The StiltManian Tournament Novel
Lanwerx 9/6, Second Edition
(The first edition got eaten up by a missed mouse click)
It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a tournament, and I swore at one time that I’d never go back to Lanwerx. But I was starting to feel like I really missed tournaments, including tournaments in Seattle, and this was the first one I’ve had a real chance to go to for a while. I didn’t have as much issue with the cabinet as I remembered having before… although that left stick is a little suspect.
I didn’t talk much to Nagata, other than to make a vague observation that the Marvel vs. Daytona USA 2 cabinet actually has speakers in the seats. I hadn’t noticed it before. And he couldn’t make out a word I was saying. Oh well. His Team Scrub beat mine in the casual games, although I had to make a lot of really stupid screw-ups to let him.
Number One Way You Don’t Want To Be Famous Department: Every single time somebody hit a jump fierce with Cable on somebody, people were sarcastically calling out “unblockable!” Damn, has Kennewick ever got their feet in their mouths.
Biggest upset: Trace over Mandel. Who’da thunk?
My first round was against Zach. I decided I’d try out the Storm/Sent/Clops on him and was reminded vaguely of why I don’t play this team in serious matches much against anyone who’s much good. I won the match 2-0, but it was a pretty ugly 2-0 where Sentinel had to do most of the work. Storm got a DHC on his Mags in the second game, but this was kinda yucky. Zach’s getting better. My Storm/Sent/Clops is ugly enough that if I’m going to put a team without Cable on it into a tournament I ought to just go with Team Watts or an offshoot thereof, I think. My BH is still so much better than my Storm that it’s almost sad.
So I’m looking at the brackets and seeing King in the second round and probably Jesse in the third. Not too harsh of fights although no big cakewalks. Then Cody comes at me with, “You’re playing Row next!” I’m like, “WTF?” and go to check the brackets again, and I find that they’ve been changed all around after Trinh left and yes, indeed, I’m playing Row in the second round. Icky poo. Oh well, time to make another try at the big upset.
I made a respectable effort at it but this time I didn’t take a game off of him. Went with Scrub-clops in the first game, Sentinel got snapped, Cyclops put up a valiant effort but died in the end. Second game I switched Cable’s assist to the viper beam (hey, it almost worked before), and the better ground control did my Sentinel some more good. Cable shot his Sentinel on an assist call (Row quote of the match: “Nice mashing!”) and I’m left with another chance to blow a good lead. I didn’t disappoint. He drops clean out of an AHVB when he gets hit with the Cable/Cyclops option with Storm. That sucked. On to the losers’ bracket.
First match there was against somebody named Son. He played MSP. He went crunch real good.
Next match was against Jesse/Hustleman. I had arrived at the decision shortly after the last time we played that I’m going to make him beat Sent-A/Cable/BH before I show him much else. About the best way to beat that team if I’m playing it patiently (and remembering to rush with Sent/BH on an AAA-less Cable) is to rush it down. And the day we see Jesse rushing that team down is probably about the same time to start heading for the bomb shelters for the end of the world. He gives me Cable/Storm-Y/Commando the first game, the recipe for Ye Olde Team Stilt says start Cable and wait him out. He puts up Cable/Storm/Sentinel there… AAA-less Cable says it’s time to start Sentinel and see if he can get me out from over his head when I’ve got BH keeping him on the ground. He can’t. Sentinel chews up his Cable and a good chunk of Storm and my Cable pitches the ninth for the save.
So I’m looking at the brackets and seeing Trace v. Mandel for my next opponent, figuring it’s going to be Mandel, even asking Kuan what he thinks of my team array against him. Then Trace puts up the shocker with the Team Scrub out of nowhere. I see a relatively new Team Scrub and a BH/Cable/Cyclops… I decide to get mean and bet that he can’t handle my Cable/BH/Commando. I’m right. I get Team Scrub both games, Sentinel starting the first and Cable the second, and my Cable never has to leave point in either game. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t make a habit of showing mercy, Trace deserved to go out less ugly than this.
Next match is in the losers’ quarterfinals against Cody. Here’s where I’m beginning to suspect that left stick. First game, I follow my standard Sent-on-Mags opening and duck block while calling Cyclops. The lugnut refuses to block low for the first attack glitch. Poke/poke/snap, Cyclops drops in for the non-assist and says, “Come on!” Cody comes on. Cyclops says, “I can’t block, hit me some more you short fat dude!” Cody hits him some more. I’m playing the rest of the first game without a Cyclops and get beasted something awful. Second game, I figure, all right, block and don’t call Cyclops this time, maybe the first attack glitch doesn’t let you block if you call an assist or something. The lugnut refuses to block low again. Poke/poke/snap. Cyclops drops in on point and says, “Hey, wait a sec, didn’t we just do this a minute ago?” Cody says, “Yeah, but you can pretend to block this time!” Cyclops says, “Oh okay… I can do that! Not.” I think this was the karma from the Trace match coming back to “reward” me. (Drew-Dub quote: “Cody Magnus… Jesus…”)
Other matches… Kuan vs. Row. Kuan needs a different plan for this than MSP. Game 6 of the grand finals was where I was really wondering about his team choice, bad. He’s down 3-2, coming out of the losers’ bracket, with a team to pick. MSP has gone 0-5 between that match and the winners’ final. Storm/Sent/Cable won two games in a row before losing one on a bit of a fluke. So what does Kuan do? He goes back to MSP and gets chewed up again.
Here’s my take on this: Kuan does not have Ricky Ortiz’s hit-and-turtle mentality. I wasn’t at Evo, I haven’t seen the matches with him and Row, but my understanding is that Ricky was perfectly happy hitting once with MSP and then running until the moon exploded with Storm. This is very reminiscent of what he’s been doing the entire lifetime of the game; it’s always been some variant of his final game plan, when he used to play whatever in the first rounds and fall back on Cable/Storm/AAA when he’s got one game left to lose. And it’s about the only game plan where MSP beats MSS. Mag has to give Storm a lead, and then Storm has to treat the ground like it’s poisonous to the touch. Any other situation inevitably succumbs to the cold calculus that Storm with Sentinel needs only one hit to kill Storm with Psylocke, and needs to be hit two or three times to be killed in turn, and that if Storm with Sentinel dies the game is not necessarily over. Sooner or later, that’s just too many things that you need to get right if you’re going to try to play a head-on fight with MSP against MSS. The weapons just run too deep on the latter team for MSP to win with any game plan other than “get a lead and run like hell”.
Other side notes. I actually managed not to miss the city of Olympia driving up this time. The team tourney was fun. Blocking a first strike glitch on the right side was just fine. Kennewick needs to start backing some shit up, badly, because right now they’ve been turned into a regional joke. Rest stops on I-5 that give out free cookies at 1 AM are bomb.