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Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest: Crystalline Conflict Regional Championship NA Recap

15 Aug 2023

Our team at Gamer Escape is finally getting over the Nisi debuff that was passed around at the recent North American Fan Festival- otherwise known as post-convention illness for those of you less familiar with endgame raiding terminology. We’re just now wrapping up our coverage of the event, including this summary of the Crystalline Conflict Regional Championship North America! Thank you for your patience as we all recovered from an amazing time in Las Vegas and the less than amazing sickness that followed. 

Without further ado, let’s jump into CCRCNA and the fierce Player vs Player action that had the audience roaring!

Introducing Crystalline Conflict

The Crystalline Conflict Regional Championship North American Finals were held on Saturday, July 29th. The event took place on the main stage and was also simulcast live on Twitch and Youtube. Four PvP teams battled it out live on stage for in-game rewards and a prize pool of $22,500.00 USD!

The competition opened with a brief preface by the Community Team’s Aya Montoya, as well as the Producer and Director of Final Fantasy XIV, Naoki Yoshida. Yoshida-san shared that he was particularly excited for the competition due to his love of PvP. He also outlined the basics of the game mode for those that hadn’t yet had a chance to try the revamped content.

Those familiar with Overwatch’s payload game modes as well as specialized character skill sets and ultimates will find Crystalline Conflict a familiar concept. For those who haven’t played this style of PvP in either game however, the goal is to push the crystal to your team’s endpoint while working together to prevent the enemy team from making more progress than you in pushing the crystal towards their own goal.

Where things get more complicated lies in how teams coordinate to use their chosen jobs’ unique attacks, buffs, and coordinated limit-break assaults to hinder or obliterate their opponents.

Yoshida-san wrapped up by stating that he had been watching the NA matches since the preliminaries and would be actively watching in the audience live. He cheered on the teams, encouraging them to give it their all, then requested that fans didn’t interrupt his viewing so he could focus on the action in the matches. Attendees were delighted to see Yoshida-san settle in to spectate with the crowd and began tweeting pictures of him as he literally took a seat on the floor to watch the ensuing clash of players.

The Final Four Teams

Four teams emerged as top competitors in the months prior to Fan Fest after battling their way through the Preliminary matches and Quarterfinals to earn their place on stage at the Semifinals and Finals in Las Vegas. These teams were Verkittens, Bog Yarzon, Gnosis and Wolfas.

Most of the competing teams were comprised of veteran PvP players with multiple Top 100 rankings under their belts. Bog Yarzon’s Suhr Zarek, has additionally been a fan favorite of live broadcast tournaments even outside of SE, known for his Paladin gameplay. John Darksouls riled up the live audience with both his plays and real life glam that lived up to his character’s namesake. Team Wolfas included veteran competitive PvP players from varied MMO backgrounds, but were newer to the XIV PvP scene as a unified group, having just claimed Mogtalk’s PvP competition earlier this year.

Of special note, however, were newcomers Gnosis, who not only had several players that hadn’t placed in the Top 100, but also included members like Shannon Le-turtle who only recently began seriously diving into competitive PvP. Not only did Gnosis provide one of the most entertaining matches of the event, but it was an exciting reminder that anyone willing to put in the time and effort can break into the ranked PvP scene!

In our own pre-Finals podcast interviewing Brian Ricardo, the Aetheryte Radio team talked more with the shoutcaster about each teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and unique journeys in Final Fantasy XIV. Even after the fact, it’s still a great episode for those eager to get their bearings for the upcoming EU and JP championships, so give it a listen!

The Matches

To determine our 2023 North American champions, the tournament was structured in a Best of 3 format, meaning a team had to claim 2/3 victories to win in each matchup. This remained true up until the final match, which closed the competition with a Best of 5.

Verkittens v. Bog Yarzon
The three maps selected were Clockwork Castletown, Cloud Nine, and The Palaistra.

Both teams ran balanced compositions throughout all three of their matches: one tank, one healer and three DPS on either side.

Though evenly matched for much of Clockwork Castletown, Verkittens claimed victory in Round 1 by .1% in Overtime after Bog Yarzon stepped off the crystal.

Their second match on Cloud Nine saw a great White Mage limit break from Venaire Sylvia on Bog Yarzon. The two teams were fairly evenly matched until Verkittens ended up staggered in the later half partially thanks to Venaire’s play and the momentum it secured. Unable to pull together for a full team push, Bog Yarzon successfully drove Verkittens off point, taking Round 2 81.6% to Yarzon’s 50%.

