Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Goodbye, Game New Platon

Since my current job will be ending on July 31st, I only have a few more weeks left of work, but I still have some vacation days left so I ended up just making this past weekend a 5 day weekend since Monday was already a national holiday.  So I just took Friday and Tuesday off as well.  I spent most of Friday just relaxing with Ryoko.  We drank at home and watched Howl's Moving Castle.

On Saturday, it was the very final tournament at my local arcade, Game New Platon, ever.  Unfortunately, it seems that the place just wasn't making enough money.  Game Platon is quite a large arcade as far as space but it isn't quite as packed inside compared to a lot of arcades you would find in Tokyo so there is a lot of space to move around.  The building also seems like it is quite old.  The location is also quite inconvenient.  It is located in Isesaki City, a small city in Gunma, and it is very far from any train stations.  The closest train station is about an hour walk and the area surrounding Game Platon is mostly just some old run-down shops and a whole lot of rice fields that stretch almost as far as the eye can see.  Also, considering that the place was opened 24 hours, 7 days a week, it is no wonder that they probably were not making enough money to keep the business going.  Platon did have a very dedicated Guilty Gear scene and everyone would meet up every Saturday night and play from about 8 pm to 4 am.  On average, there would be about 15 - 20 players in there for GG.  They also had a decent KOF scene and some people also played BB from time to time. 

Anyway, so I was able to use the car that night so I left my apartment at around 7:30 and drove over to Platon.  Unfortunately for me, the neighboring town of Tamamura was having its summer fireworks show that night.  I knew about it and it was schedule to start at 8, but I didn't think it would mess up traffic so bad... but it did.  Most of the main roads to get to Game Platon from my place are surrounded by long stretches of rice fields the closer you get to Game Platon.  When I got to one road, it was completely backed up and moving at a snails pace.  I waited on the road for quite some time but eventually I gave in and said screw this, and I just turned down some dark narrow side street that cut through the rice fields.  I sorta just went where the road took me but honestly wasn't sure where I was going.  I ended up going way out of my way only to end up in another maze of rice field roads and there were a ton of cars just parked on the side of the road to watch the fireworks, making it very difficult to get through.  Roads in the Japanese countryside are already narrow as it is, so when trying to get through with all those cars parked on the side and when oncoming traffic is also trying to get through, it makes things go very.... very... slow. 

So anyway, I eventually got to Game Platon at like 9 pm.  Yes, what normally is a 20 minute drive took well over an hour.  When I pulled into the parking lot, a bunch of people were watching the fireworks from a distance and the show was just finishing up, so I just watched like the last few minutes.  Thankfully, the tournament wasn't scheduled to start until 11 pm, so I only missed some casuals time. 

There was a good turnout that night.  About 30 players came to play Xrd and some +R as well.  I did well in casuals for the most part, winning the majority of my matches.  The tournament format was random 3 on 3 teams.  We ended up getting 9 teams, so 27 players entered.  I got teamed with a Bedman player named TooL who has / had (dunno about now) the 2nd highest ranked Justice in arcade +R.  Unfortunately his Bedman was only rank 2 and I don't think he has played much Xrd.  He's also a Dream Theater fan so we had a nice little chat about Dream Theater and the fact that they will be coming to Japan for Loud Park this year.  Our other teammate was an Axl player named Shyuu, ranked fairly low.  Our opponents were a rank 3 PO named Amino, a really strong Zato named Sarakusu, and a mid level Faust named 9999.  Our Axl went first and lost to PO and then TooL Bedman went and also lost to PO.  It was up to me to pull off a reverse OCV.  I handled the PO no problem winning 2-0.  Now against the Zato, when Xrd first came out I actually had a hard time beating him.  He hasn't been around so much lately and perhaps he was a bit rusty, but I ended up beating him 2-0.  Finally, I had to fight 9999 in a mirror match.  At this point in the night I probably already played him about 5 times in casuals and won every time.  I dunno what it was, perhaps I was being too cocky or something but I ended up just barely losing to him.... I felt pretty shocked afterwords since I really should have had that easily.  Perhaps going into the match with that mind set is what caused me to become a bit careless and lose.  I'm going to take this loss and look back on it as another reminder to never get careless against anyone, ever.  In any case, it was kind of a bummer to lose the very last Platon tournament, but in the end it's just a regular tournament and has no importance other than bragging rights.  I guess I can just be happy to know that I won about 80 - 90% of all GG tournaments I entered at Game Platon over the roughly 2 years I played there. 

As for the rest of the tournament, it was pretty much full of upsets!  The other strongest players there are FC (VE) and Sol Sempai (SO).  Sol Sempai lost to Ein, a PO player who actually can play several characters fairly well.  While Ein certainly isn't a bad player by any means, I would have really expected Sol Sempai to beat him.  Another big unexpected occurrence was FC losing to a Chipp player named Mahir who I had never seen before.  Apparently he came from Tokyo just to play tonight.  He had a 12 rank Chipp and was actually quite good.  Venom is pretty bad vs Chipp it seems though, so I can see how he lost.  However, this leads me to the last upset of the tournament.  In the grand finals, Mahir had to face another Venom player named Ideo, who is ranked much lower than FC and not quite as good.  While Ideo isn't by any means a bad player, after handling FC, I would think that Mahir would have had no problem beating Ideo's Venom, especially since it is a good match for Chipp.  So in the end, Ideo's team won (Ein was also on this team.)  Pretty surprising results but they earned it so congrats to them.

