The Japan Capcom Street Fighter League powered by RAGE

Table of Contents

1 What is the Japan Street Fighter League powered by RAGE?

2019-01-26 JP Street Fighter League Team Captains

Back at Tokyo Game Show 2018, one of the announcements was a Street Fighter V team three on three league. The Japanese version has three classes of members, one on each team. I wrote about the team composition in a post about the Beginner Class selection, and also mentioned the High Class member selection process in another blog post. Here is the basic information though.

Each team will have one of:

The team play will take place in January and February of 2019. The team captains drafted team members in the Team Draft show streamed on on January 26th. I haven’t seen too much about this – except for some HiFightTH clips that were likely hard to understand without more context. I don’t mean to throw shade on HiFightTH – the guy is amazing and you should support him on Patreon if you have the ability.

How does the tournament work? The teams accumulate points during round robin League play. The three teams with the highest point total advance on to the Grand Finals. Players in each respective class play each other, and point values differ based on that. Each set is a first to two.

  • Beginner Class FT2 winner scores their team 1 point
  • High Class FT2 winner scores their team 2 points
  • Extreme Class FT2 winner scores their team 3 points

Note that because of this, there really is a balance between teaching the team members, and just trying to coast by on the individual performance of the team captain. It is likely that the win rate (well, I guess I should talk to The Game Twok or finish reading Fighting With Numbers 2019 first) for the team captains will be around 50%, so if they can focus and teach their team members to consistently win, that is a probably an easier path to points than trying to train to beat the other pros more consistently. There is relative strength in the different captains, but I’m convinced this structure makes the Beginner and High class members important as well.

1.1 League Rules

This league is a three person to a team, round robin tournament style league. Each team will play 10 sets (facing each other team 2 times). This composes the normal league play. Based on the results from the normal league play, the top three scoring teams will advance on to a Playoff Tournament to decide the final standings.

Each team consists of three people, including the team leader (I’ll call them Captain). Each battle is a first to two, and the winner of the FT2 wins one match.

A complete set consists of a team battle between the vanguard (beginner class), the center (high class), and the captain (extreme class), where each class fights the opposing team’s member of the same class.

  • The battle settings are Versus Mode, 1 round is a 99 count, and three rounds.
  • Stage selection is random, with Kanzuki Beach, The Grid, Flamenco Tavern, and Skies of Honor banned.
  • Rainbow Mika’s Cheerleader / Pom Pom outfit is banned.
  • Each player provides their own stick or pad.
  • No auto-fire or macro capabilities are allowed for controllers.
  • If there is some problem with the controllers the players provide, the organizers will provide a controller.
  • You can use custom controllers but they need to conform to the basic capability of a stock controller (no rapid fire / macros / etc.)
  • If there are problems during the match, to the best of one’s capability, the situation before the problem occurred will be re-created for play to continue from that point. If that is not possible, the organizers and teams will confer, and may decide to re-run the match.
  • The organizers will decide which team is on which side. [TL Note: This may be important for the Beginner class members.]
  • You can not changes sides during a SET.
  • Each team must tell the organizers which character and sub character they will use on their team an hour before the match.
  • Players must use only the characters that they informed the organizers about (multiple characters allowed).
  • Before the match judges will confirm that the selected characters are the ones that have been submitted prior to the match.
  • If there is no problem with character selection, each player declares their V trigger selection to the judge, and the game will start once the judge confirms selection.
  • After a Battle, players may change their character and/or V trigger. The winner player can not change characters, but may change their V-trigger.
  • If there is a PS button, share button, etc. pressed during the match, the side who pressed it will lose the round. If the button is pressed after victory is assured, then it can be ignored. Some various other mumbo jumbo around how that is decided, all pretty standard stuff.

Each time will win points for every match their team wins, called Victory Points. The number of points depends on the class of the players. The beginner matches are worth one point, the high class matches are worth two points, and the extreme class matches are worth three points. The standings will be determined by total number of Victory Points. In cases where there are ties, the standings will be settles by:

  1. Number of Victory Points
  2. Number of Matches won
  3. Number of Battles won
  4. Number of rounds won

After normal league play is done, the top three scoring teams will advance on to the “Grand Final” Playoff Tournament.

If a team has a player absent, that player forfeits, and the opposing team wins points in a straight count: 4 rounds, 2 battles, 1 match, and the Victory Points for that forfeiture.

If there is a draw game, the battles and rounds for that set will be ignored, and the set will be run again.

1.2 Special Rule “FINAL ACT”

If there is one set where the number of Matches won is a runaway victory 3-0 for one of the teams, the FINAL ACT special rule will be invoked, or as the machine translated version puts it, “The crying time final act”. In this special match, the winning team’s Captain (Extreme Class) will go up against either the Beginner class or High class member of the losing team. The losing team can decide which class will go up. If the beginner class is chosen, the beginner class member and the extreme class member will have a single round match. If the extreme class member is chosen, they will have a normal two round battle. In either case, if the losing team’s beginner or extreme class member wins, the losing team will receive 3 Victory Points.

If there is a draw game in the FINAL ACT, that will count as a loss for the Extreme class member’s team.

1.3 Grand Finals

There is some information about the Grand Finals in the detailed rules PDF. The Grand Finals will be decided by Victory Points, with a maximum of 5 Sets played, and the first team to win 3 Sets will be the victor. The “FINAL ACT” rule will not be applied in the Grand Finals. Seeding in the Grand Finals will be decided by points gathered in regular tournament play.

Looking back at this now, it seems to have changed and says this:

  • The first team to get 10 points wins.
  • The teams play in this order: Beginner vs. Beginner, High Class, Extreme Class, Beginner class.
  • The points are still 1 point for Beginner, 2 points for High, and 3 points for Extreme.
  • The play continues in the above order until one of the team reaches 10 points.

The advantage for different seeding:

  • The 2nd place team plays the 3rd place team.
    • The 2nd place team starts with a 2 point lead.
  • The 1st place team plays the winner of the 2nd and 3rd place teams.
  • If any players are not able to attend, they automatically lose in their match.
    • No word on what happens if both players of some class for a team can’t attend.

1.4 Prize Pool

The total prize pool for the league is 5,000,000 yen, about $45,735 USD. The prize distribution is:

  • 1st place: 3,000,000yen, about $27,440 USD.
  • 2nd place: 1,000,000yen, about $9,150 USD.
  • 3rd place: 500,000yen, about $4,500 USD.
  • 4th place: 250,000yen, about $2,300 USD.
  • 5th place: 150,000yen, about $1,370 USD.
  • 6th place: 100,000yen, about $915 USD.

2 2019 Street Fighter League powered by RAGE Schedule

The main Street Fighter League page has a great table of the upcoming shows (click 番組情報).

The AbemaTV links are free when the show is live, and after a week or two the archives are free as well. I believe OpenRec is free to stream live as well.

Date Section Stream Comments
2019-01-26 Sat. Draft AbemaTV OpenRec See the next section for my summary
2019-02-01 Sat. 1 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-02-02 Sun. 2 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-02-09 Sat. 3 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-02-10 Sun. 4 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-02-23 Sat. 5 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-02-24 Sun. 6 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-03-02 Sat. Special AbemaTV OpenRec 7pm JST, a special show with some entertainment personalities, and virtual YouTubers.
2019-03-02 Sat. 7 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-03-03 Sun. 8 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-03-09 Sat. 9 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-03-10 Sun. 10 AbemaTV OpenRec 9pm JST / 7am Sat. EST / 4am PST
2019-03-21 Thu. Finals AbemaTV OpenRec 1pm to 7pm JST (8pm – 2am PST) Ticket will be available for a live audience, at Akihabara UDX Akiba Square from LivePocket from Feb. 14th 11am, 2778yen or 9259yen for a premium ticket with a hoodie.

3 2019-01-26 Street Fighter League Team Draft

2019-01-26 JP SFL Draft Daigo isn't ready to answer

The team Draft took place on Saturday, Jan. 26th, from 9pm JST. You can watch from the archive of the SFL Draft. The six teams are

  • Nemo Aurora
  • Itazan Ocean
  • Fuudo Gaia
  • Umehara Gold
  • Mago Scarlet
  • Tokido Flame

If you watched the Street Fighter All Star League Powered by RAGE last year, you’ll notice that some of the team Captains and colors remain the same (Nemo, Itazan, Umehara, Tokido) with two new additions. I’m surprised they didn’t pull Gachi-kun to captain one of the teams actually.

As the MCs introduce the rules, we got a bit more information about how the team battle will work. The team battle pits each class against each other, so when the teams play, the Beginner will play the Beginner, the High Class member will play the other team’s High Class member, and the two Extreme Class members will play each other. All of these are First to Two matches. The team accumulates points for each win, 1 point for a Beginner win, 2 points for a High Class win, and 3 points for an Extreme Class win. At the end of the League play, a total of 10 sessions scheduled, the top 3 teams with the highest point total will move on to the Grand Finals to be held at the end of March.

Ayako Hatta asks each of the captains to talk a little bit about the type of team that they want to have. First up is Nemo Aurora. If you watched the RAGE Street Fighter V All★Star League powered by Capcom in 2018, or read my summary of it, you might remember that Nemo’s Aurora team had a reputation as a “Black Company” – a term used for companies that treat their employees very badly. The Sentimental Typhoon had a great tweet at the time explaining the background. So, when Ayako asks Nemo about his conception for his team this time around, she prefaced it with “You had the reputation last time of being a very strict (harsh) team leader, some might even say a Dictator. So what do you want this time?” Nemo replies: “People who obey my orders.” After the laughter dies down, he says that last time he had impertinent players on his team (Storm Kubo and Kazunoko), and he wants people who will take orders. This whole exchange was very funny to me – pay close attention to Mago, as well as Hameko trying hard not to crack.

Ayako asks Itabashi Zangief about his team, mentioning that he chose two unsponsored players (Gachi-kun and Machabo) who both did very well later in the year, and they won. He says that he thinks he was right in choosing to have a “white” team, and they proved they were right. Here, the white is in direct opposition to Nemo’s “Black” team. If you don’t know, Nemo and Itazan have a storied history of a relationship, see another great tweet thread by The Sentimental Typhoon on the topic, or maybe this Kotaku article or a few others you can find by googling “Nemo Itabashi Zangief rivalry”. He goes on to say that he wants to have a similar team this time.

Next, Ayako talks to Fuudo. She says that he was on Tokido’s team in the RAGE All Stars league, but now he is on his own, and wants to know what kind of team that he wants to have. He says that he wants to emphasize having fun and for things to be easy, but he plans to choose his teammates based on their strength. Note how Daigo suddenly seems to realize halfway through Fuudo’s interview that he now has to answer a question about his team, and he looks completely unprepared for such an unexpected thing to happen (sarcasm here.)

Ayako asks Daigo whether it is easier for him to teach people about a character that he knows well? Daigo says that surprisingly, he hasn’t ever really taught anyone about fighting games. That seems to directly contradict everything I’ve heard about how he prepped for Kemonomichi by teaching Otani how to use Akuma, but he might be talking about teaching someone who doesn’t really know fighting games to start with. Or, in typical Daigo fashion, he’s just not really completely there for the interview and isn’t really thinking too carefully about what he says. I can never tell with that guy. The chat on OpenRec, by the way, is totally going nuts too (what? lolololo really? What about Otani!? Or people talking about the Fire Emblem game he’s been streaming lately, just going nuts.) He says it will be a good experience to seriously teach someone, and he is looking forward to see how much growth he can see in his teammates. Ayako says everyone watching is excited to see him teach, and he’s kind of like oh yeah, ok, great.

Ayako says that Mago is said to be a good teacher, and he replies that he has more experience than any of the others teaching people from beginners to higher levels about fighting games. For context, on most Thursdays there is a weekly SFV gathering at Red Bull Gaming Sphere in Nakano where Mago runs a session teaching beginners about the game. That said, Fuudo also does a lot of teaching on JikokenTV, which is also often run out of Red Bull Gaming Sphere in Nakano on Thursdays. So Mago says that he is confident in his teaching ability and that his team will do well in the league. He says that in a short period of time, he’s good at helping people out and that plays to his strengths. He wants his team to have fun, and be able to continue to play the game.

Finally, Tokido is last. Ayako asks Tokido how he will choose his team members this time. He says “This time I want to choose players, without making any compromise, that can win.” When Ayako asks what he means by that, he says that last time (RAGE Street Fighter V All Stars League powered by Capcom) he was able to choose a strong player for the first person on his team (Fuudo) but then for the third member had to make a compromise. Watch Mago carefully, since he was the third player on Tokido Flame. Tokido continues “For this tournament, I want to choose someone who has a really strong will to win the tournament.” Standing right next to him, Mago asks “What kind of compromise did you make?” Tokido says “We’ll talk about that later. Anyway, this time, I don’t want to make any compromises.” Aya: you want to choose the players you want? Tokido: I want to choose a team that can win. Mago: You had to comprise before? Tokido: Yes, lots of compromising. No compromises this time! And those three people are here now, and in particular I do not want to lose to this guy (points at Mago.) Mago: As far as I remember, we lost as a team. It’s because he’s just bad at teaching. Tokido: You might be right about that. Aya: Did you ever give teach them during the matches? Tokido: well, uh…

So there is a lot of fun stuff going on in the interactions between the captains, which is something I really liked from the RAGE All Stars League too.

