My alarm rings at around six, and we get our bleary-eyed butts down to the venue. We start shuffling things around for an hour until more people show up. Spoony shows up at seven. I think Kevin and Andrew shortly after. Chris also shows up around this time. Apparently, Chris was driving all night, and came back to the venue around 520 AM. Not wanting to wake us early, he decided to take a short nap in his car and message us at six. Now he slightly overslept, but that was basically all the sleep he had that night! I could only shake my head as he told me this. And as it turns out, all of this definitely took its toll on Chris’ body.
Setup goes more smoothly than the day before, and more of our gear turns up- all the individual setups that people were volunteering to bring. Finally as the doors open at nine, we’re mostly done. I asked Spoony if I could go up and sleep for a couple of hours as I have to help him run Soul Calibur in the morning. He says sure, but I somehow get sidetracked and end up playing ST casuals, the first casuals I’ve played all weekend.
I play a couple of games before Yang sits down and bodies me with Boxer, Guile and Chun Li. It’s kind of funny, but the only handful of games I got in all weekend all turned out to be against Yang! Be it ST or Marvel, he bodied the crap out of me in both games. Especially in Marvel I was really dropping everything.
I didn’t notice anything on that day, because maybe I was too out of it, but I really noticed a difference a few days after SS, when I was back at work and finally got a good eight hours of sleep and showed up to Bluehouse again. I noticed I could anti-air and do combos again and whiff punish. The level of my play was at sludge level all weekend and I basically only noticed on the Tuesday after what a big difference sleep makes. I think next time I volunteer for TO duties, I should probably not enter anything as I’m gonna do horrible anyway. I suppose it is not too much of a sacrifice to make as I am not a top player anyway, and would probably lose early on even if I was well-rested. But for guys like Burnout, who is an actual top player in Marvel, I think the lack of sleep and running around really affected his play and his execution and that’s a shame because I personally wanted to see him do well and rep Melbourne. That’s also why, even though I asked them to run brackets at BAM the year before, I did not ask Shadowfox and Antman to help with brackets because I consider them top players now and defenders of Melbourne’s honour. But Shadowfox especially ended up doing a ton of crap over the weekend, driving non-stop and being a stream runner etc. I’m not sure how well he did in tournament. But I’m glad I didn’t ask Antman because he went on to upset Tokido!
So I was there playing ST casuals with Yang. After a while, I went back to the SC stations, wondering why Spoony hadn’t called me. Apparently he thought I had gone off to sleep and given my bracket clipboard to Borgie, even though I was just a few metres away at the casual stations. (In hindsight, I should probably have taken that nap after all.) Borgie seemed happy to run my bracket, so I let him do that, and only helped out with SC later in the brackets.
While running SC I saw a couple of hype matches like Tokido and Runis’ matches…I watched Spoony beat Eita 😛 And boy is Eita a funny dude. Giggling and doing funny shit his whole match.
I can’t remember who eliminated me, but I remember who I lost to first.
So Spoony comes up to me and says, if you win your first match, you get to play Justin Wong next.
I’m thinking in my head, cool. I haven’t played an international all weekend.
Spoony; you’re playing Robdawg.
Consternation immediately enters my mind.
Spoony tells me; don’t worry. Just mash BB over and over again and you will beat Robdawg.
First round, Robdawg perfects me with his Xiba. I watch him just mashing away on his buttons and just feeling so depressed and resigned that I don’t know how to deal with that at all.
Second round, hilariously, I decide to heed Spoony’s advice and mash on BB and I actually perfect him back.
Third round I decide to play normally and lose, and I lose the deciding round and the next game too.
I shake Rob’s hand, feeling so salty. I hate this feeling of not knowing what to do. With someone mashing attacks up in my face, with Ivy I don’t know what to do at all. What was I thinking picking Ivy? Okay sure, the boobs, but being totally new to SC, after watching tournament Ivy play and realizing she’s a defensive character and a zoner whose gameplan is to punish people using your knowledge of the opponent’s moves and spacing rather than applying your own offense, I should have realized that character is not for a beginner like me. Without knowledge of the game, Ivy becomes quite useless, and as I start to accumulate knowledge of the game I should pick up a character that can play more in a knowledge vacuum, or someone that can apply their offense more independently. I also shouldn’t enter a game unless I make a real dedication to become competent at it. With this in mind, I decided to quit SC until I find an appropriate character for this point of my learning stage. (Weeks later Huy and Spoony all come up to me to make appropriate top tier character suggestions. Yesss. What is this actually comboing off 3B on natural hit that you speak of? Feels good.)
