Thursday night I suddenly recieved a random email from none other than MIU. He asked me if it was still ok to come stay at my apartment (I had invited him last year to come out and play casuals and go drinking but he had to work afterall so he couldnt come). MIU finally had one of his first days off during a weekend ever since SBO qualifiers had started. He had plans to enter the final Gunma/Tochigi series tournament this weekend in Maebashi, which is only a 45 minute train ride from where I live. I asked him if he wanted to team up but he said that he already promised someone else he would team up with them. I actually had an enkai to go to that I just found out about earlier that day, so I told him I would see if I could cancel the enkai and tell him the next day.
The next day (Friday) when I got to work, I asked if it wasnt too late to cancel going to the enkai and explained that a friend was coming from out of town. It turns out that I was able to cancel so I sent MIU an email at about noon, telling him it was ok to come over. I asked him what time I should expect him. He didnt reply to my email until around 6 pm. Appearently he had just gotten off of work. He told me he would arrive around 10 pm. I was honestly expecting him to come much earlier. Had I known he would come at 10 I could have actually gone to the enkai anyway and just left after the 1st part. I asked him to bring his stick so we could play some gear, but he replied saying that since he was coming directly from work (he lives 90 minutes by train in the opposite direction from his job) he wouldnt have time to go get his stick. That meant no casuals so I just decided to get drunk. I bought a bunch of beers for us to have together anyway so I figured id start breaking them in. Eventually my girlfriend came over and we spent some good quality time together. Eventually MIU sent me an email with an update of his current location, and it turns out with the train he was on, he wouldnt be arriving until about midnight. When he arrived at the station, my girlfriend drove us in her car to the station to pick him up. When we got back to my place, I served him a beer and some food that we had left over from the dinner we made earlier. After that, I made everyone ice cream sundaes. We sat around and talked for a while about various stuff. MIU was telling me that this may be the last SBO with Accent Core and they might replace it with Blazblue next year. Though of course nothing is certain yet. Eventually my girlfriend left cuz she had to go to work early the next day. After that, MIU showed me some random funny MGS3 gameplay video of someone stuffing an entire locker room with soldiers and then planting bombs all over and waking them up and sadistically killing them all off. I was getting tired from drinking all evening so soon after that we went to sleep. I set him up a place to sleep in the guest room.
The next morning we woke up and I let MIU take a shower first. Just as Prince had done for Charlie Murphy, I made us some motherfuckin pancakes! Thats right, p a n c a k e s. After I took a shower and got dressed we headed out. On the way there on the train I asked MIU who his team was. He said it was Abegen and some friend of Abegen who was a Slayer player. I had no team but was hoping to find one at the tournament. Eventually we arrived at Maebashi station and we had to take a bus ride from the station as the arcade is like a 40 minute walk (which is why ive never been there before). When we got there, I was surprised to see such a nice arcade fairly close to where I live, the place was huge and it had 4 AC cabs (though I dont know if they normally have 4 or if it was just for todays event). There were tons of powerful teams there such as Imo's team, Kaqn's team, Nanashi's team, FAB's team, and Machaboo's team. When we arrived, Kaqn seemed very surprised to see MIU, sorta like one of those "HEY! no way! Its this guy!" moments. I said hi to Kai (spikey hair potemkin) and asked him who ended up winning the Fujisawa finals in Kanagawa that I left early at last weekend. He busted out his SBO qualification card and told me that he, Nanashi, and Maruken had won. He said they just showed up to watch and play casuals. I congratulated him on his victory. I played casuals for a bit and did fairly well in general. I got one game in with MIU and beat him by a little bit (this was the only time I would play him all weekend). A little bit after I had played some casuals, this one guy came up to me and asked me if I would join his 2 man team. I of course said I would be happy to. His name was Umemura, a Baiken player who was quite good (I lost to him by a slight bit in casuals) and his team mate was an Eddie player named Komayuki who was also good (though I managed to beat him in the game of casuals we played). They had these 2 girls with them, one was Komayuki's girlfriend and the other I guess was her friend but I noticed Umemura and her were flirting a bit. Umemura said he lived in California a while back for 2 years to study, so his English was fairly decent, though he mostly spoke Japanese with me anyway. Slightly before the tournament was about to begin, I went to go to the bathroom. I noticed that my camera was not in my pocket, and I was pretty sure that I had put it in there when I left my apartment. If I did, it means it fell out of my pocket on the train or the bus, which probably means im never gonna see it again. I wasnt sure if it was at home afterall though so I decided to not let it ruin my weekend and just see when I got back home.
