Here is my log. From a foreign perspective. Thanks to kyokugen, jpr333, and cps2 from the Sydney community for further proofing. I’ve included pictures but because they are relatively big (and not everyone shares the same resolution) I’ve kept them simply as hyperlinks.
Three time zones, 36 hours worth of flight time later, my evo journey is finally coming to an end. For me, the journey started almost a year ago. Seeing the grand finals between Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong in SF4, in that massive hall, tempted me to be part of the experience.
Once EVO2010 was announced to be held at Caesar?s Palace, Las Vegas, I already set the date in stone. All I needed was some companions along for the ride.
Being part of OzHadou, I was lucky enough to be part of the first Shoryuken-OzHadou joint venture, known as EVO APAC. A tournament held in the Asia-Pacific region, to send a representative to EVO2010. We liaised with many Asian countries such as Korea, Singapore, China, Japan, as well as local neighbours New Zealand. In the end, we had the grand master himself, Daigo Umehara, attend the event in an attempt to gain an advantageous seed at EVO2010.
Needless to say Daigo proved himself more than worthy, by taking first place, with Sydney?s long-time champion humanbomb taking second place. These two were granted seeds in their respective pools as well as paid flights to Vegas for the world event.
kientan and I had already booked flights to EVO2010 prior to the EVO APAC tournament. So regardless of the outcome we, would be there. humanbomb taking second place was simply an added bonus as he could travel with the two of us. Along for the ride was Leia, who is the main arcade operator in Sydney, simply for moral support! Expatriate nin*, humanbomb?s older brother, also tagged along for the ride from Hong Kong to support humanbomb.
- this is the top VF player nin (training buddies with VFDC’s Myke). Not the top Korean Tekken player.
ToXY, hailing from Melbourne, who just missed out on the ticket by placing third, also joined the contingent along with fellow Melbourne player Somniac. Though ToXY did not have the funds for the flight, the gracious Melbourne community helped pool together a fund so we had the best Australia could offer (humanbomb and ToXY) at EVO2010.
On the flight from Sydney we had myself, kientan, humanbomb, and Leia, joining with ToXY from a connecting flight to LAX (shortly to LAS). The boys didn?t have a proper breakfast, so they had a quick bite and we almost missed our first flight! Once we boarded, it did not take long for humanbomb to fall asleep. While he is on an airplane he is known as sleepybomb. We passed time by playing cards, ready for the Vegas tables. But it didn?t take long for us to get bored and just tried to watch what little in-flight entertainment our carrier could provide. It was my first time flying for such a long time and it was enough to ?break? me. Upon landing in LAS we were welcomed with a gush of hot wind ? I was not ready for the Nevada heat. Leia won 90USD from a random slot machine while waiting for our bags ? the taxi ride to the hotel was on him. Many thanks again Leia!
Upon reaching the reception desk of Caesar?s Palace we quickly saw nin and Somniac, who both landed before the rest of us. They were early for our pre-arranged meeting time (by a hour) but it worked out for the best, cause everyone could drop their bags and try to feel Vegas out. While waiting for my room keys we saw some big names such as Chris Hu; Gootecks; and Mike Ross. ToXY, Somniac, and myself broke from the group and just wandered around the big casino resort in an attempt to check-in early for the big three-day event. On the way we saw Capcom staff Seth Killian, a quick handshake later we headed up to the Palace Ballroom for our badges.
Too weak to walk the strip, the three of us simply opted for the first restaurant at the hotel. A Chinese restaurant, with eye-dazzling wallpaper! Our first Vegas meal came to about 66USD (including tax and tips). Coming from Australia where tipping is not compulsory, and where Goods and Services Tax is already included in the price, it was quite difficult trying to work out exactly how much we had to pay. This would be the first of two ?big? meals at Caesar?s.
Returning to our room, we finally regrouped and had the remaining entrants check-in before venturing to scope out the rest Caesar?s has to offer. Leia and I walked around the Forum Shops, situated below the casino resort, in hopes of finding a mobile phone store that might sell a prepaid sim card. We had the hardest time, finding the simplest things that?s readily available in Sydney! Along our ventures we crossed paths with Shaquille O’Neal. Who was there for some promotional boxing match the next night. My neck is a little sore trying to match eye contact with the basketball legend. Returning empty-handed, everyone had an early night in hopes of battling jet-lag and preparing for the big day ahead of us.
It was 5am Vegas time, and by then everyone had already awoken (it was approximately 10pm Sydney time). Not being able to sleep any longer, the crew all got ready with a shower and headed out for breakfast. We found perhaps the cheapest place we could buy food in Vegas: Subway!! (or Burger King). Can?t pass on a $5USD footlong. After breakfast, we headed back to the Palace Ballroom where no doubt there would be some players waiting for entry to the tournament hall.
