May 13, 2018

2018 June and July Fighting Game Events

Previous: 2018 April and May Tokyo FGC Events | Next

Seems like I've gotten into the habit of tracking FGC offline events in the Tokyo area. This isn't a comprehensive list, but feel free to contact me if you want me to add anything.

Very generally:

  • On Tuesdays there is often a DBFZ event run by Jiyuna and MajinObama at Red Bull Gaming Sphere, Map
  • On Wednesdays SFV (Fighter's Crossover Akihabara – FCA is the event name) at Akihabara ESports Square (the place, Map) starting from 7pm.
  • On Thursdays there is usually a SFV event at Red Bull Gaming Sphere, Map
  • On Friday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky (Map).
  • On Sunday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky (Map).
  • Shot Bar Lucy has different events on different days, and usually on Friday night is an all-night event featuring various games (Map).
  • The Plaza Capcom at Kichijoji (Map) has the Capcom eSPORTS Club which has free SFV setups, and often runs events.
  • Game Bar Cross-up in Umeda, Osaka (Map) usually does SFV on Tuesday, Guilty Gear and BlazBlue on Wednesday, and KOF14 on Thursday.
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May 2, 2018

Various things happening in Japan and Fighting Games

It is currently "Golden Week" in Japan - a time at the start of May when there are three to four National Holidays, so it is easy to take a day or two off and get a long vacation. All sorts of fun stuff happens during Golden Week, like it being almost impossible to get airline or shinkansen tickets, hotel reservations, or find any sort of place that isn't packed with people. In the Fighting Game community, a bunch of events are taking place (I track events I know about in a different blog post). I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of things that have been happening or will happen, and write a bit about them.

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Storm Kubo's post about Vietnam's Saigon Cup

Not too long after the Saigon Cup, Storum Kubo posted an entry on his blog about the trip. I thought it was fun, and have translated it. I am not a professional translator, just a regular old Street Fighter fan who has some familiarity with Japanese. I'll translate thinsg that I think are fun and put them here. I saw this and thought it was a very fun and funny look at Storm Kubo's trip to Vietnam, and helps you get an idea of his character a bit outside of the game. Original article on Storm Kubo's blog. Many thanks to Storm Kubo for giving me permission to do the translation.

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April 14, 2018

What was EVO Japan aiming for? We ask steering committee president Hameko.

I saw this article about the goal of EVO Japan on twitter, and was interested. I've never been to EVO, and I was super excited for the chance to attend and volunteer at EVO Japan. One of my goals was to have a good time, help foreign attendees navigate the event, and share my love of both fighting games and Japan. So I'm curious to hear what the actual steering committee was thinking about. The article was written by Sawatari Masashi and published on the Alienware Zone Japan site.

As always, this is a personal translation, I'm not a professional translator, and any mistakes or misrepresentations are entirely my own.

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April 6, 2018

The Garcia Girls visit Japan

1 Arrival, 2018-03-27, Tokyo

Sunrise Express

On Tuesday, March 25th our cousins, the Garcia Girls, came for a visit to Japan. We often stay at their parents' place in Washington state when we visit, so we are super excited to show their kids around Japan. Their flight was supposed to arrive at about 5pm, but it was delayed by an hour and didn't get in until 6pm. When I asked them for the reason of the delay, I was pretty surprised: they had been in the air for almost an hour, then turned around. The airline said that they let off a sick passenger before they got going again. I've never seen such a thing happen myself.

I was happy that I recognized the girls, and they seemed to know who I was, so there's that. We headed down to the train station and waited in line to change in the vouchers for the JR Rail Pass. Anyone coming to Japan to visit should at least look into getting a JR Rail Pass. For about the price of a round trip Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto you can get a ticket that lets you ride JR trains for free, even including the Shinkansen (except for the fastest service, "Nozomi" trains, which sadly are also the most frequent). It is an amazing deal, which probably explains why we had to wait for about an hour to exchange the voucher. Once we did though, we were able to go to the Narita express and they could ride that for free.

We met up with Lisa and Alan, and then had Ramen for dinner.

We had a busy evening planned, although that was, to some degree, an accident. I knew that they left on the 24th, and told Lisa that is when they would get here, but of course the flight lands a day after it arrives. Since we were going to travel with them, we thought it would be fun to make it unique, and also do some things that we would enjoy. Alan really loves trains, so we made a reservation on the Izumo Sunrise Express, which is an overnight sleeper car train. They have various classes of service, and we reserved four individual berths. Each berth was super tiny - I could only stand up in the doorway, the rest of the berth was the bed, and my shoulder could almost touch each wall when in bed. It was longer than I was though, for which I was grateful. Lisa and Alan slept together - and the mechanics to get that to work must have been pretty difficult. She said she didn't get much sleep with all his moving around.

The Sunrise Express does have a shower on it, but you have to pre-purchase tickets for the shower from a vending machine. By the time we had settled in the tickets were sold out. Too bad. I hear that the showers are only six minutes long, but I'm sure the girls would have appreciated a shower after the long flight from Seattle. Sadly, they didn't get one.

I changed into the Yukata provided with the berth, prepared for bed, and then laid down. It was a strange feeling, trying to sleep on a moving train. We stopped every once in a while, and I realized that, but I feel like I got some refreshing sleep all the same.


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March 24, 2018

Fighting Game Events in Tokyo, 2018 April and May

Previous: 2018 February and March Fighting game events in Tokyo | Next: 2018 June and July Fighting Game events in Tokyo

Seems like I've gotten into the habit of tracking FGC offline events in the Tokyo area. This isn't a comprehensive list, but feel free to contact me if you want me to add anything.

Very generally:

  • On Tuesdays there is often a DBFZ event run by Jiyuna and MajinObama at Red Bull Gaming Sphere, Map
  • On Wednesdays SFV (Fighter's Crossover Akihabara – FCA is the event name) at Akihabara ESports Square (the place, Map) starting from 7pm.
  • On Friday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky (Map).
  • On Sunday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky (Map).
  • Shot Bar Lucy has different events on different days, and usually on Friday night is an all-night event featuring various games (Map).
  • The Plaza Capcom at Kichijoji (Map) has the Capcom eSPORTS Club which has free SFV setups, and often runs events.
  • Game Bar Cross-up in Umeda, Osaka (Map) usually does SFV on Tuesday, Guilty Gear and BlazBlue on Wednesday, and KOF14 on Thursday.
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March 22, 2018

Talking to the "Pro Gamer Couple" Momochi and Chocoblanka about esports as a job and the severe reality of money

I saw an interesting article about Momochi and Chocoblanka. I decided to translate it into English. I'm just doing this on my own, and even (gasp!) hotlinking the images, so that might disappear at some point. Any mistakes are mine, please refer to the original article to see it formatted better.


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March 21, 2018

NHK's "The Style of Professional Work: New Jobs Special"

NHK New Jobs Special
NHK New Jobs Special
NHK New Jobs Special

NHK aired a special in their series on jobs about new types of jobs, with a focus on a YouTuber and Professional Gamers.

