SBO Travel Report
Our rat pack leaves San Francisco airport at noon on Wednesday. Finally arrive in Japan after a long 11 hour flight. The local time is Thursday, 5PM. Our party consists of me, David Sirlin, Campbell Tran (Buktooth88) and his girlfriend Jackie, Ben Cureton (tragic), Kim Hahn Hoang (ohayo1234), and David Dial (Gunter). Once we arrive in Japan, Spencer, (FetZ) the Soul Caliber representative, is waiting for us at the terminal. Our group all follow Gunters lead and take a long train ride and finally arrive in Takadanobaba station where the hotel for team USA is located. We eventually unload our stuff and make our way to More Amusements arcade which is THE arcade for Capcom fighters. We meet up with the rest of Team USA there and all go for dinner and drinks. Bas birthday is today and we go back to the hotel afterwards and give him the presents weve brought for him. Some of the gifts included a customized T-shirt from Alex Valle that had Bas written on it and a ghetto T-shirt which you can see a picture of http://www.t-shirtsthatsuck.com/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/scstore/p-P089.html?E+scstore
Oh yeah, cant forget the Triple X movie DVD. Bas saw Triple X in the theaters in the US and thought it was the greatest movie ever. Bas is weird.
Friday night was the 3on3 CvS2 tournament at Sportsland arcade. We had preset teams of Bas/me/ohayo1234 and Valle/Cole/Campbell. I knew we would have disadvantage of playing on Japanese sticks but it turns out that the CvS2 speeds were also different. Ino informed us that the speeds for the machines vary throughout Japan. He said that east and west Japan have different speed settings and even on same speed setting, speeds can vary slightly due to the cabinets voltage setting being different. ?? Strange. Anyway, the speed was slightly lower than default US speed. We noticed it when we first arrived but we eventually got used to it and seemed normal by the time I left Japan.
Everybody had different opinions of the Japanese sticks. I think a lot of it has to do with how much you like the green sticks for Dreamcast. Its probably the closest thing to a Japanese joystick so if you played a lot on green sticks, you should be more comfortable with Japanese sticks. I thought it was exactly the same but Campbell and Kim play on the DC green sticks and informed me that it was not the same. I cant play on the DC green sticks at all so my execution on Japan sticks goes down to shit. Im too used to stiff American sticks where I can really pump my motions for moves. The delicate Japan sticks only require a tiny bit of motion so even something simple as walking back and forth would result in random jumps sometimes. My goal was to do 10 dragon punches in a row but could not do it. And forget trying for clutch uppercuts or supers. The extra motions from the intensity make it more likely for a random move to come out. Anyway, out of everybody, Cole seemed to like Japanese sticks the most with me hating it the most.
The tourney started it was time for Valle/Cole/Campbell teams first match. It is usually standard to have team orders with weakest player first to strongest player last. Not that Cole is weak or anything but they decided on Cole, Valle, and then Campbell team order. Cole started out looking good and beat two players from the opposing team. The last player was able to defeat Cole so Valle stepped up next. He struggled with the stick a bit and lost so Campbell finally came up. Due the different sticks and speed settings, he missed his signature super combo and eventually lost the match so their team was eliminated. This is Japan where everything is one game, single elimination so that was it for them. A bit disappointing to lose because of unfamiliar conditions but what can you do. It can only add to your knowledge base and experience. Besides, the competition there was so fierce that I dont know if we would have fared much better even if we had US sticks and same speed setting. Ino and Morikawa who took 3rd at SBO were both present at the tournament but ended up losing early. Its very difficult to be consistent in a one game, single elimination environment.
