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Kakerugo 2016 Trip Report

I am going to dump every bit of the Kakerugo 2016 report here. I warn you it’s very long. You have material for several days, specially if you want to go through the videos so digest it the best you can and hope you enjoy it.

First of all, last year I posted a report of the X-Mania 2015 trip along with 46 videos of games from the Japanese arcades. I know I promised there were going to be more parts coming written by the rest of the people that came to the trip with me. All I can say is that @eltroubleSRK promised me he will do it sooner or later. ST is a timeless game so it’s better late than never 🙂

I will also apologize in advance for all the vertical videos in this post. I find it the most confortable way for me to film both the screen and the players hands at the same time but I am aware it’s not the right way to do it specially if you are watching it on the phone.

Part 1: Kakerugo 2016, if you have to chose one tournament go to this one

These days there are two major tournaments per year in Japan. X-Mania (3vs3 team tournament in August) and Kakerugo (5vs5 team tournament in May). Kakerugo was known in the past as Gian Recital. Exclusive news: X-Mania will change its name and location this year too.

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Tournament brochure handed to all participants

 

Another consequence of such changes is that both tournaments have been taking place at Mikado arcade for the last few years. As of 2016, none of them will be run at Mikado. Kakerugo has taken place at Daytona arcade this year and Mikado is very likely going to take place at e-sports square Akihabara.

A question I am getting lately from some people is which major tournament you would go if you had to choose one. Now that I have recently been to both my answer is clear: Kakerugo, and in fact me and some folks are already planing the 2017 edition with a much bigger group of foreigners going.

Here are some reasons:

  • The weather is much nicer in May. In August it’s way too hot and difficult to handle.
  • They did double elimination instead of the usual single bracket. Not sure if that’s going to stay or if they did it because of the amount of visitors. But the format was more familiar for us than X-Mania
  • Every non-japanese player found the team of 5 people slightly more fun than a 3-men team, although it might be a matter of taste.
  • This time there were 160 participants which set a new record of participation of a major in Japan.

One thing that made the trip 10 times better than last X-Mania trip is the fact we invested a little bit more buying a JR-Pass (~200 euros for 7 days) and we visited the scene in Nagoya and Osaka. If you make it fit at the right time you can have three team tournaments of the three major scenes in Japan (kanto, kansai and chubu) and meet everyone in one week:

So please, if you made it this far get the freaking JR Pass and, again, don’t be anti social, if you are a group of people and communicate with the hosts beforehand they can welcome you, prepare something special or even call semi-retired players to come over the day of your visit.

Part 2: The warm up

Before the big tournament we went to the usual places in Tokyo. Hey Akihabara any day, any time of the week and Gamespot Versus on Tuesdays and weekends. Isimorn and Relinquished got there some days earlier and also went to Matmouse Arcade but I think you have to cordinate it with people if you want to find ST players there.

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Panoramic of Hey Akihabara

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Panoramic of Gamespot Versus

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Casuals at Hey. From bottom to top. Noguchi, Kusa, Yuuvega and PECO.

Part 3: Character team tournament, a gift for visitors

With practically no exceptions Akuma has always been banned in tournaments. However, in the last two years it has been allowed in majors in Japan (we still don’t know if it’s a MAO-effect or not). With that said, Japanese seem to be keeping their code of honor and only use it in the pre-tournament events that always occurs the day before the main tournament.

These pre main events seem to be taken less seriously and for fun where they try formats that Japanese tournaments don’t usually have, like solo tournaments. This time, they decided to make a character team tournament which means that all the ryus were together in one team, all the kens, etc. All of the teams were treated the same regardless of the number of team members. So there was a team of 7 dictators and a team of 1 Sagat. It’s unfair but it proves it was just for the fun of it.

The reason I consider this the most fun format for visitors is that you get to team up with your idols for a fun event. This picture is the best example where you can see Relinquished in the dictators team with the two best dictators in the world (Yuuvega and Taira) on their knees. XD

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Isimorn played in the Claw team with MAO and Noguchi and I had to play in the blanka team with Cannibal, Akabla and Nakamu. If you are not still familiar with who is who in the Japanese scene just take a look at the Goukipedia legends reference.

