StiltManian Tournament Novel
Lanwerx 9/27 Edition
A bunch of stuff was different, and a bunch stayed the same in this tourney. I got to have another match with Row, Row won the tourney over Kuan again. Saw Rattana again… I haven’t seen nearly enough of this guy, so that was cool even though I didn’t get a chance to say it to him in person. Rattana was doing some new stuff of his own with Row’s new team, making much more use of DHCs in random places in ways that threw a lot of people (me included) off.
The day started off a little goofy back in Portland. I was supposed to grab three people at Lloyd Tilt (LawrencIUM, bakemono, and Jetay), but I wound up being almost a half hour late for when I was supposed to get there because I-84 was backed up basically all the way in from I-205 because some numbskull managed to flip his car over forwards onto its hood in the middle of the freeway. I’m not sure how in the hell they managed to do that in straight freeway in broad daylight.
I got my first conscious glimpse of the players from Olympia. Lots of MSP guys, although they seemed a little impatient with their tactics and seemed to have trouble with Sentinels. I’ve heard that Sentinel doesn’t get played much in Olympia, so this would be somewhat understandable. They’d evidently seen me play in past Lanwerx tournaments but they hadn’t really connected that this was the StiltMan guy who keeps righting huge novels after any tournament before.
Another thing is that this was my first Seattle tourney after I’d decided I was going to try to rehabilitate BH and, to a lesser extent, Strider. I had a number of people that I mentioned this to on IRC wonder if I was going to be able to pull this off, but with some of my new tricks I’ve come up with over the last couple of weeks I felt pretty good about it. That was good, because I figured out pretty quickly in the casual play before the tournament that my Cable was sucking pretty hard, so I was going to have to win without it.
First round was against Cory. He sat there and more or less watched me pick out BH/Sent/Commando and then went with Mag/Cable/Tron, I think it was. Pretty much was a signal to me that BH was going to have to do most of his fighting from off the ground and rely on Sentinel’s drones more than Commando, but it got handled pretty well. His Cable ate a DHC from BH to Sentinel and then Sentinel’s job was pretty much just to run interference from there. Cory finished the two-and-out to become the latest victim of the Curse of the Stilt Man.
The second round, I took a look at my bracket, saw that I had Bumbleberry and then (with the safe assumption that I was going to win) I got the winner of Rairu vs. Maverick. I’ve played Maverick in four matches in the last two weeks between Kennewick and Antoine’s basement, and felt like I really didn’t want to play him a fifth time. So I went to Rairu and gave him a bunch of advice on how to beat him. I told him that Mav usually goes with a Magneto-based team until he’s given a reason to do otherwise (usually Row’s old one), and that he’s capable of doing some decent Storm stuff himself but that he tends to lose with Storm against patient Sentinels. So in a nutshell, I advised him that Storm/Sent/Clops runaway was probably the way to go. Rairu followed my advice and torched him. Which left me with a choice as to what I wanted to do with Bumbleberry.
I decided this is the time to break out what I’ve been doing with Strider so I picked Strider/Doom/Commando on him. I know that the conventional wisdom says that Sentinel as a battery works best with this team, and I’ve played BH as a battery for it before myself, but I think Commando as the third char and starting Strider still gives Strider on his own the best collection of options – from there the main issues he has, IMO, are the same kinds of defensive issues that buried BH once upon a time, and that if those could be cured, Strider could still win with a team geared around him.
Bumbles also watched me pick what I was going to do, and tried to play Storm/Sent/Cable on it. My anti-rush defense was way too good for him to be thinking seriously of rushing me down, and Storm wins that fight better when she’s running away anyway, so he picks up on this and runs and aims to try to bait my Commando out where he can kill him with hailstorms in the first game. My understanding after the fight is that he was trying to DHC to HSF to finish it off, and couldn’t. Whatever the case, I picked up on this before Commando died, and focused on trying to patiently outwait Storm, and eventually succeeded. Strider then carved his way through most of Sentinel and Cable before he finally died with about 15 left on the clock. Doom airdashes up to the scoreboard and throws yellow beams to burn the clock from there; when his Sentinel tried to chase me down I did that a bit and just airblocked the rest of the time; he had no prayer of really coming back. Second game, Strider had a nice opening on Storm… cr. short/fwd/rh/OTG Commando/dog into orbs. By the time Storm is done blocking the first rep of the trap, she’s got a little over a third of her life left. That was cool, and it threw Brendin on his heels for the entire rest of the second game, leading to an OCV where Strider had a good half his life left when the last char died in the trap. Even had a point where I turned an accidental wall climb into a useful move when he tried to HSF my Commando and Strider came down on the dive kick from the wall and knocked him out of it.
