Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Count of Tuscany

So earlier this week, the rest of the new Dream Theater album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings was leaked online. The album comes out next month and I'm gonna buy it for sure but I couldn't wait so I DLed the rest of it. Among all the songs, one track stands above all else. Nothing can match the might and epic proportions of The Count of Tuscany. Why is this song so epic? Well, for one its an almost 20 minute long song, and every last second of it is musically so well composed and sounds just increadible. You would think that with a name like The Count of Tuscany, the song would be pretty cheesey. Well, as far as the lyrics are concerned, you would be right! I dont understand how a song so beautifully written musically can have some god awful cheese for lyrics but the lyrics are so bad that they are good! For example... just check out this line here...

"Let me introduce....
my brother!
Bearded gentleman...
Suckin' on his pipe...
distinguished accent!
Makin' me uptight...
no accident!"

So as you can see, The Count of Tuscany's brother is clearly Slayer from GG! I mean... cmon, theres no denying it. When Slayer wants to get away from things in Translvania for a while and is sick of beating Sol's ass, he takes Sharon down to Tuscany to go smoke pipes and drink rare vintage wines in his brother's castle in Tuscany. I highly encourage anyone to listen to this song, even if you dont like metal. You'll either be rocking the fuck out or laughing your ass off (or both). Either way you win!

Anyway, I listened to the new DT songs the whole way up to Tokyo on the train. I headed right for Takadanobaba Mikado for games. As I suspected, it was packed with top players. Osaka B told me most people are just getting kind of tired of playing at Vegas which I can understand seeing as how its nice to have a change of environment, and they havnt even had a working bathroom there for like almost half a year now... lazy fucks...

So eventually Matt met up with me at Mikado. I played a good ammount of matches but after maybe just like an hour or 90 minues, it was already starting to clear out. One thing I noticed was that Mike (the Jam player) was there playing TvC the whole time. Mostly just practicing combos against in arcade mode.

Since it was already starting to die down, Matt and I just decided to go back to Shinjuku and check out Vegas. When we arrived there, it was dead as hell. I think only 2 or 3 people were there. One of them was Dream Maker. We told him we were gonna go to Current and he said he wanted to tag along. Also, I called up Rod and he said he was gonna meet us at Current later. I told him to watch his back for The Count of Tuscany, to which he replied that he had no idea wtf I was talking about, as I would have expected!

Earlier in the week, I had a sore throat and it was gradually starting to get worse since I had a pretty heavy night of drinking back in my town for my friend Cynthia's birthday with her and Ryoko. As we were walking to Current, not only did I notice that my throat was getting worse but I was also beginning to feel slightly feverish and ill.

This weekend, there were 2 tournaments scheduled in Kanagawa. Saturday was the prelim and then Sunday was another prelim followed by the block finals. I contacted Kunihiro and Honyo and both of them said that they could probably only enter the one on Saturday (which I was surprised about since Kunihiro is usually only able to enter Sunday tournaments). I asked them what will happen if we win since Sunday is the finals, and they both said they will change their plans and enter Sunday if we win on Saturday, but wont enter otherwise. So as of now, the plan was to enter with those 2 guys for the Saturday tournament. The problem was that the tournament signups started at 10 am, and that they were only taking 16 teams max. This meant I had to get up pretty early since it would take about a half hour to get there as well.

I went to Current anyway, and it was surprisingly full for a regular Friday night. Rod showed up with this one Austrialian white girl named Jessica. She was pretty hot, and into death metal (but didnt really look like a metal head at first glance) and had really big boobs. We chatted with her for a bit until she eventually left to meet up with some other friends. The rest of the night, I played a little DS, as did Rod, and I tried to not drink very much since I was just feeling sick and drained as hell. At around 2:30, I left and headed for the manga kissa since I knew I needed to watch out for my health and also had to get up early.

I woke up the next morning on my own without my alarm. My alarm had already gone off.... one hour ago... and it had failed to wake me up. I set it for 8:30 to make sure I got there on time to register, but I woke up at 9:30. This meant I had to haul ass over to the game center to go register ASAP. My health was feeling better at least but I was still kinda tired. I took the train down to Kanagawa via the Odakyu line and found an arcade near the station. I saw a few familiar faces playing casuals on the one cab they had. I asked a staff member if I could register for the tournament, but he told me I had the wrong arcade and said it was at the place next door. There was another arcade called Tekmopia, right across the ally. I went inside and there was once again, one cab with lots of familiar faces playing. I immedietly got in line to register. It was about 10:15 right now. There were 2 guys in line ahead of me and when it was there turn they turned around and said to me, "Oh you are ElvenShadow right?" and Im like "yea" and they explained to me that they were a 2 man team and needed one more person. They asked if I already had a team. I told them I did. Then they told me that they just registered as the 16th and final team for the tournament. So basically, what this meant was, I had 2 options... I could either enter with these 2 guys or I could not enter the tournament at all. There was no possible way I could enter with Kunihiro and Honyo anymore so I figured I might as well just enter with these guys since playing is better than not playing. I agreed to join their team. They were a Dizzy playing named Nishi and a Slayer player named Kumosan. Ive never heard of them before. Anyway, after registering, I mailed Honyo and Kunihiro and told them that I got to the place late and wasnt able to register our team in time so we wouldnt be able to enter together. They werent upset at me and just basically said its too bad that the arcade had such strict entry requirements and said we should team up again sometime.

I then began to watch as RF beasted a bunch of people in casuals. While I was watching him play, JT was there and he asked me who my team was. I told him and he said he never heard of them. Then I asked him his team and he said it was Sharon and Shouji... pretty beastly team. Eventually after RF took down Hase, JT, and a few other good people enough times, he had about 10 wins and I finally got a chance to play. On my first try, I managed to beat RF in a mirror match. A few people behind me seemed pretty shocked. Then JT went next with his Millia and somehow I beat him as well but it was like by just a pixel. Then I beat some white Chipp player and eventually lost in a close match to Hase's Slayer after winning the first 2 rounds only to have him come back at me hard once a missed the kill combo in round 3. I waited a bit and eventually played like 1 or 2 more games vs Hase and lost and then I decided to go check out the area around the game center to see if I could get some food.

Today, I had a different strategy I was going to try out. Back in the day in the US, before major tournaments, I usually would partake in some activies in order to calm my nerves before a tournament. I wont go into detail about what such activities might have consisted of, but anyone who knows me knows whats up. Well wont do those activities here in Japan so I decided that for once, I was going to just take a few swigs off a bottle of whiskey before my tournament match and chase it with some redbull. Normally, playing drunk doesnt really work that well for me, it makes me a bit over agressive and sometimes I get sloppy but sometimes it works out well for me depending on the match. Well, sometimes when I am nervous in tournaments, I think I play TOO reserved in fear that maybe if I do something too agressive for risky that I will pay for it. I think its best to find a healthy medium and I think this has always been the way I played in most tournaments before. The nervousness and pressure of the tournament combined with the feeling of easiness and slight agression I get from the whiskey buzz would theoretically even eachother out so I decided to go look for some booze and redbull.

The tournament wasnt scheduled to start till 3 pm so I had lots of time to kill. I walked around the area around the station for maybe a whole hour, listening to The Count of Tuscany and some other new DT songs, trying to find a regular conbini and a good place to eat, but I couldnt find any great resturaunts that werent more than I felt like spending on and no regular conbinis. In the end, I settled for a crappier Japanese energy drink, some really bad whiskey that I bought at a small grocery store, and some mcdonalds. While I was eating at McDonalds, Clay Gundam Man was there all by himself eating at a booth. I ate a McPork and a Shakshaka chicken and that was enough for me. I still had one more McPork but I wasnt really hungry enough to eat it so I just tossed it.

After that, I headed back to the original arcade I found and played a match vs some Testament player and BARELY lost. The cab was pretty shitty and the sticks were set up on one of those panels designed for 2 players on one side so that the stick was all the way to the left even though it was still a head to head cab. Not that big of a deal but it kinda throws you off a little when you are used to sitting in the middle. I went back to Tekmopia to see who was playing but for whatever reason, they put tape over the coin slot and now Hase was just fighting the computer in arcade mode... wtf. I dont know why they would want to stop people from playing casuals when there were still a few hours till the tournament. I went back to the other game center and just ended up sitting on a bench they had in there, listened to The Count of Tuscany again cuz its just too good, and decided to take a nap because I was feeling really tired again. I set my alarm and just slept sitting on the bench with my head resting against the back wall for an hour. I woke up an hour later and felt very refreshed actually.

I then went to check out Tekmopia again and they now had 2 cabs set up in a different location with a big screen for viewing as well, so I guess that explains what was going on with the cab before. Unfortunately, now there were like a zillion people that showed up and the wait to play was very very long. I only ended up having time to play like one more game of casuals... I dont even remember who it was against, I think maybe against Kuni's Baiken and I lost. Anyway, it was getting close to start time so they had everyone draw numbers. Our team was last on the list and also the last to play our first match. I asked them if I could see the signup sheet so I could see what characters we had to fight since they only had the team name on the bracket, but the staff at this arcade were being extremely anal about stuff for some reason. They wouldnt even let me know what characters we had to fight and I wanted to talk about it with my team to decide who we should have go first. Also, They had chairs pushed to the side and I sat down in one for like 5 seconds to get something out of my backpack and one of the staff guys like tells me im not allowed to sit there. I dont know what was up with this place but the staff blew donkey balls. Anyway, the tournament started and heres some matches that went down...

JT's team had to fight that really good black I-no's team (the guy who beat 012 team at Game Newton, I dont know his name) first round. Black IN beats Shouji and then JT beats Black IN. Next JT loses to their ED player and then Sharon takes out ED but then finally loses to Ky (I think hes the same really good Ky with the amazing footsies and poking game who sometimes plays at Vegas). I was shocked to see that team lose first round.

Another noteworthy first round match was Ogawa OCVing Hase's team. This time Hase teamed with a white Johnny (maybe MK?) and a Faust who I think was Hakkotsoryuu (I forget how to spell his name).

While the match before our match was up, I went into the bathroom and took a huge drag off the bottle of whiskey and chased it with the energy drink. A few minutes later I felt like I was in a really good place. I had a nice calm buzz that eased my tournament jitters but at the same time I still felt very alert. They finally told us what our opponents team consisted of... JO/MA/VE. Oh great... May... I told my team mates Im ok against JO and have a little trouble vs very good Venoms but can handle the matchup, but that May was my absolute hardest fight. Both of them also said they have trouble with May... great. Anyway, our Slayer went first since Slayer technically should be able to handle any of those characters. They put their JO player first. I dont remember rounds or anything but our SL lost to the JO. I said I would go next since I felt confident vs JO and figured it would be best to save DI for May. First round was pretty close but I didnt get nervous even in the clutch last few seconds when we both had almost no life left. I managed to squeeze in a quick jumping HS counter hit which abled me to squeeze one more in there off the counter for the win first round. Second round I pretty much just rushed him down really hard and was executing perfectly and he just couldnt handle my mixups and I won. Up next OF COURSE they put May against me. I played it cool and surprisingly I won the first round! The next 2 rounds were sorta close but May just kept jumping around like some kinda fucking 2 year old ADHD brat who just ate a whole box of pixie sticks and I just couldnt hit her enough. I lost, but I wasnt upset. I felt like I was in a good state of mind and played well but just lost due to matchup trouble. I just need to learn how to deal with that damn character already. Dizzy did his best but he lost to May as well. I cant honestly say I was too shocked.

