It has been a few months since Shadowloo Showdown, and a lot has happened in that time. I thought things would slow down a little for me, but it seems like there’s been one event after another. Except for CCH shutting down in June for library maintenance, I’ve felt a little swept up in things. So I haven’t really written much about the last few months, especially since the SS recaps took me forever to get done. I’ll try to briefly recap what I can remember.
After SS, we had two or three CouchWarrior ranbats. (I can’t even remember.) We were trying out new venues- Masonic Halls in Brunswick.
I remember waking up really early in the morning to go to the venue so that Chris could come by a couple of hours earlier to drop off his gear and I could watch over the suitcases and monitors until Loki or Gail came by to open up the venue. Chris was working those Saturdays; he basically used his break time to come drive the equipment over.
Once again I have to reiterate: no one in the community puts in more work than Chris Ho.
I remember it was raining one of those mornings, so I put the gear and boxes under what shelter I could find in a doorway. And I kind of huddled up over one of the suitcases with my hoodie up.
Heheh. I can’t imagine what people must be thinking, as they drove past and saw this dude slumped over boxes and boxes of gear, multiple suitcases and stuff, on the side of an obviously closed building.
Hilariously, an old Chinese guy was walking past and he stopped to give me a look of pity. He asked me if I needed some help, and whether I could use a lift. I was grateful but told him no thank you. Wonder where he was gonna cart me off too. Chain me up in an abandoned building somewhere.
But I really enjoyed the two masonic halls. They had this rustic ambience which I really dug. On the walls they had all these awesome banners of masonic associations. I think one had a Phoenix on it, and one said “Jolly Good Company” both of which I found to be quite appropriate.
I had a lot of fun at the CW ranbats, but one thing that saddened me was the poor attendance, at least for the Capcom fighters. We still got a fair few heads for VF, Soul Calibur, and of course Smash came in numbers. Part of it was the burnout after SS I suppose, and also the great destroyer of video game communities: Diablo 3.
I remember being quite sad at the time; that we had brought out so much gear, and had this great event going on…and we only had like less than 10 people for an AE bracket at one time I think. VF on the other hand filled out its 16 man bracket completely.
Oh well. I guess the poor attendance for AE gave me a golden chance to win my first ever tournament. And I made to grand finals for the first time in my life!
I have always wondered how I would do if I ever got to a grand final. Would I prove to be a choker? Would I stay strong and clutch it out?
I guess I found out.
I am a choker.
I lost two sets being in winners’ bracket in the grand final to Geese. Who basically was there just to play Virtua Fighter! He barely plays AE anymore, and pretty much entered AE as an afterthought, Zzz. I suck.
I had watched Geese very closely as he beat Phil’s Ryu in winners’, and I made good use of the things I noticed. I noticed he liked to use Balrog’s sweep against Ryu, so I made extra sure not to whiff cmk, and walk those crucial last few pixels forward to make contact with my cmk. I noticed he liked to do the overhead punch, so I looked out for it and punished accordingly. I remembered and utilised most of my anti-Balrog tech, and won quite handily.
Geese eventually beat Phil again and CM in losers’ to make it into GF in losers’. I remember before the grand finals telling myself: Okay. You beat him in winners’ but don’t get overconfident here. Stay wary, stay grounded and don’t get ahead of yourself.
Maybe I should have tried to psych myself up instead, because I choked like a motherfucker. I could definitely have used some extra confidence. When a Balrog does cmp overhead cmp overhead cmp overhead to you during a tournament match, you know something is really wrong with you.
I shook Geese’s hand afterwards, feeling really disappointed in myself. Well, at least now I know.
I didn’t do much better the next ranbat. I lost to Stef, and he basically does not even play AE anymore. And his Rufus was really rusty, he dropped like, and I’m not exaggerating, at least 6 EX Messiah Kicks FADC into Ultra. Every time he dropped it, I would laugh and not think too much of it. I was playing loose. Being casual and having fun. Until he beat me. Then I was like: goddammit. Maybe I shouldn’t have been laughing.
