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Cavalier Competitor

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Some people treat children's games like Serious Business... and sometimes it's even justified, when the game determines world events.

However, the Cavalier Competitor will insist on playing this game like it's a game, of all things! Rather than rant and rage at losing Hit Points, they'll amicably congratulate their opponent on a clever move. When their opponent Trash Talks about their unbeatable combo, he'll say "can't wait to see it!" And most impressive of all... the Cavalier Competitor will usually win. It may be nothing more than a mildly interesting hobby for them, but they can beat anyone, anyone at this game. Maybe they're a performer and not a technician, and their laid back perspective has given them a powerful Meta Game advantage. Perhaps they're just really talented at it but don't want to "go pro". In extreme cases, they're a Genius Ditz who never played the game before and doesn't think it's a big deal.

In a sense, they're just being a good sportsman about the whole thing, which is especially disconcerting to everyone else who is seriously into it. He just wants to have fun and chides opponents for taking it so seriously... sometimes, even when the fate of the world depends on it. In a setting where the Serious Business game does impact world events, the Cavalier Competitor will be a decidedly Smug Snake because this person can and will treat it like a game even if lives hang in the balance. The Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy has nothing on them, their dismissive attitude routinely insults opponents. Alternately, they may realize lives are at risk, but consider the whole thing beneath them, and play only for the amusement value of playing. Unlike the former, their ego tends to be big enough to gather a solar system and they will drop the nonchalant act if an opponent starts beating them, possibly even get a breakdown if they lose.

This has some overlap with Scrub. See also Spirited Competitor.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Suzuhara Misaki completely exemplifies this trope in Angelic Layer; she plays to have fun. After all, when all is said and done, it really is just a game, and not Serious Business at all. Her attitude is shared by several others in the series whether they compete or not, including the creator of the game, and while she repeatedly faces opponents who take the game far more seriously than she does, this attitude also proves to be quite infectious.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Cell demonstrates the second interpretation of this trope when he reaches his Perfect form, an end-result of having Freeza's and the arrogant Vegeta's cells in him. Wanting to see Gohan's hidden power for a greater challenge, he crushes Android 16's head beneath his foot to have his anger erupt. Needless to say, his wish was granted. Once the pissed-off, now Super Saiyan 2 Gohan starts pounding him with ease, Perfect Cell gets angry and drops his Cavalier Competitor attitude, since the game isn't fun anymore. Were it not for Goku stepping in, Perfect Cell would have taken his ball and gone home.
    • Freeza himself is another example of the second interpretation of this trope. He often plays cat-and-mouse with his enemies because he is so certain of his power.
    • Also Buu and Gotenks, Gotenks makes up one of the most bizarre and powerful attacks in the series just for fun, and Buu is the embodiment of this trope once he kills Babidi, absorbs the good Buu, and he seeks out Gotenks as a worthy foe, but quickly gets bored and decides to read a book instead.
      • Buu, much like Cell before him, plays the second interpretation straight. He's cavalier about a fight so long as he's the one winning. The moment someone stronger comes around, it's no longer fun and he starts to suffer epic breakdowns.
      • Fat Buu continues to enjoy fights even when he's losing, and Kid Buu doesn't seem to have the capacity for frustration.
    • Goku himself is combination of the first variety of this and Spirited Competitor unless his opponent's evil registers to him even more than their power does. Which usually becomes the case when they do something sick like blowing up his best friend with a sadistic grin on their face.
      • Android 17, one of the androids Dr. Gero programmed to destroy Goku, is just like him in this way (without as much of the "spirited" part), oddly enough. In fact, his only reason for proceeding with the Goku hunt after killing Gero is the entertainment of it all.
    • Cell displays this same attitude as a mentor in Dragon Ball Xenoverse, openly calling it a "game" where he sees how much he can improve an imperfect being (namely, you) and calling you his pawn. Likewise, his post-battle analysis has more to do with how entertaining he found the fight than how well you actually fought, ranging from abject disappointment ("You couldn't even kill TIME!") to sheer joy ("I'd totally hug you if I did that sort of thing!").
  • Kay from Saunders High in Girls und Panzer. In a game where some girls have been disowned for losing a match, she's more concerned about having a good time and sportsmanship than winning. Her Badass Creed is "Your tank will cry if you are a bad person."
  • Subverted in Hikaru no Go. When Akira first meets Hikaru, it seems like this trope is being played out to a T: Akira, the genius wonderkid, gets his ass handed to him at Go by Hikaru, who seems to take the whole thing as a joke and says it's his first time playing. The match shocks Akira to the point that he spends years obsessing over it. The irony is, Hikaru isn't really playing at all, he's just following the orders of his ghost companion who Akira can't see; said ghost is an INCREDIBLY serious competitor and definitely not cavalier.
    • Later on, when Hikaru begins playing Go on his own, he plays Akira again and gets destroyed. This makes Akira even more angry, because he thinks Hikaru is being so caviler, he's not even trying.
  • Yumeko in Kakegurui routinely plays for Absurdly High Stakes Games that see her risk life, limb, and sometimes her very future on the flip of a card. While most of her opponents treat it as Serious Business, she varies from treating it either as a fun game between friends with no collateral, or as a thrilling game of Russian Roulette where she willingly welcomes the prospect of losing for the excitement of it. Her attitude is commented on as bizarre by most, but it even starts to spread to her Ridiculously Average Guy friend Ryota.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Sherlock turns solving murders into a game and tends to grin wider the more dead bodies show up. But he can and does get serious when things get personal.
  • Judai/Jaden from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX embodies this trope to the extent that, when he takes the first season finale seriously (even though absolutely nothing is riding on it and he just laughed his way through a battle for the fate of the world), he starts losing. This only lasts until the third season, when he starts taking everything seriously and has a Face–Heel Turn.
    • In the real-life version, this is a very legitimate strategy to take against some players. Having an easy smile on your face when your opponent massively overextends and is about to rush you to death can sometimes be more a more effective defense than a filled back row.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Most of the U2 participants seem to be this. They don't take their fights seriously, and when the last one of them is eventually defeated, they return to their universe, disgusted at how everyone seems to consider the tournament Serious Business.

