Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tougeki Super Battle Opera 2009: FINAL

It's been a while since I have updated my blog, so here is a quick summary of the events leading up to SBO. I mentioned doing an EVO blog but I decided I will just summarize things briefly here. As most everyone already knows by now, I did not win EVO this year. Infact, I got 5th place, which IMO is pretty lousy for me. Maybe it was me still being weak from mono recovery, maybe it was being out of practice for almost a month prior to going to EVO, and perhaps most of all, maybe it was because I put too much pressure on myself. Maybe I just fucking suck. In any case, I don't feel like I played well in the tournament at all. I lost to Latif in my qualifying pool, and I lost to Hellmonkey in the top 8 finals on the stage. Latif won the tournament and played very well all weekend so he deserved it. I teamed with Latif and Jan and we won the team tournament.

I guess I can't really say I am the best in the US anymore. IMO there is no single best person. GG tournament results always have reflected this over the years. There is always a group of people that tend to place high and there is certainly a top range of players but saying one single person is the best is always going to be a matter of personal opinion. In any case, I no longer even care about that anymore. From now on I am just going to play the game for fun and if I do well thats great, if not, then whatever.

In any case, despite not being able to drink and still being very tired, I generally had a good time at EVO and it was nice hanging out with everyone and seeing some people again that I hadnt seen in a while.

After EVO was over, I went back to Chicago for about 3 weeks to visit my family and friends. I was unable to drink for more than half of my stay there and I only drank moderately most of the time there but I still had fun. During the last 10 days of my stay in Chicago, my girlfriend Ryoko came to the US. This was her first time outside of Japan and she had a great time. It was definetely the highlight of my vacation spending time with her in the US.

On Wednesday, August 12th, I returned to Japan. After a long train ride home, I made it back to my apartment in Gunma and unpacked and got lots of rest.

Thursday, August 13th
Thursday afternoon I headed out to Tokyo for SBO weekend.

The first thing I did was head right to Mikado in Takadanobaba. After 2 good years of memories, Shinjuku Las Vegas game center had closed down while I was away in the US. I heard rumors that it is simply moving locations and will be smaller but at this time, I dont have any further information. As a result, Mikado had now become the absolute main Guilty Gear arcade in Tokyo.

When I arrived at Mikado, I saw Fubarduck and Heartnana playing Blazblue against eachother right away. I said hi to them and then headed over to the GG section. They now had 8 GG cabs set up which is pretty awsome. I dont know if this is just for the weekend or if they will be running 8 cabs perminentely but its nice to see that Mikado truley has become a great place to play GG. The place was absolutely packed with not only GG players, but players of just about every fighting game. I had talked to Kyle (Stunedge) over the phone earlier in the day and he told me there would be a 3 on 3 tournament for fun tonight at Mikado. Shortly after playing casuals for a bit, the US players who would be participating in SBO this year arrived at the arcade. The US teams were Blacksnake (Prucha)/Cue (David)/Stunedge (Kyle), and Latif/Jan/Sean (SH), and Flashmetroid/Marn. The 3rd member of Flash's team was Steve Harrison but he didnt even show up to Japan, so they were going to enter with a 2 man team. In addition to them, several other foreign players were there from other Asian and European countries. Also, the biggest surprise was that Rod (Honnou) was still in Japan! I found out when he mailed Ryoko and me when we arrived at the airport the day before. He said he was leaving Japan on Friday (tomorrow), but had enough time to meet up with me at Mikado one last time. He picked the absolute worst weekend to go back since he would be missing SBO but he said he was totally out of money and really needed to go home to start getting ready for school again.

We pretty much just stayed at Mikado for several hours playing casuals against various people. I got some good games in and was getting some small 5 or 6 game win streaks here and there but after a while, it was taking forever to get a turn in. At some point, Rod, Prucha, Cue, Shinjn (a Baiken player from Sweden who has been living in Kansai for the past year), and me, all went to get some food at a nearby resturaunt. We returned to Mikado to play casuals for a bit more and soon it was time to start the 3 on 3 side tournament for GG. All the US SBO teams entered with their same SBO teams so I ended up teaming up with Rod and Shinjn. Our first match was against a team of Roy (SO)/LOX (JA)/ and a good Johnny player but I dont know his name. Rod went first and lost to JO with his IN. I went next and won the first round, came within a pixel of winning round 2 but blew it and he came back and then he also beat me in round 3. Shinjn also got beat by Johnny but its a bad matchup for him. As far as the other US teams are concerned, Cue ended up OCVing a team that consisted of all the leftover Japanese players who didnt have a team and then they lost their 2nd match but I forgot to who. Latif's team was also eliminated first round. I dont remember if Flash or Marn entered but I dont think so. I dont remember the exact team that won but I think it was Gibson/Dogura/Yosaan or something like that.

