|Division||South Division Final|
|Match Date||Saturday, August 30th, 2003|
|Sephiroth - 50.96%|
24 for - 15 against
|Sephiroth - 32.76%|
Howdy folks, and welcome to the Kingdom Hearts Invitational™!
Remember when Mario/Crono vs Sephiroth for the South title was the most hyped trio of the entire contest? Mario/Crono certainly delivered, but hardly anyone expected what would happen next. Mario vs Sephiroth was supposed to be one of the biggest matches of the entire contest. It was supposed to be Mario vs Cloud Part the II, only bigger and better this time around. After all Sephiroth was still believed to be more popular than Cloud, and he was the perfect guy to extract revenge on the ol' plumber after the latest Crono screwjob, not to mention what happened to Cloud the year before. But Mario still had.... the clutch, dundundun. Could Mario pull the clutch on a character stronger than Cloud?
For one update, the match looked as expected. Sephiroth was slightly in the lead, though it seemed as if we were in for an epic.
And then another update came. Then another. Then another. Within an hour, Sephiroth was beating the absolute holy hell out of Mario in the poll.
But so what, right? This was FREAKING MARIO! Certainly he would come back and make a game of this, right?
Wrong. As the updates kept pouring in, it became more and more clear that Mario was in for the beating of his life. The man never bothered putting up a fight, but with every coming update people expected Mario to begin the greatest comeback of all time. He never came close. Sephiroth whipped Mario at all points of this poll to the tune of an eventual beatdown of over 60-40, and the onlookers stared at the results as they were unfolding in absolute disbelief. Most truly believed that this would be the second coming of the Mario/Cloud fiasco, but it turned into the second coming of Mario's beating at the hands of Link instead.
Given what had just happened to Sonic, it didn't take much longer for people to decide the cause of all this. Kingdom Hearts, arguably Square's most hyped and successful title since Final Fantasy 7, was released in September of 2002, just after the Summer 2002 Contest. When paired with the massive hype of the Summer 2003 Contest and the massive influx in total votes, it was clear that most of the new voters favored Squaresoft. The evidence was all over this contest. Cloud, Sephiroth, Squall, and even Aeris all did much better than most expected; as such, most people began giving credit to Kingdom Hearts. You could even argue that the Kingdom Hearts Factor (KHF) benefited Tidus. He did finish ahead of Auron in the stats this year, though he likely needed help from SFF to do it.
It was very difficult to deny the game's effect on this contest, unless you feel like believing that several Square characters in the game all boosted for no reason whatsoever, while other Square characters not in the game were fairly disappointing. A voter influx all massively favoring one company arbitrarily was certainly possible, but there needed to be a reason for all of these new voters to come to this site in the first place. As for the non-KH Square characters that disappointed, Magus and Kefka were certainly in the discussion, and Crono's failure to beat Mario despite everything going Crono's way for over 22 hours of the match is certainly evidence.
But for those who weren't quite ready to accept KHF as having a legitimate impact, there was still more contest to be played out.