3.1 Extreme Class draft

2019-01-26 JP Street Fighter League Draft

2019-01-26 JP SFL Draft - Extreme Class Captain Preferences

Each of the teams need to draft one High Class member, and one Beginner class member. The field of High Class members draws from a pool of 11 candidates, each with their own established main and playstyle. There has been plenty of footage for the captains to review as part of the selection process, and in the draft the High Class members were paired off and played each other. After the play had finished, the team captains were able to request additional matches be set up between people that they wanted to see play each other. Finally, after all of that, each competitor was given a chance to try to sell themselves to the panel with some self promotion. The team captains then submitted sealed bids for the player they want. If no other captain selected a person, that person would join the team. If two or more captains chose the same player, all the captains that chose the same player would draw lots, only one of which had the SFL logo, and that captain would receive the player. The remaining captains would need to submit new bids, and the process would repeat until all teams had selected a High Class member.

I’m not going to talk too much about the individual members, but will jot down some notes.

The show talks about individual players, and has some comments on which captain likes which players, and who the players would like to be chosen by.

  • Anman. He’s Urien player, and supported by the Scarz Youth team.
  • Susanoo Sakagami. He’s from Kyoto, uses Boxer, and was (very) recently picked up by the (brand new) Kyoto based Susanoo team. Itazan is interested in him, but he wants to be chosen by Mago.
  • Fuudo comments that there are actually 3 Boxer players, and he liked Kinoko Boxer. BTW, Kinoko Boxer frequently comes to Fighter’s Crossover -Akiba- on Wednesday nights.
  • Nemo and many others are interested in 19 year old F.A.N.G. main Motchan. Fuudo is pretty hard on him for trying to throw when his opponent was in hit stun. Motchan says he would like to be picked by Nemo, and he says that F.A.N.G. was buffed this season.
  • Hibiki is a Ryu main that people like. He wants to be picked by Tokido since they both use Shoto characters.

They have a slide showing who is interested in whom, three of the captains are interested in Motchan, and two are interested in Hibiki. They ask if anyone wants to see any other matchups, and Fuudo call out for three (Elshard, Sakagami, Anman) and Nemo comments “Oh, you are starting with the strong players. I actually want to see Ikahara.” Man, Nemo’s rough (the implication is that Ikahara is on the weaker end of things). They set up a few different matches, and we see some of that play out. The matches are high pressure for the participants, who know they are being watched and judged.

As a final check, the Captains can ask to play against one of the High Class members themselves. Tokido asked to play against Hibiki (Ryu), and Itabashi Zangief asked to play against Kobayan, the youngest High Class member (16) who plays Abigail. Tokido won his match, but praised Hibiki’s play. ItaZan was kind and asked him who he wanted to play against, Zangief or Abigail. He asked for an Abigail mirror. He has played Kobayan in the past online, but wanted to see how he played in person.

Then they move on to evaluate the Beginner Class before drawing lots. You can skip down below to see the Beginner Class, I’m going to thread in the next step for the High Class here: they let the captains ask the field questions.

First up is Daigo. He actually says that there isn’t much time until play starts (one week actually!) So he says he wants to know how much they can actually practice. He also says that he is shy, and if they don’t have good teamwork, it will likely show up in the tournament – he wants to spend time with people before that. So he literally asks “Who can be here in Tokyo before we start?” So they talk to the people that don’t already live near Tokyo, and they talk about whether they can or can’t come. A couple of the people have Final Exams until a few days before the League play starts and say that it will be tough to devote much time to this before that is over (School is good kids, stay in school.) The best answer was Sakagami, who lives in Kyoto. He says he’s not a student, so he will come whenever Daigo asks. Ayako asks “What will you do about travel expenses?” (It costs about $40, or $80 to $200 dollars one way depending on how you do it, bus, nice bus, train, Shinkansen). He says he doesn’t know about how he’ll pay for it, but in the worst case he’ll ride his bike (this is like riding your bike from San Francisco to San Diego). Everyone laughs.

Finally, everyone gives a bit of speech trying to sell themselves. Sakagami says that he will not only play and practice, but also be a lot of fun outside the game, and says “I’m counting on you, Mago!”

Here is how the voting ended up (arrows to second and third choices):

  • Nemo Aurora: Anman (Urien)
  • Tokido Flame: Anman (Urien) ➙ Hibiki (Ryu)
  • Itabashi Zangief: Mottchan (F.A.N.G.)
  • Fuudo Gaia: Mottchan (F.A.N.G.) ➙ Hibiki (Ryu) ➙ Kawano (Boxer)
  • Mago Scarlet: Sakagami (Boxer)
  • Umehara Gold: Oniki (Karin)

Ayako asks Daigo about his choice. He said that he was thinking of Kawano, but he lives in Kyoto, and has final exams. He said Oniki did well in the exhibition play, and he liked what he showed there. Ayako asks Oniki a few questions, but that was all pretty standard stuff, do my best, etc.

Ayako asks Mago about his pick. He says that he felt bad when Sakagami called him out (smiling), but he was actually thinking of Sakagami before that. He think Sakagami’s character is a bit like him, where he just does stuff and doesn’t think too much about planning things out. Sakagami is super happy to be chosen by Mago, and he’s super happy to get a chance to play with him.

Nemo and Tokido both chose Anman, so they needed to draw lots. Nemo won the lottery, and Anman joins him team. Nemo says that in Season 2, Anman came to Studio Sky and they met there, he also thinks he’ll be able to teach the character well. Ayako asks Anman about being on a “strict” team, but he says that’s not a problem he just wants to learn. Ayako comments to Nemo: “He’ll be a good employee” and Nemo responds: “Yeah, he’s not like him” (referring to Storm Kubo, who bore the brunt of Nemo’s ire in the RAGE All Star League). Shortly after that, Storm Kubo tweeted that Nemo really is a nice guy.

Itazan and Fuudo also had to draw lots of Motchan, and Itazan won the lottery. Itazan says that of all the candidates, Motchan had the highest level of motivation, and in the new season F.A.N.G. got buffed and he thinks Motchan’s desire to show off new stuff with the character adds to his motivation. Motchan is super happy to have been chosen, and is really emotional.

On the second draw, both Fuudo and Tokido choose Hibiki, a Ryu main. Tokido won this time. When asked why he chose him, Tokido said that of course he played well in the exhibition matches, and even though he first chose Anman, it was really close, and once he lost Anman, he wanted to go with Hibiki. Hibiki wanted to join Tokido’s team, so he’s really happy. Since they are both Shotos, he’s looking forward to learning a lot from Tokido.

On the final pick, Fuudo chooses Kawano (Boxer). He says that even though Kawano lives in Kyoto he talked with him before and that was comfortable, and while he’ll connect with him on chat applications and stuff, he’s a strong player so that will make it easy on him. Kawano was really surprised that he was chosen, he said that when nobody chose him the first time around he thought everyone had given up on him.

Then they spent some time on the people who weren’t chosen, and it was tough; some of these people were really devastated. Especially poignant for me was the 16 year old high school student, who really seemed impacted, but he’s going to try to show up in future things.

3.2 Beginner Class draft

2019-01-26 JP Street Fighter League Draft

2019-01-26 JP SFL Draft - Beginner Class Kunisada Preferences

2019-01-26 JP SFL The final two women in the Beginner class

The process for the Beginner Class was the same, with the exception that there are fewer Beginner Class candidates, 7 instead of 11. The big difference here is that only one person will not be selected.

  • Everyone is interested as Kunisada, the Ed player. He is pretty clearly better than most of the other beginner class members. Mago says that even though his character is simple, he plays calmly. Kunisada himself is interested in Mago’s team – since Kunisada himself is a comedian, he talks about how Mago is a very lively character and has lots of experience as an MC.
  • Itazan is interested in Matsuura, the 17 year old voice actor who plays Ryu because her dad loves Street Fighter taught her the character.
  • Kimura Kenta (26) is a Ken main. He says when he heard Itazan say that “In the end, it is person against person” he was moved by that and wants to be chosen by Itazan.
  • Misaki Kousei (23), is an actor and Akuma user. He wants to be chosen by Tokido. He watched a lot of his videos to learn, and really admires Tokido.
  • Miyata Hidemichi (19), is an actor who changed from Cammy to Kolin. He doesn’t have strong preferences on whom to be chosen by.
  • Okumura Mami (22) is a talent and Cammy main. She’s part of the video game division in her current talent agency. She’s interested in Mago, but would be thrilled to be chosen by anyone.

Fuudo asks for the two women to play each other, and a few other matches were lined up. After that everyone talks a bit about the players, and they all agree that Kunisada is the best of the lot. Tokido wonders about how much they will be able to develop, and I think worries that it is hard to judge that in such a short time. He wants to ask them how they tried to improve their play.

They interview a few of the captains, and they all essentially say that it is hard to choose. Daigo says that also having experience in large scale tournaments is important too. Itabashi Zangief says that Kunisada is probably the best of the Beginner Class, but he also is interested in Kimura (the Ken player). He goes on to say some things that, as a person living in Japan for the past 12 years, I just can’t understand. Something about practicing with him and maybe eating I don’t know Itabashi Zangief is one of the hardest people to understand with his own special vocabulary and way of speaking. If it wasn’t for Hameko’s research on Itabashi Zangief’s peculiar dialect I would understand even less. Anyway, he’s interested in Kimura. Fuudo talks about how it is likely that everyone will choose Kunisada, and then even in that case, people will choose the same person for their second choice as well, so it makes the selection difficult. Nemo says he’s just going to choose people in order of their strength. Daigo says that outside of Kunisada and Kimura, the other players don’t have too much difference in their ability, so it will come down to how much will they have (is this a subtle Will to Keep Winning plug? No, it isn’t). He says it is a difficult decision, and he think the different people have different levels of motivation, and he isn’t sure who has the desire at the level that he wants. Mago talks in a roundabout way about checking the people out, but doesn’t say anything too enlightening from my point of view. Tokido says that he wants to choose someone that has the ability to play, and that has their own style, and simply someone who can win.

They switched to the Extreme Class draft after all the player introductions and interviews. After the Extreme Class draft was done, they switched back to the Beginner Class. Fuudo asked if they would change characters, and everyone except for Kimura said they would do whatever the captains through was good. Kimura just went in and was all like “I’m only playing Ken, just Ken. Because I’ve got a red shirt”. His name is also Kenta, which might have something to do with it. He seems like an interesting guy. Nemo asked them in the past month what they thought was the best way to practice to raise their LP. Most people talked about either playing ranked matches or using training mode in some variation. I’m not sure what Nemo was looking for, but Kimura said this: “I play for an hour before bed, then spend eight hours in bed thinking about the game and get up and play for another hour.” They asked everyone to give one final sales pitch, and everyone basically said they would do whatever is necessary. Matsuura, the 17 year voice actress, said she hadn’t really played games at all before this but was really moved by how much she’s been able to progress. Also, she just bought a stick but would switch back to a pad if they wanted. Nagashima, the talent, said that he has lots of debt and doesn’t get much work as a talent so he will do whatever it takes. He’s cut back a shift on his part time job to make time for training. Kimura, as he has been doing all day, was a bit different. He said he’s very strong, and then yelled out “Itabashi Zangief, please pick me!”

When the captains chose, everyone except for Itazan and Daigo chose Kunisada, the strong Ed player. Itazan chose Kimura (Ken). Daigo chose Nagashima, who was pretty shocked. When Itazan was asked about Kimura, he said it was a dangerous risk. Everyone had been talking about how Kunisada was the strongest, and Kimura was right up there with him, so I guess he thought he might have to draw lots for Kimura. Kimura said that he really liked Itazan’s (risky?) playstyle, and wants to learn that from him.

Ayako asks why Daigo chose Nagashima, and he sounds like he was both surprised by the question, and hadn’t really thought much about it. He said something like “Yeah, uh, well, I thought he probably had money to go out drinking”. Really, I had to look that up. 飲み代 (のみしろ, nomi shiro). And then, Daigo turned around and said “You live in Tokyo, right?” Nagashima confirms that. This is totally wild. I think Daigo chose this Nagashima because he thought he would be a fun guy to hang out with, and he guessed he lived in Tokyo since he’s a talent trying to make it in the showbiz world (which is Tokyo based). Daigo really does have a different thought process. He probably doesn’t see much difference in people in terms of level, even Kunisada, and so makes more practical decisions, like will he enjoy spending time with this person. Ayako asks Nagashima how he feels, and he says he isn’t sure if he is happy or feels bad because he was basically chosen because he has free time. Ayako then asks Daigo, “you had more of a reason than that, right?” Daigo has a very long drawn out “uuuh” and says “We’re around the same age so I think we should be able to talk to each other easily.” Ayako totally saves it by saying that in the previous RAGE All Star league team play Umehara Gold’s team got along really well together, and she expects Nagashima to keep team spirits high. He seems much more used to things like that and responded positively.

Everyone else chose Kunisada, so I won’t spend much time on that. Mago won the draw and got Kunisada. The others then went around and chose more people, there wasn’t anything too exciting there. I do have to stress that choosing Kunisada was the safe option. Daigo and Itazan really stand out for their unusual choices, and not going the safe route.

At the very end, Nemo kept losing the draws and he was the final captain who had to choose between the two women, who remained. The chat was going crazy over this. It was clearly not a position that Nemo wanted to be put in, and he said that people are going to think that he’s making a girl cry. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone, men or women crying, it is tough to be put in a position making a decision like that. The chat was also saying things like, “Of course Nemo can’t choose a 17 year old girl” and “It wouldn’t look good if he stayed up late at night training her” and things like that.

