As you guys might know, while we’re waiting for Super to come out in arcades so that the normal Box Hill tournaments can resume, Chris and Andy have been running a weekly event at Collingwood called Collingwood Chris’s Club House. (Or CCH for short.) This is my second one, and they’ve always been a blast, much credit to Chris and Andy and everyone who brings setups.
Recently, I’ve really been wanting to level up my Ryu against stronger opponents. I figured with CCH being this Friday that it would be a good time to head over for Ali’s house for some games.
I get there around 2pm, and walk in on Dave (Just-S) and Pyro playing BlazBlue. (Which looks really fun.) Sol is sleeping right behind them, occasionally waking up to say “We’re going to Adelaide in 2 days for a SSF4 tournament and you guys are playing…”
As usual the TEC guys are super friendly, and I soon strap in for some games.
I still couldn’t touch Dave’s Bison at all and Sol was beating me handily with his assortment of secondaries. Dave was really raining headstomps on my head, and I was stupidly blocking every one of them, being too concerned about trying to cmk the followup. I should have simply jumped back and roundhoused a few of those of stomps instead of taking them over and over like a Goomba.
I could occasionally steal a game from Sol and Pyro, (who both were not using their mains), and even though I was losing most of the time, I was still pretty pleased with my play. My execution was generally good, I was hitting my cmp to cmp/chp combos, hit confirming into sweeps from jabs and shorts, and getting in pretty regular DP FADCs. I was safe jumping off my knockdowns, (but my jump option selects were still inconsistent), and I was going for counterhits constantly. I got to play a lot of matchups and practice stuff, such as standing roundhouse anti-air against Honda. Additionally, and I don’t know why, but I was getting an abnormally large amounts of jumping strong juggles that day. Hm.
On the down side, I was still woefully inconsistent with my anti-airs. I was still letting everybody jump in way too much. I find that Sol and Dave have pretty quick jump triggers, and whenever I threw I threw one fireball too many, or whiffed a poke, they were really quick with that jump in to punish. I only started getting some punishes later on when I found myself in situations where I had the life lead. I realised that they would be looking for a jump under the circumstances, and by kind of turning the fireball faucet a little bit down, I was able to have a little more success catching them with some DP FADC ultras.
Another thing that I noticed everybody really taking advantage of me was constantly backdashing out of my ground oki. Pyro was doing it, Sol was doing it, really taking advantage of my weak ground option select sweeps. I still rarely option select a sweep into my meaty clks or cmps despite integrating it into my practice regimen, and these matches were really a big wakeup call to up my ground os game. Now I really have to do clk+clp+cmp~chk for every single meaty. It’s gonna be hard, but hey, I really want to turn my Ryu into an octopus Ryu.
Ali came back from the gym, and I followed him to get some takeaway from Subway. We talked BAM, Momochi, EVO, getting international players to our tournaments on the way. I don’t mean to diss the service of the Subways in the city, but that was the best Subway I’ve ever been to!
Not only did the guy give me a discount of my meal, he gave me a free cookie! And when Ali was saying to him that he likes how generous the guy was being with the meat on our subs, the guy immediately offered to slap on twenty pieces of turkey on the sub! It must be the EXC355UM Effect.
I got to play Ali when we got back, and the games were plenty fun, quick and close. I’m still a little taken aback by his rushdown Akuma style, but it’s definitely good to get some experience against that style. Plus, I was simply eating way too many far standing roundhouses, and air fireball traps into overheads!
I also got to see Sol put on an Adon show, completely driving Pyro up the wall with those Jaguar kicks and standing roundhouses. I didn’t know it then, but it was a foreshadowing of the Adon Carnage later on. (Awful pun, I know.) I was watching them play with half amusement, and half how-the-hell-am-I-gonna-stop-that fear.
Ali even cajoled/persuaded/forced me to sign up for Twitter. I’m a total online noob, but Dave was nice enough to help me set up the home page with some nice graphics. Man, I have to say my twitter account probably looks a hell of lot better than my blog right now!
It was soon time to head out to Collingwood, with Dave staying behind to rest up because he was coming down with something. Pyro was actually sick too with a nasty head cold, which makes his Viper execution that day pretty impressive. Hopefully, the other guys don’t catch it in Adelaide. Somehow the conversation in the car took a turn into mostly being about female SF players, and lasagna!
We were the first guys to arrive, and I finally introduced myself to Chris. He promptly beat me in a Ryu mirror match, which proves that I’m the greater Scrub. I let him jump in way too much, and he would’ve killed me even faster if he didn’t miss a couple of DP FADCs. He was very nice, and we even shared some commiseration over the Street Fighter Spouse Syndrome.
Other people started showing up; Andy, Bugs and the Whirlpool guys like Impakt, Cactus, Tian, Alex, Tai, Aiden, Exis, Julian, Igor/Spider Carnage, Naruga, Spoony and even Akira!
I have to say while I was feeling pretty okay about my play at the TEC house; I played pretty poorly the whole time at CCH, which was really disappointing. I think the first three of four hours I must’ve played less than twenty matches simply because I lost every single time. I couldn’t win a match to save my life, though it seemed I did the best in Ryu mirrors, oddly enough. At least I got to eat the godlike Collingwood lasagna that Ali was raving about in the car.
