So I finally decided to sit down and write about my best tournament experience ever. I got my plane tickets as a graduation present from my brother months before, but I actually didn?t even want to go to Evo after Midwest Championships. The simple fact is that I hate arcade tournaments because we have no arcades in Kentucky, so trying to make the switch between my Agetec stick and American sticks is damn near impossible. I went two and out at MWC and honestly thought about never playing fighting games again. But I won a console tourney in Cleveland a week before Evo, so I had a lot of confidence before I made my way out.
After almost getting lost going to Dayton OH Airport and missing my flight, I get on the plane just fine. There was such a disparity because here I was, traveling to a video game tournament in California, and I also saw men and women in the Army being sent off by their families with big hugs, tears, video cameras, and everything else. It definitely put my trip in perspective. After connecting in Atlanta and finally arriving in Ontario, I tried to get a ride with the free Shilo Inn shuttle, then get a cab to the Kellogg West (where I was actually staying). After they asked for the name the reservation was under, I just hung up and figured I?d pay money for a real shuttle=). I arrive at my hotel and Brandon, Josh-the-funkDOC?s brother, met me there as soon as I got off the bus. Josh and Brian (Cha Cha, a SC2, GGXX, and T4 player) were at the WC of 3S at Family Fun and Brandon stayed behind to greet me. Very nice of him. After going to the room, I grabbed my arcade stick and made the 2 minute walk through the woods to the arcade. I was hungry as hell because I didn?t eat on the plane, so I discovered one of the greatest places of all time- Round Table Pizza. I order my Turkey Club, and I sit down to watch TV and I hear, ?Hey Daniel.? I turn around to see Christian (skisonic), Floe, and Jay (Viscant). We just shoot the shit, and I ask Viscant a bunch of theoretical questions about who will beat who and what not (because I love to play theory fighter). After I finish lunch, we wander over to the arcade, and I actually get a 10+ game win streak ON ARCADE. Not being able to shosho or paint the fence, I knew this was a good sign of things to come, beating Viscant and Christian and others. I think Matt Chun knocked me off with some K-groove team, not too sure. So after seeing some more old faces, Jay and I head up to register at 4 PM. The line was already pretty big, and the doors were still closed. I got to meet Eliver (KaiSing) also. I remember I saw him at MWC but didn?t say hi to him for whatever reason. After waiting WAY too long, the doors finally open. Don?t get me wrong, it was very cool that Tekken 5 was shown at Evo, but I don?t give a shit about 3D games, so when people were ooohing and ahhhing, I just wanted to know when the line would ever move. The problem was that two doors were open, one where the real line was, and another where bitches would just walk up and cut a whole line of people without anybody saying much. I remember I asked somebody why they were cutting us, and he said, ?No dude, I just want to see Tekken.? A few minutes later they walk away from the table with a badge and registration sheet........... So I FINALLY get to the front of the line sometime around 6:30. Waiting 2 and a half hours sucked, but with only one computer I can see why it took so long. I?ve read that the Cannons had problems with setting up another computer, so that?s why it took so long. I?m sure it will be improved upon by next year. I registered online for cvs2 (my main game and the only thing I really care about), mvc2, and 3S. After buying my shirt and signing the waiver, I sit down at one of the stations to play some casual play. I quickly get on a big streak without much trouble. I could tell my opponents had not played against people who can roll cancel too often, because they would keep on throwing fireballs and I would keep on RC Blanka ball?ing through them. Then Peachy sits down, and I make a decent come back to beat him. I remember seeing Peachy at Evo last year but didn?t say hi, so it was cool to finally meet him, very cool guy. I meet up with Josh and Brian, and ask for a room key because I?m pretty tired and need to get some sleep for the qualifying pools. As I?m wandering around some more, Christian introduces me to Dr. B, who says he?s in my pool. I was kind of worried because I?ve seen his matches and know how random S-groove can be. So I walked back to the hotel thinking of counter teams and all that stuff. I get to the room, slide the key into the door, and the door only opens a crack. BRANDON DEAD-BOLTED THE DOOR. After kicking and shouting his name at midnight, I decided to just sleep on a couch in the hall. I?m getting shoved about 30 minutes later by Josh and Brian, wondering what I?m doing. I just ask them to open the door, and use my key. Brian realizes the door was dead-bolted, and started kicking and SCREAMING. Supposedly we got about 4 noise complaints and somebody was about to come down and see what was going on. After the door was finally open, we all went to bed.
