The short version
- I got 2nd in the Street Fighter Alpha 2 tournament (part of Midwest Championships, not Evolution), somehow losing to Justin Wong
- I go 2nd in ST (Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo), losing twice to Jason Cole.
- I did not qualify in Guilty Gear, though I did beat entire teams with just my Chipp.
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Even though I haven't played this game in many years, it was still my tournament to win. I know more about the game than anyone else there, have more experience in it than anyone there, and I was pretty solidly one of the 3 best US players back in the day. Both Jeron and Flash G are solid though, somehow knowing how to play A2 (though I wonder how they know, ha). Each of them remind me about a concept I don't really have a name for--maybe "tournament intensity." They are both serious competitors who make good decisions during tournament play. Even when they are out of their element in a game I know they don't know 100%, they still make good decisions and eke out every advantage they can.
Justin Wong has that same tournament intensity, and he's even more intense. I saw Justin play Ken, Rose, and some 3rd character (I think) during the tournament. He seemed to know just enough to get by. I figured he would play Rose against me and he did (maybe he even picked first, I forget). I picked Zangief to counter. Maybe it was my years of zero practice, or maybe it was Justin's "tournament intensity," but he destroyed me in that match. He demonstrated that he knew to counter jump-ins, which is really the main problem for Rose in that match. It was absolutely a testament to "time does not equal skill." Justin has probably played Alpha 2 about 1% as much as me, considering I played it for at least 3 years about every other day and he played it, well, almost never. And yet armed with only meager knowledge about a few important counters, he kept his head about him, turned up his tournament intensity, and was able to beat me.
Oh yeah, after game 1, I abandoned Zangief and went for Rose vs. Rose. I demonstrated that my secret low strong tactics can usually hit other people's low strongs. Rose vs. Rose is a game of doing only a few moves most of the time, with a couple random occasional things thrown in. I had the lead in games, but Justin was able to come back, mostly because he knew a little better when to do nothing and when to do the occasional strange thing.
Incidentally, my other loss in A2 was to NKI. He knows almost nothing about A2 either, but he fakes it very well. He played Rolento using A3 tactics (or CvS2?) in order to fake general proficiency. That's cute and all, but not nearly enough to win. He won by dancing around long enough to land Rolento's deadly custom-combo. Every time he activated it, he hit me with it. I think he learned this from A-Groove in CvS2, but he certainly didn't learn it by playing A2. Again, time spent playing A2 is most definitely not the major factor in whether a player can win.
If anyone is curious, I hardly played Rose at all during this tournament. I played Ryu almost the whole way through.
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
There were a number of good players at the event, including Jessie Howard, Wes Truelson(sp?), NKI, Jason Cole, Flash G, Jeron, and Darkside Phil (DSP) to name a few. Again, Flash G and Jeron showed their "tournament intensity" and gave me hard matches. They are able to "keep their heads about them" under pressure, but I was able to beat them, possibly more through super knowledge of ST nuances, though maybe I do have some impromptu ability of my own, shrug.
Facing NKI was a somewhat daunting because he beat me at Evolution two years ago (maybe I lost to him last year too, I don't know). I remember when NKI didn't know the first thing about ST and I could beat him without even trying. He devoted himself to the game, lived in Japan for a while, practicing often, and finally came of age when he beat me in a tournament two years ago. You can't really think about stuff like when you step up to play, and I managed not to. I used Vega (claw) to beat his Chun Li. His Chun Li is very solid, but cheapy wall-dive proved superior that day.
I lost only to Jason Cole and then again to Cole in the grand finals. I got noogied about 100 times by his Dhalsim. The finals score was 2-3 in his favor, so it was close, but his noogies proved greater than my wall-dives. Incidentally, Cole--who used to have quite a temper--has a different type of tournament demeanor altogether compared to Justin Wong and his crew. Cole doesn't seem that intense. Maybe "relaxed" is the better word. He seems to just let the right choice flow through him. Usually patient, and aggressive when he has to be. Cole likes to talk a lot about 'clutch' (the ability to really seal the deal under the final moment under the highest pressure) and he certainly has it in spades.
Guilty Gear Slash
I got jerked around by a few possible teams I could join, then decided to ahead with my original plan of playing alone. That means I'd have to beat 3 people in a row without losing one game to advance each time. Literally 10 seconds before my first match, RashReflection asked if he could join my team, and I said ok. I was--well--the main force on the team though. I defeated a couple teams all by myself. Against one team, I beat their first two members myself, then faced a potemkin player as the third (I was Chipp! Ouch!). After grinding this guy down with like 100 hits, I got him down to 2 pixels, and got hit by a low counter-hit low fierce. GG, Chipp dies. I was a pixels away from eliminating that entire team with Chipp...and they went on to get 3rd I think. Ugh, ugh.
Yeah, I hate the Curse of Chipp. I practiced Potemkin and Faust against random people ahead of time, and realized how many holes I have with them compared to Chipp. My practice matches with Chipp were like 10% me losing in one hit and 90% me completely owning, so I decided to go with him for the tournament after all. Maybe I should learn Millia in GG Accent Core. She always seemed like a non-sucky Chipp to me, but I could never get the hang of her at all. Anyway, I did not qualify in GGXX. Hopefully I'll have a real team for Evo West.