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XSPR (an american player who has been living in Japan for years) told me that he recalls being in a similar tournament in the past, previous to a Gian Recital. I don’t think there are any videos of that tournament but he told me the final was a surprising Blankas team vs Guiles team with Guiles taking it.

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This was the list of teams for the character tournament:

  • Ryu (Makki Maru Gucchi Tencho)
  • Ken (Shigaken Shu Choshu Mattsun)
  • Honda (Uchio Wani!k Kamimondo Shino Piroshi Shogatsu)
  • ChunLi (Zagi Palestina Toukon Kusa)
  • Blanka (Yogaboy Cannibal Akabla Nakamu)
  • Zangief (CelloTape Andore StomachMomio TMF)
  • Guile (Miki Iroha Tsunoppi Yoshio Kikai KotakaShoten)
  • Dhalsim (Te ToneP KKY)
  • Hawk (Papaya VIPER Tountanki Yakitori)
  • Cammy (Tasaka Isaji Takechi)
  • FeiLong (Cross Grygla Yasu)
  • DeeJay (CharaRider Kazu Fujimon)
  • Boxer (Noah Alabama Urakeni Spirytus Nikaiten)
  • Claw (ISIMORN Noguchi MAO)
  • Sagat (Munari)
  • Dictator (Relinquished Prime Miharu Onuchu Taira Murasaki Yuuvega)
  • Akuma (Seo PECO Aotsun)

Many would think that having an akuma team and a claw team makes the tournament unfair and that they would meet one against the other in the finals. Well, wrong. Both teams were eliminated on the first round. The Ryu team defeated the claw one (01:28:50) and the DJ team defeated the akuma team with an amazing performance of Fujimon DJ, the DJ in best shape right now along with Ito, with an OCV defeating three akumas in a row (02:15:15).

The Ryu team was defeated later by the Dhalsim team with an amazing performance of KKY (02:50:00). Munari Sagat who was playing on his own almost defeated the Feilong team (1:08:00). That wouldn’t seem a big deal if it wasn’t that the Feilong team was the one defeating the Dhalsim team to reach the finals. Cross Feilong was really on point.

On the other side of the finals there was the Guile team. They were pretty solid throughout all the tournament. The main star of the team, Kotaka Shoten, who did an spectacular OCV against a team of 6 hondas (02:28:00). He came all dressed up with the Street Fighter theme. Shoes, pants, shirt plus fancy glasses.
Bonus: fun moment where Seo failed to input the akuma code while the opponent tried to mess him up moving the cursor all over the character selection (2:13:30).

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Full Character team tournament (4h30m):
Kakerugo char tournament

^^ Big thanks to Xgamerz for all the work uploading and annotating the videos

Part 4: MAO vs Akuma

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Many people in the community has been wondering what would happen if shotos experts pick Akuma against MAO. Well, it happened in the casuals of Kakerugo with PECO Akuma and I was able to record most of the matches. Each of the players were able to use their dirty tricks and the match looked a 5-5 match up somehow. It was funny to see MAO desperate after losing a round against the fire hadoken trap of Akuma (not recorded) which is probably the same desperation people feel against his wall dive loops. I was able to count 3 victories of PECO Akuma versus 2 victories of MAO but I can’t assure whether they played more casuals or not. In the video you can see three of those matches. If I were you I wouldn’t miss the last 5 seconds of the video.

 

Part 5: 5vs5 and the blue team

For the last X-Mania we had the ST House Expedition. This time for Kakerugo there were 4 people traveling to Japan. NKI (USA), Isimorn (France), Relinquished (UK) and Yogaboy (Spain) plus a bunch of foreigners living in Japan these days: Zagi (France), Nicofromtokyo (France), KingNine (USA), Bob Huyn (USA), etc. So the foreign teams were:

A) Team Europe

  • Zagi (France – Chun Li)
  • Isimorn (France – Claw)
  • Relinquished (UK – Dicatator)
  • Widad (France – DJ)
  • Yogaboy (Spain – Blanka)

B) Team USA (I forgot what name they used)

  • NKI (USA – Chun Li)
  • Joe Congdon (USA – Dictator)
  • Bob Huyn (USA – old Ken)
  • Nicofromtokyo (France – Blanka)
  • KingNine (USA – old Chun)

The games for Team Europe can be seen at 00:07:20 and 01:59:05. None of the games of Team USA were on stream but luckily Bob recorded one of the sets on his phone:

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Panoramic of Daytona arcade. If I am not wrong there were 14 pairs of ST cabinets.

