Update: Shadowloo’s Recap at http://www.shadowloo.com/?p=2287
I’ve been quite excited about this CW after missing the last one. I’ve been training specific areas in my game, and after a few months of being scrub food for the community, this time I was actually hoping to place better in ranbats. Hopefully the practice would pay off.
I get there at my customary early time of 1230. People are already playing, and I talk to Carlplight, PSN viper for the first time in person. We get in quite a few games, and I get to know him better. I’m always trying to get better in the Viper matchup, and I was gratified to see my safe jump option select DP consistently beating out his reversals. One thing I wasn’t happy about was using low forward to avoid burn kicks on wakeup, but not following up after. I asked Pyro about it, and he told me to DP that ass. Time for some more specific training room practice!
This time I actually didn’t get to play that many casuals, because a lot of the setups were being used for the new Blazblue. I actually got to try it with Spoony, and it seemed like a lot of fun! Even though I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I’m not one of those guys who believes playing other games ruins your execution, in fact I believe it can help your execution and improve various mental aspects of your game, such as patience, reaction time, dealing with different paces of play etc. Which is good, because there’s so many new fighting games coming out; MVC3, SFxTekken, Mortal Kombat 9, TeknnexSF, and I definitely will try them all. The only limiting factor for me is that I don’t have the time to play so many fighting games; being an SSF4 scrub takes up most of my gaming time.
I got to play Toxy a bit in casuals as well. I consider it a privilege to play him; when I lost and I asked the people around me if they wanted to play him and they all shook their heads, I was only more than happy to hop on for more games against him. He played a variety of characters against me, and stomped me every time. I can’t remember if I took a round; but one of my SF goals is to take a round off Toxy in tournament. Baby steps!
In addition, I find that playing him is an good experience; somehow I feel that I’m playing my best or playing well even though I’m getting stomped. Maybe it’s his patient playstyle that kind of forces you to play the “right” way, which I appreciate and want to improve in. Against some other people who play perhaps a bit more random, I might win and still feel that I’m playing crappy. Against Toxy, you can feel that you’re playing solid even though you’re losing! Which is kind of strange. Cactus later echoed the same sentiment to me; and he added that he feels that way against Naruga as well.
I got to ask him about EVO as well, which I’ve been dying to do for ages, and he told me a lot of interesting insights such as Daigo and the rest of Japan, Valle, playing casuals in EVO, playing Shizza, Dogface and XvsSF and a lot of other good stuff. I would love to ask him even more stuff, but I still don’t know Toxy that well.
Later on Somniac showed up, and I grilled him even more about EVO, about Valle, the general level of American play, about moneymatches, about talking to all the US players I follow in person. He told me Scumbag beat him in a moneymatch,(yes THAT Scumbag), and that Valle beat him even easier than Daigo did. I’ve been trying to tell people that while Valle’s execution is not the best, but his zoning, footsies and mental strength in SF is on a godlike level, and allows him to compete against execution gods like Marn. Som told me that it’s hard to appreciate what Valle is doing on video, you have to play him. I wish one day I could get the chance to play Valle and Choi too!
He told me about meeting Arturo in person, and about the negatives of the EVO tournament. With the tournament being so big, with I believe 128 man pools; he had to wait 6 hours in between his matches. And since you risk disqualification if you’re not there for your match, you have to basically wait by your pool area doing nothing for ages and ages. He told me playing casuals wasn’t all that as well; you had to wait ages for your turn, and with everybody playing best of 5 rounds, there wasn’t much point in waiting. But despite all that, I wish one day that I could make it to EVO as well. Maybe I will never be at a level of actually being able to do well at EVO, but I just want to see it once, and witness the spectacle that is EVO.
Once the tourney started, there was only one free SSF4 setup, and I spent most of my time wandering around talking to dudes. The usual people were really great to talk to like the WP people; Bugsimus, Zero, AZN, and guys like Igor, Cactus, the TEC brothers, Julian, Kenny, Tai, and way too many people t o name. Soon it was my turn to go up.