After eating the continental breakfast, we headed over. I was in Group B for 3S, Group C for mvc2, and Group F for cvs2. I was kind of mad because I didn?t want to play cvs2 so late, but it happens. Since the pools were running behind schedule, I wandered over to the BYOC room to get some practice in. The BYOC room was awesome, because people could play whatever and just have fun, I really hope that is there next year also. I went back over and was basically playing in mvc2 and 3S at the same time, although they were supposed to be 2 hours apart. I didn?t recognize any big names in my pools in 3S, mvc2, or cvs2 (very good signs). So I ask Jay to check, and he says RayBladeX was the only guy in my cvs2 pool who will give me any trouble. To my relief I found out that Dr. B WAS in my GROUP, but not in my pool. I head over to 3S and start my matches. I play SAII Chun because I suck at 3S and have a decent concept of footsies from playing cvs2 so much. I?m very surprised because I?m actually doing well. I beat a Q player, a Ken player, and somebody else (maybe another Ken or Chun player). Then I discover that Yi Wang was moved to my pool for whatever reason. After getting absolutely OWNED by Yi Wang, I qualify in the loser?s bracket. I was very surprised, considering I thought I was throwing my money away in 3S and mvc2. I head over to mvc2 after promising inkblot that I?ll be right back from 3S. I played Storm/Sent/Cyc (Team Matrix), and was doing very well also. I beat an MSP player, I beat somebody playing joke teams (akuma/jin/???), and I got destroyed by Devil_X, even though my team supposedly counters Team Clockw0rk. So I?m at 2-1 right now, and have to win against the last guy to qualify. He played MSP, and after winning my first match, he won the second. Tied up at 1-1, I hit my Storm/Sent DHC and am about to win the match with around 19 seconds left when..........the blue screen pops up. Inkblot was right there, so he simply asks, ?What do you guys want to do?? My storm had about a quarter of life left, and I had a full cyclops. I didn?t want to be a dick and say the match is mine because he only had a quarter-Magneto left, but I also didn?t want to replay the match because he probably would?ve won. So I just ask, ?Why don?t you just plug in his stick again and we play the rest?? Inkblot didn?t know that worked I guess, because he seemed kind of surprised. Sure enough, it worked, and I ran away for the rest of the time. So I qualified in the loser?s for mvc2 also. I went back over to 3S to watch Josh. His Oro is insane, and he was doing very well. I remember one match he was losing big time, then he hit a few standing roundhouses, and other moves to stun this guy. He hit a big Tengu Stone combo, and won. But then he had to face Daigo. I think Daigo is a bitch, plain and simple. After holding up the entire pool waiting for him (any other player would?ve been DQ?ed), he sat down and beasted on everybody in his pool, yet wouldn?t even shake hands or look at Josh after he won. Josh tried to at least get a handshake or say good game, but nope, Daigo didn?t acknowledge him at all. I remember watching KO kara-palm some poor guy about 6 times in a genei-jin combo, then taunt this guy, and then finish him off. After the match? Big smiles, handshake, nodding heads, and all the other courteous things I?m used to seeing. Kindebu, RF, and the other japanese players were the exact same way, but not Daigo. The rest of the day was a whole bunch of waiting, BYOC room action, and meeting with tons of people. I was supposed to play in my cvs2 pool at 8 PM. 8PM passes, and they?re way behind. So I try and fall asleep on the couches without much luck. Around 12 Midnight, I FINALLY get to play my matches. I remember a lot of Norcal guys were standing around and were very impressed with me, like Dr. B, Daniel Tran, Jamaal, etc. Like everybody else I met at Evo, they asked where I was from (Kentucky, and I have a feeling that a lot of people didn?t exactly know where that is), how the comp over there is (non-existent), and who I play to get better if there?s no arcade (some guy who I beat big time in cvs2 who lives an hour away). Everybody was very impressed with my execution also, because after all, that?s all I can do is practice execution if I can?t play against people. So I start my matches, and I play RayBladeX first. He picked some P-groove team with Raiden leading off. I play VDO?s P-Raiden pretty often, so I know the tricks and gimmicks and setups pretty well. I played A-Blanka/Sakura/R2 Bison, and he barely gets to my Bison, I paint the fence, and win. After that I was on cruise control, nobody got to my Bison after that. I played a K-Akuma/Sagat/Blanka player, and a couple others. After going undefeated without much trouble, I ask inkblot, ?Can I go to sleep now?? ?Yes, but be back here tomorrow morning for your matches.? I say, ?Thank you sir,? then go to bed. No dead-bolting incidents this time, just sleep.
