Earlier in the week I received an unexpected email from Gahaku, the Testament player that I had teamed up with the last time I went to Niigata. Turns out he was planning on entering the tougeki qualifier this weekend and he asked if I would join his team. This made my decision whether to go to Tokyo or Niigata much easier. However, he didn’t have a 3rd person for the team lined up yet, so I emailed just about everyone I knew to see if they were willing to travel to Niigata. Since most of the players I know are from Tokyo or other places near Tokyo, Niigata is pretty damn far. I live basically right in the middle of Niigata city and Tokyo, 3 hours each way on the train, so for me its no big deal. Throughout the week, basically everyone told me that they couldn’t do it, or just never replied. For most of the week I actually was sorta sick. I had a pretty bad cold and an annoyingly consistent cough. The trains to Niigata are also pretty scarce and if I wanted to leave after work on Friday, I would have gotten there at like 10 pm and would have had to wait a long time during a transfer and as a result, the trip would have taken like 4 and a half hours. Because of that and the fact that I was kinda sick, I figured I might as well just spend Friday night just chilling at home.
On Saturday morning I got up early and took the first train to Niigata. I arrived at about noon. I emailed Gahaku to see where he was at. He said that he wanted to meet up with me later at around 5 because he said he had plans to play with a friend. I didn’t really quite get what he meant, I was assuming he meant that he was going to play Guilty Gear with a friend… which I found a bit odd that he wouldn’t want me to play too. I figured I would just go find a place to play until then. I went to Long Run Game Center, the very first game center I had found the first time I was in Niigata, which is actually the place where I had originally met Gahaku in the first place. When I got there, I was surprised to see that Gahaku was actually there! Not only that, but sitting next to him was a girl! It all made sense to me now. By play with a friend he meant spend time with a girl. We waved hello and I just got on the other side of the cab and we started to battle. We played a ton of games, and for maybe about 10 games in a row, we went back and forth with one of us winning and then the other winning. Then I broke away and got like 4 wins in a row. Then I think he won like 2 in a row, it went back and forth again, and then he said that he was gonna go spend some time with the girl. I told him that’s totally cool and said we would meet up later. I stayed at Long Run for a bit longer but there wasn’t really anyone there. Some Baiken scrub and some Potemkin scrub challenged me but I made short work of them fast. I figured I should just get out of there and find Chance game center, the other place that Gahaku and I played at last time. The comp at that place tends to be better. I could have gone to POPY but its pretty far from Niigata station actually. You have to go to Kameda station which is 2 stops away and then walk about a half hour. Chance game center was only like a 5 minute walk from the other side of Niigata station.
At first I didn’t really remember exactly how to get there but it actually didn’t take me too long to find the place. I was rather surprised since my sense of direction is usually rather shitty. When I got there, they had one AC cab just like last time, but sure enough, there were some people there playing. There was this one Venom player there who had a good amount of wins. This cab was set up on 100 yen is 2 credits. I got on the cab and lost to him twice in 2 close games. I went again and was able to beat him. For a while we went back and forth. There was also some random May player there. After playing for a bit, it was about 4 pm. All of a sudden Gahaku shows up with the girl he was with earlier! I didn’t even tell him I was gonna go to Chance haha! From this point on we spent a good while playing casuals at Chance. This one other girl showed up too. She came over to me and said hello. She was the same Dizzy player that was on the ladies team that we played against last time in the tournament at POPY. She seemed pretty happy and surprised to see me. I asked her if she was entering the tournament tomorrow and she said she didn’t really have plans to. I told her that we needed a 3rd player and asked her if she might want to join us. I remembered her having a solid Dizzy. She said that she wasn’t sure if she could make it, but she said that if she does go, that