|Match Date||Thursday, September 9th, 2004|
||Frog - 51.17%|
44 for - 14 against
||Frog - 22.56%|
This was, without a doubt, the best match of the entire contest. It completely shattered the margin of victory record of 27 set by Ryu/Jill just days before this match took place, and the 22.56% prediction percentage was the lowest prediction percentage of any match in the entire contest. But believe it or not, there weren't very many signs of what was about to happen in the days leading up to this match.
During the nomination period, Frog was one of the characters that Board 8 latched onto the most. CJayC even mentioned a strong fan drive putting him into the field, and that drive was us. As such, Frog being stuck in a relatively weak half division with the likes of Liquid Snake, Master Chief, and Crash Bandicoot was a blessing. After all, Board 8 got to see their beloved little ball of snot in the Sweet 16 before inevitably going down at the hands of Solid Snake.
But as Lee Corso would say, NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! In the first round of this contest, Liquid Snake was able to give Frog the fight of his life before after falling behind by 480 votes. Liquid not only fought back, but he made every effort he could to try and pull away from the Chrono Trigger swordsfrog. Unfortunately for Liquid, Frog was saved by the skin of his warts come the night vote, and even then, Liquid turned a late 170 lead into a win of merely 93 for Frog. Frog had no momentum whatsoever coming off of a match like that, and given Master Chief's absolute maiming of Crash Bandicoot in the match just after that took place, the wheels for a possible barn-burner were set into motion. Master Chief looked primed to take down the Chrono Trigger representative when it looked like he would never have any chance at him in the first place, but thanks to both Frog and Liquid being new characters, there was nothing to base this on. It was more of a feeling than it was statistical evidence. Circumstantial evidence perhaps, but nothing concrete. For all we knew, both Frog and Liquid Snake could be leaps and bounds above Master Chief in strength, and all of the debating would be for nothing come match time.
For a match that wound up being better than sex, it certainly didn't start off that way. When the poll first opened, Frog looked like someone who was being underestimated far too much. He not only jumped on Master Chief early, but he began opening a can on Master Chief's ass en route to a 60-40 lead after the first hour of the poll. He was up by nearly 600 after the first hour, and with the percentage with which he was racking in the votes, this match looked like yet another one of the many overhyped duds that we had been plagued with through the entire contest.
But after that first hour, Frog's advance began slowing down somewhat. Master Chief began coming back in the percentage, but Frog was still able to increase his lead with relative ease, and even though he was no longer pulling in 60% of the vote, he was still able to pull in roughly 58% of it. After 3:30 of the poll was complete, Frog was up by 1155 votes and in absolute control of the match.
Once the morning vote hit, Master Chief finally decided to show everyone that he still existed in the poll. He managed to slow down Frog's advance very well, and even won a couple of meaningless updates here and there. The overall vote lead was still yet to be in question, but Master Chief was at least starting to show that he was not dead just yet. But even still, all Master Chief was really doing was teasing those who were rooting for him to win the match. He may have begun coming back in percentage, but he never made a true push at Frog's lead during the morning vote. All he did was split the vote 50-50 with Frog for a little while before Frog began pouring it on once again.
After Frog absorbed Chief's minor noise in the morning, he began to extend his lead once again. And like the beginning of the poll, Master Chief barely did anything whatsoever to fight back. From the end of the morning vote until around 2:30 PM EST, Frog took it to Master Chief like an absolute champion en route to building a lead of 2400. There was very spaced and very minor resistance from Master Chief during this, but overall, the match looked to be about over. The percentages for Chief was respectable enough, but aside from his minor blip in Frog's advance during the morning vote, there was absolutely no sign whatsoever that Frog wasn't going to cruise to an easy 5000 vote victory in this match. 5000 votes may not be all that much, but considering how hyped the match was, Master Chief never being in it from the start was a disappointment.
But just when the Chrono Trigger fans were celebrating the victory for their little ball of snot, Master Chief finally decided to show the power that he was capable of, and the very force that made him such a supposed threat to win the match in the first place. Between 2:30 PM EST and 3:00 PM EST, Master Chief took 80 votes off of Frog's 2400 vote lead. It wasn't much, and everyone simply wrote it off as the standard Xbox day vote. This was a fair assumption, because as the contests have shown, Microsoft has always been at its best during the day. With this said, Master Chief took another 73 votes off the lead between 3:00 and 3:30. It wasn't much, but it was a sign that he wasn't quite out of the poll yet. Still, Master Chief would need to make far more noise than simple 40 vote updates if he wanted any chance of coming back against a Squaresoft character on GameFAQs. He needed to begin pouring it on with absolute overkill, so much so that even the most loyal of Square fans would be powerless to stop it.