When they called our first match for the tournament, I noticed that our team name was Iron Maiden! I was like WHOA sweet. Turns out that Komayuki was a big Maiden fan and was actually at the same concert at Makahi Messe that I went to. Our first match was against a team of DI, BR, TE. Umemura wanted to go first and he proceeded to OCV their entire team in the order listed above, and he perfected the Testament 1st round. I was pretty excited about that shit. I told Umemura good job on the OCV and he asked what that means and I said, one character victory. He thought it was cool and told me that in Japanese they call it "santate." I asked MIU how he was doing and he said that his team had lost their first match and was already eliminated. I felt kinda bad for him since this is like one of his only chances to try for SBO. Our 2nd match was against a team of R (JA), ein (PO), FC (VE). Umemura was hungry to rape some more people so he wanted to go first again and we had no problem with that. He went first against Venom and defeated him. Up next he went against Potemkin but unfortunately couldnt beat him. I sorta wanted to go next but then Komayuki told me he wanted to go and that his Eddie would handle Potemkin. I told him to go ahead and he ended up beating PO so that was all good. Up next was their Jam player who pretty much just rushed Komayuki down really hard and he ended up losing. The final match was me vs Jam. 1st round I played well and patient and zoned her out and won. 2nd round I was doing well but it was close but I got hit by the flame pillar super for the lose. 3rd round was much like the 1st round and eventually Jam was killed by a bomb bag that she tried to jump into and it chipped away the last pixel of life she had left. My team mates were very happy that I beat Jam. Throughout the entire time we were playing, Komayuki's girlfriend had this inflatable cat paw magic wand that she probly won from some UFO catcher machine and was doing this like cutesy victory dance where she sorta hopped on alternating legs from side to side and waved the wand around and made some typical high pitched Japanese girl sounds whenever someone on my team won. While I was fighting Jam the girls kept saying "Mike kakuii!" Our next match was the semi finals. We went against a team of 赤燈(CH), スーパー皇太子 (AX), S大佐(PO). We were having a hard time deciding who we thought the team was going to put up against us first (all SBO tournaments are double blind pick, you only play RPS to choose sides). Umemura asked me who I thought they would put and I said I wasnt sure but that Axl would be a good choice since hes well rounded and can handle any of our characters. We decided the logical choice would be to put Eddie first since he is more or less the same in that regard. It turns out I was indeed correct and the first match was Axl vs Eddie. Unfortunately Komayuki was not able to defeat the Axl player. Umemura said he would be able to take out the Chipp player (as I had told him how much I fucking hate Chipp) so I went next in hopes of defeating Axl. The first round was close but I lost. 2nd round was also close but I won. The last round I got hit by a huge bomber loop combo early on and had very little life left. I played extremely patiently but when you have low life left and Axl is poking at you from half screen and you are in the other corner with Faust, there isnt much you can do. I tried to get some items out and ocasionally did without getting punished but I wasnt getting anything that would let me get an opening. After a lot of turtleing I eventually was taken down. Umemura went next but he also fell to Axl resulting in a "santate". This was the 4th time now that I have made it to the semi finals of a SBO prelim and lost. Bummer. The other semi finals match was Machaboo's team vs FAB's (FAB, Nakamura, Shoot) team. Much to my surprise, Machaboo OCVed their entire team. The finals went like this, Tatsumi beats the Axl player in a close match (I guess Millia is a tough match for Axl?), but she then loses to Potemkin. Then Natsume defeats PO and CH for the win.