she would like to join our team. At some point the Venom player had like 9 wins in a row and eventually Gahaku took him out. Gahaku said hes the best Venom in Niigata. At some point, I played a match against the female Dizzy player (her name is Junya btw). I pretty much beat her down pretty hard. I was surprised because I remembered her being much better than that. Either my Dizzy matchup skills have improved a lot or she wasn’t as good as I remembered. I was suddenly a bit weary about asking her to join us but I didn’t say anything, I wasn’t even sure if she was going to make it tomorrow. There was also this one Jam player that showed up. He was pretty solid and was beating us for a while. The most notable thing about him was that he was extremely noisy and sorta obnoxious. Whenever he would get hit by a huge combo he would start yelling shit from the other side of the cab really loud. I shall refer to him as Loudmouth Jam. During one of my matches with Loudmouth Jam, Junya said she had to go and said goodbye and left. Gahaku and I played for a bit longer against eachother for a bit after Loudmouth Jam went off somewhere else for a while. It started off going back and forth but I think at one point I broke away and had about 7 wins in a row. At around 8 pm, while still in the middle of a match, I got a call from my friend Sean. I talked to him on the phone while still playing cuz I didn’t wanna make Gahaku wait. Sean is an ex-Nova employee living in Niigata. He is originally from Chicago and is an old friend among many of the Chicago Guilty Gear players, though he doesn’t play Gear himself. His thing is DJing and he used to DJ at some of the parties we through at my apartment back in the day. I made plans with him to meet up and go drinking. He was supposed to be DJing at a bar tonight. He said he wanted to meet up soon so I told him I would leave in about 10 minutes. I told Gahaku after the match that I would have time for one more and that I was gonna meet up with a friend soon. We played one more game and I won. Then Loudmouth Jam comes back and picks Testament on me for some reason. I ended up beating him 3 rounds straight. After that I told him I had to leave and good games and shit. I told Gahaku that I would meet him at POPY tomorrow at around noon. I left with about 10 wins on the machine.
I met up with Sean at the train station. We walked over to the bar called Northern Lights. It turns out it’s the same bar we went to last time that was owned by that one Canadian dude. I noticed that they had remodeled it slightly and now had a DJ booth area that they didn’t have before which looked pretty nice. I guess today was some sorta national Canadian holiday called Canada Day, so everyone was wearing Canadian flags and colors and shit. I was still feeling pretty sick at this point but im a dumbass so I decided I would just drink anyway. After being there for about an hour, the cleared out all the tables and stools and the whole floor area was opened. The place filled up fast. I would say it was actually like 2/5ths foreigners and 3/5ths Japanese people. Sean introduced me to a few various people he knew, we had some beers and talked a bit. At one point I ducked out to grab some food, since they had already closed the kitchen. I hadn’t really eaten since I arrived in Niigata. I was looking for a conbini but walked too far and ended up find a McDonalds, so I figured I would just eat there and get some more 100 yen Fillet-o-fish action! I was very disappointed to find that they had already ended the 100 fish deal. I guess it was only for one week. Bummer. I just got some McPorks, ate em really fast, and headed back to the bar. Sean was DJing at this point. I was sitting down on a bench and this one girl just sat next to me and started talking to me. She said it was her first time at this place. I don’t remember most of the conversation but I told her that I had a cold. She told me that the last time she had a cold and got really drunk, she actually felt much better the next day, saying how beer cured her cold haha. I wasn’t really expecting that to happen but it certainly would kick ass if it did. Eventually as the night went on and it got late, they closed the place down. Sean was kinda pissed cuz he only got to DJ for like a half hour and was supposed to be on longer, but instead some other douche was taking up all the time and the guy didn’t even know what he was doing. On top of that, it was Sean’s turntables and equipment that they were using. But hey at least he got free beer all night (and I got hooked up a with a little of it).