I'll summarize some interesting points for the Pro Gamer section, which featured Diago Umehara. The YouTube portion followed Hikakin, who I didn't know anything about. Interesting guy, but I don't think people reading this blog are interested in that as much as they are Daigo. ;-)

Cameos:

Person Comments
Arlieth Gettting hype in a crowd.
Verloren Billed as "Pro Gamer" and he explains that Daigo is a Legendary player
Tokido "Pro Gamer Kouhai" If Daigo didn't exist, there probably wouldn't be pros in Japan
Otani (I think) Talks with Diago about the Akuma/Guile matchup.
James Chen On commentary at CapCom Cup
UltraDavid On commentary at CapCom Cup
MenaRD Beating Daigo at CaoCom Cup
Momochi Winner of previous CapCom Cup, loses to Daigo in losers as Daigo goes to top 8
Moke Beats Daigo in top 8

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March 20, 2018

RAGE 2018 Spring New Generation Esports event


RAGE 2018 Spring New Generation Esports is a large gaming event held on March 21st in Makuhari Messe Hall 6 with a variety of tournaments attached to it. The main events are Street Fighter V, Shadowverse, and Splatoon 2. The venue opens at 9am, things start at 10am, and things should end by 8pm. The website says that entry is free and anyone can go and watch / support the players.

I think you can go to Makuhari Messe and check things out - there are Cosplay competitions and booths, and lots of other stuff going on there. You might also be interested in going to the special event at Akihabara E-sports Square (Map) from 1pm to 10pm where there will be casual setups to play SFV if you just want to play.


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March 18, 2018

P2G Gaming Event at Redbull Gaming Sphere Nakano

P2G Gaming Event at RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano
P2G Gaming Event at RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano
P2G Gaming Event at RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano
P2G Gaming Event at RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano
P2G Gaming Event at RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano

On Sunday, March 18th, Shinobism's Project Gaming Girls (P2G) held a multi-title gaming event at the RedBull Gaming Sphere in Nakano. This was a multi-title event, with Capcom's Street Fighter V, Nintendo's Splatoon2, Blizzard's Hearthstone, and Capcom's MVCI. The event was from 1pm to 5pm, with the various P2G members hosting activities for the games that they play.

First, what is P2G? P2G is a gaming team that Chocoblanka and Momochi started last year, and have expanded this year. They sponsor women specifically, but probably not in way that you would think typical of gaming teams. Here are some excerpts from the P2G page:

  • The goal of Project Gaming Girls is to increase the number of women that enjoy playing games and to create a community of women who love games.
  • It is difficult for women to entry existing gaming communities. There are not as many commonly accepted ways for women to start getting into games, and because there are few women they often stand out and can be subject to good or bad attention.
  • Games are for fun, and we would like to increase the number of women that enjoy playing games. We'll try to do what we can to help support that goal.
  • We want to support women who enjoy playing games.
  • We have two requests for the women we support: please continue to keep playing games, and interact in a positive and fun manner with people at offline events.

Importantly:

  • P2G supports all people who love games without regard to a person's particular skill at a game, aiming for all people who love games to continue to express the joy they feel gaming. [TL: Super loose translation!]

So P2G has as a goal expanding opportunities for women to get into gaming, and to continue doing it. I think that is a great goal, and I also think it is an obligation of every gamer to be friendly and welcoming to all people joining the community, and to treat everyone fairly and without bias.

This is the first event that I've been able to attend hosted by P2G – and it might be the first one they've held, since I've been following since the beginning and don't remember any other events.

The event was held at the new RedBull Gaming Sphere, which is a very nice space in Nakano. Admission was free, which is amazing if you think about it. Somehow P2G was able to organize support from a variety of sponsors. That explained the presence of Nissin, who also had a big hand in sponsoring EVO Japan 2018. There was pre-registation for the event, but there weren't so many people that it was overcrowded. The space was separated into stations by game.

  • 7 SFV setups
  • 8 Splatoon 2 setups with monitors
  • 8 Splatoon 2 setups just on free standing Switches.
  • A bunch of tablets for Hearthstone and Clash Royale, one or two of which were connected to larger monitors.
  • 1 lonely MVCI setup, alone, feeling a bit sad.
  • 1 "hidden" DBFZ setup in a room that nobody noticed except the cameraman who was in training mode for quite a while.

The staff was checking names to make sure you had registered, and they asked you whether you would be OK appearing on stream or not. If not, you got a red lanyard and a name tag to write your name on. If you didn't mind, you got a green lanyard. In Japan, people are very concerned with personal privacy. You often will have notices posted at events if there is streaming, and I like that hear that have a nice little solution with red/green colors to make it clear. None of my photos should show people with red badges, and I tried to choose pictures without many identifiable features for the non-P2G members (who I assume are ok with it, since they do media appearances - although thinking about it now, I should have asked).

Mostly during the event people played casual matches. I wandered around and looked at some of the other games. I've never played Splatoon, so that was interesting. I get lost in real life though, and 3-d games like that are tough for me. I would have to play that game with the map on all the time. It does look pretty fun though. I'm going to stick with 2-d games on single plane though.

Harumy is the SFV focused P2G member, and she was playing people on one of the setups. At some point, she called for people to take part in a 5-5 team battle, and we did that. The team battle mode in SFV is really pretty fun. We later did a tournament for a random 3-3 team battle, which was lots of fun too. The winner took home a case of Nissin spicy cup noodles.

The other sections had various tournaments and activities as well, but I spent most of my time in the SFV area, playing games and talking with people.

Near the end of the event, the P2G members held a group rock-paper-scissors competition to distribute various prizes. The event was lots of fun, and they announced that they plan to hold similar events in other locations across Japan. That is another interesting point - right now, Tokyo and to some degree Osaka (thanks to Cyclops esports basement) are the only two hotbeds of SFV activity. I'm not as aware of other scenes, but it is really nice to see things happen outside of the two major population areas.

Keep your eyes out for P2G members, and give them some support if you can!


March 17, 2018

Capcom eSPORTS CLUB in Plaza Capcom Kichijoji

Plaza Capcom in Kichijoji
Plaza Capcom in Kichijoji
What is Capcom eSports club?
How to use Capcom eSPORTS CLUB
Ryu, Ken, and Bison at Plaza Capcom in Kichijoji

Capcom recently opened the "eSPORTS CLUB" (their capitalization, not mine) in their Plaza Capcom arcade in Kichijoji. It is an interesting place, and surprising to me in that it is completely free. They have two head to head setups, and I think eight side by side setups. It isn't the largest space, but each station uses a PS4 Pro, there are a lot of nice Street Fighter character images, and they provide sticks (Hori RAP 4s) and headphones (don't remember) for your use. All for free. There are a variety of places in the Tokyo area that you can go to and play Streetfighter, but none of them are free.

In March, I noticed that Capcom started running tournaments ("Ranking Battles") on Saturday there. By chance my family is out travelling on Saturday, so I took the chance to go out to Kichijoji - a but outside of Tokyo proper, an hour away from where I live anyway, and check it out. I thought it might be useful to write a bit about how to make use of the Capcom eSPORTS CLUB for any English speakers that might be interested.

First, you need to get there. That probably means taking the Chuo line out of Shinjuku (about 17 minutes) but Google should be able to tell you how to get there. Leaving the station walk through the nice shopping district, which has some covered streets which would make going there in the rain pretty convenient. The Plaza Capcom arcade is located in the basement of the Loft building. You can't miss the eSPORTS CLUB, it is a closed off area with a bunch of life size Street Fighter character cutouts standing around, and some big monitors showing what is happening on the main setup.

