Monday, August 25, 2008

Have a Drink On Me

This weekend I headed for Tokyo with no real plans other than meeting up with my friend Dana from Chicago who I ran into last week on accident at PSY. On the way to Shinjuku on Friday I tried to send her an email on my cellphone (she has a rental phone while shes here) but I got one of those postmaster cant send errors. When I copied down her email last weekend I made a mistake and inputed it wrong. As a result I had no way of contacting her. However, she said her plan was to go to Zin on Saturday night for their 1 year anniversary party so I figured if I just show up at Zin I can meet her there.

When I arrived at Shinjuku station and was heading for the exit, suddently someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turn around and this white dude is like, is your name Mike? Im like... yea. Hes like, are you ElvenShadow? Im like... yep. He introduced himself as RTL from the dustloop forums. I knew he was in Japan for a while now but we never ended up having the opportunity to meet eachother. He said he was actually at the station waiting for his girlfriend but he said he just came from Vegas and that there were a lot of people there, among them he said a Swedish Guilty Gear player was there. He said he had plans so he wouldnt be going back. I said bye to him and headed out of the station.

After that I pretty much just headed to Vegas for some casuals. The very first match I played was against Kusoru's off the wall Sol and I won. In addition, other well known players such as FAB, HH, and Natsume were there. Its nice to know that people are still playing even though SBO just ended last weekend. The French players were still there too and I won a match vs their Ky player but other than that they didnt seem to stay long and just vanished at one point. Also, the Swedish Slayer player Jonas was there. I had met him last weekend. Not much happend. FAB was beasting and had a huge streak. I played him a like a couple times and came extremely close to beating him each time. I also got a win on HH's Ky and ended his like short win streak. Then he picked Dizzy on me and I won again. He left after that. I ended up staying on the machine for 21 wins until the comp started to fizzle out and I ended up just deciding to leave. I asked Jonas if he wanted to come with me to Current for some beers and he was down with it. We stopped to get some food at McDonalds first. From last Wednesday to the end of this month, they have a special deal for 200 yen big macs going on! I took advantage of that and got myself 2. After that we headed to Current.

It was still fairly early at this point, maybe like 11 pm. It wasnt very packed but a few people were there. Jonas and I had like 2 beers and talked for a bit but then he decided to take the last train back because he wanted to go stay at his hotel. As the night went on, more people showed up. I spent most of the night drinking with Antti who I hadnt seen in like over a month. Chip showed up later as well. There were these 2 girls sitting in the back at a table and at one point Antti and I joined them. One of them knew me but she hasnt been there many times, the other I never met but she was kinda older looking. Her friend said she just broke up with her BF and was strongly suggesting she was looking to hook up with someone. She seemed to be interested in Antti.

After a long night of me and Antti buying eachother rounds of beers back and forth we were good a shit faced and with no major plans tomorrow, I wanted to keep drinking! So we decided to head to PSY since they are open till 6. The other 2 girls decided to come with us. PSY ended up being packed as hell and there wasnt even really anywhere to sit. We drank until about 6 and then headed out. The girls wanted to get some McDonalds but they just got some to go. At one point Antti was missing but then he found us, I guess he was so wasted he went upstairs instead of downstairs when we left PSY and ended up on the roof. The one older and not very attractive girl was all like looking for him. It was obvious she wanted to go home with him. Antti said to me, he wasnt interested in sleeping with her, so he ditched her and want home by himself haha. I just made my way down the street to the manga kissa and passed the fuck out.

I awoke around noon with a massive headache. First thing I did was head to a drugstore and get some headache pills. After that I got some more bigmac action but I didnt have much of an appetite since my head hurt. With no other real major plans I just went back to Vegas and pretty much spent the entire day there playing. For the most part I was doing well throughout the day. Some highlights of the day... There was this cute female Sol player that just came in with her other female friend out of no where. Im pretty sure Ive never seen this girl before. She sat down at the cab next to me and got on and just started beasting on people while her friend just stood behind her the whole time and watched. After a while we both had like 12 wins on our respective cabs. She eventually lost, but she was totally kicking ass. I actually wanted to play her but she left once she lost and I was still winning. Jonas showed up again as well. Baim, the cute Dizzy player I was talking to last time was there too. About halfway through I stopped to get some food at McDonalds again. This time I decided to get a bigmac and a shakashaka chicken and I combined them into one epic sandwich: the shakashaka mac! Imagine a bigmac but add a big thick chicken patty to it as well. It was top tier. (Also, I noticed that they raised the prices of just about everything on the 100 yen menu to 120 yen. Youd think its not really that big of a deal but it just pisses me off that one of the largest and most successfull coorporations in the world needs to raise their prices. Fuck them, after this Bigmac thing over Im gonna try to avoid eating there.)

When I returned to Vegas, Natsume had like a 17 win streak on one of the other cabs with his Dizzy and then I beat him. He played me a few more times and I kept winning against him. As the night went on, Inoue was there and he had racked up like a 50+ win streak... using Ky! He was seriously just destroying people with his Ky. I dont even think ive seen him use Ky before but his Ky was fucking amazing! Like Machaboo level amazing! I decided to try and end his win streak. After like maybe 3 or 4 failed attempts, I actually got him down to no health and was about to kill him but I dropped my combo and he came back and won. This actually sorta agitated me and I said to myself that I wasnt allowed to stop until I stop his win streak. I played him a ton more times but I just couldnt beat him! He was just knew exactly what to do at like every moment! I would get rounds but I couldnt get 3 on him in one game. Finally after lots of tries I fucking beat him.... but god damn! His Ky was just a monster! I honestly was getting a bit pissed off which was affecting my ability to play well, I guess mostly because I know the Ky matchup so well and its like not even his main. In any case, im at least glad I finally took him down. After that I went up to him and told him his Ky was good as hell and I was really surprised. I told him I thought his Ky was better than his Testament. He said he didnt think so but he then asked in Japanese, "you know who my main is though right?" I said to him that of course I know he used to play HOS as his main but that he played Testament at SBO. He said that he was going back to HOS from now on. I dont know the reason cuz I didnt bother to ask, but im wondering if it has something to do with the fact that so many non top-tier characters beasted at SBO this year. I wonder if we will see a trend of other players who whored out to top tier going back to their old characters (I wish Nemo would play Faust again). After that I decided it was time to go drinking since it was about 10 pm and had been playing Gear all day. I said bye to Inoue and headed over to Zin, but I stopped at the conbini first and bought one of those anti-hangover drinks they sell because I didnt want a repeat of this morning to happen tomorrow.

When I arrived at Zin it was a full house. Lots of people came out for their 1 year anniversary and about half of them were people I knew who often go to Current. However, Dana was not there yet. A little bit after, her friend Richard whom I met the same night I bumped into her before at PSY showed up with some other white chick. He told me that Dana wasnt going to be coming out tonight since she wasnt feeling well. I told him I stored her email wrong so I checked and sure enough for whatever reason I put an extra letter in there that wasnt supposed to be there. After fixing it, I was able to email Dana and she replied pretty quickly. She said she was planning on going to Harajuku tomorrow to go shopping and stuff so we made plans to meet up tomorrow. I was sitting with Rina and Megu there was this other Japanese girl there named Tomy that was friends with them. As soon as I sat down she starting going off on this rant about how cute I was and kept like swooning over me! For like the next 5 minutes she just kept admiring how attractive she said I was. I mean, ive had girls hit on me before but this was like pretty extreme. Not that I minded it, it was kinda flattering but im not a single guy so it doesnt matter. She was saying how she had been single since like last October or something and I said to her that I couldnt understand why because she was really attractive actually. Rina told her that I had a girlfriend and she was like all disapointed. She was asking me if I had any gaijin friends I could introduce her to. I told her she should come to Current with me and meet Antti. Unfortunately she didnt want to stay out all night and planned to take the last train home, but she said she would maybe come next weekend. I stayed at Zin until 12 and drank and talked with some people and then I decided I would go to Current since they were having a metal event tonight. Before leaving Zin, I asked the bartender how late they would be open tonight. He said until noon the next day! I was like wtf! These guys are hardcore! So I told him after Current closes at 5 am I would be back for some more.