The final Beginner Class selection is:

  • Nemo Aurora: Okumura Mami (Cammy)
  • Tokido Flame: Misaki Kousei (Akuma)
  • Itabashi Zangief: Kimura Kenta (Ken)
  • Fuudo Gaia: Miyata Hidemichi (Kolin)
  • Mago Scarlet: Kunisada Ryosuke (Ed)
  • Umehara Gold: Nagashima Kouji (Rashid)

They ask final thoughts from everyone before wrapping up. Nemo says that it is rare to have the chance to teach a woman (forgetting maybe about Fuudo’s mentorship of Hatsume?) He’s also looking forward to teaching Anman who uses the same character as him, and through that, improving himself.

Itabashi is next (they are clearly setting the stage again for a Nemo Itazan rivarly) and he says, “As always, we will be a white team.” This is in direct opposition to Nemo’s black team – referencing the black company shtick. He goes on: “But even in a white company, you need to have rules. You can only celebrate when you win, if you don’t win, you need to handle your punishment on your own. What do you think Motchan?” Motchan thinks that’s a good rule. Everyone in the chat also goes wild about Itabashi getting a bit strict on the Beginner, but since he seems like a bit of a wild one it seems to go over well.

Fuudo says he doesn’t want to be too strict (doesn’t want to rein them in, contrasting with Itazan’s last few words) and he wants to be able to go out and eat dinner with his team when the day is done.

Daigo says that he was able to choose the people that he wanted, unlike last time (another reference to RAGE All Stars), and he thinks they have a good team that lives close to each other.

Mago is happy with his team, saying that he’s really happy he got Kunisada as the beginner, and says they both have a lot of spirit.

Tokido says that the three of them have the concept of a Shoto team, and thinks they have a good team.

Hameko closes out saying that the really interesting thing about this league is going to be how the High Class and Beginner class players develop, and how that education process works in the team.

I really agree with that – some people may say that having lower skill players is not as interesting to watch, but I’m very interested to see their development. Some people are close to the high class league players, and if we get insight into how the pros help them develop, that is useful. The beginner class are really at the Rookie and Bronze level, and as newcomers to the game, coming from a completely different field than we would usually see, might draw in new people to spectate. That is why the Beginner class was packed with comedians, actors, and talent – all of them are good in front of a camera, can make people interested in things, and are nice to look at, which really helps to appeal to a more casual audience. Seeing how they develop could show people who are new to the game concrete steps they can take. I think this is a really interesting approach that Capcom is taking. I don’t know if it will work, but I like that they are trying interesting things.

More interesting than banning characters anyway.

That’s it for my summary. The league will start on Feb. 2nd, so it’s only a week away (more like a day or two by the time I finish this summary).

3.3 Final Teams

The team links take you to the RAGE eSports page for the team, which has up-to-date stats on each player in the team including character usage and more.

Team Beginner High Extreme
Tokido Flame Misaki Kousei (Akuma) Hibki (Ryu) Tokido
Mago Scarlet Kunisada Ryosuke (Ed) Sakagami (Boxer) Mago
Umehara Gold Nagashima Pineapple (Rashid) Oniki (Karin) Daigo
Fuudo Gaia Miyata Hidemichi (Kolin) Kawano (Kolin) Fuudo
Itazan Ocean Kimura Keita (Ken) Motchan (F.A.N.G.) Itabashi Zangief
Nemo Aurora Okumura Mami (Cammy) Anman (Urien) Nemo

4 2019-02-02 Section 1

20190202 SFL S01 - Commentary Desk

On the commentary desk tonight is Hameko, a premiere game commentator, Yamato, who has been doing a lot of OpenRec commentary lately, and in a surprise move, Higa Eri. Eri is a high school model, and took part in the Beginner Class selection series. She is super enthusiastic, very energetic, and loud. I think she will bring a lot of energy, I just hope she doesn’t scream through the entire match.

They quickly go through and each Captain says something about their team. Usually about how they want to do well, or have good teamwork. When Itazan’s team came up the chat started talking about how his team is “White”, and immediately afterward Nemo’s team came up and the chat switched over to “Black”.

I enjoyed some of the reactions and interactions between teams after the matches, so I cut together a few of them. You can really see the Captains coaching during the breaks.

4.1 Itazan Ocean vs. Mago Scarlet

Before starting the matches, Ayako Hatta briefly interviews each of the team Captains.

Ayako asks Mago if their team practiced together, and he said that they couldn’t really since one of them lives in Osaka. He did say that he invited Kunisada over to his place, and they practiced together. He thinks they have really improved. She asks Sakagami whether he’s gotten better (he lives in Osaka, so didn’t really practice with Mago) and he jokes around saying that he really did get better. Kunisada praises Mago’s nice house, and feels like he improved.

Itazan said that they did a bit of practice together. Ayako asked how the high class member practiced with Itazan, since he is in Nagoya. Motchan says that since they use different characters, he got a lot of advice from a different viewpoint, and he also says that it is rare to have a chance to get advice from a pro, and he’s really appreciative of that. Kimura says that he got a lot of advice, and that Itazan is very easy to learn from.

They have some really nice graphics for the characters each player uses. Kimura Ken changed from VT2 Ken to VT1 Ken, and the commentators speculate this is due to Itazan telling him that VT1 is better. After Kimura loses the first battle, they do cut to Itazan giving some advice, and he’s mic’d up too. Kunisada takes the first battle 2-0, which was expected. Kimura Ken is probably the second strongest of all the beginners, but it doesn’t look like he made up enough of the gap in the past week. Kunisada also had a few impressive combos, using EX meter to extend them a bit. In between the first and second games, Itazan tells Kimura that he made a few mistakes, and if he just cleaned those up things would be ok.

Motchan F.A.N.G. vs. Sakagami Boxer is a really fun match, pretty close, but Sakagami Boxer takes it, putting Mago’s team up 3-0 in Victory Points. Mago vs. Itazan could bring that back to 3-3 though. The Chat is calling Itazan “Old Man Standing Strong”. Mago took it though. But guess what? The first set, we go straight to “FINAL ACT”, a.k.a., “The Crying Time”. Itazan Ocean sends up Motchan F.A.N.G. against Mago, and if Motchan can get two rounds, Itazan’s team will get 3 Victory Points. It looks good at first – Motchan takes the first round pretty convincingly, but then Mago wins the next round easily, and while it looks like Motchan had the third round, Mago pulls out a come-from-behind victory.

Ayako interviews Mago first, and she asks what Mago thought of Itazan’s Zangief. He says Itazan hasn’t built up enough of that Muscle Power yet. Mago said he prepared for this match enough so that he wouldn’t lose, and wants Itazan to focus on building that Muscle Power and trying again.

4.2 Nemo Aurora vs. Fuudo Gaia

In the interview with Nemo, he talks about using LINE (communication app in Japan) to tell Anman things to practice and particularly tips for Urien, since they play the same character it was easy to give him a topic, and let him work on it. Anman says it was really useful. Mami says that Nemo-san is very easy to work with, and was easy to practice with. Strangely for a Nemo team, they seem to have good teamwork, and Nemo even said as much.

In the Fuudo interview, he says that the League goes on for a long time, and this is just the first week, so he wants to see how the other players move and play first, and then think about how to use his time with his team. Kawano (Boxer, High Class) says that he had like 20 consecutive losses to Fuudo’s Birdie, and he’d never been in a position like that before. Miyata Hidemichi (Kolin, Beginner class) says that Fuudo brought him to a local, and then went out to eat Kebab together (must have been Thursday night at Red Bull Gaming Sphere then) and he thinks things will go well.

Mami Cammy vs. Miyata Kolin. Higa Eri (the young commentator) is unabashed in her support of Mami, the only female in the League. Mami punished a blocked EX Hands, and generally looks a bit more intentional in her play than a week ago. She used to go ham on random Cannon Spikes, but is not doing that now, and has been pretty good about canceling low pokes into drills. Miyata Kolin takes the first game, but Fuudo is telling him to calm down a bit. Miyata Kolin takes it in the end, unfortunately for Eri-chan.

Mami apologizes to Nemo, but he is very quick with the “It’s ok, don’t worry about it!” Anman’s Urien takes the second battle. The Extreme Class is Nemo Kolin vs. Fuudo Birdie. After he loses the first game, Nemo switches to Urien. Close, but Nemo pulls it out.

After the battle, Eri-chan asks “Hey, does Birdie get stronger when he eats stuff?” Hameko responds with brief information about Birdie’s V-Skill, and Eri asks “Where does his food come from? That’s really been bugging me.”

Storm Kubo: Nemo-san is being really nice. Does anyone else think this is unnatural, or is it just me?

Nemo says his teammates were strong, and also that Mami was able to show off some of the things they practiced together, and he was really happy about that. Ayako asks about why he played Kolin, and Nemo said that he didn’t think he could beat Fuudo’s Mika with his Urien, and so he’s been practicing Kolin, and he thought if he lost in Kolin vs. Birdie’s he’d pull out his Urien. Mami apologizes for her loss, but talks about how she wants to improve on her shortcomings with her teammate’s help. She was happy that she was able to do some of the things she practiced in the match though.

4.3 Tokido Flame vs. Umehara Gold

20190202 SFL S01 - Nagashima Pineapple

20190202 SFL S01 - Hibiki Ryu and Oniki Karin

Ayako asks Tokido how he feels about his team, and he says he thinks they have a fun team. Hibiki’s Ryu is strong. Tokido also says that he absolutely does not want to lose to Mago’s Scarlet team (see the draft for more context).

Ayako asks Daigo about how he feels, and he says he thinks that Oniki has an advantage in the High Class, so things should be ok there. Then he says that Nagashima-san (the beginner class who said he would reduce his part-time work shifts to make time for this) talked about having time, but they still haven’t yet practiced together, but he did watch some of his online matches and gave some advice on those. Daigo says that you don’t really know what will happen until you get into the real matches, so he wants to see that and then figure things out. Nagashima Pineapple makes quite the face, since it seems like Daigo is, in his relaxed way, calling him out for not putting in the time and effort.

Misaki Kousei (Akuma) vs. Nagashima Pineapple (Rashid) face off in the beginner match. Daigo looked super happy when Pineapple won, and Pineapple looked relieved too, given the previous discussion.

I really liked the color for Hibiki’s Ryu on the Tokido Flame team, but he wasn’t able to pull out the win. Oniki’s Gold Karin doesn’t look bad either. Hibiki’s Ryu is really fun to watch – or I might just think that because I think it is fun to watch any Ryu.

Damn, did you see Daigo’s standing no-charge tech reminiscent of Kemonomichi against Tokido? Those were close matches, but Tokido wins it. I was also surprised that Tokido was wearing his Echo Fox gear.

In the interview, Tokido says he was happy with his team, but it was a bit unfortunate that Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) wasn’t able to realize fully some of the preparation they had done for the match. He said they made a plan together, and he was able to carry out parts of it, which was great. Hibiki’s match was close, and he thought he tried really hard.

Ayako turns to Daigo, and says that she thought he put a lot of effort into his cheering. He said he asked them to remove their headsets so he could give advice, and their team really got into it.

4.4 Results

20190202 SFL S01 - Results 1

They spend a bit of time talking about a new low priced version (~$39.99) that will come out in March. I’m pretty sure they are thinking that if they get some new viewers from this show (they might) then it is good to have an easy way for them to get into the game.

Rank Team Points Matches
1 Mago Scarlet 6 3
2 Nemo Aurora 5 2
3 Umehara Gold 3 2
4 Tokido Flame 3 1
5 Fuudo Gaia 1 1
6 Itazan Ocean 0 0

The next session is on Feb. 3rd, so those results will change again pretty soon.

5 2019-02-03 Section 2

The same people are on commentary tonight as last night, Hameko, Yamato, and Higa Eri.

This time before the teams play, they show a pre-recorded session with the teams training together. It is really super interesting. I took the first one and added some subtitle (over titles in this case) so you can get a feel for it.

5.1 Fuudo Gaia vs. Itazan Ocean

In the pre-game interview, Fuudo says that this is a very important match since both teams lost before, and it is important to avoid being in the bottom three of the rankings. Ayako Hatta asks if Kawano’s spirits has improved since yesterday, and he’s pretty reserved, saying he wants to do his best. People in the chat are calling him the new MOV, since MOV was so humble and quiet when he was on the RAGE All Stars League. Miyata Hidemichi says he was able to learn some stuff since Kawano uses the same character and taught him.

In the interview with Itazan Ocean, Itazan says that since you know the players and characters ahead of time they are able to prepare for the matches. This differs from the RAGE All Star League, where the team order was not set, and I think also adds more of an element to focus on how the captain can help his team members improve. He says he’s going to be giving them advice during the match. Ayako says that last time Motchan got a bit overconfident, and he completely agrees. He thought he would win, but dropped it. She tells him to relax, and not get nervous. Kimura, as always, is full of confidence. He says he’s going to show us “a new Kimura command”. Itazan is like “what was that?” “A new Kimura command”. “A new Kimura command? Huh.” Ayako says that Itazan is being a bit cold with his team, and everyone cracks up. It is an interesting exchange.

The Beginners are up first, with Miyata Hidemichi’s Kolin vs. Kimura Kenta’s Ken. In the second set, Kimura showed us his “New Kimura Command” – cr. forward into CA. In the High Class set, Kawano’s Kolin beat Motchan’s F.A.N.G., and Motchan just looked devastated.

In the Extreme class, Fuudo brought out his Birdie, and Itabashi went with Abigail. Fuudo stuck with Birdie, and lost 0-2.

Ayako asked Itabashi about how he decides between Abigail and Zangief in Season 4, and he replies that he is mainly going to play Zangief, but he thought that Fuudo would use Birdie, and so he decided to go with Abigail. Ayako then asks Kimura about whether he got out his “New Kimura Command”, and he said he did. She asks Itazan if he knew what it was, and he said that he actually had asked him about it. She did not ask Motchan anything, which shows either how she delicately handles his loss, or as the chat was saying, that they edited out his segment because it wasn’t interesting. I don’t know if this is live (I doubt it) so it could have been either.

