If you think the Swiss System is a muesli-based diet plan, and that Twitch is a stress-related eye condition – prepare to be schooled. Schooled in the e-sports.
While you may have heard of high-value tournaments in the world of first-person shooters and strategy games, you might not have realised that a hotly-contested competition holds the attention of players in a less sedentary genre. That of the dance game – and, more specifically, Just Dance.
Last month, the Just Dance World Cup 2017 finals took place at the Parc des Expositions on Place Porte de Versailles in Paris, and our boy Charlie Davies (Chazza to his friends) was there to represent the UK. The cheeky-faced 13 year old was the youngest competitor ever to shake his thing in a Just Dance World Cup final, and – we know what you’re asking – how did he get on?
Well, first let’s rewind and see how he got there. The qualifiers for this year’s finals took place over the winter. Some of these took place at live gaming events, but each territory also had a finalist chosen through Just Dance’s World Dancefloor online mode.
For 10 qualifier days spread through November, December and January, players around the planet loaded up World Dancefloor on their PS4s, Xbox Ones or Wii Us and tried to chart the highest score across 10 pre-selected songs. The best player in each territory would head to Paris for the live finals. ChapieUK set a high bar for UK and Ireland competitors over the first couple of weeks, but by the third session Chazza had passed him and stretched out a near-unassailable lead. At the end of the qualifiers, Chazza’s best score stood at 211,083, with ShaneClough in second place at 205,6517 and ChapieUK down in third with 195,1854. Yes, Chazza was on his way to Paris.
The Final Countdown
While score was still set to play a role in the final, it would only count for one of the three possible points awarded at the end of each round. The other two would come from the judging panel, two of whom would mark the competitors based on their performance. This year, the panel consisted of Just Dance Game Director Olivier Adelh, Associate Creative Director Damien Pousse, Choreography Manager Barbara Chane-Kane, Choreographer Mehdi Kerkouche, and Gigi Rowe, the singer behind Just Dance 2017 track Run The Night.
The Final Tournament
Over two days in February, the 18 finalists came together in Paris and fought it out onstage in a tournament based on the Swiss System (a tournament format featuring a set number of matches)
Chazza’s first match-up saw him face Dina Morisset. Taking on the highly experienced Morisset was always going to be a tough ask for the young challenger – she’d been French champion three years in a row, was a previous winner of the Just Dance World Cup, and had a clear home advantage.
In the video above, you’ll see Chazza scoring in red and Dina in orange. The first round took place to the strains of Break Free by Ariana Grande Ft. Zedd. Moves were pulled off, booties were shaken, arms were waved – and when it was all over the scores settled with Chazza on 13,211 and Dina on 13,142. Just 69 points in it – but a victory for Chazza. Though as mentioned, score isn’t everything in the finals – Dina could still drag victory from the jaws of defeat if the judges felt she’d given the better performance. Olivier gave his point to Dina for her precision, while Barbara gave her point to Chazza for his energy. Chazza won the round 2-1!
What is Love by Ultraclub 90 kicked in, and Dina had work to do. Dramatic poses were pulled, hair flailed, and the “running man” made its first appearance. Dina’s precision shone again, and she moved into an early score lead – but with a more-consistently high energy song, Chazza’s energy also showed dividends – the lead switching back and forth repeatedly. As the song faded out, the scores told the tale: 12,279 to Dina, 12,147 to Chazza – an 132 point win for the French champion. Again, it all came down to the judges points. With such a close round it was a tough decision, but a winner had to be chosen. Olivier’s point went to Chazza – “I felt like it was our coach,” he explained, “I said to Barbara; we could fire our coach and hire him instead.” Two points each: whoever won Barbara’s point would win the match. “Charlie, you really kept my attention during the whole song,” she said. Was she about to pull the old talent show judge switcheroo? Compliment the loser before crowning their opponent as the victor? “You embody the character very well, you enjoy the stage, and that’s the thing for me. So I give my point to you.” Chazza wins again, 2-1! His victory over Dina in two straight rounds was quite the upset! Could he go all the way?
