Thursday, April 30, 2009

Close Call at Game Ace

Since Wednesday in Japan was a national holiday, it meant I had no work and it also meant that it was the day for the next SBO qual in the B-4 Chiba block. My team for this one would be Kaking (ED) and Yuki (IN).

I headed out for Shinjuku after work on Tuesday night cuz I wanted to get some practice in. I went to Vegas and Yuki met me there as well. There was a decent amount of players there. While I was there, I wrote down the results of every single casual match I played that night so... here it is!

win vs SO
win vs Yuki 3 times
win vs AX
lose vs Yuki
win vs Yuki
win vs SL
win vs JO 4 times
win vs black IN (I think this was the guy that beat 012's team at Game Newton qual)
lose vs black IN
win vs SO
lose vs Yuki

at this point, while I was waiting for a cab to open up to play my next match, all of a sudden MIU appears! We started talking about various things. I told him how I was thinking about going to Hokkaido for the quals going on there next week but that I needed a team first. He said he would like to go but has to work so he cant. Also we were talking about EVO and he said he might not go this year and doesnt like the fact that GG will be singles this year. He said he will be visiting New York next winter to hang out with Karl (the Testament player who I met who a long time ago who used to live in Japan). Also, at this point, Rod was at Vegas too and he just bought some new Uniqlo video game shirts. He got a rockman one and a SFII one. MIU thought they were amusing so he took pictures of Rod holding up the shirts.

After that I got back on the cabs to play some more and...

win vs SO
win vs VE 3 times
win vs SO 12 times (yes this same Sol player challenged me 12 times in a row and I think he won maybe 1 or 2 rounds out of the entire 12 3/5 round games LOL!)
lose vs Yuki
win vs Yuki

then I lost to a blue Anji player. Judging by the play style and skill level, I assumed it was Kunihiro. I played him again and then I beat him twice in a row. Then he came back hard and beat me 4 times. Then I beat him once more. After that, sure enough, Kunihiro came around to the other side and said he also had assumed it was me playing Faust haha. He was playing extremely well and seems like he has been practicing a lot lately. We talked for a bit after this. I told him I was sorry for dropping him from my team last time but he totally understood since he cant enter the Chiba block finals next Saturday anyway. I told him we should team again sometime during a block where the finals arnt on a Saturday. He wants to team with me again. Infact... I mentioned to him about how I was thinking about going to the Hokkaido A-1 block that takes place during next week's Golden Week holiday on 5/4 and 5/5 and he said he wanted to go! So that meant if I could find one more person I would be set. Basically, Matt wants to go to, but since Matt isnt going to be around for SBO finals it would be best to find one more team mate. Both Matt and I have never been to Hokkaido before so it would be a nice excuse to go see it. I told Kunihiro if I could find one more person to go with us we could make good plans and I would contact him. After that, Kunihiro started playing on the cab next to me and then I got another challenger...

win vs ED
win vs MI
win vs ED
lose vs ED
win vs ED
win vs FA 2 times
win vs Rod's SL
win vs Rod's IN 4 times

after that, Rod came to the other side and said that he had to leave cuz he needed to wake up for class the next day and the last train would be coming soon so I said bye and he headed out. At this point, the only ones left playing GG were me and Kunihiro and it was getting really late and I was hungry as hell, so I told Kunhiro I was gonna head out, but told him I would get back to him about the tournament in Hokkaido.

After that, I got some quick food at Sukiya and headed to Current. On the way in, I ran into SPG Chris who was on his way home. He told me there was a decent size crowd in there. Sure enough it was a good crowd for a weeknight. Mostly people I didnt know with a few regulars. I talked with Chip pretty much the entire night. We mostly just talked about video game related stuff from anything to what we are currently playing to stuff going on in the game industry. Chip (who works for Dolby) said he is currently working a little bit with the sound people for Final Fantasy XIII and has heard the soundtrack and says its good. He also says that he has heard that Square-enix is working on a new Chrono Trigger game, and I really hope he is right and that its more like CT than Chrono Cross. We talked about a whole bunch of other various stuff too and drank lots of beers. It wasnt the most exciting night but it was chill and I had fun. I drank till about 3 am and at this point most of the people had cleared out. I could stay later but I figured it would be best to just get some sleep earlier so I could practice before tomorrow's tournament. I said bye to everyone and headed out to the manga kissa for sleep.

I woke up at around 9:30 and saw something I had never seen before. There were people standing outside of Vegas waiting for the place to open. I cant honestly remember the last time I was in Shinjuku where I woke up before like 10 am haha. Anyway, I didnt bother waiting at Vegas, I just headed right to the train and went to Motoyawata in Chiba where the tournament would be held. Game Ace was pretty easy to find, it was right next to the station. I realized when I walked in that I had been there for a qual last year but forgot. There were already people there playing when I arrived. They had 2 nice sorta slanted side-by-side cab setups and both setups were hooked up to seperate big flat screen TVs for spectators. Yuki told me he would be arriving at Game Ace right at around 2 pm, when the tournament would be starting. He wanted to practice at a game center close to his house because he figured Game Ace would be crowded. I played some casuals...
Played a game vs Udei AX and lost.
Then I played a mirror match vs Kishya and beat him, once again showing how Faust vs Faust is random.
Then I lost to a Venom.
After that, Ojima saw me lose and was saying how like VE isnt that bad and was like saying what you should do to beat him blablabla and gets on the cab and loses to him too haha!
Then I got a mail from Matt who said he was on his way to come watch.
After that, I was talking a little with Kuni, the Baiken player, and he said that he wasnt going to go to Hokkaido afterall.
I played against his Slayer and won, winning all 3 rounds, 2 of which were a perfect, and one I got hit like once. Then I played against AGF Anji (black mustache Anji) and won, then I beat a Sol and a Chipp. Finally Kuni rematched me with his Slayer and I lost in a close one.

After this, I got a call from Kaking. I asked him if he was at the station (cuz he wanted me to meet him there to show him how to get to Game Ace, even though its really really easy to find) and he was like "no, im not coming now". Im like "what? but I already signed us up." he was like "cant you find someone else" and im like "nope, theres really no one else I can team with". He said he would try to come and would contact me sometime before the tournament if he could make it afterall. I wasnt exactly sure why he couldnt come because its hard to understand Japanese on the phone sometimes for me, espessially when you are talking in Japanese to a Chinese guy with a bit of an accent. Basically it sounded like some issue came up that he had to take care of. Anyway, knowing this, I figured it would be best to try to find a back up plan. I checked the signup sheet and noticed there was one person signed up all by himself. And that person was none other than Ogiwara (aka Basara). Those of you who have read my blog since last year know the long history of trying to team up with Basara and all the BS I went through lst year so I figured it was futile but I figured I would ask anyway. I didnt see him anywhere around. I told Kuni about my problem and he said maybe it would be worth at least sending him an email to see if he was interested. I still had his email in my address book so I sent him a mail basically saying "Im at Game Ace and see that you are signed up alone. It turns out one of my team mates cant come and I need a 3rd person. Would you like to join my team?" and basically his response was "no, I want to enter the tournament by myself". Im just thinking like ".... wtf, he would rather enter alone then team with me!? wtf!?" I have no idea what his reasoning is but I guess knowing him, im not all that surprised.

Around this time, Matt showed up. I told him the situation and told him he would have to join my team as a last resort if Kaking couldnt come. He said he would do it. I went and told the signup guys the situaton and wrote Matt's name in there next to Kaking and said I would tell them which one is on my team before the tournament started. After waiting around a little longer, I got a call from Kaking who said he would be coming afterall! So I didnt have to worry about it and crossed Matt's name off the sheet again.

Right before 2 pm, Yuki showed up. At this point, they started to kick everyone off the machines to set it up for tournament mode and make brackets. While they were calling names for the brackets, they called Ogiwara but he was no where to be found. Someone asked people to find someone who was good friends with him to call him and then everyone sorta looked at eachother like "uhh...." and finally someone called him. Eventually he showed up all late and they didnt let him enter. I thought it was funny. Thats what he gets for wanting to enter alone and showing up late when he could have just joined my team... heh. After making all the brackets and getting everything ready, it was already like 2:45 or something... and Kaking hadnt arrived yet. He told me he was gonna call me when he got to the station but I got no call. Luckily we still had some time because when I picked our random number for the bracket, we were placed as one of the last matches to fight first round. I went to the train station to see if he was waiting there. I waited there for him for about 10 minutes or so but didnt see him at all. I tried calling him a bunch of times but it seemed that his phone was turned off. I went back to Game Ace and told Yuki and Matt that I had no idea wtf was going on. I told Matt that in the case that they call our match and Kunihiro isnt here, we would ask them if we could change the Eddie to Order Sol and have Matt play. I didnt think they would let us though so in that scenario, I told Matt to just try to play Eddie. I asked him if he knew how to use Eddie and he was like "well, I know how to perform his special moves" and I was just like "...".

We waited a bit longer and suddenly out of no where while we were watching the match before our match would be called, Kaking shows up! He was really sorry and asked if it was too late but was surprised when I told him we didnt play yet. He said he was having some major problems with his phone and had to go to the store to get it checked out and now it was completely not working at all. In any case, now I had my full team so it was all good.

Our first match was against a team of PO/AN/HOS. We sent out Kaking first just cuz pretty much Eddie can fight anyone. They put out their PO player. Kaking pretty much just cheesed him to death with unblockables and PO didnt really have much of a chance. Up next was their Anji. This match was really close and went down to the last round. Kaking seemed to be having some trouble with it and ended up losing. I was gonna go next but Yuki said he wanted to go so I told him to go ahead. Yuki fought hard and won in a close match in the last round to Anji. Up next was Order Sol. Just like with Anji, this was a close one and in the final round, Yuki hit him with something and could have killed him with one more hit but messed up and didnt do it. They fought a little more and HOS started to come back but then Yuki squeezed in the last hit ftw and we won our first match.