After the tournament Rod had to head out and we said our final goodbye with a long hearty handshake. The rest of us pretty much decided that it was too hot and crowded in Mikado, so we decided to go check out another arcade just down the street called BIG BOX Taito Station. This place was basically where all the SFIV players were hanging out and a 5 on 5 regional tournament was going on. We were going to meet up with Fubarduck there because he had plans to go drinking with us later. When we got there, there was like 9 or so SFIV cabs going and tons of SF players were there. The place also had 2 GGAC cabs. On these cabs, Ogawa, Mike, and Yume (their SBO team) was there playing and all the US players did their best to try to get wins on Ogawa and Mike. I think everyone tried to play Ogawa about 2 times each. Me and Latif came the closest to beating Ogawa but no one was able to get a win. Prucha and I also decided to try playing the new fighting game Demon Bride for the first time. The game came out while I was away from Japan so this was my first time seeing it in action. I dont even remember the character names but I picked some crazy flying demon looking guy and Prucha picked a priest dude with a book. We were just fucking around and learning what stuff does mostly. Prucha won by a tiny bit and then some guy who knew what he was doing played Prucha and won. The game seems like it has potential to be good. Maybe I will consider learning it if it seems like there will be some competition for it but Im gonna probably wait and learn more about it first.

After playing, we played a few more GG games and then Ogawa and his team left. Shortly after, it was almost time for the arcade to close so our group headed out to go to Shinjuku to go drinking. Fubarduck was not at BIG BOX but he said he would meet us at Current since he found directions online. On our way out of BIG BOX to the train station in Takadanobaba, we stopped at a Sunkus and got some quick snacks and I bought a small bottle of Johnny Walker red label and we took some swigs and passed it around. It was a nice way to get a pre game buzz going.

When we arrived at Current, it wasnt very busy. Masami and Sushi were working the bar, and about maybe 7 or 8 other people were there drinking. Among them were Piko, Megu, and Ayano. I said hi to everyone and then our group (consisting of me, Prucha, Cue, Jan, Latif, and Sean) sat at a table in the back after getting some drinks. Sean and Latif arnt really big drinkers (Latif doesnt drink at all since is against his religion) so they only stayed for a few minutes and then headed out to their hotel which was south of Shinjuku station. I invited Megu and Ayano to come sit and drink with us. We spent a good while talking with them and having a lot of drinks. I was the only one in the group of us who could speak Japanese so I had to do a lot of translating for everyone. Ayano can speak pretty good English though so she was able to talk with Cue a lot but Megu doesnt understand much English at all. After a while, Fubarduck showed up with his SFIV SBO partner Jon Lo. A few other guys came too that they knew but they didnt stay too long. Fubarduck can also speak Japanese so he was able to talk to Megu a lot. Then after many beers later, I got a surprise email on my phone from Laura, one of the ALTs who I have known for the past 2 years who also lives in Gunma. This was going to be her last year in Japan but she was still hanging around for a bit before going home soon. She mailed me saying she was coming to Current! I was shocked that she knew I was there, and I was even more shocked that among the group of people she was with, was a girl named Christine who was from Austin and actually knows Fubarduck and Jon Lo! It was a pretty huge coincidence but it was also pretty awsome that they just ranomly came. They joined us as well. With them was some gay white guy whos name I dont remember, and Christine's younger brother who was underage and already passed out from too much drinking. All of us continued to drink and talk for the rest of the night until Current closed at 5. I really was hoping Current would have been more packed. Since it was a Thursday night and on top of that, this weekend was one of the biggest holiday weekends in Japan when most Japanese people travel, so as a result, not many people were there. I wanted everyone to experience a crazy packed night at Current but it turned out to be a lot of fun anyway!

After that, we decided we would all go to PSY for more drinking! We gathered outside and made our way over there. Somewhere a long the way we realized that Laura's group was not following us and we couldnt see Megu or Ayano either but we kept going anyway. When we arrived at PSY, as I was walking up the stairs, Natsume, the bartender, was leaving and told us they already closed. I guess they are only opened till 5 on Thurdays. Bummer. With that, we didnt really have any other places to go drinking so we just decided to call it a night. Ryan and Jan left together and were going to head right to the SBO venue since Ryan had to play SFIV the next morning and Jan was gonna enter the SFIV last chance qual. Pretty hardcore of them to stay out drinking all night and then try to play in SBO with no sleep but I cant say I have never done anything like that before during SBO qual season LOL! Prucha, Cue, and I started walking back towards Shinjuku station and on the way we ran into Megu and Ayano who I guess were just behind us but told us they also found PSY closed so were going to go home. We said goodbye to them and then the 3 of us went to try to find their hotel room. Pruha and I were pretty damn drunk and Cue was a bit buzzed too so we had a nice walk. Prucha and Cue couldnt remember where it was exactly but we circled the station and would up on the South side near Shinjuku Club Sega and they were able to recognize the location and we found the hotel.