On the walk over, I was thinking of who I should counter-team against Daigo or Dan in case I play against them. I was only thinking about cvs2 at this point, because it was pretty much a fluke that I qualified in mvc2 and 3S. So I get called to go and play Combofiend in 3S. After his Elena beasts on me, I?m out. Then i play mvc2 against somebody. I was on the big screen, which was pretty awesome. I remember missing my Storm/Sent DHC, and I lost that also (although he would?ve beaten me anyway). So I?m out of that too, no big deal. As I?m walking over to cvs2, Danny Leong apologizes to me for blowing me off on Friday. After he lost in 3S, I said hi, but he just said hi and walked away because he was really mad he lost (which is completely understandable and I took no offense to it). I go over to cvs2 to discover that I?m playing Daniel Tran first round. I was kind of worried playing somebody who regularly plays at SVGL (the best cvs2 arcade in the nation) and was trained by John Choi. I was expecting him to play A-Vega/Rolento/R2 Bison, but he picked A-Sagat/Rolento/R2 Bison instead. I play A-Blanka/Sakura/R2 Bison myself. His Sagat was very solid. The match was going decently, until I got impatient and tried to jump in and activate through his Tiger Uppercut. But he saw it a mile way, counter activated, and peaced out my Blanka. Sakura comes in, and is getting beat even though it?s a counter match. He roll activates and I got caught by it, and he beats my SAKURA also. Kind of worried, I come in with a full metered Bison, and finish his Sagat off quickly. Then Rolento comes in. I bait his CC, then later hit crouching jab x2, standing short, mk scissor kicks, activate, CC, and beat his Rolento. The damage that the custom did was nearly full life coming from a R2 to an R1. Since my paint the fence custom fills his meter, I had no bar but he had a full one. I was out-poking him and doing pretty well, until I got hit by his CC. Towards the end he dropped me out, and I had a full bar. I was in the corner, and he accidentally did a jab psycho crusher, which I activated afterwards and customed him for the win. We both made a bunch of mistakes for being so nervous, but that kid has some serious potential. Good game. Then I look at the rest of the bracket and realize I don?t have a hard trip to the final 8 if I play well (aka no Japanese players). Cole, then Fubarduck, then Josh Wong, and I?m in! I later discovered that Kindebu was definitely in there, so I wouldn?t have had a chance (Josh Wong is a beast anyway). My next match was against Jason Cole. I figured, he plays K-groove, I play A-groove. Chip him to death and you win. Like an idiot, I didn?t request double blind selection. So I pick A-Blanka/Sakura/Bison, and he sits there waiting and counters with K-Cammy/Bison/Vega. I?m pretty confident in the Blanka vs Cammy matchup. I hit a midscreen RC electricity, activate, standing fierce, whiffed jab ball, jab, super jump fierces.........that BARELY whiff. Like an idiot, I try and cross him up while he?s raged and I?m still in CC mode. I eat a level 3 reverse shaft breaker which kills my Blanka. Sakura comes in, and that match vs Cammy is really bad for Sakura. I have a full bar and should?ve just chipped him to death, but he didn?t have much life left and I wanted to save it for Bison (BAD DECISION). He just walks around, outpokes me with standing rh, and cannon spikes my outranged RC mk hurricane kick attempts. Not once did RC mp fireball cross my mind, which would?ve helped a whole lot. He beat my Sakura with his Cammy also, so there goes my chipping threat to K-groove. Bison cleans up Cammy quickly and I just think that I?m going to make a big comeback like I did against Daniel Tran. He was much better in the Bison vs Bison mirror match, and he baited my CC, which was the end of the match basically. I didn?t even get to his Vega, and now I?m in the losers. I face Henry Cen first, and he played C-Honda/Blanka/Sagat. I was kind of mad since he was playing a bootleg version of Team Mago, so I wanted to win pretty bad. Yes, I know, I use Team BAS, but it?s different in my eyes, because C-Honda wasn?t common until Mago played him. I played the Blanka vs Honda matchup very well. He would headbutt, I would counter RC blanka ball EVERYTIME. He was losing the match pretty badly, and he hit me with