I got to play Spoony again, and he has really levelled up his Chun. He doesn’t miss EX legs into ultra anymore, and he was consistently hitting clk combos after a hazanshu. He would catch me with hazanshu clk into regular legs, clk again into another legs combo for a good 30-40% of my life, and he was outfootsieing me with standing mps. I kind of felt like a noob with my only gameplan being some half-assed strategy of spamming Focus and throwing a ton of fireballs, which was getting me absolutely nowhere.
I finally got to introduce myself to Carnage as well, and he’s a really a nice guy. I like the way he plays Ryu, he has the exact thing that I lack, which is a really quick DP. He is really quick to throw that thing out, and if he senses an opening, he intuitively puts a DP in there. I really, really need some of that DP juice! (Maybe it’s that bottle of Asian tea I always see him drinking.) I talked to him a little about Ryu, and he said “Ryu’s game is all about counterhitting” and I really agree.
I did pretty well in a Ryu mirror against him, I think losing a close 3-2 match, but he kept catching me with something I haven’t seen before. Basically whenever I did a blockstring that ended with cmk hado, I could hear him buffering something, and he would just Ultra right through my hado! He must’ve caught me two or three times with that trick in our match alone, and somehow even though I could hear him buffering it I still stupidly kept getting caught by that trick. A lot of times I had the life lead, and he would KO me with the Ultra to take the round. I asked him about it, and he says he simply buffers the Ultra motion when he sees common strings like cmp cmp cmk or clk clp clp cmk, and hits PPP when he sees the hado. Nice trick, and one I’ve gotta steal! I normally see good players Focus dashing through my cmk hado, but this is the first time I’ve gotten Ultra-ed through it so consistently.
He also plays Adon now, and he was putting up a nice win streak with Adon/Ryu. He was smashing people left and right with those annoying unpunishable Jaguar kicks, and with his quick DP reactions, he was getting a ton of DP Fadc Ultras. I asked Carnage about the Adon/Ryu match and he mentioned chp as a counter against the Jaguar kick. I tried it in a match against him, but I kept getting counterhit. Maybe my timing was off. I tried to DP the Jaguar Kick, and I got traded too! With the Ultra 1 going through fireballs as well, I still feel pretty helpless in the match, and I really need to learn this matchup. Needless to say, Carnage was getting a lot of Gamerbee hoots. For the record, he says he started playing Adon before the whole EVO phenomenon!
He might not be top tier, but the trolling is definitely S-rank.
Other than Carnage’s Adon and Spoony’s Chun, the other matchup I really wanted to learn was Sim. And of course that means hunting Cactus down. I still couldn’t beat him at all, but I noticed other Ryu players like Alex having more success getting in by doing unpredictable things that me, the boring conservative Ryu player does not do.
I couldn’t touch Tian today as well, and I was really frustrated by the things I was doing wrong. Our games would mostly start out tentative at first, with both of us trying to get a knockdown and throwing hados, but Tian would repeatedly catch me with an air fireball trap into combo, and then proceed to vortex me after the knockdown. I was so frustrated because I kept screwing up my anti-air fireball game. Time after time, I would boldly walk under the fireball, in prime spacing to get the sweep trade with Akuma, and time after time I would press the sweep too fast, whiffing under him, getting hit by the fireball, and Tian would land and give me a nice fat combo. With my weak mental game, I would start falling apart and get hit by stuff I shouldn’t get hit by; like crossup jmk cmk ex tatsu in the corner! But GG THK.
I got to talk to Andy a little bit as well, and it was really cool to hear the passion in his voice when he speaks about the community. He explained to me some of the history of the Australian FG scene, and he was wistfully describing how, if he ever got the cash, he would open up an arcade right in the city. He said he even already had a dream location in mind! Which was in that block near RMIT and Melb Central with the Hungry Jacks. For me that would be godlike! An arcade right next to Melbourne Central train station? Nothing could be better. Especially since Box Hill is a little far for me with no car. He told me a little about the Bluehouse history, and the logistics of running an arcade business. I really hope Andy will get to carry out his dream one day, and hell, if I had the cash I would love to join in the venture.
By this point I was getting a little depressed with my horrible Ryu play, so I started whipping out Hakan in desperation. I was mostly getting my ass handed to me, when suddenly inexplicably, I got my first win!
Tai was playing his beastly Fuerte, (I’ve never beaten Tai before) and when I sat down next to me, I had a “screw it I’m probably going to lose with Ryu anyway” moment and picked Hakan.
I noticed right away that Tai did not know the match, which gives me an unfair advantage. But with his nasty Fuerte mixups the match was still incredibly close. I don’t know why, but every time I pick Hakan, I often hear a couple of incredulous “hey, it’s Hakan!” voices behind me, and people actually pay attention to my matches.
