After 8 weeks of competition, with over 450 seeds run and nearly 800 hours of FF6 Worlds Collide racing in the book, the sophomore season of Ultros League has drawn to an exciting end! With the off-season underway and racers heading into the Coliseum between seasons, it’s time once again to go around the league and look back at the season that was, with thoughts and insights from racers throughout the competition, along with a few teasers on what’s ahead for Season 3.

Here Comes a New Challenger

The strongest racers in our community make up the ranks of the elite Megalixir division, where there’s no room for error and every second counts. Last season, Doesnt took the inaugural title, defeating the first Megalixir entrants and immortalizing himself in the Airship of Fame. Through most of season 2, Doesnt appeared poised to repeat the achievement, starting off the season by setting the official all-time record for this Ultros League flagset, and remaining on top of the division for the following weeks.

But in week 8, the king was dethroned, and a new overall winner for Megalixir was crowned: Kergs, newly promoted from the Elixir tier, and boasting a nail-biting 34 points and an impressive average time of 1:21:12, is our season 2 champion! We sat down with Kergs to discuss the season and hear how it all went down.

Kergs, in two seasons, you’ve climbed from Elixir and become the Ultros League Megalixir champion! How does it feel?

It feels great! When Ultros League started, I felt that I was lucky to sneak into the Elixir division.

You’ve been a member of the community for quite some time. How did you get started in Worlds Collide?

I started playing about 2 years ago. I first learned about it while searching for FF1 randomizers, and ran into a video about WC on Ryukahr’s YouTube channel. After that, I began watching videos from MSKain and that got me to start trying the game out. I didn’t feel that I was doing very well, so I found Jones’
videos which helped me learn a lot about how to approach a seed.

Having played in both Elixir and Megalixir, did you change your approach to racing at all after being promoted?

The biggest issue I felt I was having in season 1 was consistency, so my main goal this season was to improve on that end. My plan for working on consistency was to practice only seeds which were considered hard by other people, or with starting characters which are seen as difficult. I feel that anyone can play an easy or jet seed.

How did that play out during the season?

Funnily enough, I practiced a lot of Umaro starts between seasons, and we had several Umaro starts in Megalixir this season!

Beyond that, I learned to recognize when the seed has a physical start vs an item or magic start, and how to adjust my approach accordingly.

What are you up to when you’re not playing WC?

I don’t get a lot of free time, so besides watching other streams, I tend to play old NES and SNES games that I grew up playing.

Based on your experience in season 2, what advice would you give to Ultros League players going into season 3?

This isn’t originally my advice, but rather a piece of advice that helped me change my approach to practicing. Javinat0r once shared a thought about not giving up on seeds, because you tend to learn more from the seeds that you struggled with than from the ones you breezed through. That advice helped me a lot when i was trying to break a sub 1:35 average.

Other than that, a big part of the way I practice is to remain critical of my actions, and to play for average time rather than a single PB. I would rather be able to get all my seeds to be under 1:25 than to have a single 1:13 and a bunch of 1:35’s.

Thanks for your time and congratulations again, Kergs. Any other final thoughts?

Ultros League has been a blast through the first 2 seasons. This season in particular had some very interesting match-ups. I can’t wait to see where some of these players end up next season!

Victory Fanfares

Kergs may have taken the top title, but Ultros League is full of winners throughout the other divisions (which you can see now over on the Airship of Fame). One of these divisional champions is no stranger to victory: having just come off of a win in the first-ever Moogle’s First Tournament, Potion C champion Gaahr continued his winning ways in Ultros League. The secret to his success? According to Gaahr, it’s all about the practice.

“I played a lot of seeds, probably more than I should have, and that’s probably the biggest contributing factor to getting better at the game,” Gaahr explained. “It helped that I had a decent amount of vanilla FF6 knowledge going into the randomizer, and for things I needed to look up, the WC wiki was an invaluable resource.”

Gaahr’s divisional win wasn’t a cakewalk, either. The season was a constant back-and-forth between Gaahr and EnsignWesley, who won or placed second on almost every race. For Gaahr, the experience only honed his racing skills further. “Wesley is fierce competition, and I knew that going into Season 2, so in general I tried to play a little more aggressively than I otherwise might have,” he admitted. “It didn’t always work, but there were a lot of lessons learned that I’ll be taking forward into Season 3.”

In fact, the fruit of these sorts of lessons can found in Tonic B, where Clouddarkwood finished the season just one second-place finish away from a perfect 8-for-8 first place finishes in perhaps the most dominant performance of the season. And who does Cloud give credit to for getting up to speed on WC so quickly?