If the previous hour wasn't a sign of what was about to happen next, then everyone was certainly aware of the upcoming events once the entirety of GameFAQs, as well as many other parts of the internet, were neck high in the events. Not only did Master Chief continue his comeback efforts, but he went on the tear from hell that had to be seen in order to be believed. He went from pulling in 40 votes per update to pulling in 100, and from there, he began pulling in 150 votes per update. Not only was this more than enough to get him back into the match, but Chief also proved that it was no mere inconsistency in the system. He kept up the pace with absolute ease, and what was once a poll that projected Frog to win by 5000 votes turned into a poll that was projecting Master Chief to not only come back, but to win by 4500 votes in his own right. Very few matches have such a dramatic change in the voting pattern, but this was one of them. Master Chief was on an absolute roll, and everyone was powerless to stop it.
Not only did Master Chief keep up the massive pace that he was caught from the Xbox day vote, but he managed to maintain it with ease. Most comebacks are stalled at various points, but Frog did absolutely nothing whatsoever to stop the bleeding. He let Master Chief pull in 150 votes per update like it was nothing, almost as if he had given up on the poll. Master Chief took advantage of this, and in a mere five hours, he brought a 2400 vote lead down to a tie.
For those who can't quite believe their eyes, I have Mumei's update chart for the match archived. Here is the five hour block in which Chief made his comeback (see the graph below)
In most comebacks, there is usually a massive stall once the characters are tied. Master Chief's dominance during the day vote was proven once he managed to not only come back, but when he flew right past Frog. During the evening, no less. Square usually dominates the evening voting block, and Master Chief blew past Frog as if he were nothing but a ball of snot. Again, courtesy of Mumei (AND THE FACT THAT HE KICKS AN ABUNDANCE OF ASS AND WILL BE RECOGNIZED AND SUCH), here is a small block of the update chart from after chief tied up the poll.
Master Chief may have slowed down a tad after blowing past Frog, but the fact remains that he came back and extended a 620 vote lead as if it were nothing. Frog simply rolled over and died once the day vote started kicking in, which is a shame.
...or was it?
Quick, trivia time? At what time during the Halo/Starcraft poll did Halo begin collapsing completely? Somewhere around the middle of the evening, right?
Now take a wild guess as to what happened next during the Frog/Chief match. No seriously, guess.
SURELY, the Xbox faithful would have learned their lesson and prevented yet another laughable collapse...
Unfortunately, as if the inevitable demise were right on cue, Master Chief began collapsing at almost the exact same time as Halo itself in the spring. I'd go in detail about it, but we've seen the same old story from our friends at Microsoft over and over again. They do well during the day, but inevitably collapse during the night. It happened to Halo, it happened to Ryu Hayabusa, and now it was happening to Master Chief as well. It's almost as if a Frog comeback were expected, despite how badly he had performed in the afternoon and the evening. It was so predictable that people were calling Frog's victory all over the place after he took Chief's lead down from 620 to 500. It's almost as if Xbox was the contest's version of the Philadelphia Eagles.
As for what happened afterwards, the best I can do is post the next part of the update chart. It truly speaks for itself.
The funniest part about the entire mess was that even though Frog was coming back, he was doing it far too slowly all the way up until his 112 vote update. But even then, people were calling Frog's victory. It's like everyone knew that Chief was going to collapse, which is rather sad when you think about it. Chief will always be remembered for blowing it after shifting the poll an entire 3000 votes in his favor, but honestly, he was doing just fine until the 112 update late in the match. Unfortunately, no one will remember that part.
But remember when Master Chief came back and blew right past Frog en route to opening up a 620 vote lead for himself? Frog was completely unable to do the same for himself. Despite every effort made by Frog to hang onto this poll after blowing it away so badly in the first place, Master Chief once again proved resilient, and these two would give us the single best hour we had ever seen in a contest poll. The first 23 hours were meaningless at this point. It was 2 AM, they were tied, and Frog showed nothing that would indicate that he would make the comeback and run with it. Remember when Liquid Snake turned a 170 vote lead into 93? Frog managed to have the exact same thing go wrong with him in this poll, but would it be enough?
Despite the fact that Frog came back from being down by 620, Frog was completely unable to keep the momentum going for the final hour. Every time Frog tried to pull away from Master Chief, Chief managed to fight back and keep the score tied. Frog made a lot of pushes over the final hour that gave him leads of 20-25, but every time it looked like Frog would finally win the match, Master Chief was able to come back again. There were two cases over the final hour where Master Chief himself managed to build his own lead of 20-25 votes, and Frog himself had to fight back tooth and nail in order to stay alive in the poll. It was a fierce battle that had everyone on the board on the edge of their seat in anticipation of what would happen next. The F5 buttons were pounding, the IMs were off the hook, and the vote-stuffing on both sides was blatant.
