Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Count of Tuscany

So earlier this week, the rest of the new Dream Theater album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings was leaked online. The album comes out next month and I'm gonna buy it for sure but I couldn't wait so I DLed the rest of it. Among all the songs, one track stands above all else. Nothing can match the might and epic proportions of The Count of Tuscany. Why is this song so epic? Well, for one its an almost 20 minute long song, and every last second of it is musically so well composed and sounds just increadible. You would think that with a name like The Count of Tuscany, the song would be pretty cheesey. Well, as far as the lyrics are concerned, you would be right! I dont understand how a song so beautifully written musically can have some god awful cheese for lyrics but the lyrics are so bad that they are good! For example... just check out this line here...

"Let me introduce....
my brother!
Bearded gentleman...
Suckin' on his pipe...
distinguished accent!
Makin' me uptight...
no accident!"

So as you can see, The Count of Tuscany's brother is clearly Slayer from GG! I mean... cmon, theres no denying it. When Slayer wants to get away from things in Translvania for a while and is sick of beating Sol's ass, he takes Sharon down to Tuscany to go smoke pipes and drink rare vintage wines in his brother's castle in Tuscany. I highly encourage anyone to listen to this song, even if you dont like metal. You'll either be rocking the fuck out or laughing your ass off (or both). Either way you win!

Anyway, I listened to the new DT songs the whole way up to Tokyo on the train. I headed right for Takadanobaba Mikado for games. As I suspected, it was packed with top players. Osaka B told me most people are just getting kind of tired of playing at Vegas which I can understand seeing as how its nice to have a change of environment, and they havnt even had a working bathroom there for like almost half a year now... lazy fucks...

So eventually Matt met up with me at Mikado. I played a good ammount of matches but after maybe just like an hour or 90 minues, it was already starting to clear out. One thing I noticed was that Mike (the Jam player) was there playing TvC the whole time. Mostly just practicing combos against in arcade mode.

Since it was already starting to die down, Matt and I just decided to go back to Shinjuku and check out Vegas. When we arrived there, it was dead as hell. I think only 2 or 3 people were there. One of them was Dream Maker. We told him we were gonna go to Current and he said he wanted to tag along. Also, I called up Rod and he said he was gonna meet us at Current later. I told him to watch his back for The Count of Tuscany, to which he replied that he had no idea wtf I was talking about, as I would have expected!

Earlier in the week, I had a sore throat and it was gradually starting to get worse since I had a pretty heavy night of drinking back in my town for my friend Cynthia's birthday with her and Ryoko. As we were walking to Current, not only did I notice that my throat was getting worse but I was also beginning to feel slightly feverish and ill.

This weekend, there were 2 tournaments scheduled in Kanagawa. Saturday was the prelim and then Sunday was another prelim followed by the block finals. I contacted Kunihiro and Honyo and both of them said that they could probably only enter the one on Saturday (which I was surprised about since Kunihiro is usually only able to enter Sunday tournaments). I asked them what will happen if we win since Sunday is the finals, and they both said they will change their plans and enter Sunday if we win on Saturday, but wont enter otherwise. So as of now, the plan was to enter with those 2 guys for the Saturday tournament. The problem was that the tournament signups started at 10 am, and that they were only taking 16 teams max. This meant I had to get up pretty early since it would take about a half hour to get there as well.

I went to Current anyway, and it was surprisingly full for a regular Friday night. Rod showed up with this one Austrialian white girl named Jessica. She was pretty hot, and into death metal (but didnt really look like a metal head at first glance) and had really big boobs. We chatted with her for a bit until she eventually left to meet up with some other friends. The rest of the night, I played a little DS, as did Rod, and I tried to not drink very much since I was just feeling sick and drained as hell. At around 2:30, I left and headed for the manga kissa since I knew I needed to watch out for my health and also had to get up early.

I woke up the next morning on my own without my alarm. My alarm had already gone off.... one hour ago... and it had failed to wake me up. I set it for 8:30 to make sure I got there on time to register, but I woke up at 9:30. This meant I had to haul ass over to the game center to go register ASAP. My health was feeling better at least but I was still kinda tired. I took the train down to Kanagawa via the Odakyu line and found an arcade near the station. I saw a few familiar faces playing casuals on the one cab they had. I asked a staff member if I could register for the tournament, but he told me I had the wrong arcade and said it was at the place next door. There was another arcade called Tekmopia, right across the ally. I went inside and there was once again, one cab with lots of familiar faces playing. I immedietly got in line to register. It was about 10:15 right now. There were 2 guys in line ahead of me and when it was there turn they turned around and said to me, "Oh you are ElvenShadow right?" and Im like "yea" and they explained to me that they were a 2 man team and needed one more person. They asked if I already had a team. I told them I did. Then they told me that they just registered as the 16th and final team for the tournament. So basically, what this meant was, I had 2 options... I could either enter with these 2 guys or I could not enter the tournament at all. There was no possible way I could enter with Kunihiro and Honyo anymore so I figured I might as well just enter with these guys since playing is better than not playing. I agreed to join their team. They were a Dizzy playing named Nishi and a Slayer player named Kumosan. Ive never heard of them before. Anyway, after registering, I mailed Honyo and Kunihiro and told them that I got to the place late and wasnt able to register our team in time so we wouldnt be able to enter together. They werent upset at me and just basically said its too bad that the arcade had such strict entry requirements and said we should team up again sometime.