“I actually credit a lot of my success to Gaahr. I watched a lot of his streams and used the racing knowledge he implements to accelerate my learning of how to race WC, even if I didn’t understand why at first,” said Cloud. “My main focus when racing and practicing was to minimize my potential for mistakes by doing things like emphasizing saving before every check, or not taking more punishing checks early like Lete River or Floating Continent where I could lose a lot of time from dying or having to reset out of a bad boss or a few bad encounters.”

Both Gaahr and Clouddarkwood are starting to look ahead to season 3. For Cloud, his approach is going to depend on who he’s lined up against. “I noticed my current average time lined up with high Potion and low Elixir timings, so depending on who is in my pod will determine if I focus on being consistent or if I’ll have to implement some gamble checks into my runs.”

Gaahr’s also watching his future Elixir rivals closely. “There are tons of great racers in the Elixir tier, so I can’t rest on my laurels. In the meantime, I’m going to keep practicing. I’ve been told that practice makes perfect, you know.”

The Decisive Battles

Season 2 was full of nail-biting races from Megalixir down, with a few last minute division upsets and more than one tie at the top of the division. One of these was in Elixir B, where DoctorDT narrowly edged out a hard-fought win, tying second-place finisher Double Down for points but coming out on top with the superior total time. The win came after an week 8 race where the title was still very much up for grabs.

“Probably my greatest weakness as a competitor is that I love the drama as much as the victory,” DoctorDT admitted, “so I was mostly excited that the race was as close as it was. My greatest strength is consistency: Seto Kiaba and Double Down have both shown they can pick up a jet seed and fly it home faster than me, but if they run into a nasty surprise, I can pull ahead. We saw both of those play out this time: Double Down saw the matrix on [week 8], and Seto drew some bad luck with a slow Magimaster at Goddess spot. It could have easily gone to either of them, making this a really exciting season in Elixir B.”

Unlike some of the racers featured above, DoctorDT’s path to victory wasn’t quite as smooth. “After week 3 this season, in which I got my second 5th place finish in a row, I posted in the group chat that I needed to step up my game,” he explained. “So I stepped up my game. I tried a Rocky-style training montage, but it was too much effort, so instead I just started watching Megalixer races, reminded myself not to overloot, and got lucky repeatedly.”

There was one other ray of hope that lit the path forward for DoctorDT: “Fiktah and Kergs were in Megalixir already, and not in my division [again]. That helped a lot.”

In Potion A, the competition was even tighter, with Fleury14 winning the division at a total time a mere ten seconds faster than second-place finished Jefe01. But if Jefe’s pace was adding any heat to the race, Fleury did the math to keep the pressure off.

“With the top two being promoted, a huge lead over third, and a game in hand, I think I could have forfeited the last week and still finished in first,” Fleury explained.

Jefe was similarly cool under pressure. “I didn’t feel any pressure despite the close races,” said Jefe. “I know that everyone has been stepping up their game lately and it is great to see. I will watch the best in the world do what they are best at and be amazed; however, close competition at any skill level is really entertaining to watch for me. The fact that all of our races throughout and entire season coming down to 10 seconds overall is insane. I don’t think I would have run the seeds any different. There are things I can clean up and make that a 10 second swing the other way in menus, shopping, saves, etc.”

Perhaps the biggest pressure cooker of all was in Tonic E, where TacoMage, izzi, and Ktoyzic all finished the season in a three-way points tie for first-place. For TacoMage, coming out on top was a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. “After taking third in the 7th race I’d pretty much written off first place, and second place was looking shaky,” he admitted. “I knew if I did well I could tie for second and break a speed tie with Ktoyzic, unless he got a crazy low time in week 8, so that’s really what I was thinking about the entire time. I knew that I needed to do well, but didn’t feel like I needed to have the best run of my life.”

What happened next? “Naturally, I had the best run of my life,” he joked. “Hitting KT at just over an hour in woke me up to what kind of pace I was on. I got so excited that I was shaking once I got on the switches. Even so, both Ktoy and I made the same calculation error and figured he’d won first place and I’d tied Izzy for second, so I was like, ‘Well, mission accomplished!’ Learning the next morning that the three-way tie had happened was surreal.”

For TacoMage, branching out beyond UL was the secret to success. “After things like doing Jexvrok’s mystery chaos seeds, a particularly annoying draft seed, and some experimental race seeds, UL was feeling pretty tame. So from a racing standpoint I was feeling comfy to just relax and play the game.”