Fuudo Gaia Itazan Ocean Games
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
  EEE 0-2
2 4  

5.2 Umehara Gold vs. Mago Scarlet

20190203 SFL Mago looking relaxed

They show a clip of Umehara Gold training. I don’t think I’ll translate that, but here is a really rough impression. He starts by saying that in the Beginner class, Kunisada is very strong, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they lost that match. But, after watching the previous matches (Saturday’s) he has some idea of how Kunisada moves, and wants to practice some things with Nagashima Pineapple. While Nagashima Pineapple is practicing with Oniki in the background, Daigo talks about how the Beginner class is only one point, so you might not think it has much of an impact, but really it adds up over the whole league. If he wins every time, that is a 10 point advantage, which might be enough to take the League. Daigo talks about how Kunisada will probably be on the offensive, but if he isn’t it is likely because of Mago’s advice. When he realizes that, Nagashima should change how he plays in reaction. Then Daigo starts to talk about the Cammy Guile matchup, and how he hasn’t played Mago in Season 4, so he’s not too sure how things will go. If Nagashima loses, and so does Daigo, he thinks they are in trouble in terms of points, so he really would like their team to reflect on the previous match, and win this time.

They then show the video for Mago’s team. It starts off with Kunisada (Beginner class, Ed), who is a comedian, talking about how Nagashima Pineapple (also a comedian) is his senpai (elder) at the talent agency he is part of. Since they play a lot, he says, “I think I’ve got a handle on his Rashid”. Mago says, “yeah, I think so”, and then he turns to Sakagami (High class, Boxer) who says “I am not confident at all!” Great laughs from the whole team. In the training video, Mago tells Kunisada to attack his Rashid, which he does, and then Mago does a wake up EX Mixer, going over punish options. He says that in that case, Kunisada should keep the stick centered, or let go of it (as he practices the punish). When Mago is working with Sakagami (Boxer) he says that he thinks that Oniki (Karin, Umehara Gold’s High class member) will anti-air with Standing Heavy Punch, and Mago says that actually a super early Heavy Punch from Boxer can beat that. Then they cut to Mago sitting super casual talking about how he’s going to face Daigo, but Guile got nerfed, and even though Cammy got nerfed too, he doesn’t think it was as bad as Guile. He thinks it will be a bit easier to win for him now than in Season 3.5.

Ayako asks Guile if they reflected on their last battle, when they got 3 points. Daigo says they did, but the problem is he didn’t reflect too much on himself. He says that Nagashima Pineapple had some points he really improved on. Nagashima Pineapple says he will definitely win. Ayako says “Are you sure, you are facing Kunisada-san?”

Over the past few shows that Ayako has been on with Mago, she has had a soft spot for him, so when she opened up with “Mago, you had an amazing victory last time” Mago gets this huge grin on his face and chat goes wild about how that’s just like him. They also like Ayako a lot. She asks if he reflected on the match at all, and he said, “well, not really!” He praised his teammates for things they did well, and things like that. Mago is a really friendly and easy guy to get along with, and has good chemistry with Ayako.

The first battle is between Kunisada Ed and Nagashima Pineapple Rashid. Kunisada was hanging back and throwing more psycho fireball things than normal, and Pineapple was able to nullify a few with tornadoes, and made really good use (abuse?) of Eagle Spike. He had a nice jumping roundhouse, cr. strong, ex mixer combo in there. The first game was close in each round, but Pineapple took it. He got a bit lucky at the end there. Mago then gave a lot of advice, but I couldn’t make any of it out distinctly. As a result though, he stayed a bit closer, and started throwing out some standing roundhouse crush counters when before Pineapple did a reasonable amount of damage with standing medium kick. Kunisada overwhelming won that game. This time they clearly showed Mago giving advice: “When he runs at you and kicks, you can punish with heavy kick if you block it. That’s all he’s got, so block it, and punish with heavy kick.” Daigo gave some advice too: “At first since you anti-aired him he stopped jumping in, and he started to come closer to you. Crouching heavy punch has good range and is good in that situation.” I’ll note that these aren’t great translations – but it should get the flavor through.

In the final game, in the first few seconds Nagashima Pineapple throws out some crouching heavy punches and gets some crush counters. He completely whiff punched an Ed heavy kick with one. Nagashima also gets a nice jumping roundhouse, cr. strong, spinning mixer combo in there. Kunisada’s combos are really good, but the difference in the first round was the neutral game – which people will say is spamming Rashid jazz hands, but it really shows the power of targeted coaching at the beginner level. Nagashima takes the second round too, going 2-0 in both of his victories, and 0-2 in his loss. In both cases, we saw some coaching from Mago that really led to an oppressive victory, but Daigo’s advice was spot on, and definitely led to a conclusive victory for Pineapple in the final game. The first game was touch and go, and could have gone either way, but this set was super entertaining, driven by that coaching aspect.

I hope someone with more video editing skills and Street Fighter knowledge than I can go back and do some analysis of that set. I’m looking at you, HiFightTH. Just joking, he already does way too much.

Sakagami Boxer had a good handle on Oniki’s Karin, taking that 2-0.

The Extreme class match between Daigo Guile and Mago Cammy went back and forth, but Daigo took it 2-0.

Mago Scarlet Umehara Gold Battle
  B 1-2
HH   2-0
  EEE 0-2
2 4  

Ayako interviewed Daigo’s team, and Daigo talked a bit about his match with Mago and how he was not jumping as much as usual, maybe trying some new strategies. She asked about what Daigo said after the second game that he lost pretty convincingly. Daigo said that certainly while Kunisada-san is at the top of the Beginner class, at this level there is not really a large gap in the tactics of the Beginners. So if Nagashima-san played differently than he has in the past with Kunisada-san, he thought that would throw him off. So when he changed his movement and spacing in the third match, it paid off, and Daigo said that he was actually more interested in that match than in his own. I was too! I do like Dance Dance Revolution (that’s what all those DDR comments are about when Daigo’s on stream, right?) but that beginner match was fun to watch.

5.3 Tokido Flame vs. Nemo Aurora

20190203 SFL Nemo's King's Chair

They start with a video of Tokido and Misaki Kousei (Beginner class, Akuma). Tokido says that Mami Okumura uses Cammy’s V-Trigger well, but other than that she plays carelessly. He tells Misaki that instead of trying to focus on what his opponent is doing, he should have a developed idea of what he wants his plan to be. Misaki talks about how Mami often uses V-Skill, and he shows how he can jab her out of that, which Tokido likes. With Hibki (High class, Ryu) he asks what Anman does, and Hibiki talks about the Knee Drop. Tokido says that’s pretty unusual because Ryu can do Mind’s Eye on that. Tokido also says that Urien’s Aegis V-trigger has crazy comeback potential. Tokido gives him some Urien setups to practice against. Tokido says that he plays Nemo a lot, and the two of them really know their tendencies well. So all they can do is just go all out and try to beat each other.

Nemo open talking with Mami Okumura. Nemo tells her that Misaki might be throwing lots of fireballs, so she should practice against that. Chat is going wild with how Nemo’s sitting in “The King’s Seat” and how he’s being nice, and now his company is a “White” company. He tells her to jump forward over hadoukens, and they practice that for a bit. He also says she should use jumping heavy kick when she jumps. Nemo says that he thinks Anman will win, but talks a bit about the range that he should stand at against Ryu. He says Hibiki would throw fireballs at pretty close range, and you can use Aegis to reflect those. When they talk to Nemo, he says that he thinks Tokido and Daigo are the two strongest team leaders, or at least that he has trouble with, so he really wants to prepare for them.

In the pre-game interviews, Ayako says that Nemo used Kolin last time, and asks what Tokido thinks about that. He says if Nemo uses Kolin, the chances that Tokido will win are very high. He’s a Urien specialist, so that is what he expects. Hibiki says that Anman is a really strong Urien, so he’s a bit worried. Misaki says that he lost twice already to Mami Okumura, so he really wants to win.

Ayako asked Nemo if he gave any advice to his team, and he said that he told Anman various things about the Ryu fight, and then Anman was able to go off and practice on his own. With Mami, he talked to her about things she could improve on, and her airborne tools to use against Akuma.

Misaki Kousei (Akuma) beat Mami Okumura (Cammy) fairly handily, and she looked pretty sad. Nemo was behind her and giving some good post-game advice in a very gentle tone. It is a complete turn-around from his RAGE All Stars days picking on Storm Kubo.

Hibiki (High class, Ryu) takes the match against Anman (High class, Urien) 2-0, but there were some close rounds. I really enjoy watching S4 Ryu, it’s nice to see those hadouken buffs.

Tokido vs. Nemo was a good set, but Nemo had some tricks with Aegis to take it 2-1.

Tokido Flame Nemo Aurora Battle
B   2-0
HH   2-0
  EEE 1-2
3 3  

Ayako asks Tokido about his loss after he took the lead. He said that he made a few mistakes, and that Nemo was able to take advantage of that. He apologizes to his teammates. She asks about his teammates’ play, and he said they did great. They were able to use the things that they practiced, and Hibiki did a good job of preparing and playing without any errors.

She turns to Nemo and said that the Company President was able to salvage things by winning in the end. The chat goes wild about her calling him President. She asks if he has advice for his team, and he says that he looked at the match and will talk to them about their matches. He actually said something like “I saw some bad stuff they were doing, so I’ll talk to them about that” – the chat was playing off of how it kind of comes off as … a bit strict. I think they’re just giving him a hard time. That’s it, see you next time.

5.4 Results

Rank Team Points Matches
1 Mago Scarlet 8 4
2 Nemo Aurora 8 3
3 Umehara Gold 7 4
4 Tokido Flame 6 3
5 Itazan Ocean 4 2
6 Fuudo Gaia 3 2

6 2019-02-09 Section 3

20100209 SFL Announcers

This time Hameko and Yamato are joined by Matsuura Ayu, a 17 year old voice actress (Ryu) who was in the Beginner selection process. I like how they keep mixing up the color commentary guest.

6.1 Fuudo Gaia vs. Umehara Gold

During the team video introduction, I like how Hameko says “Is it Gold or is it Pineapple? Either way, Umehara is the leader”. He also talks about how Umehara’s advice for Pineapple was super effective in his battle against Kunisada, so I am not the only one who felt that way. Again, they show some clips of the teams training. On Fuudo’s team, Kawano (High class, Kolin) spends some time teaching Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner class, Kolin). Umehara and his team were together, and he was focusing on teaching Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) anti-airs against Kolin. They showed some cr. strong, and Daigo went on to teach fierce Mixer (much better in many cases). He asks Nagashima Pineapple to do anti-airs 100 times, and really practice it because it is a generally useful skill, not just against Miyata Hidemichi’s Kolin.

Pre-game interviews. Ayako opens up by saying that unfortunately Fuudo Gaia is at the bottom of the standings, and asks if he has changed how their team practices. Fuudo says that they don’t really practice as a team so much. Since you know what the matchups are, Fuudo will email them and give them tips and things to practice. He thinks that last time his movement was poor and that is why they lost, so he spent a lot of time on himself. Ayako really starts to ask him about whether he’s fully committed to Birdie this year, and Fuudo says he doesn’t really know, but he does say that he thinks he can win this year with Birdie and in the long term Birdie is better. Ayako asks Miyata (Beginner, Kolin) how he feels after changing to Kolin (in the Beginner selection process he started with Cammy). Because Kawano (High, Kolin) is also Kolin, he’s able to learn a lot and have fun. Miyata also says that since Pineapple beat Kunisada (Beginner, Ed, widely thought to be the strongest beginner) if he can win here he thinks that the valuation of the Beginner class players will really be mixed up again.

Moving on to Umehara Gold, she asks Daigo what kinds of practice they’ve been doing. Daigo says that this week they all practiced on their own more than together like previously. He told Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) a bunch of things to practice, but Oniki was doing self study. Oniki says that he is not super confident about the match up. Ayako asks Pineapple if he has more confidence now, and he says yes, but he’s super nervous before the match and getting weak in the knees. Ayako says some nice things to cheer him up, while the chat is a bit toxic about how since he’s a comedian he should totally be used to the pressure and being on TV. Man, chat in any language is the worst. I usually turn it off (but I do keep it on when I write these summaries up after watching it once without chat).

In the Beginner matchup, it is very clear that Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner, Kolin) was trying to punch Rashid’s Eagle Spike, which Pineapple throws out very frequently, with V-Skill. It worked a few times, but wasn’t consistent enough to force Pineapple to stop. Pineapple also pretty much won by knockdown, then jumping and doing an air-based combo when Miyata tried to tech a throw. That happened enough times to really surprise me, since Pineapple never showed meaty throw on wakeup even once. Still, at Beginner class, people don’t know all the strategies, and haven’t internalized the options available to them. I guess they are just trying to stick to one thing they know, and maybe in practice he was getting thrown on wakeup a lot. If Miyata practiced blocking high/low a bit more he could really improve – and maybe anti-air once he has the blocking part down. Nagashima Pineapple takes it. Hameko talked a bit about baiting throws and jumping for a combo too.

The High class matchup was Kawano (High, Kolin) for Fuudo Gaia vs. Oniki (High, Karin). Kawano took it pretty convincingly. I notice that I’m also getting interested in the differences between the High class and Extreme class matchups. In High class, everyone is able to hit confirm, whiff punish, perform combos, and defend well. I think the big difference is that punishes aren’t always optimal, they might have a drop here or there, usually things are buffered, but not always. I want to try to see if I can better characterize the difference between the High and Extreme class.

