Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Goodbye Party and Tokyo Game Show 2014

I'm just going to pick up roughly where I left off with the last post and go over the noteworthy events that took place from then until now. 

On Saturday, September 6th, we had my farewell party.  I headed to Tokyo that afternoon and hung out at Mikado for a bit playing casuals.  They had a tournament going on but my goodbye party was set to start at 8 PM and the tournament wouldn't finish on time.  So, I didn't enter, but I had fun playing casuals. 

After leaving Mikado, I headed to Shinjuku just before 8 pm.  I met up with Andy near the station and soon after ran into Emmet and his girlfriend, Kozue.  We headed to Bar Aqua Z (recently renamed Z RMX) where the party would be held.  I wanted to do it at PSY but it is simply too small for a large party with the number of people I was expecting.  We were the first ones there aside from Yappy, the owner.  Gradually over time, more and more people showed up.  We had somewhere just under 40 people there for the party by the end of the night.  A ton of really awsome friends showed up.  Most of them were all the old main regulars from back in the Rock Inn Current days.  A few other people I also know such as a few GG players (particularly, MIU came) and some other ALTs that I know also showed up.  In addition, all 3 of my wife's sisters came as well.  Unfortunately, my wife wasn't able to come and doesn't really like large parties with lots of people she doesn't know so she just ended up working over the weekend.  At one point I was called up to say a few words on the mic.  I kept it simple and thanked everyone for coming and basically said to just drink a ton and have fun.  I didn't wanna get all emotional and mushy.  Mogi also kept buying bottles of champagne and pouring them into pitchers and we were chugging them together.  In addition, I was drinking gigantic size beers the whole time so as it got late I was pretty smashed and the end of the night is a bit of a blur.  I had a great time talking with tons of awsome people though and never passed out or threw up or anything so overall, the party went great!  The only small problem was that at the end of the night, one of my wife's sisters couldn't find her purse.  We looked around but had no luck.  It turned out that Emmet's girlfriend accidentally took the wrong bag, so at least my wife's sister was able to get it back later.

The next afternoon when I woke up at the manga kissa, I was pretty tired.  I probably only slept for like 5 hours or something.  I was smoking a cigarette in the smoking area and this random foreign guy (I have no idea where he was from, maybe somewhere from the middle east or Mediterranean area) started randomly talking to me.  He claimed that he and I checked in around the same time but I had no recollection of it.  He then asked to bum a square so I gave him one (even though I only had 2 left) but then he broke it (and I dunno if it was on purpose or not) and gave it back to me saying that it was too strong for him and he realized he had his own pack and then he busted out an entirely full pack.  I was kinda annoyed but was too hung over to really give that much of a shit over one cigarette.  Still a little irritating though.

Anyway, I checked out after that and headed to Akihabara to play some Xrd casuals.  I met up with King of Heart there who was at the party the night before but left much earlier and didn't drink any alcohol.  I didn't stay very long though because I was just too hungover and tired to play well and just felt like going home.  So, I said goodbye and headed back home.

Skip ahead to a few uneventful days of recovery later.  I spent most of the next week getting our packages ready to be shipped back to Chicago and preparing to sell some of our furniture.  I spent the following weekend (Sept 12 - 14) in Gunma where I live.  I planned to just play some Xrd in my town.  Since Game Platon closed down, I hadn't played any GG in Gunma.  Those guys told me that they would be playing at M-1 Game Center in Maebashi from then on.  So, I went there on Saturday night at around 7 pm but not a single GG player was there.  The arcade was pretty dead over all.  I stuck around for a little bit and played some KoF 2000 casuals against this one random dude and lost (I don't really play KOF).  My friend Karl Kablisk messaged me saying that he was in Maebashi with his girlfriend visiting her parents and that he wanted to meet up.  So I told him to come to M-1.  He eventually showed up with his GF and her brother and friend of her brother.  Karl doesn't play Xrd since his character (TE) isn't in it so we played 12 games of +R.  After that, we decided to go to Round 1, which is like a huge entertainment / sports center.  Karl's GF's brother drove us all.

Round 1 is pretty cool and I sometimes go there with my wife to go bowling.  They have all kinds of stuff like batting cages, darts, billiards, basketball, archery, target shooting, and even some video games.  We did a whole bunch of various stuff.  We stayed for about 90 minutes.  When our time was up, we went to try the video game section but it was already closed down since it was late.  So, after that, I got dropped off back at M-1 where my bike was and headed home and drank with my wife for a bit at home. 

Skip ahead again about another week.  Once again the following weekdays were mainly just more preparation to leave Japan and playing some casual games at home and stuff.  This brings us to the most recent weekend at the time of typing this which was September 19th - 21st, and it was the weekend of the Tokyo Game Show. 

On Friday, the 19th, I headed to Tokyo again.  I decided to meet up with Emmet and our friend Nick who just recently returned to Japan after being gone for 2 years.  We met up at Nick's and pregamed quite a bit.  Nick had a ton of really good whiskey at his place and he was pouring it quite generously.  After drinking there for about an hour maybe, we headed to an international party.  I don't remember much about it that is worth mentioning.  We just drank and talked to people.  After it was over, we headed to PSY for a little bit.  It wasn't very busy but it was fun just chilling there.  Emmet and Nick left before the last train and I also left to go to the manga kissa shortly after.  Since TGS was to start at 10 the next morning, I wanted to get to bed early so that I could be there on time to enjoy the full day.

On Saturday, the 20th, I arrived at Tokyo Game Show just a few minutes after 10.  The line to get in wasn't very long.  As soon as I walked in the main hall, just to my right, I saw the Arc System Works booth.  They got a really great spot this year!  This was by far the largest Arc System Works booth that I have ever seen at TGS.  I believe this was my 4th or maybe 5th time going since I didn't go to TGS every single year since I moved here.  Without even giving it any thought, I immediately headed to the Arc booth and stood in line to try out console Xrd with the 2 new characters, Sin and Elphelt, for the first time.  The estimated waiting time was already set at 50 minutes.  There were a ton of people in line waiting to play.  They probably had something like 10 or more setups running Xrd for people to try out.  Nearly an hour later, I finally got to play.  You just had to fight whoever was next to you in line and you only got to play one match, 2/3 rounds, regardless if you won or lost.  I decided to pick Elphelt first and my opponent chose Sin.  I am sure that almost anyone who reads this blog has already seen footage of both of the new characters, so I won't go too much into specifics about how they play.  I will say though that I felt that Elphelt's play style was really fun to me personally.  She has good zoning capabilities and she has quite a unique and original play style with lots of cool tools and interesting stances.  I particularly like her grenade special attack.  One thing that I did get to see that hasn't surfaced in any footage so far online is her instant kill attack.  Unfortunately, I didn't record it, but I witnessed someone else do it.  She pulls a bullet out from between her cleavage, loads a rifle and shoots her opponent right in the forehead.  Then his head drops and he suddenly lifts his head back up and his eyes are now hearts and he is standing in a beautiful field, very much in love with Elphelt.  I thought it was a pretty humorous and cool IK.  Oh yea, and after playing they gave out free GGXrd tote bags and fans which was pretty cool.

Anyway, after I played, it was time to check out the rest of TGS.  I was checking Dustloop on my phone while standing in line and people were talking about how the special GG exhibition matches at the Madcatz booth already started.  I wanted to go to that but I didn't know it started so early.  By the time I saw that, I already invested too much time in line to give up my spot.  Unfortunately, when I finally made my way over to the Madcatz booth, the GGXrd stuff was already over and they were playing DoA.  I did at least get to see a bunch of people I know near there to say hi such as Xie, Junya, Justin Wong, Spooky, Nemo and some others.  I also got to meet the famous cosplayer, VampyBitMe who was dressed as Juri.  I got a photo with her and chatted with her for a couple of minutes.  She was a really nice person. 

In the same area as the Madcatz booth was all the merchandise booths for each company.  I found the Arc System Works merch booth and was hoping to buy one of the sweet Xrd shirts that they were selling.  Unfortunately they were out of all sizes except small and I wear a medium so I passed on it.  They told me that they will have a little more in stock tomorrow so I decided to try again first thing in the morning the next day. 

At some point around then I met up with King of Heart who didn't show up until a bit later.  We went back to the Xrd booth to stand in line to play again.  This time, they were queuing up a different line where you could fight one of the sexy Sol Badguy cosplay booth girls in the center area.  This line was actually much shorter than the other line so we seized the opportunity to get in it ASAP and this time we only had to wait like maybe 20 minutes to play.  You got to choose which of the booth girls you wanted to fight against between the 2 that were standing next to the stage set up (there were 5 Sol booth girls total but they rotated positions gradually throughout the day).  This time, I decided to try out Sin.  You can actually see my match trying out Sin right here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDmOYUqI0Z8.  I didn't really know what I was doing with the character obviously but I just was seeing how all his normals and specials worked and I was able to get his instant kill in at the end.  Overall, I really like the way that Sin plays, too.  He has a good variety of long range pokes and nice mobility options.  He also seems to do pretty good damage.  In all honesty, I could see myself subbing both Sin and Elphelt when the game hits consoles.  I'll never stop maining Faust, but I think when I move back to the states I will have some time to learn other characters as well.  It will be good for the local people I play with to help them learn matchups and will also give me something else fun to challenge myself with. 

After playing the match, I found Pachi standing near the booth and talked with him for a bit.  I just told him how I was leaving soon and thanked him for all the times we hung out back in the day and for making Xrd and stuff.  I told him I would like to drink with him again once more before I leave and he said he would be happy to but I honestly don't know if I will be able to find the time or not.  I also asked him about the tournament that would be going on tomorrow.  He announced in a video released on the 1st day of TGS where he demoed the new characters that there would be an Xrd tourney on the 21st.  Pachi said it would be held at the Sony Playstation booth and it was capped at 64 players, so I had to make sure I got there very early.  I thanked him for the info and then went off to walk around a bit more and stuff. 