After the match, I asked the 2 guys if they would be entering again tomorrow. Since my team couldnt enter tomorrow, I needed another one. They said they were probly gonna enter but that they probably were gonna have a different 3rd person. I wasnt sure if they meant they were HOPING to find another one or if they already had someome for sure, the way they said it sounded kinda ambiguous but if they wanted to drop the only guy on their team who won a match then so be it. I saw a little bit after that that TEN's team fought against the same team we lost to. I came in while TEN was fighting the May player that beat me and TEN won. Then TEN fought the Johnny player that I defeated and TEN lost to him, so I guess he wasnt just some scrub Johnny or something. Then Basara ended up beating JO and it was over. I forget who their 3rd was.

I called up Matt to see what he was up to, said he was still at home and would be heading out in a little bit. I figured no one would be playing casuals anywhere since most people were here, so I just went to the other arcade again to fight some of the other people who lost first round. I rematched that testament from earlier and this time I beat him down 3 round straight and ended his 10 win streak. Then Ririko beat me in a really close game with her Bridget. After that, it pretty much took forever for me to get another turn in since the wait was so long. By the time I went back into Tekmopia to check on the tournament, it had just ended! JT told me that the winning team was Imo/012/and some Slayer whos name escapes me. He said that Ogawa's team lost to TEN! I guess Ogawa has really been having trouble with IN lately.

Since the tournament was over, I just said fuck it and went back to Shinjuku, hoping their would be people there now. I slept the whole way there on the train which took 40 minutes this time cuz I took local instead of express. I needed another nap and it felt good.

Luckily there were enough people at Vegas to make it worth staying, so I stayed and played some more casuals and eventually Matt showed up too. While I was at Vegas I mailed a few people to see if they would team with me last minute for tomorrows tournament but I got no reply so I figured I might as well just give up. Tomorrow's tournament had the same entry rules with 10 am entry start time and 16 teams max. Given how today was, the chances of me finding a last minute team was pretty much not happening of those other 2 guys werent gonna team with me so I just figured I would drink a lot tonight and then play lots of casuals tomorrow. I stayed for a few hours and it started to die down kinda early so eventaully we just went to Current.

This time I felt much better. Only problem is Current was pretty damn empty, espessially fora Saturday. We ordered a beer and then decided to get a bottle of wine to split between us in honor of The Count of Tuscany. The wine was... a rare vintage... the finest wines... improve with age! I guess thats what happens when the soldiers cant escape their oaken graves...

Anyway, gradually more people started to show up and it wasnt that bad. Antti came which was a big surprise as well as a few other people. I drank a lot and chilled out. Eventually, Matt and I headed over to PSY. This was the moment I was waiting for. PSY lets you play requests off your MP3 player so I quickly handed my i-Pod to "Imoto-san" and she threw on The Count! For the next 18 and a half minutes, were were rocked out by The Count of Tuscany and his brother, Slayer as we indulged in delicious Kirin Heartland Ale. Life is good.

Natsume also put on The Shattered Fortress (another new song) which was cool too. We stayed till closing, got some McDonalds breakfast, and then I passed out at the manga kissa.

This time I woke up to my phone vibrating instead of over sleeping. However, I felt REALLY tired. I was thinking that maybe I hadnt really recovered fully and the drinking was catching up with me. I headed over to Vegas across the ally and engaged in combat with a Ky player of unknown skill. However, his skill was quickly known as I destroyed him... 10 times in a row... some of the rounds I just stood there and slash backed all his projectiles till he jumped in at me all sloppy and just would press standing kick and it hit him every time. Once he figured out not to do that, I just rushed him down hard. He eventually gave up. I was almost falling asleep at the cab and could barely even keep my head up. Then as I was leaving the arcade I felt my phone vibrate. I looked to see that my alarm just went off... I also had an e-mail from Ryoko. It was my dumb ass fault but I mistook the email I got from her for my alarm and woke up an hour early. That explained why I was so tired. I wanted to play more GG but since it was so early still and I was so tired, I figured it would be best to get more sleep. I didnt wanna pay for more manga kissa so I just got on the Yamanote line. The Yamanote line just goes in a big circle over and over, so you can theoretically just ride it all day long until the last train. I rode around the entire line 2 full times, which took somewhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours or something. I slept the whole time, and it really helped. When I got to Takadanobaba (which is 2 stops from Shinjuku where I originally got on from), I just got off and my 130 yen ticket worked just fine. LOL!

I then headed over to Mikado feeling much more refreshed. At first, it was fucking dead. Some scrub was playing alone, I beat him, he left, and then I got challenged by a Faust. Im not sure who he was but he was really good. Actually it might have been Hakkotsoryuu so maybe he didnt enter the tournament today. He beat me in a few mirror matches in a row and I couldnt beat him but mirror matches are dumb and dont matter. Afterall I did beat RF yesterday so there you go. Eventually more people showed up and I got some really good games in. Theres this one Millia player who plays default color. I think he was on the Kanagawa team for G3. If im not mistaken I am pretty sure hes the same guy. He likes to kick alot and basically will bait your dead angles and bursts EVERY TIME he can. Every little thing he does is there with the sole purpose of baiting. So when fighting this guy you just CANT use safe guards at all honstly. I beat him my first 3 games, then he started adapting and won like 8 in a row on me. I need Millia practice too since shes my 2nd hardest matchup after May so I just stuck with it, and I beat him the next game. I was sorta thinking he was just gonna go play someone else since he just beat me 8 in a row before that, but surprsingly he got back on the cab to play me again, so I guess he felt like I was giving him a good challenge despite him winning so many which felt good. From there on, we probably played eachother for a whole hour straight and now we were going back and forth. Literally I won a match, then he won a match, for like an hour. I felt like I was really adapting well and learning a lot so it felt good.

Eventually Matt showed up and I went to get some food at Lawson cuz I hadnt eaten yet. I played a few more random games vs various people and then there was this pink May there. Extremely determined to level up on that matchup, I challenged the May... and lost like 7 in a row. HOWEVER, I almost beat him by like one hit maybe half of those, and the rest were still reasonably close. I honestly felt like I picked up a few small neuances that may help me in the future vs that matchup. The thing I was most proud of is that I wasnt getting the least bit upset. Even when he got away with some stupid shit, I just let it go and tried to learn from it and stayed cool and felt like I was really learning. I almost didnt want to beat him cuz I knew he was just gonna not play me again, and when I finally did beat him I was right... he just got up and left. Boo. Oh well.

I eventually played another long set vs the Millia which was once again mostly us going fairly even back and forth. A few other players were there and I got some games with them too. Towards the end of the night, Udei showed up. I asked him if he went to the tournament today and he said he did, and he told me that the winning team was none other than JT/Shouji/Satoshi! So JT's team went from losing first match to winning the whole thing. He also told me someone on that team OCVed Ogawa's team AND Imo's team but I forgot who. I also found it interesting they dropped Sharon for Satoshi but in any case it worked. Once again Ogawa's team tried and lost... I am very shocked. Mike was actually there again at Mikado playing more TvC. I dont know why hes playing that and not practincing more GG casuals. I honestly havnt seen Mike play GG casuals since last year's SBO quals!

Anyway it was about time to go so Matt and I headed out. I got on the train and went home with no problems, and of course at some point on the way before passing out on the train, The Count of Tuscany once again rocked my life.

"Of course your free to go...
Go and tell the world... my... story!
Tell em about my brother...
tell em about me... The Count of Tuscannyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaahhh!!!

*epic guitar solo*"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Road to Yamagata

This weekend’s ultimate goal was to enter the SBO qual in Yamagata prefecture. Yamagata is far to the north, even farther than Fukushima. I had never been there before. My team for this weekend would be Junya (the female Dizzy player from Niigata who I had teamed with before last year) and EVE (the ABA player from Tochigi who I have teamed with many times in the past). There wasn’t really much of a point in going anywhere on Friday night so I made plans to just stay home. Matt said he wanted to come out to hang out and play games and drink so he made plans with me to take the train from Tokyo up to my town in Gunma and he would spend the night drinking and playing casuals. These plans were very last minute because I didn’t confirm whether EVE could enter or not until Wednesday night. As a result, Ryoko had already made other plans to go visit her aunt in Maebashi, but when I told her Matt was coming here to chill, she wanted to come over too and in addition, she wanted to invite one of her female friends to sorta meet Matt and see how it goes. Matt recently broke up with Akiko (finally).

Since Ryoko was going to be in Maebashi kinda late, I just made some quick yakisoba for Matt and myself. While I was waiting for him to get to the train station, I made the food. I was microwaving some pumpkin (my culinary skills are ghetto) and I got a call from Rod. He said he was at Vegas and was asking when I would be getting there. I mentioned to him last weekend that I wouldn’t be going to Tokyo and I guess he forgot. I didn’t think of inviting him cuz I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to come. I told him if he ran for the train he could still make it and get here at like midnight but he decided since he has lots of studying to do he would just take it easy this weekend. Anyway, while I was on the phone with Rod, I forgot about the pumpkin in the microwave but was quickly reminded when the burning smell filled the room. My microwave sucks so basically the timer doesn’t work right and you sorta have to turn it off by yourself. The pumpkin was crispy black and stuck to the plate. I opened a window to air out he smell and the smoke. Then I had to go get Matt from the station so I just left my window open and headed out. As I was pulling out of my neighborhood onto the main street, I see like 2 fire trucks and 2 ambulances heading in the direction of where I live. I suddenly got the idea that somehow some neighbor smelled the smoke and called the fire department but I also figured that didn’t make any sense so it must just be a coincidence. I picked Matt up from the station and we headed over to Sunmall to buy some beer and snacks.

When we returned to my apartment, there was no sign of the fire trucks and stuff so I guess it was a coincidence. We at the food and then pretty much just drank lots of beer and played Guilty Gear casuals for a few hours. We had it set on like just 2/3 rounds and played a bunch of games. I don’t remember how many matches we played, something around 50 or so. Matt got 7 wins on me. We eventually got drunk enough to the point where we were just busting out random select characters and then we started playing 3rd strike cuz we both suck at it and it was fun to mess around on it while we were drunk. Eventually Ryoko showed up pretty late, around 1 am. She brought even MORE beer and snacks. Unfortunately her friend couldn’t make it cuz it was already too late. The 3 of us then got drunker and watched this one Japanese movie I have on DVD but never watched before called Visitor Q. If you want details about it, go ahead and look it up, but lets just say it was a pretty fucked up movie. After the movie, it was already passed 5 am. Matt went in the other room to go sleep, Ryoko and I stayed up a bit longer and then we went to sleep too sometime after 6 or 6:30.

Ryoko woke me up about a half hour before my alarm was set to go off. Basically the plan today is for Matt and I to take the regular train up to Niigata to play games and drink there. That’s where Junya lives so the plan was to go with her by car to the tournament in Yamagata on Sunday morning. However, Yamagata is FAR so I needed to take the shinkansen back or I would never make it in time. I needed to get my car over to the shinkansen station so that I would be able to drive home once I got back but since I was leaving on the normal train which is at a different station I needed Ryoko to go with me to leave my car. So I took a fast shower, got dressed, and then we headed over to the shinkansen station. After that, she dropped me off back home but had to leave right away because she had to be at work very soon. After that, Matt and I ate some breakfast and then walked over to the train station near my house.

The train ride to Niigata took about 3 and a half hours. I slept most of the way there. We had to stop off at Nagaoka to transfer about half way. We left the station a bit cuz we had time to kill between transfers so we went to this one Daily Yamazaki conbini. Daily Yamazaki conbini’s have a tendency to be pretty low tier on the conbini tier list, but this one was fucking epic. They had a great selection and tons of deals! Stuff was dirt cheap and awesome selection. They should change that specific location’s name to Daily Win!