We waited around a bit longer and our next match was against Hase(SL)/Udei(AX)/ASA(PO). Once again, Kaking went first and once again this team put their Potemkin first. Unfortunately, ASA is a lot better than that other Potemkin and ended up beating Kaking's Eddie. Yuki said Potemkin is hard for him and I dont mind the matchup so I went next. I lost the first round. I fought hard and won the 2nd round. The 3rd round was going well too. ASA had almost no life left and I threw a bomb bag right in front of him on the ground and baited him into doing a slide head and he landed into the bomb bag explosion radius which was just enough to kill him and I won. Up next was Hase. The first round was going really well and I hit him with lots of good combos and pokes and was playing smart but eventually he hit me and when Slayer hits you once you lose like 80% life. He ended up winning the 1st round. 2nd round started off OK but he had me in the corner and went for a meaty forward kick and I was stupid and tried to forward punch it which beats it clean if its timed right, but he did the kick early enough to where I really should have just blocked cuz it wasnt gonna get beat out and I got counterhit and he pretty much just did a rape combo and I lost that one too. Last match was Yuki vs Hase. Yuki tried his best but Hase's Slayer was just too much and Yuki fell as well. And with that, we were out of the tournament.

I talked about plans fot the next tournament after that with Kaking and Yuki. Kaking said he probably will be fine with entering on Saturday for the block finals and said he would contact me about it within the next few days. Im pretty sure he will enter but hopefully it wont be some last minute nail biter shit like today. Yuki said he was going to be going to his hometown for Golden Week and wouldnt be around at all. I asked him when he was leaving and he said he was leaving tomorrow. I then thought to myself... then what would happen if we actually won today? Yuki failed to tell me that fact before hand. I wonder if he would have changed his travel plans if we did win. I would like to think he would have but didnt bother asking about it. Im gonna make sure to bring up the block finals stuff beforehand in the future from now one when I team with someone for a non block finals prelim. Anyway, I already asked Honyo to team with us for Saturday and he said he would so its no big deal I guess. Yuki and Kaking both left shortly after that. Matt and I decided to just stick around and watch the rest of the tournament. Pretty much all the big names were there once again, just like last time. There were a lot of upsets in this tournament. Teams that I wouldnt have expected to lose other teams were getting peaced out. At one point, TEN was about to OCV En/Nanashi/Limekey but then Limekey came back in the last round vs TEN and ended up reverse OCVing, but then they lost to some other team who I didnt even know who they were. Also, Kishya lost in ANOTHER mirror match against this one default color pony-tail Faust player and I dont know who he is either. He was good though and I actually saw Kishya lose to him in a mirror match in casuals earlier in the day as well. Hase's team also went on to lose to the team of Goro (JA)/Fumo (AB)/Kayuro (SL). Actually, im not sure if that is the Slayers name because the hand writing on the sheet is kinda messy. The first Hiragana is definately "ka" and the last one is surely "ro" but I cant tell what the middle one is. Looks kinda like a half ass "yu" but it could be something else. Anyway I dont think ive ever heard of the guy. Hase was fighting the other SL in a mirror match and was about to win. He knocked him down with almost no life let and did an OTG big bang upper to try to kill him but he ended up living with like no life bar and was able to squeeze in a quick crouching punch to kill Hase (who also had like no life left). Hase seemed shocked and the rest of his team went on to lose after that.

Anyway, the tournament finals ended up being 2 teams I would never have guessed based on all the beast teams that were there. The finals were Goro (JA)/Fumo (AB)/Kayuro (SL) vs Shoo (FA)/ Chikusa (CH)/ Kurenai (JA). The team name of this team was just "X" and was written like the way they write it for the logo of the band "X Japan". The Jam player whos name was simply the kanji for the word crimson (紅) which is pronounced in Japanese as Kurenai, seems to be an obvious X Japan reference as well considering its the name of one of their most popular songs. However, you would figure someone like that would be an I-no player given the references to that song in her stage being all crimson and her final boss music being so similar to the actual song Kurenai itself. Anyway, blablabla... first match of the finals was Jam vs Jam and Goro wins. Then Shoo takes out Goro with his Faust. Up next Fumo's ABA beats Shoo but then Chikusa takes out Fumo with his Chipp. Final match was Slayer vs Chipp with Slayer taking the win for his team and they will now face off on saturday against Inoue's team along with whoever wins the Saturday prelim in the final showdown for the SBO spot.

(Once again I took pictures of the entire sign up sheet and brackets so you can see all the teams and who beat who. They will be uploaded to my pictures page so check it out).

After the last match, everyone pretty much poored out of there at the same time. Matt and I took the train back to Shinjuku and enjoyed a snus on the way. On the way on the train, I started mailing a bunch of people in my phone asking them if they could possibly go to Hokkaido with me to enter the tournement there. I didnt get any replies right away. When we got back, we were hungry so we got some quick food and then went to play casuals for a bit at Vegas. I had about and hour and half left ill I had to head back home. I started out strong with a 10 win streak, the 10th win being against Konsome's PO. Around this time, I decided to put that snus back in. He rematched me and I lost 3 times in a row and then beat him again. Then I lost again and someone else got on so I went over to the other side of the cabs to fight some other people. Baim was over there and I was talking with her a bit. She said how shes supposed to go to the zoo with Natsume or "pet" as she always refers to him as, but she says he doesnt really want to go hah. She had been trying to beat Mitsurugi's Zappa who had a big streak but couldnt beat him so I said I would give it a shot. I played him like 3 times and lost all of them. He was simply on fire today, you could hardly touch the guy. After that, I played like one more game vs a Dizzy player and lost. I was getting really tired, the snus buzz was kinda slowing down my reaction time, and it was getting close to the time I needed to leave so Matt and I headed out. Matt went on his way to Zin to go drinking and I headed back to the train station to go home.

On the train on the way home, I got replies from several of the people I mailed about Hokkaido. All of them said they either had work or were busy with other stuff and couldnt go. Junya, the Dizzy player said that she was considering going actually but after thinking about it she said it would probably be too expensive for her and stuff but she seemed like she really wanted to go. Too bad. So as of now, I am still waiting to hear back from a couple people but it seems pretty unlikely that any of them will want to go. Matt still really wants to go and says if me, him, and Kunihiro go out there, Matt will man up and play his best on our team and if we win he will just change his travel plans and stay for SBO. As of now it still seems up in the air. Matt will check at a travel agency tomorrow for the best prices and see how much this trip would cost. Ill mail Kunihiro and see if hes cool with just the 3 of us going. If he agrees to it and the cost isnt insanely high, I guess its worth going out there since I would like to travel there anyway and Golden Week is a good time to do so.

So... I will be back in Tokyo again this weekend and will be off of work for Golden Week up until next Thursday. I will enter the final tournament for the Chiba block on Saturday. As far as the Hokkaido tournament, we will have to see how that pans out. Finally, the last day of Golden week (Wednesday) is the TRF qual in which I also plan to enter but havnt decided on a team yet. Not sure whats gonna happen, just gonna roll with it and see how things play out.

Monday, April 27, 2009

...also into cats!

Earlier in the week, I got a random mail from Junya, the female Dizzy player from Niigata. She saw me at the tournament in Koriyama last weekend and she wants me to team up with her in a few weeks for a very far away tournament in the prefecture of Yamagata. I told her I would do it since shes a good player even though it will cost me a lot to go out there. We are still looking for a 3rd.

As far as THIS weekends teams... well... there were 2 tournaments this weekend. One was in Shizuoka on Saturday. Its about 2 and a half hours from Tokyo so I knew finding a team for this would be hard but was considering going. The one on Sunday was at Game Chariot in Chiba. I already had asked Honyo (the Baiken) and Kunihiro (the Anji) whom I teamed up with 2 weeks ago at Game Newton. They both had agreed but I hadnt talked to them since. I also was presented with another interesting option. I got an email from the Chinese US Guilty Gear player StunEdge (Kyle) earlier in the week. He told me that an Eddie player named Kaking from China just moved to Japan and wants to team with me. Kyle said he actually qualified for last years Chinese SBO team but couldnt go due to Visa issues or something. He lives in Chiba now and wanted to team with me for the Game Chariot tournament. I have to admit, it was tempting so I figured I would see how things went. I was unable to contact him all week since he was having problems with his phone, so I just figured I would go to Tokyo and hopefully it would get figured out.

As always, I went to Shinjuku on Friday night. On the way there on the train, I got a call from Kaking finally. I answered quickly and told him I couldnt talk cuz I was on the train and its pretty rude to talk on your phone. I told him I would call him back. I went into the toilet on the train so that I could call him back from there. Basically, I told him how I already promised some people I had a team but that I was interested in teaming with him possibly, so I told him I would try to figure some things out and call him back later.

When I arrived at Vegas, I realized I was low on cash so I figured I should go to the ATM to get some money. On my way to 7-11 I ran into Dream Maker who was on his way to Vegas. I told him I would be back in a few mins. After getting money, I returned and only a few people were there playing GG. As time went on, a few more people showed up so it was all good. Rod and Matt also showed up seperately. Matt had just gotten back to Japan earlier in the day from the US. He had to fly back into Osaka cuz thats where he left from before, so he took the Shinkanen back to Tokyo and basically was fresh off from his trip back. He said he hardly slept but would do his best to go out drinking later anyway. I played a good amount of games. I dont know who most of the players were, but I did play 2 matches of Faust vs Jam against Jam Ojisan. I lost the first game but won the 2nd game. Hot Zappa was also there but I didnt play her. Osaka B also showed up, I didnt play him either but I did congratulate him on his victory last weekend.

I was still considering going to the Shizuoka tournament. I asked Dream Maker if he was willing to travel out there with me, and he said he would be willing to. However, if we wanted to enter, we would need one more person. I didnt really feel like traveling that far with a chance that we couldnt find a guy who was by himself to join us. After a little while, Joe Higashi showed up at Vegas and I asked him as well but he said he had to work all weekend and wouldnt be entering any tournaments. I figured the best plan would be to try to team with Kaking for that one to see how good he is, and if he was really good, I could change my team for Sunday. I called Kaking back outside of Vegas and he said he didnt want to travel all the way to Shizuoka cuz he lives in Chiba and from where he lives its something like 3 and a half hours away. For me, travling that far is no big deal cuz im used to it and im hardcore about that shit, but I guess I can understand him not wanting to go that far, most people dont seem willing to. He really wanted to team with me for Sunday since the tournament was near where he lived. He asked if I would be willing to go to Game Chariot tomorrow to play casuals with him. I figured since I had no team for Shizuoka, I might as well just go out there and play games with him to see how good he is. He wanted to meet up around 2 pm so that seemed like it would work out fine. I told him I would meet him there tomorrow.

