER comes off his first health bar, yet this does little to sway him. Coopstar begins a classic throw loop ala Street Fighter V, but backs off after the third throw to bait a Shadow DP. But with no dropkick coming, Coopstar eats a Counter Hit that leads to the tournament-winning Ultra Combo for ITA MASTER!

Tournament Placings and Prizes

1st Place: AL ITA MASTER411
Winnings: $100 and 75 league points

2nd Place: TG Coopstar
Winnings: $50 and 50 league points

3rd Place: TDB H0TSH0T
Winnings: $30 and 25 league points

4th Place: TDB Fang
Winnings: $20 and 10 league points

5th Place: HW Valoraxe
Winnings: 5 league points

5th Place: TDB LeChatNoir
Winnings: 5 league points

7th Place: TDB WhatUpEth
Winnings: 5 league points

7th Place: CWOTC
Winnings: 5 league points

Match Log

Loser’s Bracket

CWOTC (Gargos): 1 vs. TDB H0TSH0T (Cinder): 2

TDB WhatUpEth (Shadow Jago): 1 vs. TDB Fang (Shadow Jago): 2

Winner’s Quarterfinals

HW Valoraxe (Cinder and Tusk): 0 vs. TG Coopstar (Jago): 2

TDB LeChatNoir (Shin Hisako): 0 vs. AL ITA MASTER411 (Thunder): 2

Loser’s Quarterfinals

TDB LeChatNoir (Mira): 0 vs. TDB H0TSH0T (Cinder): 2

TDB Fang (Shadow Jago): 2 vs. HW Valoraxe (Cinder): 1

Loser’s Semifinals

TDB H0TSH0T (Cinder): 2 vs. TDB Fang (Shadow Jago): 1

Winner’s Finals

AL ITA MASTER411 (Thunder): 3 vs. TG Coopstar (Jago and Eyedol): 0

Loser’s Finals

TG Coopstar (Jago and Eyedol): 3 vs. TDB H0TSH0T (Cinder and Gargos): 2

Grand Finals Set 1

TG Coopstar (Eyedol): 3 vs. AL ITA MASTER411 (Thunder and Shadow Jago): 0

Grand Finals Set 2

TG Coopstar (Eyedol): 0 vs. AL ITA MASTER411 (Thunder): 3

Congratulations to ITA MASTER411 for becoming our first King of the Ring winner! Shout-outs to the players all around for delivering to us platters full of delicious gameplay to savor!

Missed out on the action? You can catch up by watching this archive!

The King of the Ring mini-series returns for Round 2 on April 2nd, 2017. EU players that are at least seventeen years of age will be eligible to participate. Players will be allowed to compete via the Xbox One or PC due to cross-play. Visit here to sign up!

In addition to league points, $200 pot bonuses are provided every week and will be split at a 50/25/15/10 ratio between the Top 4. The Season Finale on June 11th will have $500 up for grabs. To qualify for the finale, you’ll need to collect these league points. The higher you place, the more points you earn!

Thanks to TDB KI4Life, HW Valoraxe and discomilitia for providing commentary, and thanks to The Dutch Brawlers for collaborating with us to make this awesome series happen! We will see you this Sunday for some more Killer Instinct!

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