The final 5 teams in the semis were:
Machaboo team (Tatsumi (MI), Natsume (DI), Machaboo (KY))
Kazuki team (Kasuki (DI), Kiro (FA), Oguma (JA))
Hase team (Hase (SL), Seta(FA), PON(PO))
random Inaka team (Kakeru (SL), Humo (AB), Goroo (JA))
Heavy Metal Venom (HMV) team (VE, SL, JA) (I took a pic of their names but its blurry and I cant read it)
I went to get some food at Sukiya (which I found out has a kickass taco salad!) and when I came back, Hase team was fighting Kazuki team. First up was Kazuki vs Hase. Hase perfects Kazuki first round but Kazuki comes back and perfects Hase 2nd round. 3rd round Hase wins. Up next Hase defeats Oguma as well. Finally Kiro goes against Hase and wins in a close match! It was a great match and I was very impressed. He then proceeded to beat the other 2 guys for a reverse OCV! Up next, after seeing Kiro beat Hase, I was surprised that when Kazuki team went against Heavy Metal Venom team, they got OCVed by the random Slayer on his team! Next was Hase team vs HMV team. Seta's FA beats HMV Slayer and then beats HMV Jam. then HMV himself goes and beats FA but is next defeated by Hase in a very close game. Next was Kazuki team vs Machaboo team. Kazuki beats Tatsumi but then Machaboo OCVs their entire team. HMV team was going to fight Machaboo team next. Before the match, HMV said to me "Give me Chicago power!". I put my hand above his head and channeled the spirit of Blacksnake into his body with cheesy sound effects (sorry Prucha if you felt weak suddenly for a few minutes last Saturday, now you know why!). Up first, Tatsumi defeated HMV Jam. Next was HMV himself, and using the Chicago powers of Blacksnake he defeated her. I yelled Chicago power after he won and he gave a thumbsup. Unfortunately I guess the power had left him because he then was defeated by Machaboo in a close match who proceeded to defeat their Slayer player as well. Next was Hase team vs random inaka team. Seta's FA beats Kakeru and Goroo but loses to Humo as does Hase. PON wraps it up by defeating Humo. Up next, Kazuki team gets OCVed by Goroo's JA. Final match was Hase team vs Machaboo team. Hase beats Tatsumi and then Machaboo beats Hase, followed by PON and finally Seta for the OCV. Machaboo team wins the qualifier undefeated and Machaboo himself didnt lose a single tournament match the entire day! Amazing!
After the tournament, I asked my team mates if they would like to team up again tomorrow but they both said they probably couldnt because their girls would get mad from too much Guilty and not enough quality time or something and it was also kinda far for them. However, they said they would like to team up again so we exchanged email. I decided to ask Abegen who his team was for tomorrow's Ikebukuro Tokyo final C-2 block tournament since i knew MIU had to work so he wouldnt be teaming with him. Abegen said he hadnt decided on a team yet and his Slayer friend couldnt play either. He said he would be happy to team up with me but we would need one more person. I told him that we could team up with my friend Matt but Abegen said he would prefer someone with a bit more tournament experience. I told him I would go through my phone and email a bunch of veteran players I had teamed up with in the past (or had tried to) and I would let him know when I found someone. I played casuals for a bit longer but it was getting late and I had a long way to go still to get to Tokyo so I headed out. As I waited for the bus across from the arcade, I noticed there was still about 15 minutes till the next bus and I knew that by the time I got to Tokyo there wouldnt be much time for casuals so I bought a 180 ml bottle of whiskey and decided I would polish it off by the time I arrived in Tokyo. While I was waiting for the bus I emailed a bunch of people in my phone. The only one to reply was Gin, he said he would be cool to team with us for tomorrow so our team was set. Abegen said he was fine with teaming with Gin. When I got to the station platform to get on the train, I noticed a team of players that had walked by me as I was waiting for the bus. I asked them if they walked the whole way but they said they took a cab. They didnt know about the bus. They came all the way from Miyagi prefecture for this tournament which is fucking far... like a 3 hour trip on the shinkansen. I talked with them for a bit and then got on the train and eventually made it to Tokyo pretty late.
