Tougeki – Super Battle Opera 2012 was held outdoors this year.
First thing I would like to mention about this event was the distance and how far it was. I was staying with the White Tower crew as I mentioned earlier in Ikebukuro. SBO was being held in Nara and it took us over an hour to get there if not two hours. It was extremely far and isolated; we had to pass so many train stops in order to get there which none of us liked of course.
Just a brief background of SBO, for the last 8 years SBO was being held in a large/nice venue where many people would come to watch. It’s usually around the same time as the Tokyo Game show, however for this year they decided to make a new change. This year they decided to make an outdoor tournament which I think was a very bad idea considering the summer weather in Japan and the location didn’t help at all. Another issue of the event being held outdoors was the sun glare reflecting on the arcade cabinets. This was pretty annoying for players due to being hard to see the game itself. Eventually they brought black sheets and left it hanging in order to cover the sun glare and still did not do that much.
BT Dieminion and Starnab
Anyways, White Tower and I arrived at the venue early morning, once we arrived, the last chance qualifiers was taking place where EG Justin Wong, Mike Ross and RZR Itabashi were teaming up together trying to win the last chance qualifier spot. Considering the disappointment I had for the venue, I was really excited to know who are we were going to end up facing against in the 1st round of the tournament, as the tournament brackets were just released. After contacting the tournament organizers we found out that our first opponents team consisted of Dashio “Seth” considerably one of the best Seth’s players in Japan, Akimo “Honda” considerably one if the best Honda players in the world, and Super Santaroman “Sagat” considerably second best Sagat player in Japan.
Mike Ross and EG Justin Wong
After learning who we were going up against, I knew that we had a big chance of beating them due to our team synergy and combination. Our team was very balanced and can cover each character’s bad match ups. Actually our opponents were one of the teams that I wanted to fight against maybe not first round but in the tournament in general. I was talking with White Tower the day before and I mentioned how exciting it’ll be to face off against that team. Seeing that we arrived way too early we decided to take a look around the place. Thankfully there was a training station so we could practice until the event started. I played so many great players such as Kyabetsu, Iori, chobixinco, Gachi-Kun, Kubobuuuu and many others.
White tower heading to SBO
Finally, after few hours, the event started and the time had come for SBO! The hardest thing when it comes to team tournaments is deciding who goes first; especially in a single elimination format. In AE2012, there are some matchups that a character will have a harder time to defeat than others, so we wanted to make sure to send the right person first in order to counter pick the other team’s first character. I have seen many videos before and whenever I see Dashio play in a team tournament, he tends to always go first. In my opinion, my character “C. Viper” is a good counter pick for Seth so I asked my teammates BT Dieminion and EG PR Rog if I could go first since I was very confident in that match and they all agreed to it. The only concern that I had was “What if they send another player to counter my character?” so pretty much for every decision we make there is always a risk but we thought me going first had the lowest risk amongst the other choices.
Waiting to play our first match, EG Pr rog chilling and BT Dieminion sleeping
The tournament starts and they call us to play. The moment of knowing whom I’m fighting against first is near and I can’t see who is sitting on the other side. The screen pops up “Press Start” and we both slide our gaming cards and then I see the character of my opponent is “HONDA”. Akimo was the player I wanted to fight against the least, so the other team played it smart. They actually took a huge risk by letting honda goes first because we have BT Dieminion who is a big counter pick for that character, I really wanted to fight against Seth first or maybe Sagat but definitely not Honda.
My first match against Akimo’s Honda on the main screen.
I was very disappointed as our plan came to failure since it was very important to win this match as it plays out a major role maintaining a high spirit of the team especially in a tournament like this where every single detail counts. My teammates kept encouraging me to keep my composure and stay focused. After all, things like that can happen but we did not see it coming. As soon as the match starts, it’s always good to have your space and play it from full-screen just to feel out your opponent and try to determine his play style (offensive, defensive or a mixture of both). I have never played Akimo before and at the highest level of play it gets really hard to adapt especially when only one game. Moreover, in these kinds of situations, some players might play it completely different than their original playstyle since its only one game. For example they might play the game a little bit off or randomly. First round starts off, I back off and create my space and start my seismo canceling game to see how Akimo would react to it. He sits back looking at the feints i’m doing then immediately jump forwards, he blocks the first sequence of my seismo chain then use Honda’s head-butt in order to counter my second seismo attack attempt. I got hit by it and knew that was a risky part by him, if I baited him out by a jump, he will get hit by a full combo that it’ll take approximately 35% of his health with no meter. It was a calculated risk and very well read from his part because that attack threw me straight to the corner. As soon as I get up I immediately super jump out of the corner because that is the last situation any player wants to end up with. I create my space again and use the same method I used earlier, seismo chains cancels to see whether he is going to use the same strategy or if he was going to change it up. He continued to use the same strategy but with more aggression and throwing out more risky attacks. I lose the first round badly so I needed to change my strategy. I decided to play the match more carefully and with better approach instead of relying on feints and letting him pressure me easily. I took the offensive approach and baited out any head-butts he threw out or a reckless jump he makes so that I could anti air it. After a long struggle I finally managed to pull it off and win the match.