And now, im going to go off on a tangent and make my official Japanese conbini tier list

Top Tier: 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart

Mid Tier: Sunkus, Circle K, AMPM

Low Tier: Daily Yamazaki, Mini Stop

Bottom Tier: NewDays

Also, Nagaoka was just swarming with hot chicks. Must be something in the water up there. We got near Niigata city station but decided to stop off at Kameda station first since that’s where POPY is. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good or not. POPY is a great arcade but its really far from the station so I don’t think people play there often unless there are tournaments. Matt and I decided to check it out anyway. It was about 5:15 pm or so. We walked and it took about 25 mins from the station. When we got there, we were surprised to see lots of people there. Actually there was a SBO Arcana Heart qual going on. Unfortunately, everyone was there for that, and the GG machines were deserted. Matt and I played one quick game and I won. Then we just decided to say screw it and go to another arcade. While I was there though, one of the guys who works at POPY told me he was going to be going with me and Junya to Yamagata tomorrow so I thanked him and told him I would see him tomorrow. We headed out and caught a cab on the way back to the station cuz it was just a really far walk, and the cabs out there are awesome. I think it only costed like 400 yen.

After 2 more stops on the train we arrived at Niigata station. While we were on the train I talked to Sean (my friend from back in Chicago who used to work for Nova here in Niigata but now has other work and who’s hobby includes DJing… same guy I always visit when I came to Niigata before). He said him and his girl were going to go drinking at Northern Lights (the bar owned by the Canadian guy) pretty soon and said we should stop by whenever we feel like it. First things first, we wanted to play some GG, so we headed over to Chance, the place where I always played lots of casuals before when I came to Niigata. Junya told me she was pretty much busy all day so she wouldn’t be able to meet up with us until tomorrow so the 2 of us just headed there. At first there was just some scrubby Sol playing the computer. I beat him for free and then he moved to the other GG cab to fight the computer again. Then gradually a few other players were in and out for the next couple of hours. There was a decent Zappa, Venom, and Robo-Ky. The Robo-Ky remembered me from last time I was here and even remembered my name. We chatted for a little bit. I asked him if he was going to Yamagata tomorrow but he said he didn’t have a team so he couldn’t make it. I played a total of maybe about 30 games of casuals while we were there, and I only lost twice. Eventually the comp cleared out so Matt and I headed over to Northern Lights sometime around 9 pm.

It took us a bit to find the place cuz I knew the general area but it’s a little hard to notice at first. When we walked in, Sean was DJing as usual. We said hi to him and then grabbed a seat at the bar. The place was pretty packed. Its not a huge place really but they certainly crammed lots of people in there. It was a pretty diverse crowd as it often seems to be in there, lots of people of various different backgrounds and ages. They have a kickass kitchen with a great menu. Matt and I both got these huge cheeseburgers with fries and drank LOTS of beers. They have both regular Yebisu and the black Yebisu on tap as well as Sapporo and Guiness. If you order the large size Sapporo, its like 3 times the size of a Current beer! It’s a fucking monster for only like 800 yen! The bartender there is also super awesome. He remembered me from last time even though its been like nearly a year since I last went out there. He has been doing this for like 4 years now and his bar is really successfull and he says its really not all that hard. I guess having a Japanese wife helps with the whole visa thing though. Matt has long hair and was wearing a hat where the hair was just coming out the back, so the bartender was calling him Mullet LOL! He hooked Matt and I up with like 3 free shots of whiskey. Matt only drank the first 1 and gave the other 2 away cuz he cant handle shots. We had like tons of beers and talked to various people and it was just a chill night and a good time. I didn’t really get to talk to Sean almost at all though because he was busy DJing the entire time we were there but oh well. The place said last call at around 12:30 or so. I had to get up really early because Junya told me she was gonna pick me up from Niigata station at 7 am. We finished our beers and headed out.

While we were at Northern Lights, someone gave us directions to the closest manga kissa, which was about a 10 minute walk from where we were at. By the time we checked in and went to sleep it was already like passed 1 am. The place was expensive but they had really nice sleeping areas so it was comfortable at least.

I woke up to my alarm going off at 6:30 am. I was honestly still pretty damn tired, but I made sure to drink lots of water so I didn’t have a hang over. Matt was also woken up by my alarm. He sent me an email from his booth saying he was just gonna go home. He was debating before he even came out there with me as to whether or not he was gonna go all the way to Yamagata or just go home from Niigata, cuz he sorta had plans to meet up with that on girl, Eriko, that he has that huge crush on back in Tokyo on Sunday. So I just sent him a message saying bye, left him at the manga kissa, and headed for Niigata station.

When I got there, Junya hadn’t arrived yet but after about 5 more minutes she pulled up in her car. From there we chatted a little about various things in the car on the way there. Mostly just stuff about other video games we are currently playing (shes playing lots of Monster Hunter, which seems to be a huge trend right now in Japan). I just started playing Suikoden Teikreis on the DS. She was also telling me how she has a boyfriend who used to play GG but now doesn’t really play anymore. We eventually arrived at POPY where we were to meet up with the rest of the people going with us. I honestly didn’t even know a huge group of us were all going. In addition to me and Junya, the guy from POPY who I talked to the day before was going to be the driver and we were all going in a big van. Then there were 3 more people going with us, so 6 of us in the van total. The other 3 was a separate team going to the tournament. It consisted of the female Sol player who teamed up with Junya back in Fukushima, as well as 2 guys, one was a Testament player and the other was a HOS player. Everyone pitched in for gas money and it didn’t end up being all that expensive at all, way cheaper than taking the train honestly. The road trip out there was pretty long. I would say it took about 3 hours or more. We didn’t take any express ways the whole time, just country mountain roads and stuff. There was a lot of beautiful scenery though. I tried to sleep for a good amount of the trip because I was still pretty tired. I got a little sleep, but it was honestly hard to sleep well in the car cuz it was just turning and curving a lot. The driver was telling us funny roadtrip stories about how when he was a little kid his family would just have him pee in a bottle and they would dump it out the window while they were driving cuz they didn’t wanna stop to use the bathrooms haha. It was a fun car ride though and everyone was pretty nice.

Eventually we made it to Yamagata. It took a few minutes to find the game center but luckily I printed out a map and we were able to find it easily soon after checking it. The game center was called Jack and Betty. Pretty weird name for an arcade but whatever. The place also looked small as hell from the outside. Upon going inside though, it was still small but at least it went far back so there was enough room for lots of games and people and they even had a nice area set up for viewing tournament matches on a big TV.

As soon as we arrived, before even going in, we kinda were just sitting around in front for a bit talking, and then EVE showed up from inside the arcade. He said he had gotten there a little while ago and he took the regular train there from Tochigi this morning and it was a 3 hour trip. Eventually we all went inside. There were rumors floating around that HH had showed up with a team… and those rumors were 100% fact. HH was there, and with him he brought the team of Konsome (PO) and Seta (who was using SL for this tournament). Also, according to Junya, TEN’s team had won the first tournament in this block which took place the day before in Koriyama. Sadu/Kuni/Taku’s team was also at this tournament. And also, that one beastly Faust from the last tournament in Fukushima who was slash backing like crazy was there too but this time he had a different team. They had 2 cabs set up for AC but in addition to that, for whatever reason, they had a Slash cab and a Reload cab too haha. There was a long wait to play so I only got a few games in before the tournament. Almost every single one of them was vs HH. I think I played him about 4 times. The first 3 times, I lost to him, though they were all somewhat close. The very first time I fought him I came within a pixel of beating him but then he came back. He went on to get over a 30 win streak vs tons of people. EVE played him once and came close to winning too. Junya said she didn’t want to play casuals for whatever reason, I don’t know why. I managed to squeeze a game in vs Kuni’s Baiken on the other cab too but I lost. Eventually I made it back to the HH cab where he was still beasting with like over 30 something wins. This time, I managed to beat him and end his win streak and a few people were giving me props. The whole time we were there, the only other person I saw beat HH was some Eddie player. After I won, Seta got on the cab with his SL and I won a round but he beat me. I also played a couple of matches of Slash and Reload for fun but I only used Testament and Ky because I didn’t wanna pick Faust and then start messing up my AC combos in the tournament from playing old versions of him where his pogo combos were drastically different.

After a little more time, they got the brackets set up and the tournament was ready to go. Again, I entered with the name Manga Kissa Warrior! A total of 20 teams entered. Because it was a 20 team bracket, it meant it was set up like a 16 team bracket but with 4 slots having to fight an extra round than everyone else. We were one of the unlucky ones to have to fight an extra match. In addition to that, not only did we have to fight an extra match, but our first match was the very team that we rode up in the car with. So the 5 of us who came together drove over 3 hours to have to eliminate one or the other first match. Shitty luck, but its completely random so that’s just the way it goes. However, it gets worse. I looked who the winner between us would have to fight next, and it was none other than HH’s team. Well, first things first. We were the first match to play in the tournament. Originally, I wanted to go first against that team cuz I know all the matchups well. Then Junya insisted that she goes first, I guess maybe cuz its her friends and she wanted to play them, I really don’t know honestly but I just told her to roll with it. She went first vs the HOS player and she lost in a close game. I was gonna go but then EVE said HE wanted to go, so I just said, fine go for it. Well, EVE went ahead and beat HOS, followed by Testament, and finally Sol all by himself, so I guess I have no problem with that lol. Kinda sucks how we had to take that team out first round like that but I guess since EVE beat them they can at least say they weren’t eliminated by someone they rode up with or something… heh…

So our next match was to be vs HH’s team. EVE seemed a bit distraught about having to fight them but I just tried to stay positive and told him “If we are going to win this thing, we have to beat them at some point whether it be now or in the finals, so we might as well just do our best and get it out of the way now”. We decided that we should have Junya go first. All 3 of us didn’t really want to deal with Slayer, but at least Dizzy is good against Potemkin and Dizzy mirror match could end up with random results even if HH probably has a better Dizzy cuz mirror matches are dumb. Well they ended up putting Seta out there first. They both won a round and it went down to the last round, and Junya managed to pull off a win vs Seta! EVE and I were both super happy about that. Up next, HH was up. Junya actually started off pretty strong against him but eventually it fell apart and she lost. Then EVE went next because he was most worried about Potemkin so we figured he might as well try to beat Dizzy while he has a chance. I don’t remember too many details, he tried and fought hard but he lost too. It was now up to me. The first round was back and forth, really clutch and really close the entire time. At the very end of the round, Dizzy was in the corner and summoned one of those homing ice blade projectiles. If Faust hits her out of the startup of it it goes away, and I get a counter hit. I was pretty close, so I went for a far slash, but the projectile managed to JUST come out as the slash hit, so Dizzy was able to block and I got hit out of the end of my slash and died. We both only had like one hit of life left. I shrugged it off and went for the next round. I started off with a pretty big disadvantage pretty much just getting beat out air to air and he kept squeezing in sneaky air dusts while I was kinda above him. At some point I got back on him and started to get his life down a little more but I pretty much had almost none left myself at this point. I got a knockdown on him. He had about 75% meter and I didn’t have much, just maybe about 1/8th bar. I figured if I went for a mixup he would try to dead angle me so I figured I would do a throw mixup. I did empty FDC jump and was going to go for a command throw, but he busted out Dizzy’s fire super. I was still holding block for the FDC but somehow it hit me! I guess maybe I let go for a split second but I know that when it hit me my hands were still on the stick and buttons. I just kinda sat there shocked for a couple seconds, got off the cab, and apologized to my team mates. So there you have it, pretty ironic situation here. We end up taking out the team I come up there with, then HH, who I was possibly going to actually team up with myself for this tournament, but couldn’t because Junya already played Dizzy, shows up with a DIFFERENT team, only to eliminate me.