So with my plans set, I knew that I didnt need to get up early or anything, so after we played at Vegas until it was about to close, Rod, Matt, Dream Maker, and I headed over to Current after getting some Sukiya. Earlier, when we were at Vegas, I got an email from Megu, whom I havnt seen in probably almost like 5 or 6 months, saying she was waiting for me at Current. It was cool to see her again and she gave everyone big hugs when we arrived. A good amount of other regulars were there also and the place was generally packed for a Friday night. This was Dream Maker's first time at Current and he seemed to enjoy the place. Matt and Rod were playing DS for a while and Megu and other people kept coming by and like shutting their DSs telling them to stop playing hah. Also, Matt and Dream Maker made plans to team up with eachother for the Game Chariot tournament on Sunday and figured they would just show up and find a 3rd guy since they wanted to go play and check it out anyway. Then at some point, Yago came over with his PSP playing monster hunter. Later on in the night, Yago was like going on this fucking tickle rampage and was tickling the shit out of people. He did it to me in my rib cage area and was using his nails to like dig into my sides and it almost sorta hurt more than tickled. Megu was pretty ticklish too. Mogi said that there would be a big party at Current tomorrow night. I wasnt sure if I was gonna go cuz I sorta wanted to wake up early for the Chiba tournament and it takes like an hour and 15 mins to get there but in the end I decided I would go for a little bit at least, and could leave early if I needed to. A bunch of other people were asking us to go so we ended up promising them we would be there. Towards the end of the night there, this one girl who was sitting at the tables in the back all night who none of us had seen before suddenly came to sit with us. She started talking with us and eventually she was mostly just talking with Rod about various things.

After closing time we headed to PSY and that girl came with us. About maybe 10 people were there which is full for PSY. Matt was a bit nervous cuz the last time he was there, he doesnt really remember what happened exactly but remembers making out with the new bartender girl who supposedly is Natsume's (the owner of PSY) sister. Lots of people call her Imoto-san. It turned out that everything seemed ok. However, what Matt DIDNT remember was that the last time he was there, he drunkenly promised everyone he would bring them some wine from the US. He totally forgot to buy them wine but he did have a bottle on him that he was planning to give to his host family. Since he didnt wanna look like a dick in front of everyone, he busted out that bottle instead and shared it with everyone in the bar. I guess it was kinda expensive wine according to Matt. It was damn tasty though.

Also, Dream Theater recently finished recording their new 10th album which is supposed to come out in June. However, earlier in the week, the 1st 2 tracks were leaked online and I DLed them cuz im impatient (ill buy the album of course when it comes out). I asked Natsume (who is a big Dream Theater fan) if he heard it yet, and he said no, so I busted out my mp3 player and he played one of the new songs "A Nightmare to Remember" which is like a 14 minute long song and its quite awsome too. He said it sounded pretty good. Of course its hard to take in a whole 14 minute song on your first listen, espessially while you are working the bar and talking to people. As the bar was about to close, Matt wanted to order another beer. Natsume told him he had 10 minutes to drink it but Matt still wanted it. Everyone had already left the bar except for me, Rod, the girl who went with us, and Matt and the 2 bartenders. We were talking about various stuff and then Matt went off to the bathroom for a while. He eventually came out and when Imoto-san went into the bathroom, she came back out and thanked Matt for cleaning up and told him he didnt have to do that. I was confused, so I asked Matt if he threw up. He said no. Then I asked why he cleaned the bathroom? He didnt quite give me an answer and just seemed generally out of it. Eventually we finally started to head out. Rod, the girl, and I were standing outside waiting for Matt. After like 10 minutes, I finally went to check on him and saw him on the stairs struggling to even walk... he was just plastered. He stumbled down the stairs and said bye like super fast and just sped off on his own... lol. Rod headed to the train station with the girl (and I have no idea what happened with them but I assume they just split up at the station) and then I went on my own to get some quick food and then sleep at the manga kissa.

I woke up and after checking out of the manga kissa, I tried to call Kaking to confirm our plans. His phone was turned off. Matt had also told me that he was gonna go to Game Chariot too to go to play casuals with me and Kaking, but his phone was broken so I figured he might just show up. I figured id kill some time at Vegas then. I went inside and there was just like one lone Chipp player fighting the computer and his friends were watching him play for whatever reason. Also, standing their watching as if he was deciding whether or not to play this guy was Mitsurugi. I said hi to him and congratulated him on his victory last weekend for qualifying for SBO. He asked where I just came from and I explained to him how I always sleep at the manga kissa right across the street from Vegas. Then I told him about my plans for the day and stuff. It seemed like Vegas wasnt gonna get too bangin for a while so I figured I would just stick to the plan and head over to Game Chariot since Kaking said he would be there anyway. I said bye to Mitsurugi and set out.

On the way there, Kaking called me and said everything was still as planned. When I got to Game Chariot, it was pretty dead. It was 2 pm though so im not too surprised. Kaking wasnt there yet but after a little longer he made it. He said he got lost and got on the wrong train which is understandable since hes only been in Japan for less than a week. We then proceeded to play Faust vs Eddie matches for maybe like the next 2 hours. I didnt keep a record of every single match and result, but I would say I won more than he did but most of them were still good fights, and his Eddie is pretty good. He knows all the good setups and tricks. The biggest streak I got against him was 7 wins in a row and the most he got on me was 4 in a row. We ran into a few snags like one of the cabs randomly crashing while we were playing so we had to move to another one. Also, the sticks seemed really loose and I was having that FDC problem again so I asked one of the staff to switch the stick. Kaking said he noticed it was a little too loose too. The guy switched the stick but it felt exactly the same as the old one. After that, he said basically tough shit in a polite way and I had to play on it anyway. After a while, Kaking came over to talk to me and said he had about enough. He said he doesnt really know the Faust matchup that well since he said he doesnt often fight good Faust players in China. He also said I was really good and was impressed with my skill. I told him he had a good Eddie as well. I pretty much decided that I wanted to enter with him tomorrow and see how things panned out. We talked for a little bit about matchups and what characters we have trouble with and stuff. I told him how I had 2 guys already lined up and we basically needed to choose one of them. He said Baiken would be a better choice because shes a better character and I basically agree. I told him I would work it out and call him once I finalized the plans.

After that, we left and headed for the station. We were talking a bit more while waiting for the train. I asked if he wanted to go play in Shinjuku but he didnt really feel like going far and said he had enough games for the day. He explained to me that he loves the game and all but that its not so important to him to the point where he wants to really go out of his way too much to play a whole lot. I guess its understandable since everyone has other things in the lives. It pretty much seemed like Kaking is only going to be willing to enter any tournaments in which he doesnt have to go far. We got on the train and he got off about 4 stops later at Soga where he lives. I rode the rest of the way back to Shinjuku alone. During the train ride, I thought about things a bit and realized something that fixed everything with me team dilemma! I had remembered that Kunihiro had basically told me he only can enter Sunday tournaments cuz hes always busy with work on Saturdays. Well... tomorrows tournament is only the first of 3 prelims within this current qualifier block. The finals for the block is next Saturday. If we ended up winning tomorrow, we would have to go again on Saturday, and if Kunihiro cant even go, I dont want to team with him and wind up trying with a 2 man team after getting that far. So basically I mailed him and explained what was up with that and he said it made sense and I guess he didnt realize about the block finals being on a Saturday. He didnt seem upset at all and I didnt end up having to be a douchebag for dropping him from my team cuz I actually had a legit reasonf or it so everything worked out. I also mailed Honyo to confirm he can go tomorrow and he said everything was all good!

Eventually I made it back to Vegas. Upon entering the arcade, there was this guy playing one of those quiz games by himself that they have by the entrance. He looked a little strange and I noticed him staring at the screen and he kept smacking himself in the back of the head with his hand. I figured he was just doing like a motion for thinking or something, but then I noticed he was doing it still... for like a pretty long time... and then as I passed by him and saw the other side of his head where he was slapping it, I saw a giant patch of hair was missing... as if this guy smacks himself in the head so often that he has rendered that particular section of his scalp completely hairless! It was a bit odd, but he probably suffers from some sorta mental dissorder. Anyway, Matt never showed up at Game Chariot and he wasnt at Vegas either. I stayed at Vegas and played casuals for a few more hours vs various people. There was this one Eddie player that I was beating alot, I got like 11 wins on him in a row. He was using the same color as Tsu but it turned out to not be Tsu. The guy was still good though, but getting all that Eddie practice vs Kaking really helped so I was just doing really good vs him. I went and got some food, came back, and I played against a few other people throughout the night, and around 11:30 or so, it sorta got kinda dead so I figured I might as well just go to Current for that party since I might not be able to stay very late.

At first there was a normal size crowd, most of which were regulars and a few people I didnt know, over the next hour or so people just started crowding in and basically just about every single regular showed up that night! I got tackled by a double hug from Nozomi and Mame when I walked in and it was nice seeing lots of people I hadnt seen in a little bit. I went and sat at the bar next to Heidi. At some point, that one Fallout Boy song "This Ain't a Scene" came on. Im by no means a Fallout Boy fan and pretty much dont know crap about them but they play that song from time to time so ive heard it a lot. Anyway, Masami was working the bar and he asks me what the lyrics in the chorus are saying? I have no fucking clue to be honest. Then writes down his interpretation of the lyrics on a sheet of paper in which read...

"I'm a little man..
and also evil
also into cats
...also into cats!"

and drew a small picture of a tiny man, a skull, and a cat face. I dont know why, maybe cuz the song was still playing and I was picturing the lyrics he said when that part came on, and probably cuz I had a few beers, but I just couldnt stop laughing. It was like the funniest shit ever at the time! LOL!

