Catching up

Hello all, it hasn’t even been a month in and I’ve already fallen behind! Sorry for the lack of writing but it’s been a really busy month for fighting games.

To start off, I’ve been playing Street Fighter again. In the previous versions, I struggled to find the one character that I really enjoy and mesh with but the release of Sakura finally allowed me to play a character I truly enjoy. Although very different from her previous iteration, Sakura still retains most of her core gameplan. Her corner carry is insane, she has really good counter poke buttons, and some of the fastest walk speed in the game. Her corner game is also very scary!

As well as this I started playing Dragon Ball Fighterz! Currently I’m playing Adult Gohan/ Black / Vegeta. It’s a really stable team but has very little grime. Luckily the game has a pretty in depth way of dealing with defense and offense so you arent forced into many horrible situations to begin with.

I’ve begun planning out my tournament season and I’m trying to start it at Final Round with Anime Ascension following. From there, I don’t know yet.

It’s quite hard juggling three games. At the moment I try to put at least 2 hours into each game a day. Some may think “But that’s so much time playing!” But this is the life of a competitor. Any time wasted is time the competition is practicing to get ahead, so I will push through!

Please cheer me on this season!

-KV

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Improvement

People always ask how to go about getting better. The simplest answer is to just play more. By playing more, you can notice gradual improvements in things like offense and ability to hit confirm. You’ll also be able to instinctively know where is a good place to press and not to.

There will come a point though where you’ll hit a wall and won’t be able to beat stronger players than you. This is where the real meat of improvement comes. In order to break past this wall, one has to begin thinking about the game beyond the surface level and start developing strategies. How does one go about developing strategies? An easy way to go about it is to identify what is giving you problems in a match: “What went wrong” “How do I stop this move” etc. After identifying these problems, go into training mode and start trying to discover counter-measures. It could be something as simple as  “don’t stand at this range when fighting this character” or “X move beats Y move.” If you want, you can try to expand further and experiment if your counter measure loses to something else of the opposing character. If you don’t feel like doing this though, take what you learned and play matches with people. If your answers work out, good job! If the opponent adapts and shows you a response you never saw, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

It’s okay if your ideas end up being incomplete or a total failure, because from these failures you can keep experimenting little by little. These little markers will gradually evolve into success. And as you find these successful ideas, you can apply everything you learn into one full concrete plan aka your strategy. This may sound like a long process, and trust me it is, but do not worry. Every great player goes through this. The path to improving is a constant cycle of create, breakdown, refine, rebuild. And even when you think you’re done, you’re not, because the next time you come across that opponent they might have developed counter strategies against you. The important thing is that you should stay strong in your resolve to improve and keep trying. Your results will blossom, even if a little at a time.

See you!

Differences in Play

This morning was the Mikaten matches I was most excited for, Omito vs Ogawa and Omito vs Herken. Both sets were incredibly exciting and made me really consider the differences in play between America and Japan.

The most glaring difference is the stress of importance of strategy. Throughout both of the sets you see Herken, Omito, and Ogawa play a certain way that shows positional advantage and a strong understanding of the opposing character’s options in most situations. This really shows on how/when they contest the opponent.

The American playstyle doesn’t stress these things but rather offense and setplay. Because of this, when they run into a player who either overwhelms them with their own offense or can deal with the setplay, the player tends to crumble. If I were to measure, I’d say the best players in America consist of half of this offensive focus and half of the strategy focus style.

This difference in focus really affects the overall approach to matchup knowledge in the States. If we don’t run into adaptations, then how do we establish a deeper understanding of the characters we fight against? And even if we do think we know it, how are we able to implement these strategies/counter measures consistently if there is a refusal to adapt and change? The only way we can catch up to our overseas opponents is if we are able to shift our focus and change. Like Bruce Lee expressed, “Be water my friend.”

Until next time.

 

2017 in Review

With 2017 at a close I decided to write out my thoughts of this past year. Moving forward I really want to commit to doing a daily writing/jotting of my thoughts, even if only a few words.

Goals of 2017:

Win a big tournament
-Get signed
-Beat/challenge international competition
-Return to Japan
-Push marketability of myself
-Top 8 at EVO

As you and I can see, 3 for 6 is not that bad but in my eyes it’s not good enough for my standards. 2 of them can be debatable so I’ll elaborate.

1. What counts as a “big” tournament? Personally I don’t look at the name/prestige of the tournament over the quality of players there. What does a win mean if the total competition cannot be a fair assessment of your skill? A win with no one there to really push yourself isn’t something I can take pride in and boast about. This is why Dreamhack is an “iffy” for me. Sure Dogura, Kizzie, and Hamad was there, but who else? IMO if the top 8 isn’t full of people who have the potential of beating or pushing you, then I can’t call it a big tournament.

2. A big part of marketability is visibility.  My EVO performance definitely boosted visibility but what else did I do outside of compete? I made little attempts at streaming and writing as well as didn’t push our scene enough to strive for greatness.

So in my eyes, both of these goals were failures.

Now that these are reviewed I can look at my accomplishments:

  1. Wew I was signed again.
  2. Beat/challenge international competition:
    Dogura   Haaken MACHABOO
    Kedako  NOB

Somehow Kedako always eludes me lol. May is a really rare (like most other) character in the States so I’m still weak to her, but I also struggled to adapt to changes whenever I fought him.

3. Return to Japan

The last time I got to compete in Japan was SBO 2010. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform to my liking at all. It’s ok though because I made new friends and got to prove to Japan that we are not trailing behind like it used to be.