After losing, we went outside for a bit and were just talking, and then Junya and some of her group said they were gonna go down the street to this one other arcade that was a 2 minute walk to play more casuals. I got EVE and we all went over there for a bit. They only had one cab set for 2 credits of 3/5 for 100 yen so waiting kinda took forever. I only got a couple games in. My very last game was vs Junya. I beat her, and then they said they were going to be leaving to go back to Niigata now. Part of me wanted to stay and see the end of the tournament, which was still going on down at Jack and Betty. The other part of me said, the station is a really far walk from where I am at now, and I have a 3 hour SHINKANSEN ride ahead of me, which basically means im FAR from home, so maybe I had just best get on my way. It was about a little after 5 pm. EVE needed to get to the station too so they dropped both EVE and me off at Yamagata station. I thanked everyone and said goodbye and EVE and I headed into the station. We talked for a bit and EVE said he might be able to team with me again for a few more tournaments coming up but hes not sure yet. Hes low on money and pretty busy with school so we will see. He went with me to buy my shinkansen ticket which was pretty damn expensive but I had no other choice since I wouldn’t even be able to make it home on the normal train at this point given how far I was. I said bye to him and we split ways as he headed for the regular trains.

I enjoyed the comfortable ride back chilling and playing my DS and enjoying some great views of the Japanese countryside. I made it home fine with no problems. I mailed HH on the way back and told him he played well today and good games and asked him who the winner of the tournament was but he never responded. I didn’t say anything to him and he didn’t say anything to me while we were actually at the tournament. It was a pretty awkward situation honestly and I just didn’t know what to say to him. I cant really blame him for what happened, its just the way it worked out. In any case, at this point I don’t know who won, but if HH’s team won, I guess I can count those Hokkaido plans out, at least until I find a new team to go with me.

Next weekend there are 2 tournaments in Kanagawa so I will be heading back to Tokyo for the usual shenanigans. I still havnt confirmed my team but I imagine it will be comprised of some of the people I usually have been teaming up with for the Tokyo area tournaments. At least I had fun this weekend going somewhere new but I must say I am pretty disappointed by the way it all turned out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wild Turkey

I went drinking on Thursday night in my town with Ryoko and her sister at a bar. When I got home sometime around midnight, right before I went to sleep, I got a phone call from H.H. He asked if I was going to the SBO qual tournament this weekend at Shinjuku Sportsland. I told him yes. He said he already had a team but said he wanted to talk to me about something at the tournament. I said sure, and then went to sleep.

The next day I woke up and was pretty drunk the night before cuz the bartender at that bar kept pooring me free shots of cheap whiskey, so I wasnt sure if I had dreamt that phone call or not but according to my phone, it wasnt a dream. Anyway, I had a regular day at work and then headed for Tokyo as ussual. On the way there, I was thinking about going to the new Mikado in Takadanobaba cuz thats where all the top players were playing last Friday. I mailed Matt and Rod and told them to just meet me there. They said they were already at Vegas and according to Rod it was "hot!". So, I ended up just going to Vegas. When I got there, I was slightly disapointed to see that while there were a few people there, based on the crowd that was there, the top players were all most likely all at Takadanobaba afterall. Besides Rod and Matt, Hot Zappa and Baim and Dream Maker were there which was cool. Aside from there, there were a few other Japanese players there. I started off playing some Venom who beat me 3 times in a row. Baim told Rod that he used to be some famous Venom player but I never got his name. Then I started playing against this one red Millia player. This guy was really good and I have a suspicion he might have been R-1 but im not sure. Anyway, after May, Millia is my next hardest matchup in the game. We started off going kind of even and I was winning a few here and then. Then, I dont know what happened, but he beat me over and over... and many of them were close... but in the end he got 15 wins in a row on me before the next time I beat him. It was extremely frusterating but I figured out anytime I threw any sort of attack out, he pretty much was just gonna outright beat it with another attack. Faust almost has no priority over anything Millia sticks out. I pretty much just stopped attacking all together, just stood still and watched him dash around like a fly for a while and eventually I had him figured out and won. After that, I beat some Sol, a PO, lost to an ABA twice but then beat him, and then I got like a 10 win streak against this one Eddie player and a couple of other guys. Then Rod played me and I beat his I-no twice and lost in a really close game to SL. By this time, the place completely cleared out pretty much, so we headed out to go drinking at Current after getting some food. Except Rod had stuff to do so he just went home.

On the way to Current, we ran into some Norwegian guys who were on their way to GODZ. They said Current had people but most of them were white people and dudes, so they were gonna go to GODZ. We went in Current anyway and there were a few regulars and then as they said, a bunch of white people I didnt know. One of them though, was that one asshole Australian guy who challenged me to that arm wrestling match that one time for like no reason at all. He was supposed to buy me a beer after I beat him but he never did. This guy is always wasted and rude to everyone. Anyway, I was ordering a beer and hes like "hey mate, come talk to me for 2 seconds! Dont worry im not gonna try to kiss ya!" and im like "Well, you tried last time I talked to you" (which he did, he offered to kiss me as a reward for winning arm wrestling 0_o) and then he was like "Oh, I met you before?" ... so im like yea... and I called him out on that drink thing and he felt stupid so he bought me a shot of tequila which I happily drank, humored him by talking to him for like 5 minutes as he asked me a few dumb questions, and then he gave me this really gay look and started staring in my eyes, it was a bit creepy. Thankfully his friend came by and I used the opportunity to go move to the back tables and sit with Matt who was once again playing FFIV on his DS. I dont remember if I ever gave this guy a nickname cuz its been a while since I wrote about him but im just gonna call him Mendokusai Man from now on. Mendokusai literally means stinks of bother, or more easily translates into a huge neusance or pain in the ass. This is the most common thing I hear Japanese people say about this guy whenever they are done having a conversation with him LOL!

We drank for a while and talked to a few other people here and there, and then at one point this one guy came and said hi to us. He was another Australian guy (has no connection the asshole guy) of asian decent (Vietnamese and Chinese) and was there sitting at the table next to us with 2 girls who were also asian Australians. We made friendly conversation for a while and he seemed like an alright guy, and then he asked where I was from and I was like "Chicago" and he thought it was cool cuz he said he was into Kanye and Lupe Fiasco and stuff or whatever. He was asking me some stuff about Chicago like if I ever got a gun pointed at me. I said no, but ive heard gun shots and I have friends who have had stray bullets wizz by them. I told him I lived in a not so always safe Mexican neighborood south of downtown while I was in College. Then he was like "what is the nickname for Mexican people, is like Spic or something?" and im like, yea if you wanna get your ass kicked. I explained to him that its not like calling an Australian and Aussie and is more like calling a black person the N word. He got the point after that. Pretty hilariously ignorant. Then he started like bragging about how he was from Sydney and that Sydney would drink Chicago under the table in a drinking contest. Well, this guy pretty much just called me out, so I had no choice to challenge him. I proposed that we go right away to the bar, and get a round of Wild Turkey shots. I bought 2 shots, Mogi gave them to me at a discounted price (500 yen each and they are normally 800 yen each). For those of you who dont know, Wild Turkey is a Burbon Whiskey and is stronger than most regular Whiskeys at 100 proof (normal is 80 proof). I bought the first round and told the Asian Australian Guy (I forgot his real name so ill just call him AAG) to get the next round. He bought it, and we downed those too. So that was 2 shots each in like 2 minutes. Then we went to sit down again by Matt and the girls and the whole time he was just talking mad shit and saying over and over again "I Sydney wont fucking lose to Chicago, I wont lose to you, never!" like over and over. His tone was like semi serious and agressive but not in like a violent way, but he certainly didnt want to lose to me. I explained to him how it doesnt matter where you come from that determines how much you can drink, and that I have friends from all sorts of different backgrounds even within Chicago. Logic didnt seem to matter and he continued his ranting. I could already tell he wasnt doing so well. Up until this point, I had maybe 5 beers and that tequila shot before hand. This guy said he had been at Current since like 6 and he was also some skinny short dude. I have no idea how much he had to drink before and he honestly didnt seem that wasted or anything when he was talking to us before, but I knew I was gonna drink this guy out of commision. His 2 friends knew it too. Yet, he wouldnt give up, he just kept talking mad shit, so like 10 minutes later I proposed we go do another round. He bought the next one, and then I got another round for us too. So that was 4 shots of Wild Turkey in like 15 minutes or something. The guy continued to talk mad shit. I offered him a snus and he took it and just continued to talk shit saying the same thing over and over. His head began to droop down and all of a sudden, he gets up and walks quickly to the bathroom. I knew I had won. He didnt come out of the bathroom for about a half hour. Eventually one of the girls went to check on him, and I could see through the opened bathroom door, AAG was sitting on the floor, literally hugging the toilet with his face buried in it. I on the other hand couldnt have felt better and was completely fine, though of course was getting pretty drunk. Eventually his 2 female friends dragged him outside. He was too wasted to even say a word. I told his girls that I was sorry if I messed up the rest of their night and they told me they knew it was gonna happen that way and that he brought it upon himself so it was all cool. Mogi and Sushi gave me a round of high fives and then we pretty much just went on with the rest of the night as always. Matt and I left Current at around 4 to go drinking at PSY since Current wasnt so bangin, so we just drank there till 6. I went to sleep at the manga kissa after that.

I woke up and headed right to Vegas. There were already tons of people there playing since people always practice at Vegas before Sporstland tournaments since its so close by and cheaper. Honyo, my team mate, was there playing as well. Our problem was, he was my ONLY team mate. I was hoping Yuki would be able to team with me but it turned out he had other business to attend to. I told Honyo the bad news but suggested we could just find someone at Sportsland. He was ok with it. I also saw that RF was there playing casuals! I always love the opportunity to play him since its a rare occurance. I got on the cab and fought againts that one really good black IN player and won. Then a Faust challenged me. I beat him in a close game. Then he rematched me and I lost. I went over to check, and it was RF! Kishya was also there so I wasnt sure if it was him the first game, but later I asked Kishya if I played him earlier and he said no, so im pretty sure it was RF both times. I challenged RF eventually one more time and lost. He seriously is the Faust of all Fausts. I said hi to him briefly as he was going to get more change. I asked him if he was going to go to EVO this year but he said he wasnt sure. It doesnt seem like many Japanese GG players are too interested in EVO this year for whatever reason. I also asked him if his team won the Nakano TRF tournament and he said yes, so it means that the winner of today's tournament has to fight RF/Mike/Ogawa. I honestly wasnt too optomistic about it heh.

It was already passed the time when signups started, so I suggested to Honyo (who was beasting with a 10 win streak) that we go to Sportsland to signup and find a team mate. He agreed so we went. Sportsland was fucking PACKED and you could hardly walk. They had 6 GG cabs set up and they were running a special on 100 for 2 credits so tons of people were practicing there too. Clay Gundam Man was also there up to his usual shananagins of not talking to anyone and contructing tiny gundams from clay. I went and signed up our team and Shoot was there to run the tournament and take signtups. I signed us up as a 2 man team and asked if he knew any single people who needed a team but he said no. I walked around a bit and checked with a few people and things were looking pretty bad. I tried calling Matt to see if he could fill in for us but he was too tired to come. I also called Rod and he had stuff to do until about 5 so it was no good. I even mailed Gin since he was not there and he said he was at work. Eventually I went back and checked with Shoot and it turned out there was a lone Potemkin player there named Mon. Hes from Chiba. I had no idea how good he was but at this point it didnt really matter. I only played mybe like 2 games of casuals the whole time there cuz the wait to play was pretty nuts. I think I fought some Chipp and lost and then I also fought against Zero's HOS who was just in beast mode. I won a round but he pretty much stomped me.