Anyway, eventually I noticed that the girl sitting on the other side of Heidi wasnt just some random girl who I didnt know, it was Maiyuko with a haircut! She looked good. I was surprised as hell to see her cuz she hardly ever goes to Current anymore. I switched seats with Heidi and Maiyuko and I had a talk for a while. I dont wanna get too into her personal life but basically it turns out shes not gonna marry Mikey (the guy she was gonna marry) anymore. Its complicated and ill just leave it at that. She told me he was coming by later though and after a while he came in and sat next to her. I chatted with him slightly and then she started talking with Mikey a bit while I was talking with Heidi. Suddenly Maiyuko asks me if I ever look at porn. Seemed kinda random of a question, but I said, yea sometimes. Then she was like giving me shit about it cuz I have a girlfriend. And im like, well basically if I dont see Ryoko for a long time sometimes I look at porn, I dont think its so uncommon for guys who have girlfriends to occasionally look at porn now and then, but she seemed to think so. In any case, it seemed to have something to do with the conversation she had with Mikey and I didnt wanna really get into some big argument so I just kinda avoided that conversation going any further lol. Throughout the rest of the night I went around and talked with a bunch of various people like Ayano, Megu, Chip, and a bunch of other people. I danced around like a drunk idiot with Tomoko and her friends and some other people too cuz dancing around drunk all night is Tomoko's trade mark. Rod couldnt make it tonight cuz he had to go on a field trip early in the morning so I told her he said hi. Yago was having one of his epic take off his shirt moments and was wearing it on his head like a sentai super hero which was pretty hilarious. Also, throughout the night, some people were asking me where Matt was and I had no idea myself cuz he was supposed to come but never did show up. At some point, I had a long talk with Heidi cuz shes been feeling very depressed lately and I wanted to cheer her up. I hope she ends up doing ok. Around 4 pm, I told myself I should probably get going so that I could get out to Game Chariot at a reasonable time. I was feeling great and would have loved to drink for another hour or more but the tournament takes priority and I was glad I got to stay for as long as I did and had fun so it was all good. I said bye to everyone and headed to the manga kissa.

I woke up the next morning and took the train out to Game Chariot. I would have gotten there way sooner but my train got delayed at Chiba station for like 20 minutes. When I boarded at Chiba station to get on the train that goes to Game Chariot, out of no where, the Baiken player who always teams up with Taku and Sadu said hi to me. His name on the signup sheets is always 六合, which is read as "Kuni". His Baiken is really sick. Anyway, we were talking for a bit on the train about stuff. He asked who my team was this time (since he saw me last weekend with Shiratori and EVE) and I told him I had a different team this time. Also, I asked him out of curiosity if he thinks a lot of Tokyo players will travel to Hokkaido for golden week (which is in like 2 weeks) for the Hokkaido qualifier block going on. He said he wasnt sure but was thinking about doing it himself since he is originally from there. Its something I was thinking about doing but I dont wanna go out there unless I have a team that will go with me, and I honestly cant see any of the people I team with often wanting to actually go out that far. Anyway, he was also asking me stuff about the US GG scene. He said he saw my vids online and stuff (I guess more Japanese people watch my vids on youtube than I realized), and I was telling him how qualifying out here in Japan is rough as hell and how I wish I could play on the US team but that going ot the qual seems pretty impossible for me. Just like every other Japanese player ive told about the US scene, he was shocked to hear that everyone plays on PS2 and that we have like almost no arcades haha. Also, I asked him who won the Shizuoka tournament and he said Maruken's team are now in the final SBO tournament. I dont know who was on his team exactly but it might be the same players that were on it when we lost to him in Omiya a few weeks ago.

Anyway, we eventually arived at Game Chariot. Dream Maker also arived at the same time and was probably on the same train as me. He asked where Matt was cuz he was supposed to team with him, but I told him I hadnt seen Matt since Friday night so I had no idea. Also, Kaking was there and he asked where Honyo was. I told him I got a mail from Honyo on the way saying he would be there around 1 pm. Right now, it was about 12:30. I was surprised that it wasnt very packed yet considering signups would end at 1:30 and the tournament would start at 2:00. After a little longer, Honyo wasnt there yet, so we figured we might as well just go signup without him there yet and sign his name for him. No big deal. I couldnt remember what handle Honyo uses so I mailed him and he said to sign him up as "Ichinino". I signed up our team name as Manga Kissa Warrior again. While I was signing us up, all of a sudden out of no where, Matt just appears. He told me he had been there for a while. I guess he was on the other side of the cabs and I somehow missed him. He said he was missing all day yesterday cuz he completely slept through the entire day and didnt wake up until 2 am this morning lol! He signed up with Dream Maker as a 2 man team hoping to find a 3rd, but unfortunately for them, they never did.

Around this time, it started to get packed, and just as I was expecting, ALL the big names from the Tokyo area came out to this (except for Ogawas team who has yet to be seen). It was hard to get a turn in and I only played a few games before the tournament started. I played againts big names like Kazuki, Inoue, and Kawin and lost to all of them but took rounds and felt like I played decent. Funny cuz all 3 of those guys were on the same team. Inoue was beasting and got 16 wins and finally was defeated by En-Slayer but it even took En a few tries to take Inoue down. Eventually Honyo showed up too and played a few games of casuals and seemed to be doing pretty good. Kaking said he had no desire to play before the tournament so he just watched. Also, its worth noting that just about every single fucking top Slayer player in Kanto was at this thing! En, Hase, Kami-chan, Taku, and several others. Fucking Slayer invasion.

Eventually the brackets were put up and we saw that we were lucky to get a bye first match. There was also another 2 man team besides Matt's team. A total of 21 teams entered. My bracket had 2 extremely nasty teams in it; Inoue/Kawin/Kazuki and Hase/Udei/MK. Both of those teams ended up winning their first matches and Kawin OCVd his opponents. Gin (SL) was there and teamed with AGF's Anji (mastache Anji who uses black color) and some Robo-Ky im not familiar with. They won their first game as well. Also, Taku's team won their first game and En's team had a bi. Ojima and his usual team (Reo (AB) and Jyui (KY)) won as well. Matt and Dream Maker got OCVd by a Robo-Ky player.

While I was watching all these matches, I noticed something... odd. Ive mentioned before in my blog that theres this kinda bulky Japanese guy with long hair in a pony tail who is really anti social and odd and I have encountered him a few times before. Once was when I asked him if he had a team last year during the Ikebukuro GIGO qual, and another time was when I saw him at Sportsland during G3 ranbats time this year and tried to ask him a question. Both times he just like completely ignored me and walked away. Anyway, this guy was there again and as usual, I dont even think he entered the tournament... but what I DID notice he was doing.. was sitting there watching the matches and making little toy gundams out of clay. Yea, thats right... he was sitting there making little clay gundam men. And im not talking about like scultures, just little half ass shitty looking gundams like a child would make in art class. He made them and layed them out on a chair near where he was standing. Then I noticed... that during the matches, he was listening to his headphones and getting like SUPER INTENSE about watching the matches. Not just like cheering people on, but like random outbursts of sounds! He was like all jumping up and down with his fists out like he was ready to box someone and he was just making random "graa!" sounds and saying random words in Japanese! Matt and I were just both like... w..t..f... Theres a good chance I will end up writing about this character again sometime so Im just gonna name him Clay Gundam man.

It was time for our first match and we were to face a team of Mio(SO)/Yuu(KY)/Eneosu(SL). Since I know all 3 of these matchups fairly well, I volaunteered to go first. They put their SL first. Of the 3, this was the one that I wanted to fight the least, though everyone on my team felt the same way heh. First round was kinda close but I lost. 2nd round, I played good and won. 3rd round, was going ok but I found myself getting put in the corner a lot. I escaped and was hovering above Slayer with FDC floats to come down safely but I ran out of meter and accidently did a down kick which floated over his head and he was able to punish me. My fault for not watching my bar carefully enough I guess. In any case, I ended up losing but it was kinda close. Kaking went next. It was a close match but he ended up defeating the Slayer with lots of unblockables and some surprise EX drills. Up next was the Sol player Mio. This guy looked pretty solid from when I was watching him earlier. I dont remember the order, but both of them ended up winning a round each. It was the final round, and the Sol was just about to pretty much perfect Kaking, but he made the most fucking epic comeback ever and ended up basically reverse perfecting Sol ftw! Up last was the Ky player Yuu. This guy was also really solid and he unfortunately ended up taking out Kaking. Our last hope was Honyo and his Baiken. It started off going well the first round but Honyo kept getting hi by lots of projectiles and was having trouble getting in on Ky. He lost the first round. It was looking pretty hopeless the 2nd round and I thought it was gonna be over right there, but then Honyo also made this awsome crazy comeback with some tricky mixups and crossups in the corner and took the 2nd round! The 3rd round ended up being pretty much just like the first round though and Honyo was defeated by Ky. Could I have won had I went last instead of first? I have no idea. I know how to fight Ky but that guy was also really solid. In any case, it doesnt matter, we lost. Had we won, we would have had to fight Inoue's team next, who had just taken out Hase's team.

At this point I was hungry so I went to Lawson with Matt and got some of the greasiest food ive ever had and ate it outside and then went back in to watch the rest of the tourny and play some casuals.

Hightlights from the rest of the tournament are... Gin's team made it to the semi finals (the finals of their 1/3rd of the bracket) and lost to Taku's team. Also, En's team lost to Ojima's team! I was shocked as hell but that team has been beasting lately and they made it to the semi finals 2 weeks ago too. The final 3 teams were Taku's team, Inoue's team, and Ojima's team.

For the first match if the finals, Kazuki OCVd Sadu's whole team in the order of Sadu, Kuni, Taku.

Next for Ojima team vs Taku team... Reo beat Taku and Kuni himself! Then Sadu went and reverse OCVed the team in the order of Reo, Ojima, and their Ky player.

Last match of the tournament, Kazuki once again OCVd the entire team in the order of FA AB KY. The man was unstopable and Inoue and Kawin just sat back with smiles on their faces as Kazuki raped their way to a spot in the block finals next Saturday.

For those of you interested, my pictures page has been updated and I took a picture of the entire brackets so you can see all the teams, characters, and who fought who. Have a look.

Once the tournament ended, a few people cleared out while others stayed for casuals. I played for about another 2 hours and near the end it was pretty dead. I talked with Udei and for the next tournament hes teaming with Hase again but this time with ASA as well. Matt stuck around with me till the end as I played casuals vs people and he was fucking around on the other cab with Slayer for a while. We also ended up playing some Ky mirror matches and stuff for the hell of it cuz it was dead. Towards the end, I beat some Testament player who was using his Slayer and Sol on me like 8 in a row. Then he switched to Testament and won 2 close games and then I beat him once or twice and it was about time to leave after that. Matt and I headed out and took the train back and parted ways at Kinshicho station where we changed trains.