Stef went on to beat Alex C’s Cammy to win AE! He was quite surprised to win, but good shit Stef. I had lost to Alex in losers’. I remember playing quite well in the rounds, and getting consistent leads. But Alex would always make a big read to come all the way back.
I think in the final round he was down to ten percent, and I had a good 40-45% of my lifebar. I was midscreen, walking back and forth just playing footsies, just chilling. I felt confident that I had it won. I walked forward a bit to stick out a cmk, (I definitely wasn’t going to fireball because of Cammy’s Ultra) and he did a pre-emptive EX dive kick which hit my cmk and he just went straight into full Ultra. It straight KOed me for the win. I remember thinking; holy shit. I was playing solidly the whole round and the whole set, and basically I get hit once and die? I was a little salty. But it’s not like I have a good record against Alex anyway. I shook his hand, GG Alex.
After the CW events we ran another event at Ozcomicon, the convention where a lot of big names like Stan Lee and Khal Drogo and Patrick Steward came down. I think through Berzerk they had approached us to run a fighting game booth at the event. Loki had to work, so it was basically Spoony, Chris, Chris’ friend David, Huy and myself setting up and running the event.
Chris was the man once again. Only have one car available but have two cars worth of gear? No problem. He simply enlists his own personal army. In comes David to provide second car and added muscle power.
So we set up on a Friday evening, at the Melbourne exhibition centre near Crown. The hall looked really big when we were setting up…but once people start coming in it got real small really quickly!
I saw Patrick Stewart driving in while waiting for Chris in the loading bay. Hm, Patrick has a really big head…
So we just setup and ran our usual shit. We were gonna run tournaments, but it was such a clusterfuck of people (the hall maxed out its capacity within a few hours and Ozcomicon had to start literally turning people away), that we just ran a few Beat-A-Pro things and ran casuals all day.
I was surprised how many people came in to play. We had 17 setups and they were constantly occupied. People were crowding around watching, and having a good time.
I… beat up so many little kids that day. I levelled up my sandbagging skills big time. Do a single Doom loop and pretend to drop it and airdash away back into the other corner. Eat every random super they do and act surprised. Never call assist. Yeah…I had a lot of practice.
But I didn’t sandbag at all in AE. Well that’s not entirely true. If it was any male over the age of 14 I would just body him as rapidly as possible and not sandbag at all. But I would generally give any female I played a little space and time to try to hit buttons and stuff. So it turns out not only am I an awesome sandbagger- I am sexist too.
But I still got in some proper games with Shadowfox and got some actual practice in. It wasn’t all just little kids! I played Mooseking…Ali, Pyro, Geese, Zero and Bugs showed up for a bit and I think Stef and Ramee was there too. I even saw Benson from Sydney and Yoguy having some games. The place was so packed though, I never really walked around to explore, I mostly stayed inside the CW area, hemmed in by the crowd.
So I didn’t get to see Stan Lee’s panel, or shake hands with Khal Drogo. Oh well. We still got a lot of promotion in. We had CW flyers everywhere, and I noticed a lot of people picking them up and reading them. A lot of moms in particular who were waiting for their kids to finish their games picked them up and read through the flyers. I watched them scrunch their faces up in disgust… Heh.
I also brought my laptop, which we hooked it up to the spare monitor and we had the ABC SS video on loop, along with some OZ FGC highlights and combo videos. I would order the playlist to have maybe the Combofiend Final Round match first, then the ABC video, then a combo video, then the ABC video again. It would just keep going on like that.
I noticed that got a lot of attention, so that was pretty good. People were constantly stopping in their tracks at the sound of BIONIC ARMMMMM and watching on as Ali introduced himself. “I’m Ali Abdo, aka EX355UM. People call me X…” I must’ve heard that same line at least five hundred times that weekend and could recite his entire dialogue in verbatim at the end of the event. I think all the staff and most of the people in the hall could too.
We also put some of the Double KO magazines on the tables for people to read. But some people must’ve thought they were free and just took them! They kept disappearing. I even spotted some kid fingering my laptop. He looked at me and said, “Is this free too?” Wtf??? I chased him away.
