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Tenebrous Tournament Tales

As i must have mentioned before, i’ve never won a tournament. However, i have finished second place on at least three occasions, which means i’ve reached the grand finals of three (rather modest) local tournaments. I should probably write these stories down before i forget them completely. With any luck, some of you might join in sharing your tournament experiences and lessons learned as well.

My first trip to grand finals happened during the last CvS2 tournament held at SHGL arcade. It was a strange, gloomy, nostalgic atmosphere. I believe twenty-something people entered, but all were dedicated CvS2 players. The only opponent i remember beating was some new guy playing an unorthodox K-Groove team who had managed to get second place in the previous CvS2 tournament by beating the regular who had eliminated me.

He was obviously good, but it annoyed me that a stranger had placed so high in “our” arcade. Luckily, i got my chance to play him and made sure it didn’t happen again. I don’t remember much other than the matches being close and getting intense towards the end. My reward was facing CaliPower in the finals, and i knew i had no chance so i picked N-Groove Shotos or something. Actually, Valle offered to let me have the win but MrWizard (aka Captain Hater) overheard him and threatened to disqualify us both. Nevertheless, that was a good day.

My second grand finals took place at a UCI student arcade CvS2 tournament in 2004. It was a one-off event so there were a fair number of entrants. I knocked Amir into loser’s bracket relatively early, then we watched some matches before going to grab lunch. He shared some advice that East Coast champ Eddie Lee had given him: If you lose a big match, ask your opponent to switch sides with you – it’s almost like calling a timeout.

We went back to the arcade and i made it through winners bracket while Amir came out of losers bracket, meaning he had to win two sets against me in the grand finals. I started off winning something like two matches to one on the 1P side, when he asked to switch. I obliged and he ended up winning the first set.

By that point a number of people had shown up too late to enter the tournament and one of them was Valle. He came up and told me that i should ask to switch sides, but honestly i felt comfortable on the 2P side, even though i ended up losing the second set as well. I suppose there was also an unnecessary stubborn desire to prove that i could win on the 2P side. Anyhow i don’t like making excuses. I think Amir was just better than me that day.

My third grand finals appearance occurred in an impromptu CvS2 tourney at FFA. Someone with a clipboard asked if i wanted to enter and i went along with it. I remember having to beat Jason Cole but can’t recall who else i played. It might’ve been single-match, single-elim format, because i only remember playing one match against Ed Ma in the finals.

It came down to my R2 C-Guile against his R2 Chun Li. I had a sizeable lead on him; almost 50% vitality to his 5%. I was also within a few pixels of having full meter, which would’ve enabled me to win by lvl3 Sonic Hurricane block damage. My goal was to zone him out defensively using Guile’s c.MK and B+MK hopkick, until i had that meter. For some reason he kept whiffing Chun’s c.MP repeatedly, which i had been countering with c.MK fairly successfully.

And then i got greedy. He hadn’t been punishing my c.MK so i boldly pressed it a couple of times to charge those few remaining pixels of meter. As i got the very last one i needed, his c.MP finally beat my c.MK cleanly and he comboed into lvl3 super. I died with full meter, feeling dumb as nails for not realizing his gameplan. Now knowing that simple little fact, i can think of ten different ways to finish him off. But at the time it simply didn’t occur to me that Chun’s c.MP could beat Guile’s c.MK like that, so it cost me the match. In retrospect, i should’ve caught on even without prior knowledge, but i started picturing the finish line before the race was over.

Well, those are my most memorable tournament outings. What are yours?

Categories: Storytime, Strategy Tags:
  1. Kareeem
    June 20th, 2010 at 06:00 | #1

    Fun read dude. Lol @ valle offering the win and the st.mp vs cr.mk thing is one of those little tidbits that makes these games fun imo. The nuances. I have only won one small tourney, an ST ranbat here in the Netherlands.

    Here is my tournament experience, it’s pretty damn long. I left out the local SF4 tournaments I entered because I have lost interest in that game. I didn’t do well anyways, I sucked lol.