Throughout the rest of the day I pretty much just enjoyed looked around at some other game trailers, checking out booth girls and cosplayers and watched some other Xrd casuals.  I recorded this one as well, which is actually being played on the PS3 version for those of you who have not seen footage of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-NFd90ho88.  I didn't even realize that it was being run on PS3 until after King of Heart pointed it out at the end of the match.  It looks pretty much identical to the arcade version so I think those of you who are worrying about the PS3 version not being up to par have nothing to worry about.  (Note: Both matches I actually got to play were on PS4 though, but still, I don't think the PS3 version will have any problems.)

After that, it was time to leave and TGS was closing up for the day.  On our way out, we passed a street performer outside of the TGS venue and he was playing Holy Orders (Ky's theme) on guitar!  He was pretty kick ass.  I recorded part of the song here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kyt_PaufJZI

From there, we headed to Mikado.  We figured we could make it on time for Mikado's weekly Saturday 3 on 3.  We got there just in time to get put into the brackets.  I teamed with King of Heart and we got placed with a rank 4 Faust player.  For our first match, we had to fight a team of 2 low level Slayers plus Rion, who is now a 14 rank Ky.  The Faust on our team went first and lost, then King of Heart went and lost.  I went last and beat both Slayers but then I lost to Rion.  It was fairly close though.  It was a double elim tournament though.  For our next match we had to fight Satou (MI) / Ain (KY) / FAB (PO).  Satou went first and he ended up OCVing us in the same order as we played in before.  It was kind of a bummer but oh well. 

I stuck around and played casuals till about 10 or 10:30.  I got on stream for a bit after the tournament and rematched Satou.  He beat me again but then I ran it back again and beat him.  Then I beat Roy and then beat Satou again.  Finally, FAB got on and wrecked me.  After that, I wanted to drink for a little because I can't fall asleep at the manga kissa early unless I have some drinks in me.  I headed out alone and went to PSY.

I probably forgot to mention but at this point, it would be my birthday in less than 2 hours (my birthday is September 21st).  Normally I would have a big drinking party or something but I just had my farewell party so it would seem weird, plus I wanted make the most of TGS, so it was just sorta bad timing for that sort of thing.  However, my old friend Mai from Current has the same birthday as me, and I knew that she would probably having some kind of celebration at the Shinjuku Rock Bars so I popped into PSY.  Sure enough, tons of people I know were there to celebrate her birthday.  Most of them realizing that it was actually my birthday as well, a lot of people bought me drinks and stuff and it was a ton of fun.  A lot of them were surprised to see me since we just had my farewell party 2 weeks ago but I told them that I wanted to get that done early since I didn't know when I would be able to see most of those people again (and there were still a lot of them that were not at PSY that night who were at my party, so I am really glad I did do it early).  So, for with some of the people, I got to drink with them one last time.  I made sure to go behind the bar at PSY and take a photo with the staff too before I left.  I left around 12 because I had to make sure that I got to the manga kissa before it got full or else I would be stuck out until like 5 am when the trains start running again and people start leaving, and if that was the case, I would be screwed as far as playing in the Xrd tournament at TGS.  I said goodbye to everyone one more time and headed to the manga kissa.  On the way there, just to make sure I had enough booze in me to fall asleep, I popped into the conbini and bought a bottle of whiskey.  They didn't have any of the small sized ones for some reason so I ended up just getting a 750 ml bottle and took a few quick swigs from it and kept the rest in my backpack.  Thankfully, I ended up being able to sleep well.

The next day I headed out after a quick shower and made it to TGS quite early.  I was told that they would be opening at 9:30 today when I inquired about the tournament at the Sony booth the day before.  This time, the line was in a different place to get in and it was LOOOOONG as hell.  I met up with King of Heart on the way there but we got separated at the station because it was crowded.  So I waited in line mostly by myself.  Eventually, after a long wait, I made it to the security check in.  In Japan, they are always so lazy about checking bags.  They just open them up, see what is on the very top of the main part and that's it.  In the US, they pat you down and search everything thoroughly.  Despite this fact, I still somehow managed to fail.  I totally had forgotten that the whiskey was in my bag and it was right on top because my bag was already so full from free stuff I got yesterday.  So, the chick who checked my bag said, no alcohol allowed and confiscated it from me.  I was a little salty about that but I had no choice.  I wasn't going to let anything stop me from getting into the Xrd tournament. 

After what seemed like eternity (it was actually about an hour) I got into the main hall.  I immediately headed to the Sony booth.  I found the person who was doing registration.  They simply gave out a numbered card that was proof that you entered though they didn't bother to take down any information.  I was number 49 out of 64!  A little bit of a close call but I managed to make it in!  After that, I headed to the Arc System Works merchandise booth where I was able to successfully get a medium size shirt!  The waiting paid off! 

So far everything seemed like it was going great.  I killed some more time watching Xrd casuals and walking around since the tournament was set to start at 12:45.  Eventually, King of Heart made it in and he said he was able to register at like number 58 or something like that out of 64.  Once it was almost time for the tournament to start, I headed to the Sony booth again.  A few GG players I knew were already there waiting.  King of Heart was speculating that this tournament would be free because no one good would bother coming.  I told him that I highly doubted that.  It turns out I was correct, because out of the 64 people there, about two 3rds of them were Mikado regulars.  I was totally fine with this and welcomed the competition, but the next thing I found out did not make me happy.  One of the guys asked me if I can play on pad, and I said, no... why?  It turns out that the entire tournament was to be held on PS4 pads!  Nooooooooo...........  (is what I thought in my mind right after finding that out).  I pretty much never play GG on pad, ever, but I figured I could just make the most of it and hoped that most other people sucked on pad too (and most of the people I asked about it to also did say they suck on pad).  I can do most basic combos and stuff on pad but doing FDC cancels isn't even worth trying.  I would probably do random YRC or Blitz Shield or something on accident if I bothered to try, so my game plan was just to keep it simple. 

Before the tournament started, there was the finals of a previous tournament that was held there earlier for some Drive Club racing game.  I had little to no interest in it and it took forever.  They had the 4 finalists race against real pro race car drivers.  It would have been fine, but it just dragged on and on with too much talking and stuff, and I was just tired of standing all day. 

Anyway, eventually it was time for Xrd.  The format for this tournament was nothing like I had ever seen before.  They had 16 PS4 setups for the tournament, all on pad only.  Based on your card number, you were told to stand at one of the stations.  Since there are 16 setups, obviously only 32 (or half of the total players) would be able to play right away.  The other half had to wait in line.  I was one of the ones who had to wait.  At the start of the tournament, everyone who was playing or standing in line was given a paper GGXrd medal to wear around their neck.  Once they said to start, the rest of the tournament was timed and the people who were on the setups started playing.  If you won your match, you got to stay on and you received the paper medal from your opponent.  If you lost, you gave up the medal and went back in the line and got a new medal to try again.  Eventually after waiting in line, I got to play.  My first opponent was Endo (CH).  I did OK against him but I lost.  The main thing that screwed me was when he was attacking me and I timed a scalpel kancho super reversal perfectly, but my double 236 motion didn't register on pad and I got pogo and he hit me out of it which was a big turning point.  So, I was sent back in line and lost my medal.  For my next match after waiting, I had to fight Kedako.  I was pretty sure I was going to lose but I ended up winning!  From that point on, for the duration of the entire tournament, I never lost another match!  When time up was called, I had 14 wins and 1 loss, so I had 14 of those paper medals.  I was pretty sure I did fairly well. 

When it was over, they asked everyone to count up their medals.  It turned out that 14 was just short of enough to qualify to advance.  In the end, the top 3 finishers who advanced to the stage finals were Rion (KY), Ain (KY) and Nage (FA). 

I just wanna say that while this system was kind of fun and interesting in it's own way, it was also pretty damn unfair.  The players who had cards that were 1 - 32 were able to start earlier than everyone else and had a huge advantage because they had more time to get more medals.  Also, some opponents took longer to make their way up to you to fight you or select characters and stuff or change buttons, and it also reduced the amount of time you got to get wins.  Even if I had won EVERY match, I probably still wouldnt' have made top 3 because everyone else who got top 3 didn't lose a match either, but they started earlier so they got to play more matches.  I felt a little screwed over but I realize that the main point of the tournament was to promote and market the game and draw hype, and it was also free to enter, so I can't really complain, but I still feel a little salty about it since I actually did well... on pad...

Anyway, I'll stop bitching now.  The top 3 finishers went up on stage and then 3 special guests were also called to the stage, and they were FAB (PO), Hasegawa (IN), and Gazou (FA), all of which placed very high at Arc Revo Cup, with Gazou being the 1st place champ.  I don't know exactly why they chose FAB or Hasegawa over say, Nage, who got 2nd place actually and entered the regular tournament, but perhaps it was his own personal decision.  It doesn't really matter since at this point it was more of just an exhibition with the chance to win some prizes.  Each of the 3 finalist fought one of the 3 special guests.  Rion lost to FAB while Ain defeated Hasegawa and Nage beat Gazou (in a runback from Arc Revo finals.)  Nage and Ain won so they were able to win a prize.  There were 3 prizes total and each of them would only get one of them decided by drawing a random card.  The prizes were GGXrd PS4 version, the new GGXrd official arcade stick, and a brand new PS4.  Nage drew first and was unlucky to get GGXrd which was the cheapest prize.  Ain got super lucky and got the PS4!  Finally after that, Pachi played an exhibition match showing off each of the new characters.  He used Sin vs FAB and Elphelt against Gazou.  You can see all 5 matches here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPVJfUwkHlY and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHPesijN_wo.  After seeing Pachi play those matches, it made me really see more of the potential that each character had, especially Sin.  The way he used the special cancels and followed up combos with Sin's pole vault command jump move to keep pressure going was really cool.  Pachi barely lost to FAB and seemed pretty salty.  The match vs Gazou seemed less serious as Gazou was just trying to kancho Elphelt as much as he could, but they were both entertaining and showed off the characters more which was the whole point. 