I then began to watch as RF beasted a bunch of people in casuals. While I was watching him play, JT was there and he asked me who my team was. I told him and he said he never heard of them. Then I asked him his team and he said it was Sharon and Shouji... pretty beastly team. Eventually after RF took down Hase, JT, and a few other good people enough times, he had about 10 wins and I finally got a chance to play. On my first try, I managed to beat RF in a mirror match. A few people behind me seemed pretty shocked. Then JT went next with his Millia and somehow I beat him as well but it was like by just a pixel. Then I beat some white Chipp player and eventually lost in a close match to Hase's Slayer after winning the first 2 rounds only to have him come back at me hard once a missed the kill combo in round 3. I waited a bit and eventually played like 1 or 2 more games vs Hase and lost and then I decided to go check out the area around the game center to see if I could get some food.

Today, I had a different strategy I was going to try out. Back in the day in the US, before major tournaments, I usually would partake in some activies in order to calm my nerves before a tournament. I wont go into detail about what such activities might have consisted of, but anyone who knows me knows whats up. Well wont do those activities here in Japan so I decided that for once, I was going to just take a few swigs off a bottle of whiskey before my tournament match and chase it with some redbull. Normally, playing drunk doesnt really work that well for me, it makes me a bit over agressive and sometimes I get sloppy but sometimes it works out well for me depending on the match. Well, sometimes when I am nervous in tournaments, I think I play TOO reserved in fear that maybe if I do something too agressive for risky that I will pay for it. I think its best to find a healthy medium and I think this has always been the way I played in most tournaments before. The nervousness and pressure of the tournament combined with the feeling of easiness and slight agression I get from the whiskey buzz would theoretically even eachother out so I decided to go look for some booze and redbull.

The tournament wasnt scheduled to start till 3 pm so I had lots of time to kill. I walked around the area around the station for maybe a whole hour, listening to The Count of Tuscany and some other new DT songs, trying to find a regular conbini and a good place to eat, but I couldnt find any great resturaunts that werent more than I felt like spending on and no regular conbinis. In the end, I settled for a crappier Japanese energy drink, some really bad whiskey that I bought at a small grocery store, and some mcdonalds. While I was eating at McDonalds, Clay Gundam Man was there all by himself eating at a booth. I ate a McPork and a Shakshaka chicken and that was enough for me. I still had one more McPork but I wasnt really hungry enough to eat it so I just tossed it.

After that, I headed back to the original arcade I found and played a match vs some Testament player and BARELY lost. The cab was pretty shitty and the sticks were set up on one of those panels designed for 2 players on one side so that the stick was all the way to the left even though it was still a head to head cab. Not that big of a deal but it kinda throws you off a little when you are used to sitting in the middle. I went back to Tekmopia to see who was playing but for whatever reason, they put tape over the coin slot and now Hase was just fighting the computer in arcade mode... wtf. I dont know why they would want to stop people from playing casuals when there were still a few hours till the tournament. I went back to the other game center and just ended up sitting on a bench they had in there, listened to The Count of Tuscany again cuz its just too good, and decided to take a nap because I was feeling really tired again. I set my alarm and just slept sitting on the bench with my head resting against the back wall for an hour. I woke up an hour later and felt very refreshed actually.

I then went to check out Tekmopia again and they now had 2 cabs set up in a different location with a big screen for viewing as well, so I guess that explains what was going on with the cab before. Unfortunately, now there were like a zillion people that showed up and the wait to play was very very long. I only ended up having time to play like one more game of casuals... I dont even remember who it was against, I think maybe against Kuni's Baiken and I lost. Anyway, it was getting close to start time so they had everyone draw numbers. Our team was last on the list and also the last to play our first match. I asked them if I could see the signup sheet so I could see what characters we had to fight since they only had the team name on the bracket, but the staff at this arcade were being extremely anal about stuff for some reason. They wouldnt even let me know what characters we had to fight and I wanted to talk about it with my team to decide who we should have go first. Also, They had chairs pushed to the side and I sat down in one for like 5 seconds to get something out of my backpack and one of the staff guys like tells me im not allowed to sit there. I dont know what was up with this place but the staff blew donkey balls. Anyway, the tournament started and heres some matches that went down...