  • This trope was used as Character Development for Amber in Hairspray. Her mom orchestrated Tracy's exclusion to win a call in competition for her, and once defeated, Amber gets over it ("Mom, I lost. Let's just deal with it"), Her mom didn't take it so well.
  • Randy in Balls of Fury goes into the tournament thinking it's a highly competitive but still harmless ping pong game, and can't understand all the extreme attitudes about it. However, their interpretation of "Sudden Death" ping pong has actual death for the losers. He loses the Cavalier Competitor attitude pretty fast after that.

  • For a serf, the Tourney in the Apprentice Adept series means the difference between exile, continued tenure as a serf, and full Citizenship (being a life of ridiculous luxury and freedom), and thus is extremely Serious Business. Citizens can enter if they feel like it, with nothing at stake. Stile's Tourney opponents in the first trilogy include the Rifleman, a Worthy Opponent who takes the skill and competition very seriously, and honestly wishes Stile success after Stile defeats him, and an unnamed ten-year-old boy (who's parents tenure was up and had nothing to lose) who "beats" him in a "contest" of slot machines and crows about it disgustingly, while Stile now only needs one more loss to disqualify him from the Tourney, which is fairly life-or-death by this stage.
  • In The Demonata a character manages to win Chess with Death against Lord Loss in this way. Unfortunately, this upset Lord Loss so much that he could no longer gain any enjoyment from chess, reverting to inflicting suffering on mortals as his primary means of amusement.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Babyface!Solo Darling described pro wrestling as a way to become best friends with people while earning candy money. Overtime she took to wearing furry costumes and her finishing is preceded by a glomp.

