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Year of the Dragon: Sub-Zero is the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion!

08/03/2012 :: Posted at 01:44 AM by Mick-Lucifer
The People Have Spoken - Sub-Zero is the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion!

Sub-Zero defeated Ermac to become Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion!Twenty years is a long time in any measure! For Mortal Kombat, it's meant two decades of tournament fighting, and an ever expanding universe of warriors eager to take the crown! In the early days, you could take for granted the series would be safeguarded by its most enduring hero, but ten years ago, that assumption was snapped like a dry twig, by the most enduring villain of the series.

In this anniversary Year of the Dragon, Mortal Kombat Online decided to undertake an unprecedented vote, celebrating the icons of one of the longest running game franchises, whilst addressing a lingering question that has shaped them all. We called upon the entire MK fanbase to resolve this, the ultimate question: Who is the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion?

Sixty-five characters, six rounds, and three months later, we finally have an answer. His victory was by no means one-sided, his reign will not go unchallenged. We can, however, declare with extreme confidence: Sub-Zero is the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion.

To arrange the bracket, Mortal Kombat Online staff ranked the top ten characters of all-time, determining Sub-Zero the #1 seed in the process. It was the mainstream penetration of the character, his success as an icon in multiple mediums, and the arc of his story, that made him a consistent choice for the committee.

It can come as no surprise that Sub-Zero would also emerge a top contender by broad popular vote. Though the character we know today did not technically appear until Mortal Kombat II, his story has stretched the entire twenty years, appealing to those who would be drawn in by the iconic "ninja" design, and the powers of ice that have made him one of the most recognized models in gaming.

It's somewhat ironic that a character as readily identified as Sub-Zero would not receive a given name until just last year. Kuai Liang has quickly become the identifier by which this Sub-Zero is known, differentiating from the character first introduced in 1992. It's the legacy of the sibling that began our Sub-Zero's journey, initiated as a brand new character in the 1993 sequel, even if many players didn't even realize it.

To that point, Sub-Zero had been the warrior in blue, pursued by Scorpion and sent to assassinate Shang Tsung in the plot of the first Mortal Kombat. Character bios in the next game would quickly reveal that Sub-Zero had been presumed dead after the tournament, telegraphing the switch by creating an element of mystery surrounding his 'surprise' return in the Outworld tournament.

The secrets of the twist ending would only be detailed by completing the game with Sub-Zero -- meshing with Scorpion's MKII end to reveal the presence of a younger, more honorable version of the Lin Kuei assassin. It wasn't the most shocking moment in gaming history, but it absolutely established the first layer of intrigue that future games would build upon, creating more than a simple stone cold killer for hire. Sub-Zero was a young character, destined to develop all the associations of classic fictional heroes.

The nature of Scorpion's famous vengeance plot meant either a premature and bittersweet end for the spectre, or lingering questions in sore need of answer. Whatever the intentions at the time, the characters would remain linked, but not before the legend of a more altruistic Sub-Zero got its chance to blossom in the next instalment. Scorpion and the palette swap characters would all be initially absent from Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), allowing Sub-Zero to return unmasked, scarred, and pursued by his own clan.

In MK3, Sub-Zero became a fugitive during the invasion of Earth, pursued by automated Lin Kuei cyborgs sent to kill him. Ties to the secret character, Smoke, added extra backstory and personal motivation to Sub-Zero's plight, which would ultimately be the beginning of the downfall of the Lin Kuei. When the series appeared to enter hibernation after Mortal Kombat 4, the return in 2002 (Deadly Alliance), would see a Sub-Zero reclaiming the Lin Kuei mantle, intent on resurrecting the disbanded order with the honor it once held.

Mortal Kombat 4 had effectively resolved Sub-Zero's introductory baggage, revealing an extra player in the tragic comedy of his rivalry with Scorpion. He would no longer need be involved, as absolved of responsibility as we had believed in MKII.

Quan Chi would play his first role as manipulator in MK4, pitting Scorpion and Sub-Zero against each other like pawns, as he had with the previous Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat Mythologies. While this tangled web finally gave Scorpion other things to do -- it freed Sub-Zero to eventually acquire a love interest in Quan Chi's demonic slave, Sareena. It was another detail borrowed from the "Bi-Han" version, but furthered and complimented the development and contrast of the lighter of the two brothers.

The darker qualities of his familial predecessor would motivate the final piece of Sub-Zero's puzzle -- his brother revealed to have become a blackened wraith of the NetherRealm after death, the shadowy secret character known as Noob Saibot. This not only further tied MKII's iconic secret characters to Sub-Zero, indebting him to fleshing them out beyond their colour swapped origins, but established another trope in Sub-Zero's classically influenced canon. He had an evil brother, a related nemesis with which to engage in murderous sibling rivalry.

It's perhaps a little ironic that so much of his story has kept Sub-Zero away from competing for the in-fiction title of Mortal Kombat Champion. At the same time, it has clearly been to the benefit of the character that he has developed in a way that connects with the fans at large.

As we know, the in-fiction Champion title was most commonly held by Liu Kang (MK-MK4), but that history seems in doubt after the most recent game rewrote history. In that story, Sub-Zero even had the parallel universe fate of becoming the very automated cyborg he fought against in the original MK3. Whether or not this robotic fate is merely part of the accumulation of fictional tropes -- in this case, the grim alternate reality version -- remains to be seen. What is more clear is the staying power of one of Mortal Kombat's longest serving characters.

Throughout the winding saga, he has remained beloved and instantly identified for his in-game special attacks. The power of ice has proved one of the most versatile and exciting in the series, not to be out-done by the simple martial artistry of ripping out a spine -- a fatality frequently cited one of the best finishers the game has seen!

The palette swap "ninja" design may have its supporters and detractors, but as the series has developed and matured, Sub-Zero has continued to show how the spirit of the original can be embellished with a sense of character and individuality befitting a twenty year icon. There isn't an area where Sub-Zero hasn't excelled, and that is why, love or hate him, he is clearly a worthy choice.

Concept Render - Sub-ZeroSub-Zero Attack RenderMKvsDCU Sub-Zero Render
Sub-Zero Alternate ConceptCyber Sub-Zero and Sub-Zero!MK (2011) Classic Costume - Sub-Zero
Sub-Zero Deadly Alliance Concept ArtScorpion and Sub-Zero in MK Armageddon's Pit Arena renderSub-Zero Deadly Alliance Render

The path of the Champion saw Sub-Zero defeat Daegon (R1), Frost (R2), Quan Chi (R3), Kitana (QF), Raiden (SF) and Ermac (GF). In an Olympic themed bonus match, Noob Saibot has been determined worthy of a Bronze Medal, defeating the second eliminated Semi Finalist, Raiden. That's good news for the Chinese cryomancer warrior contingent!

As we continue to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Mortal Kombat, the tournament action will continue! Sub-Zero returns in a special sixteen team tournament inspired by some of the greatest team-ups the games have introduced! By popular request, the August 2-v-2 elimination bracket will be completely randomized and revealed as the First Round unfolds.

If all this Sub-Zero hasn't been enough, Mortal Kombat Online has teamed with Pop Culture Shock Collectibles to give you the chance to win a Life-Size Sub-Zero bust! At 22", this limited edition light-up eyes version is the perfect tribute to the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion! Follow contest entry guidelines to win!

     
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