They had a room at the Shinjuku Sunroute hotel and it was pretty nice. Howver, like most Japanese hotels, the room was extremely small, and among the people staying there was Jan, Latif, Sean, Prucha, Cue, and now me, since they let me crash there. Kyle was not staying with us because he was staying at his cousin's place in Shin Koiwa. I curled up on a small spot on the floor and passed out.

Friday, August 14th
I woke up a little later to Prucha calling the hotel room. Shortly after, he stumbles back into our room rambling about stuff about looking for his passport and wallet and stuff. Eventually he gets out a comprehensable story. He doesnt remember how or when, nor does anyone else... but somehow Prucha ended up sleeping in his underwear inside vacant hotel room which had been kept unlocked. He was soon found by hotel staff who started questioning him about who he is, wha he was doing there, and what room he was in, except he could hardly understand anything they were saying cuz Prucha knows just about zero Japanese. They took him to another hotel room suite and told him to wait their as they tried to figure out who he was. With no ID on him and with Prucha unable to remember the exact room number, the hotel staff couldnt find information on him. Using the short window opportunity while he was left alone, he dialed a few room numbers that he thought might be our room from the phone in the room. Upon finally finding the right room and talking to Cue, he ninja'd his way out of there like Solid Snake (or in this case, BlackSnake!) and made it back to the room before they could find out who he was. We all had a good laugh over his drunken Blacksnake antics and I think I went back to sleep a little bit.

Eventually Latif and Sean were leaving to head to the SBO venue to watch SFIV. I felt just slightly hungover and and a bit dehydrated. This was the most drunk I had been since befre I got mono. Everyone was taking showers so I decided to take one as well. While I was in there, Prucha knocked on the door saying he forgot his glasses in the bathroom. I reached over to the door while I was still standing in the shower to unlock it, and I slipped and fell and landed on my elbow and it hurt like a bitch. Nothing was broken or anything so I was ok but it kinda sucked. Prucha decided to also head over to the SBO venue because I think he needed to get something from Kyle or something. Cue and I were still tired so we went back sleep for a few more hours. By the time I was fully awake and got something to drink I was feeling mostly ok. Prucha returned shortly before Cue and I were ready to head out. He watched some of SFIV and said that all the US SFIV players lost first round. I was dissapointed to hear it. Prucha was still tired so he decided to get sleep and said he would meet up with us later.

Cue and I decided to get some food. We ended up going to First Kitchen and got a good meal there. Then, we stopped over at Club Sega Shinjuku where MIU works since it is right in that area. There was a single Anji player playing the computer in GG so Cue fought him while I went to ask a staff member if MIU was working. She told me he was off today. The Anji player Cue was fighting was totally shitty so we just left. On our way out, we saw that they were now selling vitimin water in Japan (the same vitamin water we have the US that comes in all the fruit flavors and stuff). They never had this before so Cue and I got some in the vending machine and then on our way to the station we saw they had some people giving away more vitimin water as a promotion for free. You just spun a wheel to determine what flavor you got hah. So I got another one and then we headed to the station.

We headed back over to Takanobaba Mikado and the place already had a good amount of comp there but it was not too crowded so we were able to get some good games in. The Swedish GG players were there as well as Dream Maker. I played a lot of games vs the Swedish guys and got something like a 12 win streak or something and eventually lost to Kuni's Baiken but managed to get a win on Ririko's bridget. I still had not decided on who my team would be for the last chance GG SBO qual on Sunday morning but I emailed Kunihiro to see if he wanted to join me and he said he would. Osaka B told me that they have a separate randomly lottery selection to determine who can participate in SBO last chance quals again this year so I figured it would be good to team with another foreigner to increase my chances of making it in. I decided to ask Shinjn to team with me. He seemed reluctant to enter because he said he didnt want to wake up so early (signups would start at 7 am on Sunday morning) so he said he would think about it.

After playing for about an hour, I got an email from my good friend Andy, known in the fighting game community as Capps Indigo. Andy has been my friend for several years and is another member of the team Chicago fighting game community. He had just moved to Japan 2 weeks ago and would now be doing the JET program just like me. He is now living in Takasaki, the largest city in Gunma, which is one hour from where I live and 2 hours from Tokyo. I pass by Takasaki every time I come to Tokyo. Since Rod and Matt are gone now, Andy will pretty much be my new Token Gaijin© companion on my adventures here in Japan. I went out to meet him in front of the station and at first I couldnt find him cuz he ended up getting out of the station at the wrong exit, but after some searching I found him. On the way back to Mikado, I asked him if he would be interested in teaming with me for the last chance since Shinjn didnt seem like he was up for it. He said he would team with me. Then, when I got back in the arcade, Shinjn comes up to me and tells me he decides he wants to enter afterall. I tell him I already told Andy he could be on my team. Now I felt bad cuz I asked Shinjn first but then Andy agreed first. I thought about it a bit and decided maybe it would be best to just have them play for it. However, Andy didnt really seem to care that much about entering and said it would be ok to just play with Shinjn on my team. I didnt really know what to do here cuz I didnt wanna be a dick but ultimately since Andy didnt seem to mind, I decided to just have Shinjn on my team. The other 2 Swedish guys that were there (a PO player and a DI player) said they needed a 3rd so I told them they should ask Andy to join their team. Me and Andy will have plenty of other oppurtunities to team up at random tournaments in the years to come so it worked out ok.