Third round, on to Rairu. Rairu wanted the right side, and so did I. I suggested we flip for it where one of us picks the side they want but the other gets to see what team he picks first. Rairu conceded that this exchange was fair but then decided he doesn’t want the right side that badly, with all the tricks I’ve got up my sleeve. I took the right side and BH/Sent/Commando. He goes with Mag/Storm/Tron, to no real surprise of mine. Again, BH is assigned to play an aerial game where I use the drones more than Commando to stay away from Tron, and sj. jabs in good timing to keep Mags from going over the top. BH kills Mags with a DHC to Sentinel, Sentinel is left to clean house on Storm/Tron. Rairu put up a valiant effort but goes down. Second game, he takes a side switch and Storm/Sent/Commando; I started Sentinel for this fight. It goes pretty even in a slow fight early on, where both of us are slowly wearing each other down, and eventually I counter BH into the end of a hailstorm to get Sentinel out safe. That nearly proved to be disastrous, as Storm got an air combo on BH, but Rairu evidently forgot that BH is a “heavy” char and timed the DHC like he was light. That left me with about a third of BH’s life left after he rolls through the gaps in the HSF, and BH manages to do enough damage to Sentinel that it comes down to my Sentinel/Commando against his Commando/Storm in the end (a spot where making the save with the counter proved fortuitous in managing the team order). It came out pretty close but I pulled it off. Interesting fight, as it usually is with Evan.
So here came the hard part… demonstrating that going back to BH/Sent/Commando was not a mistake against Rodolfo. BH did his job… Row’s Mags lived through the opening duel in the first fight only because I fucked up my DHC and he died outright to a conventional inferno/HOD in the second. Both games were pretty close, but he won them both. The second one I probably could’ve had, but I should’ve tagged BH out after I killed his Mags; got greedy hoping for a DHC on Storm to seal it away and got BH killed instead. This fight continued the pattern of late where Row doesn’t tend to beat me with Mags so much as with the other two chars on his roster. My Sentinel was a bit off, I think; I need to put in more Sentinel/Commando time in practicing without BH around to force myself to work without it more often, I think.
It didn’t get much easier from here, because I had Rattana in the losers’ bracket. First game, I really should’ve had… Rat’s Sentinel was dead late and it was down to Storm/Mags against my Sent/BH/Commando. Then he does not one, but two relatively random DHCs. The first, he hits me with a random full-screen lightning storm and tries to DHC to shockwave, except that I rolled through it and comboed into HSF on Mags while he’s still got his hand in the ground. Then after the air combo in the corner, I did a j. rh/Commando and tried to flying air combo off of it, whiffed it a little, and Rat pretty much immediately does another DHC to hail storm that kills both Sentinel and Commando. Oops. Second game, I deserved to lose… too many random tags. Made it close anyway… once again Rat came down to just two chars left at low lifebars but I was basically asking for it.
Thoughts… Strider can be a force but I think he needs more work. BH/Sent/Commando has proven itself by me… I did just as well in this tournament as I usually can expect to do and didn’t break out Cable once the entire day, with Team Watts taking on basically every match and not really losing any of them that I can’t chalk up to my opponents just flat out being better than I am. I need to manage the team a little better, I think… I’m toying with the idea of turning it into a DHC-based team, and I’ve got a good DHC with it, but I need to both execute it better and pick my spots about when it’s better to go for it and when it’s better to play it safe. I got myself into trouble in more than one match by getting greedy on it, and I only got it off successfully twice.
Of course, the novel wouldn’t be complete without a commentary on other aspects. Rat’s use of Row’s new team shows a lot of promise and he’s got some neat ideas for it. Rat has always been very good about taking whatever he’s got in his hands to play with and finding all sorts of really fucked up ways to use it that nobody else thinks of… and if he were to practice and attack it as rigorously as he did three years ago he could even dominate with it the way Row does now.
Row v. Kuan. Kuan obviously reads what I write, because last time I said he didn’t stay with Storm/Sent enough and went with a skewed game play for playing MSP against Row. Well, this time around his game plan with MSP followed my prescription from last time a lot better, and it was a lot more effective. He also tried Storm/Sent/Commando a lot, except that it wasn’t effective. I’ll repeat here what I’ve already said to him on MSN… I think he was trying to fight head-on with Storm way too much on Row’s Mags and was too greedy for the DHC… Storm wins this fight the way Justin used to do it, by running away like mad and drawing Magneto into a chase that, far more often than not, ends with Mags walking into a DHC out of nowhere, getting killed, and leaving Sentinel with the luxury of just kind of chilling out for the rest of the fight. That’s what Kuan did last time that was so effective, it’s what Justin does when he tears Row’s Mags teams new ones, and it’s what Kuan didn’t do this time. I don’t know if he managed to win any games at all on Row with Storm/Sent/Commando in either the winners’ or grand finals, but if he did, I missed them… I counted about 0-for-6 or so, with MSP going 2-and-2.
Better team choice on Kuan’s part and better game plan with MSP, except that he went away with what was working for Storm/Sent last time and kinda ate it as a result. Oh well.
As for Row… well, he’s Row. Row rules. What can you do?
Humorous remarks for the day:
Just about anything said by PsiANyd during his tourney matches. In one match (I forget who against) he jumps out of his chair and starts taking a walk around the room for a moment after each of the first two games, win or lose. That was funny.
Cody, watching the late stages of the tourney talking to me:
Cody: What team were you playing today?
Cody: What happened to Sent/Cable/Cyclops?
Me: I don’t like that team any more. You fucked me up too badly last time.
Cody: You should play Sentinel/Commando.
Me: I did.
Cody: You did? pause for thought Oh!
(Cody is goofy. But he’s had a lot of homework lately, so I can relate to him not being quite all there in a tourney environs.)
Mandel is getting up close to PsiANyd’s territory for comical remarks during his games.
Will be seeing the Olympia peeps in a couple of weeks, most likely.