The Board Game Master:Part Four
The Board Game Master, Part 4
Previously in The Board Game Master...
Roobina battled her way to the top of the Armada preliminaries and qualified for finals, but experienced a bit more trouble in Geos. After losing in the final round she thought she would be out of the tournament but was able to qualify for finals through the wildcard spot for her great performance. A surprise to her though, her best friend Mazey also qualified for the Geos finals.
The final tournaments are structured with 12 players battling bracket style. Six move on and six are eliminated from the tournament. The remaining six battle in twos, but the three eliminated in this round don't go home just yet. They each battle each other and whoever wins will re-enter the tournament as part of the final four. They continue elimination style until the last two face off.
Roobina was still shaken up by the previous day's events, where Mazey came out of nowhere qualifying for the Geos final. She was trying to remain focused though, she could not have been happier to be a qualifying finalist in all three games, something that is almost unheard of for a first time competitor. She knew Kacheekers could be one of her easier days, the competition wasn't as intense in this as it was in the other, more strategic games.
The twelve competitors were all brought up on a stage in the massive stadium they would be playing it. Cameras would be locked on each players face during the match, as well as the board, projecting the game to the stadium and to televisions all over Neopia. The pressure was on, but Roobina was focused.
She started off her first match with an easy victory. Nervousness seemed to get to her opponent, he kept looking into the camera and was sweating like a Snorkle. It was a scary environment, Roobina had never been so much in the spotlight. News articles about her were already being written in the Neopian Times profiling her, talking about how she came out of seemingly nowhere and was taking the games by storm. She tried to ignore it all, she didn't want the additional pressure.
And so she went on to game two, it was down to six now and she was poised to play against a Plushie Nimmo named Derrik. His tongue slithered around with every move he made and his quiet confidence made him an intimidating opponent. He didn't shake Roobina's hand before the game began and didn't speak a single word to her. There was something about him, she wondered if this was all part of his strategy. She remembered that he competed last year and was beaten out in the final round and so he must have some sort of chip on his shoulder, determined to win this time. She stayed focused throughout her game, claiming his pieces between him claiming hers. It was comforting to know that if she lost this round she wouldn't be automatically eliminated because of the "loser bracket" that could win a loser their way back into the game, but she still didn't want to risk it. She jumped over Derrik's last two pieces and claimed the win! Derrik gave her a dirty look and turned and walked away.
It was now the third of four rounds, the loser bracket winner had been determined by Roobina was not going up against them. It was Derrik that returned to the competition, so she would be facing off against a winner from the last round. A Dimensional Ogrin named Lylin. His bright color was hard to pick up on camera and was blinding to Roobina's eyes, surely he made it this far in the competition by blurring his opponent's vision!! But she squinted and focused on the board, never looking at Lylin's face to keep from being distracted. The Neopian Times articles had written about her determination and focus and now she was really putting that into play to win this match. Despite Lylin's advancement in the competition, he was not all that great at the game, it seemed like Roobina's theory on his coloration as a distraction was correct.
And with that, Roobina entered the final round of Kacheekers.
"Good luck to you," her opponent, a Blue Kacheek named Dale, said to her.
"To you as well," she replied. The fact that she was facing a Kacheek in the last round of Kacheekers was not lost on her. Dale was a two-time winner of the Kacheekers tournament, but had not won a title in the last three years. He was an extraordinary player and was probably playing hard this year to secure his third win. He was a favorite to win because of his legacy, but she was also a favorite due to her sudden appearance and domination. The crowd was split between who they wanted to win, erupting in cheers any time either of them secured a game piece. When pieces weren't being claimed the audience was waiting in silence, you could hear the click-clack of the pieces moving around the board throughout the whole stadium. It was a fierce match eventually resulting in a win from Roobina!!!!
She did it!! She won her first ever tournament, her first massive trophy. Her first time competing on a world class scale and she secured the win. Instead of jumping up and down screaming she just let out a sigh of relief, stood up, reached across the board and shook Dale's hand. "Good game," she said, smiling.
With her first victory under her belt, Roobina's confidence was soaring. She was now going into a much tougher and more cutthroat competition with Armada. The players were much more strategic and more dedicated to their craft, all twelve finalists were hardcore competitors. Roobina was the only first-time finalist competing for today's competition.
She squared off in round one and came out victorious. Round two was less forgiving.
"Your move," said her opponent, a Halloween Mynci named Skelly, who was impatiently waiting for her to make a move.
Roobina was stumped, Skelly had maneuvered his way around the board and claimed a majority. For her to win at this point she'd have to capture a lot of his ships, but it wasn't looking good. She was analyzing the board as hard as she could, trying to find an in but nothing was presenting itself to her. She continued to make the best moves she could, moving at a slow pace. You could feel the audience's disappointment as they realized Roobina couldn't bounce back from this and she was defeated.
Roobina was not knocked out of the competition however, but she'd have to win two matches to win her way back in and compete for two more matches. On one hand Armada is all about skill, so she wouldn't have to rely on getting a lucky break, on the other hand...everyone who made it to that round was an incredible player. Being four wins away from victory was an overwhelming concept at this point.
"Hey," she heard a familiar voice cut through the crowd. "You got this. Don't give up, remember all the training you put in and all the hard work."
The voice belonged to Mazey, Roobina's best friend. She was watching every match from the front row, supporting her friend.
Roobina battled the two other losers in this bracket, eventually beating them with ease. It was weird to her how varied the competition was at this high level, assuming a lot of people got lucky or their original opponents must've not shown up and allowed them to advance. Regardless of how they got there, she was relieved to join the regular bracket.
She began the third round of the bracket, trying to battle her way into the final match. She was against another Blumaroo, this one named Pumaroo, who won last year's Armada tournament. She was the current reigning champion but not a favorite to win. After her win last year she let it go to her head and became somewhat of a monster in the media, thinking she was a lot more than she really was. She got into a lot of public fights with other champions, accusing people of cheating, and so much more. She was a contender for the Triple Crown after winning Kacheekers and Armada but she was eliminated early in Geos. Thanks to Roobina's Kacheekers win, Pumaroo had no shot at the Triple Crown and was angry at Roobina for it.
"Okay fool, go," Pumaroo said hastily, trying to bully Roobina into the first move.
"Hey, relax...no reason to be like this," Roobina responded.
"Oh shut up, no one cares about your 'story'," Pumaroo referenced the news pieces about Roobina. "You're only Neopia's sweetheart until they see you fail, then you will be a nobody again. You being here is just dumb luck, and you had to come back from the losers bracket...You don't stand a chance."
Pumaroo's nastiness would be her downfall, as she was so distracted slinging trash talk at Roobina during the tournament that she neglected her own game. Roobina triumphed with over two-thirds of the board in her possession. She smiled slyly at her terrible opponent and extended her hand.
"Get over yourself," Pumaroo said, rejecting the friendly handshake and storming off of the tournament stage.
Roobina was one match away from her second victory and it would be her toughest match yet.
To be continued…