Evolution 2014 or How I Got My First Media Pass

Last year, I attended Evo as a competitor. It went about as well as I had planned for it to go. I beat the first guy that I fought–a Chun player who was somehow more of a nervous wreck than I was–won my second match by default because no one showed up to fight me and proceeded to lose to the following two players–a Ryu and a Honda with insane turtling skills. In short, I made it to a fourth match at my first major tournament and then spent the rest of the weekend just being in Vegas. Not a bad run, really.

As my frequent readers know, I was picked up as a content writer for Shoryuken.com back in December of last year in what I still consider one of my biggest accomplishments. From mid-December on, I produced a few articles per month for SRK, but my nerves typically got the better of me and prevented me from really settling into a rhythm that allowed me to produce content for them a daily basis.

Fast forward to the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Suddenly, a whole lot of content hit YouTube, Twitter and other social media outlets and it was all for a game that I understand on an intimate level. I was comfortable writing up everything that came through. I started taking all of the YouTube content that I could find and producing a daily roundup for Ultra, which you may have seen. This ran for three entire weeks before content slowed down enough to warrant switching over to the current schedule of two roundups per week.

During this period, writing up other things that came my way felt a lot more natural, so I started producing a few articles per day, which always got pushed through to the front page. During this period, the editor and one of the site’s owners approached me about stepping up in the SRK food chain to a sort of assistant editor position, which meant better compensation for what I’m already doing for them with the added benefit (responsibility, if you must) of keeping up this kind of reporting even when Ultra news has fully died down.

Naturally, I took their offer.

So what does this have to do with Evo 2014? Well, yesterday I received an e-mail from famed Akuma player Kineda who let the writers all know that the last day to sign up for a Media badge had finally come and if we intended to head to Evo this year, we might as well do so with the added benefit of free entry and the ability to photograph and record the event as well as interview players. In a -very- last minute decision, I signed up.

So be sure and check out SRK’s coverage of this year’s Evolution 2014 Championship Series, because I’ll be in charge of creating a great deal of that content.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you guys Friday!

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The Goofiest Weekly Vortex Ever. Seriously.

IbukinewsizeThis is the longest video that I’ve uploaded. It clocks in at just under 18 minutes and I honestly didn’t have the heart to cut any more of the footage than I did. I tried. I just couldn’t do it.

I had an incredible amount of fun recording these matches, and it probably has something to do with the fact that I had, just prior to playing, spent about five hours reading a book that I was just not into at all. I’m not, nor have I ever been a fan of the Romance genre, but hey, sometimes you have to read stuff that you don’t want to because it’s on the syllabus. For those curious, the book was Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. It was well-written (as far as, like, word choice is concerned), but the pacing was just really off.  Way too slow. It could have been a short story. I also didn’t care about any of the characters involved; they were all pretty one-dimensional and served only to prop up the protagonist who I didn’t like. It felt like I was reading Bridesmaids and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep when I was watching that, so, yeah.

Anyway, this isn’t Lance’s Awesome Book Blog, so let’s get back to the video: I did live commentary this time and the hype levels got downright remarkable at a couple of points. The matches don’t really demonstrate my best performance, but man, I don’t mind that at all. It was the most fun I’ve had making a video for this site (and I’ve been making videos for close to a year now!)

So seriously, check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

Marvel Locals Recap and More!

Marvel

The turnout on Saturday was pretty good. In total, there were five of us who played Marvel and a couple of people who were there just to hang out (my money is on converting them to players in the near future).  I’m told that there were two people who came to the previous gatherings that weren’t able to make it out this time and I know that I have at least one more friend who intends to go to the next meeting, which would bring our total up to eight. Eight people. That’s a very respectable amount of like-minded individuals who intend to throw hams with one another.

We ran two setups and people traded off spots with the odd man out at random–but fair–intervals. Obviously, once we have more people attending we’ll need to either get a third setup going or run matches in a two out of three or first to three format to keep everyone playing and involved. I think I’d prefer the option of keeping two setups and rotating people in; it will allow people to take time and watch each other play, which can be just as important as actually sitting down and unleashing a dark Wesker of your own.