Once you are there, you need to register for a member's card. If you are looking at the entrance to the area, to the right there is a counter that should have a capcom employee there. Tell them that you want to register, or maybe just say something like "Street Fighter" and point over there. They will bring out a sign-up sheet and ask for your gamertag. No government needed. Sign up with that, and if you want to borrow a stick, let them know (they are visible from the counter). They will have you sign up on another sheet for that. They should also give you a business card sized member's card with a number on it that you can use when you come back. When you are playing in the area you have to wear the lanyard they give you (so they know you registered or checked in with the desk I guess) but that is it. Head over to the setups and look for one that is open. The setups are all First to Two, winner stays on when it is busy, but if nobody is waiting feel free to keep on playing.

If there is a tournament that day - and they will also host player-run tournaments on weekday evenings I'm told - talk to the person running the tournament to register. In my case on Saturday at about 3:30pm there was a capcom employee near the entrance with a sign-up sheet for the tournament, I signed up, and they passed me a ticket with a number on it. Later on, once sign-ups were closed, they called out the numbers and we pulled a piece of paper to determine seeding order in the tournament. They wrote the seeding information down on two dry erase brackets (pretty cool actually) and then started calling out matches.

Competition was very good - I knew of Raya (Diago's student), and Trashbox (a good Birdie), and everyone else there was better than me at any rate.

If you have the time, check out the Capcom eSports Club. Personally, I prefer one of the various weeklies - particularly Fighter's Crossover Akihabara - where there is a bar and I can get something to drink while I lose, but this was a lot of fun too.


March 14, 2018

A short post-Kemonomichi interview with Tokido

The Chigesoku blog (Japanese) took some notes from an interview with Tokido from 3 days after the Kemonomicni FT10. The video is from the Living The Game people - Living the Game is a documentary (in Japanese) that primarily follows Momochi, Chocoblanka, Daigo, Luffy, and GamerBee with brief appearances by many others in the FGC. I actually watched it in the theater last night, and really enjoyed it. The majority of the interview is about Tokido's thoughts on the movie, but there is a bit about Daigo as well. Here is an English version of the notes from the Chigesoku blog.

Check out the Living the Game trailer if, for nothing else, the Mike Ross Capcom Cup intro.

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March 12, 2018

Behind-the-scenes discussion with Daigo about Kemonomichi 2, "Why I played the neutral game", "This was a match that I absolutely would not allow myself to lose", "What I think of Tokido"

Translator's note: This is a translation of http://chigesoku3.doorblog.jp/archives/53114976.html which transcribed the audio from a twitch stream with Daigo.

On March 11th, Sunday, Daigo held an "at home" stream in which he talked about his recent match. It was a stream with the usual members of Daigo, Fuudo, and Orikasashi, and they talked about the recent events, including "Kemonomichi 2". This article excerpts the discussion about Kemonomichi 2.

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March 11, 2018

My brief appearance on AbemaTV's Agenai! Friday

I was invited to Agenai! Friday
Production booth for AbemaTV Agenai! Friday.
Kindevu, Utahiroba Jun, FuguTabetai
AbemaTV Agenai! Friday group shot Agenai Friday

Friday, March 9th, I was invited to appear on "Agenai! Friday" (Episode 7), a show on AbemaTV. What is AbemaTV? It is a live streaming service that adopts the model of TV, and streams content on various channels at a specific time. You can also access their backlog of shows for free. I like their "Ultra Games" channel, which has various video game content. If you haven't tried AbemaTV before, check it out - there are many channels, and they have a lot of original content. They also have lots of Anime. It is all in Japanese, so that might be problematic, but some of the gaming stuff is understandable.

One of the shows that I like is called "Agenai! Friday", which is a show about games generally, but often has people playing in a contenst using Street Fighter V. They will do different events for different games, but often will have amateur challengers play against their competitors. The times I've watched, they have had Itabashi Zangief and Tachikawa as their professional players, and also Kuramochi Yuka on the show. If you don't know who Kuramochi is, I first heard about her at EVO Japan. She was a reporter for the Japanese stream, and interviewed some of the players and attendees there. I didn't realize that she is a glamour model until I followed her on twitter, and the pictures she posts pretty quickly makes it clear that she works in the glamour industry in Japan. She does play video games, and has a good R. Mika, so I assume she is on the show because of that, and to give a bit of beauty appeal to the audience.

I started watching Agenai Friday when I heard that Itabashi Zangief is on it - he's a player that I really like and have followed for a long time. How does the show work? Usually it opens with some general introduction - the MC is another Japanese Talent, Kendo Kobayashi, who chats a bit with the others on the panel. They might talk about a new game for a bit, but in the second half they introduce the challengers who will play their stable of pro players. If the challenger wins, they get a cash prize - usually about $2000 USD (200,000 Japanese yen, I'll just use USD with 100yen/dollar). If the challenger does not win, that goes into the prize pot, up to a maximum of $10,000. So that is a pretty nice prize! The Street Fighter V set is best of 5 games, so the first person to win three games.

I've watched the show a few times, and some of the challengers have been people that I recognize or know from the weekly Street Fighter event called Fighter's Crossover Akihabara (FCA from here on). I usually go every week, if I can make it. Last week, I was approached by a Mr. U., who asked if I would like to be on the show. We talked for a bit, and I told him that I wasn't very good at the game - I'm ok, generally a Gold/Platinum level Zangief, but in Season 3 I'm trying to play other characters. He thought it would be interesting though, so I agreed. This is likely a case where I'll be playing the role of "hey look, a foreigner who can speak Japanese!" but that is fine. I really like the fighting game community, and one of the things I would like to do is make it easier for English speakers to learn about the Tokyo Fighting Game Community (FGC from here on) scene. So I'm happy to go on a show and talk about whatever, but maybe I can get a few words in about how great the FGC is, and also talk about how anyone - old, young, good at the game or not - can join in, have fun, and make friends.

So the next week on Friday I showed up to the Abema (actually Openrec) offices, and met with the other people on the show. Usually there are two challengers, but this time there were four. Hidemichi, who is also a regular at FCA, Kindevu, a well-known strong FGC player who isn't a pro (yet?), myself, and Utahiroba Jun, who is a rock star - the bassist for the group Golden Bomber. He is a big Street Fighter V fan (and very good) and apparently wanted to be on the show.

We heard about how things were set up, how the show would go, and then headed over to the studio. The place was smaller than I would have thought (never having ever seen a studio of any kind before) and got ready. We set up our controllers, played a game or two, and then stood on our marks and waited for the show to start. Us four challengers lined up, we had these white boards that we wrote our name/tag, age, and occupation on, and Kendo asked or commented on each of us. Then they transistioned the show into the competition segment.

Since Hidemichi was on the previous weeks' show, he was up first, and the rest of us drew lots for order. Utahiroba Jun was first (and he was super happy about it!) Kindevu was 3rd (and he was super sad about it!) and I was second, and didn't particularly mind either way. I really want to see Kindevu go back on the show because he could potentially win it. I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell, although I'm pretty confident that I could win a set against Kuramochi.

While Hidemichi got ready for his set - the competitors also draw lots, and he was to face off against Kuramochi first - the other three of us went back into the production room to watch. Hidemichi lost the first game, but came back to win the next three, and then face off against Tachikawa. It was lots of fun watching back in the production room, and the place went nuts when Kuramochi won the first game. After that, Tachikawa was randomly chosen as the next player. Hidemichi got one game on him, but in the end Tachikawa won.