JT's team had to fight that really good black I-no's team (the guy who beat 012 team at Game Newton, I dont know his name) first round. Black IN beats Shouji and then JT beats Black IN. Next JT loses to their ED player and then Sharon takes out ED but then finally loses to Ky (I think hes the same really good Ky with the amazing footsies and poking game who sometimes plays at Vegas). I was shocked to see that team lose first round.

Another noteworthy first round match was Ogawa OCVing Hase's team. This time Hase teamed with a white Johnny (maybe MK?) and a Faust who I think was Hakkotsoryuu (I forget how to spell his name).

While the match before our match was up, I went into the bathroom and took a huge drag off the bottle of whiskey and chased it with the energy drink. A few minutes later I felt like I was in a really good place. I had a nice calm buzz that eased my tournament jitters but at the same time I still felt very alert. They finally told us what our opponents team consisted of... JO/MA/VE. Oh great... May... I told my team mates Im ok against JO and have a little trouble vs very good Venoms but can handle the matchup, but that May was my absolute hardest fight. Both of them also said they have trouble with May... great. Anyway, our Slayer went first since Slayer technically should be able to handle any of those characters. They put their JO player first. I dont remember rounds or anything but our SL lost to the JO. I said I would go next since I felt confident vs JO and figured it would be best to save DI for May. First round was pretty close but I didnt get nervous even in the clutch last few seconds when we both had almost no life left. I managed to squeeze in a quick jumping HS counter hit which abled me to squeeze one more in there off the counter for the win first round. Second round I pretty much just rushed him down really hard and was executing perfectly and he just couldnt handle my mixups and I won. Up next OF COURSE they put May against me. I played it cool and surprisingly I won the first round! The next 2 rounds were sorta close but May just kept jumping around like some kinda fucking 2 year old ADHD brat who just ate a whole box of pixie sticks and I just couldnt hit her enough. I lost, but I wasnt upset. I felt like I was in a good state of mind and played well but just lost due to matchup trouble. I just need to learn how to deal with that damn character already. Dizzy did his best but he lost to May as well. I cant honestly say I was too shocked.

After the match, I asked the 2 guys if they would be entering again tomorrow. Since my team couldnt enter tomorrow, I needed another one. They said they were probly gonna enter but that they probably were gonna have a different 3rd person. I wasnt sure if they meant they were HOPING to find another one or if they already had someome for sure, the way they said it sounded kinda ambiguous but if they wanted to drop the only guy on their team who won a match then so be it. I saw a little bit after that that TEN's team fought against the same team we lost to. I came in while TEN was fighting the May player that beat me and TEN won. Then TEN fought the Johnny player that I defeated and TEN lost to him, so I guess he wasnt just some scrub Johnny or something. Then Basara ended up beating JO and it was over. I forget who their 3rd was.

I called up Matt to see what he was up to, said he was still at home and would be heading out in a little bit. I figured no one would be playing casuals anywhere since most people were here, so I just went to the other arcade again to fight some of the other people who lost first round. I rematched that testament from earlier and this time I beat him down 3 round straight and ended his 10 win streak. Then Ririko beat me in a really close game with her Bridget. After that, it pretty much took forever for me to get another turn in since the wait was so long. By the time I went back into Tekmopia to check on the tournament, it had just ended! JT told me that the winning team was Imo/012/and some Slayer whos name escapes me. He said that Ogawa's team lost to TEN! I guess Ogawa has really been having trouble with IN lately.

Since the tournament was over, I just said fuck it and went back to Shinjuku, hoping their would be people there now. I slept the whole way there on the train which took 40 minutes this time cuz I took local instead of express. I needed another nap and it felt good.

Luckily there were enough people at Vegas to make it worth staying, so I stayed and played some more casuals and eventually Matt showed up too. While I was at Vegas I mailed a few people to see if they would team with me last minute for tomorrows tournament but I got no reply so I figured I might as well just give up. Tomorrow's tournament had the same entry rules with 10 am entry start time and 16 teams max. Given how today was, the chances of me finding a last minute team was pretty much not happening of those other 2 guys werent gonna team with me so I just figured I would drink a lot tonight and then play lots of casuals tomorrow. I stayed for a few hours and it started to die down kinda early so eventaully we just went to Current.

This time I felt much better. Only problem is Current was pretty damn empty, espessially fora Saturday. We ordered a beer and then decided to get a bottle of wine to split between us in honor of The Count of Tuscany. The wine was... a rare vintage... the finest wines... improve with age! I guess thats what happens when the soldiers cant escape their oaken graves...

Anyway, gradually more people started to show up and it wasnt that bad. Antti came which was a big surprise as well as a few other people. I drank a lot and chilled out. Eventually, Matt and I headed over to PSY. This was the moment I was waiting for. PSY lets you play requests off your MP3 player so I quickly handed my i-Pod to "Imoto-san" and she threw on The Count! For the next 18 and a half minutes, were were rocked out by The Count of Tuscany and his brother, Slayer as we indulged in delicious Kirin Heartland Ale. Life is good.