The room is packed with people at this point, and even though this year we have maybe thirty or forty bracket runners, easily three times as much as last year, I think we were still pushed to the limit staff-wise. We were generally alright for bracket staff, but I definitely think more staff was needed for the stream at least. We needed general stream runners, and somebody to help Offcast, who was running the second stream all by himself for a large portion of Saturday.
Soon, Marvel pools start, and we’re a few minutes behind, transitioning after I think…I can’t remember what game it was. The problem was that we couldn’t find the Marvel discs, and I had my hands full dealing with bracket allocations.
The biggest problem for Marvel pools was that I had Igor penciled down to run a few brackets, but because of a lack of staff at the main stream, he decided to help out there, and sent Cyrus in his stead. This presented quite a few problems.
Loki drew up all the pools based on seeding, international qualifiers, region and also very importantly, bracket runner allocations. So he devised it that when you were running a bracket, you didn’t have to play at the same time.
Igor was very useful in the sense that he didn’t enter any games, so he was assigned heavy duties for the Marvel pools. The moment he decided to go help with the stream, all those slots had to be filled with other people. For example, Cyrus helped with the first pools, but he was allocated to run SFxT and SF4 brackets as well. So when he went off I had to grab somebody from somewhere else who was probably also allocated to some pool…it all snowballed from there. Just removing one person from pool allocations creates this whole ripple effect through the allocations, and just goes to show how tight and how little margin for error our schedule was.
Thankfully, Spoony was a godsend. While I was wrangling staff together, making announcements and trying to get Marvel pools started, he stuck around to help, so he did a ton of useful stuff for me that I didn’t have time to do, such as to find the Marvel discs, stick them in, replace a speaker set that wasn’t working, fill in for a bracket slot etc. He could have been taking a rest, but he decided to help instead, and for that I am really grateful.
So with the core guys for the Marvel pools; Gabneto, Fish, James, Kenny and his friend, and Igor Cyrus, we started running things in earnest. Even though we started slightly behind schedule, we caught up simply because most of the pools were only half full, if that. Our pre-SS philosophy for pools was to allocate much more bracket space than what we thought would show up, for example: we planned a 512 man bracket, if my memory serves me right, for AE. This was because we had to cap last year’s AE entrants at 256, when we could’ve had more. We knew we probably weren’t going to hit 512, but this way we were prepared for any eventuality. We decided to scrap the 64 man pools which were a horrendous idea to begin with, and we went with 16 man pools for everything, and with a check in system. All this bracket implementation is almost entirely down to Loki deciding to take on tournament director duties directly, and much earlier in the process than last year. At SS2, he was telling me he thought everything would be pretty much handled so he just showed up on the day and had to make the best out of a messy situation. I think he did amazing with the time and situation he had last year, so this year he decided to not let that happen again, and stepped in much earlier in the decision making process, and for that I am also extremely grateful.
We also had a few issues with setups and speakers not working, and it was a real pain having to try to fix the problems on the fly. A break or two in the schedule would’ve have been amazing for us to sort of rejig the things that fell apart during the day, even fifteen minutes would’ve been immensely helpful. But as it turned out, every day pushed the schedule to the limit. That’s the problem with running so many games…even with the massive amounts of equipment we had (I think we had well over 40 setups), there just isn’t enough hours in the day. I suppose the other thing was we planned for SFxT to be a major game, and we allocated a lot of schedule time and bracket space for the game, and it turned out to be…well, let’s just say not the most popular game at Shadowloo Showdown…
The check in system didn’t really work as well as expected. Because people were expected to rock up fifteen minutes before their pool starts, that actually is the last fifteen minutes of the previous pool. So there’s a lot of congestion with people standing around, or they wander over and see that the pool is still going and wander off again…we need to improve on that next year. Either we need to have actual breaks between pools so that people can gather around empty stations or a separate check-in area…But with the packed schedule I don’t think we have time to insert breaks between each pool. Hm…
It definitely was a problem getting everyone checked in. Every guy I had running pools…well we basically would be endlessly taking turns on the mic hollering for some person to check in. It’s not so bad when I know the person in question, but if it’s a name I don’t recognize or an interstater…
I swear so many times, I would holler for a name five times and be on the verge of DQing him…and then I suddenly realize that the person is playing SFxT casuals on the tournament station in front of me. Grr.