Utahiroba Jun was up next. Usually the challengers just play individually, but Jun asked if he could bring Kindevu out as support. Kindevu is a well-known strong player, and Jun knows him. He was really happy to meet him, and the whole time we were waiting Jun and Kindevu were talking technical aspects of the game, points on different matchups, things Jun should look out for if he played Itabashi or Tachikawa. I've been playing SFV since it came out, and I follow the tech and frame advantage / disadvantage, but as an old (and old-school) player, I don't pay as much attention to that stuff as I should. I prefer to play a few matched online instead of spending time in training mode (I usually get about 2 or 3 hours a week to play games) so I'm not the right guy to talk to about those technical aspects of the game. Kindevu and Jun definitely are though. So Jun asked if he could get Kindevu to come out as support, and the production team thought that was a great idea. Mostly, I think, because Kindevu's name in Japanese means "Golden Fatty" and Jun is a member of the "Golden Bombers" rock group. That makes for a fun gag on a show like this.

For some reason, they then thought that I should go out too, so I did. First up was Kuramochi, again drawn by random lot. She was not happy to face Jun, because he's very good and in a previous event they had played each other and he totally demolished her. Jun didn't show any mercy this time either, and his Ken ran pretty roughshod over Kuramochi's Mika (who still is better than average). Normally, after the loss the MC would have the other competitors draw lots to see who Jun would play next, but since Itabashi Zangief hasn't played in a while (Tachikawa keeps getting randomly selected) Kendo sent out Itabashi. Jun was really getting hype, and I could really tell that he is used to the Japanese "Talent" style of playing along with the MC / other guests on panel shows. He was talking up his game, he called out Tachikawa for being a rude young kid earlier when he won his matches, and just generally brought a lot of energy to the studio. He played well, and got a few rounds, generally keeping things competitive against Itabashi's Abigail. In between rounds he would reach out and rub Kindevu's belly (because he looks a bit like a fat Buddha golden statue, and rubbing their bellies gives you good luck) and once or twice rubbed my bald head. For luck. He's a real showman.

The show is only an hour long, and the show ended before their set did. We played out the remainder of the set and that will probably show up somewhere eventually. Overall it was really a lot of fun, it was super exciting to cheer Jun on, and just seeing how these shows work was interesting. One of the taglines on this show is that people who are watching the show could come on the show and compete for the prize money. One of the things I enjoy most about the FGC is that it was born from the arcade culture, where all you need to play is a quarter and you can play anyone on the machine regardless of level. All sorts of people can be a part of the FGC, and while we might not all be great players, we can all have fun. In actuality, I think it is very rare for someone to actually beat the show's pros in a first to three set, but I love that they open that opportunity up to people - myself, or a fan from a rock band, or a regular at the weekly local (Hidemichi) or a well-known strong unsponsored player.

If you are interested in fighting games, I think they are a very accessible type of video game to watch. The big health bar at the top of the screen goes down, and the winner is the one who has some health left. That is pretty easy to understand, even if you don't know what is happening on screen. If you are watching shows like this, and think it looks fun, try to go to a local event near you. Most local scenes are happy to see new people and help them get better.


February 18, 2018

Daigo's Panel on Money and Games in Japan

Today, Daigo streamed a panel discussion about Money and Games. It was super interesting. I just wanted to watch for my own purposes, but I took a few notes, so I guess I'll put them out there. Some disclaimers: I'm just a guy living in Japan, and Japanese is my second language. So I might be wrong on stuff! These are really just my own notes which I took for fun, and I'm not a great writer or analyst so what you see is what you get. I skipped a bunch of stuff, but took some notes on comments I found interesting.

My TLDR version of the steam was:

  • JeSU (the Japanese eSports Union) that licenses pro players didn't do great outreach to the community when they launched. They do seem to be moving in the right direction, listening, and are willing to work with the community to help improve things. I'm optimistic. My preference would be to change the morality laws to just get around the main issues (not collecting fees from participants for pot money) but even if that happened I can see how a body like JeSU still might be useful.
  • I think that it is possible, under this new system, to have open tournaments that anyone can enter and still have a pot. It sounds like that would work by granting a pro license to the winner on the spot.
  • I'm still concerned that because of this system, we will see many more invitationals in Japan instead of large open tournaments, but time will tell.

Who are the people at the round table? Players:

  • Daigo
  • Foo~do
  • Nemo
  • Daikoku
  • Raya (a young player that Daigo is teaching). This is what the "info card" for him said: "A young SFV player. He didn't come up by his strength, but in an audition with one of Umehara's projects. He is the one that made Umehara stop wearing Crocs. He's here not to give his opinion as a competitor but as a member of the community." That said, I've seen him at the weeklies, and he's good.

Community members:

  • Nyanshi, the director of Topanga. Very involved in large scale tournaments, he ran the SFV side of things at EVO Japan 2018.
  • Kagecchi, he organizes the weekly SFV event "Fighter's Crossover Akihabara" at Akihabara Esports Square.
  • Hameko, Chairman of EVO Japan, does lot of commentary, etc.
  • Nishitani Akira (NIN) - designer of Street Fighter II
  • Hamamura Hirokazu, former editor of weekly Famitsu, current President of Enterbrain. Represented the new JeSU esports organization that issues pro sports licenses in Japan.
  • Akahoshi, a well-known Zangief player from SF4 who now works behind the scenes at Yubiken
  • Gama no Abura, a well-known commentator. He was also wearing a Button Mashers shirt, so he might be involved in that. Button Mashers run the logistics for some of the larger and better-run events (IMHO). He also is involved in the orerevo series of events.
  • Umezaki, wasn't listed on Daigo's tweet about the panel, but he runs Detonation Gaming, one of the top level gaming teams in Japan. He was the first to sign a foreign player on an "Athlete Visa".

Also, check out The Sentimental Typhoon's (a Japanese FGC member) translation of the What is the definition of eSports portion of the round table.

My complete notes follow.

read more (2615 words)

February 2, 2018

Fighting game events in Tokyo, 2018 February and March

2018 January Fighting Game events, 2018 April and May Tokyo Fighting Game Events

It seemed like it was useful to track the fighting game events going on around the 2018 EVO Japan tournament, so I'm going to also keep track of things that are going on in February in the Tokyo area, to the extent that I know about. This isn't a comprehensive list, but feel free to contact me if you want me to add anything.

Very generally:

  • SFV event (Fighter's Crossover Akihabara – FCA) on Wednesdays at Akihabara ESports Square (the place) starting from 7pm.
  • On Friday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky.
  • On Sunday there is usually a SFV event at Studio Sky.
  • Shot Bar Lucy has different events on different days, and usually on Friday night is an all-night event featuring various games.
  • The Plaza Capcom at Kichijoji (Map) has the Capcom eSPORTS Club which has free SFV setups, and often runs events.
read more (1593 words)

February 1, 2018

Japan Pro Gaming License quick translation

Translated from http://chigesoku3.doorblog.jp/archives/52891378.html

It was announced 2018-02-01 that the "Japan ESports Union (herein-to JeSU)" was founded. This is the birth of a new union with cooperation of a variety of existing esports organizations and game maker organizations.

JeSU is involved in running the 2018 Japan Game Party that will be held on Feb. 10th and 11th at Makuhari Messe which will be the first of its kind to host tournaments where pro licenses will be issued.