When I arrived at Current it was packed as hell, just as I would expect from a metal event. This time the event was organized by different people and it was set up really nice. They had put like a sheet on the wall and they had a projector that was showing videos and stuff. They also had like these fake torches which looked cool. Lots of the regulars who come to metal events were there and I recieved a round of high fives upon arrival. Bosch and this other girl I know were sitting at the bar by Antti and they pulled me up a stool. Basically this metal event was awsome as hell and they played some great stuff and there was just lots of energy and awsome people there. Chip showed up too. I was talking with Antti and he told me he couldnt even remember like the last 3 hours of last night. He said every once and a while he just has little spurts of memory loss after long nights of drinking. I filled him in on what happened and he said he like vaguely remembers something about some girl he didnt want to fuck haha. Just as the last night we kept buying eachother rounds of beer and got nice and fucked up! Towards the end of the event they were giving away these T-shirts from some Wacken metal fest for free. They made everyone in the bar play this epic giant game of RPS and the winner got a shirt. Chip actually won one of them rounds but he didnt want the shirt so he just gave it to me a gift. Chip rocks.

At about 4:45 they closed up Current and the entire Current staff as well as like most of the regulars decided they would all go back to Zin for more drinking! So we all rolled out deep as hell and arrived at Zin, which was even more packed than it was before, and now with the addition of all of us arriving it was just an all out party! I got totally shit faced and dont even remember most of the night after that, but I ended up drinking till about 9 am!

After sleeping at the manga kissa for about 4-5 hours, I got a call from Dana saying she wanted to meet up at Harajuku station at 2:30. I said, how about 3 since I was still tired as hell, but fortunately the anti-hangover drink worked like a charm and my head was fine. I still had my shoes on and didnt even take out my contacts, I must have just passed out as soon as I hit the chair. When 3 rolled around I made my way over to Harajuku and met up with Dana shortly after. We decided to go have lunch at Jonathan's, a family resturaunt. I got this awsome garlic chicken with a baked potato and corn. It was delicous and I was starving. After that we mostly just walked around to various stores and bought some stuff. I got this cute stuffed cat for Ryoko and the big selling point was that if you look under the tail of the cat, the people who designed it actually made an asshole there! Its hilarious! Dana picked up one for her Japanese boyfriend who shes staying with as well, saying she wanted to get him something he wouldnt expect. At some point I also bought a Children of Bodom shirt and Dana got some other clothes too. We had a little more time to kill before I had to go back to Gunma so we went to Shinjuku. I wanted to show her where Current was so that she could go drinking there later this week. She would be returning to Chicago on Wednesday. When we got to Current, it had just opened about 15 minutes ago and there were like 3 guys there drinking, in addition to Mogi and Masami working. They were surprised to see me show up on a Sunday night so early. I introduced them to Dana. Mogi was admiring her tatoos as Mogi is like the tatoo master, having them all over his body. Masami did a double take when he saw her saying he actually saw her earlier shopping at some store, pretty funny. We had a beer and then it was about time to leave. Her boyfriend just got off work and was gonna meet her at Seibu-Shinjuku station. I went with her since I had a bit more time and got to meet her boyfriend. He was a cool guy. I told him that next time Dana visits in the winter that they should both come visit me in Gunma since he likes to snowboard and theres tons of that in my town. He actually had been to my town before to go canyoning. After saying goodbye to them I had to go back to the station and catch the last train. At this point I was fucking tired as hell. I tried to sleep on the way back but I had a hard time getting comfortable. Eventually I made it home, took a shower, and passed out.

Next weekend is Current's 7th Anniversary party and it will be on both Friday and Saturday night! Its gonna be a ton of fun and im sure just about EVERYONE is gonna be there so im totally looking forward to it. I will probably also be playing some casuals. Next weekend is gonna fucking rock... cant wait!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tougeki Super Battle Opera 2008 Weekend!!!

...and so begins the final chapter to a long road of qualifiers...


THURSDAY 8/14
I headed out to Tokyo on Thursday and arrived at around 4 pm or so. I decided to check out Akihabara Club Sega first, but when I got there I was dissapointed to find that the number of Guilty Gear cabs had now been reduced to only 4. They had a bunch of new cabs for Fate: Unlimited Codes as well as a location test for the new Melty Blood going on, so the reduction in cabs may only be temporary. Regardless, I decided to stay for a while since I had planned to meet Nerina and Ken (another Japanese player who came with Nerina from Cali and was now moving back to Japan) there. The only noteworthy player there was Mitsurugi, the Zappa player. He had racked up a 30 something win streak. Me and a few other people played him in a few games. After a few close ones I ended his streak at 37 wins. After a little while, Ken and Nerina showed up. They said they had to go to the bank and said they would be back, so I played a few more and when they returned we decided to just go to Vegas in Shinjuku since it would be a better spot to play seeing as how Akihabara only had 4 cabs and not many noteworthy people were there.


