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'Final Fantasy' March Madness: Round 1-2

64 party members compete for imaginary glory.

More March, more madness. Another sixteen Final Fantasy characters go head to head in this immensely important, fabricated tournament of champions. Here’s another look at our rules:

  • This tournament will only include party members from Final Fantasy’s main installments. In the interest of narrowing everyone down to 64 participants, no sequel, MMO, or spinoff material is included. Many apologies to a Type-0 cast that could’ve hosted their own tournament.

  • No sequel material also means characters will be limited to the powers available to them in their original appearances. For example, Lightning’s many talents won’t transcend godliness, Cloud’s sword isn’t a murderous Russian nesting doll, and Yuna may find some limitations in her wardrobe.

  • No more than six characters are allowed per game, limiting the presence of the series’ most popular titles. I want an army of the VI cast as much as the next guy, but Onion Knights need love too.

  • Seeding leans in favor of the series protagonists, who were given the top thirteen spots in order of their universally accepted strength. Beyond that point, the supporting party members fill out the remaining spots via this same Internet consensus and a complicated seeding process of mine that I promise would bore you. It can’t be perfect, seeing as I don’t have a personal focus group, but more powerful party members will generally have higher seeds.

  • Lastly and most importantly, these results are lore-based decisions, not gameplay. One character may have an exploitable ability, but the stories decide who wins this tournament. Wakka’s overdrive packs a punch, but throwing fantasy volleyballs at God will only take you so far.

Round 1-1 for anyone catching up!

Now for today’s matchups:

Round 1-2

1. Noctis Lucis Caelum (XV) vs. 16. Wakka (X)

Credit: kevinsidharts (DeviantArt)

Credit: amylrun (DeviantArt)

All Noctis really has to do is show up in the Regalia. That’ll send Wakka into an angry, oddly racist tirade against the blasphemous use of motor vehicles. A king of light takes on Final Fantasy’s best representation of the “ball is life” mantra. I like to imagine the armiger weapons whirling around the tragically crowned king of Lucis, and Wakka just chucking a blitzball at the problem. The captain may have one cannon of an arm, but Noctis and his top tier evasiveness could fish through all of Eos and Spira before taking any real damage in this duel. Noctis wins with ease.

8. Barret Wallace (VII) vs. 9. Faris Scherwiz (V)

Credit: Dorkly

Credit: Dice9633

Two fearless leaders clash in this next matchup. Standard material, which is all we’ll allow here, serves as a substantial offset to Faris’ available and master-able jobs. But the big guy’s most notable ability here is his occasional ability to drain the magic right out of his opponent. He’s a regular mage-eater, which reduces Faris to more primitive combat. That’s where the Avalanche figurehead lets his strong hand do the talking, raining a hellish stream of Gatling goodness on the unsuspecting pirate captain. There’s only one problem for poor Barret. Pets are most certainly allowed in this tournament, and Faris has a big one. Barret can probably handle a fairer fight, but Syldra’s threatening presence turns the tide in her captain’s favor. Faris wins with a cheeky bit of help.

5. Freya Crescent (IX) vs. 12. Lenna Charlotte Tycoon (V)

Credit: Carlos Valenzuela

Credit: Customity

We’ve got another V hero against this tournament’s first dragoon. Lenna may have an affinity for dragons, but dragoons are a breed you’ll want to stay away from in a tournament like this. They’re rarely among the party’s weaker fighters. Much like the previous match, Freya can drain power from mages. She’s also an expert hunter and warrior, whose pure combat skills may be unmatched in the IX party. Lenna isn’t the most bloodthirsty character out there, while Freya runs away with IX’s hunting contest if left unchecked. This win goes to the murderous mouseketeer.

4. Auron (X) vs. 13. Guy (II)

Credit: bulletproofturtleman (DeviantArt)

Credit: Final Fantasy Wiki

Guy’s thing is strength, and he’s not stronger than Auron. That’s a bad sign. Auron is the best guardian there is, a position that already implies some degree of power. He’s a legendary warrior with a tendency to reduce his enemy’s abilities before he carves them up. And he does it all while looking exceedingly, almost unnecessarily, cool. If this macho brawl were to play out, Auron would spend much of his time tenderizing Guy’s defenses. When the time was right, he’d end it without much difficulty. Auron wins without question.

6. Balthier (XII) vs. 11. Dagger (IX)

Credit: Customity

Credit: Dice9633

Garnet Til Alexandros XVII, there’s a mouthful, is a summoner with great potential. Summoners are tough to place in this tournament. Generally speaking, they’ll have a tough time summoning unless they can also hold their own in a physical duel against the opponent. Dagger is almost entirely useless on her own if she’s not summoning. Balthier, on the other hand, is a former Judge. He’s an exceedingly skilled fighter in the battle-tested world of Ivalice. And if we’re being completely honest, Dagger isn’t exactly the most effective summoner in Final Fantasy history. She spends much of IX’s story fighting through various stages of incapable. Her most iconic summon required help from Eiko, and she can’t even cast magic throughout much of the game’s later stages because reasons. In the battle of lengthy birth names, Ffamran mied Bunansa (Balthier was a wise move) defeats Garnet Til Alexandros XVII.

3. Luneth (III) vs. Irvine Kinneas (VIII)

Credit: ishin021 (DeviantArt)

Credit: mowblack (DeviantArt)

Just imagine how this scenario plays out. Before Luneth is even in a decent position, Irvine has the kid in his sights. The fight’s barely begun, but the elite sniper is already positioned for the win. He lines up his shot. The young marksman has waited his entire life for this moment. The millions, maybe billions of people following this obscure tournament eagerly await his next move. And with a clumsy squeeze, Irvine misses. It’s a catastrophic choke for the ages. Luneth uses any variety of III’s available jobs to overwhelm the humiliated huntsman. Cloud of Darkness is a no-joke villain in the grand scheme of things, making the III protagonist and his many accomplishments something to consider. Regardless, Luneth takes the win and Irvine is forced to suffer such a shameful turn of events.

7. Galuf Baldesion (V) vs. 10. Edgar Figaro (VI)

Credit: Saramanda (Zerochan)

Credit: Asarithlove (Zerochan)

This next matchup hosts a clash of kings between Galuf the grizzled warrior and Edgar the… less grizzled. There’s more glamour on the Figaro side here, but style points earn no guarantees in Final Fantasy March Madness. It’s a redundant point to make in a competition of Final Fantasy heroes, but both characters have access to a wide range of basic abilities from a gameplay standpoint. I may just start noting when there’s a character who can’t fill any number of roles or jobs. There is some value in a king with a little more spring in his youthful step. There’s an even greater value in one that flings a chainsaw around. Edgar’s tools form an underrated and deadly arsenal. With that, the struggling charmer drills his way to the second round.

2. Zidane Tribal (IX) vs. 15. Rosa Farrell

Credit: manaka (Zerochan)

Credit: Ishicle (DeviantArt)

Let’s get the most important battle here out of the way first. I’ve always said Zi-dahn, not Zi-dayne. That’s a much more competitive bout than the one we have between these two characters. There are few abilities more valuable than Trance in a tournament with this format, although I doubt we’ll even be seeing Zidane’s this time around. Any white mage without a second major skillset is going to struggle without the help of some party members. The speedy Zidane, slowed only by his attempts to chat Rosa up for a bit, wins at his own pace.

Halfway to round two! Be sure to check in for our next sixteen fighters as Final Fantasy March Madness’ first round continues.

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