WePlay Ultimate Fighting League Season 1 started with two emotional days of the group stages. Fierce battles, upsets, last-minute clutches, and passion – they had it all. We asked our distinguished host, analysts, and commentators to share their wisdom with us: they discussed the biggest surprises, possible opponents for SonicFox, disappointing results, and the overall impressions for the tournament so far.
First, we asked our analysts, Mr Aquaman and Big D.
The first topic is obviously the undefeated SonicFox. Who can possibly take them down in the playoffs?
Mr Aquaman: I think that there are a lot of people in the playoffs that can take SonicFox down. We already saw how ArnKratos took SonicFox to the absolute limit, and I think that he can do it again if they were to meet. I think that coming from Group B, Dragon and Tekken Master are the two threats, and Fox is no slouch in saying that they're always going to be a threat in any bracket. Other than that, there are wildcards like MK_Azerbaijan, who looked like he could beat any opponent. Is anyone even ready for that matchup with the little amount of time they have to prep for it? We'll see if they're gonna be ready. That's what's going to be so exciting about these playoffs is that I don't think it's as guaranteed as usual for someone like SonicFox, and I think that these people can take it to them.
Big D: There are multiple people in the playoffs that have beaten SonicFox in the past. Teken Master, like Mr Aquaman said, ArnKratos, which we just saw earlier. And it's across multiple titles, too. SonicFox has definitely bled to some of these other competitors. It'll be interesting to see how long they are going to be able to keep that undefeated record.
How unexpected is that both ArnKratos and MK_Azerbaijan made it to the top-8?
Big D: I'm actually not surprised about ArnKratos. I think I was one of the few that expected him to do this well. MK_Azerbaijan, being a last-minute replacement, no one saw it coming. And if they said they were, they're lying.
Mr Aquaman: MK_Azerbaijan didn't see that coming either. When we were first talking to him about almost getting here straight from the plane, he said, "Yeah, I was told a day ago." He wasn't preparing for this event and wasn't even practising Mortal Kombat at the time because he was kind of taking it easy. To then get a phone call that says, "Hey, you wanna fly and compete for $50,000 in 24 hours?" is surreal. MK_Azerbaijan has the advantage to have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You saw that in his play.
Big D: I spoke to him yesterday after he made it to the playoffs. I wanted to remind him that he's already done better than he wants to. I don't want that feeling to drag with him into the playoffs because I don't want him to get lazy. He has the potential to make it very far in these playoffs. I know he's content with his performance, but I don't want him to let up at all.
Mr Aquaman: Absolutely. Now there's potentially something to lose, which is more money. Now that he's in it, there's more on the line. But during the Dragon Temple, MK_Azerbaijan was the one to say all he wanted to do was make it to top-8. And then he was going to play a lot more relaxed, which is kind of what we saw. So he might have the same mentality: "I didn't have any pressure come into this, and I still don't have any pressure". I hope that that's what we see out of him, and the pressure doesn't get to him.
What do you think about Kombat’s early exit? He said that he wasn’t playing enough, but at the same time, he rated his current condition at 95 out of 100.
Big D: It was definitely a shocker. Mainly in the sense that he was up 3:0, and he was one win away from essentially securing it. But to be up 3:0 and then lose almost the remainder of his games - that's a heartbreaker. Especially for a player like Kombat, I don't think anyone was really ready to see that. After you win three straight sets, it's very hard to not end up feeling confident. Then all that disappeared over time.
Mr Aquaman: One of the big things with Kombat that really shocked me was that with every loss, his mentality kind of got progressively worse. That could be blamed on him still being young – he's one of the youngest players here. When you're up 3:0 and then let each loss get to you mentally, you see the degradation of gameplay and the mental state. Once he reached 3:3, he was luckily able to get a win and kind of lift himself. He was close to getting in, but no cigar. I hope it doesn't become a pattern because it was really similar to Final Kombat, where he was in a tiebreaker situation where he could not have made it in. Hopefully, history doesn't repeat itself moving forward. We know Kombat's one of the best players on the planet, he can do it.