    First tournament I entered was WCG 08 for VF5. To be fair it wasn’t a great tourney and not a lot of heavy hitters were there but I had to play my semi finals on the big big screen at some gaming convention and got the win. I was pretty stoked lol.
    http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii195/fulaani/2835364826_33ee8331cd_b.jpg That’s a picture of the setting, I’m the tiny guy on the right
    Finals would be played later that year at another gaming convention. I had to face Krye, who used to be the national DOA4 champ (lol he hates the game though), it was aired on national television. He handled me with ease. I could never take the fact that he was better than me because he used to play DOA (lol) but he clearly was. I could have given him a better match if I hadn’t been fasting for Ramadan though. I remember people commenting on how I was such a scrub on the internet LOL.
    Anyways so he got sent to the world finals in Germany but on stage I jokingly hinted that I “let” him take it because I had just gotten back from a VF5 tourney in New York.
    http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii195/fulaani/2835364826_33ee8331cd_b.jpg I’m the guy in the sweats+wolverine shirt.
    Ramadan started during my trip to NY and with no halal food in the neighborhood of the vennue I was fasting and only eating gas station snacks during sun down. I felt like crap and got handled easily during the tourney but I did have a lot of fun and learned a lot. I had 2 of my most memorable 1on1 sessions at that event. It was my first international event and I was hooked.

    Having never been a gamer (really, I had a NES that’s it, no arcades either) and VF dying I wanted to try out the 2d side of things so I started playing ST/HDR and fell in love. Then 4 came out and ruined the little game I had built with ST and was nothing more than mediocre with 4.
    At Stunfest09 in France I got eliminated by NKI and the guy who beat NKI in HDR pools and Sf4 I can’t even remember. Awesome tournament though with loads of arcade cabs in an underground setting, it actually a 3 day tournament in a freaking parking lot LOL.After that was SVB09 in London where I didn’t do well in HDR either, I was still recovering from 4 having quit that game shortly before that. I had very good practice on the ST supergun setup though.

    Then came HARDCORE sf2 practice time.

    We had a Ranbat season in the Netherlands were I could only come to 3 out of 4 ranbats but got 2nd in the overall rankings. Played everything with Blanka (it was a single char tourney format). I was kinda coming into my own and became decent at SF2. The first ranbat I went to I got 2nd only losing to one guy using Dictator, I HATE that character lol. 2nd ranbat I got 3rd, not sure of the details of that one and last time I got first losing only one set in grand finals to R-Jive.

    2 Months ago was StunfestX where I entered HDR and Arcade ST. I heard NKI was coming and I really wanted to show him I had gotten better (if he even remembered me from last time). When we arrived I saw him playing and actually beat him the first match I played (Bob Sagat is reading this rolling his eyes LOL), of course it was just a quick casual game but hey, the little things in life right. Fot HDR I teamed with R-Jive who got first in our dutch ranbats, we were a Blanka/Ryu team and he called our team RAWRYUKEN (which i thought was hilarious). We got 4th only losing to NKI/Tokido and Coungster/Teammate. R-Jive beat Tokido but just BARELY lost to NKI in an extremely close match. I lost to NKI, and later we both lost to Coungster (his teammate wasn’t a problem) who is one of the top Euro allrounders. NKI/Tokido and Coungster/teammate eventually got 1st and 2nd.

    In arcade ST (straight into brackets no pools) my first match was against Wolmar who has a great Sim (again I played Blanka, one char tourney also) but neither of us had ever played eachother and I think we were both a bit nervous. Especially since I had little Sim experience. I managed to beat him quite convincingly though and sent him to losers (I don’ t think he played at full capacity at the tourney because he’s pretty damn good imo). I then beat a DJ and O.Sagat. http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii195/fulaani/SSF2X-FulaaniKareeeeemvsKenBogard.jpg thats me on the left vs the O.sagat player. I saw that my next match was against NKI and was a little upset lol, but realised that I should make the most of it and it would at leats be a good learning experience. Here’s the match http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbs7YGByZfw&fmt=23 I was very nervous but I like to think I gave him a proper match. I could have taken it to a 3rd match but when beating his super I used a j.lk instead of a stronger attack which cuold have taken the match by itself, it hit too high and he throw me ftw before I could link a followup ground attack to kill him.