Shortly before the tournament started, HH found me and came up to me. I had no idea what he wanted to talk about. It turned out he said he was pretty serious about traveling to far away places as my team mate but said he was keeping his same local team for any local tournaments. I asked him what he considers far, and he said places like Gunma and Tochigi are still close. His idea of far is like outside the Kanto area. I was reviewing the other far away tournaments coming up on the schedule and seeing how they fit in and what would be good to go to. It pretty much seemed that the only one worth going to isnt until the very last weekend of quals... and its all the way in Okinawa, the Hawaii of Japan. I had no idea how much it would cost to go there, but its the same day as the qualifier at Vegas which just about EVERYONE will be at. Its also a one shot deal so if you win that one, you automatically are in SBO instead of having to deal with other tournaments in the block. I honestly have no idea if there are any good players in Okinawa, but HH seemed to be interested in the idea of going. We decided we would think it over and plan on going to it. I didnt address anything about the money issue so I dont know if he expects me to pay for his airfare or not, but I figured I might as well at least check the price before I worry about any of that.

Anyway, the tournament started and our first match was against Goro (JA)/Fumo (AB)/Kakeru (SL)... the same team that was in the finals last time against En's team and Inoue's team for the Chiba block. We let our Potemkin player go first and he went against Fumo's AB and lost. He kinda got beat pretty bad. Up next, Honyo wanted to go. He lost the first round. Then 2nd round he won and then 3rd round he fought his ass off and won again! Up next was Goro. This time, things happend the same way, he lost the first round but came back to take the next 2 in a really close game. Honyo was playing WELL! He was really playing his ass off. Up next was Kakeru and he put up a good fight this time too but just fell short. It was now up to me to take out Slayer. It started off pretty well until I got drove into the corner and just pretty much failed to block every single mixup (which basically means I got hit by 2 mixups cuz thats all it takes for Slayer to kill you). The 2nd round wasnt much different, I just wasnt blocking well against him. I was hesitant and tried to do stuff at the last second that just didnt work out and I lost. I honestly wasnt expecting to win the tournament today anyway given what we were up against and going into it with the 2 man team, I guess part of me had given up before we even started. Given how hard Honyo was playing though, I felt really bad about it.

Anyway, Mon thanked us for having him on our team and left shortly after. I was hungry and wanted to get some food and Honyo agreed to come with me. We got some fast Matsuya and then went to Vegas to play casuals... all the other people who already lost were there too. I really wanted to watch the finals for this but it was too crowded in there at the moment and watching the entire tournament would be a pain. We got some good casuals in with people for a while and then I got a mail from Rod who said he was at Sportsland and asked where I was at. I told him to just go to Vegas and eventually he showed up too. Some more time passed and eventually we decided it was about time to head back to Sportsland cuz we didnt wanna miss the finals.

When we got back to Sportsland, nothing was really going on. I asked if we already missed it and they said the prelim ended and now it was an intermission before the finals started, so we made good time. I asked who won and they said the winning team was Zero(OR)/Yosaan(IN)/Minami(CH). After a little waiting, they finally got started. Shoot was announcing matches all day extremely enthusiasticly and he wasnt letting up for the finals. Im surprised the guys voice still worked, hes a great announcer. Up first was Mike's Jam vs Zero's HOS. It went down to the very last round but Zero came out again against Mike! Up next was RF's Faust. Pretty much the same here, in the last round Zero took it! I certainly wanst expecting it to go down to Ogawa so soon. Ogawa wasnt ready to go out like that though. The pressure was on, but he pulled through and defeated Zero but it wasnt an easy fight. Up next was Yosaan and his I-no. Yosaan came out strong and won the first round! Shit was getting mighty hype. Ogawa came back in round 2. It was now down to the final round and Yosaan played hard! Every time he landed a hit on his combos, the entire room was just yelling "eh! eh! eh! eh!" and that shit was probably echoeing through Ogawa's skull. Yosaan's beasting took down Ogawa and carried his team to victory! In an unexpected upset, Ogawa's team is still not qualifed for SBO. Zero/Yosaan/Minami is a beast team though so im glad they are out of the way.

Pretty much as soon as it ended, Rod, Honyo, and I headed back for Vegas where we played casuals for the rest of the night. I played against tons of people and was doing pretty well winnin g and losing here and there vs some really good players. MIU showed up and I told him the results and he seemed pretty shocked. I also mentioned to him about how me and HH might go to Okinawa. He actually seemed like he wanted to come too. Im still not sure if were even gonna go so I told him ill get back to him once we do some more planning. Im not sure or not who HH has in mind either, but having MIU on the team would be cool (assuming he could get off work). Matt showed up later on piss drunk. With him was the girl he has had a crush on forever that we met in Kyoto, Eriko. They were drinking at an Izakaya for the past 3 hours or something. She came by real fast cuz she wanted to see what GG was like before Matt walked her back to the station. After he walked her there eventually came back and played some drunk GG. He fought Rod a lot and I guess was doing pretty well and winning a lot for being drunk and kept talking shit about it to Rod lol. At around midnight, pretty much everyone just got up and left and we were like the very last ones there. Rod fought Matt once more and beat him and then we headed out. Got some quick food and then headed to Current again.

Current was pretty full of regulars this time. In addition, Sawa was there. We hadnt seen her for a while but it was nice to see her again. She mailed me earlier when we were at Vegas saying that she would come. Mendokusai Man was there again and was trying to hit on Sawa for a bit but Matt butted in and saved her. She was thuroughly annoyed by him after only a few minutes. Another odd thing was that Sawa is fluent in English and has that sexy British accent but she was speaking Japanese all night. I have no problem with that but it felt strange hah. The rest of the night at Current was pretty much just good times. After they closed, we rallied up a group to go do Karaoke consisting of Me, Matt, Rod, Sawa, Shuji, and this one Norwegian guy whos name I dont remember. We did Karaoke for like 2 hours and it was pretty awsome. It was certainly one of the most strange karaoke sessions I had ever been to featuring such "favorites" as The Scatman, Baby Got Back, and Sawa did this one rediculous line dancing country techno song called "5,6,7,8" which was hilariously bad but somehow somewhat hot with the little dance she was doing on the chair lol. If you wanna see how bad this song is check it out here . At around 8 am or 8:30 I finally got to the manga kissa and went to sleep after some quick food.

I had pretty much nothing to do today cuz there were no SBO tournaments. I decided to go to that travel agency where Matt and I booked our Hokkaido trip to get an estimate on prices for the Okinawa trip if it happens. The best price I could get was 33,000 yen round trip, which is affordable. The main issue is dependant on how much of HH's trip I would need to pay for if I had to pay for some of it or all of it... thats a huge factor involved here. Anyway, this whole plan is still up in the air and I have lots of time to think it over but its a possability.

After that, since Vegas was dead, I headed over to Takadanobaba Mikado. There werent many people here either but I really had no other good ideas so I just figured I would wait to see if people showed up. I started off beating some not so stellar players who eventually gave up on trying to beat me, then I beat the game and moved to where they were playing again and ended up racking about a total of 30 wins without any loses between that time. I ducked out for a bit to get lunch and enjoyed some tasty ramen. When I went back, I noticed that the Faust player Takuya was there. I saw him at Vegas earlier (he was like the only one there) so it was safe to assume it was still dead. I played him in a mirror match and won and then he stopped playing for whatever reason. Then this one pink hair millia player challenged me. This guy was really good and we went back and forth a couple of games. Eventually I beat him, and then the grand daddy of all Millias just came out of nowhere: Nakamura. Come to think of it, I havnt seen him enter a single SBO tournament yet this year. He played against me... and proceeded to beat me... 10 times in a row. I had a lot of close games and was winning rounds and stuff, but I just couldnt finish him. Eventually I did beat him though. I apolagized to him for playing so crappy but he said he didnt feel like I played crappy at all. There was also some black PO there who I went back and forth with for a while but was mostly beating. I also beat some decent Testament and then later on that one pink haired Millia played me a bunch again. I was having a lot of trouble against him again too. I would win sometimes but he was winning a lot more. The last match I played against him, I totally had him in the last round. Every single time I had meter and he was mixing me up in the corner, he would do a disc and then just walk up and throw. I totally called him out on it and tried to throw but my input didnt come out and it killed me. This pissed me off thuroughly. Towards the end, this one blue and black Sol player came (I think he was friends with Inoue who also showed up but I didnt get a chance to play him) and he beat the Millia. Then I fought the Sol and would have won but fucked up an input that lead to me getting sidwinder looped into death. At this point I was tired and just kinda in a really pissed off mood and it was about time to leave so I just got up and left. Got some food, and headed to the train.

Throughout the time I was at Mikado playing, I mailed Junya, the female Dizzy I will team up with next weekend in Yamagata. It turns out that the Eddie player she wanted to team with us cant. I decided to email EVE and ask him if he could join us. He said that he doesnt know his schedule yet but will know by Wednesday. If he can team with us, we are set, but if not, I dont really know what were gonna do. Honyo said he has no money to travel that far and Yuki is busy. Everyone I pretty much asked cant go. The only one left is Kunihiro. I didnt ask him but theres a SLIM chance he could go if EVE cant. If everything goes right, I will be heading off for my first time to the northern prefecture of Yamagata. All I can do now is wait and see...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Golden Week in Hokkaido

This weekend kicked off Golden Week, which is a long string of national holidays in Japan. For many Japanese people, this is the only time in the year when they can actually get time off to travel and go on a nice vacation. It spans from the weekend up until he Wednesday of the following week.

The plan was to go to Hokkaido yet things were still up in the air. I tried calling Matt multiple times throughout the rest of the week. He was supposed to check on flight prices to Hokkaido so that we could make plans to go but he never answered his phone. I went to Tokyo not knowing whether I would be going to Hokkaido or not, so I packed accordingly just in case.

Friday, 5/1

When I arrived at Vegas, Matt was there. He told me that he had left his phone at PSY which is why he couldnt answer. Appearently he went drinking by himself on Wedensday night and went to Zin where he finally broke up with Akiko and then afterwords he went to PSY. He said most of the night was a blur and he said he just remembers walking around in like a semi dream-like state and wasnt sure what of his memory was a dream or reality. He had remembered hitting on some girl, and also had some faint images of getting into some sorta fight with the barender of GODZ, Ken. He later actually was woken up by a police officer as he layed passed out in a random parking lot very far from his home and was rambling some stuff about how its not safe in Japan for foreigners anymore. He was confused and delusional. Turns out he was still within (sorta) walking distance from his home, so after he collected himself the cop pointed him in the right direction and he made it back home.

In any case, that was his reason for not answering, but he did infact check the tickets to Hokkaido and the price range was affordable so we decided we would go afterall and would book the flight tomorrow. He stopped in at PSY and got his phone back and then came back to Vegas. Overall, Vegas was pretty dead. We were then told by Mekemeke that the reason was because a brand new arcade just opened up in Takadanobaba. The new arcade is also called Mikado and I am assuming its owned by the same people who own the Shinjuku Mikado. I only ended up playing one single match at Vegas vs some Venom and lost in a close one. Then I saw Mekemeke lose to him too. We decided we would go check out the new Mikado. Mekemeke said he was gonna stay there since he had some stuff to do. Dream Maker was also there playing casuals but he also had stuff to do so he didnt wanna go either.