For those that has attended Australia?s OzHadou Nationals (OHN), the line of entry was four times as big! We saw some players in the waiting line including Tokido; Eita; Marn; SmoothViper; and Sanford Kelly amongst other big names. Amongst those in line were some female players for the SSF4 Female Only Invitational tournament.
We were greeted with about ten MvC3 setups the moment we walked through the doors and boy does the game look amazing! I had to quickly rush to my TvC pool for my first match. ToXY and Somniac had to head out to play their SSF4 pools. ToXY was in the same pool as Sanford Kelly. While Somniac was in the same pool as Daigo himself, and Australian visitor ClakeyD. Both players performed very well in their respective pools, however, were simply outplayed on the day. I faired worst in my TvC pool going 0-2. I stopped playing the game after launch week and it showed. It was very intense watching the tops going at each other however! I wish I could play at half their calibre.
While I was at my TvC pool I overheard a Shoryuken member was temporarily locked up for obstructing the law. It seems Barack Obama was in town so the police had to make some road closures, the poor fellow did not know and was arrested on the spot. Apparently Obama was at Caesar?s for another event but we (or his huge entourage) never crossed paths.
The Sydney pools (myself, kientan, humanbomb) were in the afternoon. I had the likes of Ricky Ortiz (who ended up placing 2nd) in my pool as well as tatsu. Both players having made it pass their pools, into the semi-finals. kientan had to contend with OnlineTony; PR Rog; Mariodood and Floe. humanbomb had L.I. Joe; Taiwanese player GamerBee; and Sabre. The three of us had some warm up games at the BYOC area with humanbomb raking up a 30 win streak. While I had a 4 win streak at the other station haha. kientan partook in one of the galaxy4gamers tournaments and came first, making a profit of $13USD!
humanbomb and I returned to our room and rested with an afternoon nap and snack but kientan stayed at the hall, running on almost empty. We have never played in a 128 man pool before so we were not prepared for how long the pools would take. It took some three hours for kientan and myself to finally finish our pool matches. Much praise for the pool judges for keeping things on time, without the assistance of a PA or megaphone. Unfortunately, Sydney did not fare so well in the pools either. humanbomb came the closest, with two matches away from getting through to the semi-finals. Dreams of an Australian for SSF4 top 32 were dashed, better luck next year. I still got HDR and MvC2 for the next day.
Later that night, we attended the Salty Suite for money matches, some simply to watch. We were about to set up an 5v5 Australia v America money match but by that time there was already too many people so it was put on the back burner. Between the boys, there were money matches with Inthul; Chris Hu; Filipino Champ; ClakeyD; iNerd; and Eita. SkiSonic was there for a bit, simply to talk to the Suite?s host Gootecks. TeamSpooky tried to get a stream going for the big money matches. Not sure if they made it onto the stream but I witnessed part of Eita v Filipino Champ and Tokido v Sanford. kientan and I called it an early night (at 1am) and headed back to the hotel room.
Being the only one still having pools on the Saturday I had to get up early again to make the 9am opening to play my pools for HDR (which was actually delayed till midday) and MvC2. I used the spare time to play some CvS2 casuals, as well as talk to some other players around the hall. I attempted to watch some of the SSFIV Female Only Invitational, but the crowd was so huge I couldn?t see anything but the back of people?s heads! I was backing a fellow dictator player by the name of Stephanie (never got her handle) whom I had a quick chat the day before. She was there in her dictator cosplay as well and was the subject of many photo requests, including my own.
During this time, Kuni Funada came up to me and said something along the lines of ?we are similar?. He opens his backpack and takes out his Namco PS2 stick, I was holding onto kientan?s Namco stick from playing CvS2 casuals. Needless to say Kuni is an avid fan of the Namco stick. He had a chuckle when I told him someone in Sydney had eight of them as his personal collection!
Once the pools started for HDR and MvC2 it was game time for me. Unfortunately, both pools started within a hour of each other so I found myself having to run between both games (which was on the opposite end of the hall). Luckily I tracked down my opponents for the pools and the tournament judges were considerate of my situation. Unfortunately I don?t know many in the HDR scene so I am not sure who I lost to but it?s safe to say I was out-played against a Claw followed by a Ken. In MvC2, through the miracle of a bye I got to lose to Sanford Kelly. And through a forfeit I got to lose to Chunksta. I used a switch-trick snapback with Sentinel against Sanford in our second game, which Bill Wellman (Deus) taught me on his last trip to Australia (escorted by eKiN/eks). But I did not realise I had snapped in Cable, the character he used to win last year?s championship, I practically sealed my own fate when I saw Cable haha. Chunksta just played solid and I could not even touch him, my MSP simply wasn?t aggressive enough against his MSS.
After getting knocked out of my remaining pools, I could finally relax on a night out. After dinner I came back to the last match of the SSF4 semi-finals, between Justin Wong and GamerBee. Justin was a favourite to make top 8, but he had already lost to Vangief earlier in the semis so he needed this win to make the finals on the Sunday. GamerBee is a well respected Adon player online, using a new character, he might perhaps have a slight advantage over Justin due to his lack of knowledge on the match up. GamerBee ended taking out Justin and the crowd was roaring in excitement! The stream commentators noted the floor was actually shaking at the time.