My personal picks of those players who played really well during the weekend were:
Tencho Ryu who was crucial at many points in the tournament including the finals. Taira dictator who performed really well throughout the whole tournament. Cross fei long who was really strong during the character tournament. Hanashi Feilong who had his minute in the sun with a crazy reverse OCV against the team of Komoda, Yaya, Taira, etc (01:09:30).

Gunze zangief who had a spectacular set of wins against Chosu, Nakamura and Numa (1:39:05) and then his matches against Yakitori and Hiroyan in the top 8 (4:30:00). Kotaka Shoten who was pretty solid all along. The finals was a FT3 between the two finalist teams (07:00:15) with a lot of tense moments and the momentum going back and forth between the two teams. It was all decided in the 3rd set. Kikai had an amazing performance on the second set. Abebin honda played really well at crucial moments like against MAO.

Noguchi also beat MAO in the claw mirror for the first time in a tournament. In short, everyone had their minute in the sun including Yuuvega, Tencho Ryu and Fujimon DJ, the scariest DJ of the tournament since Ito wasn’t present. Maybe the MVP of the final was Shogatsu old honda who really stood against anyone in the first set and gave the final victory to his team.

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Setup of the tournament with 5 monitors for viewers around the arcade

Those who didn’t play at their usual level during the weekend were Nakamura cammy who struggled in all his matches both in the main tournament and the character tournament where Tasaka cammy had to come to the rescue several times. Sashishi ryu who has been regarded as the strongest ryu of the recent years really didn’t help his team at all in all the important moments. MAO, who lost all his important matches for his team both in the main tournament, the character tournament, the team tournament in the after party and even in the team tournament in Nagoya two days after.

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The tournament had the presence of some legends there like Tachikawa who is known as the japanese Tomo, a legend in SF2 up to the ST version. T-Akiba and TZW were also there but I didn’t have the chance to take a picture with them.

In the speech that the winner team usually do Mattsun explained that their team was called blue team because all the characters in it wear blue (Shogatsu -blue face-, Fujimon, Mattsun (I guess they counted purple as blue), Yuuvega and MAO). He also added that they initially wanted Otochun in the team but since he couldn’t make it they let MAO in. Not sure if that was the real story or he just wanted to tease MAO.

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Credit: ssf2x.net

Full Character team tournament (7h55m):
Kakerugo main tournament

 

Part 6: The after party. Only for the bravest

Apparently, after each of the major tournaments (i.e. X-Mania and Kakerugo) there is some after party organized at godly hours at night. By party I mean just another gathering with arcades to continue playing. It is very difficult to make it because after two whole days of tournament some people leave before the tournament ends and most people leave after the finals. So, only the craziest are brave enough to pull energy from god knows where and continue the night.

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Last year for X-Mania we stayed the whole Saturday and Sunday for the tournament and only Isimorn had the guts to go to the after party at gamespot versus on Sunday night until 6am. This year at Kakerugo we debated for a while but we gave in and went to the after party, also until 5am in a bar that was next door to the arcade place. They moved four cabinets to the bar and after paying a arguable cheap price we had free play and free drinks.

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There we had the chance to had longer conversations with the players while we tried hard to don’t fall asleep. I also managed to make Alabama boxer smile, a very serious and not super social player who used to have plenty of unseen videos in his youtube channel. He decided to close the channel a while back and I haven’t convinced him to put it back. Hence half of the links in streetfighterdojo are broken now.

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Here the picture at 5.30am of those who stayed at the after party.

At some point of the night Isimorn and me decided it was worth it to organize a team tournament. ToniP Dhalsim showed us the few rules on how to pick the team members and we were assigned as captains of each team. The final game for the win was MAO vs Shogatsu, 10 seconds after the beginning of the first round MAO was taking a nap in one of the bar chairs XD. Shogatsu beat him and Isimorn team won the tournament.

