Good Luck Kisses And Other Surprise Game-Winning Tactics At CEOtaku 2018

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Tayson Defas is a highly skilled Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite competitor who has a couple of secret weapons for staying focused during stressful tournament matches. He’ll meditate between games, sometimes even stepping away to sit on the floor. Also, he has a boyfriend, fellow fighting game player Sebastian “Sol” Oliva, who has been known to give him a quick good luck kiss. This past weekend, these adorable tactics resulted in a big win for the Marvel player.


The first of the couple’s smooches to gain wide recognition happened at the Evolution Championship Series last summer. Tayson (who competes using just his first name) was one win away from making grand finals of the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite side tournament, and he took a lengthy mid-set meditation break to get his head straight before heading into the last game of losers finals. Right before the match restarted, Sol hopped up on stage for some PDA with his boyfriend. While sweet, the Evo 2018 good luck kiss unfortunately didn’t translate to in-game success.

Tayson and Sol treated viewers to a sequel this past weekend at CEOtaku, the anime-flavored off-shoot to the annual Community Effort Orlando event series. This time, the kiss inspired a much better result for Tayson.

As the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite tournament came to an end at CEOtaku, Tayson found himself engaged in a championship bout against Ray “Knives” Ruballos, who had previously defeated him at Community Effort Orlando in June. These two players represent the pinnacle of Infinite competition, and they went the distance in grand finals. The culmination of their struggle rested on the results of the very last game, and before jumping into the fray, Tayson took on a familiar meditation pose, closing his eyes and steadying his breathing. He had scarcely begun when Sol stood from his seat in the front row and, after a few audience members shouted some encouragement, walked to Tayson’s chair and gave him a kiss.

Sol’s power-up worked. Despite falling behind early, Tayson made an incredible comeback from a significant life differential. The final moments of the match saw Tayson survive a deadly Dormammu onslaught by Knives; he fended off the demonic character’s various attacks and mix-ups long enough to build up another use of the opponent-trapping Space Stone. With just one character left, Tayson combined the Space Stone’s confining box with Gamora’s attack-doubling Shadow Combination clone to open up Knives’ defenses, wiping the rest of Dormammu’s health and securing the CEOtaku championship.


Tayson and Sol’s game-winning smooch wasn’t CEOtaku’s only exciting moment. Southern California’s Jona Kim, who also uses his first name as his competitive handle, won both BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and BlazBlue: Central Fiction. Both victories came after close calls against his grand finals opponents—Hiroyuki “Kyamei” Kamei of Japan and American East Coast powerhouse Jachin “SKD” Harte, respectively—but he proved to be one of the weekend’s most impressive players. At one point, Kyamei was able to reset the bracket by defeating both of Jona’s characters with a single attack, a risky uppercut that sealed the deal in dramatic fashion.

Elsewhere, Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code winner Jose “ScrawtV” Ballestero asserted his dominance in the championship match against Italy’s Brick by using an entirely different character than he usually plays, one that is relatively weaker than his main. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy had one of its first competitive spotlights since launching earlier this month, and it ended in a down-to-the-wire grand finals between champion Kazuyoshi “Samitto” Tezuka and runner-up Kyamei. There was also another heartwarming moment when, after eliminating Evo 2018 finalist Eli “Lost Soul” Rabadad in Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, Yuko “kedako” Sonoda softened the blow by giving him a few gifts from his home country.


CEOtaku has grown tremendously since its original incarnation as an destination for niche fighting game competition in 2015. Where the first event attracted around 300 players, this year’s tournament saw almost 1800 attendees travel to Orlando, Florida to participate. It’s an important part of the year for players of Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Melty Blood, Marvel vs. Capcom, and countless other fighting games, and last weekend’s greatest moments have shown that unusual tactics can go a long way towards securing a win, whether that’s picking an different character, taking a chance on a risky attack, or just making sure you have a good luck kiss in your back pocket.

Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.

Staff Writer, Kotaku


Power Girl

It’s an odd juxtaposition in sports that passion and professionalism are expected from players. Something like this wouldn’t happen in tennis since it would be deemed ‘unprofessional’ and yet players are expected to play with everything they have with as little personal encouragement as possible.

I guess my point, if any, is that it’s great esports is happy to let stuff like this happen, that an act of encouragement like that is not just allowed but lauded by the audience. Maybe we don’t need to take every aspect of sports over to be as good, if not better?