roll level 2 super. I finish his Honda off, and do well against his Blanka before he kills mine. Sakura comes in, hits her chip shoshosho, and peaces out his Blanka. I do well against Sagat this time and take him down to about half life before my Bison comes in. I paint the fence for the win, and wish him good luck in 3S. I wasn?t trying to be mean or anything, I just know he?s a lot better in 3S than he is in cvs2. Fubarduck is next. I got peaced out by Fubarduck at Midwest Challenge a long time ago when I was still pretty bad, so I kind of wanted revenge. I knew he was going to play Team BAS, and I didn?t pick Eagle for whatever reason. I feel Eagle does well against everybody in Team BAS, but I just wanted to have Bison?s custom for comeback purposes. He picks A-Sakura/Bison/Blanka, and I pick A-Blanka/Sakura/Bison. I made two huge mistakes during this match that I usually don?t make. The first one, I was Sakura and hit crossup mk, crouching short, crouching jab, CC, standing short, standing mk, sho......but only one uppercut came out. that would?ve been the end of his Bison too. Then when my Bison was facing his Blanka, he did meaty RC electricity. I?m usually pretty good at judging the invincibility left, so I activated thinking he was vulnerable........zap. He hit me out of my CC and that was basically the game. So I was done, and I asked inkblot how I did, and he said ?Around Top 50.? For a KY player with no local arcade or competition to speak of, I?ll take it. When the Team Tourney?s for cvs2 were about to start, I realized nobody from the ATL south was there. No Alex Navarro, no Alex Walbert, nobody. So I asked inkblot if I could be a captain for the ATL south. He sent me to Mr. Wizard who said yes only if I could round up 2 more players in about 10 minutes. I searched frantically for people, but everybody from the ATL south (all 3 or 4 of them) played 3D games. Some guy said shinblanka WAS there, but he left for the beaches. Floe wasn?t considered ATL south (because he?s from Chicago, lol), so I had no luck. The rest of Saturday was more casual play and watching matches. I talked to Roger Williams (Ratio1Beatdown), and he had to play Daigo first. But he wasn?t worried AT ALL, and said that he?ll play A-groove so he can activate whenever there?s too much pressure, and he?ll runaway because Team Daigo can?t catch runaway. He then said it was like a chess game and he?ll play smarter than Daigo. I knew right there he was going to win. So when he sat down for his match, I lean back to Peachy and say, ?This is the upset of the tournament right here, Roger WILL beat Daigo.? He looked at me like I was crazy. I asked him if he wanted to bet, and I honestly would?ve bet everybody there, but I didn?t want to have Roger hear me and get nervous. Sure enough, A-Runaway Rolento/Bison/Blanka beats Daigo. I was so glad because I don?t like Daigo to begin with and Roger pulled a monster upset. I also got to talk to LifeTimeBoy, who was a very laid back and cool guy. I saw LTB vs Combofiend, Eric Lee vs Jwong, Josh Wong vs Kindebu, Dan vs Ricky, and the other great matches of the day. I was pretty hungry, so I searched and found the Vista Cafe. This place was a gold mine. A 3 minute walk from the game room with good food for a cheap price. I ate there the rest of the tournament. I went back to the tourney hall and watched some more matches, then as I was walking out, I heard some 3S music downstairs and went to check it out. They were actually playing cvs2 with 3S music, and I played a whole bunch of casual play matches with popo187, Dr. B, Roger Williams, and many others. I was getting all kinds of compliments from people on my execution and RC skills, which was very nice. Dr. B even said I would be one of NorCal?s top players if I had a constant source of good competition. I also realized that these guys are all pretty good because they all play each other often at arcades. I can only drive an hour or practice combos, which sucks. Then I ask Dr. B if he knows Jeffzorz, because he called me a scrub on srk because I ended a post with ?ggpo,? so I challenged him to some money matches. Dr. B points him walking away and for me to go catch him. I introduce myself, and he was just what I expected- a skinny kid who talks shit online for no apparent reason but seemed pretty cool in person. He was