So, despite the unbalanced tournament rules and it being on pad, the event its self was done well as far as a means of marketing the game and drawing hype, which is really important.  Given how many people were waiting in line to play Xrd at TGS and how many I saw walking around with those free tote bags you got after playing, I can tell that this game is going to be VERY popular and sell quite well.  So, here's looking forward to a bright future for the GG series and the competitive scene. 

I left after the tournament was over since it was my birthday, I wanted to spend some time with my wife.  King of Heart decided to leave too.  Before getting on the train, I decided that I wanted to try and get that whiskey bottle back because, damnit, it's mine!  So, I returned to where I first entered and found the security check in area.  They had all of the confiscated items in clear plastic boxes so you could see what was inside.  Sure enough, there was my nearly full bottle of whiskey.  I told the guards what happened in the morning and they simply believed me and just gave me back the bottle, no questions asked!  I was absolutely shocked how easy it was!  Happy birthday to me!  I got on the train after that and rode with King of Heart as far as Tokyo Station where we parted ways.

I knocked back like 10, 350 ml cans of beer on the train on the way home.  I made it home around 8 pm and I went out for yakiniku and lots of drinks with Ryoko.  After that, the 2 of us went to do some karaoke together for a few hours.  The place we went to was really small and didn't care if you brought your own drinks, and I just happened to have that whiskey bottle on me, so we ended up finishing nearly the entire bottle together while doing karaoke.  They had free soft drinks and among them was apple slurpees so I was mixing it with that, and it was good as hell!  I didn't  remember walking  home when I got up the next morning, Ryoko played me a recording of me rambling drunk on the way home which was pretty hilarious.  All in all, it was a really fun day though so I can say I had a good birthday. 

And with that, I will go ahead and conclude this really long blog post.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Japan Gamer's Live - Arc Revo Cup Finals 2014

It has been exactly one week since I last posted on here.  A lot has gone on in that one week.  On Friday, August 29th, there wasn't anything in particular going on in Tokyo, so I stayed home and had a nice night out with my wife.  We went to a nice fusion dining restaurant and got like an 8 course meal and drank a bunch of alcohol.  It was a great night. 

I got up at a reasonable time on Saturday morning to head out to Tokyo Big Sight where the Arc Revolution Cup final event would be held as part of a larger event called Japan Gamers Live.  Unfortunately, tickets to get a seat in the crowd area for Arc Revo were already sold out when I tried to buy them a few days before the event.  I was too focused on actually winning qualifiers up until recently that I didn't bother thinking of buying a seat ticket until it was too late.  Luckily, they had a free open area in the very back.  I wasn't sure how full it would get so I made sure to get there at about an hour before the actual Arc Revo part of the event started.  When I got there, there was a small line waiting outside to get in.  Just as I entered the line, they started letting everyone in right away.  They gave away free double sided fans with GGXrd/BB characters on them as well as some character post cards and a program guide that had the brackets and player information.  It turned out that there was plenty of space inside the free area.  They had no chairs but at least you could see the stage and the 3  giant screens displayed above the stage very clearly, so it was all good.  I had some time to kill so I chatted with some US BB players that were there and had a smoke outside etc while I waited.  The venue space was a little smaller than last year's Arc Revo finals but overall it was set up nicely and was done very professionally with (almost) no major problems.  After a few words to open the event, they started off by just running the first round for all 3 games (GGXrd, BBCP, P4U) all at the same time.  They had one screen showing a match for each game all going at the same time, though there were several other cabs for each game with other matches going on as well, so not every game was shown on the screens.  They also took turns featuring which game the announcers would focus on but each game got a chance to be in the spot light.  Naturally, since BB was a 2 on 2 tournamnet, it took longer to finish up the first round of the bracket than GG or P4U, so that one went last. 

After the first round ended, I chilled with some of the US BB players a little bit in the hall way.  Also, there was another section of the venue that had some games you could try to play for free next to the merchandise selling area.  Among those games was the PS4 version of GGXrd.  I hadn't had a chance to try the console version yet until now so I decided to just try it out.  The line was short to play since most people who care about GG were in the main Arc Revo area at this point.  The people in line in front of me didn't want to play against me so I just played one match against the computer.  The game was being run on giant laggy Sony TVs so of course there was a little lag but I am sure they game runs perfectly when being played using proper equipment.  Otherwise, the game seems exactly the same as the arcade version for the most part.  I didn't have time to really mess with other modes but one nice thing was that you can set your buttons at the character select screen and it is really quick and easy, so no more button checks at GG tournaments come December.  I could have played longer but one match vs the computer was enough to give me a taste of what to expect.  The game will be available to play at TGS with Sin and the newly announced character, Elphelt, and if I can make it to TGS this year I certainly plan to try them out in more detail.  I also got another free fan for playing!

After the short break, the Arc Revo brackets resumed into the 2nd round of the bracket, or top 16.  They had large brackets for each game updated out in the hallway so it was easy to see who was eliminated off stream.  The announcers also mentioned it as well.  When I went inside the hall again, I ran into King of Heart, a foreign GG player who I originally met during the Xrd loketests, so we watched the rest of the stuff together.  The next phase pretty much went just like the 1st one with all 3 games going on at once and each game getting its turn in the spot light.  As the event was streamed and I imagine there are a lot of vids or at least there probably will be, I won't bother going into detail about each match.  The full brackets are also available online so it would be easier to just look at them rather than me typing it all out.  Once the top 16 ended, there was another short break.

I chilled a bit again during the break and then when things started up again, they did the top 8 for all 3 games one at a time, showing every single match.  The order went P4U, GGXrd, BB.  Top 3 in P4A all ended up being Kuma (Teddy) players.  I stopped playing Persona a long time ago but when I did play it briefly, I used Kuma, so it was kinda entertaining to watch since it was a character I sorta knew, though I have yet to even try Suplex Hold and haven't been paying attention to it at all so there were also a lot of new things I didn't recognize. The only major problem that happened with the event was during the finals of P4U and that was when one of the players had a button stop working so they had to stop the match and run it back from the start of the previous round which delayed things a bit.  Also, throughout the tournament, one of the card readers on the main cab wasn't working properly so sometimes people had to play without their card. 

Anyway, as I am sure you all probably know, GGXrd top 8 results were
1. Gazou (Faust)
2. Nage (Faust)
3. Uki (Sol Badguy)
3. Hasegawa (I-No)
5. FAB (Potemkin)
5. Tejinashi (Faust)
5. Toruso (Millia)
5. Daiji (Ramlethal)

Though I am absolutely not trying to talk down on any players, I must say that I was surprised to see Uki and Tejinashi get top 8.  They are just simply players that are not as well known and I just wouldn't have expected them to get so far given how many other killers were amongst the 32 finalists, but huge props to them for getting so far.  Also huge props to FAB (as always) for getting so far with Potemkin and putting on such a great performance.  Given that he is using the worst character in the game, he really pulled off some amazing stuff.  People have already mentioned a lot by now that there were 3 Faust players in top 8, with top 2 both being Faust players.  I honestly was not happy to see this because now Faust will most likely get nerfed in the next version.  There is no doubt that Faust is absolutely top tier, but so are Zato and Ramlethal (and depending on who you ask, Sol and Millia) so I just hope that in future rebalances, they just don't single out Faust alone with the nerf hammer simply because of these results.  I'm not saying he should be buffed by any means, but if they do eventually rebalance the game (which won't be for quite some time I am sure) I would rather see them buff weaker characters instead of nerf Faust really bad. 

Anyway, I honestly was expecting Nage to take the whole thing, but Gazou stepped it up and won 2-0 and he deserves the victory for sure. 

Finally, they ran BB top 8.  I watched the whole thing and it was fairly entertaining.  I don't really play BB much, just a little bit online from time to time since I can't really play at arcades on weeknights, but I respect the game and the scene and think that CP is one of the best iterations of the game for sure.  I was mainly hoping to see a Dogura vs Gallileo runback from EVO the entire time and I got my wish.  This time, as you all know, Dogura was able to get his revenge.  I really respect Gallileo as a player after seeing his amazing performance at EVO but I also had to kinda root for Dogura/NO seeing as how they are GG veterans. 

Once everything was over, and the players gave their speeches and got their prizes. Gazou got the best prize of all, a new PS4.... though compared to EVO prizes it doesn't seem like much.  Given the fact that Japan can't legally give large cash prizes, its all good.  The real prize is the glory of victory and being the champion, and that is something no amount of money could ever buy anyway.

After that finished, everyone started heading outside.  I stood off to the side with King of Heart and some of the US BB players.  There was a discussion about what was going on next and Junya (a BB player) mentioned that they would probably be going to the BB after party.  Even though I have gone to the GG one after SBO and stuff almost every year, for some reason it completely slipped my mind this time, so I was glad he reminded me.  I figured I would just wait for someone I know to walk by and ask them.  Sure enough, after a few minutes, good ol' Osaka B was heading our way so I asked him about the party.   He said it was being organized by Taka (SL) so he said to follow him as he went to try to find Taka.  King of Heart followed me and the BB guys sorta just ran off to the conbini to get booze so I never saw them again after that.  After walking a bit, we eventually did find Taka and he said it was totally fine to add us to the list.  I asked how many people were already on the party list and he said like 90!  He said there was still room for me and King of Heart to join though so we headed out with a giant group of GG players and all boarded the train together.   On the train, we also ran into another foreign player from China (I think... or it was somewhere near that area of the world... sorry) who wanted to get Woshige's autograph.  He had no interest in joining the drinking party but he wanted to tag along so I told Taka and it was OK for him to do so.  We talked a bit with other players about various stuff on the train ride as well. 