Perhaps the most interesting element of the entire evening was seeing the array of different teams used and the skill range present. I was pretty securely in the middle of the pack with my Zero/Wolverine/Doom team. The people who were able to beat me, though, did so with finesse.  These near-perfect victories (as most of them were) for my opponents came in two forms: armored attacks from Hulk covered with a Haggar assist–and me, stupidly, pressing buttons–or, level four Frank West. Once those chainsaws are out, man, somebody is going to lose an arm. I lost several.

The obvious solution to dealing with the Hulk team is to just not get fooled into hitting buttons when I shouldn’t. That’s harder than it sounds, especially when I’m used to teleporting around like a crazy person with no ill effects and tossing out pizza slicers as often as my H button will allow. As for the Frank West team, well, I just need to learn to deal with his pressure without getting hit. It all comes down to a lack of being able to maintain an active defense while still putting out damage, something that I’ve always struggled with in Marvel. This is the kind of thing that can only truly be improved through play.

Playing with a variety of new people showed me that I’m basically back where I was with this team before I stopped playing several months ago, and, just like several months ago, I’ve fallen into a comfortable, predictable pattern of play. Every match would look exactly the same if my opponent did nothing. I can watch replays of myself using Zero/Wolverine/Doom and say out loud, “next, I’m going to back dash twice and fire my buster,” which, without missing a beat, unfolds on the screen. I can predict the angles of approach I’m about to use on Doom (which are always incredibly rushdown heavy, something that I naturally favor) and I can tell when I’m going to use a berserker slash with Logan. It’s just too predictable overall.

It’s a tough rut to get out of, and it’s one that I fell into with Ibuki a while back. Granted, I still have bad habits with Ibuki, but not nearly so many as I had. The way that I was best able to overcome the issues that I had with her was to spend a great deal of time with other characters. I picked up Evil Ryu and played him exclusively for a few weeks. I went back to Chun-Li and played her for a couple of weeks after that. Taking time away from Ibuki made me miss certain tools that she has that other characters don’t, specifically her command runs and her back+MP. Once I went back to Ibuki with fresh eyes, I was able to put these tools to better use.

MVC3 Storm

That means that I’m going to try messing with some different characters in Marvel. Right now I only have one requirement for the team: at least one character must be able to tri-jump. I’m leaning toward Storm, but I have no idea who to put with her. I’ve seen some team compositions that use Strider, Dante, Wesker, Akuma, all sorts of characters to take advantage of what Storm brings to a team, but I have no idea how to play any of them. This will undoubtedly be an adventure. If I had to pick three characters that I have no idea how to play, it’d probably be Dante/Storm/Strider, but that’s a lot to learn from a few very high-execution characters. I’ve got a month to pick up some new stuff, though, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

In other news, I recently had the pleasure of playing several matches of AE with my overseas friend from the blogosphere, o0 InFraRED 0o. I was surprised by how good our connection was. Sure, we had red bars, but there were maybe two incidents where the game actually stuttered noticeably. It was, overall, just a touch sluggish, but I’m so accustomed to online play in that game that I can adapt fairly quickly to that sort of thing. I’ve got a mean under water Ibuki and I always pack my snorkel.

Be sure to check back Friday for a video. It could be pretty much anything at this point.

Marvel Locals On the Horizon, GET HYPE!

ZeroWolverineDoomTomorrow is the day. After months of daydreaming about having a local scene, tomorrow is the day where I’ll make the 45 minute trek to a nearby city and hang out in the apartment of a complete stranger with a couple of my buddies. We plan to play only Marvel. The guy who hosts these monthly meetings believes that it’s easier to get a group together to play a single game than it is to have everyone show up with a copy of their favorite game.

“What do you mean you guys don’t want to play Aquapazza?”

It’s a good idea to focus on a single title. It makes people train in that specific game, even if it’s not the game that they typically play. No one feels cheated because they spent all week training in P4A. No one is surprised.

Here’s a rough look at how I’ve been preparing for tomorrow:

(I said it was rough, okay? Like, really rough) I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. It’s sort of like going to a tournament for the first time. I’ve never met these people, have no idea who they play and have no idea how good they are. They may have all just picked up the game a couple of months ago, or they may have placed at EVO two years ago.