The definitions and regulations for issuing a pro gamer license have also been announced. A pro license will last for two years, and one will need to attend a class to obtain or renew the license. For existing pro gamers they developed a system of "Issuing licenses to guaranteeing authorities", and it is believed that many fighting game pro players will be able to obtain a license in this manner.

  • Pro Gamer Definition
    • Has the consciousness of a Professional (tl note: Japanese way of saying "takes it seriously")
    • Follows the values of sportsmanship in their play
    • Devoted to improving their technical skills on a daily basis (tl note: Only lab monsters allowed? What about players with HEART?)
    • Contribute to the growth of e-Sports domestically
  • Persons Eligible for License

People fulfilling the qualifications below can be granted a license.

  • Those who pledge to uphold the conditions mentioned in the pro gamer definition above
  • Those who have obtained excellent results in tournaments that this association has officially recognized for game titles that this association officially recognizes (tl note: no clear definition of what placing is considered good enough)
  • Those who have taken the lecture that this association indicates
  • License categories (2 types)
    1. "Japan eSports Pro License"

    This license is applicable for those over 15 years old, who have completed their mandatory educational obligation. * People under 20 years old need their guardians' permission.

    1. "Japan eSports Junior License"

    This license is applicable to those between 13 and not yet 15 years of age to whom there would be value in having a license. * They are able to receive non-monetary prizes, but can not receive monetary prizes. * With the agreement of the licensee and their guardian upon reaching age 15 a Pro License can be issued.

  • About issuing licenses in non-regular conditions "Issuance of licenses to guarantors of results". To take into account past performance since license issuance begins, we will issue pro licenses or junior licenses to people who have shown exemplary performance in past tournaments for officially recognized titles. * The IP holder will need to agree to the license issuance.
  • Treatment of Teams
    • Team license issuance.

    If a team has an official legal entity, and the IP holder approves, a team license will be issued pending approval of this association. * However, additional rules and regulations along with paperwork will be required.

    • If a team has at least one person that holds a license, then that team will be able to participate in officially recognized tournaments. * However, the prize can only be rewarded to the license holder.
  • License expiry
    • Licenses last for two years. * License renewal will require an e-learning course.
  • Management of License Issuance
    • Licenses are issued on a per-title basis.
    • Based on the three items below, this association steering committee will play the games, and decide on what the eligible titles should be. (tl note: I'm not translating this wrong AFAIK, but man I hope I am wrong.)
      • The game itself must have competitive play
      • The game must have been on sale for and/or been operating for more than three months.
      • The title must be scheduled to appear in tournaments

https://www.inside-games.jp/article/2018/02/01/112492.html

As of Feb. 1st, 2018, there are the 6 titles for which pro licenses will be issued:

  • Winning Eleven 2018 (PS4/PS3 Konami Digital Entertainment)
  • Call of Duty World War II (PS4 Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Street Fighter V Arcade Edition (PS4/PC Capcom)
  • Tekken 7 (PS4, Xbox One, PC Bandai Namco Entertainment)
  • Puzzle and Dragons (ios/Android Gung Ho Online Entertainment)
  • Monster Strike (ios/Android Mixi)

January 30, 2018

Thoughts on EVO Japan 2018 from a volunteer

The crowd watching losers pools SFV Day 2
Ultra David
James Chen
Sajam and Tasty Steve
With Skisonic
SNK King of Fighters cosplayers
With Yumesuke2016 as Laura
MissShinoBee as Elphelt
MissShinoBee as Elphelt
Marn
Justin Wong
Oil King
Oil King
EVO Japan 2018
With FightingGameESL
HiFightTH
Fubarduck
Cory Bell and junjunmjgirly play an intense set in SFV Day 1 Pools.
Akihabara Esports Square setup
Preparing Takoyaki at Akihabara Esports Square
Preparing Takoyaki at Akihabara Esports Square
Making Takoyaki at Akihabara Esports Square

I've been playing Street Fighter for a long time. I first encountered it in probably 1991, in the back of Aljon's Pizza in West Windsor, New Jersey. I didn't know what was going on, but I loved it. At one point, I figured out how to do Guile's flash kick: you had to block down for a bit, then wiggle the joystick from the back corner to the front corner, then back to the back corner, the up and a kick. In those early days, if you knew how to do a move, you didn't tell anybody and you kept that tech to yourself. Ever since then, I've been playing some version of Street Fighter, or Darkstalkers, or some fighting game.

Ten years ago when I moved to Japan, I was pretty busy with post-doc research, and then I joined a company, and threw a lot of my energy into that, then I got married, we had a kid, and while I was playing online matches (THawk in all the SF4 versions, Zangief in SFV) at some point I wanted to get back into the Street Fighter community. So I started to look around, and found out that Twitter is where all the information is now. So I set up an account and started looking around. I actually first found out about the Tokyo FGC from the Jump In Podcast when Kim 1234 mentioned that there is a weekly gathering at Akihabara Esports Square. I've been going ever since.

When I saw on Twitter that EVO Japan would be a thing, I knew that I couldn't miss it. So I signed up when that opened, and then I also volunteered to help out as volunteer staff. I was pretty sure I wouldn't get out of pools, and since I know Japanese well enough I thought I could contribute to making the event better in some way if I joined as staff. I was pretty excited when they accepted my application, and I was in.

I took two days off of work – there was an organizational meeting on Thursday the day before EVO that I had to attend, and of course I needed to be free all Friday. I had to work out childcare arrangements for my son, and did that. So what are my thoughts overall?

1 The Good

Overall, I had a great time at EVO Japan. It was exhausting - I had two 12-14 hour days on my feet the whole time, didn't have time for lunch either day, and was running around like crazy. It was really fun though. I really enjoyed meeting with and talking to other fighting game fan enthusiasts, and the atmosphere in general. I loved that there were side tournaments, some of which were run on arcade cabinets. I wish I had time to watch some of the USFIV tournament. Writing this up, I'm a bit sad that my list of good things is much shorter than my list of things that can be improved, but that is not a reflection of my overall experience. I had a great time, and would absolutely do it over again in a second.

  • A huge turnout for lots of games. I primarily play and watch Street Fighter, and there was immense turnout for that game.
  • For the number of people, and how much reliance there was on volunteer staff, things ran well. I don't think there were major mix-ups, and things went smoothly for the most part. Almost all the volunteer staff were themselves FGC players, and it really showed in how the community pulled together to pull of this logistically intimidating event.
  • Lots of people from all over the world came, and I think really enjoyed Tokyo.
  • Lots of places to eat / shop near the venue. Some 24 hour places too.
  • The event was streamed on Twitch with English commentary. Also, a second stream from Capcom Fighters covered most of the Street Fighter matches with English commentary.
  • I liked the exhibitor booths that were there, and the preview of Soul Caliber was great.
  • A really great atmosphere for all players involved - people were friendly and approachable.
  • Entry was free. Free. Are you serious!?

2 The Bad

While I really enjoyed EVO Japan 2018, and have nothing but good feelings about it, there are some things that can be improved. I really think that these are improvement opportunities, and in no way do I buy into the theories that the event was run for advertisers or media (I've been reading things like that on twitter). I'm not hooked into the world of the TOs and runners for this, but I know that some of the people involved on both the US and Japan sides are themselves home-grown FGC veterans and enthusiasts.

