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The Observatory

2017 Awards

The Most Improved Pilot has shown the ability to grow as both a player and a competitor, and has proven it in the mines.

Here are the nominees:

Code's first Descent Champions Ladder match was on July 3rd, 2017, against his cousin b2af. In that game, b2af said, "You will lose a lot and win a lot. Keep up the games and you will be as good as me." Code has certainly kept up the games, and it has shown. Joining in season 4, Code was demolished by raptur, Maestro, and Jediluke. Season 5 wasn't much better, but he did record a win over Leto_II in going 1 and 7 on the season. Season 6 was shaping up to be more of the same, but during Qualifier 2, Code began turning the tables, getting a win against Maestro and Swarthy to secure his spot in the Wildcard Anarchy as 8th seed. Code would make no mistake as he would go on to win the Season 6 Wildcard Anarchy, and then have a thrilling quarterfinal match with Maestro that would also become a Match of the Year nomination. And while he would eventually fall to tournament winner Jediluke in the semifinals, there is no doubting Code's improvement in a very short time.

Lee has been around the Descent Champions Ladder since spring of 2016, and it took him 94 games for him to find his way into the win column some two months later, but he has since gone on to become a solid silver pilot. You could say his performance in The Observatory mirrors his DCL experience. In Season 1, Lee took it on the chin, losing all 6 games he played, but found his way into the win column for the first time when it mattered, in the Season 1 Wildcard Anarchy. Lee continued to improve season over season, and had his best finish in Season 6 when he compiled a qualifier record of 3 wins and 6 losses, and upset melvin in the quarterfinals of the Season 6 Finals Tournament, defeating him in both legs of the match, including an impressive 10-6 win in Take2.

Maestro started on the Descent Champions Ladder all the way back in December of 2015, but would not join The Observatory until Season 4. While he would secure wins over PFunk and Code, he did not perform well for the remainder of the season. Season 5 wasn't much better, as Maestro would only get wins over Leto_II. But then, Season 6 happened, as he would be involved in four overtime matches, compiling a 2-2 record in them, taking a win over Swarthy, and a win in an Upset of the Year candidate over melvin. He also became immortalized for his game against Phyrex in Anon where he fell 36-34 in the longest competitive overtime match in modern Descent history, a Game of the Year nomination. A 3rd win over Phyrex in the final qualifier secured his spot as the number 4 seed, and while he was unable to take down Code in the quarterfinals, he secured his fourth 2017 Awards nomination with his Match of the Year candidate in his loss to Code.

Phyrex played his first Decent Champions Ladder match in February of 2016, and would secure his status as a silver pilot later that year. In his first season, he'd go 3-8 in the qualifiers and get left in the dust by Sirius in the Finals Tournament. And while he would show signs of improvement, it wasn't until Season 6 where he would secure the number 2 seed with a record of 6-4, including a win over Maestro in the longest competitive overtime match in modern Descent history, a 36-34 win that would become a Game of the Year candidate. He'd then beat Lee in the semifinals to become the Season 6 runner up.

The Most Improved Pilot of 2017: Code

Code's incredible improvement over a short period of time is a testimony to his hard work and dedication he's put into the game. Further, the poise shown in his Season 6 Finals Tournament match against Maestro when he fell behind only to come back and win the match showed his growth as a pilot. No longer would Code be the pilot that wilted under pressure, he now thrives under it. And, there is certainly much more room for him to grow in 2018 as well, and we look forward to seeing him back in the mines this year.
An aura of dominance is difficult to maintain, and sometimes the underdog has their day and does the seemingly impossible.

Here are the nominees:

Season 3, Qualifier 1, Round 4
Drakona 20, Jediluke 17
Wrath x5
It's called the house that Drakona built, but it's become the house that Jediluke lives in. Wrath is dangerous enough with its stock 10 smart missiles, but Jediluke makes it his home when you multiply the missile count by 5. It's so infamous on The Observatory that it is often called The Blender. Who is brave enough to stand up to the challenge? Namely, the builder of the house herself. Drakona and Jediluke put on a show in their Season 3 Qualifier 1 game, with both pilots staying even with each other for most of the way. In the end, however, it was clear that one pilot had found an advantage, and Drakona would walk away with the upset victory over Jediluke, 20-17. Who's house? Drakona's house.

