PLS don’t be mad, it’s all opinion! OK…
USA only wins one game for free, MVC2. While I give much respect to Liquid Metal and his playing partners, they just don’t have as much exposure to consistent high level play like the USA does. There are approximately 40 MVC2 players in Japan… total. Even then, Liquid Metal has shown he is a very capable player and his dedication is incredible. Still, there is no substitute for consistent high level comp like Seattle, So.Cal, and of course, NY. This game is still being played 3 years later with a huge player base by a ton of good players… though the country is certain, the player may not be.
Players to watch: 2-Time Defending Champ Justin Wong, Sanford Kelly, Desmond Pinkney (Xcutioner), Josh Wigfall, Josh Wong, Mike Mixon (Mixup), Rodolfo Castro (Rowtron), Jason Kuan, Rattanna, Tong Ho (Genghis), Daniel Maniago (Clockw0rk, if he is still playing seriously… may not be though), David Lee. Soo Young Chon (SooMighty), Alex Salguero (Sin)… too many players to list. This is going to be a high-intensity tournament with an amazing finals, guaranteed.
tragics pick: Justin Wong
If no specialists come in XX and ST, then USA has a shot. Then again, Ohnuki placed 2nd and went to second set of the match and he hadn’t played in a while (he admitted after the match that he was remembering how to play during the match lol!). If any of the JPN specialists come for ST, they will win. Just like the USA XX SBO team, the #1 ST team was bombed on first round (however, second team did ok, winning one match).
Players to watch: 2-Time Defending Champ, Jason Cole. He may be off his game once in a while, but you can’t argue with back to back wins. Other players to watch: Jason Nelson, David Sirlin (the Robot), Alex Valle (CaliPower), John Choi (ChoiBoy), Bob Painter, Chris Lee (shreck), Mike Creque (Masaka), Mike Watson (Watts), Jesse Cardenas (JSJ), Jason DeHerass (Shirts), Jason Gonzles (Apoc).
If Japan ST players come: Daigo, Kurahashi, Bro Chun. However, I kinda doubt any ST specialist will come. As always, keep an eye on Kuni Funada. He is the man.
tragic’s pick: Jason Cole
If any XX specialists show up, Japan will rape. This is the game I play the absoloute most right now, and when I went to Japan for SBO, the difference was crazy. There is one factor that may come into play: the fact that USA will be playing XX (regular) up till EVO, and Japan has now moved on to XX # Reload version B. If they are rusty on original XX, then I dunno… still pretty safe to say their specialists will take it. If no specialists come, I predict a pretty badass top 8 comprised mainly of USA players, with perhaps one or two JPN non XX specialists (like Daigo or Tokido if they come).
Players to watch: ID (Saif), Chaotic Blue (Romel), both from Team USA, Kageh (Harold), FINALSHOWDOWN, and Unconkable (from midwest), Kono (Drew) from the East Coast, Texas talent by way of Fubarduck (Ryan), Hsien (Shen), and Aznhitler (David), and some new blood from the NW by way of Billy (SeiKensou) and his crew.
tragic’s pick: Chaotic Blue
CVS2 in Japan was pretty crazy too. We’ve both had the game for 2 years or so, and yet their knowledge of the game and execution is awesome. You think you can rush, they can rush better. You think you can turtle, they can turtle better. There is no one, and I mean NO ONE in the USA as good as even the 10th best CVS2 player in Japan. Team USA got served in CVS2 as well as XX. Props to Buktooth for a good showing vs Dan (JPN player) in the first round.
Players to watch: Defending EVO and SBO champ Tokido (if he comes), Ohnuki (even though he “quit”, hes raw), Ino, BAS, Togawa, Mago (if he comes), Otaku (if he comes), Daigo (if he comes), Campbell Tran (Buktooth88), John Choi, George Posados (Gee-o), Ricky Ortiz, Bryan Tyson (Ryuwinz), David Hem, Jason Nelson, Sanford Kelly, Justin Wong, Arturo Sanchez, Alex Salguero.
tragic’s pick: Ino
3S will be very interesting. The USA team came within one combo of beating the team that took SBO (I dunno why Pyrolee threw when he coulda ended the game with a combo… probably nerves, which is understandable). I think there are a few really good USA players this year that will make it into the top 8, and there’s a possibility that one will be in the finals. However, if more than 4 or 5 3S specialists show up (Inoue, Mester, Izu etc etc) the chance becomes more and more slim. I think the gap this year is much smaller than last year. This will definitely be a tournament to keep an eye on.
Players to watch: Ino, Mester, Ohnuki, Daigo (if he comes), Izu, George Posados, Alex Valle, Pyrolee, Paul Lee, John Gordon (Flash G), the NE talent by way of Simon Yoo (Yooyoung), Jamar Lewis (Jamarvelous), Cameron (Blood Urien), Hsien Chang, Sanford Kelly, Justin Wong, Ricky Ortiz, Alex Duong, Mark Rogoyski (mopreme), Tuan Phan (Vigorous).
tragic’s pick: Gee-O
SC2 will be USA dominated. Unless, by some miracle, the top 3 JPN players show up, the top 8 will most likely be all USA. Fetz proved he had what it takes to compete with Japanese SC2, and he had an exciting 2-set finals at SC2 Nationals with Kageh. At the time, Kageh’s Ivy was the top, but I think now that Cervantes is the #1 character in SC2, and fetz is hardcore Cervantes and one of the all time great USA SC players, this is almost as sure as Justin winning MVC2. However, seeing as there is a lot of new BS in SC2 (both arcade and console), there is a possibility that some upsets happen.
Players to watch: Spencer (fetz), Kageh (Harold), Aris, Simi, Floe (Ari), Bentlee, Spencer Ray (Srayer), Shafi Mohamed (Redfoot), Shaun Larusel (shauno).
tragic’s pick: fetz
VF4 will be interesting. If more than a small handful of VF specialists come from Japan / Korea, VF4 will have an asian dominated top 8… perhaps with one or two non asian-country representatives. If not, then I think the top 8 will be pretty crazy. Though it’s pretty much underground in the USA, there are some very devout followers. The hardcore VF’ers spare no expense at studying and analyzing the games intracasies, and the hotspots in the USA have turned out some very strong players. The players from NY, Florida, and Los Angeles will most likely be sending the strongest players, while other pockets of talent across North America (Canada included) will be well represented by the top players in their area. Ryan Hart from UK has a legitamate chance at making the top 8, but he may not show up.
Players to watch: Ohnuki, Tokido, Daigo (if he comes). Chibita (if he comes), Shinz (if he comes). Adnan (adamyuki, if he comes), blondeone, imf, Omaha Jeffry, spotlite, shota (if he comes), Hiro (if he comes), Sumeragi, mike from La, and Ryan Hart from the UK (if he comes)… also, any of the other possible specialists from Korea and Japan.
Tekken 4: Korea will win. That is all.
Players to watch: Koreans
tragic’s pick: a Korean
Depending on how many Koreans show up, this may or may not be an exciting finals. If a lot show up, then you will see some ridiculous high level play in the final 8 among Koreans and Hameko. If only one or two show up, then you will probably only see ridiculous high level play in the final 2 or 4, and everyone else getting slaughtered in the top 8. I say probably, because I think there is an outside chance that one of the American / Europe players pulls off an upset or two.
Players to watch: any Korean that shows up, hameko (japan), Bronson Tran (insanelee), Som Hellalonglastname (som), Unconkable, Slips, Joeking, tomhilfigr, Ryan Hart (if he shows up), JOP, and don’t forget Noman (reigning Euro Champ).
tragic’s pick: hameko
See you at Evolution 2003!