I had to play Noobert first, and it was a pleasure to finally meet him. We both played quite tentatively, and I played pretty defensively expecting a crazy Ken rushdown. He stayed on the ground as well, but mixed it up with some nice Kara throws when he got a knockdown. The match was really even, going back and forth, and it eventually came down to us resetting in the air. We both landed and did DP. My DP won, I had two bars and an Ultra, and that was it. We exchanged GGs after that. Noobert was really nice, and I’m always happy to find good players to add on PSN! (Since everybody is on Xbox now, damn you guys.)
I have to add that during the tournament, people were getting hype in the corner playing CVS2, and even though I’ve never played that game before, it looked like a lot of fun, and I definitely want to learn that game in the future. THK recently taught me a little bit of 3rd Strike, and I want to learn CVS2 too! THK was playing teams like Evil Iori, Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma or something and I definitely found it super interesting.
I had to wait really long for my 2nd match, and I spent much of the time talking with the Whirlpool guys, joking that I didn’t want to look at the bracket, because at my skill level, it’s always bad news! Eventually I couldn’t resist the temptation, and I was right. I looked at the bracket and saw that I had to play Toxy next.
I actually didn’t feel that bad even though I made the usual “can you tickle him while he plays” and “throw tic-tacs at his start button so I can get DQ wins” jokes to the WP guys. We both sat down, and he went straight to Dhalsim. Now I’ve told Toxy that I need to work on the Sim and Guile match, and the fact that he picked Sim probably meant that he a) wanted to make our match an educational lesson for me or b) wanted an easy win or c) was pretty bored of beating down the scrub so he picked an alt for fun.
And stupid, stupid me thought: I’ll never beat his Sim with Ryu. Maybe Hakan would do better!
A lot of people who saw the match like Dave, thought that I picked Hakan first, and Toxy counterpicked with Sim. Because that would make sense. But no guys, I dug my own grave and actually picked Hakan on purpose to fight Dhalsim!
It was a massacre.
He just stood at max fierce range, and poked me every single time I tried to oil. I needed oil to Focus DNC through his limbs and EX slide. Without oil, I basically sat there and died. I couldn’t get in at all, random slides were not working. It was painful to watch.
When it was over I looked at Toxy and said “Well now that was a waste of sixty seconds”, laughing a little bit painfully. So I went over to Ryu, and basically did 50 more damage every round before losing pretty quick. I couldn’t get in, Toxy showed his patience in just sitting there, and he teched everything. GG Toxy.
I walked off feeling pretty lousy about getting owned. I didn’t have much time to commiserate because I had to play Kyle next!
We had played a little bit in casuals, and I was expecting him to take Vega. But he started out with Guile, and inwardly I groaned a little. I really suck against Guile. Kyle did a good job of proving it by beating me down pretty easily to go up a game. In the second game, with him on match point, I had a clear sense of “this is over, I’m done”.
I clenched my teeth and tried even harder to force my way through Guile’s footsies. Somehow I turned it up, and started to adapt to his play. I landed a lot of shimmy throws, and managed to bait a few flash kicks for big damage. It’s so hard to get in on Guile, but by sheer force of will, I started forcing him into the corner, where I was able to apply good pressure. I missed a big combo once when I jumped over his Ultra and fumbled a JHP, CHP, SRK FADC Ultra combo, but I was able to come back in game 2, and decisively take game 3 as well.
I was feeling pretty good right then about my comeback, but then he switched to Vega. The match was one hell of a nail-biter. He took round 1, I took round 2, and it came down to round 3 with me nearly on the verge of death. I was able to make a smart read, and I jumped into his wall dive and jumping MP juggled into Ultra to take him right down to the brink as well. We both frantically went back and forth trying to get the kill, but he got me with a wall claw in the corner with me in the air. What a match, and my first really, really close loss. (I normally lose decisively.)