I met Matt at Las Vegas game center for some casuals. I told Matt that I found a team for tomorrow and asked him if he was upset but he said he was fine with it because he made plans to go bowling anyway. I was already nice and drunk from finishing all that whiskey so I played a few drunken games of casuals for about a half hour and then the place started to die. We then proceeded to head to Current. On the way there, I got a reply from HH saying he couldnt team with me tomorrow. Current was fucking packed! I dont know why but it just was. Lots of random people I had never seen before but also a ton of regulars. Antii was there with a new group of random Finish people he knows (I think Antii has to know every single Finish person in Japan). There was this random drunk young Japanese girl who was like headbanging and dancing furiously and we all thought she was going to just collapse at any moment but stayed strong the entire night, much to our surprise. At one point, Matt told me and Antii to come meet this one Japanese girl. He told us she was actually a man and she said it was true. All of us were like... no way... cuz she looked pretty damn convincing. I asked her if she still had her johnson and she said she indeed did! Guess its not a she at all in any sense of the word! Not much else to talk about, the night was fun and I got really wasted. This one chick was trying to get me to go home with her but I didnt really feel like cheating on my girlfriend and I wanted to get up in time to get to the tournament so I avoided that, even though she tried to follow me and Matt when we left, but her friends called her back to go by them so we escaped.
The next day when I arrived in Ikebukuro, I got lost trying to find Ikebukuro GIGO game center since Ive only been there twice and both times I went, someone was with me who knew the way. I eventually found it and it was just FULL of people. There were still a few slots left to enter the tournament but the guys there were being dicks and not letting people sign up unless all 3 of their team mates were present at the time of sign up. Abegen and Gin were not there yet. I sent them both an email telling then they had better hurry since we only had 20 minutes left to register before it ended and that I couldnt do it without them there. Abegen made it with about 5 minutes to spare but Gin said he probably wasnt going to be able to make it on time. We then knew we had to find someone else. I saw socially awkward Venom player (from now on his name will be SAVP until I find out his name, which I still havnt found out to this day) who I teamed up with before there. I said excuse me to him but instantly he put his hand up and said he wasnt entering before I could even say anything else. I dont get what this guys deal is. Then Abegen went up to him like 2 minutes later and told him we needed a 3rd and asked him to join us and he agreed! This guy is so random, he goes from asking me to be on his team, to suddenly being like talk to the hand, to then 2 minutes later agreeing to team up with me when Abegen asks. I dont know if I will ever understand SAVP. After we registered and the tournament was right about to start, Gin showed up. I apologized to him and told him we found someone else to team with since he was late. Registration had already ended so he wouldnt have been able to play anyway. This tournament had just about everyone in it, including RF! He just randomly came up to me out of no where and said hi before the tournament started. I guess he was just in town for the weekend or something but he didnt go to the Gunma tournament. There was also a team that came all the way from Taiwan. Hot Zappa and her ladies team was there, and just about all the other big ussual top player teams. Inoue and Sharon dropped Osaka B to team up with HH. Osaka B joined Shuumatsu (brown Testament) and ASA (potemkin) team. As far as high level comp goes, this is probably the single most fierce tournament I have entered ever. There was a total of 28 teams.