What are your impressions on the group stage, and what are your predictions for the playoffs?
Big D: I was definitely not expecting Biohazard to not perform to his liking. He has always been one of those players that have constantly delivered. Then to be on the big stage for the first time in forever due to the way the world works, I was not expecting him not even to come close to making it out. I will say as far as the playoffs go, I'm going to have ArnKratos vs Rewind in the grand final, with SonicFox third and Dragon fourth. It was really cool from the group stages to see this eye-opener for the North American players that they're not as far ahead as some of them might think. That was really important to see.
Mr Aquaman: During the group stages, the thing that I've taken from it the most is that these players from regions far beyond North America are making a statement here that they're at North America's level, that they're at Europe's level. This is a global esport now, shoutouts to WePlay. And to DashFight for letting everyone know what's going on. That's the beauty of your platform. Big statement wins by Konqueror, him getting in surprised everyone. MK_Azerbaijan getting in surprised everyone. Put some f-in respect on their name because they made it against the best players on the planet. There were many surprises as well: Kombat and Biohazard not making out was a huge surprise. The redemption moment with DizzyTT, almost having the big turn around. If he had made it in, I would have almost cried. That redemption arc was almost there. Those were the best stories coming from the group stages. For the playoffs, I'm going to have a couple of bold predictions. I think that we are going to potentially see, and I'm making a really hard read here, something like an ArnKratos vs Dragon finals, with Dragon winning the whole thing.
Ketchup and Romanova
SonicFox are going 7:0, and who do you think they’re taking?
Ketchup: There are quite a few players that have been able to do really well against SonicFox in the past. The difference is that SonicFox often tends to get that number one spot at such big stage events. Of all the players that have made it through, Rewind has been able to defeat SonicFox before, Tekken Master has historically been quite close, even F0xy was able to play really well during the group stages. But if you're going to give me one player, I actually say Rewind.
Romanova: I was going over in my head to everyone that could potentially beat SonicFox, and I feel like it's been a while since Rewind has really taken it on Fox. I definitely would say that as well. And also Dragon - I believe in Dragon, but historically he usually ends up choking against Fox most of the time. But if he plays his heart out, it's possible he could do it.
Ketchup: I don't think that SonicFox winning this event is a guarantee. Fox will have to work hard for it.
What are the most unexpected moments from the group stage?
Ketchup: The most unexpected, however, something I'm really glad that did happen was the two CIS players making it through intothe top eight. ArnKratos getting the top eight was absolutely like a safe bet. People were underestimating him. He is my number one underrated player in that group. MK_Azerbaijan had an insane group to deal with and significantly less preparation time. I was very happy to see both of them rise to the occasion, and I know that both of them and their entire scenes will be happy about that as well.
Romanova: For me, it was seeing F0xy not do so well at the beginning but come all the way back and end up making it out into the top eight. He usually doesn’t have that kind of struggle. It definitely was a rough start, but as time went by, F0xy made his way out.
What do you think about why normally strong players, such as 2eZ and Biohazard weren’t able to make it through?
Ketchup: One thing that a lot of these players have in common is that they don't have the same level of consistency. They'll be the first to tell you that for sure. Particularly Grr and Biohazard - it just wasn't a very good day for them. But when they have a day where they're on, they can beat anyone. Biohazard had tournaments where he beat the whole bunch of these players.There have been days where it feels like no one in the world can touch him. He's all about momentum. But the opposite end is that if the momentum is not on your side that day, you might have a rough road. That's how fate went yesterday for Biohazard. They both are fantastic players, it just wasn't that day. I'm also positive it's not the last we see them, and the next time, they can absolutely go the opposite direction.
2eZ was definitely the player in this bracket that just doesn't have the same level of success as everyone else. But he's a grinder. He's been around the competitive space for so long, and he has any tournament he can, he has anything and everything. He just loves competing, loves going in that direction. It's just against this caliber of player.