Season 3, Qualifier 3, Round 2
melvin 20, Drakona 15
Going into their Season 3 Qualifier 3 game in RIP, Drakona had held a record of 13 wins and no losses over melvin. melvin has also had a history of being a bit inconsistent in his play on The Observatory. But for one game, melvin's opportunities were realized. Frustrating her in dogfights, Drakona had to resort to other tactics just to try to stay in the game, but on this day melvin proved to be too much, taking his first win ever over Drakona in convincing fashion, 20-15.

Season 5, Qualifier 2, Round 3
bahamut 21, Jediluke 19
Pillbox x5
What's the bigger victory, beating a pilot a tier above you, or thwarting that pilot from completing one of the biggest comebacks ever in competitive Descent? Despite being seen by some as a meme of a level, Pillbox x5 is a place full of danger, but was one that bahamut started with a dominating lead, and then kept cool for long enough to prevent Jediluke from avoiding a certain defeat. With the narrowest of victories, an overtime win of 21-19, bahamut showed that he's got game.

Season 6, Qualifier 1, Round 2
Maestro 22, melvin 20
One might say that melvin did not have a great Season 6, and if there's one game that can be pointed to that shows this, it would be his game against Maestro. Despite Maestro seemingly repeating a small path around Ethylene, melvin's play style didn't allow for him to be able to break through the pattern for long enough to keep the game in his favor. Eventually Maestro forced overtime and took home a 22-20 overtime victory against a pilot who is very dangerous on that map.

The Biggest Upset of 2017: A tie!
Season 3, Qualifier 1, Round 4 - Drakona 20, Jediluke 17 - Wrath x5
Season 6, Qualifier 1, Round 2 - Maestro 22, melvin 20 - Ethylene

Tying for the biggest upset, these two games are upsets for very different reasons. For all of the times we've seen The Blender on The Observatory, you'd think Jediluke is impenetrable on that map. Yet Drakona showed us that not only can you play Jediluke at his game, he can also be beat at it. And Maestro found something that worked against a dangerous opponent, neutralizing melvin's advantage in a level that he has been strong in. We'll see what surprises await us in the coming year.
Some weeks, there's just not a lot of action. The games are dry, wins are as expected, and conclusions are known long before a pilot nears 20. And then, there are matches like these.

Here are the nominees:

Season 3, Qualifier 2, Round 4
Sirius 24, melvin 22
Black Rose
Nearly 23 minutes into Season 3's final game for Qualifier 2, Sirius took a 12-10 lead over melvin in Black Rose. It was the only time in the entire game up until the end that either pilot had a 2 point lead. You could sense overtime in the air, and they delivered. Ultimately the turning point in the match would be just after melvin took the lead in overtime, but got killed by the reactor. Sirius would rattle off two quick points afterwards to seal the victory, 24-22.

Season 4, Qualifier 3, Round 2
Mark392 20, Jediluke 16
Forte (No Missiles)
Normally when you're not feeling so good, you might lay down, take it easy, relax a bit. But when you're the two standard-bearers of the modern Descent game, you put on an instant classic, as was the case in the Season 4 Qualifier 3 game between Jediluke and Mark392. The first ten minutes produced 16 points, while the second ten minutes managed only 2. The game would go on to be tied at 17 half an hour in, but Mark would get a late game surge where he'd take a 19-14 lead after a few Jediluke suicides. However, Jediluke would pull it back to 19-16, but Mark finished it off for a 20-16 win.