So we did this for two days until finally it was time to pack up. Since we had so much freaking gear, Chris had to make multiple runs with David and his car. So Spoony and I had to stay behind and watch the gear.
Funnily enough, pretty much the only thing I did at Ozcomicon other than play fighting games all day was to get Mitch Pileggi’s, aka Walter Skinner from the X-files, signature. This is because my girlfriend finds him extremely hot. I know, don’t ask. But I thought I may as well do something nice for her so I brought season 1 of the X-files on DVD for him to sign. Cost me thirty bucks…
Anyway long story short, I handed the signed DVD to her, and she goes “Huh. Why’d you get me this.” and threw the DVD off to one side. Oh well…
But yeah. Me and Spoony were sitting there bored as hell. But we had my laptop. And we had nothing to watch on it except…
Yeah. I plugged my laptop into a monitor and speakers. The hallway was full of worksmen busy dismantling the booths and moving stuff around. Suddenly this rings out across the hall:
It was hilarious. Everybody in the hall turned their heads around to look at us with a “WTF is that” expression on their faces. I quickly reached across to turn down the volume!
But yeah. To give you an idea of how much time it took, Spoony and I watched two full episodes of Season 1 :P.
We also made very productive use of our time by doing this:
With SNL out of the picture for the time being, I also took the free weekends to make my first and second trips to Werribee for DNA’s event, Rivalry. Gabneto was kind enough to walk us smartphone-less people to the venue from the train station both times. The venue was pretty nice, spacious and well-lit. I got tons of games in at both events.
Once again the community MVP Chris Ho brought gear for the event and I had a great time. At this point of time I was still playing AE in the arcades but my training room time was entirely devoted to UMVC3 now. And Rivalry gave me a good opportunity to gets some reps in with the stuff I’ve been practicing with my nascent team. (Actually, come to think of it, I’ve been playing my team for almost a year now. Why do I still have this feeling that my team is new??!)
I also played some Manfried at Rivalry and had hilarious Manfried mirrormatches with Gab. I also got a nasty gash in my finger doing slide motions for Siegfried’s aGa, which hasn’t healed months later. The cut keeps opening back up whenever I hit those Sanwa buttons, and is getting to be a real annoying problem.
But I’ve basically retired from Soul Calibur now. Losing twice to Robdawg in the game has crushed my soul, even with the manliness of Manfried. But to be honest, it’s also more that I really wanted to focus on Marvel and get good at the game that Soul Calibur kind of fell by the side. Also, it seemed that a lot of the 3D fighter hype was transferred over to the new VF, which I will not start playing unless I have the time to make a serious effort to learn the game.
I did okay at AE the first time I went there, I lost to Edwin to go into losers’ and then I beat him on my way back into grand finals where I lost to Toxy. Yay another second place finish. I can’t be salty about this one though. I did much worse the next round and lost to DNA and Toxy I think.
And I can’t remember anything about how I did in Marvel except losing a close match to Baraa. In the last game he only had Dante left and I had Ammy. I predicted a hammer and did high counter to scoop him. I had three or four bars left but I only comboed into Okami Shuffle which didn’t kill him and he did some BS random reverb shock into super that hit and killed me. Toxy was watching and asked me why I didn’t level 3 him after the counter, which would’ve killed him. I told him this was simply because I haven’t learned the weapon change combo after the counter which allows you to combo into the level 3. After this match I specifically went into training mode to learn the combo. It still doesn’t do much even with the level 3, I think it struggles to hit 700k, but I might need the damage sometime like I did against Baraa.
One of the Rivalry events was made doubly awesome because DNA’s wife, April, brought brownies, cookies, cake, and other goodies to the event. Now not only am I an insufferable glutton, I have a huge sweet-tooth as well. That day I must’ve had at least three or four brownies and slices of cake, and four or five cookies. I was so buttered! I almost didn’t care how I did in tournament with all that chocolatey goodness in my mouth. Thanks April and David! BEST EVENT OF THE YEAR. (Now you know how to lure me to events.)