Eventually, we made it to Takadanobaba which is where the izakaya where the party was going to be held was.  When we arrived, most people were already there.  It was pretty insane how many players there were there!  There were a few random seats open scattered around the room so I sat at one of the tables that had 2 open seats next to each other so that King of Heart could sit with me.  I asked the dudes sitting there if it was cool and they were all super friendly and were like "yes, please sit down, sensei!"  I didn't really know any of the guys at that particular table very well but they all knew who I was and some of them were even saying stuff like "Please teach me Faust!"  One of the guys was super nice and ordered us some drinks as soon as we sat down.  I actually had been drinking all day.  I had a couple of beers on the train on the way to Arc Revo and then I brought a full flask of rum into the event that I was sipping on throughout the entire tournament.  I finished it by the time we left Big Sight but at this point I hardly even had much of a buzz anymore. 

Once the final people all got their seats, a few people gave some short speeches, such as Nage and some others.  A little bit after that, Gazou showed up and everyone gave him a bit round of applause and he gave a victory speech as well.  Then suddenly, an idea struck me.  I had not planned on doing this at all, but shortly after Gazou finished his speech, I walked up to the front area where he was and asked if I could please have everyone's attention to just say a few words while they still hadn't gotten into another deep conversation again yet.  I got the attention of mostly the whole room.  I simply told everyone that in about one month from now, I would be looking for a new job in the US and that I would be moving back to Chicago for good.  I told them that I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank them all for a great 7 years of playing together.  I didn't want to make a huge deal out of it but didn't really know if I would ever have a chance to thank them all before I left at an easier time, so I just kept it short.  As soon as I said I was leaving, a chorus of "Eeeehhh???!!!" echoed across the room (which is the sound Japanese people make when they are surprised by something.)  As I walked back to my seat, everyone started chanting "E-le-ven! E-le-ven!" over and over, and they were all raising their glasses to toast with me.  I honestly wasn't expecting anything like that and was overwhelmed by how kind everyone was.  I honestly just wanted to thank them and let them know I was leaving.  When I first came to Japan, a lot of people had no idea who I was.  Many of them even laughed thinking I must just be some scrubby foreign player.  Of course, others were very friendly right from the start.  Over my 7 years here though, I can honestly say that I am glad to know that I managed to gain the respect of almost the entire GG community, and so many people know who I am that I don't even know.  I may not have ever qualified for the final event at any SBO or Arc Revo, and there are TONS of players who are still way better than me here, but I am just happy that all of my effort over the past 7 years as far as GG goes, was not a waste of time.  At that moment, I felt like I actually did accomplish something, and I wasn't just some scrubby American living here.  Though any respect that get from most of these guys, they deserve a ton more considering how hard they worked to get to the level they are at in GG.  I am just happy to have been part of such a great scene for 7 years. 

As the night went on, I ate some good food and drank some more drinks.  Several players came up to me and talked to me about various things such as why I am leaving and saying that they were going to miss me and that they hope to play me again before I leave.  Even players who I thought looked down on me actually gave me props and said they are sad to see me go.  Later on in the night, Kawin, who now works for Arc System Works (previously known in my blog as Spikey Hair Potemkin and also goes by the name Akira but is not the same as Axl Akira) showed up at the party.  He came and sat next to me for a while and he was talking to me and King of Heart about a lot of stuff.  I told him that when I go back to the states, I am going to do everything I can to promote GGXrd and build up the US scene.  I told him about Frosty Faustings and stuff and said how I plan to travel a lot.  I plan to teach new players as much as I can about how to play Xrd and help people understand the game.  He said he might see me at Evolution since he wants to go as long as Xrd is a main game (which I am sure it will be.)  We discussed how overall, most people seem to agree about how they handled Xrd's design and changes from previous versions.  He also agreed that he wishes that they could add more characters but he says all of the staff are aware of the demand for more characters and are doing their best to get more characters in the game in the future.  This, of course, is a general statement and I have no details about anything in particular so don't take this as some kind of announcement.  He pretty much was just stating what has already been said in countless interviews, but from talking to him, I could honestly tell that they do see it as a real issue that needs to be addressed and they really want to work hard to see Xrd grow more and more over time.  It was nice talking to him about it and I can honestly tell he and the rest of the staff care about GG and keeping the game true to the roots, so I know that the series is in good hands.

Throughout the night, I talked to a bunch of other people but I won't go into detail about every conversation I had with every person because it would just get redundant and too long, but basically it was a really awsome party and one of my best memories here in Japan.

The party ended at 11:45 and lasted 2 hours total.  Most people were heading out after that, so I decided I would just go head to Shinjuku to drink at PSY and Aqua Z before the trains stopped running.  King of Heart rode the train with me but went home, so I headed to the bars alone.  The bars were full of people I knew though so it was a good night.  PSY was having a special Jagermeister night and everyone was wearing orange Hawaiian leis around their necks that the staff was giving out.  Also, Michi was there wearing a bright orange Jager top that showed tons of cleavage and was chilling behind the bar with the rest of the staff.  A nice older Japanese guy who looked maybe in his late 50s or 60s was there and he bought me a free drink right away simply because I was from the US and he used to live in LA.  In addition to that, the staff was giving out TONS of free Jager shots.  I got 4 free shots the entire time I was at PSY and a free beer.  It was pretty insane!  I had fun talking to various people I knew there as well. 

After a little more time, I headed to Aqua Z because this was the last night that my friend Heidi would be in Japan where I could say goodbye as she would be leaving a few days later.  I also wanted to talk to the owner, Yappy, about my farewell party that would be held there next week.  A lot of people I knew were at Aqua Z as well.  I worked out the party details with Yappy and played a bunch of games of darts as well with some people there.  There was this one guy who was super good and was kicking everyone's ass every game but it was still fun.  When I was saying goodbye to Heidi, I was sitting at an empty seat at the bar that someone was sitting at earlier but they seemed to be gone at the moment.  Suddenly, some random dude comes back and taps me on the shoulder, and I was like "Oh sorry man, was this your seat? Here you go." and I stood up and gave him his seat back.  So then I was still talking to Heidi and the guy interrupts basically being like "Yo, who the hell are you?" and he was like accusing me of hitting on her, LOL!  I've known Heidi for nearly 7 years and shes a good friend of mine, and this guy who I have never seen in my life comes up to me acting like Mr. White Knight or something when all I was trying to do was say goodbye to my friend before we both leave Japan.  I try to explain calmly the situation and he just accuses me of trying "one-up" him and that I am turning this into a competition.  Basically, I just laughed it off and finished saying goodbye to Heidi and said, go ahead dude, talk to her all you want.  After that, I played a few more games of darts and once the guy confirmed with Heidi that I was telling the truth he tried to apologize but it didn't come off as being very sincere at all but I didn't really care. Eventually I went back to PSY where I had fun talking to Chip and some other people and drank until like 7:00 AM.  Once PSY closed, I went to bed.

The next day, I had no plans except to get in as many Xrd casuals as I could.  I headed to Akihabara to play.  King of Heart wanted to join me so I sent him a message and he met me there.  Another guy I know named Alex showed up to hang out as well.  We played back and forth between Club Sega and Hey.  There were some really strong players there as well as some weak ones.  It was a good mix of levels though and there was plenty of competition.  I got a ton of matches in and had a good time.  I played until about 10 PM and then I had to get the last train back home.

The next day on Monday, I actually had a lot of work to do.  Ryoko's visa interview was scheduled for the following day, (Tuesday, Sept 2nd) and we had to make sure we got all of the final documents in order and practiced the interview questions that they might ask. 

On Tuesday, we got up at like 4:30/5:00 AM because we needed to take the shinkansen all the way to the US Embassy all the way from where we live in Gunma.  Her appointment was at 8:30 AM and we managed to get there about 40 minutes early.  We had a lot of trouble sleeping the night before and were really exhausted but we were running on pure adrenaline and coffee so we were OK for the time being. 

When we got to the station near the embassy, we found a locker and put all the stuff they don't allow you to bring inside in the locker.  We got to the main entrance and thankfully there were only a few people in line waiting to get inside before us.  They checked our name off the reservation list and we made it through security with no issues.  Once we got inside, we got our number assigned and sat down in the waiting area.  Ryoko was super nervous but I told her to just relax.  Interviews are not done in a private room, but rather the waiting area simply has several windows that you walk up to and talk to one of the staff, sorta like a bank teller window with thick glass separating you but there are microphones and a space to slide documents through.  The first time we were called up, we submitted all of our documents.  In our case, we had to bring ALL of the documents required with us, since we got expedited through the National Visa Center phase of the process.  Without boring you with too many details, basically you have to send in 2 giant, thick packets of documents and information but since the NVC is so backed up right now they never even looked at our stuff that we sent before we were (luckily) granted an expedite, so we had to make new copies of everything and bring them all to the interview ourselves, so I had like this gigantic stack of papers that weighed a ton.  We submitted the documents, sat down, and then they called us back and told us all of our documents were in perfect order!  They called Ryoko back again and took her finger prints.  Finally, they called us back to another window for the actual interview questions.  The interviewer told me that I had to go sit back down and she had to answer everything her self.  All of the questions were asked in English and Ryoko's English is not exactly amazing... but we practiced so, after being asked about 15 different questions, he gave the thumbs up and said our visa was approved!  I could sorta hear her responses from where I was sitting and was watching them the whole time.  As soon as he approved it I could tell, and this huge feeling of relief and accomplishment struck me. I doubt most of you know how complicated, long and stressful applying for a spouse immigrant visa actually is, but let's just say it was a HUGE pain in the ass and knowing that we finally had finished the long, grueling process was a huge weight off my back. Ryoko came walking back to where I was with a huge grin on her face and we were good to go!  She said that the man told her that they would mail her passport back to us in about a week with the visa inside of it, and with that, we were free to go for the day!