After a while longer, I called Prucha who was now sleeping at the hotel. He had been sleeping for a while so I checked to see if he was coming soon. Eventually he showed up as well as the rest of the US players since the events for the day at SBO had finished.

As more time passed and more casuals were played, the place started to fill up quite fast and eventually it was packed as hell and very hot in there and it was taking forever to get turns in again. At about maybe 8 or 9 pm, I decided to go to the Lawson next door for a quick snack with Andy and then returned to Mikado. While I was standing there eating my snack, I suddenly felt funny. I knew this feeling well. It was the feeling of a fever creeping up on you. I wasnt sure how bad it was or if it was a relapse of mono or just a fluke that would blow over so I carried about my business as usual.

Prucha ducked out and said he had to go to Shin Koiwa to get something from Kyle's cousin's place that he left there but he said he would meet up with us later before we went drinking.
Cue and I went to check BIG BOX to see if maybe there was GG comp there with less waiting time but it was dead so we headed back. I got some more games in and managed to beat RF in a Faust mirror match which was pretty cool. David got a win vs RF as well.

Prucha wasnt back yet and wasnt answering his phone. It was almost time for the trains to stop running and the arcade was about to close, so we decided we should head out to Shinjuku. Fubarduck, Cue, Kyle, Latif, Andy, Sean, and I all got on the train together. When we go to Shinjuku, Kyle, Sean, Latif, and Cue decided they were gonna get food and then just go back to the hotel, except Cue said he would meet up with us later at Current. Fubarduck, Andy, and I headed to Current. On the way there, Prucha finally called me back saying he was in Shinjuku but was lost. I figured out where he was so we went to go meet up with him. Somehow we walked right passed him without noticing him but eventually we found eachother and the 4 of us made it to Current.

Once again it was a pretty slow night. This time Mogi and Masami were working the bar, and Bosch was there DJing. A few other people were there, among them was Reina and 2 other girls she knows who I dont remember so much. Our group sat at a table again after getting some drinks. Fubarduck wanted to try to talk to the ladies but there were no open places at the bar. Eventually a few people left so we were able to move to the bar. Unfortunately the girls started dancing a whole lot cuz Bosch was spinning a bunch of J-pop and Anime theme song music lol. However, there was this cool guy that showed up and Fubarduck seemed to enjoy talking with him so at least everyone was having a good time... except for me. I was still feeling feverish and now that it was getting late (now it was about 2 am) and I had 2 beers, I was starting to get really tired and knew that it would be in my best interest to get some sleep early tonight. Prucha was also feeling tired still. Tomorrow at Mikado was the forigners only singles tournament for GG and it started at noon, so we decided it would be good to get sleep. Around this time, Cue finally showed up. We told him we decided we were going to leave and he was cool with it. Fubarduck was having a good time so he decided to just stay and drink. The rest of us headed back to the hotel.

The room was already packed in the first place, and now that Andy was with us, it was even more packed. After arriving and seeing how there was like no room, Andy decided he would just sleep at the manga kissa. I was feeeling pretty exhausted but I had to help him find a place to stay, so I headed out with him and Prucha and Cue went with us. There were 2 manga kissas right near our hotel, but after going to both of them, we found that they were both full. We saw a massage place in the same building as one of them and Cue was all about trying to get a massage but the place was closed. He almost ended up going to one that we passed that was open but he changed his mind lol. With no nearby manga kissas having any vacancies, we had no choice but to sardine it up in the hotel room. After moving around some luggage and cramming Prucha in the closet, we were able to squeeze everyone in. Cue also got some towels for us to use as blankets which was nice since the air conditioning was on really really high. It didnt take me long to fall asleep.

Saturday, August 15th
I woke up around 11 feeling still a bit weak and tired but I wanted to play in the foreigner tournament so I sucked it up. Unfortnatley, the way in which I was woken up was not what I was hoping to hear. I had to pee really bad for a while I was asleep, but I was kinda in a mode of half waking up and going back to sleep cuz I noticed the bathroom was constantly in use. Eventually, I was woken up by Sean... with the bad news that him going to First Kitchen last night resulted in him just now absolutely destroying he toilet with one of the foulest, worst shit clogs in history! The entire hotel room stunk hard of Sean's ass nuggets. He told me there was no plunger and asked me to to get hotel staff to bring us one cuz I was the only one who could speak Japanese. I went into the hallway and told one of the housekeepers that we needed a plunger. They said they would send someone to come unclog it for us. However, there were currently more people in the room that was allowed (me, Sean, Andy, Latif, and Cue) and we didnt want them to find out and try to overcharge the room, so I told Andy to go hide in the vending machine room in the hallway and told Sean to just go leave cuz he was already showered and ready. Cue and Latif were passed out in the bed so I just threw a bunch of crap over them to cover up the parts of their body that were showing just incase. Shortly after, some old man showed up with a plunger, a bucket, and a huge pumping machine device. This guy was in that bathroom for probably a good 20 minutes working on this beast fiend of a shit clog! I really kinda felt bad for the guy cuz that had to be one hell of a job, and on top of that, I felt kinda embarrased cuz he probably thought it was me that did it! Eventually, the epic battle came to an end and we had a working toilet. I thanked the man for his troubles and luckily he didnt notice anything strange in the room so we didnt have a problem in that regard. I took the piss I was holding in for hours in my sleep and it felt orgasmicly good. Then I went out to the hall to find Andy and Sean was still in the vending machine room with him talking. Andy came back to the room and Sean left. Unfortunately the smell was just as strong as ever and I wanted to take a shower bad since I didnt end up taking one the day before. I manned up and just delt with it and got out of their ASAP.