Next Wednesday is a national holiday in Japan. The next qual for this tournament is actually on that Wednesday. I have no work so I can go! I asked my team mates after losing our match if they can enter with me next Wednesday. Honyo said he was busy but Kaking said he would enter again if we can find a 3rd. I checked with Yuki (IN) and he said he is down to team with us, so it seems I have another fairly solid team again for Wednesday. Knowing we will have to face Inoue/Kazuki/Kawin if we win is pretty discouraging but I dont give a fuck, im not giving up. Theres no such thing as an easy ride to SBO in Japan so its time to man up and just fucking win already. If things dont work out on Wednesday, the block final is next Saturday in which Honyo said he can enter again, so at least I have a team no matter what happens. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Utsunomiya and Koriyama... my feet hurt.

I headed out Friday night after work as usual, but this time, instead of heading to Tokyo, I headed to Tochigi prefecture, which is to the east of Gunma where I live. The plan was to meet up with Shiratori (the I-no player who I had teamed up with several times last year who lives in Tochigi). My plans were sorta up in the air for most of the weekend but the whole purpose of coming out this way was to enter the SBO qual in Koriayama city in Fukushima prefecture, which is located to the north of Tochigi. My team would be Shiratori (IN) and EVE (AB) (who I also teamed with a few times last year along with Shiratori).

The total distance to get from my town to Koriyama is about 5 hours on the regular train, so in other words its pretty damn far. I wasn’t about to let that stop me though. Getting there wasn’t a problem since I would be stopping off in Tochigi on the way but going back would be a bit hard since the tournament would probably end somewhat late and I wouldn’t have time to take the train back on Sunday night. I pretty much was stuck taking the shinkansen (bullet train) back home, which only takes 2 hours. Unfortunately it costs 10,000 yen where as the regular train would only cost about 4,000 yen. Since I was planning to leave from the regular train station which is separate from the shinkansen station in my town, I had to figure out what I was gonna do about my car. Ryoko had Friday off, so she offered to come to my apartment, follow me to the shinkansen station where I would leave my car, and then instead of just dropping me off at the regular station, she drove me all the way to Maebashi which is about an hour away in the direction I needed to go anyway. We decided to have dinner together at a restaurant in Maebashi. I had a beer with my food too since I would be spending the next 2 hours on the train anyway. After a good meal, she dropped me off at the station where we said goodbye.

After a 2 hour train ride, I arrived in Utsunomiya, the largest city in Tochigi. This was my first time going there. Shiratori was there, waiting at the station in his car. Also, a friend of his named Kohei was in the back seat. He drove us to the best arcade in Utsunomiya which was about maybe about a 5 minute drive from the station. The place was called Tsurumaki. On the way there, Shiratori told me that the best team from Tochigi would be there at the arcade and would also be entering the SBO qual on Sunday. He said their team was Venom/Anji/Slayer. The first floor was full of mostly music games and a few shooters and stuff. The 2nd floor was mostly all fighting games and a few UFO catcher machines. The first floor of the arcade was opened 24 hours which was cool but unfortunately the 2nd floor (where all the fighters were) would close at midnight. We arrived a little after 9:30 so it gave us about 2 and a half hours to play. They only had 1 GGAC cab and it was set on 100 yen for 2 credits, 2/3 rounds. At least there was comp there though which is the important thing. I started out by fighting a Slayer player and losing, but then I played again since I had another credit and I won. Then I won against a Bridget twice, which turned out to be Shiratori’s friend Kohei. Then I played against an Anji and won twice in a row and then won 2 more against Kohei’s BR. Then finally, Shiratori played against me and he beat me in a close game. It had been a while since I played against Shiratori but his I-no is as beastly as ever. One of the best I-nos ive ever played against. Shiratori informed me that the Slayer and Anji that I just beat were 2 of the guys on the best team in Tochigi. Turns out that the 3rd guy (the Venom) was none other than HEVEN! He was there as well and I said hi to him but he didn’t play a single game all night, he just sat there and watched for a bit and eventually disappeared. I had no idea he lived in Tochigi cuz hes always in Tokyo playing but it’s the same situation for me I guess.

Shiratori was now on the cab and was beating some people up. He got 2 wins vs HOS, beat Kohei but then lost to Kohei but then beat him again. He then beat a Slayer and a Jam who were the same guy. Then he beat HOS twice again. It was my turn again and I rematched Shiratori and this time I won. Then I beat him once more but then he beat me twice in a row after that. The last game we played, I won the first round and then he perfected me round 2, and then I was a pixel away from perfecting him round 3 but then he came back and won! Crazy. Eventually I got back on the cab and got a 12 win streak but I didn’t keep track of who it was vs each game. Shiratori eventually ended it. Then I beat him one more time, got another 8 win streak with the last win vs Shiratori and then he rematched me and beat me. Basically me and Shiratori were going about even throughout the night I would say. If I was able to keep pressuring him and out zone him, I would win, but once he got on me and started his mixups there was little I could do to get him off me. Faust is a bad matchup for I-NO but Shiratori knows how to deal with Faust pretty well and is just generally a smart player.

Eventually it was about time to leave. Kohei said goodbye to us in the parking lot in front of the arcade and got in his own car. Shiratori drove around a bit with me trying to help me find a manga kissa for later for when I sleep but we didn’t see any so he just offered to drop me off at the station and wished me luck. He had work in the morning so he couldn’t stay out but said he would meet up with me tomorrow after work. He also lives about a half hour drive away from Utsunomiya. I thanked him for driving me around and headed out on my own to find a manga kissa. Little did I know, this would be a very long and epic walk..

Saturday, there was going to be a qual in another part of Fukushima called Iwaki. Iwaki is an additional 2 hours beyond Koriyama, making it a total of 4 hours away from where I was now. I had no team to enter with since both of my team mates would be busy (Shiratori had work and EVE was planning to enter a FATE unlimited codes qual at a different location) so there was really no point in going out there alone. As a result, I had no real plans for tomorrow except for just playing casuals all day and practicing. I figured there wouldn’t be much comp at Tsurumaki till later on so I had plenty of time to explore Utsunomiya, find a good place to drink and a manga kissa to sleep at.

I currently was on the east side of the train station. Since I saw a good bit of it from Shiratori’s car and didn’t see any manga kissas, I figured it would be best to go check out the west side of the station. The area immediately around the station had some stores and stuff but there wasn’t really all that much exciting stuff and most places were closed. Most of the bars were just snack bars and stuff like that (the shady bars where you pay lots of money to have some girl pore your beer and you end up spending WAY too much money and wonder why you ever went there to begin with). I wasn’t about to waste my time at those. There were hardly any people walking around on the streets, and the farther I got from the station, the fewer the people got. I figured while im searching for a place to drink, I might as well start drinking, so I grabbed a beer at a conbini, enjoyed some snus, and walked around till my beer ran out, searching for a place. Went to the next conbini, got another beer and used the toilet, searched some more, and repeated this process once again. I walked for a very very long time and very very far. I had no idea where I was going but I simply made sure to keep in mind where the station was incase I needed to go back. After searching and drinking for a few hours, I found a few places that seemed like they might be decent enough to drink at, but I still didn’t know where there was a manga kissa and I wasn’t gonna go into any bars until I made sure I had a place to sleep. Eventually, Ryoko mailed me and asked how I was doing. I told her I was looking for a manga kissa and after not finding one for a while, she got concerned. Being the extremely great girlfriend that she is, she searched online and checked how to get to some manga kissas for me and helped guide me. It turns out that there was one near the station on the east side afterall, but since I was WAY out deep on the west side from the station already, she told me that I might as well go to the manboo manga kissa which was very far from the station, since from where I was at now, it was actually closer. So basically she guided me and after walking a bit more I eventually found it after a lot of searching. Knowing that I found it, she was able to sleep so she said goodnight and I went inside to check the rates out.

This was a pretty big manboo and it was connected to a childrens game center, a supermarket and a food court (all of which was closed at the moment except for the manga kissa since it was already something like 3 am (yes, I walked around for like over 3 hours trying to find the manga kissa). The lobby was full of gatchapon machines (those little vending machines where the little figures and stuff come in those plastic bubbles), and they had not 1, but 2 original old school Super Mario Brothers sound drop machines! That shit is rare as hell! I quickly went to the desk to inquire about the rates which were a little more than I usually pay but good enough, got some change, and put like 2,000 yen worth of coins into the machine, buying like 10 of those sound drops. I was lucky enough to get one of every single one that I didn’t already have. The sounds are pipe, coin, mushroom, jump, swim, level start, die, and 1up. So now I have the entire Street Fighter II sound drop set and the entire Super Mario bros. sound drop set. Hell yea!

Since it was only about 3 am and I didn’t want to go to sleep quite yet, I figured I would set back out the way I came and try to check out some more bars. I drank some more on the way and after a lot more walking I eventually wound up back around the bars. By now it was maybe getting close to 4 am and most of the places ended up being closed already. I guess Im too used to Tokyo bars that are opened later. Eventually I gave in and just went into some small place that was opened and didn’t look to shady. I went inside and it was a small bar that was actually an izakaya, meaning they force you with a table charge and the place unfortunately only had bottled beer but oh well. Everyone drinking there was pretty old, at least 40 or 50. A few people started asking me all sorts of questions that people often ask foreigners like where are you from? and why are you here? and how long have you lived here? and so on and so forth. One of the guys bought me another big bottle of beer cuz he was drunk and I was answering his questions and I guess he just wanted to be a nice guy. After finishing both beers, it was getting late, already passed 5 am, and I was getting hungry and didn’t wanna eat expensive izakaya food so I just said goodbye and left and went to get some mcdonalds breakfast as I normally would anyway. After eating, I walked back to the manga kissa and pretty much passed out as soon as I hit the chair. I was drunk and tired as hell from all that walking. Not quite the same as a night at Current but I had my mp3 player headphones on the whole time I was walking around, the weather wasn’t so bad, and I got some excersise and got to see some new places so overall it was actually a pretty nice night.