I’m going to totally steal HiFight’s Just Frame Analysis of this sequence, because Fuudo just looked so strong against Daigo’s Guile. I think it was the MenaRD Birdie Costume that did it. By the way, HiFight has a Patreon and only 7 Patrons, which is criminal. Throw him some shekels if you have some spare.

Fuudo took the match handily. Ayako interviewed Fuudo Gaia only. With the win, Fuudo Gaia pulled into a tie with Umehara Gold at 8 points. Ayako praised Fuudo’s Birdie, but he says he thinks he can get a lot better with him still. And that’s all there was! Super short interview.

Fuudo Gaia Umehara Gold Battle
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
EEE   2-0
5 1  

6.2 Itazan Ocean vs. Nemo Aurora

20190209 SFL Itazan

20190209 SFL Nemo

This is the match I’ve been waiting for. I’m an unabashed Itabashi Zangief fan, and love the interplay that he has had with Nemo’s Aurora. Seeing Nemo’s outward facing image change in JP SFL has been really interesting, he’s been shedding the strict, heel type role he usually plays and is showing a softer side. The team intro videos have a kind of nice, happy sound for Itazan, and then when they showed Nemo it kicked over to a heavy metal guitar riff. I hadn’t noticed that before, and now wonder if it was always that way.

In the introductory videos, Kimura Keita on Itazan’s Ocean says that he still has a lot of points he really need to work on, but he wants to focus on those, and make people say “Wow!” Itazan asks “Who do you want to make say `wow`?”, to which Kimura replies “Everybody!” Then Itazan and his team break into his trademarked maniacal laughter. Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.) says he really does not want to lose to Anman (High, Urien). Itazan interjects: “You mean it’s unthinkable?” and Motchan says he wouldn’t go that far. Anman is widely considered to be the strongest in this High class, and he wants to defeat him. The interaction between the team looks like a lot of fun.

On Nemo’s side, Mami Okumura (Beginner, Cammy) says that actually, she hates Kimura. Even if all she can do is just show the effect that some of her training has had, she wants to show us that she has developed. Nemo then talks to Anman about how Motchan definitely is going to work on his anti-Urien strategy, but Motchan has some particular tendencies and habits that Anman can exploit for big damage. (I wish he was more explicit about that, because I couldn’t really tell while watching. I’m pretty sure one of the things Anman worked on is responding to F.A.N.G.’s new fly command, since he bopped that almost every time Motchan tried to do it.) Also, notice the chair that Itazan uses, and the chair that the production staff makes Nemo use.

Ayako starts the pre-game interview with Itazan Ocean, and asks how the past week went. He says they are doing well, and after the first and second section they talked about what they would do going forward. He thinks their team is ok, but he’s worried about Anman and Okumura on Nemo’s team. He wonders if they are enjoying themselves. Ayako: “You’re worried about the working conditions at your rival’s company?” ItaZan: “They went through a really tough audition process, and even though they were able to win after all that hard work, but in the end they have to be on that team. I think anyone would get a bit depressed by that. I’m really concerned for them.”

Ayako to Nemo: “He’s very concerned.” Nemo says that they play and practice together and have been having a good time. Ayako asks if he assigns them homework, and Nemo says he does, and checks to make sure they can do that, then puts together another area to work on, slowly leading to improvement. Ayako says that things look very happy and great (“white” in the long standing “black” vs. “white” company parlance, no connection to identity politics at all.) Nemo says that “Actually, I’ve been watching since the auditions, and I think that Kimura’s character has changed a lot. Like he’s being oppressed.” Kimura starts to say something and then ItaZan, with the timing of a long-working comedian like Nagashima Pineapple, says “Don’t say anything”. He gets a laugh, and Ayako asks Anman and Mami Okumura about their “working conditions.” Anman says that he landed in a great department, and he’s just thrilled. Mami Okumura says that Nemo-san praises her a lot, and really makes her want to do her best. The chat, by the way, is just going on an on about how Anman was forced to say that, they’ve been brainwashed, they’re “Yes Men” and so on.

Unfortunately, Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken) rolled over Mami Okumura (Beginner, Cammy) 2-0. I want to Itazan’s team to win, but I really, really want Okumara Mami to win her sets. She needs to work on anti-air, Kimura was jumping in frequently, and he got a lot of damage off of jumps that could be anti-aired.

The second set was Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.) vs. Anman (High, Urien) and the matches were very close. Anman sniped Motchan out of the air almost every time he tried F.A.N.G.’s new fly move.

Itazan vs. Nemo was a really good match. It was Zangief vs. Urien, and Itazan had a really nice CA through Nemo’s Aegis once to take a round.

After the match, Ayako interview Itazan’s team. Itazan says that Kimura is the “mood maker” on the team, and they all get along well, and have a good rhythm. Ayako said his Zangief looked really good, and Itazan said he actually wasn’t sure if he would use Zangief or Abigail right up until they started. He said that Nemo’s weak point is that he doesn’t like grapplers, and he wanted to take advantage of that psychological edge. If I throw him a lot I bet I’ll piss him off, and that was an important part of the character selection. Ayako also said that his teammates really cheered him on. He said it really helped him to hear their support. Motchan says he never thought he would get to see a Nemo Itazan battle in person, and was super happy about that. Ayako comments that it sounds like their team has a really good relationship, and they all laugh.

The chat, the whole time Itazan was talking about how Nemo doesn’t like grapplers, was having a great time, in the way chat usually does. The whole Nemo Itazan rivalry is very popular. As far as I know, in reality Nemo and Itazan are friends or at least friendly, but I have a really hard time as a non-Japanese speaker, understanding some of their interplay on twitter and various other media. For example, there was recently an interview of Nemo by Kuramochi Yuka, and Itazan commented on that (saying basically, “I don’t think I’m egging him on, please don’t fabricate things”) and then later, in response to that, said something like I think letting your life be controlled by what other think about you is even worse than having to play against Zangief. I wish my Japanese was good enough and that I had enough background culturally to actually understand this relationship, but it certainly is a fascinating one from what I can see. I really hope I’m not misrepresenting things to the English speaking world – ItaZan and Nemo are both really nice guys every time I’ve interacted with them.

Itazan Ocean Nemo Aurora Battle
B   2-0
  HH 0-2
EEE   2-1
4 2  

6.3 Mago Scarlet vs. Tokido Flame

In the prepared video for Mago Scarlet, they talked about how Mago prepared for Tokido Flame. He says that he’s well prepared against Shotos. Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) says that he faces a lot of Akumas in ranked matches, and thinks he’s familiar with the match up. Mago tells Kunisada that it is very likely Tokido has prepared his team to anti-air, so Kunisada should throw projectiles, and use cr. strong for protection, sometimes throwing out roundhouse.

Tokido Flame wants Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) to practice cr. forward into Hadoken, and particularly jumping roundhouse, cr. forward, Hadoken combos since those are basic combos for Akuma. He talks about learning those fundamentals first.

In the pre-game interviews, Ayako reminds Mago that they were on the same team in the RAGE All Star powered by Capcom League. He says that he was on Tokido Flame, so it sounds strange to him when he heard that his opponent is Tokido Flame. Mago Scarlet was sitting nice in first place, and Mago says that is due to the good work of his teammates, but that the League is long, so you never know how it will turn out. Sakagami (High, Boxer) says that people think the Boxer Ryu matchup is in Boxer’s favor, but Mago showed him a lot of things, and he’s nervous about being able to realize all the things they practiced in a real match. Ayako asks Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) about his loss to Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) and he says it really brought him down, and he just feels like he can’t get back into the swing of things. He watched his replays (good!) and based on that found some areas to work on, and thinks he’ll reduce his mistakes this time.

Ayako turns to Tokido and says that at the start of this, he said that the one person he really does not want to lose to is Mago, and asks how he’s doing. Tokido says he’s in high spirits, and they will sweep them. She asks if he is going to make Mago’s team feel the disappointment like they had on the RAGE All Stars Tokido Flame season, and he says he’ll hit them all with that. Mago says: “I don’t know what disappointment you’re talking about” and Tokido retorts “The disappointment and strangeness” which gets a big laugh out of Mago. They mutter back and forth some stuff I don’t catch, but it sounds like they are all in high spirits. Hibiki (High, Ryu) says he has prepared well for Boxer and it should be a good match. Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) says he played Kunisada before and won, so he thinks he might be able to do it this time. If he can break down Kunisada’s mental game he thinks he has a chance.

I don’t have too much to say about the Beginner or High class matches. Kunisada took out Misaki pretty convincingly, and the same for Sakagami Boxer against Hibiki Ryu. Tokido and Mago was closer than the other two, but Tokido did win over Mago in the end, with a chip-out CA.

Mago Scarlet Tokido Flame Battle
B   2-0
HH   2-0
  EEE 1-2
3 3  

Ayako interviewed both teams afterwards, since they tied in points I suppose. Mago says that he still has further to go, but that Sakagami and Kunisada did very well.

Ayako asks Tokido: “Do you really feel like you can’t lose to Mago?” and Tokido responds “I’m positive I won’t lose to him”. He did say that Mago brought it down to the final round, and it wasn’t clear who would win (Tokido did have good positioning at the end of that round though, and it was pretty clear). He does think the fight they had was good, and both of them should be pretty happy with it, even though he did win this time.

6.4 Results

I think I’ll start keeping track of Section to Section movement, so I added little arrows this time.

Rank Team Points Matches Movement
1 Mago Scarlet 11 6
2 Nemo Aurora 10 4
4 Tokido Flame 9 4 ⬆︎
3 Umehara Gold 8 5 ⬇︎
6 Fuudo Gaia 8 4 ⬆︎
5 Itazan Ocean 8 4 ⬇︎

7 2019-02-10 Section 4

7.1 Itazan Ocean vs. Umehara Gold

In the pre-game videos, we see Itazan teaching Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken) and Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.). I think this time I’ll do a compilation video of teaching moments, because there were very good, but I’ll get a text summary out before I move on to the media. Itazan first starts talking about anti-air, and he tells Kimura that it is better to get airborne over eating a jump-in combo, but anti-airing is even better. He notes that Kimura (Beginner, Ken) can anti-air if he is looking for it, but it’s very hard for him if he isn’t (general advice: be aware of ranges where you opponent might want to jump so you can prepare to anti-air). Then they cut quickly to a Zangief vs. F.A.N.G. battle with Motchan, where Motchan is in the lead, but a poisoned Zangief gets a SPD, does meaty suction, cr. light kick, SPD for the win. Then Itazan asks “Do you remember why you lost that first round?” (I don’t know if that was what they showed though.) Motchan: “I took too many throws.” Itazan: “Why did you get thrown?” (Turns to Kimura) “Do you remember where he was when he was thrown? In the first round?” Neither of them remember. Itazan: “Try to remember.” The chat is really interesting now too, since before this they were talking about how it seems like all of them were having lots of fun, laughing, how Itazan is the best captain to just hang out with, but now the tide is changing to things like “he’s really strict” and “so much pressure!” Some people are saying things like “this is what makes someone a pro” and praising his teaching ability. It comes from this exchange:

Itazan: “This is important. It’s the reason that you lost. Why did you lose?” Motchan: “I had the life lead”. Itazan: “That’s right. You should have won.” Motchan: “I think I pressured too much, on my side.” Itazan: “In concrete terms, where on the screen?” Motchan: “Where was it… I can’t remember.” Itazan: “I remember. I did cr. heavy kick into V-trigger, and then Knee Bat” (Zangief’s forward + medium kick, a knee move that goes forward.) “Then I got an EX SPD.”

I really liked that exchange. Itazan was having fun playing with them, but pointed out important things that you need to keep track of during a match. You have to consciously think about your strategy and tactics knowing what your opponent wants to do. Asking Motchan on the spot about why he lost, and not telling him, continuing to drill on that point to try to show him how to analyze things himself, is really important. Kimura is there too, and can see how higher level play works at the strategic level, once you have the mechanics down. Now of course, I’m really interested to watch Kimura’s match to see what he does in terms of anti-airing, and Motchan’s match in terms of positioning, and what he does when he has the life lead.

Next up is Daigo, and he is working with Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) with Oniki (High, Karin) playing Ryu. He talks about how Ken has a fireball, and what ranges Ken likes to be at to throw a fireball. He talks about how in the last battle he would run into Kunisada’s projectiles, and the battle with Kimura Ken might be the same. He teaches him to use Rashid’s down V-Skill roll into kick to go through the projectile when he sees it. The spacing on that is a bit tricky (I say myself, as a silver level scrub Rashid) so it takes some time for Pineapple to pull it off. Daigo says it is hard against characters with good projectiles, but Ken’s is a weak projectile and it isn’t too hard to use. So if you think he’s just throwing fireballs all day, you can use that.

My observation of Kimura’s Ken is that you also really need to prepare something for frequent air tatsu. Daigo then also says that if he can practice a jump attack into a throw, at the Beginner level that is a strong tactic. Pineapple asks how the opponent can get out of that, and Daigo says that the opponent can use their own throw to tech the throw. Daigo continues, the League battles are a lot of pressure, so if you can get your opponent to crack, you can use that at the end.

Daigo then talks about his battle with Itabashi Zangief, and says that since he’s been using Abigail, there hasn’t really been a lot of time since he’s switched back to Zangief, so he hasn’t had the time to get in intense practice. Still, he’s a strong player, so…

20190210 SFL Ayako Hatta

Ayako Hatta plays Abigail. There are seven YouTube Videos from AbemaTV’s Ultra Games channel showing her learning Abigail: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 7.

After the videos we cut to an interview of both teams with Ayako Hatta.

