Winter Brawl X was supposed to close the book on a rivalry between two Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Evo champions. Instead, the event ended with a “to be continued.”
Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez of the United States and Nicolas “Kane BlueRiver” Gonzalez of Chile split top honors at Winter Brawl X. Filipino Champ embarrassed Kane (and/or himself, depending on your point of view) with a 15-10 win in their long-awaited exhibition match on Saturday night, but Kane defeated Champ in a tense grand final on Sunday to win the official tournament.
The rivalry between the two players started in July when Kane won the UMvC3 tournament at Evo 2015. Champ, the 2012 champion, was one of several players who vented on Twitter about the result. Champ claimed that Kane faced a relatively easy path to the title, since he avoided Champ and Chris “ChrisG” Gonzalez (no relation), two of the game’s consensus top three players.
Several players, Champ among them, also took exception to Kane’s tournament schedule post-Evo. Many felt that Kane had an obligation to appear and compete relatively often, but Kane did not enter any major tournaments on American soil after his victory. He did travel to SoCal Regionals in October, but chose not to enter the Marvel tournament due to exhaustion.
For his part, Kane admitted that he would probably lose to Champ if the two played, but hinted he was in no hurry to make the match happen, intimating that he would make Champ wait until Evo 2016 to get a chance to dethrone him. However, after much hemming and hawing, the stars aligned for the two champions to face off in a race to 15 at Final Round.
Champ has never been shy about taunting his opponents in-game, but he took his taunt game to new highs (and/or lows, depending on your point of view) during Saturday’s exhibition.
After Champ took the first game of their set, he turned to Kane, laughed, and yelled “You are free!” at him. The talk continued after every game as Champ continued to build his lead. Once Champ made it 4-0, Champ grabbed the house microphone, got in Kane’s face, and proclaimed “THIS IS MY GAME!”
The lead grew to 6-0 before Kane got on the board, but even that came in the form of a taunt. The moment the seventh game began, Champ paused the game and then walked over to the stream station to inform the viewing audience that he was forfeiting the game since Kane was struggling so much.
While Kane showed no emotion on his face throughout the set, his frustration came through in his play. He started out with his typical Big Bodies team, but he used four other teams—then returned to Big Bodies—in an attempt to find an answer for Champ’s Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix team.
It wasn’t until the tenth game of the set that Kane scored a win by his own merits. Champ responded sarcastically by giving him a round of applause, several pats on the back, and a thumbs up. It was 8-2 at that point, and the result seemed to be well in hand.
Once the score reached 13-4, Champ paused and intentionally forfeited his third game of the set. It was at that point that Kane finally hit his stride and won the next five games on his own merits to close the gap to 13-10. Champ was able to pull out the next two games to close out the set, but the final score was a far cry from the dominance Champ showed in the first half of the set.
The exhibition was supposed to put an end to their story, but the two crossed paths during Sunday’s tournament finals.
Both players ran through their respective halves of the bracket during pool play, which set the stage for another showdown between the two in the winners’ finals. Champ did not joke around like he did during the exhibition, but he got the result he wanted with a hard-earned 3-1 win that put him in prime position to take the trophy home.
Kane had other ideas.
His trip to the losers’ bracket was a short one, as he quickly scored a 3-0 victory over Noel Brown in losers’ finals to earn another shot at Champ. Kane had to face the prospect of winning two sets over someone who had already beat him twice during the weekend, but he was up to the task. Kane was able to take their first grand finals set 3-1, then pulled out a clutch 3-2 victory to take the tournament title.
To Champ’s credit, his demeanor during and after the tournament was a complete 180 from his showing on Saturday. While he was visibly frustrated with his loss, he gave credit where credit was due.
“[Kane] was definitely a better man yesterday and a better player today, so congrats,” he said after the match. “This is really hard for me to do this, but I gotta hold the [loss].”