Romanova: All those players, except for 2eZ, are character specialists as well. So you see sometimes those people either have great success, or they tend to struggle, especially later on in the meta of the game. So while all these characters are still good, we have a world where a lot of these other players here have characters they're willing to switch to and get the win. And those players don’t have these options in their arsenal. That's how the cookie crumbles when it comes to that. It builds their fanbase, though, thanks to being character loyalists. Some did make it out, like ArnKratos - it ended up working out for him very well.
Can you share your emotions from the group stage?
Ketchup: It’s joy, joy to be back in the offline space, having everyone in the same area together. We have all the necessary safety precautions to keep everyone as safe as possible. The big thing is, everyone's able to practice together, play together, hang out, talk, discuss matchups, or whatever. And it just feels like how things used to be. This whole event is a really important thing for everyone, not just the players and people here but the viewers as well. It's been so long since we’ve had this kind of tournament. It just reminds us what fighting games are all about. And this very much channels the spirit of that in a ridiculously professional way.
Romanova: The emotions were strong starting from day one, but it was really day two that got me very high in the excitement - especially with players like Grr and Biohazard being in Group B. They're the kind of players that do wear their emotions on their face sometimes. My heart always goes out to them when I watch them play. Overall, it was a very exciting day, and then the payoff at the end was seeing Azerbaijan make it out, and Rewind after losing 0:3 congratulated him.
What’s your predictions and top picks for the playoffs?
Ketchup: For the Grand Finals, it could be Tekken Master vs SonicFox. I'd love to see F0xy do well. In a weird way, he has become the most unpredictable player. But this is actually one of the hardest tournaments that I've had to make predictions for because of how insane this top eight is. I'm gonna go out and say - ArnKratos will be in the top four. I think he absolutely can do it. So, my top four - ArnKratos, F0xy, Tekken Master, and SonicFox.
Romanova: I would say SonicFox, Dragon, ArnKratos, and Rewind. I'd like to see Foxy make it up there. But it'll depend whether he is game day ready and what kind of shenanigans he has in store. I feel like F0xy has potential.
We're gonna get a lot of very disrespectful play from some of these players. But going for dirt that they probably held out on until the finals day - SonicFox usually has this tendency to have a secret pick. We saw them pull out the D'Vorah with a weird variation. They're known for having that secret tech, and we're gonna see it.
Falkunn and HBTWarrior
What are your impressions from the group stage?
Falkunn: Both groups were just awesome. Group A went pretty much as we expected it to go. But Group B had surprises - MK_Azerbaijan making it through is something I couldn't have predicted myself.
HBTWarrior: Both groups were an absolute bloodbath. But, you know, we expected a lot from Group A, and we got exactly what we had expected. Group B was definitely more of a free-for-all in that sense. And everyone was pulling out stops, everyone got a loss at one point in time. I think that really made things exciting.
Everyone expected Kombat to go to the playoffs. What do you think about him not doing that?
Falkunn: Kombat almost qualified. He is a ridiculously good player. But given the nature of both groups, it's going just to be that way. He was one of the favorites to make it out of the group. If you consider the other stuff - like Hayatei didn't make it out, and I thought he was a shoo-in. The Round Robin format just gave us a very diverse set of games where it led to these unexpected results.
HBTWarrior: I can't say I'm initially too surprised, but that's not because of Kombat. He's phenomenal. But with the levels and calibre of players, it was always going to be a bit of a heartbreaker because each group is made up of incredible players. So we wouldn't have known who would make it in and who wouldn't. Kombat is still a fantastic and strong player at the end of the day, even if he didn't quite make it to the top eight.
And what about Biohazard, Grr, and 2eZ?
Falkunn: Biohazard underperformed by his standards. He's a ridiculously good player, he just had a bad run. It seems a fair bit harder to play Kano offline when you're playing against characters that are regarded as better ones. Overall, it seemed like he really struggled to play against the calibre of players here. 2eZ and Grr both are really good players in their own right. But they're not on that next level, I think.
HBTWarrior: It's the same situation with Kombat, they are all amazing players, but they just didn't make the call. But that doesn’t say anything about the players, they are incredible. It just comes down to who was better on that day, who knew the matchups a little bit better, and whose reactions were on point, as well as their decision making. So it's a shame, I wouldn't have predicted it myself as I'm actually a fan of all these players. But when you're up against the very best the business has to provide there are bound to be situations when even the strong ones fall.
