With a thunderous conclusion, the first stage of Aspire 2017 is over - and we have a clear and decisive winner. Read on to find out more, including details about the next stage of the contest slated to begin this month!
Over thirty brave contestants submitted their best take on Helblinde's The Solace of Oblivion, a grueling six-minute trek throughout a dark and pounding soundscape.
Twelve emerged at the other side, their efforts judged to be worthy of greater attention.
Those fated twelve were showcased to the world in osu!'s first ever contest stream feature, alongside the expert commentary of our Honorable Mentions panel of judges, Okorin, pishifat, Monstrata and ztrot.
From your votes and their expertise, the twelve have now become three.
But among those three, only one earns the right to be crowned this year's Aspirant, the mapper forevermore acknowledged as one of osu!'s Elite Mappers.
Blowing away the competition with OUTSTANDING scores in all categories, and universal public acclaim, the winner of this year's Aspire 2017 contest is none other than..
Somber Ibis, by ProfessionalBox, with a total score of 76.5/80, and 2732 unique votes.
Well known among the mapping community already for his incredible knowledge of the editor and patterning proficiency, ProfessionalBox created a truly incredible spectacle to behold - taking the game to its absolute limits, producing a map the likes of which osu! has never seen before.
Beneath the technical mastery of the entry's construction, ProfessionalBox created a truly compelling beatmap in many ways beyond the glitches and gimmicks utilized to make it tick, melding techniques and patterns that have rarely been seen together to produce something incredibly unique.
His entry went above and beyond our greatest expectations for this contest. So strong was his entry's presence that it domineered the conversation surrounding it, and his complete victory in every scoring category bar one speaks for itself.
Well behind but leading the pack thereafter lies Versatile Mallard by the infamous MinG3012, with a score of 57/80 and 1872 unique votes.
Incorporating an eerily dark and mysterious storyboard into his work, MinG3012 lived up to his reputation of breaking the game in every conceivable way - producing a beatmap so utterly broken that it requires hitlighting disabled to even function, and even then, success is not guaranteed.
Every pattern imaginable and even some never-before-seen make an appearance, even including a glitch which forces infinite BPM and breaks the calculation responsible for figuring out how difficult a map is.
Despite it all, MinG3012's work is an absolute spectacle to behold, and it comes as no surprise to see it score so strongly in many domains.
Scoring third place overall lies, Tranquil Chipmunk by Emilia with a score of 54.25/80 and 1547 unique votes.
Stealing the hearts of our meme-loving community with a fantastic twist on the slider animation gimmick established in last year's Aspire, Emilia's infamous dab-slider will be cherished fondly by all.
Beyond the meme, Emilia's map boasted some extremely complicated mapping ideas and concepts, using the full space offered by Aspire to produce some compelling gameplay that is just as creative as the main draw of the map, highlighting a deep and comparatively rare understanding of mapping in general.
The winning map will be made available as an Aspire-class Approval map in the coming days, whilst the two runners-up will be entered into the Loved category whenever possible.
You may view the full composite judging sheet here, which has HM panel judge comments and more.
The composite judging sheet combines the scores given by the Honorable Mentions panel (40 points) with a Public Impression score (40 points) calculated by a scaling perspective of the overall votes an entry received in comparison to the others.
Together, the two values produced the winning results of the contest, though the popular vote had them charted fairly accurately anyway.
We're also proud to announce the beginning of Aspire-class contests for all other gamemodes - osu!taiko, osu!catch and osu!mania.
Slated for commencement later in April, we will be hosting an Aspire contest for osu!taiko.
More details on this will emerge as the month draws late, but we look forward to seeing just how the mappers of other gamemodes fare in taking their gamemodes to the absolute limit.
Thank you to everyone who entered, and also to everyone who voted, and a HUGE thanks to our panel of expert judges for volunteering hundreds of hours of time between them, very much making this contest a reality.