I realize that this is another problem for SS3: casuals.
We allocated this big space for people to set up casuals…but the problem was nobody did. Other than Igor’s ST setup, almost nobody was using that space. I know from talking to various interstaters, that plenty of people had setups in their hotel rooms. Why didn’t they bring them down? I honestly believe it’s because we didn’t advertise that area enough, didn’t have a big banner or sign saying “Casuals”, or perhaps because the material that we planned, a pre-SS briefing about the layout and tournament format which never happened because of lack of time, created this lack of awareness of the layout and what various spaces were meant for at SS3. The whole of Saturday it was basically almost a waste of space.
And the negative effect was that people who were keen to get games in would inevitably hop onto tournaments stations when a setup would be free. And that creates problems for everybody; the bracket runners get confused about when matches finish or when the stations are free or they have to chase people off. Or the people playing lose track of time and forget that their pools are starting. Worse yet, they might put on the headphones and not hear that frustrated TO on the mic calling their name out…
In the end what proved very helpful was the state listed next to the name. If I saw like (QLD) next to the name, I would go ask Hai, or a guy from Queensland if they knew the guy or where he was, and that seemed to be generally the best way to pinpoint missing interstaters.
But we did the best we could, and we got through Marvel pools. Much thanks to my staff again, who really put in a hard shift of work.
Another thing I think is that we should not overburden the staff, and allocate them to too many games. Take James (Eveazn) for example.
He was doing great but by the end of the day, he was slowing down, and it was clear he wasn’t feeling too good. I think when I tried to get the Marvel staff together for dinner, I called Kenny to ask where they were, and James couldn’t make it out of his car because he was sleeping inside, too worn out to even walk. It turned out that James really did wear himself out, because he got too sick to even come to Finals day on Sunday which is a real shame. Sunday is like the “reward day” for TOs because generally most of your responsibilities are done when it comes to running stuff, and u can finally sit down and enjoy some high-level Street Fighter. The fact that James missed out on the SS finals firsthand despite doing so much for the event really, really sucks.
But I understand why he wore down. If you haven’t run a bracket before…it’s not an easy job, especially at an event like Shadowloo Showdown. I mean, we trained both James and Kenny to run brackets at Shadowloo Night Live, but those brackets run for what? Two hours at the most, and you’re done. At SS since they were running multiple games they were standing around all day, yelling, and there’s so many people around, it can get congested and stuffy… no wonder James fell sick.
I kind of know what it’s like already, so I came prepared. I basically ran Marvel pools with my clipboard in one hand, and my 1.5 litre water bottle in the other. I would yell a name, swig water. Yell a name, swig water. And I think my voice and throat held up quite well that weekend.
We also had an issue with people not turning up…I think one pool was so bad that that was one player who played and lost just one game and basically made it all the way to loser’s finals of his pool!
I went 1-2 in Marvel, I got Tom aka NefeliousG first round. I was just happy that I got to kill his Zero in the first game, but he basically bodied me two straight games. I got some nice hit confirms with my Spencer but dropped a lot of combos as well (Theme of the weekend.) I shook Tom’s hand afterwards, and Tyrone even said some kind words to me about my Spencer. That’s really nice to hear actually, and I was really happy, but I told Tyrone that I probably don’t deserve the compliment. I know very well that I’m ass.
One problem was that I was practicing this specific zip loop combo to be my wall-to-wall carry BnB.