Our first match was against the team from Taiwan which consisted of IN, ED, JA. I told my team mates that I know all 3 matchups fairly well so I said I would go first. I went against Ino first and lost the 1st round but then got my shit together and won the next 2 rounds and beat him. Then basically the exact same thing happened with Eddie and I beat him too. Finally against Jam, I lost the 1st round by a pixel. Then I lost the 2nd round as well. The Jam player wasnt doing anything very fancy but was just extremely careful and patient. SAVP went next and came like within one hit of beating Jam but also lost. Finally Abegen went with his Potemkin and pretty much lost due to the fact that every time he did a slide head, Jam would just instant air dash over to him and combo his ass really hard. Abegen sometimes has days where hes a fucking beast, and other times he just seems off. I guess this was one of those days. I was pretty dissapointed to get reverse OCVed first round, I really thought that after I took care of the 1st 2 guys, that my team was going to take out Jam since it was really one of the more solid teams ive had. Abegen told me he would like to team up again sometime in the future. SAVP said nothing and I didnt even bother to ask because I already know his answer. Whether or not I randomly team up with him again is a mystery.
After we lost I pretty much just played a bit of casuals and then I went to get some food since I didnt eat yet. Theres a Shakey's Pizza just like the one I went to in Kyoto down the street from GIGO so I went there and got all you can eat again and got stuffed as fuck to the point where I was feeling pretty sleepy. I went back to the arcade and played casuals and watched most of the matches. GIGO has flat screens on every wall of the place so it was really easy to see what was going on from just about anywhere as they were all displaying the tournament. At one point, Shoot had a 17 win streak with his Axl and I managed to beat him. A little while after he came up to me and asked if that was me and I said yes and he told me I had a very strong Faust. RF was teamed up with JT and someone else and they all got taken out by a Chipp player! I dont know who he was but he was good. Im glad to see that im not the only Faust player that has trouble with Chipp. I really do think its a bad matchup for Faust. Another interesting match was when Shuumatsu OCVed Sharon, HH, Inoue with his Testament! I was very surprised. Funny how Osaka B was telling me how they decided to kick him off the team because he was too weak and they end up getting OCVed by his new team mate. This was like the semi finals, and the finals match was Shuumatsu team vs some other team who I dont know who they were, someone told me they came from Tachikawa (part of Tokyo). The team had a Baiken player whos name was like Rokugo or something, and he OCVed Shuumatsu's entire team, which was a surprise since Shuumatsu had just defeated Sharon's Baiken.
To be honest, I didnt pay extremely close attention to the finals since i was playing casuals most of the time, but I did watch a lot of the matches, but I was too lazy to take notes on them so I dont remember everything exactly. However, one of the teams in the finals was Ririko (the female Bridget player, I think thats her name) team. When she fought against Zero's team, she had this HUGE comback against Zero. She had like no health left in the 2nd round after losing the 1st round and came back and beat him. EVERYONE was getting HYPE! I hope they have vids of it later. Right after that, she perfected KA2 in the 1st round but then he ended up beating her, it was kinda sad. KA2 then beat the rest of her team of Ky and Faust. Anyway, as the round robin progressed, Zero's team was undefeated and R-1 (Millia) team had one loss. The match of these 2 teams would be the final match of the tournament, and R-1 team had to beat Zero team but could only lose one time or else their record would be worse even if they still managed to beat Zero's team. Zero went first and lost to R-1 team's Slayer but then Haken beat Slayer and R-1 and it just ended there since they failed to win without losing twice. The winners were Haken (PO) / Zero (HOS) / KA2 (JA), so they have now qualified for SBO as a result of the Tokyo C-2 block finals.
Shortly after the tournament ended I pretty much had to leave since the last train would be coming soon. I took a nap on the way back up till Takasaki station where I transfered trains and my friend and fellow ALT Cynthia was on the same train going back to our town. We talked on the way back and then I dropped her off at her place on the way home. When I got back to my apartment, my camera was indeed not there, meaning I must have lost it on the train or bus. Fuckin 200 bucks down the drain. I guess at some point ill eventually buy a new one but there might not be many picture updates for a while.
Next week there are 2 more qualifiers in the Saitama series that started off with the Tuesday tournament of Golden week that I went to. I plan to go to both but my team at the moment has not been finalized, but I probably have some options. Stay tuned for more SBO action.