Season 5, Qualifier 2, Round 2
bahamut 20, Cyrus 18
Black Rose
Black Rose is known as bahamut's hunting grounds, and it's hard to imagine many pilots doing well against him in there. However, during the Season 5 Qualifier 2 game between bahamut and Cyrus, it was a much different story. Cyrus would get the jump on bahamut, taking an 11-8 lead, but over the next 20 minutes bahamut would go on to show why Black Rose is his home, clawing back to take a 20-18 victory.

Season 6, Qualifier 2, Round 2
Swarthy 24, Lee 22
It would have seemed as though Lee had things under control in his Season 6 Qualifier 2 match against Swarthy in Lurk. He had a 15-12 lead around 24 minutes in, but over the 15 minutes, Swarthy would strike with quick kills and force overtime, eventually grinding out a 24-22 overtime victory.

Season 6, Qualifier 2, Round 2
Phyrex 36, Maestro 34
The game was not immediately aired, as another classic overtime match took place in the same round. However, this one was different. 20, 25, 30, even 35 points were not enough to assure victory as these two traded leads back and forth in overtime. It seemed like neither pilot was willing to give up until finally Phyrex took the 70th kill of the game to win 36-34. This game is widely considered to be the longest competitive game by score of the modern era, and shows two pilots testing each other's nerve and not flinching.

The Best Qualifier Game of 2017:
Season 6, Qualifier 2, Round 2 - Phyrex 36, Maestro 34 - Anon

Overtime games are always exciting to watch, but this game was simply on another level. Just getting to overtime is a rare feat, but keeping it within one point for almost two full games is magic. While other games may be lauded for their skill and cunning, this one will be known for endurance and stamina, and deserves its status as a legendary game.
It's one thing to put on an epic performance during the qualifiers. But when the pressure's on, these pilots put on a show.

Here are the nominees:

Season 1 Quarterfinals
Cyrus 35, melvin 33
Throughout the Season 1 qualifiers, there were many questions as to the format of how seasons would work, and whether or not the unique format of the Finals Tournament could work. Cyrus and melvin answered that question emphatically with a classic showing. Coming in as the number 7 seed, melvin would have his chance against Cyrus first in the quarterfinals in his home of Take2, and would make no mistake, leading the whole way and taking the first leg 20-15. Cyrus's pains continued into his home of Ascend as he took three suicides in the first five minutes, but the strategy would pay off, as Cyrus would take the match lead late in the game, holding melvin without a kill for the final 4 minutes and taking the series 35-33.

Season 3 Semifinals
Jediluke 39, Cyrus 37
Season 3's semifinal match between Jediluke and Cyrus was very much an anticipated showdown, and Cyrus showed Jediluke's mortality, taking a 19-14 lead in his home level of Flea. However, Jediluke would battle back to tie it at 19 before eventually falling to Cyrus 20-19 in a 45 minute marathon. Cyrus's chances were written off as they would then head into Logic x5, but Cyrus would keep the match close the whole way, even leading as late as 16-15. However, Jediluke would not be denied, and with the series tied 37-37, Jediluke would get 2 kills in 5 seconds to take the series win 39-37.

Season 5 Finals
Mark392 39, bahamut 37
The Season 5 finals was the first finals match that wasn't Jediluke vs Sirius. It was also the closest finals ever, as Mark392 and bahamut put on a show, starting with a 41 minute classic in the map (Untitled). It looked for a while that bahamut was going to shut down Mark in his home level, leading by as much as 13-10, but Mark would pull it back to 19-19, even employing a suicide late, before bahamut would take the first game 20-19 with an epic fusion shot in the corner. However, things would go wrong early for bahamut as Mark jumped out to a 5-2 lead in bahamut's home level of Io. bahamut would slowly climb back to tie the match at 35, but Mark would finish out on a 4-2 run to win Season 5 with a series score of 39-37.

Season 6 Wildcard Anarchy
Code 40, melvin 37, b2af 34, Swarthy 26
The Wildcard Anarchy has highlighted some amazing multiplayer Descent, but the Season 6 Wildcard Anarchy in Ethylene was simply amazing. Every pilot had the lead at some point in the game after the 10 kill mark, and the top three pilots found themselves tied at 34 in a game to 40 that took only 12 minutes. It would be Code and melvin who would pull away from the pack in the end, securing their spot in the tournament proper. Final score, Code 40, melvin 37, b2af 34, and Swarthy 26.