Natsume also put on The Shattered Fortress (another new song) which was cool too. We stayed till closing, got some McDonalds breakfast, and then I passed out at the manga kissa.

This time I woke up to my phone vibrating instead of over sleeping. However, I felt REALLY tired. I was thinking that maybe I hadnt really recovered fully and the drinking was catching up with me. I headed over to Vegas across the ally and engaged in combat with a Ky player of unknown skill. However, his skill was quickly known as I destroyed him... 10 times in a row... some of the rounds I just stood there and slash backed all his projectiles till he jumped in at me all sloppy and just would press standing kick and it hit him every time. Once he figured out not to do that, I just rushed him down hard. He eventually gave up. I was almost falling asleep at the cab and could barely even keep my head up. Then as I was leaving the arcade I felt my phone vibrate. I looked to see that my alarm just went off... I also had an e-mail from Ryoko. It was my dumb ass fault but I mistook the email I got from her for my alarm and woke up an hour early. That explained why I was so tired. I wanted to play more GG but since it was so early still and I was so tired, I figured it would be best to get more sleep. I didnt wanna pay for more manga kissa so I just got on the Yamanote line. The Yamanote line just goes in a big circle over and over, so you can theoretically just ride it all day long until the last train. I rode around the entire line 2 full times, which took somewhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours or something. I slept the whole time, and it really helped. When I got to Takadanobaba (which is 2 stops from Shinjuku where I originally got on from), I just got off and my 130 yen ticket worked just fine. LOL!

I then headed over to Mikado feeling much more refreshed. At first, it was fucking dead. Some scrub was playing alone, I beat him, he left, and then I got challenged by a Faust. Im not sure who he was but he was really good. Actually it might have been Hakkotsoryuu so maybe he didnt enter the tournament today. He beat me in a few mirror matches in a row and I couldnt beat him but mirror matches are dumb and dont matter. Afterall I did beat RF yesterday so there you go. Eventually more people showed up and I got some really good games in. Theres this one Millia player who plays default color. I think he was on the Kanagawa team for G3. If im not mistaken I am pretty sure hes the same guy. He likes to kick alot and basically will bait your dead angles and bursts EVERY TIME he can. Every little thing he does is there with the sole purpose of baiting. So when fighting this guy you just CANT use safe guards at all honstly. I beat him my first 3 games, then he started adapting and won like 8 in a row on me. I need Millia practice too since shes my 2nd hardest matchup after May so I just stuck with it, and I beat him the next game. I was sorta thinking he was just gonna go play someone else since he just beat me 8 in a row before that, but surprsingly he got back on the cab to play me again, so I guess he felt like I was giving him a good challenge despite him winning so many which felt good. From there on, we probably played eachother for a whole hour straight and now we were going back and forth. Literally I won a match, then he won a match, for like an hour. I felt like I was really adapting well and learning a lot so it felt good.

Eventually Matt showed up and I went to get some food at Lawson cuz I hadnt eaten yet. I played a few more random games vs various people and then there was this pink May there. Extremely determined to level up on that matchup, I challenged the May... and lost like 7 in a row. HOWEVER, I almost beat him by like one hit maybe half of those, and the rest were still reasonably close. I honestly felt like I picked up a few small neuances that may help me in the future vs that matchup. The thing I was most proud of is that I wasnt getting the least bit upset. Even when he got away with some stupid shit, I just let it go and tried to learn from it and stayed cool and felt like I was really learning. I almost didnt want to beat him cuz I knew he was just gonna not play me again, and when I finally did beat him I was right... he just got up and left. Boo. Oh well.

I eventually played another long set vs the Millia which was once again mostly us going fairly even back and forth. A few other players were there and I got some games with them too. Towards the end of the night, Udei showed up. I asked him if he went to the tournament today and he said he did, and he told me that the winning team was none other than JT/Shouji/Satoshi! So JT's team went from losing first match to winning the whole thing. He also told me someone on that team OCVed Ogawa's team AND Imo's team but I forgot who. I also found it interesting they dropped Sharon for Satoshi but in any case it worked. Once again Ogawa's team tried and lost... I am very shocked. Mike was actually there again at Mikado playing more TvC. I dont know why hes playing that and not practincing more GG casuals. I honestly havnt seen Mike play GG casuals since last year's SBO quals!

Anyway it was about time to go so Matt and I headed out. I got on the train and went home with no problems, and of course at some point on the way before passing out on the train, The Count of Tuscany once again rocked my life.

"Of course your free to go...
Go and tell the world... my... story!
Tell em about my brother...
tell em about me... The Count of Tuscannyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaahhh!!!

*epic guitar solo*"

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