I woke up the next day after about 7 hours of sleeping, took a shower, got some food at the super market next to the manboo, and headed out. I figured it would be best to just take it easy and look around at some of the shops on the way back towards the station since now everything was opened. It was a little before 2 am when I set out. I found a few other random arcades on the way but most of them sucked and only one of them had a GG cab and no one was playing it. I also found a few nice clothes stores and stuff and browsed a little but didn’t buy anything. It took a little over an hour but eventually I finally made it back to the station. From here, I figured I had best try to find the manga kissa that Ryoko said was close to the station now so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it later. I had the option of going to Koriyama tonight, of course, instead of staying in Utsunomiya again, but since Koriyama is actually a smaller city that Utsunomiya, I figured the chances of finding a manga kissa out there were gonna be even harder and I also wasn’t sure if anyone would be playing at the arcade there since most people would be out in Iwaki so I decided to just stay in Utsunomiya again and practice all day at Tsurumaki.

This time I searched a bit on the east side of the station and after searching for a while and not finding anything, I figured I might as well just check out Tsurumaki now and worry about the manga kissa later. I remembered how to get there since I went there in Shiratoris car but since I was on foot this time, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I also went down lots of side streets on the way to keep looking for a manga kissa so it took a while. Eventually I arrived in the area where I knew the arcade was at but didn’t see it. I walked too far, but ended up actually finding a manga kissa a little ways down from the area where the arcade was. This place was a much better option since it was way fucking closer than the manboo. Eventually I figured out that I passed the arcade, went back, and found the place, only to notice ANOTHER manga kissa down a different road not far from the arcade as well. So now I had 2 options. I wish I had known about those last night but oh well.

I went in the arcade expecting there to be no GG comp but was pleasantly surprised to see that 2 guys (a HOS and a ZA) were fighting eachother. I ended up playing a bunch of games vs these 2 guys at first and pretty much was beating the HOS almost every time and going about 50/50 with the Zappa. Eventually a Sol player also showed up who never beat me once. Shiratori called me on his phone saying he was already off work (by now it was about 4 or 5 pm) and said he would be coming to the arcade soon. Before I knew it, he arrived. Him and I played a bit more and mostly were going about 50/50 again. Also, the Venom player who Shiratori and I had teamed up with last year at the Fukaya qual named Ma showed up as well! I only played him one game (once vs his Ky and once vs his VE) and won both times. He told me im much stronger than he remembers. I also got an 18 win streak at some point vs everyone there and eventually Shiratori beat me and ended it. Shiratori then got a big streak of his own and was beasting as well. Eventually, HEVEN showed up with his Anji team mate. I played Anji once and won and then played one more and lost. A little after this, Shiratori and Ma said they were gonna leave and go to Oyama (another city in Tochigi) to go play there. He said they probably wouldn’t be coming back and that Tsurumaki would probably have stronger comp so I just told him I would stay here and told him I would see him tomorrow at the tournament. He said he was gonna drive there but that he already promised he was gonna drive 3 other people (a separate team that he was friends with) to the arcade but since I told him I would just take the train, it wasn’t a problem.

After that, for a while, HEVEN was just beasting with his Venom. He ended up getting 19 wins and eventually I beat him. However, since its 2 credits for 100 yen, he got to play again and then he beat me. After a few more games vs other people, eventually his Anji friend beat him once and got him off the machine. Then some Robo-Ky player beat the Anji and shortly after, HEVEN and his friend said bye and left. I spent the rest of the night playing there until closing time. A good red Slayer was there who I was going back and forth with in addition to the rest of the guys who were there the whole day pretty much. I lost my very last game to the Slayer as it was already just passed midnight and they were playing the closing time music.

I hadn’t eaten for like 7 hours cuz I didn’t wanna waste practice time so I was famished as hell. I set out and went to eat at the closest place I could find, which ended up being a Yoshinoya. I rushed that shit down and it tasted good as hell. I didn’t really feel like staying out late drinking again and figured it would be best to get a good nights sleep and get up early since I still had about a 20-30 minute walk to the station, followed by a 2 hour train ride, and then another long walk to the Koriyama arcade in the morning. I checked out one of the manga kissas, it had crappy rates and shitty chairs, so then I went to the other one which was much better, and passed out for the night.

After 6 and a half hours of sleep, I got up, walked back to Utsunomiya station, got some food to eat on the train, ate it, and then passed out for the entire train ride. I woke up in Koriyama at about 10:30 am. I had a map of how to get to the arcade from the station and it worked just fine. After about a 20 or 25 minute walk, I found Super Bingo game center. The place just opened at 11 so it was good timing. There were already some people there playing. Among them was Osaka B, Mitsurugi, and Natsume. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised hat those guys came all the way out here too. I asked Osaka B if he went to the Iwaki tournament the day before and he said he did and that some beastly team from Sendai ended up winning. This place had 2 cabs and they were both set on 3/5 rounds at 100 yen for 2 plays which meant it took a long time to get a turn in. I started out by playing a game vs a Chipp player who was beasting but I beat him 3 rounds straight and he got off the cab. Then Osaka B got on and beat me twice in a row but they were pretty close. Shortly after, I went to the conbini next to the arcade and Shiratori just pulled up in his car. With him was the team he promised to drive and it was none other than the venom player Ma, and Udei the Axl player along with some Eddie who I don’t know. I asked Udei what happened to teaming with Hase but he said he was gonna try different team mates. Hase ended up showing up anyway though but im not sure who his team was. Also of course, HEVEN’s team was there, and so was a team of Sadu (JO)/Taku (SL)/ some really good Baiken. Also, the female Dizzy player, Junya, who I teamed up with from Niigata last year was there with another female Sol from Niigata and some Millia playing guy from Niigata. I said hi to her as well and we wished eachother luck. Eventually EVE showed up and was playing Drum mania for whatever reason. He only lives a short bike ride away cuz hes living in Koriyama now for college. I asked him how the FATE tournament went but he said he lost first round. After that, the 3 of us went to sign up. We couldn’t think of a name so EVE just chose the name Accident Core. I played casuals a bit but honestly the place got so packed after a while, it was really hard to get a turn in and it was also hard to win a lot since these guys were all beasts. There was this one Faust player who I had never seen before but he was extremely good and was very surprising. He kept doing tricks where he would explode the bomb head bag in peoples faces and also in his face and slash back the bomb bag and combo off it and he did this like several times in the same round and with 100% accuracy rate. It opened up a whole new mixup game and I never really ever saw any other Fausts utilize this tactic much ever. Its something I certainly am going to learn how to do 100% and experiment with in training mode. I havnt honestly hit up training mode in a very long time and I think its about time I do so again.

Eventually the tournament started. 23 teams entered total. Udei and Ma’s team were the first team to play and they ended up losing their first match. They all got OCVed by that beastly Faust player I was just talking about. Also, the Niigata team was another team to go first. They were about to get OCVed but then their Millia player went last and reverse OCVed the other team.

It was now time for my teams first match. We were up against a team of FA/JA/AX. Shiratori said he would go first so we rolled with it. He started out by taking out the Faust, then defeated the Jam and finally beat the Axl! Our first match was an OCV by Shiratori! Nice. Up next I saw Sadu’s team fight HEVEN’s team. Sadu beat Anji, then HEVEN beat Sadu, Taku beat HEVEN, then the Slayer on HEVEN’s team (Shiratori said his name is Seiyu) beat Taku in a mirror match. Taku would have won but he dropped his last combo and did a whiffed twirling hurricane kick cape move (whatever the fuck its called) and lost. Then finally the Baiken took out Seiyuu.

Also, Niigata team went vs Osaka B team who already won their first match. Female Sol lost to Mitsurugi but then Junya beat Mitsurugi with her Dizzy! Then Osaka B went on to defeat the rest of their team by himself.

Our next match was vs a team of FA/ED/VE. The Faust on this team was none other than the beastly Faust I saw OCV Udei’s team. Shiratori told me these guys are good as hell and are the best players in Fukushima. EVE said he would go first. He ended up beating the Eddie player in a close game. I thought Shiratori should go next since he said he has trouble vs Venom and he beat the other Faust but he wasn’t feeling confident so I went next. Faust mirror matches suck. Both rounds were close but I lost to this guy’s Faust. He was getting a lot better items than me and as a result was able to stay on me better. I wanted to rush him down and maybe sometimes I was playing too defensive but the items just weren’t clicking, and in all honesty, this guy probably just has a better Faust than I do. Im not gonna lie. I lost to trying to jump out of the corner when he was on me with pogo stance and I would have gotten away with it and throw a bomb bag on him which would have hit, but he threw and item as I jumped out and it just happened to be a hammer which killed me. Ayway, Shiratori went next, and perfected the Faust the 1st round. The 2nd round, he was ONE HIT away from killing him but his dive didn’t come out and instead he got a whiffed HS and the Faust came back. The 3rd round the Faust won and we were now out of the tournament. All 3 of us lost to that damn Faust, and we were the 2nd team he defeated by himself.

At this point, it was only about 4:30. My original plan was to take the shinkansen back cuz I thought it would end later, but since we already lost, I checked the times on my phone, and if I left RIGHT NOW, I could take the regular train back. Sure it would take 5 hours, but it also would cost me a TON less money. I didn’t really feel that paying all that money to watch the end of the tournament where I cant even play casuals was worth it, so I decided to leave. I said goodbye to all the people I know and thanked my team mates and headed out. I walked back to the station and made it on the train just in time.

I then proceeded to play DS for 5 hours straight. All I have to say is that the Lost Sanctum in the DS re-release of Chrono Trigger has got to be the most stupid string of annoying fetch quests ever! WTF! Eventually I made it back to my town and since my car was at the Shinkansen station, Ryoko was kind enough to come pick me up and drive me there from the regular station since she lives close to both of them anyway.

Anyway, I checked the results on the tougeki website and the winners of the block ended up being Osaka B’s team. Im actually glad that they won since all 3 of them are pretty nice guys who I know sorta well and they are all really good players. Plus, now that they qualified I no longer have to worry about fighting their team, and they have been at every single qual that I have gone to so far so its good that they are out of the way. I also checked the SBO results page and noticed that Rob (HeartNana) qualified for BlazBlue! Amazing! So congrats to Rob. I wish I could qualify for GG but im not giving up yet. I still have some time left and im gonna be hitting up that training mode to level up.