Chazza’s next three matches put him up against some very tough competition.
First up, Fabrizio (Dial-k901 – favourite Just Dance track: Scream & Shout by will.i.am Ft. Britney Spears), a 17-year old Peruvian competitor in his second Just Dance World Cup. Chazza went down 3-0 in the first round on Titanium by David Guetta Ft. Sia. Pulling back a 1-2 win on Built for This by Becky G, he pushed the match to a third decider round on Bailar by Deorro Ft. Elvis Crespo, where he lost 2-1.
26-year old Brazilian Diegho San (Diegho – a Just Dance player since the first edition back in 2009) came next – he’d already won the Just Dance World Cup Championship twice, and was defending his title. With the odds stacked heavily against Chazza, it’s little surprise that he went down 2-1 on both Latino Sunset’s Carnaval Boom and Fast Forward Highway’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Likely feeling a bit deflated, Chazza’s last match saw him face new US competitor Joseph (Aazzlano – favourite Just Dance track: Worth It by Fifth Harmony Ft. Kid Ink) Showing immense strength of will, Charlie cleaned up with 3-0 wins on both Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero and Hatsune Miku’s PoPiPo.
Sadly it wasn’t enough to see Chazza through to the play-off part of this hotly contested final. Chazza’s four points effectively put him into joint 4th, but there were 5 players above him with more overall match victories. Brazilian competitor Hian and Australian Denzal (JustDenz95) tore through the Swiss section with clean win records, while Pamella (PamellaRibeiro) and Umutcan (Technoth) only lost a game each.
The Final … Final
The play-offs thrust two-time Brazilian champion Pamella (scoring in red, favourite Just Dance track: Black Widow by Iggy Azalea Ft. Rita Ora), up against 16-year-old Turkish new-comer Umutcan (scoring in yellow, favourite Just Dance track: Hey Mama by David Guetta Ft. Nicki Minaj) into the Grand Final.
The first round played out across Queen classic Don’t Stop Me Now in a barely contained flurry of energy. Although the dancers appeared very close, Umutcan won the score-point with 12,492 to Pamella’s 11,421 – but, as we know, score isn’t the whole story. The judges points for this match were left to the two choreography experts, Barbara and Mehdi – with Barbara focusing on technical skill, and Mehdi on personality and performance. Barbara’s point went to Pamella, who she felt was technically perfect – leaving Mehdi with the casting vote. He said that Umutcan had better sold the spirit of the choreography, despite making a couple of mistakes as a result of his boundless energy. First round to Umutcan.
The next track was Scream & Shout by will.i.am Ft. Britney Spears. Throughout this particularly gruelling choreography, both dancers really pushed themselves to the limit. The high kicks were high, the spins dramatic, the hand movements a barely perceivable blur – but at the end of the song, the scores stood at 12,795 to 11,718. Another score-point for Umutcan. Again, it came down to the judges: would they favour Pamella and send the match into a third round decider? No! Barbara’s technical point went straight to Umutcan, who seemed to have reined in his wilder moves to demonstrate better precision. Mehdi was in agreement on the performance: Umutcan was the Just Dance World Champion of 2017!
Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the Just Dance World Cup is that it underscores the positive effects of dance. Many of the competitors say they see themselves as introverts – but when they’re dancing, things change; whether that be at home in front of the telly or on stage in the middle of Paris. Pamella, for example, describes herself as shy – but says, when dancing, she feels free and confident.
All that remains is to say better luck next time Chazza, and congratulations to Umutcan! The Just Dance World Cup will return, and – who knows – maybe you’ll consider taking the plunge on the World Dancefloor next time?
Just Dance 2017 is available now on all formats. For more news stay tuned to UbiBlog UK and check out our previous coverage.