    Before that Tokido was sent to losers very early in an upset and guess who was on his way to me in the losers bracket lol. The funny thing was, the players he had to wade through to get to me were all blanka players! Here’s my match vs him http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkXJFryWUlo&fmt=23 (the first stuff against chun is just killing off the prvious guys char and the guy recording cracks a joke on how it seems I’m destroying tokido lol). About the actual match, the only Claw I play is Sharizord and I was expecting the stuf Sharizord does which Tokido obviously doesn’t. Tokido beat me pretty convincingly but it’s freaking Tokido lol. One thing that was funny, the VS cabs died so we had to play next to eachother and I noticed he was listening to my inputs so using Elec to trade for the knockdown was out of the question, he confirmed my suspicion when we spoke after the match. NKI and Tokido got 1st and 2nd place so again my only loses were agianst top 2. I felt that that was very respectable since it was the first big tournament where I felt I was even on a level of seriously entering compititions. Of course I wanted to end high but you never know who you run into during the brackets.

    Next month is a small single elim ST tournament in the UK that I’m looking forward too. Sorry for the very long reply, I had fun mapping this out for myself too.

  2. N00b_Saib0t
    June 20th, 2010 at 07:49 | #2

    my only tournament story is for SF4. i live in phoenix, az and there was a tourney in tucson at a play n trade. i drove up there for it and it was a blast, the people were awesome and were even nice enough to let me use their sticks since it was a PS3 tourney and at the time i was playing on 360. anyway, in the 2nd round i faced a sagat, i play balrog. i remember someone making a comment that someone they had never heard of going to the last round of the last set of best of 3 rounds, 3 sets. anyway, the guy figured out that i like TAPing through fireballs, he baited me perfectly with it. through a short low tigershot instead of the fierce and EX he had been using all night. i TAP, get hit from behind with the fireball, low forward, uppercut, FADC, ultra and i lost to an opponent that had about 20% health when i had about 50% and was sitting on an ultra.

    the thing that kills me is that at that time i was on top of my game (not saying i was daigo or jwong, but its the best I’VE personally been). i started getting involved in the SF community before various work things took over. i could have dash->ultra’d through that, EX upper’d, FADC back, just about anything BUT that TAP. oh well, live and learn. i dont TAP nearly as often now as i used to because of it, i’ve learned how unsafe it is against good players unless used sparingly.

  3. Cpt. Sirloin II
    June 20th, 2010 at 07:54 | #3

    Those are some fine stories. Several of these remind me of DDR tournaments I’ve participated in.

    The story I am going to share is one I touched on before on one of Koop’s tournament survival guides. It is the only fighting game tourny I ever experienced, so it being the first, I felt it would be reasonable to share.

    This particular event was held at a small Gamestop. This fact alone determined many factors. One, the competition. It’s not like it is an obscure location at all for Jacksonville, Florida, but it’s definitely one of the less frequented, thus making the event relatively unheard of. Two, it’s size didn’t allow a reasonable time frame for entrees, so people who made it there were there by the skin of their teeth, and every had a feeling of being dragged in last minute; quite unsettling. Lastly, the officials were in-store clerks and employees, who were pinheads and didn’t have the slightest clue of organizing and general fundamentals of the game being played (They work for a game store, shouldn’t they have some back knowledge?), so the overall experience was unbalance and fumbled here and there.

    On to the tournament. It was Street Fighter IV. The game was released two days prior. That means I had two days of experience with my Ken under my belt. My choice was because I used to play Ken all the time for and iteration of SF when I was younger. It was purely aesthetic. After SFII, I rarely touched fighting games, and I was never aware of the hardcore fighting scene until a year or so prior to this event. Though, I was certain there was one, because I saw how Halo and Cod had a hardcore scene and large competition, I thought it was common sense to assume that there were awesome players doing unbelievable things in fightings games.
    I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was getting myself into. It would be months after this when I would learn of tier lists, punishment, and other complex fighting strategies that dominated core-gameplay in higher level fights. At this stage of the game, I only grasped these elements:
    Fight like it was SFII, so that meant not leaving myself open and hadouken/shoryuken when it was right. The only new concept I grasped before the tourny was focus attack and FACD.
    Other than that, I was a fish out of water among everyone else.