I was heartbroken at my first nail-biter loss, and I shook Kyle’s hand. We both agreed that it was a great match, but my lack of match knowledge really showed. For instance in the decisive round I blocked an EX Barcelona Flying Attack (I’m not sure if I got the name right but it’s that horizontal slash off the wall), and I didn’t punish. Honestly I didn’t even know I could walk forward and punish. If I did, I would’ve won the round and the set. I didn’t feel bad about losing, but rather about the fact that I lost because of something I didn’t know. Right then and there, I really felt the fire to train harder and improve my SSF4 game and match knowledge, to avoid ever losing again because of not knowing that I could punish something.
Another thing I have to say is that I really enjoy the best of 3 format that CW has adopted. I feel that I am a player that needs some time to adapt to the player. I’m slow out of the gate, and I can’t really download their gameplan that fast. I discussed this with Igor, and he agreed with me that the best of 3 format really gives “slower” players like me and him time to figure out the opponent and make a match of it. This was the first time I’ve ever seen myself adapt and comeback in a set like that as well, and hopefully I can improve this aspect of my game in the coming months.
So I was out of the tourney, and I settled down for the top 8 next to Igor and Cactus.
The top 8 was a mix of good play and really drawn-out turtlish matches. For instance, Hyphen took Ibuki against Sol’s Ryu and absolutely demolished him the way he demolished my Ryu at my last CW. Sol had this look of disgust, and after getting dizzied after the Ibuki vortex, raised his hands up in a “what do I DO against this Ibuki” gesture. Me and Sol later had a talk about Ryu vs Hyphen’s Ibuki, and we both were pretty stumped at what we could do against her. Neckbreaker means you can’t fireball, and you can’t DP the kunai vortex. You basically have to do a Daigo vs Momochi and turtle it out, beat Ibuki at footsies range.
Sol later switched to Bison and did much better, but he eventually lost a close one to Hyphen’s Viper.
All the usual suspects put on a show in top 8, like Exis, Somniac, Just-S, Heavyweapons and Toxy, but the real showstopper of the day was Naruga’s BEASTLY Cammy. Apparently Naruga has only been playing her for a month, and the level of play he demonstrated today really impressed the hell out of everyone. I was glued to my seat whenever he was playing, and my jaw was dropping at the Sako “looks like it doesn’t link” combos that he was doing.
He played Toxy’s Akuma, and beat him down comprehensively. This was the first time I’ve ever seen that look of confusion/disbelief of Toxy’s face, he seemed at a bit of a loss. There didn’t seem to be anything he could do; that dive kick of Cammy was beating his reversals, and she was beating of lot of Akuma’s normal shenanigans, teleports and air fireballs. Toxy couldn’t play his usual runaway game and Naruga was constantly in his face. If you haven’t seen Naruga’s matches, you should definitely youtube it!
edit: You can watch the matches here:
Naruga put Toxy down into loser’s, and Toxy fought his way back to Grand Finals through some smart turtle/zoning play against Somniac.
This time Toxy went to Ryu, and I thought he would take it, because it’s a more favourable match compared to Akuma vs Cammy, but Naruga clutched it out. Then Toxy went to Rufus, and I definitely thought he would take it, because I feel that Rufus is a pretty similar character to Cammy; just with more health and damage. But Naruga again proved me wrong by beating Toxy’s Rufus to win it all. He did stuff I’ve never seen before; such as blocking Rufus’s chp or the “reach for the nachos” move and reversalling successfully with Ultra!
This was the most excited I’ve been spectating the top 8 at CW, and I have to tip my hat to Naruga. I’m sure Toxy will be in the lab after this loss and come back stronger, but it’s always nice to see a unheralded character win it all.
That was it for CW, and I went off with Cactus, THK and Plaasia for some late salty supper at Lygon Street. We listened to Tian’s usual “Ryu makes an orgasm sound when KOed” dissertations and talked crap while we drowned our sorrows in greasy Italian food.
I had a ton of fun as usual at CW, and I’m more motivated than ever to up my game!
Results page here: http://www.ozhadou.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5318