Next week theres the Shizuoka block finals on Saturday. Its really kinda far to be honest but I would enter as long as I could find a team. As of yet its up in the air if I will enter that one but I may go but we will see. On Sunday is the Game Chariot prelim qual. I have team mates for that one and actually have some options at this point. I was gonna team up with Honyo and Kunihiro again but now theres this Chinese Eddie player who actually made it on the Chinese team last year but couldn’t go to SBO due to money issues so they sent someone else instead. Teaming with him is very tempting so I might team with him instead of either Honyo or Kunihiro but we will see. I have to see how things pan out. Heres hoping next weekend works out better. In any case, at least I wont have to do so much fucking walking.

Monday, April 13, 2009

France Invades Japan

Throughout the weekend I contacted various people in order to arange teams for this weekend's SBO quals. In the end, ASA said he had made plans to team with someone else. Kunihiro (the Anji I teamed with last time) was able to team with me on Sunday but not Saturday. I was able to get Hakata Honyo (the Baiken I teamed with once for a regular Vegas 2 on 2 tournament) to team with me and Kunihiro on Sunday. For Saturday, Yuki (the orange I-no who plays at Vegas) agreed to team with me for Saturday. I still needed one more team mate. Turns out, I got an email from the French player who goes by the dustloop handle Dream Maker. He had contacted me saying he would be in Japan for the next few months and wanted to meet up. He originally was just going to go to the qual to watch but since I needed one more team mate I asked if he would be able to team with me. I had no idea how good he was but having a team is better than showing up with a 2 man team and hoping you find someone so he agreed to team with me. With that, I was set for teams this weekend.

Friday night, there was an farewell enkai here in my town for the teachers who would be changing schools. One of the teachers was one of my JTEs (Japanese English Teacher that I teach with) who I am good friends with, so I was sad to see her go. The enkai was near my apartment so I was able to drink pretty late and just walk home. I drank from 6:30 pm till about 1:00 am and then went home to sleep.

I woke up on Saturday morning with a pretty killer hangover. After struggling to get out of bed, I finally got in the shower and took some headache medicine. I got a decent amount of sleep but still needed to sleep off the rest of the hangover. Luckily my 3 hour train ride to get to Tokyo was a good chance to get more sleep. After sleeping the whole way there, I woke up and my head no longer hurt. I pretty much felt fine so it was all good.

I arived in Shimura-sanchome which is sorta near Itabashi. I got tere at arund 1 pm. After a little walking, I found the Game Newton game center there. This was my first time going to this Game Newton (though I have been to the Oyama Game Newton a few time before, which is where the Sunday tournament would be held). When I got there, only 3 people were there playing GG. One of them was some random guy I dont know, the other 2 were Mitsurugi and Dream Maker, my team mate from France. I said hi to Mitsurugi and introduced myself to Drea, Maker and then we played some matches. I dont remember exactly how many games we played, but Dream Maker and I played a long set. He mostly uses Anji but also tried out his Testament. I think I won about 9 or 10 games and he managed to beat me twice with his Anji. I also played a few against the random guy who was using Venom. I lost a few to him at first but then beat him. Also, I lost a few to Mitsurugi but also managed to beat him as well.

Gradually, people stared to arrive and after a while, the place was absoloutely packed. This wasnt a very large arcade so it was pretty crazy how packed it got. A ton of big name players were there, pretty much all the ones that were at the last few tournaments plus even more. Also, Gin was there (Gin has a habit of just cutting people in line, coming out of no where and getting on a cab when other people having been waiting for a long time and things like that. Gin is now a slang verb for the act of jacking someones turn in line while waiting to play. So next time you are playing with your friends at home or the arcade, please feel free to use terms such as "I got Ginned" or something of that nature). Anyway, I was about to get on the cab after someone just lost, the cab was right next to the front entrance of the arcade. All of a sudden, Gin pulled of the most epic Ginning he has ever Ginned. He just walks in the arcade from out of no where, and goes from being outside and suddenly heads right to the cabinet, walks right in front of everyone and is sitting down on the stool before you could even blink. It was truley some ninja shit. I was just like "........" thinking, where the fuck did he just come from!!?!? While I dont condone the act of Ginning, and sometimes it even annoys me, I have to somewhat respect the skill and true level of mastery this guy has achieved.

Anyway, I was doing pretty well in casuals before the tournament taking some games on people like Natsume, Osaka B, Sadu, Nemo, and some others. I even perfected Maruken one round but lost to him anyway hah. Also, I played Machaboo once but he was too powerful to take down. At some point, Yuki (my other team mate) mailed me and said he arrived at the station. It was close by so I went there to meet him in front of the station to show him how to get to the arcade. While I was waiting, Mugen also got off the train and said hi to me and asked me where the arcade was so I gave him directions. When Yuki arrived he also had this one white guy with him named William. William just came to watch and doesnt play any Guilty Gear and for most of the tournament he went to a pet shop to go look around while waiting. Now im not 100% sure on this but judging by eachothers mannerisms towards eachother and the way they both kinda speak, I think Yuki may be gay and William may be his boyfriend. He didnt say and I didnt ask but that was the vibe I got anyway. Its kinda irelevent anyway. Also, I didnt know till now cuz I always spoke with him in Japanese but Yuki actually speaks pretty much fluent English! He told me later that he just spoke Japanese to me to be polite since I always spoke Japanese to him first haha.

Eventually at around 5 pm the tournament started and there were a total of 33 (99 people) crammed in this little arcade. It was nice out so the doors were open and a lot of people were just chilling outside in front. Our first match was vs Ain (Ky)'s team. Ain is the guy who kinda looks like a Japanese version of the Chicago player Floe. Dream Maker went first and lost... then I went next. The first round wasnt too bad but Ain played really careful and was good at squeezing quick hits in and getting damage in little by little. I lost the first round. The 2nd round went pretty much down to the last pixel but in the end I lost that one as well. Finally Yuki went with his I-no and tried his best but was also taken down. So just like that it was already over. I got practice in and had a lot of good matches and was playing pretty decent all day but we got taken out pretty early unfortunately.

After that, I was pretty hungry so I suggested to everyone we get some food. I didnt really want to sit and watch the whole tournament. We went back to Shinjuku to go eat. Dream Maker had another French friend living in Tokyo (doesnt play fighting games) that he wanted to meet up with, so we waited in front of Shinjuku station and eventually he showed up. The 5 of us went to an Italian resturaunt sorta near the Wendys I used to go to often. It was pretty good but slightly pricy, but I got a nice garlic and anchove pizza and rushed that shit down. Also, our waitress was cute as hell. We pretty much just talked about various stuff. William said his job in Japan is working for a company where he sings English songs to children over the phone. I never knew such a thing existed or why someone would pay for it when they can just get a CD but hey whatever.

After eating, we headed to Vegas where we also met up with Rod. A few of the people who were at the tournament were there at this point but most of the big names werent there. I got some good games in and got something like a 15 win streak at one point. Rod was playing well and managed to beat me twice throughout the course of the night. At some point I fought some Chipp player and won. Then Dream Maker comes around and tells me "Joe Higashi is here!". Im like "really? Where?" and hes like "you just beat him" hah. Joe Higashi was one of the French players who was on last years Europe SBO team. Turns out hes gonna be living in Japan from now on for about a year now. I played him in I think maybe 4 or 5 games and won all of them except for one. We all played for a while longer against various people and eventually it was getting late so everyone gradually started to head out and go home. Rod also left cuz had to work tomorrow.

At one point I was playing and noticed that out of the corner of my eye, the person sitting at the cab next to me was sorta looking at me. I looked over and Kunihiro was suddenly sitting there haha. I said hi to him and then asked him if he knew how to get to Game Newton Oyama. He said he knew how to get to Oyama but not the arcade so I told him I would meet him in front of the station at some point tomorrow and show him the way. I left shortly after that cuz there was hardly anyone there playing anymore so I said bye to him and headed out.

I went to Current alone. It was a metal event night so it was pretty fucking packed. Chip was there and also SPG Chris came back from a vacation and was there for the first time in a while. Also, mostly all the usual metal event regulars showed up as well. Also for the first time in a while, Monty came! He bought me a shot as soon as I said hi to him. Other than that it was pretty much a regular metal event night. I got really drunk and partied out to metal and talked to Chipp for a bit and Monty for a bit and did another round of shots with him later. Around 4:30 they started to turn the lights on and close up. I was about ready to just get some food and go to sleep so I said bye to everyone and left.

I arrived at McDonalds at about 4:50. They start selling breakfast at 5:00 am and when I tried to order a breakfast item they were EXTREMELY ANAL about not letting me order it until exactly 5:00 am on the dot. Not at 4:58... not at 4:59... even though they already started flipping the menus over. I found it quite rediculous cuz I was like the only one standing there waiting for food for like almost 10 minutes but whatever. Also these 2 wasted drunk white guys came in all staggering around and tried to order food with a credit card and they wouldnt let them so then they like tried to pay in like all small value coins and dumped like a zillion 10 5 and 1 yen coins out on the counter and then ended up not having enough. It was pretty funny to watch cuz they could hardly stand up straight. I eventually got my food, ate it fast, and passed out at the manga kissa.

The next morning I woke up and arrived in Oyama a little bit after noon. I went to the arcade and a few players like Osaka B, Mitsurugi and about 10 others were already there. I asked Mitsurugi who won yesterday and he said the winning team was Machaboo(KY)/Nemo(TE)/ISA(ED). Shortly after, I got a mail from Kunihiro saying he would be there soon so I went back to the station and met up with him there. We played casuals for a little while. They had 6 cabs set up with one of them off to the side set up in like a tournament style mode where both cabs were against the wall but sorta side by side instead of head to head and they had a huge screen mounted on the wall between them for spectators (as they always have had at this Game Newton, I think theres an old pic somewhere). Most of the people were playing on the 5 cabs in the back that were next to eachother. When I was getting change at some point, Mitsurugi came up to me and told me he was embarrased cuz no one was playing over on the other one and I could see his green zappa chilling there against the computer. I told him lets play a game over there then. I got on the cab and beat him 2 rounds straight pretty fast (it was set on 2/3 rounds), dizzying him both times. He told me I was very strong. Maybe I just got lucky? LOL. After that, no one else wanted to play over there so I just went over and played at the other area again.

