Original Date: 07/28/18
Author’s Note: Back into the groove of things, this was the first article since Combo Breaker where I could provide photos, although these photos would not be possible if it wasn’t for one of my closest friends, Devin “Dstyles” Harris, coming in with the clutch. Please support this man.
Hello Unbroken family! With EVO just around the corner and the memories of CEO long gone in the hearts of those who attended, I wanted to reflect upon this action-packed month for me. While I was unfortunately unable to attend CEO, I had other events on the horizon starting with the Red Bull Conquest Qualifiers. Held in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on July 7th 2018, the event, as the title states, was a qualifying event for a series of tournaments known as the Red Bull Conquest. The Orlando sector of the Red Bull Conquest will be within the upcoming weeks, so please give fellow Tekkener (Tekkener? Is that even a word?) Ando your support as he aims to secure victory for his state!
These tournaments are held throughout the United States with the winners from Tekken, Guilty Gear, and Street Fighter are given an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. The winners from these three games will be represented as a team in the finals. For example, Team New York would have Fighting GM representing Tekken, Punk representing Street Fighter, and LostSoul representing Guilty Gear.
Spoiler alert. My name wasn’t up there. I didn’t make the cut.
But it wasn’t all too bad, in fact, it was more of an investment on how much better I’ve gotten in Tekken. Winning the tournament would have been amazing and a huge upset, but, it was the grind to see how far I’ve come which was my goal. I knew since Combo Breaker I leveled up, yet it wasn’t much that I’ve done since Combo Breaker. I’ve been learning to play with an aura of confidence that I never had much of before. I just needed a venue, an opportunity, to prove myself. Casual matches are one thing, for sure, but in a tournament where everything is on the line? A totally different scenario. This is a point that I will get back to later within my personal recap. Prior to the Red Bull Qualifiers, I’ve never had a victory over a well-known, high-level opponent in a tournament setting.
It was my first match of the day and I would be going up against none other than Pink Diamond, one of Maryland’s best and a dominate force when it comes to the representation of women competitors. Her Master Raven had been known to pull major upsets in the past and overwhelm her opponents through sheer domination. I knew getting into this match this would not be an easy one for me, but I felt something different going into this match that I hadn’t felt before. What I felt when I fought Diamond, was confidence.
When I fought Cade back at Combo Breaker, I was overwhelmed because I burnt out and I wasn’t confident that I could handle playing against a high-level player. I prepared myself through the various casual matches I’ve had with the New York Tekken scene, to go out there and wreak havoc. I didn’t have time to be nervous, I had a game to win. That was the difference. In Combo Breaker, I didn’t think I could win, but in this instance, even if I didn’t win, I was going to try my hardest to make a convincing effort. I did the very best I could. I defeated her 2-1. I would meet her again in losers within a double jeopardy scenario and I would repeat my efforts, again, closing it out 2-1.
Those six matches I fought with her were the toughest wins I ever had in a tournament setting as she lived up to her reputation as a strong fighter. It made the goal of wanting victory even more sweeter. I wanted to defeat strong foes and that weekend I got my wish. Anything else after that was a bonus. Unfortunately, I would eventually lose to an Eddy mirror and I was distraught. I was at my highest, yet I was humbled and sent back down to Earth. That’s the beauty of fighting games. You can have crowning achievements, then be reminded that anyone can get you at any times, so it’s best not to be complacent. What was even more disheartening, was that I lost to a character who was my pride. My confidence throughout the day was something I didn’t control on the inside because I felt like my Eddy could take on anyone else’s Eddy. I was flexing a bit too hard however.
I had the rest of the event to think about what I did wrong and what I could have done better. I fought the same guy who eliminated me, Holla San, for about an hour even though I lost more matches than I won. I didn’t care. I wanted to play more to figure out what went wrong and it all boiled down to inexperience. You can’t win sometimes. You either have all the experience in the world yet lack of confidence or all the confidence in the world yet lack of experience. Either one of those would be your undoing. Nevertheless, I learned a lot more about my character by playing against someone who was better than me with my own character and 13th place out of 68 wasn’t bad, considering how stacked with talent the tournament was.