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, EVO was upon us. Berzerk had gotten in contact with the ACL guys who were running an e-sports event at the Moonee Valley Racecourse. It just happened to be EVO weekend as well, so we thought we might as well run an event where we have the EVO stream on a projector, and run a bunch of tournaments and casual events on the side like Wheel of Fighter (I’ll explain a bit more later) so everyone could have fun and watch EVO together.
Sounds like fun right?
I was excited about it and thought everybody else would be too. While we still got more heads at the EVO @ ACL event, the numbers were still not up to what regular CW numbers has been. In general, numbers have been dropping since 2009-2010, which werethe “peak years” where everyone would show up for SF4. We started to see the decline in numbers at the 2011 CW ranbats, and the numbers dropped even more in 2012. Maybe it’s the natural progression of things. SFIV brought everyone back, and then things just naturally fell into a trough.
Some feedback I got was that the event was too expensive. We charged $20 for a full day and $30 for the weekend. People said that $30 was too big an amount to pay, but if you consider that most venue fees at events these days are ten dollars, and then you have to pay to enter whatever tournaments you want, which easily brings up the cost to $15 plus. And that’s pretty much the same price as a weekend pass. So if you consider that we had a great venue, the entry fee including entry to all tournaments, and the EVO stream we had running all day, I think that’s pretty good value no?
But I can see why people wanted to stay home though. You can watch at home for free, with a beer in your hand, bowls of whatever snacks you want and with your balls hanging out, which is pretty sweet too. So yeah, I can understand.
But I think with the numbers we had we still had a lot of fun. Street Pussy was there, Kevin came along, a lot of the Soul Cal guys came, and we even had a dude from Sydney called Cabjoy rock up.
So I took the train to the venue with Spoony the first day. Navigating our way up the escalators we found it rather amusing to be heading up to the “Celebrity Room”. E-Sports!!!
I said hi to JB, and walked around to take in the hall a little bit. It was a pretty big and plush hall, filled with so many other more lucrative, popular games that I did not give a crap about. There was Halo, RTSes, and I think Fifa as well? I walked around for a bit, looking at the setups and gear. And booth girls.
Ali showed up for a bit as well and me and Gab hilariously tried to take a spycam picture of him chatting up two girls. We were fricking obvious about it too. I walked half the halfway with Gab behind me before turning around with great indiscretion with my back to Ali and the girls to pretend to talk to Gab while he pretended to take a photo of me. It took several tries to get close enough and to get a good enough angle. And Gab struggled to keep from cracking up and wanted to abort mission a few times. But it was worth it.
We put it on twitter saying “EX355UM at work”. Nice work Gab!!! Yeahhhh.
I used to be more of a stream monster when I was just picking up SFIV. Now, to be completely honest, I don’t really care about watching streams that much unless my character is on. Ricky Ortiz vs. PR Balrog? Meh, pass. Lemme play some Mahvel instead. John Choi vs. Richard Nguyen? You best believe I’m running over. Matter of fact, I think I DQed myself from SCV armies because a John Choi match was on.
I played a ton and the day was a lot of fun. There was a lot of hype matches on the stream, like Humanbomb making top 8 and beating Poongko! That was so sick. And Poongko’s epic facepalm at the end was so sick as well, poor Poongko. But well done to Johnny!
Everyone was making jokes; “This is what happens when you leave Australia” and we were giving the commentators a bit of shit as well when UltraDavid would say that Bomb was from Hong Kong and Singapore. I guess Bomb is playing for Team Hong Kong now, but he made his name by bodying us good old Australian fimblers okay!?
I watched most of the Ryu matches that were on stream but not much else. We were watching Daigo play Gamerbee and he used like what seemed like four or five get out of jail cards to absolutely steal multiple rounds and the set from Gamerbee. It was getting to the point where Ultradavid would be going “Gamerbee with another strong start and a big lead. But will it even matter!?!” And we would look at each other and laugh. Good times.