Troops March On

For all of the racers, all eyes are already set on season 3. According to Fleury, he’ll be focusing on stepping up his early game: “For me, seed decisions and trouble points are almost always in the first 30 minutes. I have a tough time getting the power level and builds set compared to folks that average in the 1:20s.”

Clouddarkwood is going to be watching his future competition more closely. “My next step for progressing my time down is to watch some of the Elixir and Megalixir runs and try to figure out how I can lower my times by seeing what those at the top do differently than I do,” he said.

For other racers, the approach is even more methodical. DoctorDT explained that, “in fall, 2021, after I’d gotten all the basics down, I really wanted to figure out how the top players kept beating my times by a half hour. So I actually started annotating races: I would watch the restreams from Doesnt, Xelpher, some others, as well as my own runs, and write down what we did and how long it took us to do it. It was really enlightening to see when they stopped looting, when they would menu, when they would reset out, how they would grind. That, and playing in tournaments, is what really helped me get up to the competitive level.”

Unlike some of his competitors, you probably won’t see DoctorDT grinding out practice seeds. “I don’t really practice for UL,” said the Elixir B champion. “With my schedule I can manage maybe two runs on a good week. It takes me a few runs to understand and adapt to a flagset.”

Some racers are getting specific in improving their game. “The main difference in my approach recently is that I’ve been skipping early Narshe more often unless I have a reason to go in there (like Locke or Mog),” explained TacoMage. “Skipping Narshe is something I did in week 8; it’s something I saw suggested somewhere a few weeks ago and found that it seemed to improve my times overall. Otherwise I’ve been trying to stop looting earlier once I feel I’m set for the early game rather than being Templeton at the fair.”

Meanwhile, for Jefe, he’s thinking big picture. To him, Ultros League is just a part of the broader WC racing skill set that he hones through practice and competition. “We have several weekly races, several weekly restreams, and lately, daily popup races,” Jefe explained. “All of these are opportunities to sharpen skills, stay sharp, or for first time racers to dip a toe into racing. I remember my first race…It was with Fiktah, Xelpher, and Jexvrok. I was inexperienced and way out of my league. When the race concluded, to my surprise, they were all there telling me things to help me get better. They have continued to be supportive and helpful in this community and I strive to do the same.”

The Racing Fanatics

For the racers of Ultros League, and the members of the larger Worlds Collide community, it’s the blend of exciting gameplay and social bonds that keeps players coming back to race again and again. For Spirit of General Leo Award winner asilverthorn, it’s definitely a bit of both.

“That rush of feeling at final Kefka when Dancing Mad starts playing and you realize ‘I’m not prepared…’ after going as fast as you can with the aim to do just a bit better than last week,” he answered when asked what kept bringing him back. “And then the relief at the KRAKOW when you have 1 character standing,” he added.

But naturally, Thorn also emphasized the importance of community. “There’s a lot of passionate people volunteering their time into making the game better, including the restream teams, my fellow devs, event organizers. I find everyone especially welcoming.”

“As a fairly new runner to the space, I’m glad the Tonic level exists,” TacoMage said. “I missed joining MFT by a couple months but Tonic felt like a great place to cut one’s teeth as a new runner. Much love to my other Tonic E runners.”

Fleury said that he loved the league and was looking forward to season 3, DoctorDT continues to hold out hope that a Rocky-style training montage will be the key to improvement, and Jefe went even further to boldly declare Ultros League to be “the best squid-based league we have in Worlds Collide.” Jefe’s also looking ahead to the future: “I enjoy the camaraderie and seeing myself and racers improve. I hope the league continues to grow and flourish.”

These sentiments were echoed by Gaahr as well. “Ultros League is a ton of fun, and I encourage everyone who’s on the fence about signing up for Season 3 to hop in once signups are available!”

Looking Ahead to Season 3

For now, Ultros League continues the off-season as the racing community turns its attention to the Coliseum II! However, keep your eyes peeled, as in early January, we’ll be announcing the Season 3 start date.

Also, for the first time in league history, we’ll be making a few adjustments to the racing flagset used for Ultros League. That’s right: the current Ultros League flagset is officially retired! While the changes will be fairly incremental (i.e. don’t expect any massive changes to the overall feel of Ultros League racing), we’ll be making a few tweaks to keep the UL racing experience as fun and fair as possible. These changes will be announced soon, so keep checking on the news here for further updates.

In the meantime, enjoy the break from Ultros League racing, don’t forget to jump into the Coliseum, and get ready for the biggest season of Ultros League yet in early 2023!

Categories: Feature