By the time we left the bar, I was already pretty drunk, probably had like at least 9 or 10 beers. Everyone was pretty much going to this club/bar place after that called Shame. Shame was the same place we went to last time after Northern Lights as well. I totally didn’t notice it last time, but Shame was actually in the exact same building as Long Run game center, it was just on the floor above the arcade, lol! Sean and I walked there with these 3 other Japanese girls that actually were his ex-Nova students. When we arrived there, the place was pretty crappy. It was full of people but some dude was like singing and doing a really shitty job of it, though he totally thought he was the shit and was dressed all ghetto and thugged out. We were probably only there for about 5 or 10 minutes and already everyone in our group wanted to leave. I had no problem with leaving since the place was pretty crappy anyway. We decided to try another place across the street but they were having a private party. In the end, we all decided on just going to do Karaoke. We stayed for about 2 hours, didn’t pay for drinks but instead they decided to sneak in a bottle of shochu, and I didn’t touch much of it cuz if you have been reading my blog often you know what happens when I drink shit tons of beer and then switch to shochu. Sean was bustin out all the oldschool shit like Marvin Gaye and Lionel Richie. I provided some low end back vocals. My voice was pretty fucked up from coughing all week so I didn’t get too nuts with the singing, couldn’t get any high notes at all. After that we said bye to the girls and I went back to Sean’s and crashed on his couch. Much nicer than a manga kissa haha.
Next day I woke up after getting more sleep than I usually would on the weekend. I wasn’t hung over at all and surprisingly my cold didn’t get any worse! I certainly didn’t feel any better, but the drinking seemed to have absolutely no effect on my condition. I was ready to play some fuckin Gear! I headed over to POPY and decided to take a cab from Kameda station since I didn’t feel like walking for a half hour in the rain with no umbrella. When I got there, it was already packed full of people, they had 4 cabs set up. 3 were lined up in the middle and one was against the wall with like 2 huge monitors in between them. It was one of the sweetest tournament finals setups ive ever seen. They also had tons of random TVs all along the walls hooked up to the main cabs. I cant say I was really surprised, but as soon as I walked in, I saw several top Tokyo players that had decided to do the same thing I did and traveled out here for this one. Sharon, HH, and Inoue were there and had formed a team for the day. I was also very surprised to see MIU had come to this! I emailed him earlier in the week but he never even replied. He was there teamed up with a Potemkin and Chipp player but I don’t know their names. I didn’t write it down, but I don’t remember recognizing them when I checked the tournament team list anyway. Loudmouth Jam was there as well. Most of the other players I didn’t really recognize, at least not from the Tokyo area. In addition, of course all of the teams that had already qualified to play in the finals today were there playing casuals there as well, such as Osaka B, Keba, Shuumatsu, and others. I knew today wasn’t going to be easy. In addition to their being some really strong players there, every single team that was already qualified to play in the finals today had a May player on it (and you all know how much I LOVE May!). I said hi to Gahaku and asked him if Junya had showed up yet. He said no, but he found another player who needed a team. Some dude who played as I-no. He asked what we should do since we weren’t sure if Junya was going to show or not. Turns out some guy there knew her email so he got a hold of her and she said she was actually coming, so we ended up deciding on playing with her on the team. Eventually the I-no player found a different team so it worked out I guess. I arrived at about 12 and the tournament was scheduled to start at about 2:00 (but it didn’t start till 2:30), so I was able to get lots of casuals in. I mostly was playing extremely well and got a lot of wins. I played MIU twice, he won once, I won once. Same with Osaka B, we played twice and both one once. I got raped by Sharon haha. Most of the other people I played I didn’t really know but I did well against most of them and had an 11 win streak before the tourney started. Eventually Junya showed up so we signed up our team. Gahaku asked me to name the team, so I decided on the name Heavy Metal, because well… its Heavy fuckin Metal, no need to explain!