Matt and I headed over to Takadanobaba which is only like 2 stops from Shinjuku on the Yamanote line. When we got there, we searched a bit and eventually found the place very near the station. Its a pretty big arcade, 2 floors, lots of floor space and tons of games. They had multiple cabs of most major fighters and everything was 50 yen. They had a total of 5 GG cabs which is the same as Vegas. Also, the Johnny player, Johnnio works there. Lots of people were there playing and pretty much every single person was a well known top player. We stayed for a bit and played casuals and for a while it was sorta taking a while to get a turn in. I was pretty much losing all my matches but most of them were like extremely close. I ended up beating Taku's Slayer twice which were the only matches I won all night. At some time around 11:30 we decided to head over to Current since Rod was waiting there. This weekend was his birthday so we were gonna go drinking there and he was gonna invite some friends.

We stopped at McDonalds and got some 200 yen big macs (they were running a deal all throughout Golden Week) and then went to Current. Rod was there with his friend Takao and a few other regulars were at the bar as well. It was mostly a fun typical night there with drinking and people dancing drunkenly like idiots. Good stuff. Towards the end of the night, 28 year old virgin was there and he passed out on the bench in the back by the tables. It all started by me putting a coaster in his open mouth and it stayed there. Then we got nuts and started balancing stuff on his head like candles, beer glasses, and other stuff. Then Masami handed us a marker and we drew a curly mustache on his face and a giant penis on his head. It was all in good fun though. I have nothing against the guy, hes a nice guy and all, but he passed out at the bar and he got what was coming to him. If I passed out at Current and someone did that to me, I would give them props for putting me in my place. Current isnt for sleeping, if you cant stay awake, go home haha. Also there was this one chick there we were talking to and she drew a curly mustache on Matts face and my face and then I drew one on her face but then I just went and washed it off in the bathroom afterwords cuz it took like 2 seconds. After they closed, most people were tired, and since I wanted to wake up at a reasonable time for the Chiba SBO block qualifier in Tsudanuma the next day, I decided to just go to sleep after Current. I headed to the manga kissa and passed out. Matt was planning to tag along to watch the qual so he slept there as well.

Saturday, 5/2

I woke up with enough time before the tournament. Matt was gonna go to the travel agency in Shinjuku to book our flights and since he said it probably wouldnt take long, I figured I would just go with. Originally, Kunihiro said he was interested in going to Hokkaido with me but ended up changing his mind saying it was too difficult. As a result, I had no actual team to go and it was just gonna be Matt and I going and I would just try to find a team while we were there. Matt and I ended up getting quoted tickets that totalled to about 40,000 yen total, so the trip was slightly costly yet still affordable. I had never been to Hokkaido before so I figured it was a good excuse to go even if I wasnt really expecting to do well in the tournaments. It ended up taking way longer than we expected to book our flights and time was running short. Honyo, my Baiken player team mate, showed up a bit early to at Amusement Ace to sign us up so everything was cool. We booked our flight to leave Sunday at around 3 pm and we would return to Tokyo on Tuesday night on a 9:30 pm flight. This would allow me to enter the Nakano tournament on Wednesday as well. After finally getting our flights booked, we left for Chiba.

Amusement Ace was already packed with people when I got there. Getting a chance to play any practice matches was impossable. I got a call from Kaking and met up with him in front of the station and we walked back to Amusement Ace. We waited around for a bit and then the tournament started. Once again, I took pictures of the full brackets; it was a pretty big tournament.

Our first match was against a team containing the Testament player Masa. Honyo went first and started off well but it kinda just fell apart in the middle of the first round and he lost. I went next, and won the first round well. 2nd round I was doing ok, and I hit him with an overhead FDC kick and missed the combo afterwords and also lost the round. 3rd round, I was doing good and just needed to squeeze in literally one more pixel of damage. I got on pogo and he blocked, I went for a couple more forward-forward pogo hits and he blocked them, I safely dismounted but then I think I got hit by some random badlands or something after that and lost. Then Kaking went and lost as well. Just like that, OCVed by Testament first round. I was upset cuz I really had him but oh well.

After losing, I asked Kaking and Honyo about the Nakano tournament. As expected, Kaking said it was too far. I dont honestly think I will be teaming with Kaking anymore. He isnt willing to travel anywhere far at all and he honestly hasnt really been playing that well anyway. Honyo said he was down to go, so I figured I would just ask around and try to find a 3rd later.

The rest of the tournament was gonna take a while and I didnt wanna watch the whole entire thing, espessially since it was hard to even see the cabs with all the people there, but I did wanna see the finals. Matt and I went to get some more 200 yen big macs, and then came back and I ended up playing casuals of various games. I played a bit of CvS2 and SFIV. I lost at CvS2 but actually was winning most of my SFIV matches LOL! There was this one sick Guile player who I couldnt beat though.

Eventually it was nearing the end of the tournament so we decided to just tough it out and watch the end. Lots of people were watching the tournament, and among them was Clay Gundam Man who was once again just being creepy and listening to his head phones and making more small toy clay gundams... I was able to ninja a quick picture of him making the clay gundams. Its hard to see but Ill add it to the pictures page heheh. At some point, En-Slayer ended up beating FAB's team. I noticed after he beat FAB, he exchanged some dialouge with Kawin. I was too far away to hear what they were saying but basically it seemed like En was implying that since he beat FAB's PO that Kawin would be next, and Kawin was shaking his head and did like that arm cross X thing basically saying, no that shits not gonna happen. They both seemed pretty intense and I was looking forward to hopefully seeing that match go down. En's team (consisting of Limekey and Nanashi) went on to beat Taku's team. Nanashi beat Kuni and Sadu and then lost to Taku but then Limekey beat Taku. They were now in the prelim finals. Also, Karun OCVed the team of TEN (IN) / Ogiwara aka Basara (SL) / and Ei (ZA) to bring his team to the prelim finals to face En's team. Karun's team consisted of Mugen (BR) and Chonari (ZA). Nanashi ended up OCVing Mugen, Karun, Chonari in that order and qualified for the block finals and would now be facing Inoue's team and Goro's team in the grand finals. During this last fight, Kawin was sitting over by Mugen's team and cheering them on ALOT. Everytime they even landed a hit he was cheering out loud. He REALLY wanted En's team to lose and seemed a bit upset when En's team won. It was now time for the finals.

First was Goro vs Inoue team.
Fumo beat Kazuki. Then Inoue beat Fumo. Next, Inoue beat the Slayer on Goro's team and also beat Goro. Goro actually had him dizzied at one point and would have IKed him but messed up the IK input and lost.

Next En team vs Goro team.
Nanashi beat Goro. Then the Slayer player on Goro's team beat Nanashi AND Limekey despite Limekey pulling off one of the most epic comebacks ever in he 2nd round. Next En DOUBLE PERFECTED the other Slayer in a mirror match and then finally went on to also beat Fumo.

Final match was Inoue team vs En team.
En started off beating Kazuki. Up next was the match I was waiting for, En vs Kawin. Kawin was talking all kinds of shit and yelling stuff across to the other side of the cab at En. It was a good match and in the end, Kawin backed up all his shit talk and ended up beating En, followed by more shit talk. He then went on to even take out Nanshi! However, Limekey did what he often does for his team, he was a solid anchor. Not only did he beat Kawin, but he took out Inoue as well and won the SBO spot for his team! As soon as they lost, Kawin just seemed completely devistated. He was sitting on the floor next to the cab with his head down between his knees and his hand over his forhead and didnt move for like the next 5 minutes.

After that, Matt and I headed out and went back to Shinjuku. When we got to Kinshicho where we had to transfer to a different train, Matt decided he was gonna stop home to get some stuff for the trip tomorrow so I went on to Shinjuku by myself where he said he would meet me later at Vegas. When I got to Vegas, not many people were there, but Honyo was there practicing. He left the tournament much earlier than we did. I said hi to him and then we played some practice games against eachother for a while. We started off with 10 games of Faust vs Baiken that went 4-6 in his favor. Then I beat his Anji once and he switched back to Baiken. I then beat his Baiken 6 in a row. Then lost once, then won 3, then lost 1, then won 1 more, then finally lost 2. I got a mail from Matt saying that he was too tired and wasnt gonna make it out for drinking tonight cuz he wanted to have enough energy for Hokkaido. It was getting sorta late and Rod was waiting at Juke 80's, the bar where he works part time, for his birthday party tonight. I called him and asked him when I should come and he said NOW, so I said bye to Honyo and headed out.

I stopped at McDonalds on the way and got 2 more 200 yen big macs. I felt fine at first but when I arrived in Nakano and started walking towards the bar, I stared to feel kinda sick. I got a redbull and after drinking, it I felt like I was gonna throw up. I went into the Family Mart bathroom and threw up. I must have just overate or something cuz I felt just fine after that. Not something that really ever happens heh. After that I arrived at Juke 80's. It was pretty packed in there, mostly with people Rod knew from school or people that those people knew. Some of them were the same people I met breifly the last time I went there the night we left for Osaka several weeks ago. Nick was there as well. I pretty much just talked with various people, and drank a lot. Tons of people were bumming snus off of me, I was surprised how many people there liked the stuff. At one point I was getting so low I had to turn down peoples requests for it. It was like random people I didnt know just coming up to me being like "yo you got dat snus?" and I didnt even know them so I didnt feel bad really saying no.

At sometime around 2 am, a group of people from the party including Rod and myself all walked over to a karaoke place. I brought some beers in and we all just did karaoke till like 5 am. After that, everyone split up and headed home. I was right near a train station off the Seibu-Shinjuku subway line so I decided to just take that back to Shinjuku to sleep where I usually do. I ended up falling asleep and missing my stop like several times and didnt check into the manga kissa till like 8 am or something heh.

Sunday, 5/3

I woke up at sometime around 1:30 or 2 pm to Matt mailing me. he was at Vegas waiting for me. If we wanted to catch our 3:30 flight we needed to leave soon. I got ready and we headed out to Haneda airport. I was extremely surprised how quickly it took to get through security. They are much less strict about security in Japan when dealing with domestic flights. We pretty much made it the terminal about 10 minutes before they started boarding the flight. We had just enough time to get some quicky curry and rice and then got on the plane. I slept the entire way there and it was about a 1 and a half hour flight.

From Chitose airport in Sapporo, we took a train and for about 30-45 minutes and eventually ended up at Sapporo station. We figured we might as well just start looking for the arcades where the SBO quals would be held. Not very far from Sapporo station, was the game center Maxim Hero. This was where tomorrow's tournament would be held. We found it pretty quickly without too much trouble. When we walked in, they had 2 GG cabs set up but no one was playing at all. There was a FATE cabinet next to the GG cabs and there was some sorta regular FATE tournament going on so I guess thats why no one was playing GG. We didnt really wanna stick around with no one playing and it was still pretty early, so we decided to take a train out to where the other arcade, Game 41, was to try to find that location to see if it was any better. Before heading out there, while we were at a Lawson, I asked one of the people there about a place where there were lots of good bars. They said there is a part of Sapporo called Susukino that was sorta like Kabuki-cho (the part of Shinjuku I always drink at). After that, we headed out to find the next arcade.