going back to the Shilo and said we?d definitely play our matches that night. Roger and Dr. B said he was good, but I was better, so I was looking forward to the matches. Needless to say, we didn?t play our matches. Whatever. I watched the TTT invitational for whatever reason, and VF4, basically to just save a seat for the mvc2 exhibition. Once that started, it was awesome. SoCal sure does love their marvel, as people were yelling out some pretty funny shit and were just going nuts in general with the whole thing. Another thread already has all the priceless quotes, so go check in there. Clockw0rk vs Wigfall was unreal, that was the highlight of the whole thing for me. Once inkblot shut it down, I was pretty pissed off. Not that he shut it down, but the disrespect people showed. Some guys yelled out, ?Thanks Mom,? and ?Let?s go play poker.? Come on, think of the time/money/energy the Cannons invest into the SF community every year. At least have the decency to respect their decision because people gambled on campus. I didn?t think it was a big deal, but rules are rules. I actually remember seeing people doing it, but didn?t think much of it. As I walked out with Josh, I said, ?If Evo gets shut down, fighting games are over.? Without a huge tourney to look forward to, the ECC series and MWC series would have a whole lot of work to do in picking up the slack if no more Evo?s were held. That?s my opinion at least.
I knew Sunday was going to be a lot of tourney finals and some casual play and just a lot of fun. I skipped the SC2 finals to play in the BYOC hall. I got to play Valle, Combofiend, RF, Kindebu, and many others. It was almost surreal that Valle and Combofiend knew who I was when they saw my name badge. ?Ohhhh, so YOU?RE popoblo?? Combofiend was surprised that I was any good, and Valle was also cool as hell. I beat RF?s Team BAS because I picked Eagle, and still wondered why I didn?t play him against Fubarduck. After I was done in there, I watched the ST, GGXX, 3S, CVS2, and MVC2 finals. After SC2 was over, I got the best seat in the house. On the right side, in the FRONT row, but on the very left by the aisle. Somebody saved my seat while I went to the Vista Cafe to get a sandwich during ST controller problems, because I wanted to save that seat for the rest of the finals. Josh somehow scored the seat right next to me also. ST was crazy. Kuni?s Zangief was such a thrill to watch, as was Daigo?s Balrog. I never thought people could get that loud for ST of all games. I don?t play GGXX or know anything about the game, yet I could watch the finals this year (I slept through them last year) due to the character variety and good matches. Kindebu?s picture for his intro.......priceless. That needs to make it on the DVD somehow. 3S was unreal too. I was surprised that Mike Watson made it to the top 8, but good job on that. If somebody knows, what happened to Ricky Ortiz, Mopreme, and Sugiyama? Anyway, I was shocked that Jwong made it to the finals in FOUR games. Hate on him all you want, but he is USA?s best current SF player based on that kind of performance. I remember reading how much of a beast Raoh was in one of Buktooth?s posts, so I was expecting him to get top 2 at least. When he came out and said ?Fuck you Daigo? with his thick Japanese accent, I knew it was on. Daigo beat him sure enough, but it was still a good match. Raoh vs Jwong might have been the gayest 3S match I?ve ever seen (outside of Eddie Lee vs Jwong at MWC). I was stunned with Jwong won though. Raoh refusing to shake hands was kind of shocking, but that must have been super embarrassing. The top Chun Li in Japan losing to an American player. Jwong vs Daigo was very interesting. But I remember when Jwong had the match with 30+ seconds left and Daigo with no life, I just thought, ?Don?t do the super, please don?t do the super.? Well, he did the super, and we all know what happened next. I wasn?t too shocked until he AIR PARRIED the last hit, because without the jump in, that combo wouldn?t have killed him. That?s what got me out of my seat. IMO, that was better than SooMighty vs Jwong last year. That was one of those high-five-some-guy-you-don?t-even-know moments that you would only find at a football game. KO is still a beast, and genei-jin proved to be too broken for Daigo to overcome. Awesome stuff. I think the