A number of notable Japanese players made up the Persona 4 Arena top eight, but the bracket also featured some great American talent. While many thought it would be a wash for the foreign competition, three of the top four competitors hailed from the United States, making each and every match an exciting event.
You can read a full rundown of each top eight match below. Results for this and other games can be found in our Evo 2013 coverage hub.
Top 8 Winners – Lord Knight (Mitsuru Kirijo) vs. DIE-chan (Mitsuru Kirijo)
Typical of the Mitsuru mirror, this match between Lord Knight and DIE-chan began chaotically. A few big damage combos from Lord Knight earned him an early advantage in the first game and smart uses of Mitsuru’s dragon punch kept DIE-chan from applying pressure in the second, giving him a one game edge on the Japanese competitor.
Lord Knight earned some great damage in the second game thanks to an early counter hit, but a missed reset opportunity allowed DIE-chan to get back into the game and gain a quick health advantage. But Lord Knight stormed back, placing DIE-chan on his heels with ridiculous pressure despite the differences in vitality. The second round saw DIE-chan trap Lord Knight in the corner for quite awhile, but the American’s defense kept him in the game. Though the rounds were tied up, Lord Knight showed no signs of slowing down and dominated DIE-chan the third, allowing him to sweep and continue on in the winners bracket.
Top 8 Winners – Stunedge (Yukiko Amagi) vs. Yume (Aigis)
Stunedge and Yume are two of the best Persona players in the world, making this match exceptionally hype. Stunedge’s unpredictable Yukiko provided a challenge for Yume early on, and the two competitors felt each other out with ranged attacks for some time before clashing in the middle of the stage. Yume’s Aigis pressure kept Stunedge locked down for the rest of the match, allowing him to take the first round. Stunedge returned the favor the following round, mirroring Yume’s earlier gameplan and keeping his Aigis honest. Every move by Yume was pressured by Stunedge’s exceptional Persona usage, stealing Aigis’ ability to control the pace of the match and tying the round count. Yume would then come back to take an incredibly fast victory in the final round by surrounding the space around Yukiko and taking advantage of a few inopportune choices on Stunedge’s part.
The first round of the second game would see Stunedge utilize Yukiko’s dragon punch time and time again, but was ultimately unable to use Aigis’ lack of Orgia charge. Yume’s intense pressure continued on into the next round, securing him a second game in similarly quick fashion.
Top 8 Losers – Domi (Akihiko Sanada) vs. BananaKen (Shadow Labrys)
BananaKen entered this losers bracket match riding a wave of crazy victories, including a Shadow Labrys mirror against Tomo. His first round against Domi didn’t start off as as swimmingly, but a few cross-up setups allowed him to stay in the game for a bit before losing out to Domi’s rushdown. The second round was a war of dragon punches that BananaKen narrowly won out. Amazing Persona usage kept BananaKen dominant in the third round, and he eventually secured the first game thanks to Domi’s poor burst usage.
Akihiko’s high damage was put into play immediately in the second game, allowing Domi to gain the round advantage in quick fashion. A devastating corner combo by BananaKen kept Domi honest, but he was eventually defeated as the Japanese player baited him over and over again and punished accordingly.
The second game made it appear that Domi had downloaded everything BananaKen had in his belt, but the Shadow Labrys master revealed a few more tricks he had up his sleeves. Domi failed to block low late in the final round, giving BananaKen another Japanese name to add to his list of victims in his amazing Evo 2013 tournament run.
Top 8 Losers – Spark (Teddie) vs. Brkrdave (Teddie)
These two American players provided us our second mirror match in top eight, this time featuring Teddie, the random trickster of the game. As ridiculous as one Teddie can be, the matchup between two provides some of the craziest Persona footage. The first round started with some strong positioning by both players as they tried to force each other into the corner, but the nod eventually went to Brkrdave. Smart item usage kept him in the game, and he was able to take it even after his Persona was broken.
Smart burst baiting kept both players in the second game, but Spark was eventually able to tie up the count. An opportune gold burst game Brkrdave the meter to deal out a strong combo, though Spark was able to escape later on thanks to a burst of his own. Brkrdave was subsequently forced into a corner, but another burst gave him the opportunity he needed to use Teddie’s unblockable super and take the round from Spark. Both players lost their Persona, and Spark continued to rush Brkrdave down and earn the tying round. The next round saw both players fill the screen with items and then continue to avoid each other due to their respective rage states. Brkrdave was eventually able to squeeze by with a timeout win thanks to his small health advantage and continue on in the losers bracket.
Winners Finals – Lord Knight (Mitsuru Kirijo) vs. Yume (Aigis)
Lord Knight quickly trapped Yume in the corner at the beginning of the first round, but the Aigis was able to escape before any huge amount of damage was done. He reciprocated by carrying the American player to the opposite corner with his own pressure, baiting every one of Lord Knight’s moves and securing the victory. The second round was all Yume again, who kept up the Aigis mixups even after running out of Orgia.
Yume’s Aigis pressure continued to be too much for Lord Knight to handle, allowing him to take the first round of the second round. Lord Knight was able to avoid much of Yume’s game the second round, but eventually found himself caught in dominating web of Aigis rushdown. Yume quickly earned himself a second game as well as a spot in the grand finals.