    However, you might think the odds were against me, but despite all this, everyone else was all ‘noob’ at that time. But, this is only because none of the ‘gooood’ local players attended, though, I don’t really know who they are to this day.

    I won my first round (first match of the event) with ease against some faceless Joe. It started a little awkward because the officials instructed that the match would require no handicap. Initially, the handicap setup is set up to four stars, and they assumed that we had to put it at one star. I knew they were wrong, but I went along with it. I hurricane kicked my opponent once for a win, but we had to rematch noticing the health were too low. I won when everything was right. Again, I didn’t know the complexities of fighting games during this event, so I thought if I played smart, I would be ahead of the rest. So I was confident throughout.

    Looking back, I could see how terrible I was. And if I was terrible, then my good buddy who attended too must of been horrendous. I was already dominating him before the tourny as we practiced with each other, but that doesn’t really matter because he had no real prior fighting game experience other than trying them out over the years.

    He, too, made it passed his first match with flying colours. He was Ryu.

    My next opponent was, again, a faceless and nameless 20-some year old Joe, but I remember ‘him’ for two reasons:
    He beat me . . .
    He sported a Ryu headband.

    He got the better of me, and I was humbled, but he didn’t allow me to feel that way. His face was solid as stone, and he didn’t blink or say a word post-match. I smiled, and gave a positive sentiment to our match, patted his back as I walked off. Nothing from him. That’s when I noticed the same passionless expression no just on him, but everyone else there. This event was dead by people who were snobby, egotistical, or just genuinely uninterested.

    I went to the back of the store in shame. Not for my loss. I wasn’t disappointed about that. I had to really reassess what I was doing and thinking there. I wasn’t has excited as I initial was for the event, and I really didn’t care anymore.

    My buddy’s fight was shortly after mine. He lost that one because of his shoryuken follies and the little kid mimicked him, getting the better end of the tactic.

    He too was upset, but not for the same reason as myself. It turned out to be a bitter day for the both of us, and I left that even with a scar that reminded me if tournaments were really worth pursuing.

    However, I was a terrible player back then, and Koop’s survival guide has given me great insight of what a ‘REAL’ tournament is like, and it’s definitely something I would like to experience. A game can get boring when you do it by yourself, so knowing that there are these events that get held and there are strong bonds, rivalries, communities, and exciting fights make me think that I haven’t even gotten my feet wet in what a real fighting game has to offer.

    I’m sorry for the lengthy post, mainly because I feel that there really isn’t anything very substantial about it haha

    I was in a sharing mood.

    Who knows, perhaps one of us will cross paths one day, exchange blows . . .

    I’d like to hear other people’s post, though :)

  4. EasierToRun09
    June 20th, 2010 at 15:17 | #4

    My tournament tales can be summed up pretty quickly: My Abel has a lot of problems vs. Chun-Li… and the last 2/3 tournaments I have played in, I had to face Shizza in the first or second match, funny stuff.

    But we’ve talked a bit, and I’ve learned a lot about the matchup. I play a lot better when I play casuals with him, I guess it’s the tournament nerves. Gotta just get over that right?

  5. June 20th, 2010 at 16:57 | #5

    Great story bro. If it was a year ago, i wouldn’t know who you were talking about, but now, I realize how much into these games I’m in. Gah, I’m happy to be alive in this present.

  6. June 20th, 2010 at 17:35 | #6

    For the record, i can safely say i’ll never beat Valle in-tournament. He’s taught me too much and i have far too much respect for him. That whole competitive mentality of wanting to destroy your opponent disappears when i play Valle in a tournament setting, because i honestly just want to see him do well. I can play to win in practice, but not when winning means eliminating him. (And he certainly doesn’t need my help beating me.)