My team played soon after that and we decided to play in the order of Kim, me, then Bas. I dont remember exactly but I think this was the match where I won my one and only game. Kim struggled also from Japanese sticks but since he was used to playing on DC green sticks, he had less problems than me. Almost every match resulted in something like me and Kim losing and then Bas stepping up and cleaning up all three opponents. After a couple of games, it was clear that I was the worst player given the situation so we switched orders and I started out every time. I wasnt much help to the team since lost every single match after that but Kim did well and contributed several wins. I felt so helpless on the Japanese sticks. At one point I even lost to a girl and Kim stepped up and took her out. Kim later even took out a top player named Dan(C Ryu/Ken/Sagat). But Bas pretty much carried the entire team. The last 3 matches, Bas had to step up and clean up all 3 opponents. Our team name was Top Players but it should have really been Top Player. Bas did everything. Here is a link to the results http://www.spolan.com/ssl-3/event/2003-03-21/index.htm
Ohnuki was at the arcade but did not enter the tournament. Sportsland is a popular arcade for VF4 and he was busy giving out beat downs on it. He went out to dinner with us afterwards and explained that he does not like how his rush team loses to roll cancel turtles. I told him how I changed up my team to better deal with it and he nodded in acknowledgment. He said he still plays occasionally with his new favorite team of N Akuma, Chun, and Sagat. He said he had fun playing against my N team when he was in US for Evolution and requested to play that team against him. I wasnt going to be much of a challenge for him, especially on Japanese sticks, but I obliged. We went back to Sportsland and he unleashed his fury on everyone. He did not look out of form at all. His Akuma was so fast and deadly that I think he got about 8 OCVs out of his 20 game win streak. And I think he had a 7th Raging Demon button on his side of the cabinet. He landed an average of like 3 per game. And Valle swore that his Akuma ran twice as fast as other Akumas.
After about an hour of domination, Ino was finally able to take him out of his win streak. Ohnukis rush is very polished and very deadly. Several players agreed that he is still very dominating and would probably be the best player if there was no roll cancel.
The tournament location was about an hour and a half away from our hotel. And we had to be there early by 7:30AM since the last chance qualifying tournaments would start then. So we got up around 5AM and made our way to the tournament. The setup for the tournament was the best I have ever seen. 3 huge projected screens stood behind a big main stage with smoke machines and spotlights worthy of a rock band concert. The finalists for each game were introduced one by one on stage and interviewed by an MC. Before each fight, the players would enter through a smoke filled stage with the players profile and bio displayed on the huge screens. Fireworks were in place and were set off after the conclusion of each tournament. It was incredible. The tournament booklet was 65 full color pages with pictures of every single qualifier, brackets, game description, interviews, and favorites to win each tournament. Ino told us beforehand that SBO was not a tournament, it was a show. We didnt quite understand what he meant until we arrived. Oh yeah, Campbells picture was in tournament booklet but with a misprint in his name. They spelled it Champbell. So for the rest of the week, he was known as CHAMPbell by everybody.
The CvS2 qualifiers were about to begin so everybody got ready. A mini side stage was set up with 4 pairs of CvS2 cabinets. The qualifier started and Kim, Cole, Valle, and Tragic all entered but had to play on Japanese sticks and didnt fare too well. The qualifier soon concluded and the final CvS2 tournament was ready to begin. The SBO staff were well prepared and basically brought a small pit crew over to install American joysticks and a customized panel on one of the Japanese cabinets. A brand new 360 joystick was installed and the US side of the cabinet was ready to go. The match was displayed on the big screen for everyone to see. Campbell had a tough bracket draw and started out facing a well known player named Dan who plays C Ken/Ryu/Sagat. Campbell selected his N Iori/Morrigan/Hibiki team and started off well with Iori but when his Morrigan stepped up, he had some problems doing repeated fast dashes. His Morrigan is known for fast Magneto like overheads but he could not pull them off correctly. Probably a combination of factors such brand new joystick that needs to be broken in, different speed setting, and just an unfamiliar surrounding. The game was close but Dan came out victorious.
It was my turn to play next and I drew a player that played K Nakoruru/Mai/Sagat. I suffered a similar fate. I went in very cold and it was the first time that I got to even use an American joystick in several days. I think the stick functioned fine but I was just not ready to play. I barely got to my opponents last character where I mistimed my low jab, low jab, low strong link with Chun and eventually died and was eliminated from the tournament. Oh well. Maybe Ill try my hand at last chance Super Turbo qualifiers.