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RAB avatar 5:04 PM on 07.15.2009  (server time)
The Moments Before EVO and the Trials and Tribulations that Arise.

[RAB NOTE: If you haven't already seen my other EVO blog from yesterday, go take a look at it to get a rundown of the whole thing.]

At the request of Char Aznable, I decided that I should post somewhat of a "prep" blog talking about the things I'll be doing and thinking in these hours approaching EVO2k9. And oh how few hours there are..

One of the things I've been doing is ritualistically listening and re-listening to the Street Fighter Podcast, hosted by Gootecks. A couple days ago he posted a new episode in which he interviews several big names that will be attending Evo and gets their opinions and some tips about what to expect. He also gets some totally valid roulette tips. The idea he was going for was to interview a few different people in short bursts as opposed to one long cast just interviewing one or two people, because obviously Evo means different things to different people and he wants to bring a wide range of perspectives to the table for the benefit of Evo nubs like myself. Plus the show is pretty hilarious at parts. Here's a snip from the show post..

"This first episode has interviews with Mike Ross, Sabin and Ian Cofino. Mike Ross is Mike Ross so that’s why he’s on the show. Sabin is on Justin Wong’s team for the SF4 regional 5v5 exhibition match at Evo and Ian Cofino is the director of I Got Next, a documentary on the fighting game scene and will be at Evo to shoot footage for the longer cut of I Got Next will be released early next year."
He also plans on uploading a "Pre-Evo Special: Part 2", most likely today where he'll interview a few more people about Evo. Subscribe on iTunes to get the early scoop :D

Everybody participating at Evo was assigned particular "pools" for each game they're participating in. Upon visiting the EVO2k SRK Forum you'll find a thread where you can post which pool you were placed into. Turns out I've been pooled with some of the top players in the fucking country, and some BarFights Allstars from the first Street Fighter Bar Fights exhibition event. In no particular order..

First we have Keno, one of the best and most solid Balrog players in the United States. He put on a great show at Bar Fights. Unfortunately for me, the Balrog mirror match is one of my least favorite matches..

Then we've got Paul "SoMuchDamage", an excellent So Cal Sagat player, also a veteran from Bar Fights. Relatively new to the scene, his asianocity gave him a natural ability to be better than everybody else at everything he does ever. Yeah, and Sagat definitely gives Balrog a whole lot of trouble so I'll be watching out for this guy.

Fubarduck, a veteran Third Strike player who was interviewed in the early days of the Street Fighter Podcast.

Then there's NeoRussel, whom some of you might recognize from his popular Youtube channel where he posts really well made videos with strategies and setups with different characters. I don't even know what to expect from this guy, but if he can pull off any of those combos consistently in an actual match then I'm in trouble.

And Bebop, also a veteran Barfights Allstar, and one of the fucking craziest, loudest, most hype characters on the Street Fighter scene. Bebop mains Vega and is considered by some to be the best Vega in the country. Many know him from the now infamous "THIS IS SO CAL THIRD STRIKE" video in which.. well.. just watch.

And those are just the names that I recognize. Needless to say, I'm a bit tense. Everybody likes to win, but realistically I'd be a very very lucky man to even make it past my first match. Either way, I'm obviously gonna give it all I've got, but I need all the help I can get. I'll probably be keeping my hands warm tonight in training mode, trying to perfect a couple of block strings that I've been working on. With regards to combos I'm definitely nowhere near perfect but at this point I don't know how much more I can refine my execution between tonight and tomorrow.

One thing that I need to consciously recognize is the fact that I often build patterns and have a hard time straying from them, so I just need to think MIX UP, MIX UP, MIX UP. Especially with Balrog. Being such a linear, straight forward character, he seems to have a hard time getting in unless the opponent makes mistakes. I need to build on that and force my opponent to make more mistakes using constant pressure. At the same time I need to also focus on my own defense because I find myself often falling for the same tic-throws over and over again and getting caught with a lot of shit that shouldn't be working.

Also DOWN FIERCE. A few weekends ago I found myself getting peaced out of a tournament by an Abel, a matchup that usually doesn't give me any real problems. Afterward Gootecks himself told me what happened. He said that I under-estimated the other player, and I didn't Down Fierce enough. He was absolutely right. Down fierce is Balrogs crouching uppercut punch and one of his best Anti Air options. It doesn't need a charge like a headbutt and it stuffs/out prioritizes a whole fuck-ton of shit that many players will jump in with. But utilizing a new strategy is easier said than done. It took me a while to really get used to using it and figuring out at which angles the enemy has to be at, but now I think I've got the hang of it for the most part.

But I'm not gonna sit here and expose ALL of the holes in my game, so I'll move on to my good luck charms and things I'll be thinking about taking with me. Call me whatever you want, but I want my girl to be there with me. She's the apple of my eye, the thing that keeps me going. I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to bring her or not but I'll just have to wait and see how much room I've got in my duffle-bag. Maybe she'll bring her friend.

Ideally I want to bring her and put her on my night table but I just don't know how well she'd take the trip. Maybe it's not worth the trouble.

Pro-Tip: I usually practice in my underwear, though I'm not sure how well the rest of my crew would respond to that.

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