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.