Not long after, I got a mail from Honyo-san (the Baiken on my team) who also was having trouble finding the arcade. I went and met him at the station and showed him the way as well. There were a ton of people gradually flooding in now as time drew nearer to the tournament. Now there were people playing on ALL the cabs. Me and my 2 team mates played a few games on the big tournament cab for a while against people. I started out getting like a 6 or 7 win streak and eventually lost to May. Then Kunihiro went on and got himself like a win streak of about the same size until he eventually lost. Then Honyo-san did the same thing. I went one more time after that and got like another 5 wins until losing. Both Kunihiro and Honyo-san were playing extremely well. I hadnt seen Honyo-san play in a long time and I forgot exactly how good his Baiken actually was.

Later on I was also playing some casual games on the other cabs and there was like this one cab sorta in the middle that I noticed the stick was waaayy too loose and overly springy. I was fighting this one Jam who was decent but I would have easily beat him but I kept messing up my FDC inputs. When I FDC with Faust, when I want to do the instant overhead air kick into another down kick in the air, I sorta let got of the stick for a split second to let it go to neautural before I input the down kick, which always works fine. However when the stick is too springy and loose, it springs back and forth and causes the stick to input a 2nd double jump that I dont want. So instead of getting the FDC, I get a FDC followed by a double jump and a kick which of course whiffs. Its pretty annoying. I rarely ever encounter this problem on most cabs. I just figured, whatever, I wont play on this cab anymore then.

I signed up our team name as "まんが喫茶 Warrior!" Which means Manga kissa Warror! I thought the name was kinda fitting heh. I let Kunihiro and Honyo-san sign their own names and Kunihiro entered as "92" and Honyo entered as "Atonse". I didnt know they went by those names for tournaments but whatever. Just like yesterday, this time there was also 33 teams total. The place was packed. A few noteworthy teams aside from the same good ones I had mentioned from past quals this year so far were Kazuki(DI)/Inoue(OR)/Kawin(PO) and 012(SO)/Kishya(FA)/Imo(ZA). I also saw a lot of players who I hadnt seen try out for SBO GG this year yet like HH and Masutani which was surprising. Just about everyone from Kanto who is anyone was at this thing except for Ogawa's team and also FAB wasnt there.

Our first match was against a team of Anji, Slayer, Venom. I wasnt familiar with the players on the team and dont remember their names. We decided to let Kunihiro go first cuz he said he feels comfortable enough with those matchups. I played RPS to determine sides but I lost. Then they told us to go play on cabinet #3. I was a bit worried cuz I realized that cabinet #3 was the cab I was playing on earlier with the crappy springy stick... and just my luck... the other team picks the side I wanted and we get stuck on the side that has the same stick I was playing on before. I thought about asking them to tighten it but I didnt wanna be a dick and delay the tournament so I figured I would just deal with it. Kunihiro went first and the other team also had their Anji player go first, so it was an Anji mirror match. Man.... what a stupid match this is. Most mirror matches are kinda dumb but this one just seems kinda extra rediculous with all the guard pointing and counter guard pointing. Kunihiro lost the first round, won the 2nd, and lost the 3rd. Honyo told me he had trouble with Slayer and Venom so I just told him to go next against Anji. He played alright but for whatever reason, he lost as well. It was now up to me to OCV their team. I did my best even though I didnt feel very comfortable playing on that stick. I ended up beating the Anji player 2-1. I honestly felt that Kunihiro has a way better Anji and gives me more trouble when I play him in casuals, but I guess mirror matches are sometimes just random. Up next they busted out their Slayer on me. Throughout this match I was being pluaged by the stupid stick messing up my inputs and screwing up my mixup game. I lost the first round. The 2nd round wasnt going so well and I was down by a bit but I made a huge comeback and took round 2. Round 3 I stuck in there and won as well. The last match was vs Venom. Once again, stick giving me lots of trouble here. I found myself getting pinned in the corner a lot and I blocked his mixups very well and for a really long time. I was able to get out a few times and fight back but a few input mistakes here and there really fucked me over and I ended up losing. I was pretty disapointed because I really felt we coulda had that one. Those guys were good (as is just about every player that goes to SBO quals in Japan) but i didnt feel like they overwhelmed us at all. The stick thing was a problem but dont get me wrong... im not blaming it entirely on the stick cuz that would just be a bitch move. It certainly hindered me but if I truley deserved to win I probably shoudl have been able to figure some way around it or something. Anyway... We kinda stood there for a few minutes not saying anything and then just dealt with it.

Next weekend there are no SBO quals for GG in the Kanto area. There are some quals in Shizuoka and in Fukushima. Shizuoka is in the center region of Japan in sorta the south end while Fukushima is northeast of Gunma, so its pretty far from Tokyo. I live in Gunma and even then, Fukushima is pretty far from where I live. I know that none of the guys I team with from Tokyo are going to be willing to travel that far all the way from Tokyo, but during the week I contacted Eve (AB) and Shiratori (IN) (my old team mates from the Tochigi tournaments last year), and since Tochigi is close to Fukushima, they said they would enter the Sunday block final with me next weekend! I was pretty happy about that. I told this to Kunihiro and Honyo and told them that if my team doesnt win the Fukushima spot, that I would be entering the following weekend qual at Game Chariot Goi in Chiba. They both agreed that they will team with me again for that one if I dont win next weekend.

From here on, I pretty much just played casuals the rest of the day and watched a few of the tournament matches here and there. There was a Slayer who challenged me like 4 times in a row before he finally beat me right after the tournament match, I think it might have been the same guy. Seemed rather determined. After a little bit, I had to take a shit. I went over to wait by the bathroom and they only have one non urinal toilet in the entire arcade and some guy was in there for literally like over 15 minutes. While I was waiting, I was watching the match going on on the big screen and cought Osaka B fighting Kishya in a mirror match. It went to the last round but Kishya took it. Next, Natsume came out strong and beat Kishya with his Dizzy. Finally 012 defeated Natsume for the win. I asked Osaka B and he said that Mitsurugi and Imo ha a Zappa mirror match the first match of the set and Mitsurugi won, but then he was defeated by Kishya which lead to the Faust mirror match I came in at. The guy in the toilet was still in there so I just gave up and used the 7-11 across the street. When I got back, the guy was STILL in there... I wonder wtf he was doing in there.

Anyway, I went back and played more casuals. I was doing really well and got a small win streak and beat a lot of really good players. ASA was also beasting on the cab next to me and ended up getting something like 21 wins! After ASA lost he was talking with me for a while. He asked how we did and I told him what happened. He said that his team got OCVed by Kazuki. I found out the people he ended up teaming with instead this time were none other than Udei and Hase. I guess that makes sense why he would rather team with those guys over me and Kunihiro again. Then ASA was like "You are the best player in American right?" in Japanese. I didnt really quite know how to answer that question because I honestly dont know the answer. I basically said maybe but im not sure, and that I had won and placed in a ton of tournaments in the US before. I didnt really wanna sound like I was bragging and I guess depending on who you ask, everyone has their own opinion of who the best US player is. He asked if I was the Evolution Champion and I told him that I did infact win Evo last year. We made a little more small talk and I asked him if he thought any Japanese players would go to EVO this year but he said he didnt know. I told him how I really wanted to play on the US team but that since the qualifier is in June and I cant get enough time to get off work and fly to the US during that time, nor can I afford to fly there twice this summer, that entering seems rather impossable. I also asked him if he thinks a lot of the top Tokyo players will go to Fukushima block final next Sunday and he says they probably will find some way to get there since quals are so scarce this year compared to last year. So it seems it wont be an easy ride once again (as I would have expected anyway).

Anyway, to recap the rest of the tournament which I saw bits and pieces of here and there between playing casuals, I saw a black I-no take out 012's team which shocked me pretty hard. Eventually it was time for the finals for the preliminary and it was a team of Faust/ABA/Ky (not sure who they were but I think the Faust may have been Ojima) vs Mugen(BR)/Chonari(ZA)/Karun(JA). Mugen's team ended up taking the win and would now face Machaboo's team in the grand block finals.

This is how it went down.. Machaboo beat Mugen, then Chonari beat Machaboo. It was very close and if I remember correctly, Machaboo had lost to a Zappa player last year in the final SBO tournament as well. I dont remember if it was Chonari or not but they both use the blue and purple skeletor Zappa color. Up next, Isa beats Chonari but it was also very close. Then Kurun went vs Isa and won both rounds but both were extremely close and really entertaining to watch. Final match was Karun vs Nemo. Nemo won the first round. Karun was down to like basically no life and Nemo had a ton left. Karun landed a gold burst and managed to sneak in a kick power up and he managed to squeeze a HUGE fucking combo in on Nemo for like one of the most epic comebacks ever. Unfortunately for Karun, Nemo wasnt going out like that and came back in round 3 to take the SBO spot for his team. So the B-7 block winners are Machaboo(KY)/ISA(ED)/Nemo(TE).

After that I stayed and played casuals for maybe another hour. During this time, I also noticed other Faust players occasionally fuck up their FDCs and end up doing that double jump whiff kick shit from the stick being loose so I guess there were other sticks that were a little messed up too. For a while, Seta's SL was just beasting on people and also this one red ED was giving me some trouble. I came really close to beating him, lost by like a pixel. By that point I was just getting really tired and had to leave soon. My team mates were getting tired as well and werent winning so much anymore. They seem very determined to practice hard though and train for the next 2 weeks until the next tournament so im glad that they are serious about entering again. On my way out I looked at who the Eddie was and it was Kishya! I never saw him play Eddie before but his Eddie is a beast and he knew exactly what to do against Faust so I guess that makes sense. I headed home and slept pretty much the whole way back.

So next weekend I will be heading for my very first time to Fukushima prefecture. I know this shit isnt going to be easy and I have no idea exactly who else is gonna show up but I have high hopes for this one. Last year when I teamed with Shiratori we made it to the semi finals 3 times, so hopefully we can kick some ass again this time around.