Gian Recital 2014: Final FightÂ (as told by Fudd)
-Jcole, Casino Cup 2011 (while reading moocus’ name on the bracket)
“So much of this game is just timing.”
-moocus, circa 2013
I wasn’t feeling too well and my condition didn’t fully blossom until I got on the plane. While I was on the plane, my ears went out of balance and didn’t rebalance until maybe a few weeks later. As unfortunate as the timing for was for my health, the circumstances were good enough to go to Japan for the last Gian Recital. I only had enough time for about two full days in Japan. The plane ticket was more expensive due to the popularity of Buddha’s birthday, or Golden Week as some refer to it. I departed from Seoul instead of Busan and arrived at night instead of the afternoon. I had a difficult time finding my capsule hotel since it seemed to be directly in between two subway stations, so I wasn’t sure which one to go to. But, I had soldiered on and eventually found my bed (which included a walk-in closet, a new experience for me as far as capsule hotels are concerned).
I arrived fairly early in the day just to scope out the situation first, maybe even warm up a little. I was welcomed by the sight of something I had only seen in a picture and was so awestruck by its beauty that I had to take my own picture, finally having seen the real thing for myself.
I climbed up the stairs to find some players on the four isolated H2H stations in the back and most of the other ST cabs unoccupied. According to XSPR, X-MANIA even has one or two more stations than the Gian Recital!
Shu-san walked in not long after I did and after exchanging pleasantries, I told him I would step out for lunch since there weren’t too many people around just yet. Lunch also gave me a time slot to contact Mr. Bob, who was almost too busy for the event but also lucked out with fortunate timing that weekend. There were certainly more people at Mikado by the time I returned and as the hours passed, I would get to re-experience the crowdedness of an ST event, but to an even greater extreme than the New Year’s event.
Before the Recital even started, I told Mr. Bob: “If I could choose any day to be ‘Groundhog Day,’ it would be today.” Even though I was producing an overabundance of phlegm and felt less-than 100%, it would be any ST player’s dream to relive such a day, such an opportunity, into infinity. It was like how Faka described the honor of teaming up with DGV at EVO2013 for the ST Games, “It was like the make-a-wish of ST.” Except this time I’m in the deathbed of the terminally ill child. Tell me, when was the last time you were standing around, watching Komoda work his magic and watched other big names clash with just-as-big names with KKY casually coming upstairs behind you? Or looked to the left of you to see Muteki two cabs down and Ohnuki two cabs to the right of you, waiting for a new challenger, Nakamura?
I shared with Shu-san how I was feeling starstruck and “doki doki” because of all the celebrities. I was seeing so many stars I must have been dizzy. It would actually be easier for me to list the players who were absent rather than those who were present. Kusumondo and Seki (perhaps he’s already retired?) were nowhere to be found and Hakase (who XSPR might address as the muthafuckin’ D.O.C.) made his appearance right after the tournament ended. Just about everyone else I can think of was there in the flesh.
I saw the twins — Aniken and Otochun — for the first time and I thought I remembered Muffinman saying something about Aniken speaking English. I asked Shu-san about that and he wasn’t sure, but said it was worth a shot. So, I walked up to Aniken and gave my canned Japanese introduction. When I mentioned that I was from America, he lost his shit. Aniken straight up hugged me: a complete stranger. Looking back, it was kind of a spiritual experience. The man spoke no English, but was exceedingly friendly and made an observable effort to remember my name for Facebook purposes. He even offered me the chance to play when a spot opened up on the game we were spectating, but I didn’t have the right coin on me so I let him sit down. That man has some serious love for ST. I could hear it in the heavy, meaty, sumo-like claps he was doing to cheer his team on later when the tourney was finishing up.
Watching Muteki and Kurahashi go head-to-head is never boring and is an even greater spectacle in real life. One of those notes I took says that Muteki punished a tatsu with cl. st. fierce xx flash kick. Most people have a hard time punishing tatsu with cr. fierce, if at all. I played a game or two against Kurahashi and ALMOST made a corner comeback to win a round, but he clutched it out.
I saw Sasori and Pony wearing earplugs (even during warm-up games). MAO was wearing the same exact shirt he wore at the Tournament of Legends (which kind of makes me feel a little less weird for having a “tournament shirt”). I played a few DJ mirrors with Ito and got fuckingdoubleperfectedWRECKED on the first game, not doing much better afterwards.
As strange as this may sound, a big and satisfying smile forms on my face when I can’t outwit yaya. There’s never a moment when he’s not doing something smart and/or tricky. But even just getting the tiniest win on a crafty play makes the smile so big my face muscles start to hurt.