And I even choked once again in another grand finals this time to Street Pussy! Second place again…
And in SFIV armies too the next day. I thought we had SFIV armies locked up when Pyro showed up and I happily drafted him into our team (me and Street Pussy were captains because we were the two top placers for AE singles). I wanted to put Pyro as anchor but I think someone overruled me and said that captains have to be anchors. What…lame.
But CM aka Kris Dabroswki ended up basically boded three quarters of Street Pussy’s team with an extended rampage with his T. Hawk, so I figured between him and Pyro we had things wrapped up. I wandered over to watch the EVO stream instead.
Loki called me back to the station because apparently Pyro had lost to Jake and I had to play after all. What…Pyro lost? Now the team’s last hope would all rest upon my clutchness. And we all know how that usually turns out…
I actually did pretty well in our match, and was on the verge of winning when I had a particularly doh moment. I knocked him down and had him within chip range. I was on match point. I hesitated slightly… and threw a jab fireball to chip for the win….
And Street Pussy woke up with an EX DP which reached just far enough to hit me through the fireball for the win. DOH.
I was standing far enough so that if this was Ryu, he wouldn’t have been able to DP me through the fireball. But obviously Ken’s DP, particularly his EX DP, reaches much further than Ryu’s. I had a decent amount of life left, maybe 5-7%? Enough to withstand the chip of a DP, but not when I actually got hit with it. Doh. I felt so stupid afterwards. But GG Jake. He had no choice but to do it, he would’ve died otherwise. And I should have realised that and just blocked.
But it was quite fun to be team captain along with Jake, and we kinda had a laugh about it later. Drafting people was quite fun. To my team; sorry I let you guys down. I thought I had an awesome draft, I drafted the number one pick and things were going swell…how did things go so wrong? Now I know how the Orlando Magic feel…
P.S. FUCK the Lakers.
FUCK the Lakers.
Anyway back to a non-rage filled world…
We had a few other fun events that day. We had decided to do a few less-serious events because we figured people would be less keen on serious competition with the EVO stream to watch. We had Marvel armies- but with a twist!
We got a hat and put a bunch of paper slips with all the EVO competitors’ teams in there. And whatever slip you drew, with whatever team on it- you had to play. It was quite fun, so much salt was flying around when people drew crappy teams or weird teams or characters they had no idea how to play.
I think I drew a Zero team and won that game…Zero’s so broken. Dash around and press H. Bzzz…Bzzz…Bzzz…win…too easy.
I also somehow drew a Spencer team- GX’s team! Of Spencer, Hulk, Doom and still lost to Timic! Zzz.
Another fun event we did was Wheel of Fighter. Berzerk actually went and got a wheel of fortune type of wheel done up and we pasted paper slips with games on them. We put everybody into pools, and you would spin the wheel for the game you would have to play. I guess the idea came from Keit’s random game tournaments at UFGT.
Thing is, in theory it sounds great. Spin the wheel and get Shaq Fu or Jackie Chan fighter? Awesome!!! Sounds like great fun.
But in practice we didn’t have anywhere near the number of obscure games and setups to really make it work. I think we had Hyper Fighting, Melty Blood and a bunch of other stuff. But essentially we had to pad out the games with games people actually are good at- like AE, SCV and VF.
To me this entirely defeats the purpose of a Wheel of Fighter game. You want to have games which everyone are equally bad at. But instead we had unfortunate situations where Smashers would have to play say, AE against you know- people that actually main the game. And that’s no fun for them. And it’s no fun for the AE players as well.
I think if we were to run it again we definitely need a lot more setups and obscure games. I put up a thread for people to volunteer to bring games for the event, but I think in the end only Phil and Kris did. I was thinking that Geese could supply the catalogue for the entire Wheel of Fighter event by himself, but unfortunately he had something on that weekend. And it’s quite unfair to get one guy to supply everything anyway.
But yeah, the event was quite fun, I hope everybody enjoyed it. I took the Monday off as well to watch EVO finals day at Street Pussy’s house- but I had to leave at four something to go back to work and missed most of AE top 8 L I did my best to avoid any results or spoilers until I got home though, so that was fine.
