-Updated! Ali’s EPIC writeup of the event!!!
We made it back to the motel, and watched the embarrassment of Chinese culture that was the movie Forbidden Kingdom, before hitting the sack. It was awesome to finally get a solid night of sleep. I guess everybody probably needed it more the day before, but who cares; I was going be super rested and hyped up for the top 16!
I have to also mention that a trip to the Sydney FG scene opens your eyes to a lot of things. For instance, I discovered that AOE/Brandon was actually a top Mario Kart player! He showed me some Mario Kart-esque PS3 game in the hotel room that was mighty interesting. I have much respect for the snaking skills of Mario Kart. He told me that he used to go on www.smogon.com also, which was interesting because I used to play Pokémon pretty seriously before I started delving into Street Fighter. Hey, the world is a small place!
So we headed down to UTS, and we didn’t get lost this time, but I heard Hamada got stuck in a car with Ali and AOE singing Glee songs “Believeeee it” at full volume, screaming to get out of the car whilst onlookers looked on bemusedly. Hohoho. No Dragonball Z episode for him this morning either. Thank god I was sleeping in the Room Of Peace.
When we get there, the place is initially less crowded than before, and I got in some casual games at last! I got totally smashed by Dave’s Bison, did okay against his Juri, and got to know Bugsimus better. Then Daigo showed up, and the room started getting crowded.
He was playing casuals on the big screen, and Cactus and I watched him almost lose to Vindicator’s Dhalsim. If only he hadn’t missed his Super. Ah well. Daigo did lose to Genxa in casuals at long last however, but unfortunately I missed it!
On a good note however, I finally remembered to bring my black marker at last, and William and I gleefully stalked Daigo when he went out for some Subway. We caught him on the way back, and I finally got him to sign my stick! Seriously, it was getting to the point that I could recognise his chicken-skinny-legs-jeans walking underneath the bracket board.
So finally the finals got underway! I spent most of the day next to Baldiebasher, and it was awesome to watch an historic event like this with a good msn/psn buddy.
The matches were all so exciting, but unfortunately there were two screens and two matches running at the time. Now I can only really focus on one match at a time, which means I missed half the matches. I tended to watch matches that had anybody I knew personally though.
I watched Somniac lose a heartbreaking close set against Robsux’s Chun Li. It was one hell of a match though, very back and forth.
For me one of the highlights was the two Honda matches against Daigo, DK and Benson. Dk went first, and he played extremely well. He got me excited with clutch Ultras/supers through fireballs, and he was very, very patient, not jumping in much, and getting in hands damage when he could. Daigo eventually took him out but it was close. Benson had been commentating heavily on DK’s match the whole time, and it was hilarious when his turn came up. He would be commentating on himself, and saying “Let’s see if Benson follows his advice to DK and not jump in at Daigo.” Five seconds later, he promptly jumps in and gets DP FADC Ultraed by Daigo, and the whole crowd erupted into laughter. He got absolutely smashed by Daigo, which I’m sorry Benson, but was incredibly funny for the audience when viewed in conjunction with DK’s match.
Baldiebasher was still rooting for the NZ guys, and they were still doing very well. Jacksmash actually took out Somniac with Akuma, and Gankatron made it all the way to top 8, eliminating CrazyFreeRider’s sick Seth and Benson along the way.
Another guy that really impressed me was Naruga. Now even though I’m from Melbourne, Naruga has apparently been away from Australia for a while, and this was the first time I’ve seen him in action. The TEC brothers kept telling me that Naruga was the wild card in the tournament, and now I can see why. His Blanka is the sickest I’ve ever seen.
One thing that really separated him from the other great Blankas I’ve seen was that he almost never held charge or did Blanka balls. He would jump in and do standing lp to electricity, crossup and do electricity, hop back and forth and do electricity. Blanka balls are heavily punishable by a lot of the cast on block and on hit, so by eliminating Balls from his bread and butter, matches like Blanka vs Balrog got a lot easier. Additionally, all versions of electricity are plus frame advantage on block! So he would do standing lp to electricity, walk forward standing lp to electricity, walk forward standing lp to electricity! It was almost like a Blanka block string! If the opponent pressed anything after the electricity he would get counterhit, and if he didn’t block he would get zapped. It was basically free pressure for Blanka.
I saw Naruga take a strong game off Humanbomb’s Ryu before HB came back to win it, but that was hella impressive. He went to take out Jacksmash, and even a Balrog in Gankatron before he got eliminated by HumanBomb at last. Good shit Naruga! I Just Didn’t Know.
As mentioned before, Wizbore was the only guy to draw visible applause from Daigo. I watched some of his matches, and he would drop stuff in the clutch, but somehow do something even more clutch to take the round! He was an entertaining Ryu.
But in the end, the match that everybody wanted to see rolled around. Daigo versus HumanBomb, Sydney’s best.
I guess everybody wanted to see a Ryu mirrormatch, but Bomb went for Chun Li and Ultra 1, which I thought was an interesting choice. (I’d even seen Bomb try to use Adon against Daigo on Saturday with no success.)