I think Tai perfected me a round, and in the end it came down to the wire. Earlier on, I had hit a ddt/Ultra 2, which throws Tai all the way into the corner, and I did a meaty slide across the screen into ex 360 grab to take a round. This time, I had a feeling, and I again hit an DDT which left him with almost nothing left. I did a fake meaty slide, sensing something, and sure enough it baited him into doing Ultra 2. It looked like my slide was still going into his body, but I was able to jump back in time, and snag him with a sweep to take the win.
Again, I heard a mini-roar of disbelief behind me, and funnily enough Tai reacted the exact same way that Lok did the previous CCH. As I stuck a hand for a GG shake, Tai leaned over his stick and covered his head with his hands in an sorrowful “OMFG I can’t believe I lost to the Turkish Oilmeister” kind of pose. Ah, the joy of Hakan.
But in all honesty, it was a fluke win, and no one was more surprised than the win than me. GG, Tai.
Finally my first win in four hours! That kind of reinvigorated me a little, and I actually went on a little mini-winning streak with Hakan. Which was both hilarious and a little terrifying. Eventually, in what was also a mirror of the previous CCH, Vinh sat down and kicked me off the setup with his Dudley. Which kind of tells me that if you know the match; you really shouldn’t be losing to Hakan!
I had another mini-breakthrough after the “joy of Hakan” lifted me up a little. I sat down to play Cactus for the umpteenth time that day. (Cactus was getting multiple win streaks in the corner, beasting with his Sim.) Previously Cactus had been beating me with complete ease. This time, I made a concerted effort to totally blank out my mind. I wasn’t going to think while I play like I usually do. I wasn’t going to play with a strategy, I was just going to play as mindlessly and stupidly and randomly as possible, to be as unpredictable and reckless as I needed to be to get in.
As a result, I don’t really remember much of the match, but I somehow beat Cactus for the first time! I remember I was doing a lot of random DPs, EX fireballs and air tatsus to get in. And once I got in, I did a lot of funky stuff, and random throws. Somehow being totally random and stupid I was able to consistently get in on Cactus, throw him a ton, and even dizzy him with some random EX tatsus! Cactus looked really surprised when the match ended, and my eyes were really big in disbelief too. Normally Cactus techs everything, but I discombobulated him to the point that I just walked up and threw him point blank a couple of times. So maybe that’s the key to beating Dhalsim! Blank out your mind, and play as stupidly and mindlessly as you possibly can!
I don’t think I won a match after that, but the highlight of the night for me was getting to play Akira a bunch. A lot of people had left at that point, and Akira was on a 30 plus win streak. Nobody seemed really keen to play him, so I got to play him a ton.
I got to play Ryu vs his Sagat earlier in the night, and I found it really enjoyable. Which is kind of funny, but I get pissed off when I lose to random jumpy Sagats. So when I played Akira I knew he would play smart and grounded, and we were going to have a WAR of zoning and footsies. Of course I lost, not even being able to take a round off him, but somehow I really enjoyed playing the match the way it was supposed to be played. Inch in slowly with Ryu, don’t jump, walk him into the corner and try to get into cmk range. Playing him gives me a concrete sense of improvement, or a really sharp sense of where I need to improve.
But where the fun really started was later at night, as I mentioned when most people had left, and he was picking random people like Gief and T Hawk. I even got to play Hakan vs Hakan with him! Akira adapts so fast; when I hit Ultra 2 against his Rufus, the very next round he was baiting it out with carefully positioned dive kicks! When he picked Hakan, and asked me what Ultra 1 was, I told him it was a 720 grab like Gief. His eyes got so big and he immediately picked it. We had a hoot of a match, we played nothing but Hakan footsies the first round before I “cheated” and did a slide to hit him. I think he hit a 720 every round after that! I would do jump in rh, standing lp standing lp standing mp Hakan string, and he would 720 me right out of it! Akira really picks up the character so fast, he doesn’t need to know everything with the character to win, and in fact I think he just needed to know Hakan had a 720 to beat my ass!
He’s the funniest top player I’ve ever played, he would lean in really close to the screen and stare at my Ultra 2 flash going OOHHH and going NOOOOOO!!! Wringing his hands in disgust when it hit. I couldn’t stop laughing. He plays with such joy that it makes it really fun to play against him; I don’t get salty at losing at all.
He would do unique tricks such as backdash with Gief to avoid my Ryu safe jump and ground oki and immediately SPD me. And I’ve NEVER seen a Gief backdash on wakeup before. He would giggle with glee, and go “Heeheehee I’ve GOT you again” when he landed that trick on me! He’d be wriggling his body and going “Nono don’t hit me” when I would slide from far. Going “I can’t lose. Where’s Andy,” looking around for Andy when playing Gief.
And through all the laughter he was teaching me! Teaching me Gief short jump shenanigans, teaching me mindgames. He would literally yell out DP! And block on wakeup. And I would DP like a noob every single time! He also did the same thing Carnage was doing; every single time I did cmk hado, he was buffering EX green hand to smack straight through it. Incredible fun.
I learned a lot from everyone I played, GG to everybody, and once again thanks to Chris and Andy for organising it. I feel really grateful for the people in the Melbourne scene, and good luck to everybody in AVCon at Adelaide! Do us proud!