Two weeks later, however, was Defend the North and I was going into this major without the best confidence in the world. I wasn’t doing too hot in the smaller tournaments although I was into researching more about potential tech to use for my character. The night before the tournament however, I was ready to go as I felt a burning passion within me that was like what I felt back at Red Bull. Everything came to a full stop, however, when I fought against a surprise entry.
Remember when I said, “playing casuals was different than playing tournaments?” That theory came to bite me in the ass royally. My first match at Defend the North was against my close friend and training partner, Unexcited. I had gotten a bye round but I already knew that I would be facing off against him as my first match. Call it a precognition, but I knew he wasn’t going to lose his first match. He wanted to go against me as much as I did against him.
For starters, it was the first time either of us fought against each other in tournament. We played against each other numerous times in casuals, so much so that we were able to pick up on each other’s ticks and quips. Whatever gimmicks we relied on for our opponents who weren’t used to us, wouldn’t work against each other, and I tried to use some of those tricks against him. He tried to get into my head by picking Jack initially, an obvious counter to Eddy, yet I saw right through. When he went to his main, Gigas, the gloves came off and I had to adjust fast. Unfortunately, it was last round and match point for both of us, and the nerves eventually caught up to me. I made a wrong punish and I paid for it. Again, I was a tad bit salty at myself for my lack of decision making underneath the pressure, but the set could have literally gone either way. For one of the first matches of the day, we put on a show, yet he would emerge victorious with a 2-1 score.
Fighting my way through losers, I was one win away from making it out of pools until I lost to a Bryan, again, due to all the points I’ve mentioned above in my losses so far. Just like how I lost to Holla San and Unexcited, I was distraught with myself for how I played. However, this time around, I simply accepted it and supported the rest of my friends who were still alive. While I’ve had way more confidence in recent weeks since Combo Breaker, I’m coming to terms that you’re going to lose more games than you win. You only really win if you’ve learned something from your losses or make the best use of your time. That struck true for me when I had a chance to commentate the Tekken semi-finals, the top 32 matches, with commentators Derek and, later on, Spooky.
It was something that not a lot of people knew about me, unless you’re at locals, but I’ve always had an interest in commentary. In Helst’s tournaments at iFix Machine, I sometimes offer myself to provide backup commentary to fellow players Professor High Kick and Ninjadogs. I am naturally socially anxious, so I felt the one way to overcome such anxiety is to talk on the mic and go through matches. I figured if I couldn’t be a part of the action as a player, I can still be a part of the action as a voice while supporting my friends.
Being a co-commentator to Spooky made me appreciate what he does a lot more for the scene than I realized. He was knowledgeable on a lot of topics that I never even knew about while I would also give my insight on what was going on. Commentary is another beast to tackle. There’s player knowledge, matchup knowledge, gauging the thoughts of the players as they play, all the while trying to make things sound exciting for the stream viewers. It’s a very difficult job to do consistently, but it’s fun to be a part of the matches in this way, as you coincidentally learn just as much commentating as you do playing the game.
While I was eliminated early, by making 33rd place out of about eighty people, the experience I’ve obtained through commentating, as well as casuals with the people who I played, made me love the game even more. Even through losing you learn a lot, you network a lot, you do what you can to support your scene and your fellow peers. My friend who defeated me, Unexcited, would go on to almost make top 8, and the rest of my friends would also make varying results, from the low end to the high end. In this tournament, Fighting GM would once again win this tournament as he had done so with Red Bull and last year’s Defend the North.
I wanted to end this recap on how far I’ve gotten since earlier this year. I had an idea on what I wanted to do, but I did not have the means to do it. I wanted to use my voice to get the fighting game scene out to more eyes and ears, and so far, I feel I’ve been doing just that. I want to thank the Unbroken family for giving me an opportunity to provide such a gift and with Summer Jam a month away, I now have even more of a reason and an incentive to level up as a player. I will be attending Summer Jam alongside Ando, Frank, and others, where I will be providing coverage on the event and the family, much like how I did for Combo Breaker. Between now and then, through playing at more sessions and soaking up as much knowledge as I can, I plan to go even harder not only for myself, but for my family and the love of Tekken. See you guys in a month!
Photo credits go to Devin Harris of Photography by Dstyles (https://www.facebook.com/photographybydstyles/)
Original Article: https://www.teamunbroken.com/featured-article-ck