For the rest of the night, I played casuals until about 4 AM.  Usually when I go to Platon, I play against FC quite a bit.  However, the elephant in the room was the fact that we would be fighting against each other in the area finals next weekend so we ended up playing against each other only twice.  I wasn't necessarily trying to avoid playing him and there were a lot of people, so I just played on whatever cab was open when I had a chance usually.  He played me one match and picked Zato and I won.  Then, later on he finally picked his Venom on me.  Casuals are set to 3/5 rounds and I ended up winning twice out of the first 3 rounds, but then he got the last 2 and beat me.  I didn't get to rematch him.  In the tournament, you just need to win 2 rounds and that's it, so honestly it could go either way.  I also played a bunch against Sol Sempai.  He actually ranked down me to rank 11 the last time we fought, which was the night before I won the Arc Revo Cup qualifier that I have the silver ticket for.  This time I did much better against him and won more than I lost.  I wasn't able to get back to rank 12 yet but it will come so it's not big deal.  I played a few games against Mahir's Chipp as well.  I probably lost a little more than I won but I did get some wins on him.  He seemed like a solid player.  By the time 4 am rolled around, a lot of people were gone or half asleep.  Before I left, I thanked the staff for their hard work.  Then, I headed home.  Thankfully this time it only took 20 minutes.  Game Platon was a great place and I enjoyed playing there.  Now that it is gone, the Gunma players will start playing at an arcade called M-1 in Maebashi.  This arcade is actually much closer to where I live (only about 10 minutes from where I work) so in a way, it works out well for me.  I'll miss Platon but at least the local scene will live on.

The next day, Sunday, there was another Arc Revo Cup qualifier for the block that I qualified in.  The location was Takasaki, which is the city next to the one I live in and it is only a 15 minute train ride for me to get there.  So, even though I couldn't enter, I decided to go watch and play some casuals.  My friend Andy (Capps) met up with me there as well and decided to enter.  The turnout was pretty low and only 5 people ended up entering, so they just ran a round robin.  In addition to Andy, Ranzu (ZA), Hanpen (ZA), R (CH) and another May player whose name escapes me entered.  Ranzu and Hanpen have been going to most of the quals that I have been to before.  In fact, I had to beat both of them during the tournament I won.  R is a solid Jam/HOS player from back in the day but he plays Chipp now.  He isn't ranked high yet but he has good solid fundamentals.  FC also came to watch and he did commentary.  In the end, Hanpen ended up beating all of his opponents to take the tournament convincingly.  I wasn't really surprised by the result.  There was a qualifier for the same block in Saitama the day before but I was at Platon so I didn't know the result.  I asked Hanpen and he said that the winner was Toruso, one of the highest ranked Millia players over all.  I was not happy to hear this news.  The last time I fought Toruso was during a Shinjuku Sportsland tournament.  I made it to the grand finals after somehow defeating FAB and I had to fight Toruso in the grand finals.  You can see the video here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa48FGeFqUo  As you can see, Toruso read me like a book at the very end there when he grabbed that gold burst.  Either way, I'm just gonna have to man up and play solid as hell against him next week.

Once the tournament was over, I played a few casuals.  FC only played against me one time and picked Zato and I won.  Otherwise, I played against most of the other people who entered the tournament. I won all my matches except R beat me twice out of several games against him.  Andy left ahead of me because he had some work related event to go to.  I left after losing my 2nd time since it was 100 yen for 2 credits and I actually had other plans.

Just south of Takasaki is another City called Fujioka.  Today they were having their summer matsuri (festival).  So, I decided to go check it out since I had never gone there before.  Andy would meet up with me there later.  It wasn't a very big festival but it was fun enough.  We walked around a bit and I had 2 kebabs and drank a bunch.  Unfortunately, it ended up poring rain pretty bad so the festival kinda got screwed towards the end.  Good thing I had an umbrella.  I went home around 9 but unfortunately my train got delayed from rain.  After that, I drank with Ryoko at home.
The next day, Ryoko and I got some really good local ramen and then decided to go check out another festival, this time it was in Saitama in Kumagaya.  I also had never been to this festival but it was way bigger and better than the Fujioka one.  Not much to really talk about but we had fun walking around and drinking, getting food, watching some street dancers and other stuff.  It was a long day and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got home.  We were there for probably like 6 or 7 hours.  On the way back on the train, Andy gave me a USB that contained recordings of matches from past quals I went to that he came to as well.  Some of the matches are vs JUN and Hanpen, so they will be useful for me to review before the tournament. 
Anyway, that's about it for now.  I go back to work tomorrow and have a 3 day work week and then on Saturday, it's showtime! 
The finals will have a total of 7 players, most likely a round robin format.  They are
JUN (MI)
ElvenShadow (FA)
FC (VE)
Ishimitsu (SL)
Toruso (MI)
Hanpen (ZA)
???? (winner of preliminary the day of the area finals)

It won't be easy, but I think I definitely have a shot!

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