One thing you need to keep in mind about EVO Japan is that Japan is a country that loves their laws. In particular, there are laws about gambling that make it impossible to collect an entry fee and also have a pot to payout to the winners. I'm sure there is some way around this, but Tokyo Cup didn't have a prize because of those laws. EVO Japan was free to enter - which is amazing - but I think because of that, they had to gather most of their capital from advertising and exclusive streaming agreements with e.g., OpenRec TV and AbemaTV. I think the overall size of the venue was due to the overall expense, and also since this was the first EVO Japan, an underestimation of interest. (The Sai tournament did happen last year, but I feel like that wasn't a proper estimator for the interest of an EVO Japan event).

So here are some things that I think could use some improvement.

  • The venue was a bit difficult to find. I'm more or less fluent in Japanese, and I had some trouble finding the venue. Once you make it to Sunshine City, getting to the Convention Halls is still quite a hike through the shopping complex. You get dumped out onto the first floor, and you have to know that Hall A and B are on floors 3 and 4 (I think). I should have talked to someone about putting up signs in English telling people where to go.
  • The venue was too small. Running pools on the first day - about 2500 SFV entrants - was tough. We had one machine for each pool (this is ok) with about 8-10 people per pool. There was nowhere near enough room for 8-10 people to stand around the machine, since we had eight stations on a table, and another table not too far behind that. It was very hard to get to your pool if it was in the middle of the table.
  • There weren't enough seats in the venue to sit down. As a volunteer I was on my feet 14 hours a day, and that is expected, but there wasn't enough seating for people in general.
  • Overall, I don't think the organizers did a good job of communicating in general, and in specific communicating in English. When I volunteered I thought I would be involved from a much earlier stage crafting signs, information, templates, things like that, but I didn't hear anything about organization at all until the day before the event.
  • Confusion over pool numbers. On the first day, the stations were numbered with three digit numbers, but pools were denoted as (A|B|C)##. It took me a while to understand what the relationship between the pool numbers and station numbers was. A future run should have a simpler to understand system, like "Morning XX", "Afternoon XX", "Evening XX" where XX is the same as the number on the station.
  • Confusion over where pools were for people that made it out. There was a lot of confusion over where players should go once they made it out of their pools. As someone running one of those pools, I didn't know until about 10 minutes before I ran the pool. The best advice I had to give people was to wait by their station for someone to call your name. This is something that was addressed on the second day where with Tekken people got cards that said what pool they would be in, so I'm glad to see that an adjustment was made.
  • Confusion about what time players would play. This is something that generally happens I think, but I wasn't able to tell people when they would play. I just ran the pool in Winners up to Winners Final, and then ran the Losers. I'm not sure what could be done here. I think it would be great if Smash.gg could integrate a notification system to call players when they are up or when they would be the next match.
  • Volunteers were not organized in any way. I expected that a few days before the event, I would be told that I am running pools XX and YY, and where and when they were. That didn't happen. We gathered in the morning right before the tournament started, and were told to just go stand in front of a station. Confusion was the order of the day. That said, I think we did manage to run all the pools and there weren't many problems with it, but it was not what I could call planned or organized.
  • No breaks for Volunteers. Since we didn't have a schedule, we just were left on our own. I had to leave early one day and couldn't run an evening pool, so I just informed the blue shirted guy and took off. I hope things went well. It would have been better if we had volunteer schedules, so I would have had time to eat.
  • Not enough exhibitor booths. I liked the booths that they had. There just were not very many. I wanted to buy some of the specialty stuff, like the nice Sanwa stick, but it sold out pretty quick. Also, as a volunteer I had no time at all to actually look at what they had.
  • No artists alley? I can't believe they didn't have a big artists alley to feature all the great anime and manga art in Japan. The crossover potential is huge. It boggles the mind. There was one booth selling a manga which I bought (and got signed!) If there is another EVO Japan I really think they should think about getting a much larger space for exhibits and artists.
  • No organized after-parties? I've always wanted to go to Bar Fights. I didn't see any Gooteks out there setting up fun stuff to do. I know BAS was setting some stuff up, but that is more or less personal connections and friends going out. I would not have the stamina to go out and do something, but I'm sure many other people would be interested. Especially because the tournament ended early for a US tournament. Why did it end early? The last train! So events have to run on time or people might get stuck far away from home or hotels.
  • Talking about hotels, was there a venue hotel with a discount rate? Another missed opportunity.
  • Not nearly enough planning for who does what for the volunteers. I mentioned this before, but I'm shocked that we were able to pull this off with the lack of planning we had. In the morning of the first day, the volunteers were asked "What game do you know?" and then they went and ran those pools. This is something that can be determined ahead of time.
  • Not enough casual setups. I saw this complaint on twitter a bit. I know that it was possible to play casuals, but all the setups were used in official capacity at one time or another (aside from the BYOC area - which I was glad they had space for).
  • Not enough sticks to lend out. In most of the events in Japan, they are either held at an arcade (so you don't need to bring a stick) or setups are provided with sticks (because who wants to lug that stuff on a super crowded train to work just so you can go play a bit on the way home?) We had some people who didn't have sticks, and I think there were only about 6 or so available to lend out. There wasn't a system for that either. Of course, I think some good can come of that, because that forces people to talk to others in their pool and see if they can find a stick to borrow. In Japan, having an excuse to talk to someone is often necessary to start conversation, so that might have helped start some friendships. I know when I went to WNF last year, I didn't have a stick, and since Salilou let me borrow his stick I've really wanted to pay back that favor, and we've become friendly since. I suspect many Japanese were expecting that they wouldn't need to bring a stick though, and I certainly didn't see any official communication about that.
  • Really hard to watch matches. If you wanted to spectate pool matches, or later on streamed matches on Day 2, there was just no good way to do that. At some point a projector was set and that helped a bit, but the place was jam packed.
  • Lack of coordination between the EN streamers and TOs. I ended up being the intermediary between the stream station for US Twitch on Day 2 and the TO. I only did that because I wanted to be involved in the SFV stuff day 2, and when I went to talk to the stream staff, they didn't have any plan for how to move forward. So I stepped in and tried to help out. This is also something that really should have been worked out far in advance.
  • On the second day, since I noticed that there was confusing over who to talk to if you only spoke English, I recommended that we put on tags or stickers or something on people who were bilingual. We then split our group up (all eight of us!!) over all the games that were running. Those were some ghetto tags too. I hope it helped a bit.
  • Not enough tickets for the finals. Not much more to say about that.

3 The Personal

The rest of this post is probably not interesting to people, but please do read on if you want to hear about things that just got me super excited.

I'm not particularly good at Street Fighter. I've got a Platinum/Gold Zangief, and a Silver Rashid. I really enjoy spectating Street Fighter though, and am familiar with most of the players and commentators. I love living in Japan, but I'm married to a Japanese woman who doesn't really care for games, so I can't talk to her about those things. It is very easy to get homesick and miss things from America (Pizza is one of them - hit me up if you want to know the best NYC style Pizza places in Tokyo). I really enjoy listening to UltraChenTV, The Gauntlet, and The Jump In on my commute to work. So meeting some of the people behind those things is something I was really looking forward to. While I also would like to meet players, I worry that top players are going to be preoccupied with preparing for their games, so I don't really want to bother them.

