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

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