And about the strong ones, SonicFox won 7:0 in his group. So who do you think can take them?
Falkunn: I think the two players to give Sonic a run for their money are Dragon and Rewind. Both of them were in Group B. And those two players are just extremely top-notch players. Rewind has beaten SonicFox at Celtic Throwdown. Dragon has the capability of beating SonicFox. However, he hasn't quite managed to overcome that obstacle just yet. It's no surprise that SonicFox didn't lose. They have just been the most consistent Mortal Kombat / NRS player over time. It's no surprise they didn’t lose, but in the playoffs, we could expect to see a different result.
HBTWarrior: I'm gonna go with Rewind as well as Tekken Master, who really pushed SonicFox to their limits all the way back. And he's only just gotten stronger ever since that time. Tekken Master has forced Sonic to not underestimate different regions, despite the lack of their representations. When it comes to Rewind - it’s youngblood, a young man instinct, as well as the fact that he has got a win over SonicFox, which is really important because it's a very, very rare phenomenon.
Falkunn: And don’t sleep on ArnKratos. He is ridiculously good. He beat Sonic already offline at Northeast Championship 20. He almost beat Sonic in the group stage. I think he's the biggest underdog in the entire top eight. Or rather the biggest dark horse in the top eight who has the potential to win the whole thing.
What is your prediction for the top four players?
Falkunn: I think ArnKratos is going to win, that's my hardcore prediction. Then comes Sonic, Rewind, and Tekken Master.
HBTWarrior: Sonic is definitely my prediction for the winner. Then will be Rewind, as a young man in action, probably ArnKratos, and then Tekken Master.
And what are your expectations from the playoffs in general?
Falkunn: I expect hype matches through and through. Everyone will be bringing their A-game and playing their heart out because there's no time for execution errors, decision mistakes, habitual mistakes. Someone like MK_Azerbaijan who is more of a wild card has a very big uphill battle ahead of him. And he's gonna have to really, really pull out all the stops to do really well.
HBTWarrior: I am expecting some of the most explosive games of Mortal Kombat we have ever seen. There's so much to say about each player. But at the end of the day, it comes down to whoever is super on point in the most literal sense. There will be no mercy. It will be heartless, it will be cold. And that is how you win a tournament with a 50k price bump. You need to pull out all the stops, no mercy.
Last but not least, we asked James Banks to comment on the tournament so far.
SonicFox went 7:0 in the groups. Any chance that someone can stop them?
James Banks: SonicFox is one of those who can do anything when they need to. They usually do well at offline tournaments. SonicFox is incredible on the individual level. If there's going to be a player that might be able to take them out or upset them a little bit, it's probably Tekken Master. I would be really keen to see the Dragon Temple champion go up against SonicFox and see what they can do against each other. But personally, I think SonicFox can go all the way and win the whole thing.
Were there any surprises for you in the group stage? Maybe ArnKratos and MK_Azerbaijan making it into the top-8? Kombat failing to properly show up?
James Banks: When it comes to ArnKratos, I knew him from watching a lot of the online tournaments. Obviously, going from online to do offline can sometimes come with some nerves. This guy, though, he looks stone-cold. I thought he could maybe be the person to be able to take down SonicFox. That can still happen later on. We'll have to wait and see. That's another matchup that could be amazing to watch again, especially in the playoff. MK_Azerbaijan made it out by the skin of his teeth. But for a guy who wasn't even supposed to be here to be able to be in the top 8, and considering the fact that his region doesn't get support like it's supposed to from the likes of ESL and ProKomp, he did extremely well. This is further proof that there's a lot of talent hidden away. And I don't care about the politics, it's just a load of bs. This clearly proves to me that we shouldn't be limiting people just because they're based out of a certain region. Because his internet connection is fine, he can play in a lot of online tournaments, but it's just they don't allow him because of whatever rules they've decided. Yet he makes it to top-8 at his second WePlay Esports event in a row. It's just a great underdog story, people didn't expect this. And you saw how much it meant to him. I love the passion that comes with it. When talking about Kombat, it's so tough for him because he went out after losing the head to head. He had the same points as A F0xy Grampa. He's still young, being only 17, and he's still studying, so he can't put as much time in. But he still is a beast player, so hopefully, he comes back for the WUFL Season 2 to put some real damage in. I know he's not happy right now, and he knows he should have been through. But it's a learning experience for these. Just because he didn't make it into the playoffs doesn't make him any less of a player. He's still super good.