She talks with Itazan Ocean first, asking him how he feels going into the match. Itazan says that it is hard to get a read on Umehara Gold, but there isn’t much that stands out about them, and their team doesn’t look too good. (After last week, I get the feeling he is playing more mental games in these interviews.) Ayako responds with “Oh really? They look like they get along well, and go out to eat together a lot.” Itazan: “They eat together a lot? (Smile) That’s just strange. (Laughs)” Ayako: “They probably go out to eat more than practicing.” Itazan: “I just wonder what is Daigo’s motivation for taking part in this.”

With that Ayako asks Daigo about his motivation. He replies “Oh, he’s really watching closely!” Then pauses a bit, and makes a cute gesture, saying he’s really into it. He says that he gets more exciting seeing his teammates win than when he wins himself. Ayako says that everyone thinks how he claps (his “small claps”) when his teammates win is really cute. Daigo says he’s really happy when he sees them do things that he taught them and win. Especially with the beginner class, he really enjoys watching them improve. So Ayako asks if thinks his teammates’ wins are more important than his, but he does say that the Extreme class gets the most points, so those are very important too. Logically that is the case, but emotionally it is more fun to see them win. Ayako turns to Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) and says that he looks confident. He says that Kimura is the person in the league that he wants to lose to the least. There is some background chatter about not wanting to lose because he’s being outshone as a personality (he is a comedian by trade) and Nagashima does some strange pose imitating Kimura talking about a flaming left fist. It comes off of strange to me, nobody laughs, and the production cuts out the background noise so there is this silent pregnant pause of a second or so before Ayako say “Thank you”. It’s super strange how they cut it – I can just hear people starting to laugh as they dissolve to the battle setup, so I think they are trying to position that as a joke that just bombed. In actuality, it might have come off ok.

In the Beginner battle, Kimura (Beginner, Ken) takes it 2-0 convincingly. The High Class match was looking good for Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.), but in the end Oniki (High, Karin) took it on a V-trigger freeze, CA through a Ryobenda. In the Extreme Class match, Daigo Guile takes it 2-0 over Itazan Zangief, but it was closer than that would suggest.

Itazan Ocean Umehara Gold Battle
B   2-0
  HH 1-2
  EEE 3-0
1 5  

Ayako interviews Umehara Gold. Ayako says that at the end it looked like Daigo might lose some rounds, but he was able to pull through. Daigo said that after reflecting on the previous battle, he decided that even on rounds that looked like he would lose, he wouldn’t give up. Ayako says that getting five points as a team is pretty big, and asks how they will continue to train. Daigo said that Oniki was very nervous last time, and they worked on relieving that nervousness. Daigo says he doesn’t know if it is because he is young or what, but he is able to work on things that he is told and make progress very quickly. Daigo says that Nagashima Pineapple has been practicing some things, and now he’s able to consistently do them, and he’s come to a level where he can start to look at strategy. He wants to start teaching him a good foundation.

7.2 Fuudo Gaia vs. Tokido Flame

Fuudo then talks about his matchup with Tokido. They play each other a lot (on Kachitagri TV), and he used to use R. Mika. He said he’s had trouble beating top players with her, and decided to switch to Birdie. In fact, you could even say that he switched to Birdie to beat Tokido, and he doesn’t think he can lose.

The video starts with Fuudo’s Gaia, and Fuudo talking to Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner, Kolin) about the importance of the opponent’s anti-airing. He says how it is important to know whether the opponent (Akuma in this case) will Shoryuken or not. If you think the opponent will throw a hadouken, and they don’t dragon punch, you should keep on jumping. He also says not to let go of the stick. Then he has Kawano (High, Kolin) who is playing Akuma throw a fireball with input on, and says that is a bad one. (Down, down forward, forward, punch.) He says if you do it right, the fireball command ends with a punch button and a forward input at the same time, he says that is more reliable to get the fireball out. Kawano then says that he wants to teach some set play after a throw, specifically heavy punch EX vanity step crossup. Fuudo thinks that is a bit difficult. Kawano says it is easy. So they start to practice. Fuudo says that, up until now it has been hard to get damage, but if Miyata can learn this kind of set play, it will really increase his damage output. Kawano talks a bit about how Miyata doesn’t quite have a grasp on the timing for the strong punch cancel timing. They show a lot of a match with Kawano Kolin vs. Fuudo Ryu that Fuudo takes with cr. medium kick into CA. Fuudo tells Kawano that he needs more work on Ryu backing off and throwing fireballs. Fuudo says that most Ryus aren’t trying to win with fireballs, but intentionally back off until they are near the corner, and then back throw you into the corner. He then shows the spacing the Ryu wants, and how they will back off, then sometimes dash in and throw, and this pattern is something that he was beating Kawano with. While it looks like you’ve forced them into the corner, they actually drew you there with their patient fireball play. He doesn’t know if Hibiki will do that though.

Fuudo then talks about his matchup with Tokido. They play each other a lot (on Kachitagri TV), and he used to use R. Mika. He said he’s had trouble beating top players with her, and decided to switch to Birdie. In fact, you could even say that he switched to Birdie to beat Tokido, and he doesn’t think he can lose.

The next video is from Tokido Flame. He’s working with Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) on his Akuma. He said that in the previous match, his opponent was good, and would likely anti-air him. Against Kolin though, he says that you can pressure her on her wakeup. They show video of a blocked Kolin hands, which Misaki punishes and then jumps in for a combo. They also show a bit where he does a jump roundhouse, then throw, and some more combos. Tokido sounds very pleased.

They show Tokido and Hibiki (High, Ryu) with Tokido throwing out Kolin heavy standing kick, and Hibiki practicing fireballing it. Tokido says that watching Hibiki’s previous match with Kolin, he had a tendency to back off and throw fireballs. He said that he shouldn’t back off as much, and he should keep track of the distance between the two characters, and preserve that. Sometimes walk forward a bit and block the opponent’s attack. If he feels like they are too close, then back off a bit, and continue the pressure. This is also some very practical advice.

Tokido talks about his match-up with Fuudo. He thinks that Fuudo will find a lot of success in the second half of the season, but since he just changed his character he doesn’t think he’ll have great results immediately. As he gets used to it, he expects Fuudo to have better results, but at this early stage he wants to crush him.

As usual, the next segment is Ayako interviewing the two teams before the battle. Ayako asks Fuudo about their point situation since they won last time, and Fuudo says that since Itazan lost he expects them to fall in the rankings, but since both his team and Tokido’s team are on the bottom, whoever wins will move up, so this is an important match.

Ayako asks Tokido about Fuudo’s character change. The camera cuts to Fuudo and he makes some really funny faces. Tokido says that he is going to win. He then goes on to talk about how Tokido Flame gathers as a team and practices together, and they want to do their best together. He’s throwing some kind of shade at Fuudo, perhaps a reference to the previous Section where Fuudo said they do a lot of their communication and training remotely.

In the Beginner match, Miyata Hidemichi (Kolin) vs. Misaki Kousei (Akuma) Misaki was applying a lot of wake-up jump pressure on Kolin, as expected from the earlier video training clip. He also showed a nice V-Skill anti-air that got Tokido super pumped. Miyata (Kolin) got in a nice jump over fireball combo once or twice, but Misako (Akuma) takes the first battle 1-2. Tokido is really into this match. Misaki (Akuma) pulls off jump attack, cr. medium kick, fireball multiple times, which is something they worked on in Section 3. He had a few more anti-air V-Skills, and took the second game 0-2.

For the High class, we have Fuudo Gaia’s Kawano (High, Kolin) facing off against Hibki (High, Ryu). Kawano takes the first game 2-0, and got a lot of mileage out of Kolin’s double ice jump, where Hibiki tried to anti-air dragon punch it, but Kolin flies over the anti-air and gets a nice punch combo on the other side. Hibiki was clearly trying to keep his spacing and not back off too much in the second set, but he lost 2-0 in rounds again thanks a lot to missed dragon punches, and also Kolin’s VT2 long range quick attacks.

Fuudo Birdie vs. Tokido Akuma was a really fun match. Of course, it is a different season, but Fuudo Birdie is really different from MenaRD Birdie in my eyes. I like that the character can be played differently by different people, but actually I haven’t watch much MenaRD this season, so maybe that’s just my memory playing tricks on me mixed with a lack of information. Fuudo takes it in a close 2-1.

Fuudo Gaia Tokido Flame Battle
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
EEE   2-0
5 1  

In the interview with Fuudo Gaia. Ayako asks Fuudo about his preparation for Tokido’s Akuma, and how it looks like it paid off. Fuudo thinks that the switch is paying off and is happy about it. That’s it, short interview.

7.3 Nemo Aurora vs. Mago Scarlet

The training video starts off with Nemo talking to Mami Okumura about how she got jumped in on a lot. He tells her about V-reversal, and how to use it (forward and all three kicks for Cammy when blocking). The chat is talking about how he should teaching blocking first (I agree – she needs to work on high/low blocking a bit) and how he isn’t a good teacher, etc. They show some practice, and she gets it sometimes. He talks about how you can use that move to get people off of you if you are being pressured or they are too close. Anman (High, Urien) says that in her three matches, she has lost a lot of life to jump in attacks.

Nemo then talks with Anman about Sakagami’s Boxer, and how since he probably doesn’t beat Anman in casuals, he’ll come at him hard in this tournament.

Then Nemo talks about his preparation for Mago. He says that Mago leaves a lot of openings, and if he just waits, Mago will give him a chance to win. Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but there was no “King’s Chair” for Nemo today.

In Mago’s training clip, we see Mago talking with Kunisada (Beginner, Ed). He talks about how at their level, Kunisada should focus on learning his opponents attacks, and when there are gaps that he can punish. Against Cammy, she’s small and fast, but there are definitely gaps in her special moves. (Notably, he isn’t talking about frames. I think avoiding that at the beginner level is the right move – first get a feel for things intuitively.) So Mago has Kunisada block a spiral arrow, and shows how that is punishable. He says he can punish with anything, which Kunisada does. Mago says that an optimal combo will work, but in order to be consistent, Kunisada should just focus on doing cr. medium punch into psycho upper, which he then tries to do. It’s funny though because he actually does cr. medium punch, standing heavy punch (I think) into Psycho Upper, and Mago is like, “no, no just the simple one”, and he gets it. Mago says it is important to punish moves like this – not necessarily with the optimal thing, but to punish them.

Then he talks about Anman, and says generally for any Urien, if you keep pressuring them eventually they are going to do EX Headbutt. So Sakagami does cr. light punch repeatedly, which I think you can block EX Headbutt from if timed right.

Mago then talks about how if Kunisada and Sakagami win their match, it will help them move up, and he really wants to win. I’m surprised there wasn’t anything in there directly about Nemo though.

In the pre-game interviews, Ayako first asks Nemo how his team is feeling. He says they’ve been getting points, and want to get some more. Ayako directly asks him about whether he’s confident against Mago’s Cammy, and he says “A broken Hayashi Kenryo sleeps here in my heart, so I think I’ll win.” Mago makes a face. Hayashi Kenryo is Mago’s true name. I think in the Fighting Game Community, as in fantasy, knowledge of a true name must give you some power over someone.

Ayako then asks Anman about his match with Sakagami, and he says that they normally play a lot, they’re the same age, and he is going to completely thrash him and make a present of it to his Company President. The chat gets a kick out of that one.

Mami Okumura (Beginner, Cammy) says that along with Kimura, she also really hates Kunisada. (If course, she says this in a cute and gentle way, and I’ve been following her on twitter and it seems like she’s trying to play mental games. In a kind of way that everyone knows is not working. The chat just keeps going on about how cute she is.) Nemo then says that they’ve been practicing together a lot, and she really doesn’t want to lose, and she really really does hate him. Once again, Mami: “I really hate him.” The chat is going on about how Kunisada is going to have a mental breakdown. She says that he’s been dissing her this whole time. Back in the first Beginner league auditions he showed up with an arcade stick and told her that there’s no way he’d lose. Ayako: “Go and beat him up!”

Mago says that people might think it is only him against Nemo, but really their team has a lot of rivalries with Nemo’s team. Mago says that his team has done well, and they were able to get a lot of points, and really he has to step up his game. He’s going to do it with Nemo. Lots of awkward shots of Nemo nodding and smiling, then everyone breaks out into laughter.

Ayako then asks Sakagami about his matchup, where Anman said that he probably has the edge. Sakagami says that if they play 10 sets, he might or might not win once. He feels like they have a rivalry going, and wants to win.

Ayako asks whether Kunisada’s heart is broken or not. He says he feels like he’s been under a sudden mental attack, but he’s excited to play her for the first time, and become even more hated. He says his goal is to win, implying he doesn’t mind that hatred stuff. The chat feels like he’s a complete masochist and is into it. Chat is toxic. Sometimes funny though. And there is nothing wrong with being Masochistic if that is what you are into, and you know how to act those fantasies out safely (read Savage Love.)

Before the matches start, Hameko asks Matsuura Aya, also in the Beginner class tryouts as a Ryu main, what she thinks of Kunisada. She says she also hates him.

Kunisada took the first game. In the second game, Mami Okumura took the second round, and was super happy. Chat was very happy for her too. It actually was a bit close in the third round, but Kunisada took it to win 0-2. Anman destroyed Sakagami, but had to do it via Aegis comebacks. I think that’s almost half of Urien’s gameplan, so no surprise there.

Nemo made it look like he keeps a broken Mago in his heart, and took their match 2-0. Mago did not look happy about that.