I tried my DJ on yuuvega and he ate me up with throw tricks (instead of xup ToDs this time). What he would do after I softened a throw was mix up cr. short whiffing and ticking along with varied spacing. It’s surprisingly a lot to process if you’re not used to it and it goes by very quickly to catch you off-guard. Maybe I didn’t do all that badly though since he looked over the cab to see his opponent after I stood up to walk away after losing.
I had the honor of meeting my favorite Dee Jay player, Yuuzuru. First, I asked Shu-san if Yuuzuru was at the event and Shu said he saw him earlier, but couldn’t locate him amidst the sea of people. Then, I asked XSPR about Yuuzuru and XSPR said he would introduce me if the chance presented itself. I think it took a couple hours for him to be out in the open, but XSPR finally helped me in telling Yuuzuru that he had killer combos. XSPR and Yuuzuru actually have a bit of history and they used to play against each other a lot when XSPR lived in a different part of Japan.
A bit more trivia: Yuuzuru uses the wine glass grip.
I played some DJ mirrors with him on the loudest cab near the end of the tournament and it was even louder to one of my sensitive ears. But it’s not every day you get to play with your idol. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed when XSPR translated my compliment of Yuuzuru’s combo proficiency into a response explaining that most of his combos are made-up on the fly.
I made the most out of this opportunity by secretly recording his hands during casuals for a little bit. I also have some footage of a certain “invincible” player’s hands. XSPR kindly reminded me that photographic privacy is kind of a big deal in Japan and it’s frowned upon/poor tact/…illegal(?) to take publish/take pictures of a person without their consent. This is why you’ll often see black bars over eyes on pictures of people sometimes. It’s for privacy.
Lastly, I saw the black Zangief player I just couldn’t beat during my first visit and asked XSPR to identify him. XSPR stumbled with remembering the name, but I discovered that the unbeatable black Zangief was actually ToMo F (TMF). This was before TMF was announced for EVO and I was happy to see his name appear one day for XMANIA USA/ToL2. I knew about him before I even played him and now that I have played him (albeit unknowingly) I have a ton of respect for how polished his game is. I feel so much satisfied frustration at losing to TMF and yaya that I consider them to be rivals/players to gun for.
A brief aside, I also told Mr. Bob that I wanted him to take a picture of me hugging a ST cabinet at Mikado later. Due to having too much awesome packed into one day, the photo opportunity totally slipped my mind and I had to have the picture taken the following day at Mr. Bob’s house with his own cabinet. In a moment of hilarity and embarrassment, right before Bob snapped the first picture, his wife saw me from down the hall and said, “Nan de…?”
Mr. Bob: *laughs* “He’s even more hentai than I am.”
During one of my trips downstairs to get some fresh air / coughing room / hawk a fat loogey, I saw a shmup I practically never see anymore and didn’t see upon my previous trip to Mikado.
I’m pretty obsessed with Area 88, so this was icing on the cake of a Capcomriffic day for me.
Now that I’ve discussed the players who were there, you might see why I have such little to say about the actual tournament. XSPR teamed up with some people he knew/arranged a team with and I ended up on a team with Mr. Bob and other free agents. Mr. Bob said he recognized at least one of them to be a pretty good Guile player, although I didn’t really know any of our teammates. Aside from the Guile, there was a somewhat low-level DJ player and a N. Ryu player that tended to anchor for us. XSPR’s team wasn’t doing so well on their first encounter, but XSPR managed to at least put a dent into some of the team, threatening a reverse OCV before going to the loser’s bracket. I think all three of us were surprised there even was a loser’s bracket, but it gave everyone more opportunities to play, so no complaints there.
When we had to play our first opponents, Mr. Bob pointed out that it was Muteki’s team. We never even had a chance to play against him though since there was another Guile player on the team who pulled a lot of weight for them not once, but later on again when we met via double jeopardy. It was a long wait in-between playtimes due to the 5v5 format and the high number of teams. When we had our second opponents, Mr. Bob guessed that they weren’t very good since he didn’t recognize them. His instinct was right since I volunteered to go first and no one else on my team had to play.
The Guile player on our team said something about “Akihabara” while I was playing, so maybe they were a gang of scrubs from Akiba. Yeah, I OCV’ed a team of Japanese players, but it wasn’t rewarding since they weren’t very skilled. The big (joke) claim to something that’s actually small reminded of the 2010 USA SBO Qualifier. zerodotjander was able to accurately say he placed Top 8 in an SBO Qual (I think there were only 7 or 9 players, something like that).
After the event ended, I left Mikado with Mr. Bob and XSPR to chat over dinner at a pricey (but open) pizza joint about the future of ST and living overseas — comparing Korea to Japan. Infrastructure, for one, is a huge difference between the two countries.
My physical body was feeling slightly sick, but I was feeling the Holy ST Spirit that day!
You can find the Gian Recital 2014 results here.