  7. Kicks
    June 22nd, 2010 at 01:32 | #7

    A couple of frustrating tournament experiences can be chalked up to not having any idea about a gimmick.
    My best friend and I traveled to a 3s tourney where we got to the finals along with another guy. The whole time he was using Ryu or Yang or something, but after he got knocked into losers, he switched to Chun. We had no idea what we were doing. I mean there’s not much to say if you’re familiar with 3s. She can totally shut down people if you’re not familiar with her. So we had this day full of exciting close matches rounded out with a million LONG and boring turtle fests where a guy who was barely trying beat two panicked and frustrated guys.

    A similar thing happened to me where I hit up this soul calibur tournament (forget which version). I was really unfamiliar with the game, but previous games gave me enough knowledge to do pretty well. I was knocked into loser’s by the guy who would go on to win it. I fought through loser’s until I was battling the gatekeeper to the winner’s. I was using Setsuka and he was using Nitemare. He was easy to corral into the ring bounds and I was stepping a lot of his stuff. He was pretty good, but I had him figured out… except for one stupid thing. Nitemare had this double kick from a crouch dash that could be repeated on hit and had some specific way you had to tech or time a block. The first time he landed it, I just thought, ok, don’t tech. Then it kept picking me up so I tried blocking the next time. It still didn’t work, so I tried teching every direction, but nothing worked. I had match lead on him, but he had tied it up after this. We were down to the last round of the last match, and I had been good about just eating lows over getting hit by it. But it happened anyway and he kicked my ass all over the arena while I mumbled under my breath and people from behind booed. I shook his hand but was so pissed I forgot to ask how to tech it.
    Another quick story. Another soul calibur tournament. Again I was using Setsuka but I forget who he was using… and for good reason. I beat him the first match, but kept doing really stupid stuff the next. I felt dumb for giving up the match, but knew everything I did wrong and was ready to roll. “Good Games, man.” And he walked off to report the win. I thought… well I do have a terrible memory and his confidence made me question myself. Luckily there was a spectator behind us (this tourney had a ton of tv’s). I looked back and he had the same puzzled look on his face. So I called the kid back and got 2 ring outs under 10 seconds and another under 20. I think he was shaken by embarrassment, but the triple ring out was a nice payback.
    Living in Wyoming I had to travel out of state a lot because there’s no fighting game scene here. When you do travel, or in any other case really, if you get seeded to fight your normal comp or friends early, ask the organizers if you can switch. I’ve never been turned down for this request. It’s silly when you travel hours in a hot car only to fight the dude you practiced with the night before.

  8. onreload
    June 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 | #8

    ^ wait, are you implying that you were looking at the wrong TV or something? I don’t quite get what happened.

    I don’t have many tournament stories; the only game I really got into was 3rd Strike, and that was already on its way out (especially on the US’ East Coast here, Philadelphia) in mid-late ’07. Didn’t even know we had an arcade, and I think I’d be way too scared to enter anything back then.

    Instead, I got into the habit of stopping by this student lounge that people, who eventually became my friends, would set up like an arcade. Two PS2s, two CRTs, and you could play whatever you like…just not with whomever you like, but that’s more like an arcade, isn’t it?

    So yeah, I placed mid to low in almost every game we set up a tournament for – odd thing is, I would get first or second in three shit fighting games: SF1, TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES), and Shaq-Fu (GEN). SF1 and Shaq-Fu were pure luck, mash until you figure something out…or, in SF1’s case, continue mashing since, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how that game decides if you got the input correctly. I think you get about five hadoukens for every 12 you input.

    The guy who organized the tourney and I liked using games nobody really played (or should play) once we were done with SF3, GG, CvS2, ST, SFA3, etc. We (I got more and more involved in this pseudo-club) tried to keep a ladder going, where a tournament would set rankings, then we could rank up by beating people near us etc. It was pretty messy but I made my way up in 3s ranks only to have to stop since nobody wanted to play it with [insert game here] coming out.