I think we saw Infiltration body the crap out of Daigo though, that was amazing! He definitely must’ve studied Daigo fireball patterns and he put himself at the right spacing to focus dash through each of them into a max damage combo. I think if the Akuma successfully pulls that off the Ryu vs. Akuma match becomes so hard. Akuma fights on the ground against Ryu with his superior walk speed and that great sweep of his. And Ryu’s counter to that is the footsie fireball, or the fireball just outside sweep range. If Ryu can’t even do that, Akuma can just has his way on the ground with him, and if you lose to Akuma on the ground, you’re gonna eat the vortex and die that much faster.
The whiff sweep, bait Daigo to whiff punish, cancel into Demon was godlike too. Infiltration was clearly on another level. Jake had asked me who I thought the favourite would be, and I basically said- whoever wins the match between Daigo and Infiltration, basically.
You could’ve said that about Marvel as well, between Combofiend and Filipino Champ, the winner of that match would’ve been a strong favourite to take the crown. Now I enjoyed AE finals, but Marvel was way more intense for me.
(On a side-note, I showed up to Jake’s just as the KOF GFs were starting. They were so fricking hype. KOF!!)
Marvel was just a constant series of nerve-wracking- clutch-the-couch-arm-being-unable- to speak moments and heartbreaks. Chris G pulling out that win against Fruitsy’s Modok. Infrit making so many clutch comebacks with that ROBOT! Yipes cracking me up with the “Don’t touch my hair” jokes. I must’ve keeled over so many times in despair watching Combofiend and Infrit going against Chris G and Filipino Champ. Marvel was almost too much for me to take!
But yeah, thanks for letting me come over Jake. (His SF room with multiple monitors and couch was godlike.)
In the months that followed, the UMVC3 SBO qualifiers were announced, and the opening of the new Shadowloo HQ.
I was pretty hyped about the SBO quals, and that was around when I made a greater push to get better at Marvel, much to the detriment of my AE game. I actively hunted for weekday casuals at Daichi’s and Fish’s and put tons of training room time in. I think months later the training has somewhat paid off, as I can hold my own against people who would’ve bodied the crap out of me before. But I remain quite far off my goal of actually being good at Marvel.
Two people in particular really beat me down psychologically; Daichi and Burnout. Burnout, in particular, puts me through the wringer. Both of them grab me a ton because in a lot of 50-50 situations they’d be mashing throw even as I look at the situation, trying to make an intelligent read on what to do. Before I know it, I get scooped and die. Burnout mashes H in almost every situation and grabs me almost every single time. Now I’m not really a “masher” kind of player, and I like to read when to go for throw rather than input it every single time. But it’s not just that.
Say I play against Toxy or Somniac, who body me just as bad as Burnout does. I feel infinitely more comfortable playing against them because I think they play logically. And I can sort of follow their thread of thought and have mindgames because of that. If I can’t win against them, I can kind of read what they’re trying to do, basically.
But with Kevin I can’t read him at all. He’s even using my characters- Spencer and Ammy, and flying in from all angles mixing me up constantly. I think Kevin is a flow or instinct player, and kind of applies relentless pressure that is almost autopilot. He just keeps going until he gets a hit, then he combos from it. And during a long set with him, I feel mentally beat down after a few games, not knowing what to do, and I end up playing almost in a shell; trying to avoid what he is trying to do, not trying to apply what I want to do. In a “the best defense is a good offense” game like Marvel, that way of playing gets you killed every single time. So I still have a long way to go to be able to get hits on the top players.
But back to the announcements. I had known about the qualifiers and the new HQ for a while before they were announced, and I wondered to myself how the future of the community would be affected by the announcements. I wondered if the new venue would be sustainable and whether more and new people would flock to it. I wondered if the pall the Melb FGC had fallen into would be lifted, the scene revitalised by this new central and infinitely better equipped venue. Would this be the end of the winter of the Melb FGC?
To be continued with…
“The death of CCH”