Nemo Aurora Mago Scarlet Battle
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
5 1  

In the post-game interview, Ayako asks Nemo what he thinks about getting five points and moving into first place. He says that he really wanted to use Kolin against Cammy, but since his opponent is Nemo, he used Urien. Normally he would use Kolin against Cammy, but he knows Mago doesn’t like Urien, so he uses him. Ayako provokes him: “So you do things he doesn’t like”, and Nemo continues “right, do things he doesn’t like, and bring out that broken down Hayashi Kenryo”. Ayako asked what he thought about his team’s play, and he said he learned from Anman’s match with Sakagami, and he actually thinks Anman is better at the Urien Boxer matchup than he is. Ayako asks him if he has any challenges or homework for his team, and he says he wants Okumura to try some new things. I’m surprised he didn’t compliment her on how she won a round, but you can never tell how they edit these things.

7.4 Results

Lots of movement this time for Fuudo Gaia who shot up, and Mago Scarlet who dropped down three spots. Nemo Aurora and Umehara Gold both move up a bit, and Tokido Flame and Itazan Ocean both fall a bit. The ranks were very compact after Section 3, so we’re starting to see some separation now, but in the best case, no more than a single Section’s worth of results separate the top from bottom positions right now.

Rank Team Points Matches Movement
1 Nemo Aurora 15 6
2 Umehara Gold 13 7 ⬆⬆
3 Fuudo Gaia 13 6 ⬆⬆⬆
4 Mago Scarlet 12 7 ⬇⬇⬇
5 Tokido Flame 10 5
6 Itazan Ocean 9 5 ⬇︎

8 2019-02-23 Section 5

Jun Utahiroba on stream at EVO Japan 2019.

In this section, our third color commentator is Jun Utahiroba, the bassist for Golden Bomber, a rock band. He’s a well-known Street Fighter Fan and Ken player. You might remember him from when he was onstream at EVO Japan. He’s a very enthusiastic guy, and a quite good Ken player. He’s very good as a color commentator in my opinion because he knows enough about the game to do analysis, but he’s an entertainer at heart and doesn’t talk about that stuff – he puts a lot of emotion into what he says, and just sounds really invested.

8.1 Tokido Flame vs. Itazan Ocean

The opening video for Tokido Flame showed Tokido talking to Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) about how Kimura Keita (Itazan Ocean Beginner, Ken) likes to do lots of Shoryukens. He told him that up until now, he had punished that with a throw (if he blocked one) but he wanted him instead to do standing roundhouse, fierce, fierce. They talked a bit about the damage difference, and how as a punch, that is an easy and reliable one. Then they cut to Itazan Ocean who was working with Motchan (High class, F.A.N.G.). When Itazan asked him what he thought of the matchup, Motchan said that he didn’t really have much Ryu practice, and he thought Hibiki (Tokido Flame, High class, Ryu) didn’t have much practice against F.A.N.G. so it was probably a 50-50. Itazan told him the important thing is how he prepares for the match. The video then cuts away saying “How did he prepare? How will it go?” and we head right into the matches.

One thing that was clear from the Beginner match is that Kimura (Itazan Ocean, Beginner, Ken) has really worked on anti-airs. He had a few different types during the match, and did well with them. Misaki did get a punish or two, but he was anti-aired quite a bit, and fell victim to Kimura’s pressure. I actually think watching Kimura’s matches that he over-relies on jumping tatsu, and people should prepare a punish for that. I think Misaki did practice that though, because after every blocked air tatsu he did standing jab to interrupt the throw. Kimura Keita took the Beginner class match.

In the High Class, Motchan (Itazan Ocean, High class, F.A.N.G.) faces Hibiki (Ryu). Motchan wasn’t trying as many fly moves as he did in his last match, which really got blown up. Hibiki took the first game in a close set, and Motchan took the second game in a close set. After that second set, you could hear Itazan telling Motchan he thought he should use more EX Ryobendas, but Motchan said that he was worried about Hibiki jumping them, and Itazan then laughs and says “I see, I’ll leave it up to you then!” Then we get Tokido telling Hibiki that he EX Shoryukens were getting him hurt, and maybe he should try something else. Hibiki says maybe more backdashes, and Tokido says he might just want to block. It is interesting that they are giving us clear audio and comparative shots of coaching in this 1-1 situation. Motchan wins a super close first round on a whiffed Mind’s Eye. Motchan takes the second round in another super close come from behind victory. Itazan has a great laugh in the background.

Tokido vs. Itazan is Akuma vs. Zangief. Tokido takes the first game. Itazan’s comeback in the first round of the second set was great, I expect to see that on HiFight. He loses the second round, but convincingly takes the third to tie things up. By the way, it is nice to see Tokido using VTII. Tokido pretty quickly takes the game for the win though. Man, Akuma’s corner carry is really crazy. I think Itazan fought most of the games out of the corner.

Tokido Flame Itazan Ocean Battle
  B 0-2
  HH 1-2
EEE   2-1
3 3  

Ayako asks Tokido about his teammates play, and says it was close. He does say that he found some things to work on for them, and that their matches were really close so it was tough, but looking forward he’s optimistic.

Ayako turns to Itazan and they talk about his teammates win. Itazan says that Motchan’s movement was really good, and while he thinks F.A.N.G. is a complex character, Motchan’s come from behind victories were really good.

8.2 Mago Scarlet vs. Fuudo Gaia

They open saying that Mago wants Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) to focus not just on winning, but on how he wins. He knows that Kunisada has some plan, or wants to do some combo, but it doesn’t quite work out. He asks Kunisada to show him a combo that leads into a CA, but the CA doesn’t come out. He says that his cancel into the CA was late, and that really he needs to prepare to do the cancel. He says that beginners often look to see if something connects, and then do the input. What you should do is assume that you will connect, and do the input. Mago shows him how he does the Ed combo a few times, and comments that you really just have to hit the buttons for the CA if you do it that way.

Fuudo is working with Kawano (High class, Kolin) and asks about his match with Sakagami (High class, Boxer). Kawano says he has a lot of practice and prepartion for Boxer. He thinks he’ll win convincingly.

They do pre-game interviews. Ayako talks with Mago, and he says that their team is ready. Kawano (High class, Boxer) says he wants to win since he lost to Anman previously.

Over with Fuudo’s team, and she asks if they continue to not train as a team much. Fuudo replies that after this Fuudo wants to train weekly, and Ayako asks if he thinks that Miyata Hidemich (Beginner, Kolin) has improved a lot. Fuudo says, not really, the way this is structure it is important to look at who you are playing against, and he thinks it will be a loss against Kunisada this week (widely considered to be the strongest Beginner, but Kimura Keita might give him a run for his money). He expects Miyata to improve going forward.

In the Beginner matchup, Kunisada did win, but Miyata Hidemich (Beginner, Kolin) did put up a fight.

Kawano took the first game. Mago tells Sakagami (High class, Boxer) that Kawano (High class, Kolin) likes to dash up and throw, and he should try to backdash some of those. Fuudo said it was close, and Kawano seems nervous and gives some advice that I can’t catch. Sakagami (High class, boxer) wins a close game two. Mago says that as he thought, Kawano really wants to throw. Fuudo has a lot more advice that seems quite practical that I don’t really get since I don’t understand the Kolin game plan well. He was talking about pressure, which specific moves to use, wake up buttons, and the opponents’ tendencies. This kind of advice is a bit tough for me to interpret because it relates back to character specific matchup knowledge that I just don’t have. (I’m a casual stream monster, and wouldn’t know what a lab looked like even if I was named Dexter.) Kawano (Kolin) takes the final game.

Mago Cammy vs. Fuudo Birdie. The last round of the first game is another round I expect to see on HiFight’s timeline, with Fuudo taking it in a come from behind victory. He went on to win the first game. Mago takes the second game, and Fuudo takes the final game.

Mago Scarlet Fuudo Gaia Battle
B   2-0
  HH 1-2
  EEE 1-2
1 5  

Ayako says that they were all good matches, but that we really saw Birdie’s raw power in the Mago vs. Fuudo matchup. There was one round where Mago took a massive amount of damage, and Fuudo says that anyone who saw that would be sad. Ayako also says that Kawano had a good victory, and Fuudo really liked his movement.

8.3 Umehara Gold vs. Nemo Aurora

The openings for Umehara Gold and Nemo Aurora are the same as ever, but now I can’t avoid noticing how the music changes to a heavy metal evil sounding theme just for Nemo. It changes back for Anman and Okumura Mami on his team. Jun Utahiroba is trying hard not to crack at Okumura Mami’s (Nemo Aurora, Beginner class, Cammy) as Hameko introduces her: “While her boss is looking on, grinning, all she wants to do is win for him, Okumura Mami!” Ayako asks if Umehara’s team has been practicing together: “Ah, uh, not really.” Ayako: “Have you been eating out together?” Daigo: “Of course!” They cut to a video segment with Daigo talking to Oniki (High class, Karin) and he says that he thought Oniki was having a hard time with movement, but if he had played like he normally did he would have won. He thinks that Oniki would win a lot more if he could just play like he usually does. Daigo then goes off on a real Daigo line of reasoning. He says that it doesn’t really matter if he wins or loses, it isn’t like Daigo will have to quit being a pro if he doesn’t win, so it isn’t all that important. Instead, Oniki has a chance to show people who are watching what he can do as a player, and he really should take advantage of that. Of course he is nervous when it comes to winning or losing, but he should just think about playing like normal. The announcer says that Daigo is trying to push for relaxed play.

Unusually they cut back to Ayako in the studio. Nemo says that he wants to win and jump back into first place. Ayako asks Anman about what he thinks, and he says that he will definitely win. He says that he needs to win today, or he will have crossed a line. Nemo quickly says that it wasn’t him putting on the pressure, and Anman says that it is his own personal line that he doesn’t want to cross.

Ayako then talks to Okumura, who says that she has been practicing “new things”. I wondered when and how this would come up, she’s been streaming five to six hours a week, playing Blanka. They cut to a video segment where Nemo shows her some simple combos and wake up pressure options, although they don’t show the screen. You hear a lot of roars and electric and thunder, so most people should have figured it out by now.

The go into the Beginner match, and the Pineapple Nagashima (Umehara Gold, Beginner class, Rashid) beats Umemura Mami’s Blanka pretty handily. Mami had some good sequences where she Blanka Balled some Eagle Spikes, but it looked to me like she was very nervous, and wasn’t hitting a lot of what she had been practicing. She did have a few nice anti-airs, but wasn’t really able to block jump-in pressure.

The High class battle between Oniki (Umehara Gold, High class, Karin) and Anman (High class, Urien) was a good match. It went to Anman 2-1, but I was glad to see that Oniki had a pretty good showing, and hope that the pep talk from Daigo pays dividends later on. Before the match in the interview with Ayako, Anman was pretty confident about how he would demolish Oniki, but Oniki put up a pretty good fight, and chat was giving Oniki a bit of a ribbing for that “This is how you demolish someone?” People are definitely as invested in these beginner and high class matches as they are the extreme class matches.

I generally don’t have as much commentary about the extreme class matches, because they are high level matches of the kind we’ve all seen in Top 8s around the world. Daigo really did well, although there were some moves that I think of as things only Daigo would do. He did a Flash kick after Nemo sent out an Aegis mirror, and it was clear he would hit it, but the exchange with the trades they had, he dealt about as much damage as he got, so I suspect it was intentional. Daigo really won this matchup by making trades in his favor, and controlling the projectile game.

Umehara Gold Nemo Aurora Battle
B   2-0
  HH 1-2
EEE   2-0
4 2  

Ayako asked Daigo in the post game interview what advice he was giving Oniki, since it looked like he was really talking to him a lot. Daigo says that he really was just encouraging him to relax, and try to play without being so nervous. It wasn’t advice so much as just cheering him on. Daigo says that for Nagashima Pineapple, he didn’t think he was ever in all that much danger, so he didn’t have too much to say. He did tell him of the tools that he has, which ones looked like they were working well against his opponent (note the increased frequency of Eagle Spikes and jump in attacks).

8.4 Results

Basically, Nemo Aurora and Fuudo Gaia swapped places. Everyone else stayed the same relative to their previous placement.

Rank Team Points Matches Movement
1 Fuudo Gaia 18 8 ⬆⬆
2 Umehara Gold 17 9
3 Nemo Aurora 17 7 ⬇⬇
4 Mago Scarlet 13 8
5 Tokido Flame 13 6
6 Itazan Ocean 12 7

9 2019-02-24 Section 6

Our commentary desk is the same from the previous evening, which is fine by me. Hiroutaba Jun knows how to work with other commentators, and is a lively presence. There is a bit of a loss from the previous color commentary we’ve had of cute young women who are very enthusiastic, but ask questions that are sometimes fairly basic about the matches. In that way, they act as a stand-in for new viewers that don’t know the game well, but I have to wonder how much of the audience that composes at this point.

9.1 Nemo Aurora vs. Tokido Flame

As we saw last time, Okumura Mami (Beginner class, Blanka) changed her character to Blanka. They open with a video segment showing Nemo giving her some tips on Blanka usage. He says that he thinks she had the most trouble because she didn’t really know how to move with Blanka (or, from what he talking about, Blanka’s game plan.) He first talks about how when people jump at her, she should anti-air (she did that a few times, but sometimes was too late and ate a jump-in) or she should block high. I’m glad he mentioned that, because I think she hasn’t quite gotten that down yet. He also says that if she feels like she’s getting pressured too much, she should use Blanka’s rolling attack to move forward. Nemo’s using Akuma, since she will face Kousei Misaki (Beginner class, Akuma) and he talks about how he has a fireball. He suggests using rainbow ball to go over fireballs.