It turned out that they didn't need to keep the majority of the documents we submitted so I took them back with us and we got my backpack out of the locker and I put them all in the bag.  At this point it was only just past 10 AM (so the whole thing only took like less than 2 hours!) and so we had the whole day to do whatever we wanted in Tokyo.  All 3 of Ryoko's sisters live in Tokyo so we decided to try and spend some time with them.  One of her sisters, Naoko, works near Tokyo Station, so we went to her building and had lunch with her at an all you can eat buffet and it was pretty good.  After that, we went to Ueno and grabbed some drinks while we shopped a bit.  Ryoko found a store that sold bags / purses / brief cases and had a sale that everything was marked down to 3,000 yen from prices that were originally like 20,000 yen and stuff.  I dunno how legit this was but either way, I found a really nice brief case for cheap that was clearly at LEAST worth more than that and I needed a new one anyway so I got it.  She picked up a purse for herself (which she didn't need cuz she already has like 50) and one for her sister, Reiko, whose birthday it actually was on that day, so it was worth going there. 

After shopping, we contacted Reiko and she said she wanted to meet up with us later.  We had a little time to kill, so Ryoko and I went to Ueno Zoo.  It was only about an hour before closing time, so we only ended up being able to see about half of the animals there, but it was still kinda fun.  I had never been there before and Ryoko loves animals so why not, right?  Towards the end though, her feet were killing her and she was getting murdered by mosquitoes so we left when they closed and headed back to Ueno Station where we met up with Reiko. 

We headed to Kanda and went to a restaurant called Devil Craft.  I don't remember if I have ever mentioned it before, but this place is a Chicago deep dish pizza restaurant in Japan and they also have about 16 craft brews on tap!  The prices are quite high and the pizza isn't QUITE as good as real Chicago deep dish (being from Chicago I am allowed to say that) but the guys who own it (they are from California) do a pretty damn good job and the beer selection is amazing.  Reiko really loved Chicago deep dish pizza ever since she tried it when she visited Chicago for our US wedding so she was really happy.  Their other sister Makiko also joined us there later on.  We drank a lot and had a some good pizza and talked for a while.  Reiko liked her present and we had a fun time.  I was glad to see the Ryoko got to spend some more time with her sisters since we will be leaving Japan soon. 

Eventually, it was time for us to head back to Gunma.  We said goodbye and had some more drinks on the train on the way home.  Overall, it was a very tiring but really fun and successful day! 

At the time of typing this, it is now Thursday and we already got her passport with the visa back a few hours ago in the mail!  So, with that, we can officially leave Japan at any time and go back to Chicago.  Ryoko had a friend who is having a wedding in early October here in Japan and wants to go to it, and we still have a lot of things to take care of before we leave here, but I probably only have roughly a month or so left before leaving Japan at this point.

In any case, it has been a great week and I am looking forward to my farewell party and will do my best to make the most of my final time here.  I will post again on this blog before I leave.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Losing at Games, Winning at Life

Well, it's been several weeks since I last posted anything on here.  I guess you can say a lot of things have happened since then, but quite frankly, I just simply haven't had the time to sit down and type about it.  As a result, a lot of the finer details are kind of lost in the mix.  I'm gonna go ahead and just kinda summarize a few things.

Well, I am unemployed now.  I finished the contract on my job on July 31st.  The last day was nice.  I passed out a bunch of treats I bought for everyone since it is pretty customary to give gifts in this sort of situation in Japan to thank your co-workers for the time you worked together.   I had lunch with my whole division at a good restaurant on the 31st floor of the Kencho where I work.  They insisted on paying for my meal.  I had to give several farewell greetings to various other divisions in the building and spent most of the day just cleaning out my desk and stuff.  My last task before leaving was to give a final farewell speech to the people in my division, and once it was over my supervisor walked me to the elevator, shook my hand and thanked me and I was out and that was it.  It felt both like being free but I was also kinda sad at the same time.  The sadness was a mix of knowing I would never really go back there again even though work isn't usually exactly fun (though it did have some really enjoyable moments and I had some good memories working there for 2 years) but I was also sad because I knew I would now no longer be getting a pay check again for quite some time since at that point, I had no idea how much longer it would still be until my wife's US visa process was all finished and then there is still the actual act of finding a new job.  Later that night, I "celebrated" my last day with Ryoko and we drank some good alcohol and had a good night.

That upcoming weekend, there were 2 more Arc Revo Cup qualfiers near or around Tokyo that I wanted to go to.  We had plans to work at a festival (which I will talk more about later) and the festival would begin on Sunday, August 3rd, which was the day of one of the qualifiers, so I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it.  I still had plans to go on Saturday, the 2nd, though.  Without getting into too much detail, it turns out that I was needed to help buy some supplies the day before, so it was looking like I would be unable to go to the tournament on Saturday either.  However, we worked it out so that I could still go since I honestly really wasn't needed to go buy a few things at the store.  So, on Saturday the 2nd, I got up and headed out to the tournament which was to be in Yokohama, which is over a 3 hour train ride from where I live now (about an hour farther than central Tokyo).  On my way there, about half way, I was playing 3DS and I noticed that the train hadn't moved for quite a while.  They said there was a delay due to something happening on a different line that ended up backing our train up.  They said that they had no idea how long the delay would last so I just kept waiting hoping that it might be moving at any time.  Eventually, I realized that time was running a bit short.  I checked alternate train routes but even if I was to take the bullet train, it seemed that I would not be able to make it on time to the tournament by 2:00 pm which is when it was scheduled to start.  So, I had no choice but to just wait a bit longer on the train I was on.  Eventually, it got to the point where I would no longer be able to make it by 2.  I called the arcade and told them that I would be able to make it by 2:30 (if I was to take a different train) and they said that it was too late and that I wouldn't be able to enter.  So, having been screwed over by Japan Railways, I just cut my loses and headed back the way I came.  Since I now couldn't enter the tournament, I went all the way back to Minakami (where I used to live and where my wife's family lives) and met up with my wife and her dad to help buy supplies.  We went to a store or 2 and picked up a few things we would need for the festival like syrup, cups, straws, etc, but for most of the time, it didn't really seem like it mattered if I was there or not.  Later on though, we ended up finding out that the fridge we always use was busted so we had to get the one from my father-in-law's convenient store and carry it to the location.  At least I proved useful for that task so in a way, I felt good that I could be there.  I would have gone there anyway after the tournament ended but I guess this helped them make things go a bit more smoothly.  Perhaps it was a bit selfish of me to go to the tournament in the first place, and I actually had already decided I wouldn't but my wife said I should at the last minute since she said she could handle getting the stuff.  In the end, I think it worked out for the best.  Once we finished setting everything up in preparation for the next day, we went back to my wife's parents' house and had dinner and drinks.

So, I think I probably mentioned it before in my blog but what we do at this particular festival, Numata Matsuri, is run a shaved ice stand.  Sorta like a cross between a snow cone and a slurpee.  This was our 5th year in a row running it.  Usually my father-in-law is in charge of it but this year we were short on help and he had to work mostly, so he told us that if Ryoko and I ran the whole thing ourselves for the whole time, we would be able to keep a large chunk of the profits.  This was something I knew in advance and was fine with.  I just didn't know he needed us to get supplies with him until the day before because he wasn't even sure if it was gonna happen at all due to not having enough help this year.  But anyway, Ryoko and I ran the shaved ice stand the entire duration of the festival (3 days) and everything went really well.  We had a little help from some people but we were pretty much working non-stop.  It isn't exactly brutal work but there are a lot of things to take care of and the festival goes from like noon until 10 pm so it was a bit tiring at times.  I wasn't even able to drink anything the first day of the festival since it was so busy, but the next 2 days were not as busy so I got to relax a bit more.  I also got visited by some friends which was nice.  In the end, we made a bunch of money even after paying for expenses and help and splitting it 3 ways with her father, so it was really a good experience and took a load off my back financially, so from that point on I was much less worried about not having a job.  Don't get me wrong, we have plenty of savings, but I already sent most of it back to the states so I didn't really want to tap into it unless aboslutely necessary.

The day after the festival ended, we cleaned up and headed back home after having stayed at her parents' place for like 4 nights in a row.  I was about ready to go home.  In addition to that, my younger brother, Tony, arrived in Japan.  You may remember Tony as "Mr. Chu-hi" from my blog posts from Spring Break 2010.  Those posts were pretty long, but if you've never read them before, I strongly suggest doing so as they will give you the whole rundown about "Mr. Chu-hi". 