 

Part 7: The land of MAO

Our first trip outside of Tokyo was to the arcade in Nagoya called Space Shuttle (home of the old Starcup tournaments). MAO started in 2016 doing an amazing job posting videos of the team tournaments they have every Friday. For those who haven’t seen them yet be aware that MAO spends some time recording and editing intros and outros for every video and he goes all nuts in them from wearing a samurai costume to recording from his bed.

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Panoramic of the arcade in Nagoya. Home of the old starcup tournaments

Since he knew of our visit MAO had already a plan in mind. He wanted to record the three of us reading a script he prepared, each of us in a different language (Spanish, French and English) saying that MAO is the best and things like that. Totally ISIS style but it was really fun doing the rehearsals and MAO completely immersed in his role as a director saying ‘Cut!’.

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Both the casuals and the team tournament were pretty intense. Yondaime had a crazy performance giving the victory to his team after beating Superstar boxer, Gotoh Ryu and MAO in a row as you can see in the video. Later in the exhibition he goes toe to toe with Ito in another crazy match. I was so tired I started falling asleep by the end but luckily I could keep my eyes open when MAO and I started having a conversation of a possible ST video project we can work together. So hopefully you will hear from that but I won’t dare to say it will be soon.

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MAO in his throne

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The tournament of legends 2 winner belt shining on the wall

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Here the final group picture just before Superstar boxer kindly drove us back to the hotel

 

Part 8: Mayakon the Legend

Just the next morning we headed to Osaka. We knew we were going to have two nice events, casuals on Saturday evening and team tournament on Sunday afternoon. Aniken made sure to call as many players as possible from Osaka for our visit.

Mayakon was there on Saturday. The legend that everyone was praising so much. So many rumors and stories about him that I finally wanted to ask him about.
Kusumondo explained to us that what makes Mayakon a legend is the fact he is a prodigy (not sure if he meant his execution or gameplay) and he is known for his Hawk but also known for the stories with his Zangief.

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Here a screenshot of what nohoho said about Mayakon on his Japan report of 2007. Credit: nohoho

I asked Mayakon personally if it’s true he pulled a 20-0 with his Zangief against Kawamata ryu (I heard that story first from TMF in X-Mania Europe). He said ‘I don’t remember’ with a little smile. Kusomondo also stated that what makes Mayakon a rarer case is that he masters all the roaster (except claw). Unfortunately, he doesn’t like to participate in tournaments and he has only been seen occasionally when his friends pushed him to do it. For instance, Kusumondo and Komoda convinced him to team up for x-mania 4 in a moment where Kusumondo admits they were criticised for using low tier characters. They won the tournament.

TMF also said many times that he had a master when he learned Zangief and that the master of his master was Mayakon. Sasori ryu also praised Mayakon Zangief saying that his Ryu wouldn’t have a chance to beat him (this last part is something I haven’t heard myself from Sasori directly so you can take it lightly).

There are no videos of Mayakon Zangief, well, they weren’t until now. Here are some videos I managed to record. He played around 5 games against Aniken that I was aware of. Aniken won 1. I was able to record 2 of the games plus some other games against other players.



 

The following two videos are recorded on Mayakon’s side so you can see his hands using Hawk against Shogatsu and Kusumondo.


 

Also, don’t be naive and expect to see all the skills in 4 videos here. It takes years to forge a legend. There was a moment where Otochun was next to me telling me ‘this is #2 Guile in Osaka, this is #1 Sagat in Osaka’. The funny thing is that for many characters I wanted to make sure I was understanding what he was saying. – You mean this is #1 Sagat? – and in two or three cases he answered – Well, if we don’t count Mayakon -. So, it’s not clear if it’s more a matter of respect or skillset but Osaka players have for sure Mayakon in the highest regard.

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A couple of pictures we took with Mayakon. Yogaboy and Mayakon on the left. Isimorn, Mayakon, Zagi and yogaboy on the right.