And so thus the tournament had begun. For the entire time prior to the tournament, they had the same damn punk rock song on endless loop for like 2 hours straight. Im not even exadurating. I have no idea who they were, and it wasnt even a bad song (it even had a wicked bass solo) but they just kept it on for so long it was getting a bit redundant. However, once the tournament started, the song was quickly replaced by the sound from the main cabinet and it fucking BOOMED through the entire arcade. This shit was intense. Great atmosphere and huge props to the tourny organizers. There were a total of 18 teams. One of the first matches was HH team vs some team of BA MA RO. HH OCVed them in that order. I didn’t see most of it but MIU’s team won their first match as well. Our first match was called shortly after that. We were to fight a team of BA DI RO. My team decided to have me play RPS to see who chooses sides. This was a pretty epic RPS match, we were locked into a RPS clash match for a long time. I think we both chose rock 5 times in a row and neither of us would budge. Then we BOTH switched to paper twice in a row. Eventually I went back to rock but the bastard stayed with paper and I lost. But they chose the player 1 side and I wanted 2p anyway so it was all good! We decided to have Junya go first. To be quite honest, I was having some doubts about her at this point, since the only time I saw her play was the one match I beat her in pretty badly the day before. However, I was certainly wrong to ever doubt her because she fucking OCVed the entire opposing team without losing a single round! I was like, holy shit, my team is beastly! I gave her major props for her victory. While we waited for our next match, Loudmouth Jam lost in an extremely close clutch match against a white Dizzy player, and his team was eliminated from the tournament (this tournament was infested with Dizzy players btw). Meanwhile, Inoue picked up another OCV for his team, putting them in the semi finals. Our next match was called and we were to fight a team of JA TE DI. This was the same team that just took out Loudmouth Jam’s team, so I figured they were gonna be no easy victory. I won our RPS match and chose the 2nd player side again. We put Junya up first again since she was on fire. She faced the other team’s Jam player and put up a good fight but lost in a very close match. Up next Gahaku said he wanted to have a shot at Jam so I told him to go for it. He played well and took Jam out. Up next Gahaku had to fight the other Testament in a mirror match. Unfortunately the other Testament player was victorious. It was now up to me to pick up the slack. I went up there and pretty much just annihilated the Testament player. He barely touched me and I dizzied him one round. Finally I had to face white Dizzy. It started off completely terrible and I fucking got perfected round 1. I don’t even remember what happened, I just got hit with a combo early on in the match and I just couldn’t get him off me the whole time. I shook it off and told me team mates not to worry cuz I got this shit. I went into the next round with a fresh mindset and convincingly won the next 2 rounds, pulling out a win for our team! Gahaku and Junya were really happy that I won and gave me tons of props. We were now set to play in the semi finals! MIU’s team had also won their next game and would be in the semi finals as well. The last team to make it to semis was a red and black Bridget player, black Anji player, and light blue Potemkin player. Im pretty positive these guys were also from Kanto since Ive played against the black Anji a zillion times, and the red and black Bridget was this one dude who I mistook for Mugen once at a different qual a while back. They were another solid team. For the best 4, they cleared out all the regular cabs and everyone sat around on the floor and watched as the semi finals were played on the huge badass setup. The first match called for the semis was my team vs HH’s team. My biggest worry was fighting Sharon since Baiken is the hardest matchup for me among their 3 characters. We figured that they would save Sharon for last since he hasn’t even played yet. Junya handled the Baiken player in our first match pretty damn well so I figured if all else failed she would be best to face Sharon. We weren’t sure who was gonna go first though, so we just decided to let Gahaku play first and see how he does. Sharon beat me in RPS but they chose player 1 side so it didn’t matter. First match was Gahaku’s Testament vs HH’s Dizzy. Gahaku did his best and it wasn’t completely one sided but HH took both rounds. It was now my turn to face him. The first round started out in HH’s favor as he got in an early combo. I blocked a bunch of his shit and actually got him off me and we danced around for a bit. It was a really close round but in the end he took it. For round 2, I stared off with a decent lead. He answered with a big combo and it was getting pretty even. However, at one point I managed to drive him into the corner and he was on defensive. I kept poked him with far slash and kept him on the defensive. At one point, I did pogo after the far slash to keep the pressure going. I thought I was close enough for the pogo to hit so I could RC but it JUST whiffed. HH stayed patient and just kept in the corner, crouch blocking. I was expecting him to ice spike me or make some sorta move. I ended up doing a going my way in anticipation that he would try something and it would counter it. From the distance I was at, it looked like the going my way would at least touch him so that even if he blocked it, I could RC it into a quick overhead and continue the pressure. However, once again I misjudged the distance and when I went for the RC, it