Heading into a third round for a tie breaker, both teams pressed aggressively for the win, trading big plays back and forth with an intensity that had the audience captivated. The overtime was an absolute nail biter, dragging on through kill after kill until finally Verkittens won the war of attrition, sending the crowd into raucous cheers after felling Azalyn Xo, the last player standing on Bog Yarzon, and taking the match 54.3% to 53.5%. With this incredible win, Verkittens moved on to the Finals.

Gnosis v. Wolfas

Next up was Gnosis vs. Wolfas! The three maps selected for their matches were Volcanic Heart, Cloud Nine, and Volcanic Heart once more.

Gnosis favored a composition of 2 healers, 1 tank, and 2 DPS and Wolfas opted for 2 healers and 3 DPS with both keeping to these choices for all of their matches.

Wolfas played just like the animal their name evokes, leaping in with a tightly coordinated effort that hunted down their enemies with brutal precision. Their assault led to a lightning fast victory in Round 1, which they won 100% to 0%.

Cloud Nine could have easily been another fast sweep, but Gnosis fought with all they had in one of the most exciting matches of the night! Wolfas had a strong lead, pushing the crystal initially to 50%, but Gnosis secured a near party wipe following the map’s turbulence, swinging the crystal to their side and matching Wolfas’ 50%. Strengthened by some absolutely killer Summoner gameplay from Shannon Le-turtle, Gnosis landed another huge play immediately after, making use of reaper LB paired with the LBs of both their healers and buying them the chance to get the crystal to 99.2% before Wolfas swung it fully back across the arena to the halfway marker. Yet, Gnosis still wasn’t done! Putting an end to Wolfas’ pack mentality, they brought home a full party wipe, keeping Wolfas from making it back to the crystal before overtime hit and winning Round 2.

Wolfas bared their fangs in Round 3. Although Gnosis came in strong with their initial engagement, unfortunately the rest of the match was a sweep in Wolfas’ favor which ultimately secured them a spot in the Finals.

Still, thrilling gameplay all around and a wonderful chance to see newcomers to the scene have a well-earned moment of glory. Gnosis’ gameplay truly was one of the highlights of the event! It just goes to show that winning isn’t everything.

Grandfinals: Verkittens v. Wolfas
The grand finals were a showdown of feline versus canine in the final Best of 5! The five maps chosen were Clockwork Castletown x2, Cloud Nine, Volcanic Heart and The Palaistra.

Both teams kept their compositions from their first matchups, with Verkittens bringing in 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 DPS while Wolfas once again went for 2 healers and 3 DPS.

Wolfas was on a roll following their victory against Gnosis. They took a strong lead in Round 1, getting the crystal to 84.3% and driving Verkittens to race against the clock until they were desperately clinging to the crystal in overtime. John Darksouls fired off some fantastic Paladin gameplay, truly embodying the role of the stalwart defender (as well as evoking memories of a certain knight saying, “Praise the sun!”). Ultimately, Verkittens sank their claws into the competition and emerged victorious!

Yet again, Wolfas drove Verkittens into a corner in overtime for Round 2, making them fight for every percent. This time however, the sheer power of Wolfas’ DPS coupled with limit breaks from their Dragoon and healers, cleared the way for Wolfas to secure their lead and turn it into a full-fledged victory.

Round 3 took place amidst the skies of Cloud Nine. The match was closer, with Verkittens pushing to 50% and Wolfas taking 72% before overtime kicked in. Wolfas’ Usada Pekora unleashed a strategic solo-limit break kill on Verkittens’ Paladin John Darksouls that eventually broke Verkittens’ defense, handing Wolfas the victory.

Round 4 was the deciding match between the two. It became apparent over the competition that Wolfas’ strongest map was by far Volcanic Heart and this final match was no different. Having seen how effective removing Verkittens’ defensive tank anchor was, they focused down John Darksouls with laser precision and mopped up the rest of the competition. Though Verkittens did manage to get 38% progress on the boards, Wolfas doggedly kept up their offense until they got a final team wipe on Verkittens and became our CCRCNA Champions!

Crowning the NA Champions

At the end of the event, Yoshida-san returned to the stage to award the winning team, Wolfas, their trophies. Yoshida-san praised the teams’ targeting, especially in regards to moments where they could see an opportunity to break the opposing Paladin’s defenses or heap aoe damage on small clusters of players. The players beamed at his compliments and proudly held up their trophies at his urging as the crowd went wild. Of course, the final presentation of the signed prize check was also exciting!

Yoshida-san’s final words echoed in the hall, “Congratulations, you are the best in North America!” All around me, the audience clapped, yelled, and raved about the matches. I heard more than one attendee remark that they hadn’t thought the CCCRC would be such a high point at Fan Fest, or that they were considering giving PvP a try themselves now. To them, I’d say…

See you in the Wolves’ Den!

Images from Square Enix’s livestream. Photo taken by Gamer Escape.