3.1 Commentators *

I was very excited to have met some real luminaries from the commentary world. UltraDavid from the UltraChenTV show and commentary fame took the time to chat and take a photo. I ran into James Chen on Day 1, but was in a real rush to get home so I could pick my son up from daycare. I actually butted in to his conversation with MajinObama (sorry about that!) to get a picture. I also met Sajam and Tasty Steve together. Last year I went to WNF in July and met Sajam there, and he was a really nice guy then. Steve is the most excited and hype person I have ever met. Both great guys. By the way, if you are interested in learning more about a variety of fighting games, check out The Recipe on CrossCounterTV. They talk about a bunch of different fighting games in an easy and accessible way. I also ran into skisonic who is another commentator that I enjoy.

There are lots of other commentators that I would have liked to chat with - Logan-sama, Jiyuna, MajinObama, Rynge, Rip, Zhi, etc. I was just super busy and didn't have a chance to wander around.

I sometimes hear people talking about who the best commentators are, and I just don't get that entire conversation. There is such a wide range of information and ways to express yourself that I can always find something to appreciate with the different commentators out there. I absolutely love when Zhi and MajinObama are on the mic because of just how "inside baseball" their discussion of Japan can be. I'm actually watching the Twitch replays of the Jump Off right now, and having a desk of 4 people talking about a variety of games is just so much fun.

What was a unifying theme about all the people I interacted with at the event is that everyone was kind, and we all have a shared passion about fighting games. You just can't under-sell how important that is.

3.2 Cosplayers *

I met some commentators, that was cool. I also met some cosplayers! That was cool too! First up, I snuck by the SNK booth before the event opened and got a picture with some of the cosplayers there. When I was running pools on Day 1, there was a Laura cosplayer in a pool behind me, and we chatted a bit. Very friendly. I was worried she might give me a knee to the groin. I also ran in MissShinoBee as Elphelt. I have GGRxd but I am just terrible at that game. It is beautiful though, and it is really nice to see that brought to life. Finally, I got a shot with Cory Bell in Sakura cross-play. That outfit is amazing. I think he could have gone into a Konami arcade and actually worked there for a bit before anyone figured it out.

3.3 Game players *

I met some players! Marn was in my pool, and had I won my first match I would have had to play him. Of course, I didn't. Still, Marn was really nice. If he has a bad rap, I don't know that would be. I met Justin Wong! He has been writing up a lot of cool stuff about his adventures in Japan, and he has got some great information. I always like to see people who appreciate Japan come out here. I met Oil King! His fashion is on point. I took a picture with Infiltration (the EVO Japan winner!) and Gllty! I didn't talk to either of them much, but Gllty is a regular at various Tokyo events and puts in real work. She's great. Infiltration seems like a nice guy too. I met up with Cory Bell, a Zangief that I've been following for a while. He's a fun guy.

I met Powell - this is a relatively unknown guy outside of Japan, but he's a Master Ranked Cammy from Nagoya. He came by the Esports Square event on Sunday and I got to chat with him a lot. He is a hilarious guy. He was talking about how he wanted Tokido to win so he could say he was the only one to have beat him. He also talked about how he was able to pull the ladies after his tremendous performance, but when I asked him how many he said "Uh, I took like, 3 back to my hotel!" I don't buy it, but this is one fun guy to hang out with.

3.4 People I didn't expect to meet *

One thing that surprised me is that some people came up to me and introduced themselves. There is absolutely no reason anyone should be interested in me, but I guess because of my Twitter Account some people know who I am. My goal with that twitter account is to make information about fighting game events in Japan more accessible. If I had known earlier about what was going on in Tokyo, I would have been much more involved from the beginning. The way things used to work though is that players hung out in specific arcades, and you just had to know what they were. E.g., everyone knows about the Shinjuku East Gate Namco, but how did you learn about that? I also think it can be very intimidating to approach famous players when you are just some random Joe Donuts in the silver league. So what I'm trying to do is put out information about FGC events in English as I see it fly by on Twitter.

Which also makes me want to mention that I think Twitter sucks as a general communication and archival medium. I've been running this blog of mine since 1999, and if I ever want to find anything on it, it is indexed and I can get back to it. I can write more than 100 or 200 characters or whatever. I can put cogent thoughts together to form a cohesive argument. Twitter is not good at any of that. But Twitter is where everyone is at. That said, check out Burning Meter for archiving and adding your own FGC tech. I'm much more optimistic about that kind of approach. Sadly, once it gets popular hosting will cost too much and it will probably die (unless they go the advertising route, which I am fine with).

So, I use twitter, but I'm not an ardent fan. I was surprised then when Jun-ichi of Fighting Games ESL fame came up to me and introduced himself! I've been following him for ages and his tweets are an invaluable resource for people looking to learn Fighting Game Japanese. That said, man, I should put a webpage together of all his tweets or something.

I also met HiFightTH who puts out amazing clips for fighting game action all the time. I can't believe he does all of that himself. I met The Sentimental Typhoon who also translates interesting stuff every now and again. I met FubarDuck who made me think that maybe I can make some positive contribution to the FGC. These were all unexpected meetings, and I really enjoyed chatting with these guys. There are also other people I follow that do interesting translation on twitter, and I hope I get a chance to meet them in the future too!

3.5 I met Seth Killian *

Finally, I know I made a separate section for this, but I met Seth Killian! I've known of this guy (and Bob Painter, and Graehm Wolfe, and …) and a whole bunch of other since I started with street fighter from the venerable days of alt.games.sf2. What a nice guy.

I also ran into one of the Cannon brothers, and I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know if it was Tom or Tony. He even told me, but I've since forgotten. These guys (well, Tony I guess) single-handedly developed GGPO, the best online fighting games latency hiding system out there. Super crazy.

That said, I'm terrible with names. One day, HDJammerz stopped by Akihabara Esports Square, and I asked him if he was Infectious. Ugh.

3.6 Super Hype Games *

I saw some great games. One that sticks in my mind was on the first day, when I saw Cory Bell's Zangief take on junjunmjgirly's Ken. junjunmjgirly is the bassist in a super-popular rock band who is into fighting games. That match was super fun, because everyone watching was totally into it. While I was doing my volunteer duties, I didn't get to see many matches, but I'm watching stuff slowly later on in the archives. Just being around all these great games was lots of fun though.

3.7 Sunday casuals at Esports Square *

On Sunday, since I couldn't get tickets for the finals (who could!?) I helped Kagechi set up for a casual session at Akihabara Esports Square. He set the place up so you could relax and watch what was going on the big screen easily, and also planned to do 500 yen all you can eat takoyaki. A lot of people stopped by. In fact, a record setting number, and we actually had to turn people away so we didn't run foul of fire hazard regulations. Kagecchi was super bummed when James Chen and UltraDavid stopped by but had to be turned away. About 170 people came by, when on a usual night it is closer to 60. It was lots of fun, and the Takoyaki was great. I had a great time chatting with players from around the world and Japan. Verloren and Powell ran some pretty intense mirror match Cammy sets, and it was generally just a fun time all around.

If you are even in Tokyo and have time on a Wednesday night, drop by Akihabara Esports Square from 7pm. It is always lots of fun, and they are happy to see new people there.

3.8 Final words *

I had a great time at EVO Japan, and really hope there is another one. I think there are many things that can be improved, and if I'm in any position to do so I will work to the best of my abilities to help. I think overall people had a great time, and I'm convinced that Japan is a great destination for major tournaments because it is a great tourist destination in its own right, and has a long connection to fighting game history.