That win was big for my team as my main plan was to take out Seth. Now, the other team has to choose on who they send next to fight against me. After thinking for a bit they decided to let me fight Dashio whom I wanted to fight the most. Seth is a character that relies heavily on an offensive style. I’ve never seen anyone that plays this character in a defensive way and honestly it doesn’t work to play it defensively since Seth has the least amount of health in the game and the best rushdown tools in the game. Seth used to be my secondary for a while and the reason why I played him is so that I can understand what mix up game Seth players might use in certain situations and what the thinking is like when using that character. Match starts, first thing I do is again, stay away from that character because the last thing you want is a good Seth player knocking you down. I use my zoning game against him and the best way to get in Seth is by trying to force him into making a reckless decision to counter me and then start my rushdown game from there. That one game I fought against Dashio, he wasn’t able to start anything off and I won the match pretty convincingly.
Only one player remained on the other team, one more win then we advance to the next round and that would make me pull an OCV (one character victory) and if I lose there were still two amazing players to go through. Of course we were very excited that we took our two biggest threats but it’s not over ‘til it’s over. Never underestimate anyone competing in this tournament. Third match starts against the other teams last member “Super Santaroman”. Sagat players in Japan play on another level than the Sagat players in the US. The only “really” good Sagat player that I know of in the United States is Sanford Kelly and I don’t get to play him since he lives on the other side of the states but luckily my teammate Dieminion is his training partner. In this match it is really hard for any character to approach Sagat if his fireball game played perfectly and in Japan almost all Sagats have a high level fireball game. My goal in that match is slightly walk forward and walk him back to the corner since it is really hard to make a good clean jump in against Sagat. I would lose some of my health in the process but not by much. it’s fine to make one or two guesses to jump over a fireball in order to get big damage and to show your opponent that you are willing to make such reads. I managed to win the first round pretty convincingly. During the second round, I got a big life lead and my opponent was one hit away from being stunned. Unfortunately, I made an execution error and then he managed to pull a great comeback taking the second round. I should have kept myself calm but losing that second round got into my head, Super Santaroman took advantage of that and beat me the third round convincingly.
It is up to my other team members now; since Dieminion had the most experience against Sagat it was obvious that he would be the best choice to go next. Dieminion’s main character is Guile and he is considered to have the best Guile in the world. Guile vs. Sagat is a heavy zoning match and takes a ton of patience. Dieminion pulled out a very strong showing but unfortunately he made couple bad decisions that lead to him losing the match.
Our team went from almost OCV’ing the team to coming down to the last member fighting it off against each other. EG PR Rog vs Super Santaroman. EG PR Rog has the best Balrog in the world. His playstyle is a balance of an offensive and defensive playstyle. He knows when to lame it out and when to go all the way in. This match in my opinion was the highlight of everything and hard to describe it in words so I’m going to leave you all with the link of all the matches that was played.
We won! BT Dieminion, Razer Latif and EG PR Balrog
We were really happy advancing to the next round for mainly two reasons: First was advancing to the 2nd round because team USA has never made it past the 1st round in SSF4 at SBO before. The second reason was because we have defeated one the strongest teams in this tournament.
The next opponent we had to fight against was -6’s Team which consisted of -6 “Akuma”, Sabohani ”Viper” and 666 “Yang”. This team definitely was not as strong as the first one. However, -6 is a very strong player and arguably the best Akuma in Japan. I felt that he was the only threat on that team. We sent Dieminion as our first player to play and he convincingly managed to beat Sabohani and 666. Now the real challenge begins because -6 is a very strong player. Akuma has one of the best offensive and defensive tools in the game. -6 vs Dieminion starts and -6 managed to beat Dieminion convincingly. Our team decided to put me next. To be honest, I had the best chance of beating -6, because I have played him before at the arcade center and Viper has the least trouble against Akuma compared to Balrog and Guile as Akuma vs Viper is an even match up in my opinion. Match starts, I pull something stupid and risky to see if it would work but came down to failure and he ended up beating me the first round pretty bad. I switched up the second round and managed to do very well. He had only a pixel of life left while I have almost a full health. Sometimes getting the last hit could be the hardest because you just want it be over with. He managed to get a knockdown and bait me out to make a huge comeback stealing the round.
Now again, it’s our last member vs their last member. EG Pr Rog was doing a really nice job first round until he dropped his combo and -6 maximized the punish and was able steal the round. Second round PR Rog takes the round pretty convincingly. Last round -6 managed to win the match using his amazing mix ups, hard to block vortex eliminating our team.
Unfortunately this match was off stream so we were not able to take the footage.
Even though we lost in our second match, I think we could have done way better. We still pulled out a good showing. Single game, single elimination could go in your favor but it also could be the opposite, anything could happen in this format. That was the SBO experience for us, after we lost we got to play some casuals against some Japanese players and watched the finals of the tournament where “Kazunoko, RZR Fuudo and Bonchan” took first place.
White Tower and I with Gachi- kun and Kawaguuchi-kun
Next part I will be talking about real Arcade experience and a ranbat tournament that I attended.