After showering I headed out. On the way to Mikado, I stopped by a drugstore and bought a thermometer to check my temperature. My temperature was showing that I currently didnt have a fever, but checking your temp right after you wake up always shows lower results so I would continue to monitor my temp throughout the day.

When I arrived at Mikado a little before 12, there were some people there but still a lot of people missing and they didnt start signups yet. At around 12 they finally got signups going and people started to roll in. They had a separate cab set up on the side for the tournament and would be recording the event. I think somewhere between 30 and 40 players signed up. All foreign GG players who were around for SBO entered the tournament except for Marn due to playing in SBO TvC, and Fubarduck, cuz he doesnt really play GG anymore and was out late drinking.

After getting some casuals in to warmup, they started the tournament. The entire thing is currently up on youtube here and is divided into 11 parts. Since you can watch the entire thing, im not gonna type out some long description but the results were me making it to the grand finals and losing to a Korean Eddie player named Alex and getting 2nd place. Cue got 3rd and Shinjn got 4th. I had to fight Andy first round which was kinda lame but they dont know who anyone is except for me and maybe a couple other people so they have no idea about who plays who a lot or whatever. He played really well against me though and would have done even better but he missed some execution stuff. I was feeling pretty tired and my execution was off but as the tournament progressed I got into the groove of things and since I didnt really give a shit I didnt feel much pressure.

Once the tournament was over, They had the top 4 players make some comments on the mic, except for Cue cuz he ran off and we couldnt find him in time. I basically just wished everyone who was in the actual SBO tournament tomorrow luck. Throughout the tournament I checked my fever over and over and it ended up rising to a max of 37.6 C (99.7 F). I didnt wanna risk it getting worse and at this point I was feeling really tired and decided it would be best to just go back to the hotel and rest for a bit. Prucha was tired too so he went with me to take a nap for a bit.

For the next 15 hours (thats right, 15 hours) I slept. I was only woken up about 3 times. One time was when Andy called at around 8 pm saying he was coming to the hotel room but since I sounded dead as hell on the phone he decided to go hang out with Heartnana. The other time was when everyone else staying in the room came back there and grabbed Prucha to go out drinking. I was way too tired still and knew my body needed rest so I just stayed there. The last time I was woken up was when the guys who went drinking came back and Jan kicked me out of the bed cuz it was his room and he wanted to sleep on it (which is reasonable). I then slept on the floor until 5:30 am.

Sunday, August 16th
I woke up at 5:30 AM as my phone alarm went off. I was still very tired even after 15 hours of sleep. This was the final day of SBO in which GG would be taking place (along with BB and AH2). Everyone else was still asleep. I wanted to take a shower but the bathtub was currently full of everyones luggage cuz they moved it there so there would be more sleeping room. After shifting some suitcases around, I was able to clear the shower out and cleaned myself up. I then headed out to go to the SBO venue.

In previous years, SBO was held at Ariake Differ. This time it was held in Suidobashi at the JBC Hall near the Tokyo Dome. I arrived in Suidobashi with about a half hour before they even opened the doors to the building so I got some McDonalds breakfast and then waited outside for about 10 minutes until they opened up the doors. I saw a few peopleI knew and said hi to them like various Japanese players and some of the Euro players. I also bought a guide book that showed the brackets and stuff for all the games.

Shortly after the doors were opened, Shinjn showed up. I then mailed Kunihiro and he said he was on his way. When he got to Suidobashi he got lost so Shinjn and I went to go meet him near the station and eventually found him. We then went to register our team. While thinking of a team name, Shinjn suggested we have something to do with world or international in our name since we had a team from USA/Europe/Japan all in one. I came up with the name World Domination and Shinjn liked it so we just rolled with it. Also, while we were waiting around in the lobby, the other 2 Swedish players asked me where Andy was. I told them he was sleeping in and staying with Heartnana. They wanted him to enter with them but appearently they just assumed he agreed to it but they never even talked to him about it. I simply suggested they ask him but they assumed that it was already agreed upon. I called up Andy and luckily the place he was staying at was actually within walking distance so he was able to make it in time and ended up signing up with those guys on their team.