I had printed a map off google maps that showed the arcade location. This map was actually taken directly from the tougeki website. I dunno whos fault it was, but this map was completely wrong. We ended up getting off at Sakaemachi on the Toho line and walking to exactly where the map showed the arcade. It wasnt there. We asked around a bit and did a lot of walking. EVENTUALLY we got lucky and found the place pretty far from where we originally started. When we went in, we were dissapointed to find that they only had 1 GG cab and no one was playing at all.

We decided to just get some ramen at a nearby ramen place cuz Sapporo is supposed to have some really good Ramen. It ended up being really tasty. We talked to the old man who owned the place for a bit and then headed out. We stopped by one more quick time at Game 41 to check the start time of Tuesdays tournament. While we were there, no one was playing GG still but now they had some sorta oldschool random WWF wrestling game tournament going on 0_o. They even had someone announcing it LOL! It was pretty funny. We left and were also told that there was another train station on a different line pretty close to where we were at in the opposite direction from which we originally came from, so we headed back out that way. That map was totally fucked up. Anyway, on the way there we found another arcade called Cat's Eye but it was also dead so we left and just headed on the train back to Sapporo station in hopes that Maxim Hero would have some comp now.

When we arrived at Maxim Hero, not only was there people playing, but I was shocked as to WHO was playing. Turns out, ASA, the Potemkin player I had teamed up with a couple times before, was there with the Sol player Nobu and the Baiken player LOK. They flew out here from Tokyo just like we did. I had mentioned to ASA at some point previously that I was planning on going to Hokkaido and I cant remember what his response was but he didnt seem interested in going or teaming with me at the time and I never heard that he was going. When I told him before, I mentioned that I was probably gonna go with Kunihiro. He asked where Kunihiro was and I told him he couldnt come so that I just came out with Matt and would be looking for a team by myself. Anyway, I started playing some casuals against various people. I was doing pretty well and winning a lot more than I was losing. I was having the most trouble actually against LOK's Baiken whom I did beat a few times but lost to more than I won against. Also, ASA was destroying most other people on the other cab with a big win streak. Eventaully his team just left without saying anything and it started to get pretty dead in there. Matt and I pretty much just decided to leave and go drinking at this point.

We headed over to Susukino on the train which was only 2 stops away. The place was pretty cool and there were tons of shops and bars and tons of people walking around. We figured we might as well look for another arcade while we were there since it was still early enough to get a few more games in. We ended up finding like 2 other arcades. Both of them had some fighters but for whatever reason, neither of them had a GG cab. I ended up playing a random game of SF alpha 3 against some random Ken and picked Ryu on accident and still won lol! Then he rematched me and I lost, then Matt tried to beat him with Ryu as well and lost and then we just left to go find some bars. While searching, we found a manga kissa which was cool. We walked for quite a while and most of the places we saw seemed kinda sketchy. I ended up finding this awsome micro brew at a Lawson out there so I enjoyed one of those. Eventually we decided to just go to some rock and blues bar we had seen earlier. When we went in there, it was extremely small and extremely messy. We figured we might as well just have a beer there for now. I noticed they had a Kingston Mines Sticker on something in the bar. Kingston Mines is a famous blues live house in Chicago and I have been there a few times so I thought that was cool... but when I asked the bar tender about it he didnt even know wtf it was... heh... kinda lame. They had a Rolling Stones live in Saitama DVD playing on a TV so we just listened to some Stones and had a beer each and the bartender gave us some free snacks too. There was another group of 3 Japanese dudes sitting at another table and eventually we started talking to them and were asking them about other rock bars in the area. They recommended a few places and wrote down information about them so we had some leads. After our beers, we left and so did 2 of the guys and they were nice enough to kinda point us in the right direction.

After a bit more walking we eventually found a place which the name excapes me at the moment, but it was a rock bar that had a live band. They charged a cover charge of like 2300 yen which seemed high, but then we noticed if you pay 3500 yen you can have all you can drink for 90 minutes. We figured we could drink our moneys worth and the live music would make it worth it so we stayed. We drank tons of booze for the next 90 minutes. I had various stuff like beer, rum/coke, and red win. The live band played like 2 30 minutes sets while we were there and mostly played various classic rock covers of bands like Zeppelin, Hendrix, Journey, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and some other stuff. They actually were REALLY GOOD! They had great back vocals and all the band members played their instremements very well, espessially the guitar player who was just shredding it up! After power drinking for 90 minutes, we were both pretty wasted and felt like we got our moneys worth for sure. After time was up, we headed out and figured we might as well look for the other bar on the list called Bar FM. We walked for a while and couldnt find it, and the sun was starting to come out and we were wasted so we just figured we might as well go to sleep. We stopped by McDonalds to get some food before passing out. Turns out that Hokkaido McDonalds sucks and didnt have the 200 yen big mac deal but it was only 10 minutes to 5 so we just waited 10 minutes and got breakfast. We ate outside in fron to of the place cuz I guess they were closed on the inside for sitting. I ended up dropping the top bun and egg of my megamuffin on the ground... bummer. I still ate the other half of it and the hashbrown though. After that, we went to a manga kissa near the McDonalds that we just found but they ended up having crappy rates if you check in passed 5, so we went to the original one we found earlier and stayed there. The chairs were extremely crappy and we both slept uncomfortably for the next 6 hours.

Monday, 5/4

The next morning, we got up, took showers, and headed out. We pretty much just headed right over to Maxim Hero for today's tournament. We had several hours before the tournament started and I figured this would be my opportunity to hopefully find a team. There were a few people there at first and then a lot showed up gradually. I started off playing pretty well and was winning more than I was losing. As time went on, I was starting to feel a bit hopeless because it didnt seem like I would be able to find a team. I asked a few people but they all had a team already. Then eventually, I checked the signup sheet and noticed that there was a 2 man team of Age3 (DI) and ALE (JA) under the team name "超あっせん". I asked the tournament director dude to show me who they were. He pointed out Age3 and I went up to him and asked him if they wanted me to join their team. He said it was cool so I signed up with them. Age3 said he was no good and always chokes in tournaments. However, I then watched him play a match of casuals and he had a solid Dizzy. After this, it was getting close to the start of the tournament and I didnt get much more casual action in.

I think a total of like 13 teams entered. Our first match was against a team of AX/TE/MA. Our Jam player, ALE, went first. He beat the AX in a close game but then he got beat by TE. I went next vs the TE. While I was playing him, the announcer was making an attempt to read my name and was like "Up next is... El... E... " and pronounced my name wrong a bunch of times until I guess someone corrected him and eventually someone like told him who I was and he was saying stuff how im like famous in Tokyo or something. I went next and rocked the Testament and then I also somehow beat May even though I fucking hate that matchup. It felt very good to beat May. My team mates were very happy. Up next, we fought a team of AB/SL/HOS. Age3 went first with his Dizzy and lost to ABA. Then ALE told me to go next so I went ahead and beat AB, then went on to beat SL, and ended up beating HOS as well and took out the entire team by myself! I was playing pretty well. The announcer was like all hyping me up and stuff.

At this point, I was already in the finals for the tournament! There were 3 teams that made it to the finals due to the way the brackets were set up, so it would be played as a round robin format. ASA's team had made it to the finals as well. The other team was a team consisting of 2 top Hokkadio players... the Ky player MIU (NOT the same MIU as Tokyo Sol MIU), and a Sol player named CCJ, and the 3rd player on their team was actually a HOS player from Saitama named Saga. Saga was around a lot during last year quals and even had teamed up with ASA before at some of the Saitama tournements. I didnt recognize him at first but I knew he looked familiar.

The first match to be played was my team vs Saga's team. I know all 3 of those matchups fairly well so I said I would go first this time. First match was CCJ's Sol vs me. I won the first round pretty well. The 2nd round was close but I took that one as well, finishing it off with a whiffed pogo forcebreak and then catching him off guard with a backwards pogo hit. The next match was vs Saga's HOS. I lost the first round, and then won the 2nd round. 3rd round was going well for a bit and was close, but then eventually I was put in the corner and started getting this feeling of dread come over me as I was getting mixed up. Eventually I was taken down. Up next was Age3 with his Dizzy. He also lost to Saga... so our last hope was our Jam. This match was insanely close but Jam came out ahead by just a little it and won! The last match was Jam vs Ky. Unfortunately... Ky came out victorious and we were defeated. We werent out yet though, it was still possable to win if we beat ASA's team and they beat the other team. Up next we fought ASA's team. This time, Dizzy went first and they sent out LOK's Baiken first. It was actually very close but Baiken won by just a little. Up next was Jam. Pretty much the same thing happened, very close, down to the last round, but just fell short. I went last and... same thing... I was very close to beating him in the last round but just fell short. With that, we were out of the tournament. The finals played out and resulted in Saga pretty much defeating everyone on ASA's team. I dont remember but I think maybe ASA beat CCJ but I think they all lost to Saga.

After the tournament, I asked my team mates if they wanted to team up again tomorrow. They said they actually couldnt because they already had someone for their 3rd team mate tomorrow. I guess I can understand if they had already made a promise to someone who couldnt enter the one today, but at the same time I was pretty dissapointed because I basically beat every single person we fought up to the finals, so I figured they might reconsider. They were also a decent team so I would have liked to join them again. So with that, I was back where I started for tomorrow.

From this point, Matt and I ducked out for a bit to get some food. We went to an expensive but fairly tasty mexican resturaunt under the train station. Also, when I went to the conbini next to the game center, I saw that they had like 5 different kinds of rare microbrews! I love trying new beers and its rare to come accross them in most places in Japan. They were reasonably priced so I decided to try one.

After that, it was pretty much just playing casuals for the next few hours. I continued to drink beers though because I wanted to still play, but I also wanted to try all the kinds they had, so throughout the time playing casuals, I had about 4 beers that I drank while playing and I dont think anyone really noticed cuz the cans arnt very recognizable. In any case no one seemed to care and I was still playing well actually. It was kinda easing the pain of getting so close to winning the tournament today but failing. Lots of people stuck around and they had 3 cabs set up so I played for a while. It took a long time to get a turn in though because it was set to 2 credits of 3/5 rounds for 100 yen so you had to wait a long time. MIU, the Ky player, gave me lots of props and said I was very good! I played him a lot in casuals before the tournament and was mostly beating him too. He offered to let me go next on the cab cuz I guess he wanted to watch me play, and I could hear him talking with some of the guys behind me saying im really strong and stuff. I got a win streak for a while and then lost to someone eventually but I forgot who.

I chilled and played for a bit longer and eventually they dimmed the lights and put the closing music on at about 11:30 or so. People started to clear out so after that, Matt and I headed out. We were gonna go back to Susukino for drinking but we noticed that the bright faris wheel that was in Susukino could be seen a ways down the street from where we currently were. Since it didnt seem that far, we decided to just walk there this time instead of taking the train. It didnt take very long and the weather wasnt bad either. The funny thing is, where I live in Gunma is actually just as cold as Sapporo if not colder! WTF!

When we arrived in Susukino we walked around a bit trying to find that bar FM that we couldnt find the night before. We walked in circles a bit and eventually wound up at the same place and were about to give up. Then all of a sudden, Matt just looks behind him and sees this very small sign that said Bar FM on a building right behind us. It was extremely discrete and easy to miss. We decided to check it out so we went inside. It was a pretty small place and a few people were there. They mostly played lighter classic rock stuff at first but later on I requested some ACDC and then I think they got the hint that we wanted some heavier stuff and then they started playing a variety of great music. They also had really good prices on their drinks so we pretty much just stayed there till about 4 am drinking. Both of us were pretty tired so we decided to just go to the manga kissa at about 4 am and sleep for 7 hours this time since we found a different place with better deals and more comfortable chairs.