Anyway, Tony visited us for 2 whole weeks and stayed with us the entire time.  He wanted to visit Japan one last time until we moved back to the US.  During that 2 week period, we did a lot of stuff and went to a lot of places like the famous temples in Nikko, festivals, fireworks shows, karaoke party, drinking at Tokyo bars, and various other places.  I won't get into too much detail about them all because this blog post would end up just being longer than I feel like typing and probably longer than most of you would feel like reading.  One noteworthy day though, which was Friday, August 15th, Tony and I were taking the train to Fuji-Q Highland, which is a pretty big amusement park in Japan,  which you may remember from the blogpost "Punk Rockers, Anime Otaku, and Rollercoasters (#27)" in which I went there before like 5 years ago.  Ryoko didn't go because she had work and doesn't really like rollercoasters much.  Anyway, the trip to Fuji-Q is nearly a 5 hour train ride from where I live, and on the way there, something amazing happened!  I got an email suddenly from the Tokyo US Embassy and Ryoko's visa case was officially expedited!  I sent a request for one a few weeks prior but I honestly wasn't expecting anything to happen, but just like that, I now had some clarity and direction about when we might be able to come back to the US!  It was a HUUUGE weight suddenly lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time in months, I was finally able to feel optimistic about the future and was actually able to start planning things again!  The rest of the day at Fuji-Q mostly consisted of standing in line... alot.  Just like last time, most of the rollercoasters had nearly 4 hour long lines just to ride once.  Since our last train back was at about 9:30 pm, we were only able to ride 2 whole rides the entire time, but they were pretty great.  We rode Takabisha and Eijanaika (the later I rode last time but the former it was a first time).  Both rides hold world records.  Feel free to google about them.  Anyway, on the way out of the park, we ran into my old friend Karl Kablisk, a long time Guilty Gear player living in Japan, who I am sure I have mentioned on my blog at some point before.  He was with his girlfriend.  Neither of us realized the other party was at the park that day but we decided to ride the train back to Tokyo together.  We loaded up on some drinks at the convenient store before getting on the train and had a nice long chat about random stuff on the train on the several hour ride back.  Tony and I were unable to make it all the way back to where I live at such a late hour so we just decided to stay in Shinjuku and drink at rock bars all night.  Karl and his girlfriend were tired so they went home.  It was a good night either way. 

On the very last day before Tony was ready to leave, which was Sunday, August 17th, there was another Xrd qualifier going on.  The first one since the weekend where I had to miss them both.  Of course, I had planned to go, but it turned out that it was only a tournament for people who were born after 1989.  I hadn't looked at the rules carefully until like a day or 2 before so I didn't realize it.  I was pretty bummed since I missed the last 2 and now also couldn't attend this one.  So, this meant that there was only the last chance qualifer remaining.  I sure as hell wasn't going to let anything stop me from going to that one.  We still went to Tokyo that day though and just played casuals at various arcades and it was a pretty good day.  I ran into a few other people who I know and they tagged along with us as well.  One sad thing though was that I confirmed that my favorite kebab restaurant in Takadanobaba, Deniz, is closed down for good.  That place was easily the best and it was a shame to finally learn the truth, but thankfully my friend Ahmed who was hanging out with us showed us another really good place in Akihabara that I had never been to, so at least I know of that one now.  After playing at various arcades more, I parted ways with Tony who would stay at a hotel that night and get on his flight the next day.  I headed back home on the last train.  It was a fun 2 weeks though and every day was busy and had some fun activity or trip planned, and during the off time we were at home, we just played a lot of Under Night In-birth: EXE Late since Tony bought it while he was here... and a little Ultra SFIV.  I had fun with him here but I was honestly happy to have some alone time with Ryoko so it was a relief that it was also finally over.  At least this, while Tony did get drunk on a few occasions, Mr. Chu-hi never emerged in his final form on this trip.  I suppose it is kind of a good thing and a bad thing at the same time but it's probably for the best lol.  Convenient store employees and bicycle owners, and random bar girls everywhere would be greatful if they knew the beast was contained this time around.

The rest of the week isn't really worth talking about since I mainly took care of various tasks I needed to do around home.  So, let's skip ahead to the next weekend, which was the weekend of August 22nd - 24th.  I headed to Tokyo on Friday night since I wanted to get some practice in the night before the tournament.  I went to practice at Shinjuku Sportsland (which is also where the last chance qualifier would be held the next day) and the actually had one of their regular bi-weekly Friday night tournaments that night, which was completely unrelated to Arc Revo Cup.  I ended up playing bad and going 1 -1 in my 3 player round robin pool.  The other guys also went 1 - 1 but I lost more rounds so someone else advanced.  I played pretty bad the first match against a Chipp player and I beat the Ramlethal but oh well.  I guess they didn't record the one vs Chipp.  The Ky player, Rion, ended up winning.  I played a bunch of casuals the rest of the night there and got some good practice games in.  Several top players showed up so it was good practice.  I went out drinking the rest of the night at PSY until 5 am.  I strictly cut it off there because that is when the manga kissas aren't usually full anymore and I knew I had to be up on time for the tournament the next day.

I got up about 2 hours before the tournament was scheduled to start, and my usual manga kissa is directly accross the street from Sportsland, so nothing was going to stop me from missing this tournament!    Or .... would there be?? .....

No actually nothing stopped me from attending.  I got there and there were already some people playing.  They re-arranged the cabs and had a nice viewing area and it was pretty spacious.  Overall, 32 players entered, and they were pretty much all beasts.  Almost anyone worth mentioning that hadn't qualified yet (at least from the Kanto area, and even then there were some non-Kanto players that traveled) showed up for this.  I played enough casuals before the tournament and did fairly well, winning some and losing some.  When the tournament finally started, I was one of the very last people to play.  My opponent was a Ramlethal player named Hohiko.  I actually had lost to him in the last Sportsland singles tournament I entered on 7/11 in the finals.  At the time, I didn't even remember him being the same person.  I ended up losing both rounds, and just like that, I was out of the tournament and my chances of ever getting into Arc Revo Cup were completely gone with it.  I still have trouble against good Ramlethal players and he just out played me, and that is pretty much all there was to it.  I was pretty bummed as you might expect, but that's life and you can't win 'em all.  I'm not going to go into great detail about the entire rest of the tournament, but the final four ended up being Kisha (FA), Rion (KY), Haken (SO.... yes that's right, he's the same Haken who is famous for playing Potemkin) and finally the guy who beat me, Hohiko.  Hohiko beat Rion and Haken beat Kisha.  Both matches were actually really close with Rion vs Hohiko being down to the wire until the very end of round 3, and the match with Haken vs Kisha, Kisha made one of the most epic comebacks I had ever seen in round 1, but Haken ended up pulling out the win in the end.  I was kinda hoping Kisha would make it since he was the Arc Revo Cup champion from last year in +R.  I suppose I would call that an upset since Haken wasn't even playing the character he is known for, but lots of people have been selling their soul to Sol these days so whatever.  In the final match, it was also pretty close but Haken took the win over Hohiko.  I was surprised to see Hohiko get that far and felt a bit less bad about losing to him first round after seeing how many strong players he was able to take out.  I was still bummed but it kind of lessened the blow (just a little....). 

After the tournament was over, I stayed and played casuals for a few more hours since there were a lot of great players there.  It was kinda crowded though so eventually I remembered that since it was Saturday and not that late yet, that there might be a Mikado 3 on 3 which is usually the case every Saturday.  I checked twitter and sure enough Jonio tweeted that sign-ups would start soon, so I left shortly after and made it on time to sign up and play some more casuals.  I played a stream match against Fino and lost but at least it was close.  I played a bunch of casuals otherwise and did ok, winning some and losing some.  I also played another stream match vs Nakamara but lost that one too.  Anyway, I was looking for a team and asked a few people but they either didn't plan to enter or already had a team.  One person I asked to team up was Roy, and he said he was really sorry and already had a team but said he would be happy to team with me another time.  I ended up getting randomly teamed with Asezuke (MA) and Hasegawa (IN).  Our first match was against Roy's team which consisted of Sharon (RA) and Satou (MA).  Asezuke went first and lost to Roy, then I beat Roy but then Sharon beat me and Hasegawa.  It was a double elim tourny so we were still in losers.  Our next opponent was the team of Kedako (MA), NOB (SO) and Ain (KY).  This team was pretty stacked as well so I wasn't sure how well we would do but I volunteered to go first and I ended up OCVing the entire team in the order listed above!  I couldn't believe it lol!  That was my 2nd time in a row now beating Kedako in a tournament and he used to destroy me, like really bad back in AC and +R.  They all looked pretty salty after losing but I don't blame them since they got OCVed by me of all people lol.  After that, we had to fight Roy's team again but this time we all just lost to Sharon...  Too bad all of our matches were off stream. 

After that, I left quickly since I had plans to drink with Emmet.  Actually, during the time I was playing casuals, Karl suddenly showed up with his girlfriend and was also playing casuals.  I left in such haste that I forgot he was in there and forgot to say goodbye.  I went into the convenient store near Mikado after leaving to grab a drink for the train on the way to Shibuya where I was meeting Emmet and as soon as I came out, Karl and his girlfriend were there about to get into the station.  I told him I was so sorry that I forgot he was in there (I honestly forgot and felt really bad about it) and I invited them to come with me so they agreed and we went to Shibuya together.  A few of Emmet's other friends were there and there were 7 of us total.  We all went to Marukin, a cheap all you can drink place and ate some food and had fun.  After that, we ended up going to the Sega arcade in Shibuya because Karl wanted to play some games.  He was gonna play Emmet in 3rd Strike but they didn't have it, so I played Karl in several games of Xrd and a couple of games in +R.  It was already getting late and once it hit midnight, the staff dude told us we had to leave since they were closing.  After that, everyone else decided to go home but I wanted to do an all nighter, so I headed to Shinjuku.