It turned out the Vegas was the place to be. It was packed and tons of big names were there. Infact, it was so packed that it was taking forever just to get a turn in. Shortly after arriving, I ran into Osaka B. He immedietly congradulated me for my 1st place win at the Evolution Guilty Gear AC tournaments. I had no idea that the Japanese even really paid much attention to Evo, but I suppose either they checked the results or Miu had told them what went down. Either way it felt good to get props from one of the mightiest Fausts around. After waiting around to play for a bit, I suggested to Nerina that we could go check out Mikado since its 30 seconds away and might have some overflow from Vegas. When we got there, they only had one cabinet and there was like one dude there playing. He was a solid Jam player and I dont know who he was, but he managed to beat both of us like twice and then I eventually beat him. Then some May player came along and beat me for free as most May's often tend to do. After that we decided to just go back to Vegas. It was still packed as hell. You could hardly even get near enough to the cabinets to get a good view of what was going on. We stayed for a little but I never got a chance to play. We ended up deciding to go to Shinjuku Club Sega since Nerina and Ken wanted to check it out and visit Miu.
On the way to Club Sega, as we were walking around the side of the train station, we ended up accidentaly running into the USA team (Jais, Raekwon, and Kensou) and EmotionGear. This was the first time I had ever met Raekwon before. We all talked for a bit and told them we were headed to Club Sega. They were looking for somewhere good to play so I suggested they could try Vegas but warned them that it was very packed. They still wanted to go, so I told them how to get there and we parted ways.
When we got to Club Sega, we found Miu was still working. Unfortunately, Club Sega only had 1 GGAC cab (and they used to have 6). I also noticed that they had more 3S cabs than usual so perhaps it was only a temporary thing for the weekend. They also had the new Melty Blood there so Nerina wanted to test it out for a bit. While we waited for him, I played some GGAC against Ken's Jam. I dont remember how many games we played but I never got off the cab. Finally after Nerina had concluded that the new Melty Blood wasnt all that great, we decided to head over to Shinjuku Sportsland to see if they possibly would have some decent comp there without the long ass wait time.
Upon arriving at Sportsland, I was happy to see that they still had 6 cabs there, but unfortunately there was hardly anyone there playing. We played a few games against eachother and a few random people showed up who werent very good. I had a big win streak and eventually no one was playing against me so I just gave up my credit and went over and played against Nerina for a few. I won a couple and then he beat me one. As soon as he beat me, Shoot came out of no where and said hi to me, and then got on the cab to fight Nerina. Shoot beat Nerina and then I played against Shoot and lost as well. I think after maybe like one more try each I beat Shoot. He came around to the other side and told me I was very strong. He said all the players were over at Vegas (which we already knew) and that he was gonna go over there now. Shoot actually works at Shinjuku Sportsland and just got off work not long ago. He asked us to go with him, and seeing as how Sportsland was pretty dead, we figured we would give it another shot in hopes that it cooled off a little over there.
When we got back to Vegas it was still packed. Kyle (Stunedge, the Ky player) was there now and he was with the Taiwan Guilty Gear team. He suggested that we all go and get some food together. At this point I was starving and Nerina and Ken were also down for some grub, so we all went to some expensive katsudon place not far from Vegas. It was good food and we all talked and ate for a bit. After eating, Kyle and the Taiwan guys said they had somewhere to be, so they headed out, while Ken, Nerina, and I went back to Vegas.
Upon arriving at Vegas, we were glad to see that there were still lots of people there, but it wasnt as crazy. Seeing as how it was already like past midnight, this was a rare occurance. Team USA was there as well playing. I played a game against Kensou's Chipp and won. Unfortunately this would be the only game I got to play against Kensou the whole weekend. I also played against Raekwon's Potemkin a few times. I don't remember the exact score but I played him a few times that night. I do, however, remember that by the end of the entire weekend, our record was a total of 10 games played, and I won 8 while he won 2. While I ended up winning against him much more consistantly, I still have to say that Raekwon has a great Potemkin and is a tough player. I didnt get a chance to play Jais that night. Eventually 1 am rolled around and it was time to gtfo. The USA team said they were gonna go back to their hotel and sleep. Nerina also wanted to sleep, so we walked around a bit until we found a manga kissa that wasnt already full. We found one not far from Vegas. Ken decided that he was gonna go with me to Current for a couple of drinks before passing out for the night.
This was the first time I had been to Current in about a month and it felt nice to be back there again. Mogi and Sushi were there working, and a few other random people were there, but seeing as how it was a Thursday night, the place was sorta dead. There was also a few white chicks there. Mogi told me they were from Italy and had come to Current last year and were old friends. Mogi and Sushi were very happy to see me again since it has been a while. I told them about my trip to the US. Ken and I sat and talked at the bar for a bit and had like 2 drinks each and after a little while, Ken decided that he wanted to get some sleep. I left with him and walked him back to the manga kissa where Nerina was staying since he didnt know his way back. After dropping him off, I decided it was pointless to go back to Current since it was kinda dead, so I figured I would try my luck at GODZ.
When I got to GODZ I was extremely surprised to see Chip sitting at the end of the bar, and next to him was Mayuko! Mayuko was the girl that I had met at the same time as Chip when we had original met eachother for the first time. She moved to Hokaido to visit her family a while back and I hadnt seen her in probably over 7 months or so. They were both surprised as hell to see me too. I sat with them and we talked for a bit about my trip to the US and I talked with Mayuko about her current situation. Shes gonna be living in Tokyo again for a while. After a few drinks we decided to head over to bar Zin since GODZ was also kinda dead.
When we got to Zin, no one was there except the bar tender, but hes a cool guy and Zin is a small comfortable atmosphere anyway so we just stayed there for a while. We had a few drinks and I bought everyone a shot of Jagermiester. Zin has a laptop at the bar with internet access and I ended up showing them the picture of me from Evo that someone posted in the dustloop thread here in the first post on the page. They found it very amusing that I was wearing my Current shirt at the tournament. Eventually 5 am rolled around and we all decided to head out and get some sleep. They both said they would see me tomorrow night at Current. I headed back to my ussual manga kissa accross the street from Vegas to get some sleep.
FRIDAY 8/15
I woke up around 11:30 and went directly into Vegas. Not many people were there at all but the team USA guys were there playing. I told them I was gonna go get some food and come back and they said they were about to leave to head over to the SBO venue since they had to take care of some business to get set up to play in the tournament on Sunday. I headed out to get some quick food. After eating, I walked back towards Vegas and ran into Nerina, Ken, and Miu. Miu was taking them to Akihabara to go shopping and they were also gonna go sight seeing around Tokyo. I didn't really feel like going with since I would rather just play some Gear, so I told them I would meet up with them later and to enjoy.
I went back inside Vegas and there were only a few guys there, but it was enough to get games in. I kept winning for a while and had a small streak. Over a little time, more and more people started to pile in. At one point, this pretty cute female Axl player showed up and she was beasting on poeple! I played against her a total of 4 times and we went 2 and 2. I went over and told her she was really good and asked her where she was from. She said she came all the way from Shikoku, which is one of the smaller main islands from the far Southern end of Japan! Before I knew it, it got even more packed and I found myself having to wait a bit for a turn again. By mid day the place was fucking packed again. There was this other cute girl who I had seen before who was just sitting around watching. I asked her if she wanted to play because I didnt want to turn cancel her but she said she wasnt strong enough and just wanted to watch. Then she started talking to me for a bit. She said shes a Dizzy player and her name was Baim (I asked her what it means and she said its the crashing sound from when someone falls over... lol). She said she was studying English at a special langauge school and wanted me to talk with her in English for a bit. She also told me she was the girlfriend of another Dizzy player who turned otut to be Natsume, the Dizzy player on Machaboo's team, and she is also good friends with Tatsumi, the female Millia on the same team. (In retrospect, it never really clicked until now, but a while back when I teamed up with Mitsurugi in a random 2 on 2 at Vegas, there was a double Dizzy team that we played against, and im almost posative that it was Baim and Natsume). I showed her my girlfriend's picture and she said she was very cute. She also told me to guess her age and it turns out shes only 19. After chatting for a bit I went back on the cab to play again and she went over to meet up with some friends that arrived at the arcade.
There really isnt much else to say about the next several hours. Basically I stayed at Vegas the entire day playing Guilty Gear, only stopping to eat like once, and to go to the bathroom. I dont really remember much of what went down for most of the rest of the day as most of it was just a huge blur of tons of playing at this point. Towards the end of the night, team USA showed up again, as well as Mike Z. I chatted with Mike Z for a bit and he was telling me he spent most of the day playing BlazBlue, which they had on free play at the SBO venue. I also played a few more games with Raekwon (if I remember correctly this was the last time I got to play him, and the record was 8-2 me total for the weekend by the end of this night) and managed to get some games in with Jais. We played a total of 5 times if my memory serves me correctly. I won the first 3 games. He won the 4th game. After that I was out of change and since they were like 5 minutes from closing time they turned off the change machine. Jais wanted to play me again so he gave me 50 yen. We played one more game that went down to the final round and the final pixel and Jais managed to squeeze in one last hit for a win. I think this was the only time we played all weekend so our record stands at 3-2 me. Out of all the matchups in Japan, I probably play against Bridget the least as there really arnt many Bridgets at all, so I find myself being a bit lost at times with this match. Jais knows the Faust matchup from fighting Zinac a lot too. However, I must say that I really can tell that Jais has gotten a hell of a lot better since the last time I played him which was probably like between 1.5 to 2 years ago or something like that. He also gave me props saying my Faust has greatly improved. I wanted to keep playing but unfortunately it was closing time and once again we had to gtfo. I invited the guys to come drinking but they wanted to go get some sleep again at the hotel so I ended up going to Current by myself. I left Vegas with Mike Z and showed him how to get back to the train station. After parting ways, I stopped at the conbini to get a redbull and got a call from Mike Z. He was asking me why the train station doors were locked. It just occured to me then that it was past 1 am and the last train was long gone. I told him he could either sleep at the manga kissa or take a cab, but he already paid for a hostel in Asakusa so he said he would opt for the cab. I felt kinda bad cuz I didnt warn him when the trains stopped, it just never crossed my mind though until then. It was too late at that point anyway so there was nothing I could do unfortunately. I continued on and got to Current.
This time at Current, it was a little more busy, about right for a Friday. A few of the regulars were there and I sat with Bosch (one of the dudes who often DJs at Current) and this other girl who is there all the time. We chilled, drank, and talked for a while. At some point, Chip showed up so I sat with him at the bar for a bit. The Italian girls were there again too and I ended up talking to one of them for a bit. Her name is Franchesca and she said one year ago she was on vacation staying at a hotel next to Current and ended up going there every night for 3 weeks straight and just loves the place. Shes here again on vacation and has been here like every night. A little while later, Mayuko showed up with this Australian guy she was friends with named Mikey. He was a cool guy too and we had some good chats about back when he used to work for a music magazine in Australia and he used to interview lots of celebraties. He told me some funny stories about how out of it and stupid some of these people were. When closing time rolled around at 5, Mayuko said she was gonna go to another bar for more drinks and invited me to come along, but I figured I should just get some sleep since I was supposed to meet Kyle the next day at the SBO venue to get my ticket from him which he bought for me in advance. I said bye to everyone and headed out to the usual spot for some sleep.
SATURDAY 8/16
I woke up and headed right for the SBO venue at Ariake Differ (the same place SBO was held last year). I called Kyle and he met me out front with my ticket. We were supposed to have a reserved seat but he told me that you could only reserve it for one day, so ours were set for Sunday. Shortly after entering, Kyle disapeared and I didnt see him for a while. I ran into Ryan (Fubarduck) and sat with him and a few of the other foreign players such as Adverse Solutions. We watched some of the 3S tournament in the lobby where they had TVs set up for veiwing. It was pretty exciting to watch the 2 US teams play. Justin Wong's team actually managed to win their first match in the tournament, which I think was the first time a US team got past 1st round in a 3S Tougeki tournament! Unfortunately they lost their next match but they get props for getting that far. Pyro Lee's team unfortunately didnt get past the first round.
All tournaments at SBO are played up until the top 4 teams (or in the case of singles, top 8) and then the finals are played later on. Instead of watching the rest of the pre-top 4 matches, I decided to play some BlazBlue. I hardly had played the game up until this point (once at a very early version at AOU and a single game at Evo) so I still wasnt very familiar with the game. They had a cute girl there dressed up as Noel passing out flyers and they were also selling these 5000 yen BlazBlue packages that had a totebag, and artbook, and characters posters. I kinda wanted to get one but the bag was big and wouldnt fit in my backpack and I didnt wanna carry it around all weekend. After waiting in line for a little bit, I decided to try out Rachel. Her game basially revolves around filling the screen with various garbage and the main tool she has is her projectile which fires like a cannon arc (or she can throw it down from the air). When it lands, it creates a lightning rod that she can later detonate and blow up by pressing down down A. She can have I think either 3 or 4 on the screen at once and they all detonate at the same time once you trigger it. Her super is a more powerful version of the explosion. She also has the ability to fly around with her umbrella using wind in order to easily get across the screen from one side to another. My biggest problem with her is that her normals dont seem very great and are pretty short range. I can see some potential with her though and will consider using her when the game is finally out. I managed to win 2 matches (both of which were Rachel mirror matches) and then lost to what I think was a Ragna player but I dont really remember. Masutani was there as well and he was playing as Bang Shishigami. I stood in line a couple more times and got a few more games in with Rachel. I figured I would stick with her for today since it would be better to familiarize myself with a character for now. After playing for a bit the 3rd strike finals rolled around. I watched from the lobby and they were pretty exciting. I have to say that Kuroda's Gouki was the highlight for me. Even though he himself lost, it was awsome seeing a Gouki player beast on top tier characters for a bit. After the tournament ended, I ended up talking with Justin Wong for a little bit. He was telling me that he wanted to play BlazBlue when it comes out and that he would be playing as Lichie since shes Chinese. He was also telling me about how he has been playing Guilty Gear lately and got trained by Marn and that his Potemkin is really good, saying how he raped everyone when him, Marn, and Flashmetroid went to Canada and won. I told him I wanted to play against his Potemkin so I asked if he wanted to go to Vegas to play some Gear. He said he was down to go play since he hadnt been to Vegas yet, so after the tournament, Me, Justin, and the group of guys he was with all took the train back together and I showed them how to get to Vegas.