didn’t come out because the going my way didn’t hit. As a result I landed and got thrown and he ended up pressuring me in the corner for a very long time. I kept blocking and eventually he snuck in a standing dust. I actually saw it and stood up but for some reason I crouched again at the last second and ate it, resulting in an air combo and death. In retrospect I really should have just did a ground flower on pogo and just RCed THAT in order to keep him pressured in the corner. Basically I just chalk it up to nervousness and a slightly bad judgment call. I was pretty upset since I was really feeling like I was playing generally well most of the day. My execution was spot on and I had the right mentality, but HH simply was more patient and out played me I guess. Junya was last. She beat a Dizzy in a mirror match before but I wasn’t having extremely high hopes for her OCVing their whole team. Much to my surprise she put up a VERY close fight against HH (round 1 was lost by a pixel) but she ended up losing to him as well. HH ‘s team advanced to the finals. Up next was MIU’s team vs black Anji team. The Chipp on MIU’s team went first against the Bridget player and beat him both rounds, with round 2 being very close. Up next Chipp fights black Anji losing the first round, but then winning the next 2. Up next was Po vs Chipp. As most would probably expect given the matchup, Po pretty much layed the smack down and made Chipp his bitch. MIU went next with his flashy Sol. He played extremely careful and took round 1. Round 2 was almost the same but right as Po was about to die he came out with this huge comeback and almost killed MIU, but MIU prevailed and got his shit together for the win. Right after that, the finals began. First match was Inoue’s Testament vs MIU’s Sol. MIU almost won the first round but he got hit out of grand viper by a giant tree for the lose. Inoue proceeded to win the 2nd round as well. Up next was Inoue vs Chipp. Inoue takes round 1, and proceeds to take round 2 as well after Chipp teleports into another big poison tree. Next match was Inoue vs Po. Po takes round 1, Inoue wins the 2nd round, and Po finishes him off in round 3. Up next was HH (which was the logical choice to put Dizzy against Po). Po was actually beasting on him extremely hard right from the start of the first round. He got HH down to about 5 percent health until HH was actually even able to move for the first time in the round after getting knocked down initially. HH proceeded to beast his way to victory with a very impressive comeback, not getting hit a single time after the initial damage. However, round 2 was almost the same thing, but this time it was Potemkin who came with the comeback action. Finally, HH was just like… ok fuck this guy, and perfected Potemkin. HH/Inoue/Sharon had now made it to the final tournament (and Sharon didn’t even play yet! LOL).
There was a brief intermission between before the finals. The 4 teams to play in the D-4 series block finals were:
Osaka B(FA)/Nanari(MA)/ 紅月カレン（DI）
Unlike most of the block finals I have been to, this one wasn’t round robin. I guess it was because they had an even number of teams. They had it set up as a regular bracket, so if you lose once you are out.
First match was Shuumatsu team vs HH team. Shuumatsu and HH face off first. HH wins the first round by raping Shuumatsu pretty hard. Shuumatsu comes back to take round 2, and also wins round 3 by a pixel! Up next was Shuumatsu vs Sharon. Shuumatsu takes round 1, Sharon wins round 2, Shuumatsu pulls out the win in round 3. It was now up to Inoue to OCV their whole team if they wanted to stay in this thing. Shuumatsu starts off strong, annihilating Inoue in the mirror match first round. However, Inoue was like… fuck this shit, and perfects Shuumatsu in round 2. He follows it up with a strong with in round 3. Up next was 禁書目録, the May player. Inoue puts up a good fight and wins both rounds consecutively. The final match was Keba vs Inoue. Both rounds were fairly close, but Keba’s ABA proved to be too mighty for Inoue to take down, and Keba’s team thus had advanced to the finals of the entire tournament. Sharon looked like he was sorta holding back tears at this point. He wasn’t actually crying but he looked pretty upset. Next up was Osaka B team vs ASO team. First match was Dizzy vs Nanari’s May. Dizzy pulls out the double rape on May with a very strong victory. Up next was ASO’s Millia. Dizzy pretty much went ahead and did the same thing here, I was actually surprised how quickly it was over. Finally, Dizzy goes against Zenoa’s Axl. Dizzy dominates round 1 once again. However, for round 2, Dizzy dropped a combo that could have ended it right there, and Axl comes back with a mighty bomber loop for the win. Round 3, Axl once again pulls out a last minute bomber loop with a pixel of health left and takes Dizzy down. Next was Nanari’s May. AX wins round 1, MA wins round 2, AX takes it in round 3. Final match was Osaka B vs Zenoa. Osaka B comes out strong and wins both rounds in a fairly close matches. LAST GAME… Nanari vs Shuumatsu. May takes round 1 by a pixel, Shuumatsu answers with a win in round 2. Nanari finishes it up in round 3. Up next vs Keba, Nanari squeezes in another close win in round 1. Keba takes the 2nd round, but Nanari wins by a pixel in round 3. The last was a May vs May mirror match. However, Nanari keeps his momentum strong and proves to be better at the mirror match than his opponent, sealing a victory and the final SBO spot for Osaka B(FA)/Nanari(MA)/ 紅月カレン（DI). To be completely honest, if my team wasnt going to be the winning team, I wanted Osaka B to make it. Hes always been a really nice guy towards me and he reps our character damn well, so a big congrats to him and his team.