    So, I should probably throw a tournament story in here:

    After looking up bits and pieces online about Tournament Fighters, I was killing everyone with Armaggon, Shredder, Asuka, whomever I wanted…Then I dropped this tidbit I read from what I think was an archived SRK thread about how Chrome Dome’s j.HK beats everything and puts him in the highest tier…well, the three guys left in the tournament all went Chrome Dome and proceeded to beat me to death as I *had* to believe that playing with a character’s special moves and strategies would overcome normal abuse…maybe not in that game, or more likely, not the way I played. It was all in fun, of course, and since our organizer always had a themed prize, my good friend won an actual baby turtle. (I played 3rd ’cause I managed to take out 1 of the 3 C. Domes) They were selling them near the subway stop for cheap. My friend didn’t want it, so he gave it to my girlfriend, who had entered the tourney in hopes of winning the turtle…I think it was I who peaced her out into Loser’s :\ For those interested, the turtle is alive and well.

    Fuck Chrome Dome.

  9. Necrosis
    June 26th, 2010 at 23:43 | #9

    After I wrote all this I realized it’s REALLY FREAKIN’ LONG, so apologies if it’s TOO long. Hope it’s at least worth a read.

    Most of my memorable tournaments were due not to finishing high but more often to individual wins. I don’t think I ever won a real tournament either. Only silly mystery game tournaments or convention tournaments where I’m the only good player.

    I got my start in competitive fighting games with the Gamecube Naruto fighter, silly as it is. It always impressed me that HeartNana was able to pretty consistently win major tournaments for the game with Hinata, a low tier character in a pretty badly balanced game. That has actually inspired me to always stick to my guns, and always find that character I think is best for me instead of just that good character I can play well.

    This is the guy who wins almost every tournament, so when I got matched up against him in one tournament, largely sticking to an unorthodox character myself (certainly for this match), I was expecting the usual. I struggle a bit, maybe get a round here and there by good meter management and the way the metagame played out (matches where one player gets no rounds can be rare, depending on characters), but largely get outplayed and have every attempt to escape read and punished.

    Somehow, just this one time, I ended up actually pulling the win and seriously irritating him by playing patiently and shutting down his approaches. Honestly, nothing special happened mid-match, so without all the background it isn’t much, but holy crap, I managed to beat him! I played him in casuals all the time, barely got a win every now and then, but it was the first time (I’m pretty sure) I’d ever managed to beat him in tournament, maybe even a full 2/3 set.

    The only other thing that’s really popping out right now is the Arcana Heart tournament at Season’s Beatings 3. The specific win in this case was significant for two reasons: it was the single most intense tournament match I have ever had (or at least felt the most intense), and it was the first time my match had been recorded in a tournament after Naruto. In this case I can largely let the match speak for itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4loUAqXd9E

    There are a couple of highlights here, most notably calling the clash at the end of the first match, which was the biggest gamble I can EVER remember taking that actually worked. He specifically HAD to clash my wakeup Gier for me to get that throw off. Any other reaction to it and I’d have lost.

    He ran a lot of things I had NEVER seen before on me, but Gier Konoha was something I thought might work one day and tested out to begin with. I’m still really proud of this one, and to this day, it has an effect on me just watching it. I just remember sitting there for like a full minute inbetween the second and third matches like “come on, I can do this, I didn’t focus so hard on this game and come up with all this cool shit for Gier Konoha for nothing, I CAN BEAT HIM.”

    I have had a lot of matches, especially when I sit down and play casuals and tell myself to play it like my quarter is riding on it, where my hands will shake afterwards, but this is one of only two where I remember being so shaky that I had to go sit down and calm myself after it. The only other one was the very best my younger brother has ever played, and it was against me, in an out of state Guilty Gear tournament. I came within chip damage of losing to my brother, and he had 50% life. I somehow managed to pull off the win, but i swear there was a radius of an inch within where my hands should have been that they were all over after that match.

  10. June 27th, 2010 at 21:42 | #10

    I just want to say, these are all great. I haven’t been responding because there’s really not much to say, but i’ve enjoyed reading every single one of these stories. Keep ’em coming!

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