After arriving at Vegas, the place was once again packed as hell. Mike Z was there again too. He told me that the cab only ended up costing like 3000 yen which is much cheaper than I thought it would be so at least that was good. I checked the last train time for him this time so he was able to get back on time. The Taiwan team was also there and I got to play agianst their Sol player, P.P. This guy surprised the hell out of me and was extremely smart and solid! I think he has to be the best non Japanese Guilty Gear player I played against all weekend. We both took a few games off eachother but they were all very very close. I only ended up staying at Vegas till about 11:30 since we had to be at the SBO venue by 7 am for signups of the last chance qualifier the following morning. I decided it would be best to stay at at a manga kissa closer to where the SBO venue was at. Since there are no manga kissas in Ariake, I headed over to Shimbashi and found a good manga kissa to stay there. By the time I got to sleep it was already like 12:30. I knew I was gonna be tired the next day but there wasnt much else I could do about it.
SUNDAY 8/17
I had wanted to take a shower the night before but there was a waiting list, so I told the desk guy to wake me up at around 5:45 in the morning so that I could get a shower in before I left. He was true to his word and woke my ass up right on time. I took a nice shower which felt good as hell, chugged a few free coffies from the vending machine there, and headed out. I was supposed to meet up with Nerina at 6 am in front of Shimbashi station since he didnt know how to get to the SBO venue. Unfortunately I recieved an email from him at about 6 am saying that he was running late but would be there soon. I got a redbull and some sandwiches from the conbini and ate them while I waited for him to show up. It was really starting to get late and was already past 7. Registration would end at 8 and I was starting to get a bit uneasy. He told me to just go ahead without him and I gave him some directions and he said he would be able to find the place by himself.
I took the train from Shimbashi to Ariake and arrived at Differ. Many people were out in front, registering for the last chance quals going on that day (which would be Arcana Heart 2, Melty Blood, and Guilty Gear). I found the registration table, filled out the form, and handed it in. The guy at the desk told me that my entire team needed to be present in order for us to be registered. This was not good news. While waiting, I ran into Rob (HeartNana) who was there signing up for the last chance Arcana qual, as well as trying to get Fubarduck signed up. Fortunately, Nerina showed up shortly after and we were able to fill out our forms. The problem was that Mike Z wasnt there yet. I called him and he was actually still pretty far away. The chances of him making it there before 8 am seemed slim to none. We had to come up with another plan. I didnt want to ditch Mike Z but I also didnt want to not play at all, so we first came up with the idea of having Ken be on our team instead. We then thought that maybe that would be a bad idea seeing as how Ken is Japanese and it might not fly. We decided to register Ken as Mike Z and hope that they didnt notice. However, since the guys there had already seen Ken we figured it might not work, so we had another Japanese friend of theirs stand by Nerina and me as we turned in the forms. Fortunately they didnt seem to question anything and accept the paperwork. Now the problem was that since we registered Mike Z as being on our team, he had to get there before they actually called our match or else we would be DQed. I called him again and he was still kinda far. I told him we needed him there NOW and to hurry but there wasnt really much else he could do. I just told him to run like hell once he got off the train. Nerina and I sweated it out in the lobby for a bit. At this point they had only called the Melty Blood players in. It was already well past 8 am at this point. After a little more waiting I was happy a hell to see Mike Z running up to the venue. He made it just a little bit before they called the Guilty Gear players in to start the tournament! I was honestly a bit pissed before he got there, but once he showed up it was all water under the bridge. He got lost trying to find the station so he ended up getting there late, even though he woke up really early.
After they called all of the Guilty Gear players into the main tournament arena, they started picking random teams from a lottery. Our team was placed at the very bodom as a guarenteed entrant since we were the only foreign team there. Lots of recognizable talented players were there. Some of them made it in while others didnt. After they called the last team, the unselected teams headed to the seating area to watch their last chance at victory fade away. A disheartned ABEGEN wished me luck on his way out as he was not among those selected. I dont know who all the teams that were picked were, but among them was a team consisting of Kishitaka/Keba/and a Jam player who I didnt recognize. There was also a team of Basara/Karun/and a white Johnny who might have been DC. Our first match was called and we were to fight a team from Shikoku consisting of Slayer/Potemkin/ and the female Axl I played at Vegas the other day. We decided to put Mike Z up first. They went and put Slayer first. I was happy to see that we had a good Po vs Slayer match up first. Mike Z did alright... I cant remember if he won a round or not but he unfortunatley lost to Slayer. Nerina and I were debating a bit who should go next. Nerina said he will lose to Potemkin if he has to fight him, so I said he should go next incase I lose to Slayer. Nerina played very well and took a round but he also lost to Slayer. It was now up to me. The pressure was on and I was really feeling it. The first round was extremely close. I hit him with a combo ending in going my way and I actually thought it was going to kill him but he ended up living with absoloutly no life bar left. I could have maybe squeezed in an OTG crouching HS to finish him off, but I wasnt sure if it would connect, and if it whiffed I may had been able to be punished for it. I hesitated and didnt throw it out there. He got up and we danced around a little he eventually clipped me with a random normal in the air and was able to connect a combo that finished off the about 25% life I had left. The next round I was a bit shaken up from the previous round which slipped through my fingers. I honestly dont remember much of it specifically but in the end I lost in another close round. I was pretty pissed and disapointed in myself. I apolagized to my team and they did the same in return. I honestly wasnt sure if I was gonna win the whole thing today or not, but I was at least hoping to make it past the first round. I guess I just didnt have the right mindset going into it and it reflected in the result.
After we lost, Nerina went to go sit with Ken at the open seating chair area. Mike Z decided to go play some BlazBlue and I figured I would just go find my reserved seat on the other side and watch the rest of the last chance qual. In the end, the top 3 teams actually ended up being the team that beat us, Kishitaka's team, and Karun's team. Since the Chinese team was unable to make it this year, they took the top 2 teams from this tournament as qualifiers for SBO. It ended up being Kishitaka's team and Karun's team winning. Kishitaka was happy as hell, immedietly busting out his cellphone and calling some people up. He looked really excited. I congratulated the winners and wished them luck.
I killed a little more time playing some BlazBlue and talking with Mike Z. I came to the conclusion that I should give Arakune another try. I tried him at EVO since he was the coolest as far as character design to me and I also liked the way he seemed to play, but when I picked him at EVO I had no idea what I was doing at the guy I fought wouldnt let me test anything out so I was a little discouraged to try him again yesterday. I figured it was worth another shot. This time he felt much better and I can really see myself maybe picking this character up. His normals seem great and he can teleport all over the place and throw garbage at you... sounds like my kinda character! He also has this awsome super that sorta works like Dizzy's ground unblockable super except he executes it from the air... it seems really good. Mike Z was kicking some ass with Iron-Tager and already knew how to play the game a lot since he played the hell out of it at the location test they had in Cali a while back. It was nice seeing some people play the game that sorta had an idea of what they were doing. ASA, the Potemkin player, seemed to have a good idea of how to play Arakune which was cool. He asked if I was gonna pick him up and I said I was thinking about it. He said he didnt like Iron-Tager in this game.
Throughout the rest of the day, I watched a bit of the Arcana Heart 2 tournament, played a little more BlazBlue, talked with some people and eating overpriced venue food while I waited in anticipation for the Guilty Gear tournament to start. Eventually it was about that time and I took my seat which was right next to Kyle.
They had basically 4 cabs down there which would all have a match going on at the same time, and only one of them was hooked up to the big screen. However, from where I was sitting, I could see what was going on for the most part on all 4 cabs. Team USA was among the first teams to play. Kensou went first against their ABA player losing the first round, but coming back and winning the next 2. Kensou then lost to Slayer. I have no idea why, but they put Jais next. I figured putting Potemkin against Slayer would have been a smarter choice but they went with Jais and he lost to Slayer. Raekwon went last and he managed to beat Slayer. The final match was Raekwon vs Jam. About halfway through this match, they switched it onto the big screen since the match that was on there previously had already ended. Raekwon lost one round and won one round. The final round he got pushed into the corner by Jam and she just pressured the hell out of him and ended up winning with a perfect. A good effort by the USA guys but unfortunately it wasnt enough. Some other highlights: One of the most fun matches to watch was Machaboo's team. Natsume and Tatsumi both lost to the first guy and Machaboo almost came back for a reverse OCV, but lost by just a little bit in the last round vs Zappa. Osaka B's team took out the French team. Ogawa's team lost in an upset against Nanashi's team. I didnt see it happen but I heard Nanashi beat Ogawa! The 3 teams I was mostly rooting for were Osaka B's team, RF's team, and Nakamura's team. Unfortunately Osaka B's team was taken out by En's team. The final match was Osaka B losing to Mugen. I was disapointed when it came down to the match that decided top 4 of RF's team vs Nakamura's team. I didnt really know who to root for but it was on the big screen and it was fun to watch. My memory is a bit foggy but I think JT surprisingly beat Nakamura in a Millia mirror match. I dont remember exactly how the middle went down but Shoot ended up being the hero of the day and winning it for their team. Im not gonna go too heavily into the results as the brackets have already been posted online, but the top 4 teams ended up being...
Nanashi(VE)/Kawin (AKA spikey hair Potemkin)/Maruken(BA)
N-Otoko(VE)/Efute(MA)/Dogura(RO)
En(SL)/Limekey(AN)/Mugen(BR)
Nakamura(MI)/Shoot(AX)/FAB(PO)
Who would have thought that among the top 4 teams, there wouldnt be a SINGLE Eddie or Testament and only ONE Slayer!?!?! I must say I was very happy at least by that much, showing that you dont have to play top tier to win! And with that, it was time for a brief intermission before the finals for all 3 games would take place in succession. Theres a balcony area that overlooks the main arena where they had some cabs set up. They sometimes use this space for some of the last chance quals. I went up there to check it out. They had an accent core machine set up. There was an Eddie player up there and he beat about 9 people. Eventually it was my turn to play, I got on the cab and beat him. The only thing was, it was running on the wrong kind of cabinet for the game, so there was noticable input lag... like really bad input lag. I beat some Ky player and then I lost to some Millia player for free because by the time you see her mixup its too late to input a block the right way haha. It was actually pretty funny how so many people were waiting to play even though they all knew how bad it was. During this time they showed promotional videos for BlazBlue and Tatsunoko vs Capcom. In the video they revealed 2 new characters. One was Rockman (Rockman Dash aka Legends version). He seems to play pretty different than the old MvC Megaman. They also had some evil looking female Tatsunoko character who I am not at all familiar with but she looks cool.
Throughout grand finals for Arcana and Melty Blood, I ended up mostly just playing BlazBlue and talking with Mike Z. After Arcana ended, Rob told me that the winner of the tournament was the guy who won the last chance qual and defeated both Rob and Fubarduck. He won with Lilica. I didnt even really bother to watch Melty. Im not hating on the game but its just not really fun to watch for me. Before the finals started, I wished Shoot and Nakamura good luck and told them that I wanted their team to win. I also ran into Kawin and told him to do his best!
And then it was time. The moment everyone has been anticipating for so long. AC finals! The lights went out and people were getting hype! They blasted Zappa's theme and out comes the first to teams to fight. It would be Nakamura's team vs En's team. Both teams made some speeches, except for En who was wearing some silly mask (I think it was an Ultraman mask) and he just sorta made some odd grunting/squeeling sound. The result was an OCV by Limekey! I would have never saw that coming in a million years. I was pretty disapointed by the result to be honest. The other finals match was Nanashi's team vs N-Otoko's team. First match was Kawin vs N-Otoko. Kawin put up a nice fight but was taken down. Up next Maruken takes out N-O. Followed by Dogura taking out both Maruken and Nanashi for the win. This time they blast HOS's music and the 2 finalists are once again introduced and they come out to the stage and once again make comments on the mic. At this point I was rooting for En's team because this was a straight up East Japan vs West Japan war now, and seeing as how I live in East Japan and have been playing these guys for such a long time now, I coulnt help but root for them. Up first was Efute vs Limekey. Efute takes him down and advances to fight Mugen. Once again May is victorious and it is now up to En to save his team. I mighty battle took place, but when the dust cleared, that little bitch with the oversized anchor remained standing, achieving a fucking OCV!! Thats right... May OCVed SBO finals! Who the fuck would have seen this coming in a million years?! To be honest though, everyone who reads this blog should know by now how much I HATE (HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE) fighting May... so it isnt that far fetched at least to me. But the bottom line is, that Efute just played smart as hell and really did a great job. He deserves his win. (BTW, you can see the full brackets for the Guilty Gear tournament here)