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Group of players who came to the casuals on Saturday

 

Part 9: Two twin brothers ruling a party

Last year we didn’t have the chance to meet Otochun and Aniken. This time, Otochun didn’t make it on Saturday but on Sunday both of them were there for the tournaments. I heard from so many people that they were super friendly and welcoming. I must say that all those rumors are more than true. These two brothers really have a skill and energy to transform the team tournament into a ‘party’ with constant jokes and at times it looks as if they had drunk 10 red bulls cheering on every player on both teams.

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Panoramic of the arcade in Osaka

The atmosphere in the arcade was also really cool. There were many strong players and also a big group of new players that have come recently to the scene which is always encouraging for a such small scene. There were also two girls who played really well. It all started in the afternoon so we had time to do a tournament followed by an East vs West tournament. In Japan they call East vs West to the tournaments that have two big groups facing each other with all the players from the same city, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Kanto vs Kansai tournaments unless they explicitly indicate it. Both the tournament and the east vs west had many hype moments and can be seen in the following video list.

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The two brothers with yogaboy, Isimorn, Relinquished and Zagi

My favorite moment of the tournament was at the very beginning when I had to face a new Ken called Karuba. I remember Zass explaining in an interview one of his favorite memories years ago when he beat Tsuji in a team tournament and all the Japanese team was cheering for the Gaijin (foreigner). I had a very similar feeling this time in the team tournament in Osaka. After not winning a single game in my team tournaments in Tokyo and Nagoya with my disastrous blanka I managed to beat my first oponent (a new ken) in Osaka. After winning the third round Aniken and Otochun who had been cheering on me all the time came over and shook me in a supportive way while Otochun was yelling ‘the new Komoda!’. So that goes to one of my favorite moments of the trip.

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The two teams of the East vs West full of top level players on each side

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Shogatsu seems to have all the technical aspects for streaming under control. In fact, there were two sets of cabinets being recorded at the same time with two commentators per set. Otochun and Gunze commentating on the first cabinet and KKY and Shotagsu on the second one.

Kusumondo explained that in Osaka there were two old kens in the old days, Atsushi (I think) and Inoki. Later Inoki went to play ryu (videos of him can be found in the early x-manias) and Atsushi went to new Ken. Then there’s Aniken maining boxer in the early days but felt a little bit cheap with such character and ended up going to new Ken coincidently using the same color as Atsushi. Kusumondo was picturing the story as Atsushi being the master of Aniken but later Aniken said that he really had many masters and he doesn’t see it like that. Moral of the story: always check all the rumors with the very same person they refer to, if possible.

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Otochun and me doing weird Japanese stuff

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^^ Otochun speech at the end of the tournament. No idea what he is saying.

Both in Tokyo and Osaka we got plenty of presents from the players as soon as they knew we were coming. Kameraya Ken gave us a box of Japanese cookies, as he did last year. In Osaka, there was a new new Sagat player called Hayashida who gave me SSF2X bandai cards and also a Sagat figure. I was a little bit shocked that he wanted to give away a figure of his main character specially since I haven’t been able to figure out what brand the figure is which made me assume it’s a rare one.

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I also think it looks cooler than other figures of Sagat I have seen in the market.

Full list of the tournament and East vs West:
Osaka May Tournaments

 

Part 10: Casuals in Osaka

Aniken did an awesome job calling non active players to come and play. We were blessed to have ShootingD and Tsuji besides the usual ones.

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Tsuji came with his job outfit

Remember that in the arcades where you get two credits with one coin players alternate colors between the two credits to make it easier to keep track as you will see in the videos.






 

Part 11: The Machine Book

The day of the team tournament Malure ChunLi came with a little suprise. Apparently, back in the day there was a guy who wrote a strategy book about ChunLi. At some point in time he handed that book to Umehara as it can be seen in the images below from the Umehara comic book. And that’s pretty much all I could understand about the story.

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Malure brought a copy of that book to the arcade. Murasaki Vega was going to borrow that book from him. Malure told me it is close to impossible to find a copy so he basically told me I shouldn’t waste my time trying.

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I had the book in my hands and I can tell that 98% of it was just pure text. The book seemed to go through all the matchups one by one and from time to time you would see a sketched figure to clarify some move. The book dates from 1995 and even though I asked a couple of times I couldn’t clarify if it was about strategies pre-ST only or ST included.