Goals for 2018:

–Evo top 8! My absolute top priority.
-Get signed by a big team! Right below or equal in priority. Now that I truly know my worth as a player I can soundly say that this is something I’m good/passionate about and I should be able to make a living off this.
– More streaming/writing! I want to write everyday. Stream at least twice/three times a week? Also a photo a day along with my writings sounds like a good idea.

Heere’s looking at you 2018!

 

On the Loss at Anime Ascension

First thing to note is I was in unfamiliar territory. You’ll be able to understand as this goes on but yeah.

     After beating Daymendou in Winner’s Top 8, I was going into Grand Finals  with a bit of confidence, but due to the previous losses to him during teams I was definitely rooting for Bears to win between the two (even telling Daymendou this while walking up).

     Prior to top 8 starting, I watched over Omito’s matches with Spike from the JESPA Qualifiers with the intent of learning ways to beat back dash on wake-up. As well as this I made sure to try and practice my execution to make sure things wouldn’t go awry. After all, Johnny routes are all so specific to each character. Another thing to note was that during casuals and teams I had no real strategy vs Slayer/Daymendou and was using those matches as a means to help formulate one for tournament. You can sort of see from teams that I had no real focus as opposed to my singles matches in Winners/Grand Finals. The last thing I took note of is that Daymendou complained about back dashes so I tried to use that (though I don’t know if he was setting me up or not but I’m sure that wasn’t the case).

The big thing I based my strategy around was 2 things:

  • Using my meter to eliminate playing neutral vs dashes and dandy step
  • Ways to beat back dash using coin , cS ->2K, delayed 2h, and late 5k.

All in all I feel my strategy went as planned and gave him a hard time. I went up 2-0 pretty quickly and this is where things fall apart. I committed the worst mistake I have ever done as a competitor: I lost focus and eased up.

Honestly this is a feeling I don’t think anyone truly can experience until you are in Grand Finals winner’s side. The comfort of knowing you have a potential 5 game safety net is all too tempting to relax, and with a 2 game lead is exactly what I did.

“Please let this be over with.”

There’s a lot of reasons why my mind wandered to that state:

  • 10 a.m. pools to which I woke up at 8 and started warming up by 8:45 so exhaustion was setting in.
  • I choose not to eat during tournament. My past experiences of eating during tournament has always had really poor consequences so I made it a thing to only drink water/soda. As well as this I had not really drank anything throughout the day. More exhaustion.
  • This was my first time ever being in Grand Finals winner’s side at a major.

The first 2 points are merely situations I put myself in or have 0 control over so I don’t count those. The third point is the driving factor. If you aren’t prepared to focus for a long time this situation really takes you by surprise. It’s the most stressful position you can ever experience at a tournament by far. And to be up 2-0 at that, just kill me.

*I don’t really remember much of what happened as when I play in tournament a switch kind of turns on to where I’m fully conscious of what’s going on/what I’m doing but I eliminate info outside of key things that I feel played a big role to the matches*

As soon as I lost the first game, my confidence and focus were already drifting away. All I could think was “Please. Please stay down.” By 2-2 I knew what was going wrong and was forcibly trying to calm myself down but there was an unwavering anxiety in me (I’m not sure if the stream shows it since I haven’t looked over the matches still, but I was constantly telling myself to calm down during rounds). The “What ifs” wouldn’t go away at all. Upon the rest I dropped my head down. “FUCK” was all that I could think. I kept trying to will myself to calm down and it worked a little, but many unfortunate things started to happen that just piled on.

As a Johnny player, spacing is everything. That and understanding hurt box interaction. Points throughout the 2nd set I would tag Daymendou with 5k>2D(2) as a means to get a quick level 3. The only problem was Slayer has a pretty big hurt box on airborne hits so the coin would actually just juggle him rather than hitting him OTG. This happened I believe a total of 3 times and only on the third time did I finally ad lib and roll with the grey beat. Another issue that kept turning up was cS > coin > cS in the corner would be slightly off in spacing and I would get cS > coin > fS. I think this was an issue caused by Slayer’s air hurt box being big so I got pushed out, but either way it changed really straight forward combos into crucial drops. They flustered me in a “Why here? Why now?” sort of way. To top it off, during the latter games I would do YRC in neutral but would get blitz. Because of this I got punished heavily in game changing times. This definitely upset me the most, as a dash or dandy step that I was ready to punish as well as an air tech situation now became points where I just melted and died.

In the end I lost 3-2 last round. To be honest I’m surprised I could even push it that far.

Immediately after the loss I was extremely disappointed. Not angry in the slightest but just flat out broken. Once I shook Daymendou’s hand Kizzie came to console me but I just had to leave the room and let out the tears that were welling up. I didn’t know that the camera focused on me walking out. I guess this adds to the story but personally I feel it’s very poor to focus on something like that over the celebration of a hard earned win. I considered cutting my hair before coming to AA but couldn’t decide on a style so I just left it. Really glad too since I knew I had to come back for the awards ceremony and my hair could cover my face so no one could see the tears rolling down.

Things to take from the loss:

  • Practice stuff vs Slayer
  • Now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to be in winners side Grand Finals, I know how to be ready mentally next time.
  • Every game I should go back to character select to re analyze. One of my greatest strengths (imo and from what people have told me) is my ability to adapt. This will also help me keep my composure.
  • I should probably get back to exercising; healthy body, healthy mind.

Do I feel I was the best player there? Honestly yeah but I wasn’t fully there in focus and that’s what cost me (Not to discredit Daymendou because he played amazing and showed great mental fortitude). Next time I’ll definitely be ready.

See everyone at TSB(?). I’m looking to prove myself there.