As soon as the last match ended, people started getting up and heading out of the arena. The winning team made their speech on the mic. N-Otoko was crying tears of victory. When I got outside, Mike Z was already back in the BlazBlue line. Fuckin crack fiend! haha! There was to be a huge afterparty for all the Guilty Gear players to take place in Shinjuku shortly. I told him he should come with us but he said that he wanted to play another game of BlazBlue and he would catch up. The plan was for everyone to meet up at Vegas and then from there they would all go together to the location of the party. On my way out I tried to pick up some SBO T-shirts because I wanted one and I promised Axel I would send him one, but they were sold out. Sorry dude, I should have bought them earlier but I had other stuff on my mind. I left the Differ with Kyle and the Taiwan guys and we made our way back to Vegas. We got there before most people had arrived, so we had time for a few matches. I was able to get a match in against Mitsurugi's (I think it was Mitsurugi, the European player, not to be confused with the Japanese Zappa player) Johnny. I beat him and he told me that I was really good and that he was surprised I wasnt on the US team. I told him I wasnt able to be on it since I had been in Japan all year. I got like a 5 win streak against a few people and then everyone showed up and it was time to head out so I just left the machine in the middle of a match vs some Ky player. Unfortunately Mike Z didnt make it, but I think he wanted to go sleep early anyway since he doesnt drink.
The location of the party was actually just down the street from bar Zin at a place called Ninja in New York. They had an entire huge room full of tables rented out for the party. Just about every single Guilty Gear player I knew was there except for like RF and Masutani. Ken was there and he told me that Nerina wasnt coming either unfortunately. This party was like one of the most awsome fucking parties I have ever been to! It was totally awsome being able to drink with all these guys since I never really get the chance to. The table I was sitting at also had some girls at it, and among them was the hot Millia cosplayer who works at GameChariot. They busted out the pitchers and once everyone had a drink, they made a toast, everyone "kanpai"ed, and the madness began! They brought out tons of great food platters too! Everyone got drunk pretty fast! People were just taking pictures all over the place. Crazy group shots of people just jumping in and being wasted! I got an awsome Kanto Faust player picture with Osaka B, Kifa, and me. Epic. There were people straight up just chugging alchohol from the pitchers too! People were randomly just throwing other people down to the floor and like stripping their clothes off and shit! It was fucking nuts! And they also did strip RPS. Unfortunately no girls played but I dont really blame them. At one point, FAB got owned and was down to his boxers. Fortunately he humbly resigned after that. A few other people got sent down to their underwear too. One dude was already in his boxers but kept playing, but fortunately when he lost, he still had his socks. At one point, 2 people tried chugging a full pitcher of beer but were only able to get a little bit off it. I then grabbed it and ended up chugging the entire thing in one go, which by that point was about half a pitcher of beer! Eventually there was like some big arm wrestling thing going on, mostly Japan vs gaijin. The French guys mostly dominated this event. I was expecting Raekwon to just destroy everyone for free since hes such a huge guy, but he went 1-1. I got owned by some French dude pretty hard on my one and only try at it haha. Im not exactly a beast so I wasnt really surprised nor did I care. At one point, the winning team made a speech over the mic as well. I went over to Kawin and Nanashi and congratulated them for getting to top 4. They told me I had become really strong and they gave me big props for winning EVO. I told them im still weak and need to get better and it wasnt a big deal because not many Japanese players were there at all, but they said it was still a big deal. A few other people also were just telling me how much better I have gotten and everything since they first met me. Shouji in particular was giving me lots of props saying I went from here (holding his hand sorta middle level) to here (holding his hand way up high). I was disapointed by the way I played today in the tournament, but it felt nice at least knowing that people respect me as a player. Just looking back on when they first saw me and were thinking "whos this foreign scrub" to now and how much things have changed makes me at least feel like I accomplished something.
Eventually it was about time for the party to end. I got on the mic and proposed that if anyone wants to keep drinking I would be down for some more and said I know a good bar. I think they already had another place in mind, but people started chanting "ni-zi-kai! ni-zi-kai!" which basically means 2nd party. After we all headed out of the building, the group that wanted to keep drinking stood around outside for a while while someone negotiated with a local place to let us use the space for karaoke. While we were waiting outside, I talked to Pachi a little bit. I didnt realize he was Pachi at first. He used to be one of the best Faust players around but now he told me that he actually doesnt play much anymore. Instead he is party of Tougeki staff. I dont know how common knoweldge this is to most people but I never realized it till now. In any case it was cool talking to him and we got a picture together. At some point, Miu and I went to go find a place to pee while we waited for the place. Eventually they finally had the place ready and we went inside. Among the people at the 2nd party were Ogawa, Shouji, the French guys, Miu, Pachi, the winning team, and several others. We got some more nomi ho dai (all you can drink) and did some karaoke for a while. Eventually it got fucking late and we all went to get some wasted McDonalds breakfast. After eating I was super tired and it was getting pretty light outside so I said goodbye and headed for the manga kissa for some rest. I just have to emphasize just how awsome that party was. You had to be there really... but I took tons of pictures so those will be posted when I get around to it.
MONDAY 8/18 ... and... TUESDAY...
Basically the plan for today was that Tougeki staff was actually throwing a free all expenses paid party for all the winning SBO teams and all the foreign players that went to SBO. It was to be held at Sam and Dave bar in Akasaka. Kyle told me I should just meet him at Akasaka station at 5:30 and we would go together from there; the party was to start at 6. I killed off a bit of the morning playing a bit but there was just really no one at Vegas. I was about to actually leave when Justin and some of his crew showed up out of no where. I never got around to playing Justin in Gear the other day because it was too packed. I played a bunch of matches against some of the other guys and won them all, and then Justin got on the machine. I won all 3 rounds pretty convincingly. After the match he told me I was cheap and he couldnt get in on me. I said thats the idea cuz otherwise I lose. Im sure Justin will be very good at Gear if he keeps playing, but its obvious that right now he lacks some matchup experience (at least against Faust). Shortly after they left and said they would see me later at the party tonight.
It was dead after that so I ended up going to Donkihote and buying some new shoes (the same damn ones I always get, except they have cool lining on the inside, anyone who knows me knows what shes I always get). My old pair was falling apart and I got a good deal on them. After that I headed to Akasaka early to just kinda walk around the area to see what was there. Nothing extremely interesting. Some nice stores and stuff but there was only one small crappy game center with no 2d fighting games at all. I did, however, find the Sam and Dave so I knew how to get there later. Eventually I met Kyle and the station and then Taiwan team (minus the Sol player) met us there as well and we walked to the party together.
The place was really nice. They had 3 TVs set up at the bar with consoles hooked up and tons of games put out with sticks, so people could just go ahead and play whatever they wanted. Me and the Taiwan Dizzy player went right at it and played like 6 games in a row. I won the first 5 and he won the last 1. After that they had a huge buffet of food put out and we just ate and talked a bit while drinkin some beer (Kirin stout on tap ftw!). Justin Wong and his crew were there as well. Unfortunately the US GG team never showed up, I guess they already went back to the US early... they missed out. The winning GG team also didnt come since they already returned to Kansai. We went over and played some more gear, no one there was really able to beat my Faust except for the Dizzy that one time. I played a little Testament because people started picking their 2ndaries and I did alright, winning a few and then losing and getting of the machine. Eventualy they switched up the games and got some other stuff going on. Various games were played throughout the night and it was cool just chatting with people. I talked with Nestor for a bit too, hes a nice guy. I was also talking to this one French dude who just came to watch who said he wants to move to the US soon because he thinks French people are assholes. I also totally remembered that I had bought a Arturo Fuente cigar at the Tropicana during EVO that I totally forgot to smoke! I busted that shit out and smoked it while playing fighters. It was awsome.
Eventually 10 pm rolled around and the party came to a close. BAS proposed that we all go to Mikado to keep playing some more games. BAS was also being totally nice and told me that I could crash at his place tonight if I needed somewhere to sleep, but I told him I would be find sleeping at the manga kissa as I always do. I knew I would be drinking late so there would be no point. So Me, Bas, Justin, NKI, Nestor, and the rest of their crew all headed out together to go to Mikado. While we were on the train, this one dude that was with us was all wasted as hell and kept doing some dance and telling people to suck on his balls. (Its supposedly a Team America movie reference but I never got around to seeing it so I dunno). It was pretty amusing. Some of the guys were getting pretty buck on the train and were getting some dirty looks from the various Japanese people on the train but whatever.
We arrived at Mikado and went to the top floor to play some Street Fighter. I checked the GGAC cab but no one was on it, so I decided to play some ST! I beat some Japanese Zangief player with my Blanka and then NKI got on the machine. Somehow I actually came within like almost a pixel of beating him but then we played like maybe 4 or 5 more times and while I would get a round in here and there, I wasnt able to beat him. Not that I was really expecting to beat one of the best ST players in the US when I dont even really play the game. His Chun-li is too good. After that I decided I was just gonna go play Gear at Vegas. I said bye to BAS and a few of the guys and headed out.
Vegas had lots of people there actually. The French guys were there and I played against the French Chipp player a ton of times (Joe Higashi I think?) and we went back and forth, though I think I had maybe a few more wins. He was good though. As it rolled around to about the last half hour before closing, I was starting to get really tired and just couldnt play well anymore. There was this good Zappa player there and I beat him, but then he beat me like 4 or 5 in a row and I knew it was about time to call it a night and go do some more drinking! I chugged a red bull and headed over to Current.
I was surprised as hell to see Monty there! On a Monday night! Monty had another dude with him too. Mogi was working the bar, Bosch was DJing and Masami was sitting at the bar with Franchesca. Monty kept fucking with Masami. Monty's ex-wife is a Japanese girl who is also named Masami (Masami is a girls name but Current Masami is still named Masami, he told me his parents fucked up haha). Monty has a tatoo on his stomach that says Masami in kanji. Periodically he would bust out his gut and flash it at Masami just to fuck with him. I took a picture of it and then kept flashing that at Masami too just to fuck with him as well. Eventually those guys left and Masami took Franchesca back to his place. It was about 3 am and I was the only one left. I decided I would just leave after my beer was done and Mogi said they were gonna close early anyway. I said bye and headed out to check out GODZ.
When I got there it was dead. Just one dude there with his girlfriend. I had one drink and left. After that I decided to go to PSY. However, I noticed that I was getting low on money. I figured I would just go to the ATM. Unfortunately the ATMs wont let you take out money till the morning. I had enough for a couple beers so I figured id go kill time at PSY and when they close I should be able to get more money. On the way there, 2 prostitutes (not the usual massage girls but straight up whores) tried to get me to go somewhere with them, but it was easy to get rid of them once I told them I had no money haha! In Japanese I was like "all I have is 1200 yen" and that was the end of that! Sweet. PSY was kinda dead too. It was just one girl and the bartender but they were totally cool. They kept playing all this great music that all of us ended up loving and I enjoyed drinking with them for a bit. Then at about 5 am, a group of 2 Japanese guys, a white guy, and a white girl walked in and sat at the other end of the bar. At first I thought the girl seemed familiar but I figured... naaaa. At one point one of the Japanese guys said that he knows my friend Masami from Current. He then asked where I was from and I said Chicago. He said that the girl over there was also from Chicago. Then all of a sudden shes like... "Mike?" and im like... holy shit! Its my Dana! Dana is an old friend from back in Chicago that knows just about everyone from the Chicago Guilty Gear scene and she actually used to even date KevinForce for a while. It had heard she was in Japan on vacation right now from everyone when I went home to visit but I didnt know how to contact her. What are the fucking odds of that shit right? They said they were at Zin earlier that night too! Dana and I talked for a bit and couldnt get over how random it was that we ran into eachother like that. We made plans to go drinking with eachother again next weekend. I told her I would take her to Current and we would go to Zin's one year anniversary party! Anyway, eventually 6 am rolled around. I said my goodbyes and I was fucking tired and not much was going on the next day, so I decided I might as well just take the first train home. I was sick of sleeping in a reclining chair and just wanted my bed.
Unfortunately... I was faced with a problem. I had just spent the last of my money in my wallet on my last beer. I figured, whatever, Ill just go to the ATM. Well... my bank fucking sucks and it turns out that it wont let me withdraw money from an ATM with my card until after 8 am. That meant I had to wait for 2 more hours before I could go home... and I was fucking tired as hell. I sorta just ended up sitting in this little open square area with a statue near where Vegas is at where all the homeless people sleep. I kinda just sat against the statue and tried to nod off for a bit but it was uncomfortable as hell. Eventually after moving to the stairs of a Lotteria and getting a little bit more "rest", it was about time for me to go hit up that ATM. I got my money and passed the fuck out on my 3 hour train ride home. When I finally got back to my apartment I slept till like 5:30 pm.
Wow that shit ended up being way longer than I figured it would, but it was certainly one of my most eventfull weekends yet! With the SBO season being over, I dont imagine there is going to be too much tournament action going on in the near future, but thats not gonna stop me from living it up!
Its been one full year now since I started this blog. As long as people keep enjoy reading it, Ill keep writing it.
Later