After that, we headed down to the main arena area. This place was way nicer and bigger than Ariake Differ. There was a ground level and 3 levels of balcony seating. They also had 3 huge screens on the wall above the stage in the center. The cab setup was the same as previous years at SBO with cabs around the stage and then a set of cabs for each of the 3 games on the main stage used for the grand finals. It was soon time for the last chance quals to begin. We were lead into a room in the back behind the stage where all the SBO players had reserved seats. They now did the random lottery to decide what teams could enter. They started calling some Japanese teams. Then they did a separate lottery for foreigners only. There were 6 foreign teams that signed up and only 4 would make it out of this lottery. Andys team made it as well as Dream Makers team and 2 other teams from somewhere in Asia. Our team was not called. HOWEVER, the rest of the teams now were all just put in a final lottery where they called a couple more teams. One of the very last teams to be called was World Domination! We made it in! As we walked through, they announced that it was ElvenShadow's team (probly cuz im the only one from that team that most of those people have heard). As we walked in HH was standing near the doorway and gave me a smile and a nod. At this point, Prucha and Sean had arrived and came back stage too to watch us play.

They went over the rules quickly and then called the first matches. We were one of the first teams to play, and our opponents were a team from Kyushuu (the small southern island of Japan) consisting of Axl/Testament/Bridget. We decided to have Kunihiro go first with his Anji. They put Bridget first. Kunihiro started off doing ok but he was dropping almost all his combos and was just not playing on point. He ended up losing both rounds. I decided to go next. I dont remember the match all that well but I played well and won. Up next was Axl. This one was really close. I made a nice comeback and really stuck it out there and won this one as well. Finally I fought Testament. I actually came extremely close to beating him but lost by just a small amount. Luckily, Shinjn was totally on point and played a very great match and beat the Testament player, and we were able to advance past the first round!

After that, we went over to sit by Prucha and Sean who were watching the matches on a TV by the seating area. Kunihiro apolagized for not playing well but we told him not to worry about it. We next watched Andy's team play. They tried their best but unfortunately they were OCVd by a good I-no player. I think he was from some other Asian country but im not sure.

Our next match was called and we were to fight a team consisting of Millia/I-no/Eddie. I think they were from Japan but I am not sure where exactly. Once again, we let Kunihiro go first with his Anji and his opponent was I-no. And... once again, he was just missing a lot of combos and just wasnt on point. I went next again since Faust is good against I-no. I played well and was able to take the match. Up next was Millia, my 2nd least favorite matchup in the game after May. I actually played pretty well and even won the first round, but it just wasnt enough and I was taken down by Millia. It was now up to Shinjn to win it for us. He lost the 1st round, made a clutch comeback by a pixel in round 2 but then was a little overwhelmed in round 3 by mixups and he was defeated and we were out of the tournament. I honestly wasnt really going into the thing expecting to qualify but I gave it my best and at least I beat 3 people and we didnt lose first round.

I think Kunihiro felt a bit ashamed because he quickly said he was gonna go out for a smoke and then later mailed me saying he was just gonna go home. Im not upset at him though, he said he hadnt been practicing much lately and I only asked him to join my team a few days before so its not like he was expecting it.

After that, we stayed and watched some more of the matches and at this point I was concidering going back go the hotel to get more sleep since my fever was now somewhere at like 37.6 C (99.7 F) again. However, none of us had room keys since Cue, Latif, and Jan were still there sleeping. I decided to just wait things out a bit and see how I felt after a bit. The last chance qual finally ended and the winning team was Basara aka Ogiwara (SL) and 2 guys I never heard of named Senhai (CH) and Ochiai (PO).

After it was over, I headed to the balcony area to sit with Prucha and Sean and we started to watch BB singles. At this point I was seriously still heavily debating on weather to stay or just outright go to the hospital cuz my doctor said if I get a fever again it could be a mono relapse and I should go to the hospital. I watched up until Heartnana played his match in which he had to fight Inoue's Nu. The first round was a perfect but the 2nd round, Rob really played his ass off and lost by like a pixel. Nu is retarded broken and Inoue is a smart player so it was a tough break. After that, I just took a nap during the the rest of BB up until top 8 ended. I felt slightly better and the fever was down to 37.1 C, so I figured I would just wait and see how things went, constantly taking my temperature about every 20 to 30 minutes. Every time I took my temp, I had the thermometer in my mouth, and people kept trying to talk to me and I had to use stupid hand gestures and crap to communicate. It was kinda funny and annoying at the same time.