There are 4 printed released issues about the Umehara’s series ‘The Fighting Gamers’ but the pages shown above are from the digital series which are ahead from the printed version. At the time of this writing some chapters are available to read online. So maybe someone with good Japanese can clarify more details about this story.

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Shogatsu, Murasaki, Otochun and Kusumondo showing the front and back of the book (beautiful cover by the way)

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Here a picture with Zagi, Yogaboy and Malure ChunLi. Malure Chunli is so old school that he decided at some point to never use fireballs even if he uses new chunli. If you check any of his videos you will see he doesn’t throw a single one.

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Speaking of Umehara’s book here is a picture of Yaya that Isimorn took at the beginning of the trip in the Matmouse arcade. Yaya is showing the page of the comic that features him while his son plays some ST.

 

In the last release of the printed version (#4) Kurahashi and Kameraya are also featured and in fact there is a video where they promote the book. To make the ad even cooler they have a FT3 (first to three victories) between Kurahashi Ryu vs Kameraya Ken (minute 3:17 in the video below). Strangely enough Daigo is not on the video with them, wtf.

 

For those who don’t remember who Kameraya is he has been regarded by many shotos as the player with the best sweep game in the scene. I think that the story says that Daigo learned the sweep game from him and the fireball game from Yaya, or something like that. Coincidently, I was able to record a casual game between TMF Zangief vs Kameraya Ken during the Kakerugo tournament. (there you will see some of the sweep game).

 

Not related to the book but to ST memorabilia, there is a set of panphlets that have been created in Japan with interviews to fighting game players. The only ST player featured so far has been Aniken, and thanks to @nicofromtokyo I was able to get one copy.

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Part 12: Things that couldn’t be recorded

Just a couple of silly stories I didn’t want to leave out. It was the first time I met Taira and he is a super chill and cool dude. One of those people that you can tell somehow that he would get along with everyone. In one of the matches at Kakerugo he started with some stretching routine that completely reminded me of dragon ball and son Goku doing his stretches before a battle. Relinquished and me looked at each other in front of such a funny situation but I wasn’t on time to record it.

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Taira’s outfit reminded me also some other picture of the same series. I am sure that Japan experts would even know the name of the outfit.

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The other silly “story” I remember was in Osaka. Before any match players do rock, paper, scissors to decide what side to play. However, Aniken was with that hype I mentioned earlier as if he had taken 10 red bulls that his rock, paper, scissors were funny to watch. It is hard to describe what made it humorous, maybe the energy, maybe the speed. I just recall Isimorn running to me saying ‘record it!’. We tried a couple of times but Aniken was so fast that we weren’t on time to get a good shot.

Part 13: Goukipedia updates

Having so many grandmasters around, I took advantage of it and recorded more matches for the video samples section of the Goukipedia website. From Osaka, Shogatsu kindly gave me a usb with the recorded matches from the arcade between him vs Mayakon and Kusumondo vs Mayakon. From the casuals in Tokyo I managed to record Gunze vs Tasaka, Kusumondo vs Taira, Shogatsu vs Tasaka, Tasaka vs MAO, Tasaka vs Noguchi Fei, Tasaka vs Taira and Toutanki Hawk vs Tasaka. So Cammy fans will be happy to see all those matches on the site.

Also from the Kakerugo tournament itself there is a never seen before match between Gunze and Nakamura. I also replaced the casuals from last year between Ito and Yondaime for the match at the team tournament they had recently in Nagoya. Also, thanks to Alabama’s boxer tip, I rescued a match between Shiki and Taira on youtube from a Mikada 3vs3 from 2007.

I also managed to get new signatures from Mayakon, ShootingD, Tsuji, Shiki, Taira, etc (including the one from Daigo at the last Stunfest), so now there are 31 out of 32 grandmaster signatures done. Only Seki DJ is missing but Kusumondo is helping me on that one. Soon, I will be adding player pictures when you click on the signature card.

Last part: Road to Kakerugo 2017

I hope you had a good sense of what my seven days in Japan were and for any suggestions or corrections send them to my twitter. But contact me specially if you want to be part of the Kakerugo trip 2017 as we are preparing it already. It’s going to be bigger and more awesome. Some top players from France and from New York that we all know already showed their interest. Let me know!

 

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