Bomb was wearing a very sexy pink shirt that I admired greatly, (if you don’t know, just take a look at my wallet), and he looked nervous but focussed. Daigo looked as per normal, expressionless. Funnily enough, I thought his default expressionless look yesterday had a tinge of pissed-ness with some tension in his eyes, but today he looked like the Daigo you always see on stream. Tournament Daigo.
Both players didn’t start the match too aggressively, with much respect for each other. One thing I noticed straightaway however was that Daigo was not falling for any hazanshus, focusing and blocking every one. Johnny was doing pretty good, scoring the lead with a nice fat focus attack crumple combo, but then Daigo scored a kara throw, and did a sequence of jump in tick throws with HB in the corner. Bomb got thrown twice in a row, then Daigo did a delayed DP to catch HB crouch teching, and he caught him with the Ultra for the KO.
After that round, Daigo became more aggressive, scoring a focus through hazanshu cmp cmp cmk tatsu combo at the outset, walking forward and putting some insane pressure. His crazy execution came through when he basically killed the Chun with two combos, a jump in cmp cmp srk combo, and he tatsued over and did cmp cmp cmk EX fireball fadc Ultra!
Everyone at the event noticed Daigo’s pattern, he would kind of give up the first round for information, kind of let you attack him, and then he would turn it up a level and take the second and third round for the win. For me, it’s kind of mind-blowing that he can get away with that, because I struggle myself to win games trying hard all three rounds. And somebody can be that good to essentially gift you the first round? I still can’t wrap my head around it.
And god forbid you ever let Daigo land a single cmp on you. He can link that simple low strong into long massive damage combos! E.g. cmp chp fireball fadc cmp chp lk tatsu hp srk! Ouch.
The next set was more of the same, however I noticed Daigo walking forward and not cancelling every low forward into fireball, perhaps respecting HB’s ability to focus through, or perhaps straight Ultra. Eventually HB lost, and the crowd clapped respectfully for his effort. I sat there thinking that Bomb had played pretty well, but it was almost monstrously scary how good Daigo was. Imagine in Japan, damn near every top player is at the same level as him! I guess part of me was also thinking before the event that hey, maybe the best in Australia can kind of slug it out with him, and have a chance to beat him. Maybe like a Ryan Hart or a Justin Wong. It was a big eye-opener for me, (even though I follow the Japan scene very closely), that the gulf between our top players and Daigo was really that damn big.
I always think Daigo should take a ton of damage always walking forward like that from random special moves and pokes, but somehow he is also able to defend while walking forward. Again, you had to be there to witness it to really feel the immense pressure he puts on other players.
The next match up was Toxy versus Daigo. Another match I have wanted to see for ages. At this point after HB vs Daigo, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic, but I kept remembering Sol/Ali telling me that Toxy loves the Ryu vs Akuma match, and that he eats Ryu for breakfast. So I had that glimmer of hope.
The first game was actually pretty insane. Toxy was doing really, really well. Scoring big damage off dive kicks when he predicted fireballs from Daigo. Sweeping Daigo, landing big damage BnB combos and crossup tatsus. He was playing with no fear, loose and quick. When he swept Daigo for the win, the whole crowd went crazy! Hell yes! A round! Was basically it lol.
Toxy started missing some combos in the second round however, and Heavyweapons was cheering him on with big roars of “Sith Lord!” Toxy managed to build up an 80-20 lead and was turtling smartly. All seemed well with the world.
Then he inexplicably jumped in at Daigo for the first time, and Daigo didn’t hesistate to DP fadc ultra that ass. Toxy was down to 45%, Daigo tatsued across the screen and did counter hit cmp cmp fireball fadc cmp chp lk tatsu srk! The crowd went Ohhh!!! At decibel level 50, and then as Daigo stuck out a meaty overhead, Toxy woke up with Raging Demon to KO for the win, and the crowd went OHHHH!!! Decibel level 200!!!!
The crowd was rocking as Daigo lost his first tournament game, but before we could settle down, the second set started. George got a chuckle out of everyone with a dry “Now will Daigo turn it up to level 99?”, and both players started out with a fierce fireball war. Then, some funny shit started happening. Daigo jumped in with an empty jump, and Toxy Raging Demoned. The crowd gave this big expectant sound, which escalated to a “Holy Shit!” sound when Daigo ex dped right through the Demon. Toxy then got up, and did an empty jump, and Daigo inexplicably stuck out a standing jab. Toxy landed and did a Demon into Ryu’s extending fist…and somehow got jabbed out of the Demon for the KO! The crowd went nuts.
Toxy, perhaps a little mindfucked by the Raging Demon fiascos, whiffed a big dp at the start of round 2, and Daigo didn’t miss his forward hp chp srk combo, which left him with a huge lead. Toxy attempted to comeback, but Daigo put him down quite quickly.