Do you think that Kombat is still quite inexperienced? He's young, and to see him lose like that after three wins was depressing.
James Banks: I think so. He got there with three wins, he just knew it was one more win, and then the mental side started to come in. You've got to remember the fact he's not just young, but the fact he hasn't played as many offline games as some others. Look at F0xy, SonicFox, Dragon, for example, they've all been there and done that, this is just another day in the office for them. Kombat has also been at some tournaments and had great placings, but COVID really hurt his chances of playing offline events, especially after how he did at the Final Kombat last year. Now we're all of a sudden back to being offline, so maybe he just needs a bit of time to adjust. Hopefully, this will make him motivated to practice a little bit harder.
What were your emotions from the group stage?
James Banks: I felt like Group A, first of all, was just incredible to start off with. And then for Group B, we had so many five-game sets which could have gone either way was crazy. DizzyTT was almost in, but then MK_Azerbaijan came in instead. You may have heard me, Aquaman and Big D screaming on the stream multiple times because we were lost of what was going on. So many close rounds and so many "OOOOH" moments. It was wild. Group B, for me, was all about passion, emotions, and how close it was. Group A was more of "Okay, what can these guys do." And now we get the best of it all when it comes to the playoff stage.
What are your predictions for the playoff stage?
James Banks: I would really love to see ArnKratos have some big success. I think it would be huge for the CIS region in general. I still feel like SonicFox will take the whole thing. I'm hoping Dragon will come into his element because we saw he started to almost struggle. He's a very methodical, knowledge-heavy player. I think if he can keep his composure, he'll find himself back into the groove. But you can see there are multiple times he was really stressed. And these were, he's got to control that stress if he wants to find some success in the playoffs.
What about the players that couldn't make it?
James Banks: I'll mention Biohazard, Grr, and 2eZ. Biohazard had a redemption towards the end, and everyone expected him to be making the playoffs considering what he has been able to do in the past. But It wasn't a good performance from him, and he'll definitely understand that. There obviously were some matchups that he may not have been as familiar with. When it comes to Grr, we love him. You can't not love Grr. This one hurts because he literally has his heart on his sleeve when he's playing this game. But this is the calibre, right? You got sixteen of the best players in the world. It's not easy. You can lose any game. They go up against players that like they think that they should be favored over, and they still can't get the win. Sometimes it just comes down to who's better on the day. Who can be better prepared. When it comes to 2eZ, he was maybe one of the weaker players coming into here, but he had a point to prove. Sadly, he just couldn't get it going. You can go and say, "Oh, he's 0:7". But it's not what the whole story, because there were multiple times where he could have had it against some really good players. He just played so aggressively confident in a way that no other player plays. You'll say he shouldn't do that slide, yet he still does that slide. Sometimes it will pay off because people aren't expecting it. He's got good reactions and speed, but maybe he needs to add a little bit more thought to it. He's definitely a hype player to watch.
One more time, what is your definitive top-4 for the playoffs?
James Banks: Realistically, I think the order will be SonicFox, probably Tekken Master, then ArnKratos, and then Dragon.
Mar 25, 2021
Mortal Kombat 111v1$50,000.00
To check out whether these predictions are correct and just to enjoy the powerful action of WUFL MK11 Season 1, stay tuned to DashFight on Twitter and Facebook.
Don’t forget, there will be two more WUFL Season 1 tournaments very soon - Soulcalibur 6 and Tekken 7!
Apr 1, 2021
Apr 8, 2021