Who knows!

It’ll be exciting. I’ll give you guys a recap on Tuesday!

The Results Are in! Also, There’s a Video!

IbukinewsizeThe poll closed a week ago today, and the answers were basically what I expected to see. All but a couple of stragglers said that they want to see more AE matches with Ibuki. The first-to-five idea was pretty popular (37.5%), as was the regular ranked match option (25%). In keeping with the votes, I’m going to see if I can get some people to agree to do some sets with me. It’ll be a good break from the online warrior style.

There’s something about being able to fight the same person several times in a row that changes the game. It helps to build a set of skills that apply directly to tournament play: learning to read how an opponent plays and being okay with losing a couple of matches to learn how to deal with what they’re doing. Ranked matches are the opposite. You get, at best, one round to figure out how the opponent plans to abuse your character. If you fail to figure it out in time, better be ready to, ahem, Hold that L.

Today’s video is just a standard ranked match lineup with some live commentary. I’ve been spending a great deal of time exploring Ibuki’s anti-air options and it’s starting to show up in my play. At least once in this video, I manage to follow an agemen with something damaging! The damage increase is substantial. It’s no SRK into ultra, but it’s certainly a start.

Ibuki anti-airs have fascinated me since around the time SFXT released. I was struggling with the necessary execution for her combos off of agemen in AE at the time, so the system in SFxT was a welcome change–it didn’t require a command dash cancel to do a follow-up. When I realized that, I made my first video. For the sake of nostalgia, here it is:

Life before my Elgato was difficult. I had to stack a pile of about 20 text books on top of my nightstand and park it in front of my TV to be able to record this footage. I seriously taped (yes, taped. scotch taped) my camera to the top book of the pile to guarantee a steady shot and hit record. The editing was a nightmare… and the screen is crooked.

What do You Want to See From Weekly Vortex Videos in the Coming Months?

I play a lot of Street Fighter IV, but I also play other things. I’ve had a couple of friends who follow the blog ask me, “man, why haven’t you finished your Dark Souls level 1 run?” or, “what happened to the Injustice ranked matches?” I don’t know, honestly. I just really like playing Ibuki, I really like learning new characters in Street Fighter IV  and I end up doing a lot of that and using it as the sole source of footage for my weekly videos, but I’m more than willing to record some different stuff as requested.

What I want to know is, what do you, oh denizens of the internet, want to see in future video content? I’m open to pretty much anything. I’d like to do a few fighting game videos per month, but those don’t all have to be Street Fighter. I have access to most current generation fighting games (no Killer Instinct, no recent BlazBlue, but I will be getting Chrono Phantasm when it drops). I’m also toying with PC game capture at the moment and could use all sorts of different Steam games.

I’ve included a poll with the options that seem most apparent to me. If you have an idea for something that you’d like to see, or even a method for employing things on the list (ranked with a new character, for example) leave the suggestion in the comments!

 

 

Ranked Matches and a Brief Bison Match-up Lecture

Ibuki KO

That’s right, I shoved a mini lecture into today’s video. I’m very passionate about the Bison match-up as an Ibuki player, because it’s her worst. She has other bad ones–most grapplers come to mind–but none quite so bad as Dictator. The problems with the match-up, as I mention in great detail mid-video, stem from his vastly superior mid range tools and his ability to turn Ibuki’s vortex game on its head. Ibuki players seriously have to consider just not bothering with vortexing him at all, as he can, given the right circumstances, punish Ibuki when she feels safest, or reset the situation entirely, forcing her to find a way in again.

It’s not quite like Dee Jay or Zangief who can escape kunai-related setups for free–via upkicks and lariat, respectively–it’s a different sort of thing. It’s like rock paper scissors: Bison’s wakeup choice dictates (I’m so sorry, I had to say it) what will happen and forces Ibuki, as the aggressor, to guess while Bison is also guessing. It’s very strange, and the match featured includes this situation multiple times as I get knockdown after knockdown and am faced with a choice that I rarely make correctly.

I also fight a Cammy and a Fei-Long, but nothing really stands up to the hype of the Bison match included.