The match was controversially halted then, because the stream went down, which perhaps might have affected the momentum of the match. But Daigo was upping his anti-dive kick game and getting a lot of jumping hks to beat out the dive kicks. He did get extremely lucky however, when Toxy jumped over him and did a Raging Demon, and Daigo must’ve screwed up his inputs because he did a standing fierce, which somehow turned around and smacked Toxy out of the Demon! Even Daigo was shaking his head out of surprise. It just wasn’t Toxy’s day, especially for Raging Demons.
With that win, Daigo got his ticket to Evo, and it was up to HB vs Toxy to decide who gets to battle Daigo for first place.
I was surprised to see HB play Akuma vs Akuma against Toxy, as I had seen him play Ryu/Chun all tourney, and Toxy more or less mains Akuma all the time now.
Again, Toxy was doing so well against HB at the start, beating him at the air fireball game. But again it was the Demons that did him in. He basically did an anti-air Demon, which got beat by HB’s dive kick for big damage, and it was just downhill from there. Bomb started playing better, and even divekicking a second Demon, and took the set. Sydney went batshit crazy, and Melbourne was very subdued for a second before we gave Sydney their deserved applause.
I feel bad for Toxy because I know how hard he works, and that Melbourne doesn’t get to be represented at Evo, but you did really well man, and you were the only guy to take a game off Daigo in tournament! Also, I got to congratulate Humanbomb later on in casuals with a handshake, bet he thought “who the f is this guy” heh.
At last, it was the final match of the day. Grand Finals. HumanBomb vs Daigo.
Bomb again went Chun vs Daigo, but he didn’t fare too much better than before. Bomb started well, putting him in the corner but Daigo basically focussed through two Hazanshus and killed Johnny in the first round. Daigo eventually got him with a buffered cmk to ex fireball in the second round that was done at whiff range, but since HB walked into it and got hit, the ex fireball came out, and Daigo fadced it into Ultra.
We got a little hype when Bomb switched back to Ryu, but Somniac had told me earlier on a list of what not to do against Daigo, and apparently item number one is to pick Ryu against him, and Daigo really showed me why.
Bomb started out well with a focus through fireball combo, but Daigo put him in the corner and counterhit him into a dizzy which was it for that round.
Johnny tried to mix it up a bit in the 2nd round, trying to burn meter with ex fireballs to beat Daigo’s typically meterless fireball game, but he ended up in the corner regardless. The momentum looked to have switched when he threw Daigo back into the corner, switching positions, and landed a jmk clp clp dp fadc Ultra combo, but Daigo fought his way out of the corner with some sweet footsies. They were at midscreen, and Bomb jumped over him, missing a crossup, and Daigo did a hit confirm clk clp cmk ex hado fadc Ultra for the win!
What a way to cap it off and we couldn’t help but give a long standing applause for the day of street fighter mastery we had witnessed that day. Daigo, the EVO Apac champion. He did his little “Australia was good to me” speech, and it was funny that he only smiled and got excited when he got his Robot Chicken Dvd box set prize!
I quickly left the audience area to play casuals, waiting for Ali to do his interview with Daigo. I was itching to play after watching so much incredible Street Fighter matches. I got to play Brodsta_Au at last, and I was so proud to even take a round off him. He was a beast, and I even witnessed his Sagat mirrormatch against Heavy Weapons. We pretty much stayed till 9 or 10 just playing casuals, and before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes to everybody and go home.
One last story!
I saw Daigo walk off into the distance, and waited for Ali to be done with his camera stuff. We started walking off to the elevator, and everyone was kind of lagging behind because they were still talking, so I was the first to get to the elevator. I saw that an elevator was open, so I quickly ran over to it, gesturing at everyone to hurry up.
Lo and behold, the person pressing the door open button and holding the door open was none other than Daigo himself! By himself, where were his translators hm. So I said thanks, and started gesturing at everyone to hurry the hell up, but everyone was still walking so slowly, so Daigo was holding that elevator open for at least a minute! I wanted to shout out, hey Daigo is in the elevator, and that would’ve moved some asses, but somehow yelling that out felt kind of wrong and impolite at that moment.
Of course, when people started getting to the door and looked in, they started hustling inside right quick! It was really awkward, the whole pack of us guys crowded around this poor Japanese dude. We must’ve stood in there for another two minutes, trying to press buttons, because the damn thing wouldn’t move! We later joked that Daigo must’ve spoilt the elevator by pressing the button so long, either plinking it or double tapping it all the way.
So we moved to another elevator, and somehow gestured/communicated to Daigo to follow us. (I would’ve been a little scared if I were him). So we rode down all the way with him in awkward silence, trying to stifle fanboy giggles, and resisting the temptation to take pictures in the elevator. Eventually, as we walked out the building with him I think Sol took a picture of his back! Lol.
Awesome, we actually got stuck in the elevator with Daigo! What a story. We were wondering where the hell he was heading off to by himself too, without a translator, and not being able to speak English. We should’ve kidnapped him!
The ride home was a lot better than the ride to Sydney because we had so much more stuff to talk about. I think I only slept an hour or two, I spent the whole time talking to Dave and Ali about the tournament, and we had some major movie discussions. When I got back to Melbourne I was a walking zombie, but what a weekend, totally worth the drive, and memories that I will cherish forever.