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Evolution 2008 (Aug 8-11)

Well I wasn't originally going to do an entree on my Evo trip since its not in Japan but its relevant enough and people seem to want one so what the hell. Im gonna keep it kinda brief though (it may seem long but I actually cut out a LOT of details) cuz it was a long 4 days and I dont really feel like typing for hours.

On Thursday I spent my last morning in Chicago after a 3 week trip visiting my family and friends which was great times. I got dropped off at the airport by my dad and a few hours later I arrived in Vegas. I took a shuttle to the Tropicana where Evo would be held. When I got there, I really had no way of contacting anyone since I dont have a US cellphone. I checked at the desk to see if Aaron (AKA) had already checked into our room but they said he hadnt arrived yet, so I decided to just kill some time at the $5 blackjack tables. After about an hour and 2 rum cokes later, I lost 20 bucks. However, I got up to check and sure enough, Aaron was standing in line to check into the room with Veteru. We talked for a bit and finally got our room. At some point we ran into Prucha (Blacksnake) who drove all the way from Chicago. After getting up there, our next task was to figure out how to get some casuals going. Just as many other hotels, the Tropicana had shitty TVs with that stupid plastic thing on the back that prevents you from hooking shit up to it. Thankfully one of Joshfunkdoc's friends came prepared with a took kit and ripped that shit off. Shortly after we had casuals going. Not long after, tons of people piled into our room and we had a nice gear session going that lasted most of the night. There was lots of playing, drinking, and "celebrating" with Prucha and Arturo. Matt (Hinta) decided to "celebrate" and got extremely fucked up and puked in the toilet. Eventually we all went to sleep kinda late.

