SoCal Regionals: What It’s Like to Fight in a Video Game Tournament

Contributing Paragraph from Hokan Lo: The first SCR kicks off with an explosion day of mashing and fighting game mayhem. The first day consisted of qualifying rounds with a double elimination format (players are knocked out after 2 losses). Super Street Fighter IV entrants competed for a whopping $10,000 cash prize pot. Blazblue: Continuum Shift had a $1,000 prize pot graciously donated by Aksys games. Other tournament titles included Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix, Tekken 6, Street Fighter III: Third Strike, and Marvel vs Capcom 2.

Among the tournament were sponsor booths promoting the latest games and accessories. Hori, Madcatz, Aksys Games all had fantastic prizes for top-placing competitors. Seth Killian from Capcom USA provided a playable build of the highly anticipated Marvel vs. Capcom 3. SNK Playmore made an appearance with their latest build of King of Fighters XIII on Free Play for fans to try out. This latest build removes the infinities and attempts to patch the game breaking bugs found in the launch version.

As with tournament as huge as SCR, international players are a common sight: Emerging from an impressive 4th place at this year’s Evolution2k and 1st place at the recent Season’s Beatings in Ohio, GamerBee from Taiwan makes an appearance. Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, arguably one of the greatest street fighter players to live. Called by many names, Murderface, Iceman, renown player Tokido. And last but not least veteran Sakonoko who made his name during the days of Vampire Savior (DarkStalkers in the US).

An Intense Atmosphere: Last weekend was the SoCal Regionals and a big weekend for fighting game enthusiasts. Warriors came and put their blood, sweat and tears down to test their mettle and for a chance for some sweet prizes. Prominent among the games were Super Street Fighter 4 and Blazblue Continuum Shift. SSF4 was one the most intense things to watch, where single rounds came from a minute blocking mistake, or an incorrect yomi. Salty runbacks happened, and the crowd threw up their hands along with Rufus as he smashed his opponents with Space Opera Symphony. Watching this, I could only imagine the pressure and the feeling one gets from getting up on that stage and pulling off some very impressive victories. I participated too, although I fought in the Blazblue Tournament. I made it to the second round of the winner’s bracket before facing a foe in a league of his own. My Hazama went up against Mike Z’s Tager.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr3iESteqDU[/youtube]

For those who have never fought on a stage, in front of people, while other top players commentated and made jokes, the pressure can be overwhelming. I certainly felt it. I dropped combos that I had practiced a hundred times in training mode. I missed things that cost me rounds. I even threw out a ridiculously unsafe super for an incorrect yomi, and paid dearly for it. He knew things I hadn’t thought of. Yet, I won a round. Me, a player who had never been in a tournament before, took a round off of what is arguably one of the best U.S. Tagers, and maybe even one of the best U.S. players period. That made everything entirely worthwhile. I fought immediately afterwords, and lost to a pretty good opponent in the loser’s bracket. However, I was still shaking from my fight with Mike Z. My hands shook, I dropped my controller. I was proud. I had given a top player a run for his money, instead of the easy win I was expecting to be for him. He shook my hand after his win, and told me I was pretty good. Dacidbro, a top Bang player, gave me pointers. They were a welcoming community that had no problem teaching those up and comers. I eagerly anticipate the next tournament that they participate in, because I want another chance. Now that I’ve felt it, I will be ready for the pressure.

The point of that was simple. I’m not making excuses for myself. I genuinely lost. I can’t argue, can’t complain. He was better than me. I succumbed to an atmosphere I had never felt. However, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a gamer. I enjoyed my match with him, and I encourage any fighting gamer to go to at least one tournament, and take their character into the ring with a serious mindset of wanting to win. Even if you don’t, even if you come dead last, the people and things you can learn from them and the experience will be well worth it.

As you may know, FilipinoChamp took the SSF4 tournament over an impressive victory of Daigo “The Beast” Umehara. Tokido projected the Akuma symbol on his back after an impressive ultra victory. Justin Wong’s Rufus pulled of some impressive turnarounds. For any gamer interested in fighting games, I implore you to go to a tournament. It may be one of the most defining moments of your life as a gamer.

P.S.: For the love of God, choose your bursts against Mike Z. I had a straight-up nightmare about the end of that match.

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