But I won’t lie, even though I was practicing this specific combo quite a lot for basically more than a month, my consistency was very bad. Some days I could hit it, some days I would drop it every time. What made it worse was that I was reading online that the GX variant was much more consistent and easier (basically jM jH dfzip S rather than jM jH jS df zip) but I was unwilling to swap to it because I had spent so much time on the former combo. I finally gave the GX loop a try a week before SS and I found it very unnatural because my muscle memory was so used to the old combo. I practiced it for a few days and got it semi-consistent, but I decided with SS basically a few days away, I decided to go back to the old zip loop during the tournament.
My muscle memory was neither here nor there, and I dropped everything. I guess the very obvious lesson learned is; don’t switch around your BnB a few days before a major! This frustrated me so much that the afternoon after SS, I got home and dumped my bags off…and I immediately turned on Marvel to practice the GX loop. And I’ve since dropped the old zip loop for good…good riddance!
I lost to Luna from WA next, but I honestly can’t remember anything from that match at all. Oh yes I remember I won one match before to Tom from Melbourne in a most fraudulent way; happy birthday bionic arms, both rounds. Marvel 3, the beautiful game…
So then we were down to semifinals, which started around 6PM. I think Gab had one half of the semifinal bracket and I had the other. I watched Somniac beat Tom, Tokido beat Somniac and Hai…and I also watched Antman beat DJHuoshen off stage to eliminate him after DJ lost to Knives.
Man. It wasn’t on stream, and it wasn’t recorded. No one was watching except the bracket staff. Can you believe that? I watched Antman take a sizable lead on DJ in the deciding game, and DJ couldn’t come all the way back. As DJ lost he let out this cry of anguish and kind of sank into himself in despair. While watching, I felt happy that Antman won, but at the same time I felt so sorry for DJ. He’s such a nice guy and puts so much heart into his play. Watching him take it so hard, with his head down in his arms was really painful. And Antman obviously felt the same way as well because his celebration was more muted than usual and he was mostly consoling DJ and trying to cheer him up.
That New Zealand guy Blackout was doing pretty well too. I heard some exciting things about some Sydney Vs New Zealand Marvel money match that carried over two days but I have no idea how that turned out. So back to what I was saying.
I watched Tokido beat Somniac…man, Tokido.
I love Tokido, but boy is he a TO’s nightmare. Why is he so damn good at all these games? I swear when AE semifinals and Tekken semifinals and Marvel semifinals etc were all on, there were so many times that multiple game runners were actually yelling for Tokido simultaneously. “Where’s Tokido” was the theme of the weekend. I imagine it must be really tiring for him too. He’s too good for his own good 😛
I was talking to Chris and we were joking that instead of having Tournament station A, B, C etc. We should have a “Tokido Station” with every game on it. Instead of Tokido running around everywhere, we just get everyone to go to the one station where we have Tokido stationed permanently. Gotta play Tokido? Go to Station T.
Meanwhile, we were streaming the Marvel matches on Stream 2, and the lack of a runner was definitely a bit of a problem until Shadowfox took over the job and started running around everywhere. I think we were a bit too conservative in our time estimates and we eventually had a surplus of matches from the second half of the semifinal pools for the stream. We probably should’ve streamed more matches from my half on the bracket.
But that’s fine. We finally had our top 8! Tokido, Antman, Tyrone and Zak Bennett in losers. Justin Wong, Filipino Champ, Marlinpie and Knives in winners. Mission accomplished. Great job to everyone that helped out with Marvel, I can’t thank you guys enough.
We went out for a Marvel staff dinner afterwards with Fish, Gabneto, Zan, Spoony and I think one more person. Somehow we ended up walking all the way to Dessert House in the Bourke street arcade after Fish said that the Melbourne central Dessert House was godlike and I wanted to prove to him that the Bourke street one was better. (Okay, it’s probably my fault that we walked that far :P)
It was nice to get out of the venue, and we talked shit and relaxed and had good cheap asian food with the usual indifferent service that makes the experience worthwhile…Meanwhile Gab showed me all the other meanings of “Taste the Rainbow.” Goddamn!