Season 6 Quarterfinals
Code 18, Maestro 16
Season 6 introduced shorter finals tournament matches, and maybe you'd think shorter matches would make for less excitement, but Code and Maestro proved otherwise. Maestro would come out to a 5-3 lead in Code's home of Ethylene, but Code would reply with a mammoth 7-2 run to take the first leg 10-7. Maestro would not give up, however, taking the first four points in his home level of Barathrum, leading by 12-11 at one point. The rest of the game was quick but tense, with the game coming down to one final kill, where if Maestro landed it he would force overtime, but if Code scored it the match would be his. Ultimately, Code would come back for the second time in the match to take the 18-16 series win.

The Best Finals Tournament Match of 2017:
Season 5 Finals - Mark392 39, bahamut 37

When you put two pilots of this skill level in a level like (Untitled) and come away with a 41 minute match, you know they're not sitting in a corner camping for 5 minutes. That's 41 minutes full of action, dodging, mind games, and amazing skill. Add on to that the Io match where bahamut nearly held on to his lead, and you have the makings of the classic. Now consider that this was contended for the Season 5 championship, and this award was practically a slam dunk. We hope to see these two pilots return for more action in 2018.
Sometimes it's the amazing dodge. Sometimes it's the perfect shot. Sometimes it's a dominant sequence. And sometimes it's something that made us laugh. These are the best moments of 2017.

Here are the nominees:

Season 2 Finals
Jediluke's homer dodge in Junior w/ Vulcan x2
As the Season 2 finals were wrapping up, Jediluke was closing in on his second championship. Sirius is not one to give up easily, though, and threw a homing missile that seemed certain to land. Yet Jediluke let it chase him along the outer edge of Junior w/ Vulcan x2, and coaxed it into crashing into a wall with a careful maneuver. That's some serious dodging.

Season 3, Qualifier 2, Round 2
Jediluke's run of fusion kills
Jediluke was already well on his way to a victory over LotharBot in their Season 3 Qualifier 2 game in Power Pro. Then Jediluke brought out the true power: the fusion cannon. Jediluke had not really been known for fusion up to this point, but midway through this one, he pulled it out and just went crazy. 3 out of his next 4 kills were fusion shots, and the 4th was started with a big fusion shot as well. Look at this, indeed.

Season 3, Qualifier 2, Round 3
Morfod's and PFunk's simultaneous proxy mine suicides
Proxy mines can be a thing of beauty. But sometimes they can put you in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as in this Season 3 Qualifier 2 game between Morfod and PFunk. And while Morfod had the right idea to shoot at PFunk's proxy mines to try to get him to suicide on them, perhaps next time he should remember where he put his own mines before running away. The simultaneous proxy mine death was a thing of beauty. Much like a train wreck.

Season 5, Qualifier 1, Round 1
Lee's whirling dervish
Birdseye will often say that sometimes in lopsided games, you have to mix it up and try something new. In melvin's victory over Lee, Lee did exactly that. After dodging around melvin's fire for a few moments, Lee flew towards his advesary, spinning around, and landing all of his fire on a very surprised melvin. Birdseye immediately coined the move, the Whirling Dervish. Now that's mixing it up.

Season 5, Qualifier 3, Round 3
Mark392 stops on a dime to avoid a death and get a kill
Mistakes are common in Descent, as a lack of information causes you to make assumptions, which in turn gets you doing something that, when looking back on the moment, you probably shouldn't have done. At the lower levels of play, that will get you killed. But at the level of play that Mark392 brings to the table, especially when playing Jediluke, a mistake becomes an opportunity. And an opportunity in the hands of a diamond pilot usually results in a kill.