We killed some time before AH2 started and the GG players had to start getting ready to prepare to play so they went back stage. They wouldnt let me back there again cuz I wasnt an SBO finalist so I wished Prucha and Sean good luck. Eventually Cue showed up and he realized that his badge said that he was a Faust player instead of an Eddie player. Worried about this, I asked the staff to correct the error and they said they would take care of things. Then Cue and I went to 7-Eleven and Kyle went to find him to tell him he needed to go to the back room ASAP to get ready. Soon after, Kyle confirmed that they had taken care of the character problem for Cue so it wasnt a problem anymore. Then Kyle and Cue went in the back and I wished them luck as well and went to go watch the rest of Arcana. I went into a random part of the balcony seats and just happened to run into Arturo Sanchez who was sitting with this one... girl... who was working as press staff doing photograpy. Arturo told me how he was using her press pass to hit on all kindsa girls lol! We watched the rest of arcana together but mostly I just tried to sleep cuz I was still trying to make sure my fever went down. I couldnt really sleep well though cuz it was just so loud in there and stuff. Arturo was extremely impressed by this one female AH2 player and she ended up making it to the top 4 teams and would be in the finals later! He said he was gonna go hit on her later lol!

After it ended, I went out into the hall and some guys were practicing playing GG on the cab they had in the hallway. I killed a little more time and then GG was about to start. I sat over where I was before in the balcony, but then I realized that one of the first teams to play would be Latif's team and I couldnt see their cab from my spot, so I went to the other side of the balcony area and then I could see the screen. They werent on the big screen but I could sorta make out what was going on from their small screen. Also, sitting near me was Planet Zero John and some people they came with. Since he sponsored Latif's team he was cheering them on. They had to fight Karun/FAB/RF. Latif went first against Karun and won! Good shit to Latif. However, RF went next and took out Latif, followed by Sean, and finally Jan. Tough break but RF is certainly a beast.

Im not going to go into too much detail about what teams beat what teams since you can find all of that information right here in this post. Up next Prucha's team played on the same cab that Latif's team was on so it was hard to see again, but basically they all got OCVed by Satou's Johnny on the Mugen/Chonari/Satou team. Kyle did the best of the 3 of them but it wasnt enough to win. Prucha actually fought Satou at Mikado in casuals a lot but couldnt win against him there either unfortunately. The last US team was Marn and Flash and they were up on the big screen and got beat by Woshige on the Woshige/Shounen/NO team.

Shortly after losing, Prucha and Sean came up and found me on the balcony and sat with me to watch the rest of the tournament. Eventually we moved over to the other side where the rest of the US players were sitting. Flash then went on a rant about how Woshige isnt a good player and he should have beaten him and that most Japanese Guilty Gear players have no good basics and they they just win cuz of matchup experiences. While I agree that their matchup experience does set them apart from most US players in most cases, I think saying shit like Woshige isnt a good player is just pretty ignorant. I told him I disagreed but I didnt wanna get into some big argument over it at the moment so I left it at that. Also, Marn was up there and tried speaking some broken Japanese to me that he said he learned from Kuni, the SBO staff member (he tried to say "you are the most beautiful person in the world" LOL!) but it didnt grammatically make sense LOL.

We watched the rest of the tournament up to the final 4 teams which were

Kazuki (DI) / Kawin (PO) / Inoue (OS)
Satou (JO) / Chonari (ZA) / Mugen (BR)
Shounen (TE) / Woshige (MI) / N-O (VE)
Koichi (IN) / Haaken (PO) / Kishitaka (SO)

and then there was an intermission before BB finals started. By this time my fever was completely gone so I decided I would at least stay to watch all the finals and see how it goes from there.

You can check BB results online anywhere easily so I wont get into it too much but I was surprised to see that no Nu players made it to the finals! Amazing! Anyway, Fumo's Arakune ended up taking the tournament over Kyaku's Carl. Full results can be seen here. One of the Nu players named kakutoubishinTaokaka cosplayed as Taokaka for whatever reason during the finals and and Dora cosplayed as Bang which was pretty cool. Earlier in the tournament, Yume, the Sol player on Ogawa's team who entered BB as Rachel under a different name, had cosplayed as Rachel and even left the costume on throughout the GG tourny... hah.

Anyway, there was another intermission and Prucha and I went out to the smoking area for a smoke. As we were walking through the hall, a group of about 7 girls waved hello to me as we passed by. They were all various female GG players that knew me such as Tatsumi and Baim. While we were smoking, I asked Prucha if he wanted me to introduce him to them and he was down for it, so on the way back we went to go talk to them. I helped him translate and we made small talk and I explained to them how hes my old friend from back in Chicago. Some of them were going to go to the after party later so we said maybe we would see them again there.

After that, we watched AH2 finals. The team with the girl on it ended up getting 2nd place. As soon as she lost, Arturo went out to the hall to find her and rush that shit down lol! Also, after the finals ended, they announced that AH3 was in development. Maybe ill play it when it comes out.