As the stream ended, people had to leave the hall so the staff could prepare for the screening of Bang The Machine, the 2002 documentary focusing on the Californian scene featuring younger versions of many ?household? names (too many to list haha). The waiting area was packed with people. The staff toyed with us, having us run from the front entry to the back entry, several times(!) before finally opening the doors. There were mentions of a possible ?update? as well, featuring the current generation of top-players. Before the screening began, inkblot and Ponder presented two awards for service to the community. One being Seth Killian and the other one going to MrWizard, who was very humble with his acceptance speech of a simple ?thank you?. SonicHurricane?s Maj would receive a similar award next day for his video contributions to the community.
After the screening, we tried to regroup with some of the boys who went to watch David Copperfield. The night out was foiled by another night of money matches. With Somniac and ToXY heading to Alex Valle?s room while humanbomb and nin at the main suite watching Daigo?s money matches. kientan; Leia; and I just walked around before shortly ending back at our room talking about random topics. Once Somniac and ToXY got back we got wind of their money match results but soon changed back to the random topics, such as what extremes would you do to stay alive. This talk went on till dawn so I was pretty tired, sleeping through as some of the boys got up to see Spain take the grand finals of the World Cup.
I watched most of the grand finals from the comfort of our hotel room, through the stream. It had its ups (commentary) and downs (not being part of the crowd) and sometimes the stream would go down but we were too tired to venture out to watch it with so many people in attendance. Come 7:30pm everyone rounded up in order to catch the MvC3 exhibition and top 8 for SSF4. While waiting I got the chance to meet SmoothViper; Preppy; ruiN-; amongst others with the help of Deus.
This build of MvC3 did not allow same character selection for some reason but those invited to play already had their teams picked and there were no mirrors of any sort. The finals was between Keits and RyRy. Both respected players in the TvC scene, showing their adaptability to the new MvC3 engine. Keits displayed Deadpool and Chris Redfield?s keepaway potential while RyRy showcased the game?s DHC capabilities and an amazing finish in the last match with Iron Man?s level 3 super. Looking forward to playing this when it comes out and hopefully representing Australia at next year?s EVO. Hopefully not 0-2 haha.
Once the top 8 started the room was filled with all kinds of hype. Every big combo or comeback was cheered with a ?OH? from the crowd whilst a missed opportunity was met with an ?AW?. GamerBee, the favourite to make grand finals, was taken out by Mike Ross after his loss to Daigo Umehara in the winners semis. Infiltration, hailing from Korea, ended up knocking out Mike Ross to come third after losing to Ricky Ortiz who had recently joined gaming group Evil Genius (EG) with the likes of Justin Wong and Marn (who had won the MvC2 and TvC tournaments respectively). Ricky Ortiz put up a good fight, however Daigo lived up to his namesake as The Beast and took the title for the second year in a row. Will he go for a hat-trick next year?
Team Australia ended the night with a hearty meal at a café/restaurant near the reception. When we sat down we noticed Team Capcom (Seth Killian; Yoshinori Ono; Ryota Niitsuma) had a table nearby. Shortly there was a table for Team Daigo (The Beast and his manager Shino) as well as a table for Justin Wong and company. I jokingly noted we were at the inferior table as there were so many big names about. Our second ?big? meal at Caesar?s was very rewarding. Never had we been so full from the buffalo wings to the pancakes and the spare rib rack.
When we got back to the hotel room I was (and still am) kicking myself for not asking for some photos. But I did not want to disturb the guys from a well deserved break. There were infact many many MANY others that I missed out. Oh well it gives me a reason to return next year haha. Apologies in advance if an Australian is hassling for photos at EVO2011!
The next morning we packed our bags and checked out, along with perhaps with 50% of other EVO attendees haha. nin and I left earlier as we were stopping over at New York but we bid farewell and wished safe trip home to our comrades. Reflecting on the four unforgettable days that just passed, on the taxi to Vegas? McCarran International Airport (where I was also almost late for my flight haha).
It has been an experience to be part of EVO and I have to say, if you?re a fighting game enthusiast, you simply HAVE to do this at least once! Watching the streams or reading updates on sites cannot give you the feeling of actually being there. Seeing it live with thousands of other like-minded individuals, cheering with or against you. You might be a regular in your local competitive scene and seen your share of big tournament turnouts, but as Mike Watson put it ? YOU JUST DON?T KNOW!
BIG thank you goes out to Shoryuken staff, from the event organisers to the volunteer tournament judges; photographers; stream commentators and operators and those who tested their creativity to bring us rap intros; fireball wars; and the time honoured combovideo. Your sacrifice made it possible for others to enjoy the biggest fighting game event of the year.