Ode to the 2-Hit Combo was after 3S........Anyways, that video was awesome. The editing was flawless and it could actually make you laugh. One of the best combo videos I?ve ever seen. Props to jchensor and everybody else who collaborated on that. Cvs2 was next. Lay (SugarLand) from Texas found a way up to the front row also, so I got to talk to him, which was awesome. I found it kind of funny because I figured Kindebu was going to win, but Lay didn?t think he was that good because Kindebu wasn?t on Captain Sawada?s level, although he?s definitely a beast, as I learned in the BYOC room. But he did invite me to Texas Showdown and said he would be glad to give me a place to stay, which was very nice. I?ll only even think about going if it?s on console, but money will be a problem since I?ll be a starving college student. I was very happy Buktooth got top 8 this year, because he deserves it. A top player that helps out the community so much is awesome. Choi got some revenge on Jwong from MWC when Jwong sent Choi to the losers there, which was cool. It?s funny when people say that you don?t need RC?s to win because Choi doesn?t RC.........but he definitely does. The finals were intense, and if Ricky didn?t mess up that CC, it might have been different. I learned a whole lot about cvs2 from the finals and in casual play, and I made a thread about it in the cvs2 section if anybody?s interested. Finally, mvc2. I didn?t even know who Chris Schmidt was, so I was pretty surprised that he made it in the winners. If anybody knows, what happened to Takayuki, who did he lose to? After Soo got eliminated, I knew nobody could stop Jwong. It was cool that Potter made it to the top 8 also. Sure enough, David Lee was no match for him and Jwong won mvc2 yet again. He?s unbeatable as far as I?m concerned. The mvc2 finals were pretty uneventful overall IMO, so there?s not much to say. I wandered into the campus arcade one more time, and got beat by somebody because I missed all my CC?s and links and everything else. It once again reassured me that I will never go to an arcade tournament again. I was so tired, but I bumped into Josh Wong and he said Ashley Hernandez was looking for me for my money match. I was just too tired, so I walked back to my room. Ashely, we can play ours next year, whatever works. Come to think of it, I didn?t play ANY of my money matches at Evo, for various reasons.
I flew back home=) Thanks first and foremost to the Cannons, the judges, and all the SRK staff who put this whole thing together. Without you guys, I truly believe a SF scene would be nearly non-existent. The G4 coverage, the Red-Octane sponsorship, Tekken 5 at Evo, and the huge Gamespot article show me that fighting games are going to get a whole lot more coverage and will grow in popularity big time, which is awesome news. Second, HUGE thanks to Josh, Brandon, and Brian for letting me room with you guys. Their room was initially booked for only 3 people but they let me in last minute, which made my Evo experience that much better to room with people I know, instead of strangers at the Shilo like I was planning on. The odds of me remembering everybody I met and the friends I?ve made (and the players I beat jk=) will be nearly impossible, but here goes. Hell, it might be easier to name the people I DIDN?T meet at Evo. Ratio1Beatdown, Dr. B, Viscant, MIKE ?FUCKING? SMITH FROM COLORADO, Skisonic, SugarLand, LTB, Combofiend, KENNYWOOD, OBOT64, APOC, Danny Leong, Leezy, Valle, Buktooth, Peachy, Popo187, Joe Hashaan (I think), inkblot, Fubarduck, JoshthefunkDOC, Brandon, Cha Cha, KaiSing, Floe, Matt Chun, Ouroborus, vasAZNion13, Nestor, Jamaal, Daniel Tran, Pimp Willy, laugh, Cole, Henry Cen, Strider Hiryu, Nate from AZ, Yi Wang, etc etc etc. If I forgot you, please remind me, because I met a lot of people and I?m horrible with names to begin with. It?s funny how I didn?t even want to go to Evo and retire from fighting games after MWC. After Evo, it makes me want to stay in the scene and try to improve through college somehow with no comp. I?ll definitely be at Evo again next year, and hopefully I can see all you guys again.
PS- Any suggestions, questions, feedback, shoutouts, or whatever to this log are greatly appreciated. I haven?t posted in any of the other Evo threads because I figure this pretty much covers all those.