There was another intermission and then GG finals started. The first match was Mugen's team vs Inoue's team. The funny thing here is that these are the very last 2 teams to qualify in Tokyo. In addition to this, Mugen's team had originally faced Inoue's team in the block finals when Mugen's team qualified. They now would rematch them and they ended up beating them once again! Mugen and Chonari were on point. Satou was playing good but was losing and felt like he was the dead weight on the team. Shounen's team beat Koichi's team. The grand finals were very hype to watch, with Shounen taking out both Satou and Mugen but then Chonari made a nice comeback beating both Shounen and Washige, only to lose to NO (and this was the only match NO played the entire tournament). They gave their victory speeches and with that, SBO was over and everyone began to clear out.

We all went outside and said our goodbyes to those who werent going to go to the afterparty. At this point I was borderline as to whether to go to the afterparty or not since I just recovered from a fever but I also was feeling better and I didnt wanna miss out. I ultimately decided I would go to the party but that I just wouldnt drink any beer just to be safe.

All the US GG players headed out on the train together to go to Shinjuku sportsland where everyone was meeting up to go to the place. After waiting a bit, we headed out. It was at the same place as it was at last year called Ninja in New York. It took forever to get everyone inside but we finally made it in.

In addition to having the room they had last year, they also had an upper balcony area where they had some consoles set up for casual play. I ate my fill of food and mostly just drank Cola troughout the night. I was a little sad seeing everyone get wasted drunk and not being able to have any... it was kinda torture in a way, but it was better than not being there at all. It wasnt quite as crazy as last years party but there were some extremely wasted people, and a few people stripped down to their underwear and had chopstick breaking contests using their buttcheeks. I only played a handful of casuals. I played Latif in a 2/3 where he used Ky the first game and I won, then he used Eddie and I lost, then he used Eddie and I won. Then I got off the machine cuz Shoot wanted to fight someone (maybe Flash, I forgot). I also fought Isa's Sol and lost and then Ogawa got on the machine and played EX Eddie LOL! Everyone was drunk. I was also helping this nice female Millia player named Akira talk to some of the French guys cuz they didnt know any English. I also played Kaqn's HOS and won but he said it has been a year since he has played GG seriously since he was focusing on BB. Then Sean wanted to fight FAB so I let them play and later I went to play FAB and he said he was wasted and to go easy on him so I picked my scrubby Testament and lost lol. There was also a big toast to the winning team and stuff. Near the end of the night, drunken Ogawa appeared wearing a Noel cosplay outfit and many pictures were taken haha. As we were leaving, Shouji was talking with me and Prucha for a bit and I introduced him and Shouji said me and him should go drinking together sometime. I said my goodbyes to just about everyone and then it was time to leave. There was a 2nd party going on but it was another 2,000 yen to get in. I couldnt drink and I didnt wanna push my health and it didnt seem like it was really worth going to for me so I decided to pass. Most of the other US players didnt go either.

We headed back to the hotel only to find Planet Zero John and a few of the other players he came with sitting in the lobby, so we all sat in the lobby for a bit and talked about various things about past and future SBO related stuff. After talking for probably over an hour, Jan still wanted to go out again. Originally I was down for it but I was now really tired and Prucha was straight up passed out, so we just went back to the room to sleep.

Monday, August 17th
We woke up after getting a good amount of sleep. We decided to all get food together one last time, since everyone was pretty much going back to the US later today (except Cue who's girlfriend was meeting him in Japan and he would be staying out there with her for another week). We decided to go to Shakey's Pizza for the all you can eat buffet. We arrived about 5 minutes before they opened and ended up pigging out on a nice big meal. After that, we walked around a little bit more to the other side of the station where we then said our goodbyes. Prucha and I were the last ones to part ways at the station. From there, I headed back to my apartment after what took nearly 4 hours.

Well... that about sums it up. The end of another season for the fighting game community. From here on out for the next few months, things are going to be pretty slow. I personally am going to be taking a little bit of a break. I need to start saving some more money and am probably going to reduce my trips to Tokyo to maybe only twice a month for a while. I dont think theres going to be many tournaments going on for a while either. That also means that my blog is probably going to be taking a little bit of a break. I will write about stuff when theres something worth writing about, but dont expect it to be updated weekly as it used to be before.

Anyway, to those of you who still actually care about reading this blog, thanks for caring. I always enjoy reading your comments.

Until next time...


Soniti said...

Ogawa Noel cosplay...


..Pics where?

sir_arthur said...

Great read, hope you still write your adventures in the Arcades, thanks for your time to write them, and don't stop they are awesome!

maverick said...

man that is one hell of a week!

Love your blog, I hope you continue with it.

Stay healthy bro.

HintaLOVE said...

What am I going to spend my blog-day afternoons doing if I can't sit around refreshing your blog's site so I can post that you updated before you can?

Unknown said...

Amazing ready as always; thanks so much for putting in the effort. I really hope you understand hoe grateful we are to you for allowing us an inside view of the Japanese GG scene. I for one wish for you to continue updating and I hope you do.

Kobayashi said...

Awesome post, Mike!

JLK said...

very interesting post, thanks for it. do you have any pictures of the cosplays? i'd love to see them.
stay healthy!