Top 8 Losers – DIE-chan (Mitsuru Kirijo) vs. BananaKen (Shadow Labrys)
DIE-chan proved early on in this matchup that he can match up Mitsuru’s normals with Shadow Labrys’ Persona in order to break it, effectively removing it from BananaKen’s gameplan for a decent amount of time. Ken was unable to overcome DIE-chan after losing this major part of Shadow Labrys’ game, and fell in the first round. The second saw a war of attrition take place between these two competitors, with BananaKen eventually winning out when time fell to zero. Though he looked out early on, BananaKen was able to secure the third round and, in turn, the very first game of this set.
Early in the second game, BananaKen used DIE-chan’s goal of breaking Shadow Labrys’ Persona against him, continually baiting out punishable attacks and taking the first round handily. This gameplan led to a break in the second round, but BananaKen recovered in time to bait out a burst and gain a second round, knocking DIE-chan out of competition in the process.
Top 8 Losers – Stunedge (Yukiko Amagi) vs. Brkrdave (Teddie)
The first round saw both competitors trade Persona breaks, though it was Stunedge who eventually overcame Brkrdave’s strong Teddie game. The American player scored a great combo of a barrel hit on Yukiko, but Stunedge escaped to resume his disciplined Yukiko zoning. This eventually saw some beautiful rushdown that left both characters very low in health, with Brkrdave securing the victory in the end.
Stunedge opened the second game with more zoning, ending the first round with a sneaky run-up grab after Brkrdave grew accustomed to Yukiko’s long-range fans. He continued to control the entire screen going into the second round, forcing Brkrdave to make smart decisions based off openings and the items he was given to mount any sort of offense. Stunedge established his own pace and eventually earned a time out win.
A quick combo put Brkrdave up early in the third game, but Stunedge was able to dragon punch the reset opportunity to force some distance between Yukiko and Teddie. The foreign player tried to establish his own pressure, but Brkrdave was able to turn it around and take the round advantage. Stunedge quickly tied it up thanks to a bit of overconfident Teddie play and some great setups with Yukiko’s long-range attacks. The third round saw Brkrdave try to set up a gold burst opportunity, but Stunedge sniffed it out and blocked. Brkrdave was still able to mount some great Teddie offense without the extra meter, and eventually eliminated Stunedge in his own time out win thanks to a devastating dropped combo by the Yukiko player.
Losers Semifinals – BananaKen (Shadow Labrys) vs. Brkrdave (Teddie)
With much of the foreign competition eliminated, the losers semifinals match saw two American players matched up against each other. Brkrdave was unable to get his usual Teddie shenanigans set up early on thanks to BananaKen’s expert use of Shadow Labrys’ dominating pressure. The first game went down very quickly with a win going to BananaKen.
A barrel hit in the first round of second game gave Brkrdave some life, though a poor mixup allowed BananaKen to get right back into the fight after the punish. BananaKen would go up in round count once more thanks to his willingness to continue the rushdown, no matter where the health totals sat. Brkrdave eventually broke Shadow Labrys’ Persona in the second round, but a return break from BananaKen would even the playing field and result in another win on his road to the losers finals.
Losers Finals – BananaKen (Shadow Labrys) vs. Lord Knight (Mitsuru Kirijo)
Losers finals would see the same matchup from both UFGT9 and CEO 2013′s grand finals matches. These two players are no strangers to competing against each other, and it showed in their smart reads and punishes. A strong air-to-air would give Lord Knight the early round advantage, but BananaKen would push Mitsuru to the corner in the second round with a nasty rushdown that would eventually make Lord Knight errantly burst high in the air and allow BananaKen to tie it up. Lord Knight controlled the whole third round right down to the end, but a poor mistake again let BananaKen regain positioning and punish accordingly.
No matter how Lord Knight baited him or pushed for a mistake, BananaKen continued to stick to his highly-effective screen control gameplan. His solid play kept him in the game no matter how wide the distance between their health bars became, resulting in tie at one round apiece. Heading into the final round, BananaKen gained a major health advantage thanks to reading many of Mitsuru’s dragon punches correctly and subsequently dealing out his own damage. Lord Knight was still able to clutch out a win by breaking Shadow Labrys’ Persona and landing the final blow.
Lord Knight quickly took BananaKen’s Persona down in the third game due to reckless usage, allowing him to rushdown Shadow Labrys with near impunity. The return of Shadow Labrys’ Persona allowed BananaKen to control the screen yet again, forcing an incorrect burst from Lord Knight and taking the round. A smart dragon punch bait on Lord Knight’s part gave him the round and tied up their round count, momentum that he carried into the third round to secure a ridiculously quick victory after a dropped combo from BananaKen and entrance into the grand finals rematch against Yume.
Grand Finals – Yume (Aigis) vs. Lord Knight (Mitsuru Kirijo)
Coming from the losers bracket, Lord Knight would be forced to win two sets against Japan’s Yume, no easy feat after losing in a near blowout in winners finals. Yume continued to show that he cared little about Aigis’ Orgia meter, applying pressure no matter the circumstances and keeping Lord Knight on his toes at all times. He quickly took the first game against Lord Knight’s Mitsuru.
Several long combos punctuated Yume’s offense against Lord Knight in the second game. Orgia or no, his rushdown made Mitsuru look helpless as he read many of Lord Knight’s decisions and reacted accordingly. Combined with input mistakes on Lord Knight’s part late in the second round, this made Yume’s victory that much closer as he went up 2-0.
The final game saw Yume squeeze out as much damage as possible with every hit he landed. Much liker earlier matches, Lord Knight failed to find room to establish own offense, and a late dropped combo all but secured Yume’s championship title.
(images courtesy of Karaface)