Japan Super Battle Opera report: the PAL version
Im writing this on request and in retrospect about a month after coming back to France, so please forgive me if I forget anything. Feel free to ask questions if theres anything you want me to dwell on and Ill do my best. Also, I have a copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker waiting for me on my shelf so dont pay attention to the grammar mistakes -English isnt my mother tongue. Keep in mind that this is just my view of SBO, someone else mightve seen things differently. Besides, I must warn you that this is way too long, so if you dont like reading, too bad.
Ill focus specifically on 3s since omni and Choi already described CvS2 and the actual SBO tournament in great detail.
We finally arrived in Tokyo on March 14, Friday around lunch-time after a 12-hour flight: we stopped for about an hour in Moscow, damn I had no idea how fine Russian chicks really were, but anyway. Our group consisted of the 3s team Europe that is to say Fabien (whom I made fun of during the trip because he was sick), [3rd] Wael and me- and three other French players who didnt qualify: [3rd]Walid, [3rd]MBarreck, Vas. Too bad none of the SC2 players made it because I really think they had a shot at winning.
At Narita airport Wael tells me were supposed to meet Kuni-san on the 3rd floor so we go there and try to look for him. None of us can speak Japanese nor has been to Japan before. Robert speaks Japanese but hes taking the next flight and will arrive a few hours after us. Luckily we had an idea of what Kuni looks like from B5/Evo/NCubed pictures so we figured it shouldnt be too hard. We search for him for 30 minutes but no Kuni. At this point were all really tired so we ask Wael to call him on his cell phone. He says Kuni just told him he was waiting on the 3rd floor, exit A. We look for exit A but alas, theres no exit A. Ugh. Fabien and I are sitting near the main exit when I see a Japanese guy whose face looks familiar, so we get up. He notices us and smiles, and instantly I realize this must be Kuni. And indeed it was. Apparently Wael misunderstood because he was waiting on the 1st floor. We apologize to Kuni, but I dont really blame him because foreign accents make it hard to communicate, especially on the phone. Im relieved though because Kuni is a great guy and his English is excellent.
We take the train to Takadanobaba together and leave our luggage at the hotel before looking for a place to have lunch. Kuni seems to know the area very well and takes us to a western-style restaurant that was a little expensive but the food was very good. Kuni and I talk a lot about Japan and Street Fighter but its a bit harder for him to talk with the others because they dont like speaking English as much, Especially Fabien who, being Peruvian, can speak Spanish fluently but cant understand a word of English except fuck blame those English guys he met at the Absolution2K2 tournament last year (ahemchunkisahem).
Kuni takes us to a small arcade in Takadanobaba where people are mostly playing ST and ISS, but no 3s. Theres an A3 machine so Kuni plays it a bit with some of the guys while I try GGXX (against the CPU, bah). The machines are all double cabinets set up face-to-face with great sticks and buttons, they seem completely new. Arcades in France arent nearly as good except for the La Tete Dans Les Nuages centers, but those are so expensive. Therefore, Japan owns.
We take the subway to Shinjuku (only 2 stops from our hotel, w00t) where we immediately head for the 5th floor of the famous More Amusement Center. Its actually a lot smaller than youd think, but they have just about every good fighting game and theyre all 50 yen. Damn. GGXX was extremely popular and they had 3 or 4 cabinets. A3 on the other hand seemed to dying, very few people seemed interested in the only machine they had. There were also 3 CvS2 and 2 3s cabinets. Its not that much when you think about it, but the level of competition is scary.
We head toward the 3s machines and take turns, losing a lot to a very good Yun player (whose name I still dont know, but you can see his picture here: http://game-newton.co.jp/3rd_rankingbattle/3rd_6_0104ran.html). He was extremely technical and had Genei setups I had never seen before (he would do a lot of UOHs into low short setups, and his follow-ups to the command grab seemed to do a lot of damage, but I cant remember what he was doing exactly). His dive kicks were also very confusing because it was always hard to tell whether theyd cross up or not. I also noticed he wasnt running away at all, he was actually playing a bit like Mester, pure rushdown. I was having a lot of trouble with the sticks and some timings but I blamed it on fatigue.
On the other machine an Oro player was doing well, but he clearly wasnt as good as the Yun player. His main strategy was to run away until his Tengu Stone meter was full, land the EX combo or chip a lot of your life with the regular version of the super, repeat x n. Most Oros in Japan would do the exact same thing or use the meter for unblockable snottball setups. Those are tricky because even when they dont cross you up, its hard to avoid jumping out of it because they use his anti-air fireball to push you back. Oro is really hard to catch for some characters and is apparently considered #7 in Japan now according to the SBO program. Hes a bitch.
At this point K.O arrives and watches how we play. Naturally its my turn to play and Im a bit nervous because this is the best player in the world whos watching me play. =/
I picked Alex and did pretty well though, with a couple of nice red parries (my opponent was being a bit careless and did the shoulder charge after the chain a bit too much). But I still lost and it was K.Os turn now. He picks Yang (sa2) and loses as well. He seems a bit pissed off and picks Yun, then proceeds to completely annihilates his opponent. I think everyone knows the way K.O plays, but its really different when you really watch him play. His hands are insanely fast (he double taps every button press for perfect execution, and since he uses Genei you can guess how tiring it must be, KSK told me most good Japanese players do that) and hes so competitive that he actually looks mean while playing. Also, hes always at the arcade and watches the way everyone plays. No wonder hes one step ahead of everyone else.