Are you ready? It's time for EVO


This is crossposted from are you ready? it?s time for evo ? andres’s random musings about games, music and life - I will be doing a series of articles over the weekend talking about Evolution and the events, be sure to read them as they go on! This is the first part of these articles.

The weekend is quickly approaching. You’ve got your plane ticket to Las Vegas. You’ve made hotel reservations at one of the swankiest hotels on the strip, Caesar’s Palace. You’ve touched base with your roommates. You fly out in the next couple of days. You’re pretty much set for one of the most fun weekends of your life.

If you thought this was a review for the movie The Hangover, then you suffer from one of the following problems:

  1. You don’t read my blog very often. Shame on you.
  2. You don’t play Street Fighter competitively. You are probably a very successful person in life.

I am kidding, of course. You can be perfectly successful in life while playing competitive Street Fighter as long as your name is Justin Wong or Daigo Umehara, in which case you have contracts with companies who throw fairly good money in your direction to masterfully chuck a thousand fireballs at unwary opposition. The rest of you are like me, trying to find a way to balance Real Life with Hadokens, with (vastly) varying degrees of success (or failure).

The vast majority of people who will read this are people who have been to a major tournament before and know what to expect. But there are other, more inexperienced (read: stupid) souls out there that haven’t had a chance to go to a big tournament. Maybe you’ve never been to an event of this magnitude before. Plenty of people will be popping their proverbial major tournament cherry with Evolution 2010, and a lot of these people may not feel as if they are completely ready for it. Sure, you’ve attended a few local tournaments where the brackets can, admittedly, get pretty big – particularly now with the huge fighting game boom, thanks to SSF4. You definitely felt like you were the master when you did alright out of that 128-man bracket at that nearby tournament in a neighboring city, where people were so packed in such a small building that you thought you were going to run out of oxygen.

If you think this is going to be like that, I have news for you: you’re both somewhat right and terribly, terribly wrong.

You will definitely feel like you’re about to run out of oxygen, of course. It’s just that the 128-man bracket won’t be the entire tournament, that’s just the first bracket that you’ll try to qualify out of to reach the second part of the tournament. What that means is that there’s about 16 of your local tournaments going on in the same day in one really big ballroom, which means you will feel both completely lost and intimidated on your first day.

Even with all of that, there’s nothing to not love about Evolution, but if there was something about the entire package experience that you’d have to quickly learn to hate, it would probably be the “preparation” part. No doubt a lot of you went with the cheapest possible tickets that you could get to fly with, which means a lot of your flights start at 5 AM in the morning and have a connection or three somewhere along the line and get you there at 12 PM, Vegas time (which means you’ve spent roughly 10 hours in a plane or in airports). Alternatively, some of you are traveling in from overseas or South America, which means your plane trip is about three times more excruciating and claustrophobic than the flights of people in North America. I can already feel your excitement.

But don’t be (too) afraid! If you haven’t left for Vegas yet and you’ve never played in a major tournament, or would just like to be better prepared than the last time you showed up to one, here are some last-minute tips that will help keep your traveling experience pleasant and keep your money from vanishing overnight during your stay in Vegas.

Keep your pack light

I remember sharing my room last year with a semi-pro football player. This guy literally brought a huge bag in which he normally carries football gear to bring all his stuff in. While this was okay for him, because he was strong as hell – that whole being a semi-pro football player and all – this doesn’t mean everyone is as strong as he is. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the vast majority of people who will be playing at this tournament fall under the more conservative “not very strong at all” category. It is important then that your skinny, sun-starved ass not bring anything larger than a backpack with the bare essentials necessary to survive and an additional place to carry your joystick (either an Evo stick sack, some other small bag, or just carrying it in plain view) so as to not crush your pathetically puny back with the overbearing weight of the military-grade survival pack you originally planned to pack.

Realistically, your ultimate goal should be to completely avoid having to check in baggage so that you can skip baggage claims entirely. Most airlines will let you carry on your main bag and your joystick without too much trouble, particularly if you tell them that one is your actual carryon and the other can be considered as something that will be resting on your lap or under the chair. Not all airlines and airports are cool with this, but the vast majority seem to be. It’ll be next to impossible to fit a bag with your stuff while also carrying your stick separately, so be prepared to check bags in if your “carry on” looks like it would need to pay for its own seat.

A lot of you also have trouble understanding what bare essentials really consists of. A lot of the stuff you’re going to use can be actually acquired at the strip at the nearby CVS. Your very bare essentials boil down to clothes to wear, unless you’re insane and like buying clothes at Vegas and then discard them shortly thereafter. So if you’re a pretty normal guy, find a good-sized backpack or duffle bag that you can take as a carry on, and start with the following items:

[]2 pairs of pants/shorts
]4 shirts, preferably with one nicer shirt (decent polo or something)
[]4 sets of underwear
]4 pairs of socks
[*]1 extra pair of shorts

Most people are thinking, “why not a third set of pants?” Well, because you’ll be hopefully wearing a pair around in public when you get on the plane. If you’re using jeans, jeans can be reused for one day without it being a massive problem unless they get dirty. If you’re pretty clean, you can get away with one set for a couple of days, and if not then there’s probably a place in the hotel where you can do emergency laundry. You may want to investigate this before packing two pair of pants only, if that’s the case. Of course, if the amount of pants you’re bringing is a problem, just pack more pants. The extra pair of shorts can be swimming trunks or athletic shorts; the goal here is that if you plan on using the pool or gym for some reason, you actually can. If not, don’t bother unless you just want a cooler-temperature backup. Also, you can probably skimp on one of the shirts if you plan on making it to the tournament early enough to scoop up your attendee t-shirt, since you will be packing it on your way back.