The next day we werent sure if they were holding a tournament or not since there were rumors that everything would be run on Saturday, but we decided to go down to the ballroom where Evo was being held sorta early anyway to make sure. Turns out Jeff (Hiedern98) was there and was already taking signups for singles and said they would be starting at like 1 pm. Thankfully things were pretty organized and it started relatively on time. I got some casuals in before the tournament started. Most notable was Latif, the Eddie player who won Final Round. I never played Latif before but he was a favorite going into this tournament so I wasnt going to take him lightly. I played him in one game of casuals and managed to beat him surprisingly well. I mostly was just able to zone him out and he wasnt even able to get any rushdown stuff in on me. At some point we ended up playing a game of casuals again while the tournament was going on one one of the small TVs on the side. We played a 2 out of 3 that went down to the last set and last round and he ended up winning. I got to experience his offense which was extremely solid. No holes and extremely smart. This was more like it and more what I was expecting from Latif. I was looking forward to facing him in the tournament after this. I also noticed that Latif and MIU were playing a shit ton of casuals and MIU was overall just getting worked by Latif. MIU kept dropping lots of combos and seemed a bit off. There were lots of matches he should have won but his execution was just off. At some point I tried a game of Blazblue and played as Arakune but had no idea wtf I was doing and got rushed down by some Ragna player while I was trying to figure out what his moves were. I didnt get around to playing any TvC or SFIV all weekend and that was the only game of BB I played all weekend too. So anyway, regarding the tournament...

There were like 85 (or something like that) entrants too which was a big surprise! The tournament was run on like 3 TVs so it took like all day pretty much. I dont remember the names of all the people I played but I fought a Robo-ky first match and won, after that I fought John wu's Chipp and won. My next match I think was against a Potemkin player called Mighty Whitey and I beat him as well. I think there was another match in there somewhere but I cant remember. I eventually fought Jo's Johnny and he was pretty solid and surprised me but I won anyway. I think my next match was against Latif. I knew this was gonna be epic. Everyone started busting out the cameras and gathering around once this match was called. Not much point in describing the match when you can just watch it here...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lmPbXF9nO34

I basically played kinda conservative in regards to mixups, tried to do more low risk stuff and made some mistakes here and there (both tactical and execution) but in the end it came down to Latif not hitting a combo and I ended up baiting a burst which I was able to block and get in the winning combo! I was extremely glad I won this one. Had I lost, I would have been ready to come back from losers but I would much rather just carry my momentum to the finals. Latif gave me like one of the longest handshakes ever and we both gave eachother props; an epic match among the epicest of matches indeed. After that, my next opponent was Pat, the Millia player from Seattle that was staying with us in our room. I was mostly beating him all weekend in casuals so I figured I could handle things, and I ended up winning. Felt kinda bad though cuz he got so far and hes a nice guy. This was a top 4 winners bracket match, the other being Blacksnake vs Nerina, and Blacksnake lost and was sent to the losers bracket. My next opponent was obviously Nerina and I managed to take him down. I was a bit weary going into it since he beat Prucha and I dont particularly like fighting Baiken but I handled my shit. I now advanced to the grand finals. Blacksnake came back from losers, defeating Hellmonkey (who took out Latif earlier after I sent him to losers) and also winning a re-match against Nerina. I knew Prucha's Venom would be my hardest opponent since he knows my play style better than just about anyone and we had been playing eachother a lot the past 3 weeks in Chicago, pretty much going even, plus hes just a damn smart player. Before the match we had decided to just split the money for top 2 since were good friends, but both of us wanted to offical title of first, which kinda means more than money in a way, so we were both prepared to play our damn best and give everyone a good show. The finals were super hype and tons of people were making lots of noise and just getting crazy. Evo staff was threatening to kick us out since they were ready to close the event hall for the day as it was already very late, but Jeff managed to convince them to give us just a bit more time (thanks Evo staff). The finals were best 3 of 5 and we had some nail biter rounds there were super close but Prucha kept taking that shit and swept the first set. Since I was in winners he had to beat me 2 sets though. I knew I had to step it up if I wanted to take out Prucha so I held my shit down and took the next 2 games. Prucha managed to get one more win on me, but I won the next game after that and took the last set to win the tournament! This was my 2nd EVO singles tournament win as I had won 2 years ago (but didnt attend last year due to just arriving in Japan).

After it was over we were quickly shooed out of the event hall and made our way up to the hotel room. As we were waiting for the elevators in the crowded hotel lobby, people were getting all hype and betting over which one would arrive first. One of the elevators was sitting at the ground level for a long ass time and wouldnt open and eventually the other one came back from like 4 floors behind ftw! We divied up the cash and did a whole lot of "celebrating", this time with Jeff too. After that, a large group of players (like 20 or something) all went to grab some food. We went to Mcdonalds and it was jam packed, and so was the Fat Burger next to it, so we ended up sorta splitting up into 2 groups and the group I was with went to this food court with lots of food that we had eaten at the previous night. The rest of the night consisted pretty much of more drinking and casuals. I played Latif again in another match, but we didnt wanna do our money match at that time since I was sorta fucked up from all that celebrating. We would save it for the next day.