It continued like this for 59 minutes, and as we entered the final minute of one of the most amazing matches of all time, Frog was clinging to an eight vote lead. It was not a matter of winning for Frog at this point, but about survival. The seconds within that final minute couldn't possibly tick away fast enough for those supporting Frog, and like the entire match up until this point, Master Chief proved his resilience. Frog's lead of 8 dropped to 7, and then 6, and then 5.... the Frog supporters were growing more and more nervous, and very late in that final minute, Master Chief managed to bring Frog's lead down to three. THREE!! A mere three votes separated Master Chief from victory, but unlike Ryu Hayabusa before him, there would be no luck on Microsoft's side on this night. Frog got a very late (albeit very minor) push of votes to propel him to a lead of seven votes, and this is how the poll would close.
After it was finally over, the reaction from the board ranged between every emotion in the book, from anger to sadness to rage and envy, and even "OH MY ****ING GOD, THAT WAS BETTER THAN SEX!!!!!" from the usually infallible ChichiriMuyo.
But aside from the obvious accomplishment that was the final margin of victory, the obvious question had to be asked: How in the hell did all of this come to pass in the first place? This match was not normal. Well it was normal for a time, but something very odd happened come the afternoon. Characters simply don't go from being down 2400 to being up by 620. Something went on there, and two explanations can be placed above the rest. First and foremost, the vast majority of the Xbox's popularity comes from North America. All you need to do is take a look at the voting patterns through the Ryu Hayabusa/Jill Valentine match to see how powerful the Xbox is during the day on our site. Ryu Hayabusa's latest game didn't even sell 500,000 copies, yet he managed to come back against Jill Valentine of Resident Evil fame a combined four times in two days. If Hayabusa can pull off a comeback, then what stops Master Chief, the Xbox's main mascot, from being able to do the same? His voting pattern in this match directly agrees with that of Ryu Hayabusa's two voting patterns, and one could easily ake the conclusion that Chief truly is powerful enough to manage something like this.
The other reason for Chief's comeback may very well have been the fact that multiple Halo sites across the internet became aware of what was going on over here. Bungie's main site was discussing the match across their forum, and a direct link was posted from halo.bungie.org to our homepage. Could this have been responsible for Chief's comeback? Perhaps. Frog was well on his way to a 5000 vote victory before Chief's comeback began, and even though Chief's comeback coincides with Hayabusa's voting pattern, it also coincides with when the sites became aware of our contest. This is unfortunate, simply because it takes away from Master Chief's performance.
No matter which theory you believe in, the fact remains that both of these characters absolutely choked during this match. Frog went from being up by 2400 to being down by 620 a few hours later, and Master Chief capped off his miraculous comeback by blowing away said 620 vote lead, and not only that, but failing to come up with nine extra votes somewhere down the line. If I were a fan of either of these characters (thankfully, I'm not), I would be sickened by the way both of them performed, and would rather choose to focus on how good the match itself was.
Unfortunately, there is a darker side to this poll. By now, everyone is aware of the glitch in the poll that allows people to vote multiple times under the right circumstances. As much as everyone would like to believe that there was no foul play in the final hour of this match, everyone knows that this match came down to who vote-stuffed the best at the end. Having been on AIM that entire night and seeing multiple people brag about the number of times they voted, it soon became clear that those stuffing for Frog simply wanted it more than those stuffing for Chief. I saw an absolute ton of people bragging about multi-voting for Frog, and I saw next to no one saying the same about Chief. Board 8 is usually the deciding factor in close polls, and it was no different in this poll. The fact that Master Chief managed to stay within 7 votes at the end is a testament to how strong he is, considering that nearly all of Board 8 was against him at the end.
FACT: We don't know who truly won this match. We have the final vote total, and CJayC's distant response of "The cheating cancels each other out". I like the guy and all, but in a match that is this close, the margin of victory falls within the gray area caused by the cheating, and taking the aloof approach is not the way to fix the problem. Unfortunately, fixing the problem would also cause a serious issue in that should a system be implemented to prevent multi-voting with alts, we would see every contest poll have similar vote totals to Pokémon vs Xenogears.
It's a major problem that has existed since the 2002 contest, but sadly, what can be done about it? Those voting for Frog simply wanted it more, and if history is any example, then Frog could be a force in the coming years. Samus was in a very similar situation in 2002, and look at how she's doing now.
But I don't want to end such an amazing match on a sour note. Regardless of who you were pulling for, this entire match, especially the final hour, could be everything you want from a contest poll. They should all be like this.
Match Trends Edit
If Frog vs. Liquid Snake was abnormal in terms of board expectations, this match was jaw-dropping. Few people expected the Chief to be able to hang with Frog, but hang he did – and how. If Chrono Trigger/Link to the Past exemplifies how exciting stillness can be, Frog/Master Chief exemplifies how exciting the opposite can be. Lead changes up the wazoo, comeback attempts galore… this match had all that, and more. The last few moments of this poll, with Frog holding on to a shrinking lead in the single digits and eventually pulling off a win with a margin of seven votes, rank among the best in contest history.