In less than two hours, I'm heading off to Gamestop to compete in the second round of The Street Fighter IV US Tournament.
Last week I accomplished the things that I wanted to with the tournament. I wanted to be able to call myself the best Street Fighter in my hometown. Even more than that I wanted to add another headband to my collection. Everything from here on out is just icing.
After last week I assumed that today I would be taken out in the first match. My opponents last week were far from amazing and were easily defeated. Round 2 is going to bring more hardcore folks; the type of people who keep my online win record down to around 50%. But today, I'm not so sure that's the case. I can say that I'm a better player this week than I was last week. Hell, I'm a better player today than I was when I woke up yesterday morning. My crossovers are deadly. My Ultra attacks come out of nowhere and tend to hit more often than miss. My focus is greater and discipline more sound.
I want to thank the community that has helped me to fight better than I thought possible (and with time, I know I'll be greater still). Thanks to all of my sparring partners this past week. Specifically Togail, Steel Squirrel, blooratard, FreeTouch2000 and Char Aznable. Big thanks also go to the countless members that I have played on HD Remix. To name but a few: Senisan, DanMartigan, Nilcam, C2C Shiro, Stella Wong. All of you (as well as everyone else that I didn't name) have helped me to outdo myself. I've been playing Street Fighter for 20 years and I'm continuing to improve. You're all helping me progress.
I have two more people to thank. First is my older brother, Dan. The Ken to my Ryu. My original Player Two. I've spent more time playing against him than I'll probably play against anybody ever. It's a treat whenever the family should gather and we reignite the rivalry. It doesn't matter how much I've progressed, nor how long it's been since he's played. It takes him only a few matches to shake of the rust and get back to beating my ass.
Finally, to y0j1mb0 (you thought I'd forgotten you, didn't you?). Our matches are epic and fierce. I always look forward to battling you. And this past week has been no exception. Even beyond that, however, I owe you a big thanks. Yesterday I was ready to blow off the tournament. I just had zero confidence in my abilites. I told him that it wasn't a big deal and that I was going to probably lose during my first match anyways. He simply said, "No, you won't." It was so matter of fact and certain, that I immediately believed him. Thanks, jimbo. You're the Doc Louis to my Little Mac.
So, I'm heading into this tournament optimistic. I may not win, but should I lose, I'm damn sure going to take a few of them out with me. Besides, I have to put on a strong showing. I'll be sporting the dtoid colors!
Thanks for all the well-wishes everybody! I really appreciate all of the support.
I actually did really well. There were only 10 competitors who showed up. Five of whom went home after the first set of matches. I wasn't one of them. I took out a rather mean Blanka, 3 rounds to 0 (we were playing best of five). Anyone who's played me knows that I was a good sport throughout. I complimented him on his good hits. Told him that it wasn't over yet going into the third round. He put up a good fight, and I told him so in the end. I was glad to see that I wasn't the only good sport there that day. Just one of many.
Of those winners, one person was randomly selected to bye the round. Since it wasn't me, I continued on against a really tough Guile. The first round just wasn't even close. He took me out and still had nearly 40% of his bar. Undeterred, I soldiered on. The second round was a whole lot closer. But I still fell in the end.
Haxan wasn't going out like that. My picks into dragon punch combos earned me the third round in another close battle. A comeback was in the making. The fourth round came down to the end. I was ahead. I just needed to get any hit on him and he was gone. But he panicked. And when fighters panic, one of two things happen. They shut down, or they play unpredictably. He staggered and was like a deer in the headlights, so I threw out a fireball. But he immediately regained composure and jumped over it and in to the kill.
That guy was good. So good, in fact, that he went on to become a finalist one match later. I congratulated him and exchanged PSN handles. Let my heart calm down. And then I was bummed. Not because I didn't win. I'm honestly so not upset about that at all. I was bummed because I still wanted to play some more.
I'm so proud that I made it as far as I did. Proud that nobody made a chump out of me. Proud that I could put on a good show for our community. Though it would have been nice to go forward to the next round (and win another headband, green this time [had I known that was at stake, I would've doubled my efforts!]). I'm honestly so happy that I was able to give this my all and fight well. Maybe it's time to find the next fight; the next tournament. Until then, I'll just be practicing my Dragon Punches at the nearest waterfall. Anybody up for a match?