Many people also like to bring their own towels. Towels take up a lot of space in a pack, so either go with a relatively smaller towel, or just make sure you ask for extra towels for your hotel room very, very early in your stay. Hotel rooms seem to be stocked with ~4 small-to-medium sized towels, most people use two of these for some reason. If you have 4 people in your room, get 4 more towels. Get them changed constantly, too (harass the cleaning ladies for more).

Now, let’s move on to the personal hygiene stuff. This can be purchased at CVS, but sometimes it’s just better to take your own in case you’re really picky about what you use. Here’s a suggested list with things that will be easy to fit along with your clothes:

[]deodorant (antiperspirant – no exceptions)
]toothbrush / toothpaste
[]shampoo (if you use it; a small bottle will do)
]hair gel (if you use it; a small bottle will do)
[]louffa (if you use one, bring your own soap too)
]hand sanitizer (it’s sold everywhere already anyways, take advantage)
[*]small pack of baby wipes (if you take violent dumps)

Hotels provide soap, most of the time. Hotel soap also sucks, most of the time. Bring soap you like if it’ll make you happier. Also, a lot of people are going to see the baby wipes and think I’m insane. I have news for you: if people tend to say you smell like ass despite using deodorant, then chances are that it’s your actual ass doing the damage. Use these after you make longer pit stops at the restroom. People who have to play with you will thank you.

Shave, shit and shower before you go

Try to do this as late as you can without it making you late for your trip. If you know it takes you an hour to get to the airport and checked in, make sure you’ve completed all the biological needs you can handle, shaved and showered roughly about three hours before the plane leaves so that you can be at the airport about two hours early. Feeling clean will go a long way towards making your plane ride somewhat enjoyable as it’ll take longer for you to feel like a grimy son of a bitch.

Try not to eat a heavy dinner and don’t eat a ton before you leave so you don’t have sudden bathroom urges on the plane, or worse, in an airport in North Carolina. And if you can help it, avoid eating airport food, unless trips to the bathroom are something you look forward to. You also don’t want to have an upset stomach when you get on a plane, and eating light goes a long way to alleviate that. If you think you’ll have trouble with getting hungry, move on to the next step.

Bring snacks

It’s completely normal to get hungry at the tournament and on the plane or in a random airport in the middle of nowhere. You’ll probably need to eat something to survive, and it’s not always conducive to head out and find something to eat at short notice. To curtail this, I suggest you bring with you something that’s both edible and relatively filling that you can quickly eat in an emergency.

I personally recommend Clif Bars as they’re good for you, have plenty of carbs and protein and thus will fit into most reasonable diets, and they’re goddamned tasty. Extra points if you can score a bottle of 1% milk somewhere to have it with (~400-500 total calories, which is enough for a meal and will easily last you a plane ride). You will need the carbs for your mind to operate clearly and to be able to withstand what amounts to a rough bunch of hours of playing.

If you’re the kind of person that can’t fucking operate in the morning without coffee, Folgers sells these little teabag-style coffee singles that brew a cup per bag. Bring a few. Don’t like Folgers? Tough shit, you should’ve thought about that before you started drinking coffee every morning to feed your caffeine addiction. (Like I have.)

Drink lots of water

Water can be purchased in bottles everywhere. There’s also water fountains at a lot of places, so you can get away with buying a single bottle of water and refilling as often as necessary in between matches. You will definitely need a bit of water, considering how ridiculously hot it is in Vegas if you decide to step outside for any reason (like enjoying Vegas outside of Evo).

One thing that water does a good job of is to help you regulate hunger. This means that you won’t randomly get hungry, you’ll just get hungry at the right times. Gatorade really isn’t a replacement for water in this case because you aren’t running a marathon. Try to avoid exclusively drinking soda, as tons of soda will eventually make you feel like absolute shit.

Take advantage of catering

If Evolution decides to cater the event again, make sure you take early and quick advantage of catering – but don’t overdo it. Get whatever snacks you can that will fill you up a decent amount and that look like they won’t crush your stomach with the runs seconds after you eat. You want to stick to stuff that won’t immediately crash through your system out into a bathroom stall. If the catering doesn’t look like it’ll hold you over, try to avoid buffets despite the obvious “advantage” of being able to get all you can eat, unless it’s the end of the day at the tournament for you and you don’t mind spending the rest of the day attempting to digest the colossal mountain of food you just put in your system.

Shave, shit and shower at the hotel, too

What, you thought that first time before you left your house was good enough for the rest of the tournament? Fat chance, slobbo. Make sure you’re nice and clean before the tournament starts so that you feel great when you play and so that you’re not a biohazard to the rest of the patrons. If people can spot you by your stank at a hundred paces, you need to clean up. If you take grimy dumps, that’s what you packed baby wipes for. Use them, asshole. (Around your asshole, preferably.)

You don’t really have to shave, but it might help you not look like a hobo by the end of the tournament. In the end, you know whether you’ll need to or not.

Don’t buy tons of shit

This might seem pretty obvious, but if your goal is just to go to Evolution and enjoy your time there, try not to go wild with Tourism-influenced Stupidity and keep your purchases to a minimum. Chances are you’ll get more things than you took to leave at the tournament itself, so you don’t want to overload your pack with shit that isn’t necessary. If you planned on doing this in the first place, the packing guide here isn’t for you: you will probably need to check bags in.

Hopefully, all of these tips can help make your trip to Evolution 2010 a smashing success. If your tournament experience sucks even after you follow all of these, then it’s likely that you made the mistake of actually calling one of the phone numbers on the Whorémon cards that they hand out on the Strip and had one of them visit your room, leaving you with multiple different cases of STDs, the flu and broke.

I’m kidding, of course, the majority of you wouldn’t know what to do with those cards anyways.