Sunday we woke up to get ready for the 3 on 3 team tournament. My team would be Prucha (Blacksnake) and Aaron (AKA). We entered the tournament under the name Shit Pillow Champions (refering to the night before when Aaron was asking people if they would still be his friend if he took a dump in their pillow case... fucking random). Before the tournament I got some casuals in. I got one more game in with Latif and won. We decided on playing our money match right after the tournament was over. Soon after, the tournament started. I honestly dont even remember the teams we fought early in the tournament but I OCVed our first opponent, Prucha OCVed the next team, and Aaron OCVed the 3rd team we fought. Our 4th match was against a team of Latif, Hellsap, and Digital Watches (ED, ZA, AX). Aaron went first and if memory serves me correctly, he beat Hellsap but lost to Watches. After that Prucha went next and defeated both Watches and Latif in an excellent match! Our next match was against the team of Nerina, Hellmonkey and MIU (BA ED SO). I went first this time and beat MIU and Hellmonkey but then lost to Nerina in a close match. I was playing way too conservative and he actually beat me by time over in the last round. Prucha went next and lost to Nerina as well, but thankfully Aaron had our backs and managed to take out Nerina with his Millia. We were now in the grand finals, and our final match would be against Nerina's team once again, as they had come back to win the losers bracket. This time Aaron went first against Nerina but this time, Nerina got his revenge on Aaron. Prucha went next but once again lost to Nerina. I knew I had to handle this shit so I played hard and took out Nerina, this time playing more agresively. Up next was Hellmonkey and I beat him as well. Final match of the tournament was me vs MIU and I took both rounds, finishing him off with an air teleport for the reverse OCV and the tournament win! Once again the finals were super hype and tons of people were cheering, also once again Evo staff almost kicked us out but they ended up letting us finish. I was planning on playing Latif in our money match right after the tourny but they made us leave right away.

I ran into a few people on the way to the room and said hi and shit, some people gave me props etc. We got back up to the room and played some more casuals. I asked where Latif was as just about everyone else was in our room (we had like 4 setups going) but someone told me he already left. I was disapointed that we wouldnt get to play our scheduled $50 money match but there was nothing I could do at this point. I managed to get lots of other much smaller money matches in that night though and won every single one which was nice. Later that night we went to the Hooters hotel and casino across the street and got some 25 cent wings. While we waited for our table I played some blackjack and lost like 10 more dollars. The wings were greasy as hell but not that bad I guess. We eventually went back to the room and stayed up till like 5 AM playing games. In the middle of the night, we awoke to someone coming back to the room, escorted by 2 security guards. They asked us if we knew this guy and we said yes. Turns out the person got drunk at a bar and stumbled back to the hotel. However, instead of getting on the 6th floor and going to room 624 where we were staying, he got on the 5th floor and went to room 524. On top of that, it just so happens that whoever we staying in that room failed to lock their door, which resulted in this person just going to sleep on their floor without realizing it, and the people who were staying in the room, waking up in the middle of the night and freaking out after seeing some random dude passed out on their floor. Getting woken up kinda sucked but it was worth the laughs we all got out of that story, lol.

The next morning, for some reason, there were like 5o zillion alarms going off in our room from phones and alarm clocks and shit like every 5 fucking minutes. Aaron and I slept in the longest. I think I woke up like at around 1:30 but Aaron was still passed out. Prucha had to leave early since the people he drove all the way from Chicago with wanted to leave. No Guilty Gear was going on today since the event hall was Evo finals only. I checked it out and it was like Tekken going on followed by Smash Bros and I didnt really feel like watching either game. I didnt know where most people were so I decided to kill some time playing more blackjack and drinking a few free vodka redbulls to start off my day. I ended up winning back all my losses plus like 20 bucks or something like that. Eventually I went back up to the room and Aaron woke up and we got some casuals going while drinking some beers and after like 15 minutes a zillion people came in our room and tons of people were playing. I eventually decided to go down and watch the Super Turbo finals. They were pretty exciting actually. After that, I went up to the room to grab another beer before the SFIV invitational tournament started. The tournament was sorta boring actually, though it was kinda fun watching Justin Wong playing an improvised Abel. After that I got more beer and we charged up in the room and then we went down to watch Marvel. Marvel was honestly not that exciting this year, no upsets, pretty much just what I expected to see. With the end of Marvel, Evo was offically over and the ballroom was cleared. However, Evo staff asked people to stay and help clean up. A bunch of the Guilty Gear players and myself stayed to help them load the truck and clean shit up. It actually didnt take very long at all, was overall really easy, and they gave everyone who helped free EVO2007 DVDs. Since I didnt even get to go to Evo2007 it was nice to get the DVD for free. Evo staff seemed happy that we stayed to help. Hopefully they might think more favorably of our community and realize not all our players are lazy over sleeping fat shit talkers next year when they are thinking about what games to make official. I doubt evo staff reads my blog but thank you guys for not kicking us out while our finals were going on as that would have been a real kick in the nuts.

After we finished, everyone wanted to go get food. There was another large group this time of about 12 people, and no one could decide where they wanted to eat. After standing around outside for 5 minutes talking about it, I finally just started walking in a direction and people started following me. I actually thought we were going towards the food court but my sense of direction blows and I led us back to Hooters. Another group of people wanted to meet us there anyway so we ended up checking in and there was like 30 fucking people who were gonna sit together. While waiting for our table to get ready I played some more blackjack and won 60 bucks, but then I went back and played some more and lost 40 of it, bummer. After we finally got seated, we ended up filling 2 huge tables, and I guess there were a few people at a smaller 3rd table. I didnt even know who most of the people were. There was also a full table of Marvel players in there who left a bit after we got our food. The waitress totally fucked up and brought my food all late like after the entire table got their meals and some people had even finished all their food. Luckily one of the guys with us, Scyther, decided to take the challenge of eating 50 wings since someone said if he could do it, they would buy his food, so I still had some time. Unfortunately the food tasted shitty as hell this time and was literally just dripping with nasty grease. I was honestly feeling sick after eating like half of them. I was still hungry but just couldnt eat anymore after eating about 16 of the 20 that I ordered. Eventually we were getting ready to go. Scyther actually managed to eat all 50 wings and didnt even throw up! Props to him. However, the problem that we now were presented with was that the fucking stupid Hooters staff didnt feel like splitting up the check between the tables so we all had to pay together. This isnt an easy task, espessially when the small 3rd table of people left early and totally underpaid and didnt leave anything for tip, and half of the other people like didnt put in enough money. We spent like over an hour there arguing with the waitress about being overcharged (they put stuff on our bill that no one even ordered) and they also didnt even bring all our food out. Eventually everyone was getting so tired of all this bullshit, Pat the Millia player just threw down like 50 bucks and payed the differences so that everyone could just get the fuck out of there. I honestly didnt want to pay more than I owed since the service and the food was so fucking shitty, but I felt bad seeing Pat throw down all that money, and I figured I won enough this weekend, so I gave him 20 bucks to help him cover the cost of the stuff everyone else either didnt pay or we were over charged for.

After we got back to the hotel room, we pretty much just played games for the rest of the night and watched some vids on Jeff's computer. At one point I went down with Hellsap one of the Cali player rooms and won a few money matches and played some more casuals. After a bit I went back to my room. I ended up staying up all night since my flight was scheduled for 9:40 am. I chilled with the guys in the room a bit longer and eventually it was time to head to the airport. I was generally just tired as hell, and kinda crabby from the Hooters BS and just from being exhausted. I got on my connected flight to LAX and then took my long 11 hour flight back to Tokyo. I slept a bit of the way but at least they had Iron Man on the flight which was sweet since I hadnt seen it yet (good movie btw). When I got off the plane I unexpectedly ran into Fubarduck who I didnt even know was on the same flight as me the whole time. He would be going to SBO as well. After that, I took my long 4+ hour train ride back to my apartment, got picked up by my girlfriend, and spent all that time up until like right before typing this blog post with her.

Thats about all there is to it. Evo was tons of fun and I'm really glad I won because I would have really regretted it if I didnt, and that money really helped cover my cost of visiting the US for 3 weeks. Tomorrow I will wake up and head to Tokyo for a loooong weekend. Not just any weekend... Tougeki Super FUCKING Battle Opera weekend! Time for lots of serious practicing and partying. Hopefully we can fuck some shit up in the last chance qual! Im gonna keep my Evo momentum strong and Faust some bitches. Nani ga deru ka na? Prepare for the fucking storm!