After that, there was about maybe 2 hours until I had leave. They set the cabinets back up for casuals and I spent the entire rest of the time there just playing against various people. I did well in general. At one point there was like this army of Slayers that challenged me. I beat 5 Slayer players in a row until I finally lost in a very close match. I also took out Loudmouth Jam in a game of casuals. As it was getting close to the time when I had to leave, I went over to the desk to see if someone could call me a cab. Unfortunately, the entire POPY staff was busy playing various games so no one was there to help me. I asked Gahaku if he knew the number of a taxi company in the area. He didnt know, but he told me that his friend would be willing to just drive me to Niigata station. I didnt want to be a burden but they insisted it was no big deal. So me, Gahaku, and these 2 other dudes all went in this one guys car to the station. On the way, we had a brief chat and one of the dudes was all hyper and kept like making these funny hand slapping fist motions and shouting stuff. If I didnt know any better, I would say he was drunk haha. We had a conversation about our favorite beers and he told me next time I go to Niigata he wants to do some heavy drinking with me heheh. Both Gahaku and Junya both said they would love to team with me again sometime and told me to come back to Niigata again soon. So its nice to know that the next time I go back there, I have a reliable and strong team to play with. I have a group photo of our team that I took at POPY that ill upload to my photo gallery.
After they dropped me off at the station and I said goodbye and thank you, I headed for the Shinkansen. This would be the very first time I would take the Shinkansen after the 10+ months that I have lived in Japan. I always avoided it due to high fares but it was unavoidable at this point since the regular trains that run between Niigata and my town pretty much suck balls. It was a quick hour and a half trip home. When I got to the Shinkansen station (which is separate than the regular train stations in my town), I needed to figure out how I was going to get home. I had emailed my girlfriend to see if she could pick me up and then I tried calling her. She was busy at a volunteer group that she often goes to and was unable to come pick me up. Its my fault for asking her like an hour before I got there heh. I ended up taking a cab to the closest regular station, and then took the regular train back to the station closest to my apartment and walked from there. I was still feeling pretty sick, and still have a bad cold at the time of writing this but hopefully it will be gone by next weekend.Next weekend is it folks. The very last SBO qualifier (outside of the last chance quals the actual day of SBO). I have no idea who im teaming with or anything at this point. All I know is that just about EVERYONE that has not yet qualified is going to show up to this thing, and winning also means going through Ogawas team in the finals. It more or less seems rather impossible but im still gonna enter of course. The tournament will be on Sunday at Shinjuku Sportsland. As far as Saturday goes, well I have a ticket to see Children of Bodom live, so I think im just gonna go ahead and go to that. I think the only way I would consider passing that up is if I somehow found a fucking AMAZING team for Saturday, but since I doubt thats gonna happen, I might as well just enjoy the concert. Im not really expecting much on Sunday but in any case it should be a great tournament to be a part of, and im gonna do my damn best despite the odds! Get ready for the end folks...