Season 6 Quarterfinals
Lee's evasive maneuvers turns into a kill
The Season 6 quarterfinals match between Lee and melvin was a bit of a surprise, as Lee was catching melvin early and often, sometimes stopping around a corner he believed melvin would fly around in the next couple of seconds, and then getting rewarded with a kill. But there was one play Lee wasn't ready for, and looked to be certain death. However, Lee scrambled out of the room, and then while melvin's trying to cut him off, Lee actually is the one doing the cutting as he lands a smart directly on melvin's nose. That's smart.

The Play of the Year for 2017:
Season 3, Qualifier 2, Round 3 - Morfod's and PFunk's simultaneous proxy mine suicides

This play is a reminder that proxy mines are dangerous business. You live by the mine, you die by the mine. And while this wasn't a flashy dodge or an incredible kill, it certainly was one of the most entertaining moments in a year full of them. We look forward to making more memories in 2018.
The Most Valuable Pilot consistently demonstrates his or her superiority over other pilots. Typically, this pilot is both active and dominant, and is a fearsome pilot to face no matter your skill level.

Here are the nominees:

bahamut first joined during Qualifier 3 of Season 3, but he really made waves in Season 5 where he went undefeated in the qualifier stage, including a 21-19 win over Jediluke in Jediluke's home of Pillbox x5 that was nominated for upset of the year despite not even being shown on The Observatory. Capturing second seed, he would go on to handily take out Sirius, the runner up for The Observatory's first four seasons before suffering a narrow loss at the hands of Mark392 in the finals, but not before putting on a masterful display of dogfighting with Descent's power weapons, defeating Mark392 in the first leg of the Season 5 finals match by the narrowest of margins, 20-19. bahamut ends 2017 with 8 wins and 0 losses in the qualifiers, went 1 and 1 in Finals Tournament matches, and is recognized as the Season 5 runner up.

Jediluke's reputation as a dominant pilot precedes him, holding a lifetime record of 3591 wins and 193 losses on the Descent Champion's Ladder. As one of the few pilots to participate in all 6 seasons of The Observatory, he's done it while compiling some amazing statistics: A qualifier record of 65 wins and 6 losses, 6 consecutive seasons as the number 1 seed, 11 and 1 in Finals Tournament matches, 5 Observatory championships, and an amazing 2 perfect seasons.

Mark392 is known to hold amazing pilots to embarrassing scores, and brought some of that dominance with him to The Observatory. He impressed during qualifiers in Season 4 despite being unable to make the Finals Tournament that season. It looked as though he would not return, but in Season 5 he showed up for only 2 games, dominating Sirius and taking out Jediluke. Those two wins would be all he would need as he rolled through the Season 5 Wildcard Qualifier, then rolled over melvin and Jediluke in the quarterfinals and the semifinals respectively, and went on to have a match with bahamut that would go on to become a Match of the Year nomination. His Season 5 win makes him the only pilot on The Observatory with a perfect record: 10 wins and 0 losses, 4 and 0 in Finals Tournament matches, and of course the Season 5 championship.

Sirius has the distinction of being the first pilot to defeat Jediluke during Observatory seasons, taking him out in the third qualifier of Season 1. Sirius would go on to form somewhat of a rivalry with Jediluke, meeting him in the finals of the first four Observatory seasons. While his qualifier record is not nearly as impressive as the other nominations, with 23 wins and 16 losses, he would always step up in the Finals Tournament, going 6 and 5, and joining Jediluke as the only other pilot with Finals Tournament match wins in 5 different seasons. While ultimately he would come just short of a championship, he still has the second most finals appearances out of all pilots, and is a 4-time Observatory runner up.

The Most Valuable Pilot of 2017: Jediluke

While two of the other nominees can claim to have never taken a loss to Jediluke on The Observatory, neither of them can claim to have the level of consistency that Jediluke brings to the event. And literally everyone agrees, as the Most Valuable Pilot was the only category with a unanimous decision. We look forward to seeing if Jediluke can continue his activity and dominance into 2018.


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