Tuesday, 5/5

We woke up and got some italian food in Susukino. After that, we had a while to kill before the tournament since it didnt even start till 5, so I decided I wanted to buy a bunch of those awsome craft beers from the conbini near Maxim Hero to bring back home with me. I figured if I brought them on the plane, I would need to check the bag in since they are strict about liquids, so I went and bought some cheap 1000 yen duffel bag from Donkihote. After that, I went to the conbini and bought like 16 cans of beer, almost emptying out the entire microbeer shelves lol. From there we took the train over to Game 41 where todays finals would be held.

The area where the random WWF game tournament was being held before now had 2 GG cabs set up instead. Lots of people gradually started showing up for casuals. I was doing pretty well and winning most of my casual matches. A lot of the same people were there as yesterday but some new people were there as well. There was also this kinda cute girl with short hair hanging around but I didnt see her play at all so I wasnt sure if she was just there to watch or what. There was this one Venom player who was asking this one guy if he needed a team and the guy said no, but then I told him I needed a team, so he invited me to join him and his team mate, who was a blue Dizzy player who I played in casuals a lot yesterday. The Dizzy player was pretty solid, but unfortunately the Venom was kinda so-so. I didnt really have much else of a choice. Turns out there were 2 other guys who needed a team, and Matt decided to just enter with them instead of just watching this time. His team was a Slayer and a Potemkin but neither of them were very good. Today's tournament ended up having a few more teams than last time but was still kinda small. After they made the brackets, I checked, and our first match was against IN/MA/FA. As everyone knows, I hate May so I was a bit worried going in to this one. There was a red may player there that I actually beat really really well in casuals before the tournament, and I beat the other guy yesterday, so I was feeling somewhat confident but its still May. I asked the Venom on my team which May it was, and he said it was a May that didnt play yet, so I had no idea how good this May would be.

Matt's team played and ended up getting OCVed somehow by one of the crappiest wreckless Sol players I have ever seen. The guy was just like laughing and smiling the whole time and just spamming random special moves and shit. I honestly have no idea how Matt lost to him and the match of the Sol vs the Slayer on Matt's team was just plain painfull to watch how scrubtastic it was.

It was time for our first match. Originally the plan was to let Venom go first. Then the other team had their I-no player sit down before we told the guy running the tournament who our first guy was gonna be. The Dizzy got all excited and said he wanted to fight the I-no and just changed the plan. Before I knew it, they were fighting it out. The match was kinda close and went down to the last round, but my Dizzy player lost. I wanted Venom to go first since he is our weakest and I was hoping to save Dizzy to beat May incase I lost to her. Now I pretty much had no choice but to have Venom back me up. I told Venom I would go next so that he could beat May incase I lost. I fought I-no and won both rounds. Up next was... May. This May was default color. I went into the match with a clear mind and pretty much just tried to play it like I did against the red May earlier. I pretty much just kept getting all of my air to air attacks get beat clean out. I just dont understand this matchup. It seems like sometimes certain attacks will beat out certain attacks of May's but if the distance is slightly off or the angle is slightly off, then it loses. In any case, the first round was lost. The 2nd round I wasnt doing to well, started to make a comeback a little, but then in the end I got beat out. I felt pretty shitty and was really hoping the Venom could come back to take it. Unfortunately, the Venom got worked HARD! It was like he almost wasnt even trying... After the match I looked over and saw that the May player was none other than that short haired girl who was standing around earlier.

To make matters worse, I saw my old team mates play their matches and they were doing well, except their 3rd guy was just some mediocre Johnny player who didnt win a single match the entire tournament. They actually made it all the way to the finals, mostly because the Jam player was beasting pretty well. They fought ASA's team in the prelim finals but they all got OCVed by ASA. Im not saying I would have won for sure had I been on their team, but I did play all 3 members of ASA's team in casuals right before the tournament and beat all of them. I just cant help to think that if those guys would have taken me on their team that we could have won it.

After the prelim ended, we waited around a bit for the finals to start. It was taking a long time, and then we noticed that they didnt plan to start the grand finals until 8 pm. Originally I wasnt expecting this tournament to last this long, because I think it originally said on the tougeki site that grand finals would start around 7 pm. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30. Getting to the airport takes at least an hour, and we didnt want to miss our flight, so we reluctantly left without watching the grand finals.

We walked back to the train station and took the train back after quickly getting some food for the road. While I was on the train, I mailed ASA and asked him if they won. He said they did infact win, so now ASA/Nobu/LOK have qualified for SBO...

Pretty much the whole time going back home, I just kept thinking how crappy it is that I am having a hard time finding consistant good team mates. I know I am on the same level as all 3 of those guys, but I so often find myself having to try to do things all by myself (with a few exceptions) it just kinda annoys me cuz I know if a decent team would give me a chance, I could qualify. I know I shouldnt rely on anyone but myself, but realisticly even the best of the best cant do it on their own, they almost always have other people on their team beat people that they cant win against. Sometimes it just feels like im trying to qualify in a team tournament but im entering a singles tournament where I have to beat 3 people each round...

Anyway, enough of my emo whining. I figured I should probably worry about who im going to be teaming with for the Nakano tournament tomorrow. Kunihiro cant enter because the block finals are on a Saturday, and Yuki couldnt enter because he was still on vacation, so I had to dig a bit deeper into my contact list. I mailed Ma, the Venom, but he couldnt enter. I also mailed Gin-Slayer and HH on a whim. I didnt get a reply from them right away.

Matt and I made it to the airport about a half hour before our flight. In all honesty, we could have probably watched the finals but it would have been cutting it REAL close. Had I actually made it to the finals, I would have obviously stayed to play them regardless of missing my flight or not. This time, I was even more shocked by how lax the security was. I had a lighter in my pocket and they said I could just keep it on me for the flight! Also, I had that whole bag full of beer and they said it was ok to bring that on the flight with me too! That shit would NEVER fly in a US airport right now. We had enough time to buy some souvineers at a store in the airport and then we got on the plane. I slept the whole flight.

When we arrived at Haneda airport, I checked my phone and got a reply from both Gin and HH. HH said he would team with me but wanted to call me first to talk about something. So I gave him my number and told him sorry for the wait cuz I was just on the plane and stuff. He called me and basically told me that the Nakano tournament at TRF tomorrow was already full. They capped entry at 16 teams and already opened registration to the event like 2 weeks ago! I had no idea and thus basically, HH told me that if I had already reserved a spot he would join my team but that if I didnt it was impossable for either of us to enter. Then basically, he asked how I did in Hokkaido and told him I made it to the finals the first day and then lost to May the 2nd day cuz May is retarded. He told me that if in the future, I go to another long distance tournament, to let him know. He said he would join my team if I travel far... but only on one condition... I would have to pay for his travel expenses... heh. Im not sure if I should be happy that I have that option or insulted that thats the only way he would team with me. In any case, I told him how the next long distance tournament I was traveling to was going to be the one in Yamagata in a few weeks, but already am teaming with Junya, the female Dizzy from Niigata. Since we cant have 2 Dizzys on the team, the only way HH could join us is if he played Ky. Honestly, I dont really feel like paying 20,000 yen for his Ky... its decent but its not his Dizzy. Even my scrubby ass beat his Ky in the last tournament we played in heh. He didnt really seem like he wanted to play Ky either. Hes a great Dizzy player so entering with Ky wouldnt make sense anyway. In any case, I told him I would contact him again in the future about traveling far. I didnt really ask him what he considers far, but if he would be willing to join me for like a Gunma tournament, I would pay for that since its only like 5000 yen or something round trip on the regular train. Gin basically also said the same thing in his mail to me. That it was full but if I had a team registered he would join. Since the Nakano tournament was no longer an option, I mailed Honyo and told him the news.

After that, Matt and I took the tran back to Shinjuku and made it just before the trains stopped running. We decided we might as well just go to Current. It was pretty dead there honestly, just a few people. There were these 2 girls in their 20s sitting at the bar next to us and eventually we ended up talking with them and pretty much just talked to them most of the night. They both worked at massage places (the legit kind, not the shady kind) and one of them was really into metal and stuff so she was cool. We drank till a little after 4 and they closed Current early tonight at 4:30. After that, we walked with the girls to the corner near the station and they went to get some coffee at McDonalds. Matt and I went off to do more drinking at PSY.

When we got to PSY, there was just one guy there at the bar, and Natsume was working the bar. Natsume asked Matt if he remembered the last time he was there. Matt wasnt sure so Natsume filled him in on what happened. Turns out none of the stuff that Matt recalls was a dream at all, everything actually happened. Appearently Matt went there with some random Norwegian guy who was on vacation. Matt was drinking and hitting on some girl and then at some point te Norwegian guy started getting into some sorta argument with Ken, the bartender of GODZ who was there drinking as well. I guess for whatever reason, Ken never liked Matt much and Matt sorta suspected it and I guess since Matt was drunk he decided to say some mean shit to Ken and was like flipping him off and stuff and then Ken like threw him to the ground and kicked him in the head or something. Natsume said Matt didnt hit him or anything and Matt doesnt really remember many details. But basically after that happened, Matt probably just left the bar in a drunken state of confusion, got in a cab to some random place sorta by where he lives, got out, stumbled around, and passed out in a parking lot where he was eventually woken up by a cop and stumbled on home.

Matt seemed pretty upset from hearing the reality of that night and was just letting it weigh on his mind most of the time we were there and he also played lots of FFIV on his DS. Later on, more people showed up and we talked to Hibiki for a little bit and then left at closing time. Matt went home and I went to the manga kissa as always.

Wednesday, 5/6

I woke up the next day figuring I might as well just check out TRF anyway in hopes that I could somehow get on a team or at least just play some good casuals. When I got there, they only had one GG cab set up and almost no one was there, but they did have the full bracket already made and the TRF worker guy also said that they were indeed completely full. Most of the teams signed up were well known veteran teams and a few of them were people I was unfamiliar with. One team stood out in particular... Ogawa/RF/Mike. This would be the first SBO qual they entered this year. I would be surprised if they didnt win this one. I played a couple matches of GG vs the Axl player 明, and this one gold dizzy player. I went 1-1 with Axl and beat the Dizzy 1-0. Then one of the TRF guys started fiddling with the cab and I didnt really feel like waiting around to play more so I figured I might as well just leave and go back to Vegas. On the way to Vegas, I got some more big mac action. When I got to Vegas, it was fucking dead. My phone was almost dead so I figured I could just at least play the computer for a bit and plug it into one of the outlets on the wall near the cabs to charge and hope someone shows up. Eventually some Sol scrub showed up and played the computer too and beat the game and then he started challening me with Sol and Ky and I beat him 10 games in a row without losing a round. At some point in there, one of the guys that works at Vegas saw my phone charging and just unplugs it from the wall and puts it on the cab next to me and says I cant do that. Kinda annoying since it wasnt really like bothering anyone sitting there but it got charged enough so whatever. Also, Mitsurugi came by at some point and just sits down at an empty cab and starts playing Slayer vs the computer... wtf... I was getting pretty tired, and just kind wanted to go home and rest and see Ryoko, so I figured I might as well just head back home.

I slept on the train and made it to Takasaki but then the next train from there to my town wasnt for another hour, so it took a total of 4 hours to get home. Crappy Gunma trains....

So... this weekend I will enter the Shinjuku sportsland tournament which is the block finals along with the Nakano TRF results. I will be teaming with Honyo and most likely Yuki. Theres a pretty high chance Ogawa's team will be at this one so my hopes arnt too high but im just gonna show up and play my best anyway.