I'm about a month late in reporting this, but better late than never. This year's Evolution tournament was in Las Vegas, and it was great. I entered the Super Turbo Street Fighter 2 tournament and the Guilty Gear XX #Reload tournament (aka ST and ggxx).
I know it's bold to say this, but going in the ST tournament I knew I had an actual shot at winning the whole thing. I have it within me to beat everyone there and I have beaten all the big names before in tournaments, it's just a matter of doing it this time. I finished first in my qualifying pool, and this included a match against the Japanese player Mester. He plays Vega (claw) and finished in top 8 before at Evolution. I told Kuni (my friend, another Japanese player) that I would play Bison against Mester even though I was playing Vega the whole tournament. Kuni said "to counter Mester's Vega?" I said "Well, this is America." Kuni nodded, understanding. (In the US, we often pick counter characters but in Japan players devote themselves to a single character.) Anyway, I completely smoked Mester and beat him 4-0 in rounds. I know that match very well and Mester didn't seem to know it at all.
I watched a very good Balrog (boxer) play another good Balrog and I would play the winner. I whispered to Kuni that I was considering playing Honda for this match. Kuni was surprised, saying "You play Honda?" I nodded. He has been my secret weapon for years. Kuni said "It can work." The better Balrog player won the mirror match, then I stepped up with my Honda. Using some "old man techniques" I won the match. My next opponent was two-time US national champion Jason Cole. I've beat him before, it was just a matter of doing it now. We did double blind select and to Cole's great surprise, I picked Honda. Cole picked his main character, Dhalsim. I beat him the first game and this put him in a very bad position. If he switched to Guile to beat me, I would easily beat his Guile with my Vega (claw) and win the match. Cole considered this for a while, then decided to stick with Dhalsim for game 2. It was a good choice because he barely won it. He also barely won game 3 and the match. Close, but the win went to Cole. He had better knowledge of that match than me, so I have no gripes about the loss. In fact, I learned a few things from it.
As an aside, I'd like to point out that I went to another player for advice before the tournament. I call him "The Ancient One," because he has secret knowledge of the ages about ST that exceeds even my own. (His actual name is James Romedy.) I asked The Ancient One, "If I have to play against a Honda player, who should I pick?" Romedy scoffed, saying that there could be no such player. Only Bob Painter plays honda of any US players there, and no Japanese players at the tournament played Honda. I asked him to answer anyway. He said "Is the theoretical player better or worse than Bob Painter?" I said "Assume worse." He said in that case I should pick Bison. The match is *hugely* in Honda's favor, but I can...rely on a certain tactic to beat any non-expert Honda. I said, "Fine, but what if he's better than Bob?" The Ancient One said "Then you should either play DJ(!?) or possibly tough it out with Vega, just don't get behind in life."
The reason I asked him any of this is that I feared losing to Honda more than almost anything in the entire tournament, including playing people like Cole or Choi or whatever. Romedy made a good point when he said that there could be no such Honda player though. So who was my next opponent? A random Honda player that no one had ever seen. I took the wise advice of The Ancient One and picked Bison and did my stuff. The Honda endured. Hmm....he seemed much better than a random scrubby honda. I could play DJ, but it seemed like too ridiculous a move. At this point, I did the losing move of the match: I hovered my character select box on Ryu but did NOT pick him. Instead, I picked Vega. I figured I could tough it out in that silly match, but Vega cannot come back from being behind. I got behind, I lost. Smoked by a random Honda out of no where. My worst nightmare realized. Why didn't I just pick Ryu to counter? That was a really bad loss. I know everyone talks about "would have, could have, should have," but I really think the tournament results would have been a lot different if I could have just avoided that one player. I'll have to actually be able to beat Honda next year. (That guy made top 8, btw.)
There was also a 3on3 team tournament in ST and I would like to point out my claim to fame here. Gian, the Dhalsim player from Japan, was on the winning team in the team tournament and he won the entire singles tournament. I was the only player this year to defeat Gian in a tournament match! I played Vega vs. his Dhalsim and won fairly easily (even though Cole gives me trouble in that match). So yeah, no one else beat him at all in the singles or team tournament except for me.
In ggxx, I got a few wins and finishied first in my qualifying pool, but I eventually lost to two solid players. One was Alex from Texas who plays Slayer. He absolutely smoked me at Texas Showdown 5, and he did very well against me this time as well. I missed a guaranteed sweep that would have won me a round, but perhaps the overall match result would have been the same. I picked Potemkin against him in game 1 for the character advantage (Alex is a known Slayer player) but he destroyed me so bad that I ran back to my main character, Chipp.
My other ggxx loss was to ID. He's one of the best ggxx players in the US and he beat me fair and square. I have no gripes, and in fact the very first thought that entered my mind when he beat me was "I really have to never play Chipp again if I actually want to win at this game." I had prepared a little bit with Faust, but I was not confident enough to actually play Faust against ID or Alex. Next time maybe, if anyone ever practices with me.
That's all for now.