Some of the problems I think stem from the lack of really large tournaments in Japan because of the gambling laws, and also because traditionally people have just run their own tournaments in arcades in a kind of off-the-cuff manner. Events like EVO really need a lot more forethought and planning - and I'm not saying that didn't happen for EVO Japan 2018, but I think there could be a bit more.

I had a great time, and I hope you did too. If you ever come to Japan, feel free to hit me up on twitter or otherwise. Have fun, and watch out for overheads.


December 17, 2017

Alan's 6th Birthday

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Today, 2017-12-16, is Alan’s sixth birthday. This year, instead of getting lots of presents, Lisa’s planned a nice trip for him. Since Alan really loves trains (what six year old in Japan doesn’t?) this trip is a train-focused trip. His birthday conveniently fell on a Saturday, so we were able to take an overnight trip to a Onsen.

We had an 8:24 Max Toki Shinkansen on the Joetsu line. The Max Toki E4 series of trains is amazing - two floors of seating, carrying about 1634 people when two eight car trains are connected together. I have always wanted to ride in one of those trains up on the second floor. Lisa got us reserved seats in the upper floor - the upper floor are all reserved, and the lower floor is open seating - and we were off. The trains are actually on the way out, and will probably be withdrawn from service sometime in 2018. Right now these monster E4 trains are only in use on the Joetsu line, and all the previous lines that had used them are using newer trains that can go faster. These trains can only go 240 km/h (150 mph) which isn’t fast enough for Japan I guess. The fastest Shinkansen run at about 200 mph now, and around 175 mph is pretty common. I wonder if the newer trains will also be double decker; I somehow doubt it because so far I haven’t seen any plans for those, and they are likely to re-use existing designs I think. Who knows though? The Shinkansen are really popular in Japan, and a lot of effort is put into them, so maybe they will make another really high passenger capacity train.

We took the Shinkansen to Takasaki, which was about an hour out of Tokyo. From there we took a special weekend-only Steam Engine train. It ran from Takasaki (a reasonably large city I think - population of about 370,000 people) to the end of the line at Yokokawa. That place has a population of about 600 people unless I am reading the PDF that I found on the web somewhere wrong. At any rate, it was a small little town.

When we pulled into the station there was a local high school Taiko group playing Taiko as we came in. It was super cool. Even though it was cold outside, they were out there in short sleeves banging up a storm. We watched them for a while, and got lots of pictures of the train and the local mascots (Silky-chan and the Gunma-ken mascot) and then we went out to a local train attraction: The Usui Pass Railway Park. I couldn’t find any English information about it, but it was a large park (or maybe museum - you had to pay a fee to get in) that had lots of train related stuff. Lots of older trains, you could go inside some of them, and lots of small trains and other things for kids to ride. Which all cost money, but that is to be expected I guess. We walked around and saw some cool old trains, and even rode on their gear-toothed rail car. There is a local track that goes up into the mountains that uses a gear toothed rail apparently - there is a long hiking path that takes you to some scenic spots on it - and the place is a bit famous for that I think.

After our time in the train park, we went to get lunch at a place that has been doing Station lunch boxes for the longest amount of time in Japan - 150 years or so. They have a special lunch box called the "Kamomeshi" that was pretty good! The place was called Onogiya I think.

We took the steam engine back to Takasaki, but before the train left there was another performance by a local high school Taiko group. The steam train only runs on weekends, and each time it comes there are different groups doing things. The ones that were announced on the board were all Taiko groups, and sometimes there would be those local characters, or maybe not.

From Takasaki we took a local train back to Isobe. Apparently Isobe is the place where the Onsen mark was popularized. We had a nice dip in the Onsen before dinner, and played some card cames (Sushi Go and Uno) before having dinner and retiring for the night.

In the morning, we had a nice breakfast at the Onsen, and then took the train back to Tokyo. That means catching the once-an-hour local train from Isobe, and then transfering at Takasaki to the Shinkansen for Tokyo. We again rode on the E4 series, but this time it was a single eight car train instead of two of them connected together. We had non-reserved seating this time, which meant that we sat on the bottom floor of the train. You have very little view from the bottom floor - you mostly just see the wall of the Shinkansen track, and when you pull into the station you are literally at level with the platform. It is a bit surreal watching people’s shoes walk by.

We then took the usual train route home from Tokyo station, made it back in time for a leisurely afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and had a nice dinner with them. I got a cake at the local cake shop, and we did the Happy Birthday thing. All things considered, quite a success!

October 31, 2017

Tokyo's Fighter's Crossover -Akihabara- 100th Anniversary Team Ratio Tournament

-Fighter's Crossover- Akihabara is a weekly gathering, usually on Wednesday, at Akihabara's E-sports Square for Street Fighter V players. It is organized by Kagechhi, and this weekend he ran two tournaments celebrating having held 100 of these locals. The second event on October 29th was a "Ratio" Tournament. You build a team of 2-3 people, and can spent a total of 11 points on your team. Each character costs a certain number of points:
  • 6: Ibuki, Akuma, Rashid
  • 5: Guile, Karin, Cammy, Zangief, Necali, Boxer
  • 4: Birdie, Dictator, Urien, Lara, R. Mika
  • 3: Abigail, Ken, Dhalsim, Chun-Li, Nash, Claw, F.A.N.G., Menat, Ryu
  • 2: Alex, Ed, Kolin, Juri
You need to have at least 2 people on your team, and no more than 3. You can see the results and teams here.

The winning team was Noguchi's Guile, Yossan's Juri, and Crusher's Birdie. I have no idea what their team name means. ("Demanding receding hair" - it looks like there is a twitter account with that name.)

There were two teams with two people, the other 30 had three people. The top 8 teams were:

  • 1: "Demanding Receding Hair": Noguchi (Guile) Yossan (Juri), Crusher (Birdie)
  • 2: "displeasure120%": Kichi pa-mu (Zangief), Hagejin (Abigail), GAMEtoHITO (Dhalsim)
  • 4: "We have all 5!": Azuma (Urien), MON (F.A.N.G.), Yukimayu (Laura)
  • 4: "Bison Line": Vanao (Boxer), Reiketsu (Menat), yuba (Nash)
  • 8: "Your opposition is all snacks": Kinoko Boxer (Boxer), Takenoko no Sato (Chun-Li), Gafuro (Nash).
  • 8: Ratio 9: DNG Tachikawa (Dhalsim), Rolling (Ed), AW Nemo (Urien)
  • 8: Team Tachikawa Parasite: Ikahara (Cammy), Takeuchi John (Rashid)
  • 8: Torikizoku F Pro Group: Willy (Dictator), EmuEmu (Zangief), Gerand (Kolin). Torikizoku is a chain of bars.

Other interesting teams: "It's Ryu! Ryu!" with three Ryus. "Low Cost" with a 7 point team of Ryu, Kolin, and Alex.

You can watch the entire five hour tournament here.

I really enjoy how Kagecchi tries different things - different formats, sets up different tournaments (beginner tournaments < 7500 LP, platinum and up tournaments, completely open tournaments) and works to foster a sense of community. If you are ever in Tokyo and looking for some Street Fighter, stop by sometime. Check the schedule and drop by. If you see an old American with a beard, say hi!


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