So we made our way back and I was finally able to watch my first SFIV matches of the day. AE semifinals was taking forever. I really enjoyed the Dakou matches that I got to watch. His Ryu was on another level. I watched him play Fuudo, and I would be like: oh boy. Here comes that 7-3 matchup. And Dakou would pull some sick shit out to take out possibly the best Fei in the world…twice! Focusing Fei’s Rekka is so dangerous, but he did it consistently with no fear. He played really solidly.
I would say that other than Michael Tan, who really impressed everybody with his level of play, the players that impressed/surprised me the most were the Chinese players. Actually I was slightly disappointed that Naruo chose to go Evil Ryu instead of Ryu for so many of his matches. But his matches were crazy hype as well. All he needed was to land just one cmk… and he could come back almost all the way in one combo.
I forget, I totally glossed over how I did in AE…basically I went a salty 1-2. I lost to bcvw in the first round playing like crap, (he’s a really nice guy, good to meet you in person sir), and doing a whole bunch of accidental cmk srks. He bodied me really easily.
Feeling kind of depressed by losing to a Ken again, I played a Blanka player after that, and that is when I started noticing something wrong with my stick.
I had lent my stick off to Berzerk for the VF stations, so I bought a brand new TE to use for SS3. (I was planning on retiring my old stick and buying a new one anyway.) I hadn’t noticed that much wrong with it yet, even with my executional mishaps with bcvw, but against this Blanka player I really noticed it. Because against Blanka you have to do a lot of walk, crouch block, walk, crouch block kind of thing, I noticed my character was taking forever to stand up back to neutral from block. And I was having difficulties getting even fireballs to come out. I just gritted my teeth and played extremely basic and won the first game. I immediately told the guy I wanted to change my stick, and I unplugged mine for the spare stick below the table. We did another button check and I did a couple of walk blocks and fireballs and it felt much, much better. We played and I won the second game.
I felt quite upset…a brand new stick giving me problems? I went into training mode and tested it out a bit more to make sure that was something weird with it and I went back to the Mad Catz booth. I showed them my receipt and told them what had happened and they swapped my stick for a new one. So I went back and tested that one in training mode and it worked fine. So weird.
I had to play Bcvw again to make it to losers’s finals and I played a lot better, with a lot less executional issues, and I was able to focus on my game a bit better. I still lost though, GG Bcvw.
So I was out. I stood there hating myself for a few minutes and then I went back to running Marvel pools.
But back to AE semis. I finally had time to sit down and watch a few matches, and also to talk to some people. Gigadeath aka Alex made it down, and even he went 0-2. I was telling him, that’s why you need to rock up to a couple of tournies before the major, to get your reps and tournament nerves down. (Not that it has ever helped me.)
We were starting to get pushed for time, and I think we ended AE semifinals pretty late. At least we had our top 8 for AE finally. And initially…I had no idea who they were. That kind of shows you how disconnected you can be from everything else when you’re off running something else.
I had a look at the bracket sheets on the wall and was amazed. No Poongko, SS2 champion? No Fuudo, the EVO champ? Where’s Xiaohai who dominated in the pre-SS Box Hill tournament? Dakou and Amiyu’s Gen in top 8? Neurosis and Banbanban made it to top 8? No Americans at all? Damn I must’ve missed so many upsets and hype matches, which kind of sucks. But I can watch the stream archive later.
It was around this time that someone told me Phero had eliminated Momochi. Damn, Phero! He’s been so strong since he started regularly coming out to Melbourne tournaments, and his hard work is paying off.
It was hard to get everybody out of the room, everyone was busy having moneymatches or casual sets, but after much cajoling and friendly threatening by Ali on the mic, we managed to get everybody out.
We looked around at the debris of the night, and we started cleaning up, taking down all the tournament stations and setting up chairs in their place. The Shadowloo guys had decided that finals day would be more of a spectator event, so we cleared out all the main stations and left only the casual stations. In hindsight we should’ve just moved some of the setups to the casual areas rather than to the backroom, but I’ll talk about that in the Sunday recap. It was 1 or 2 AM by this point, and everyone had this half-dead look on their face. We decided that thankfully we wouldn’t need to come in at an ungodly hour for Sunday morning, that 7 plus would be fine. I think Loki was too tired to even want to go get food so we just went up to the room to sleep.