In Shinjuku, I realized that this might be one of my last nights out to go to the rock bars.  Ryoko got her visa interview scheduled for September 2nd which is pretty soon, and though at the time of typing this we still haven't decided on the exact date we will leave Japan, I decided to be prepared for the scenario that it is sooner than later.  So, I decided to make one final round to all the main bars I used to frequent, knowing that I probably wouldn't be ever stepping into some of them for a long time.  I went to PSY first (which I know I will be back at) and chilled for a bit.  Then I went to Aqua Z, which is the bar where Sushi and Heidi work now.  I talked to the owner, Yappy, about having a farewell party for me there sometime if possible since it is pretty big.  I would love to do it at PSY but it simply is too small.  He said it sounded fine and to hit him up with more details later.  I drank with a lot of cool people I knew there as well.  Then after that I went to GODZ.  I knew that this would probably be my last time at GODZ.  Hide and Haruka working there but unfortunately Kenji wasn't.  I told Hide I was leaving soon and probably won't have time to go visit GODZ again and he was pretty sad and he gave me a whole bag full of free GODZ stuff like mugs, folding fans, bracelets and tote bags with the bar logo and stuff on them!  I wasn't expecting anything and I was pretty really touched by his kindness.  I stayed for a few drinks and talked to the staff for a bit and then said a final goodbye to GODZ.  That place was always an awsome bar and I got a bit misty eyed as I left, knowing I wouldn't walk into it for a very long time again.   After that, I headed to From Dusk till Dawn.  I didn't know most of the people that were drinking there that night but I at least wanted to give the place my final respects before leaving and thank the staff.  They gave me a free shot which was very nice of them.  Finally, I visited Big Time.  It was never a great bar for music but the staff there have always been really nice and a lot of my friends often drink there.  When I told Tsune that I was leaving, he got pretty sad and also gave me free shots.  I stayed there for a while as well and eventually said goodbye and it was already getting light outside.  I headed back to PSY and drank with some friends a bit more and ended up going to bed around 8 am. 

The next day, Sunday, I woke up at like 3 pm.  On this day, my plan was to go to Koenji Matsuri, one of my most favorite festivals in all of Japan.  I have written about Koenji Matsuri on this blog a few times before so I won't go into too much detail about the actual festival itself, but it was just as good as all of the other years, except maybe more crowded.  This was the matsuri that Pachi originally introduced me to.  I called him to see if he wanted to meet up but he wasn't there that day.  I met Emmet and his girlfriend there, as well as LetBloodRun Ryan and his girlfriend.  The 5 of us walked around and drank a bunch and had a great time watching the festival.  Once the last train was about to come, I had to leave to make it back home, so I said goodbye to the crew and headed out.  I was pretty exhausted and just slept for most of the train ride home.

So, that pretty much brings things up to speed.  I spent most of this week just taking care of preparations for Ryoko's visa interview.  I may have failed at qualifying for Arc Revo but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel for me now as far as starting a new future in the US again so I can't really complain.  I am going to try to make the most of my last moments here in Japan.  I probably have a few blog posts left in me before I leave, so.... until next time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nightbird's Song

On Friday night, we had a drinking party at work.  Since this would be my last drinking party with them, it was sort of my unofficial goodbye party as well.  I gave a brief speech and they gave me a necktie with the Gunma prefectural Mascot, Gunma-chan, on it as a parting gift.  I had never been to the place before but it was at a really fancy beer garden within a hotel.  We had 2 hours of all you can drink and eat and the food was really good too.  I went to the after party near the local train station as well.  Overall, the night was really good.  I came home and drank a bit more with Ryoko after that.  I was pretty drunk already though and tomorrow was a big day so I didn't stay up too late.

I got up on Saturday with a very slight headache but it went away pretty quickly.  Considering how much I drank, I got off the hook pretty easy as far as hangovers go.  I packed my bag the night before so after a quick shower I was ready to head out.  I put on my headphones before leaving and hit the "play all shuffle" button on my mp3 player and the first song to come on randomly was "Amorphis - Nightbird's Song".  This was actually the last song that I listened to on my mp3 the day I won my silver ticket and it was stuck in my head the entire tournament.  It's a great song becuase it has kind of a brutal intensity and heaviness but a somewhat uplifting chorus at the same time.  It actually kinda got me pumped and put me in a good mental state during the tournament.  Having it randomly come on like that was a good sign in my mind, though I am not really superstitous or anything.  Still, I couldn't help but think it was kinda cool.  Check out the music video for the song here if you are curious.  (Also cool little bonus tidbit, at 1:40 you can see the bass player wearing a "Music Bar Rock Rock" t-shirt which is the same bar I often drank at in the past on all my trips to Osaka!)

Anyway, I walked to that station, I had a cigarrette by the smoking area in front of the train station and watched some pigeons eat a moldy potato chip off the ground and drink from a water fountain.  I then hopped on the train to Kawagoe, Saitama, which is where today's area final would take place.

I got there at around 3:00 pm which is when the preliminary was just scheduled to start. Right before arriving at the arcade, I made sure to listen to "Amorphis - Nightbird's Song" again to get it stuck in my head for the tournament, lol.  Some pretty beastly players showed up for the preliminary including Machaboo, Osaka B, Hase, 310, OSCA and some other good people.  I will admit I was not happy to see this but I knew it was going to happen to some extent.   Machaboo ended up defeating 310 and Osaka B to make it to the preliminary finals.  I felt bad for Osaka B and was sorta rooting for him.  He has already won like 4 or 5 silver tickets but never has been able to win that gold.  On the other side of the bracket, Hase defeated OSCA to get to the finals on his side.  The final match of Machaboo vs Hase was a good fight.  In the end, Hase pulled out the win!  At that point I honestly wasn't even really sure who to root for since both of them are extremely good and hard to beat.  If you want to see the full bracket from the preliminary, check it here.

And so with that, the 7 finalists were decided.  To summarize they were:
ElvenShadow (FA)
Ishimitsu (SL)
Toruso (MI)
Hanpen (ZT)
Hase (SL)

The preliminary only took about 45 mins to finish, and the area final was scheduled to start at 5:00 pm, so there was time for a little over an hour's worth of casuals.  There were 2 cabs and I got to play quite a bit of matches.  I actually got on and just got a streak of about 10 wins or something and never ended up losing.  Though, the only person who was actually in the finals that I fought was Ishimitsu and I beat him.  Everyone else I fought were people who lost in the prelim.  The other finalists were playing on other cabs.  Just as the arcade staff member was about to begin the tournament, I was challenged for one final match vs a Ramlethal player.  It was a rank up match for me to get my rank 12 back!  It was kind of shitty timing though since he starting calling for each of the finalists to go up to the counter one by one to present our silver ticket and check in.  I won 2 rounds and lost 1 at this point (3/5 total on casuals) and then they called me to go up there, so I had to get off the cab.  FC jumped on and tried to play for me but he doesn't use Faust lol.  I registered as quickly as I could and got back on the cab and there was one final round left since FC lost a round.  I was pretty tense because the tournament was about to start but in the end, I won and got my rank 12 back!  Then, I quickly went around to the other side of the cab and asked everyone there not to play again so that I could end my credit and get my card back for the tournament.  If you go into training mode and hold down start and P, the timer drains much faster and you can end your game if you need to suddenly leave and don't want to leave your card registered on the machine.  A useful feature. 

So, after everyone checked in, they announced the rules.  Every block final has different varations on rules and not all of them have an equal amount of players.  This one had 7, so making a regular bracket would be unfair and having a 7 person round robin would take quite a while, so they broke us into 2 separate round robins with one having 3 and one having 4 players.  The winners of each would face off in a final match for the gold.  We drew random numbers to determine who would be placed where.  It ended up being like this...

Pool 1:  ElvenShadow, FC, Ishimitsu, Toruso
Pool 2: JUN, Hanpen, Hase

The very first match was me vs FC.  I was pretty nervous.  I was making a lot of input errors and just didn't play very solid.  In the end, I lost.  At this point, I still had a chance but it was a pretty bad start.  They then alternated back and forth with matches from Pool 1 and Pool 2.  My 2nd match was vs Ishimitsu.  I was feeling more confident with this one since I beat him before the tournament in casuals.  I played solid and ended up taking the win!  It ended up working out that FC lost to Toruso and both Toruso and FC beat Ishimitsu.  So, what this meant was that if I beat Toruso, I could reset the bracket and the 3 of us would have to play again.  You can watch the match here.  The first round was a really solid performance and I played really well.  I got him down to literally the point where you can't see his life bar anymore.  But I was also in the same situation.  It went down to the absolute wire and after both of us dancing around a bit, Toruso landed the final blow and I lost round 1.  I was a bit shaken and round 2 did not go quite as well and I ended up losing.  Everyone was rooting for me too and I really appreciated the support, but in the end, Toruso just out played me.  FC especially wanted me to win because he wanted that bracket reset just as bad as me lol.  I was pretty bummed out but didn't let it get me down too bad. 

As for the other pool, it ended up that JUN won his pool!  I honestly wasn't expecting Hase to lose but JUN did really well.  So, the grand finals was a Millia mirror match between JUN and Toruso.  Toruso being the better player IMO, I was expecting him to win.  The first round was actually clutch as hell!  JUN was winning by a lot and Toruso was on the ropes, but he made an epic come back and took the round.  JUN knew he should have had that and looked shook up.  I could read it on his face.  He played well and took round 2.  The final round was also pretty close but Toruso took it and won the gold.  Honestly, this was the result I was kind of expecting.  I pretty much figured that if I couldn't beat Toruso, he would go on and win it all.  He looked really really happy, almost to the point of tears.  I felt pretty disapointed but also kinda happy for him since he's a really good player and also a cool guy. 

BTW if you want to see the actual pool results visually...
pool 1 
pool 2 

Once it was over, I had other plans, so I congratulated Toruso, said bye to everyone and headed out.  RIght before I left though, I asked Osaka B what tournament he planned to enter the next day.  There were multiple ones going on with 2 of them area finals.  He said he would go to Chiba most likely.  Knowing that Nakamura and some other really beast players had already made it to the area finals in that one, I considered my other options and figured that for me, going to Shizuoka actually would be a decent option.  I told Osaka B that was my plan and he agreed and said I might have a good chance. 