    Video Games 
  • Hau in Pokémon Sun and Moon engages in Pokémon battles to have a good time and treats them all as sparring matches, regardless of if it actually is a sparring match or he's taking on the Aether Foundation. He really doesn't care if he wins or loses. Hau's attitude is of endless frustration to Gladion, who takes Pokémon battling as Serious Business and is motivated primarily by revenge, leading to an odd situation at Akala Island where Gladion trounces Hau in battle, resulting in a bright and smiling Hau and an even grumpier Gladion. Hau is actually merely putting on a happy face—he has an inferiority complex through a lifetime of being compared to his grandfather Hala, whom Hau was never able to beat at anything. Over the course of the game, Hau learns to be satisfied with who he is by helping to save the world, and he becomes perpetually happy for real.
  • Candyman in Lethal League treats the titular Blood Sport as a way to pass the time, no matter how much is at stake. He even engages various people to "play ball" in his padded cell for amusement. That being said, following this trope, he has a hard time taking losing, as in gameplay, he will occasionally swear up a storm in frustration as he's KOed.
  • In Tomba! the Ultimate Evil Pig is considerably more friendly than the others, happily greeting Tomba by name and explaining how he created all of the other Evil Pigs and sent them to do wrong just so other people could "have fun" fighting them, and them come to "play" with him as well. The battle with him isn't even that difficult and he's actually considerably easier than some of his henchmen, implying he's really not even trying all that hard and simply enjoying the battle without even caring all that much if he wins or loses.
    Tomba, you finally made it! I've been waiting for you. I'm the ultimate Evil Pig that created all of the other Evil Pigs. Did you have fun fighting the others? I made those for people like you to have fun! That's right! To me, this whole battle is a game. With you, Tomba, this whole world is like... like... a gigantic toy box! This may be hard to understand right now. Anyway, let's have fun! Come and get me, if you can!
  • Megumi is like this in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, as she purely races in the (admittedly dangerous) competition for fun, is polite towards her rivals, takes her losses with more dignity than the others (even Hasty, the local ace racer who's just as nice, but clearly upset when he loses) and applauds the winner.

    Visual Novel 
  • Servant Assassin has this attitude towards the Grail War itself in Fate/stay night: He's only in it for the promise of one good sword fight and treats everything else in it with cavalier disinterest. Justified because the War is rigged against him anyway; he is the one Servant who literally cannot win the War in any possible way, due to being a fake. Consequently, the promise of one good fight is all he has. He also fulfils the second stipulation of 'usually winning' by being the best sword-fighter in the Grail War and occupying some very favourable home ground, and can afford to be calm about any duels that do come his way.

    Web Comics 
  • One-Punch Man: Suiryu, a competitor in a martial arts tournament and an audience favorite to win, is introduced with this attitude: Where others have entered to prove themselves, to show off, or for honor, Suiryu is quite open that he entered the tournament because he figured it'd be fun and he was kinda strapped for cash, and he points out to his second-round opponent Snek that he hardly ever trained and is just naturally this good. Though Suiryu has fun when he's dominating, he absolutely cannot stand it if his opponent turns out to be better than he is. He is also a Social Darwinist, believing himself to be superior because he's stronger and that if anyone is killed, it's their fault for being too weak to defend themselves. As a result, Suiryu has a very dim view of heroes, as they run counter to his way of thinking. It really strikes a nerve with Snek, who is a professional hero and believes strongly in protecting others.

    Western Animation 
  • Twilight Sparkle pulls this one off in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Fall Weather Friends." During the big Running of the Leaves race, Applejack and Rainbow Dash develop an intense rivalry and take the race very seriously. Twilight, a first-timer who is quite non-athletic, is seen just strolling along throughout the race, admiring the autumn leaves with a peaceful expression on her face. In the end, Twilight comes in fifth, which isn't a great showing, but her friends come in dead last because they tired themselves out too quickly (on top of being distracted trying to stop each other from winning), whereas Twilight paced herself and saved all her energy for the final stretch. Of course, when a game comes along that she's actually passionate about, like in "A Trivial Pursuit" where she's desperate to keep her Trivia Trot winning streak going, the results are not pretty.
    • Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie turn out to be brilliant Buckball players, but only as long as they're having fun. The second they start treating the competition seriously and thinking about the pressures of winning the game, they start to fumble. Similarly, Snails is a skilled goalie because of his simplistic mindset and advises them to not think about anything. Ever.