Anyway, my post tournament  plans were to go drinking with Emmet at a beer garden in Ginza and I honestly felt like having some drinks after that loss to ease the pain a bit, so I headed out and made my way to Ginza.  It took about an hour to get there and Emmet was running late due to a festival going around near his place.  I waited a bit and had a drink and eventually he showed up with his girlfriend, Kozue.  We made our way to the beer garden but it ended up being full and they said that the wait time would be really long, so we gave up on that idea and just decided to go to an Izakaya in Shibuya that has super cheap prices.  The place we ended up going has 2 hours of all you can drink for only 1200 yen!   Not only that, but it's self service, so you can just bring your glass up to the beer tap and fill it up at your own pace!  They have pretty good yakitori too.  The place is called Marukin and there is one in Shinjuku as well that we sometimes go to.  I recommend it for anyone who is looking for somewhere cheap to drink. 

We drank our fill and when time was up we ended up going to a place called 300 yen coin bar.  I had no idea this would happen, but there was a DJ there and he was friends with Scott Popular and Forgenjuro from Final Roundbats, so they were there drinking!  It was cool to see those guys.  I sorta stopped going to FRB for a while since they dropped SFIV and it was mainly just Marvel and i haven't been playing marvel for a couple of years now really.  Especially once +R and then in turn, Xrd, came out, there were just way more GG tournaments to go to and they ended up conflicting with FRB.  In any case, just chilling with those guys is always good times so we had fun drinking with them.  Later on they had a karaoke thing where the DJ just played a song and anyone who wanted to Karaoke it could do it.  Scott asked me if I wanted to do Guns n Roses - Sweet Child of Mine, and I was happy to do it.  I sang it pretty well and it was fun.  Also, that day, I was wearing my Journey - Don't Stop Believin' shirt and so they also asked if I wanted to do that one, so I sang that as well.  Eventually it was starting to get pretty late and since I had to go to Shizuoka the next day, I needed to call it an early night, so I left around midnight and headed for the manga kissa in Shibuya. 

For those of you who don't know or might not remember, Shizuoka a prefecture that is west of Tokyo and it takes about 3 hours to get there by local train.  I went there before with Ryoko for sight-seeing and stuff a few years back.  You can read about our trip there before in this post http://elvenshadowmike.blogspot.jp/2011/04/silent-hill-spring-break-2011.html

I figured that going to Shizuoka probably would still present a very challenging tournament since it is an area final, but I had the time and figured, why not.  I was also able to save a bunch of money by getting something called a Seishun18 Ticket.  This ticket costs about 11800 yen and gives you unlimted rides on all JR local trains in Japan for a whole day, 5 days total, and you can choose whenever you want to use it within a limited time that spans about 2 months.  It is only available during certain seasons but it comes out to about 2300 yen a day for unlimited rides.  Since I would be traveling pretty far, it was a really smart move that saved me a lot of money.  I'll end up using the other days soon, too.

So anyway, I headed out to Shizuoka and arrived at about 1 pm.  Just like yesterday, I listened to "Amorphis - Nightbird's Song" right before going into the arcade to get it in my head again. The tournament was scheduled to start at 2 so I had about an hour to practice a bit.  When I got to the arcade, a bunch of people were really shocked to see me.  They all knew who I was but never expected me to show up in Shizuoka.  Among the people there, Roy and Kedako both showed up to enter the preliminary as well.  There was a downstairs area with 2 Xrd cabs that everyone was playing at.  I got one one of the cabs and got a nice win streak of about 9 wins or so, until I was eventually beaten by a Millia player named Bonanza.  I ended up fighting 2 different Zato players and beat them, as well as a bunch of Sols, and I also beat Bananza earlier on.  I was playing pretty well and feeling alright.  Eventually the staff came and told everyone who entered to go up stairs since that is where the tournament would be held.  There was an area off to the side that just had one Xrd cab out in the middle so that people could crowd around and watch.  There was a pretty big turnout for this tournament and it was actually one of the largest preliminarys that I entered so far.

As we were waiting for the tournament to start and people were being called up to choose a random number for bracket placement, there was this white guy there who came up to me and started talking to me.  It turns he is from Russia and has been living in Shizuoka for a couple of years.  His name is Vladimir and he plays Sol.  We chatted for a bit and he seemed like a pretty nice guy.  He apologized for being Russian and talked about how our countries will probably go to war soon.  I just said there's no need to be sorry and I have no grudge against him for being Russian of course and really hope that we don't go to war. 

So eventually all  the numbers were picked at the bracket got made.  I decided that since I was playing too nervous yesterday, I would try a new aproach this time.  I decided I would take a swig of rum from my flask before every match today in the tournament.  This was in an attempt to calm my nerves, and I must say, it actually worked very well!  I was much more focused while playing, my execution was much better, and I just didn't worry so much.  For my first match, I had to fight against a female Axl player.  I won both rounds without much difficulty and advanced.  This match was actually a zero taisen (basically an extra match due to uneven number of entrants) so after winning that, it pretty much just put me even with most other people.  For my next match, I had to fight a Sol player and I beat him as well to advance once again.  Right after that match, next to me in the bracket, was Vladimir's first match.  He entered as "あなたの父" which means "Your Dad" lol!  When the announcer read his name, he sorta laughed a bit and was like "That's a pretty.... amazing name."  Oh and so his opponent was Kedako, so that meant if Kedako won, I would have to fight him next.  Well of course, I was rooting for Vladimir but Kedako was able to defeat him fairly convincingly.  I knew that my next match was going to be really hard considering he is pretty much the best May in the world and many of you know how much I hate May.  Honestly though, I don't hate fighting May that much anymore in Xrd compared to AC and +R May. 

Right before the match, the announcer said that the next match was against 2 famous players and should end up being very exciting lol.  So, for my match against Kedako, I ended up losing the first round.  For the 2nd round, I got a really nice early life lead and he was about a couple of hits from being dead.  He then started rushing me down relentlessly in the corner and was draining my life away with mixups and combos.  I couldn't get away easily but eventually I found an opening, managed to squeeze in a hit and killed him to take round 2!  For the last round, I played a solid zoning game and landed a good solid 6HS combo on him and after a little bit more zoning, I was able to score the final hit and I won!  I couldn't believe it!  I actually beat Kedako in a tournament!  I was pretty happy at that moment, and I could see Kedako looked really upset.  He went and sat down at the bench and just sorta hung his head low with a thoughtful expression on his face.  Vladamir congratulated me on the win.  I asked him if he taped it since I saw he had a camera.  He said he didn't, unfortunately, but then he asked me if I wanted him tape my next match, so I said, yes please. 

It was now down to the final 4.  The remaining players were me, Roy, and 2 Zato players (the same ones I beat in casuals before the tournament.)  Roy and I were on opposite sides of the bracket so we both had to beat a Zato.  My opponent was rank 10 and he was actually also doing announcing during all of the tournament matches on the mic.  I went into the match feeling fairly confident since I beat him before.  During this match, this time, everyone was rooting against me because I guess most of the players were friends with my opponent.  I ended up winning the first round.  For the 2nd round he ended up taking the round.  For the last round, I think I just gave him too much space and room to breath.  I needed to stay on him and in his face more but I just was playing too cautious, and in the end... he won... and that was it for me.  I was once again, pretty bummed out and felt like I could have actually won that but I just let it slip away...  and also, as much as I hate to say it, but I think the rooting against me kinda got in my head a little and messed me up a bit.  I'm not saying that's the reason I lost, but I think I need to do a better job of ignoring that kinda of thing.  It just makes me feel stupid for doing something so hard like beating Kedako and then just blowing it in the next match....

The final match was Roy vs the other Zato player who was a rank 6 and his handle was Himo.  I was expecting Roy to make short work of him, but much to my surprise, Roy choked and the Zato player won!  When top 4 started I really thought the finals were going to be me vs Roy, but then we ended up with a Zato mirror match and I was pretty surprised.  The rank 10 Zato player who beat me went on to win the whole preliminary.  During the finals, people were making tons of noise and everyone was getting really hype.  When he won, everyone went kinda nuts.  I don't really know this guy but I guess he must be pretty popular among the local Shizuoka players and they were all really happy to see him win. 

Here is a photo of the full completed bracket from the preliminary

So, the final list of players who would be competing in the area final were:
Ain (KY)
Chonari (KY)
Akitan (IN)
Ikun (SL)
and the Zato who just won (I can't really make out the kanji from the photo I took of the bracket because it is written with thick pen but I think his name is 環境マン).  His card just said "GG Player" so I don't remember his handle. 

Anyway, I don't know why they decided to do it this way, but even though the prelim started at 2 pm, the area finals weren't schedule to start until 7 pm.  I honestly don't know why they would need to allow 5 hours between the tournaments but it kinda screwed me over.  From Shizuoka to where I live, it is about a 5 hour train ride on local train.  If I was to stay to watch the final tournament, I would not be able to make it back home that night.  Had I won the tournament, I was prepared to just stay there but since I lost, it seemed like a better idea to just go home.  So, I stuck around for about another hour or so and played a bit more casuals but I had to eventually call it quits.  I said goodbye to everyone and said I would love to stay and watch but my trip home would take 5 hours and they laughed and said bye and thanks for coming. 

So, I walked to the station and spent the next 5 hours on the train, playing 3DS and drinking.  By the time I got home I was pretty damn drunk, but otherwise nothing bad or noteworthy happened.  I spent the remainder of the evening with Ryoko at home.  I actually had the next day off and today, as I type this, it's Tuesday and I had today off as well.  I had 2 more vacation days left and wanted to use them before my job ends.  Tomorrow, it's back to work for 2 more days and then my contract is actually over, and I will be unemployed. 

Next Saturday, I will go to Kanagawa Prefecture and try again at another preliminary that is on the same day as the area final.  I expect tons of killers to show up and am not gonna get my hopes up, but I certainly am not going down without a fight.  Till next time...