Then they cut over to Tokido talking with Misaki Kousei (Beginner class, Akuma). Tokido says that Blanka is an offensive character, and he needs to work on ways to stop Blanka balls. Misaki shows a few jab moves that stops some of the balls, and Tokido shows him the optimal range that he wants to keep against Blanka (which really, to me looks like the mid-range area that Blanka controls very well, but maybe at this level that isn’t as important.) Hibiki says that it doesn’t look like there is a simple counter plan, and Tokido agrees. Tokido says that one approach is to go on the offensive and keep Blanka defending. He says “When you can put on pressure, that is the best thing to do”. He also says that Blanka is a good choice for Okumura Mami.

Before the match, they cut back to Ayako interviewing both teams. Nemo says that he has confidence against Tokido Flame, and Anman says that he has lots of practice against Ryu so he’s also quite confident. Tokido says that Nemo’s team has a lot of points, so he really wants to take this battle seriously and gain some points on them.

In the Okumura Mami (Nemo Aurora, Beginner class, Blanka) vs. Misaki Kousei (Tokido Flame, Beginner class, Akuma) Misaki goes on the offensive. Mami was able to defend some jump-ins, but Misaki was mixing things up on her wake-up with meaty buttons and throws, and lots of jump-in attacks. She did have one or two nice anti-airs with appropriate buttons, but Misaki took it 2-0 in rounds and 2-0 in games. There wasn’t much clear coaching – there was during the game, but they didn’t edit it such that we got clear shots of what was going on.

Anman (Nemo Aurora, High class, Urien) vs. Hibki (Tokido Flame, High class, Ryu) was taken by Anman but Hibiki put up a fight. The first game was 2-0 in Anman’s favor. They didn’t have much visible coaching in this set. The second game was also 2-0 in Anman’s favor, but it was close. They showed a bit of Nemo and Tokido talking to their teammates after the win/loss with some advice – reinforcing the team improvement theme that has been a focus in the JP SFL (much to my enjoyment.)

Nemo Urien took the first game against Tokido 2-0, but Tokido came back to take the second game 1-2, and off that momentum took the final game 1-2 as well.

Nemo Aurora Tokido Flame Battle
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
  EEE 1-2
2 4  

Ayako Hatta interviews Tokido Flame after the games. She thought the last match was very close, and exciting, and it wasn’t clear who would win until the very end. Tokido said that he stuck with his game plan, and it was very close, but in the end he was able to pull out the win. I think those two fight enough that they both have a good idea of the others’ approach so it really could have gone either way.

9.2 Mago Scarlet vs. Umehara Gold

Before things get started, Hameko talked a bit about the Beginner class match between Umehara Gold’s Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) and Mago Scarlet’s Kunisada (Beginner, Ed). The two of them are tied for 4 wins each, so whoever wins this takes the lead as the best Beginner class player.

Mago is working with Kunisada, and tells him that if Rashid is far away, he should expect an Eagle Spike and jump backwards to punish it. Mago says that once the people behind Nagashima Pineapple see that, they will advice him to cut back on the Eagle Spikes. Then Mago works with Kawano (High class, Boxer) on the matchup with Oniki (High class, Karin). Mago says that he likely will use a lot of medium attack buttons as he closes, so Boxer’s standing heavy punch is good. Mixing in crouching medium punch and dash punches makes it hard to predict and punish. Mago advises that Oniki likes mid-range attacks and some long range stuff, so Kawano should avoid eating those. He should watch out when he gets pushes Oniki into the corner because he likes to use standing roundhouse, or crossup medium kick to escape, so he needs to be prepared for that. Mago shows him some ranges to wait and anti-air options particularly for when Oniki gets cornered.

Daigo starts off talking about how Kunisada has good technical skills, but that he hasn’t yet gotten used to the pressure from tournaments, and he could get a bit shaken. He literally says to Nagashima Pineapple that he won’t be able to catch up in terms of technique but he can try to take him on in terms of psychology.

Then they talk about how Oniki has played up until now, and Daigo says that his movement has been a bit stiff and his neutral game hasn’t been good. He thinks if he plays like he normally would then he can win. For both his players it was about the mental game.

Ayako asks Mago what he thinks about his match with Umehara, and he says that he thinks he can win. She asks Kunisada what he thinks, and he basically says he wants to do what he practiced and win.

Ayako asks Daigo what he thinks about the match with Mago. He says it is a bit tough to think of what kind of style would be good since he shouldn’t do what he did last time. He’s going to fight to win. Ayako says that last time Nagashima Pineapple’s last match with Kunisada was very good, and asks his feelings. He says they are both have really good people controlling them (as remote controls) and it should be a good match.

I thought the match between Nagashima Pineapple’s Rashida and Kunisada’s Ed was really good. The first game was 1-2 in Kunisada’s favor, but it didn’t look lopsided. Throughout the match you could hear Daigo in the background giving advice during play – that is the first time that has happened. Pineapple had a really good sequence once where he backdashed a throw, and he made good use of V-Trigger I, getting a throw out of it. He had a punish that was cr. fierce cr. roundhouse, which is pretty good for where he started. Kunisada showed a few times that he could jump back on Eagle Spike and punish it, so it was good seeing Mago’s advice come into play. I could clearly head Daigo say during the second game “Don’t Eagle Spike any more”. He had a really good second round in the second game. The big difference between the two is that when Kunisada’s Ed gets an opening, he can make a lot out of it with a combo or punish. Nagashima took the second game 2-1. Daigo is explicitly saying during the game when to Eagle Spike. There are, by the way, as far as I could read nothing in the rules about when to coach or when not to. I really like this coaching during the round. I’m hearing things like “this is dangerous”. I don’t know if Mago isn’t mic’d up, but really they are just mixing in Daigo. Kunisada did seem to get rattled in the third game, and lost the first round. Nagashima was doing a lot of neutral jump on wakeup, roundhouse, into throw that got Kunisada a bunch. He did tech it once though. Kunisada had a really nice sequence in the second round of the final match comboing into a CA, and took that round, bringing it to final game, final round. Diago was going nuts when Nagashima Pineapple got trigger, and was just saying “trigger, trigger, trigger!” Nagashima Pineapple takes it in a really entertaining match. Kunisada definitely is the better player, but Nagashima’s unpredictable movement, and some of his wake-up pressure, mixed up with unpredictable Eagle Spikes, got him the win.

The High class matchup is Mago Scarlet’s Susanoo|Sakagami (Boxer) vs. Umehara Gold’s Oniki (Karin). Sakagami was doing some of the things that Mago was talking about, and took the first game 2-0. He then took the next game pretty convincingly 2-0.

Mago starts his match off with Daigo with a walk up throw. Gutsy. He really steamrolled through Daigo in that first round. I really like how they have the mic’s wired up, because you can clearly hear the button presses and how the players are buffering moves. Daigo took the second round, but Mago won the first game 2-1 in the end. Mago took it in a close 2-1 second game.

Mago Scarlet Umehara Gold Battle
  B 1-2
HH   2-0
EEE   2-0
5 1  

Ayako says that Mago got a lot of points with his win, and deflects saying that Sakagami did a good job of winning his match, but it seems like Kunisada has a real mental block with Nagashima Pineapple, and he thought Kunisada looked really crestfallen over that. Mago said that while he was cheering on Sakagami, Kunisada was sitting next to him in a kind of depressed stupor.

9.3 Itazan Ocean vs. Fuudo Gaia

They open with Itazan talking to Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken). He says that he often uses Ken’s standing medium kick at very close range. He’s clearly looking to combo, but actually that move is stronger at a longer range, and up close isn’t as good. Throw would be better. He then goes on to say that you should also back off sometimes and use medium punch (the Gootecks Shimmy) or use weak punch and weak kick up close if the opponent thinks you will throw to continue your pressure. He says that will make him three times stronger. (Itazan is hilarious. Three times? Yeah.) He says that continuing the pressure is important even if his opponent’s defense is good. So then Kimura practices some weak punch, medium punch, strong punch into Tatsu combos.

Fuudo Gaia talks with Miyata (Beginner, Kolin) and talks about combos, and how his common ones won’t connect with jump in attacks reliably. Strong punch into EX Hands would be better. Miyata gives it a go, but has a hard time connecting hard punch into hands, getting a bunch of other things, but eventually gets it. Fuudo says that instead of worrying about particular anti-Kimura strategies, he should work on just improving his own play. Kimura (Itazan Ocean), Misaki Kousei (Tokido Flame) and others are pretty consistently doing combos where they cancel into special moves, so that is a good area to work on. Fuudo also says they are in a good position as a team, and might be able to last through to the end, so Miyata really should work on improving himself for the long run. (This may come back and bite him later, but generally sounds like good advice. I do think at this level, there are particular things you should prepare for against Kimura – like lots of random air tatsus. I like how Mago had Kunisada work on jump back to punish Nagashima Pineapple’s frequent Eagle Spikes – that worked! But Daigo was giving additional strong tactical advice that negated that advantage to a large degree.)

Before the match starts, Ayako talks to Itazan Ocean and she says that she thinks this is a really important battle for them. He replies that he heard that if they get a lot of points in this battle, the rankings will really change, and it is an exciting opportunity for them. Ayako then asks Motchan how he feels after getting his first win in the last battle. (She asks nicely, so it is clearly a good thing, but wow.) He replies that he feels like he has some momentum but he sounds totally subdued and depressed. The chat is saying that he looks like he’s going to cry, or that his expression doesn’t reflect that at all (it doesn’t.) His teammates burst into laughter, which given Itazan and Kimura’s character, isn’t uncommon. He picks up a bit after that and starts to get into the spirit.

Fuudo talks about how he’s trying to take the pressure off by remembering that it is a team game, and if they lose here they’re still together as a team, and it isn’t going to be a big deal. Ayako asks Fuudo which character he’s going to play and he just says “please look forward to finding out!” Ayako then tells Kawano (High class, Kolin) that his opponent Motchan (High class, F.A.N.G.) is apparently in a really good mood and has some momentum (which is both kind and funny in a way) and asks for his feelings on the match. He says that he has been talking with Fuudo – and the frequency of that has been going up – and that the day of the match Fuudo gives him really good advice in the character matchup. He says that he really wonders why Fuudo doesn’t tell him that stuff earlier though. You can hear Itazan Ocean’s team in the background laughing. Fuudo says that up until now the strategy has worked, and they have been winning, so he must be doing things correctly. More laughter.

Before the match Utahiroba Jun comments that Itazan Ocean’s team sounds like they have a great time together. I still think Daigo’s team might be having the most fun going out drinking every night. (Not confirmed by the program in any way – just my personal head cannon.) Kimura did at least one medium kick into throw as Itazan suggested. He also did 2 medium kick into continued target combo, once into dragon punch which was blocked and punished, but he took the first round. Miyata had some good use of Kolin’s V-Skill and took the second round. Kimura takes the third round and first game. In the second game, Kimura takes the first round (one instance of medium kick to throw), but in the second had two instances of medium kick medium kick dragon punch that were both blocked. He still manages to pull out the second round, and second game, in a close victory.

Motchan wins the first game 2-0, putting on a pretty good show. It is fun to see a F.A.N.G. Kawano (Kolin) brought it back for Fuudo Gaia in the second game taking that one 0-2. Motchan’s F.A.N.G. has some tricky mix-ups. He took the first round, and off another nice VTII comeback took the second. He looked super happy about it too.

Itazan chose Abigail, and Fuudo chose Mika in their match. Itazan’s teammates are really cheering audibly for him in the background. Itazan takes the first game 2-0. He turns back to Motchan and tells him that his advice was nice – I didn’t catch whether Motchan was giving advice or not though, so I don’t know what it would have been. The commentary desk is talking about how Kimura, who is usually the loud one, is a bit reserved in the face of Motchan’s sudden fervent cheering. Fuudo changes to Birdie, and Itazan checks his notes on his phone. He is always doing that. Even during casuals at Akihabara eSports square, he’s checking those notes. Whatever is written in those notes must be good, because he took the second game 2-0. He also jumped the two times Fuudo tried a command throw – he just knows the grappler mindset.

Itazan Ocean Fuudo Gaia Battle
B   2-0

I hope Super Joe Munday is watching because since Itazan Ocean ran the table on Fuudo Gaia, that brings in the special “Time of Crying” rule. Under that rule, if one team wins all three matches, the opposing team can choose either the Beginner or High class member to face off against the Extreme class member of the winning team. The Beginner needs to win one round, the High class member needs to win a normal game. If the chosen member wins, their team gets 3 victory points.

Fuudo Gaia sends up Kawano (Kolin), who faces Itazan’s Zangief. Itazan had a nice sequence making a comeback (well, it’s Zangief so you can’t really say that.) He lost the second round, but took the final round, keeping their eyes dry.

Ayako talks with Itazan Ocean, and they are super happy about getting 6 points. Itazan says that since they got all six points, and also brought the point spread in super tight, he really wants people to raise the evaluation of their team. Lots of laughter. Ayako says that Motchan really did get into the spirit of things and played very well in that spirit, even though it didn’t look like he was having fun during the opening interview. Chat really likes Motchan (and Ayako for that matter).

9.4 Results

Itazan Ocean makes huge moves after this section, moving up to third from last, and Nemo Aurora jumps up a bit as well. The

Rank Team Points Matches Movement
1 Nemo Aurora 19 8 ⬆⬆
2 Mago Scarlet 18 10 ⬆⬆
3 Itazan Ocean 12 7 ⬆⬆⬆
4 Umehara Gold 18 10 ⬇⬇
5 Fuudo Gaia 18 8 ⬇⬇⬇⬇
6 Tokido Flame 17 8

10 2019-03-02 Special

Both teams for the JP SFL Special episode

Sasaki Saki

Team Shooting Stars

Team Shooting Stars 2

Team Utahiroba Bombers

VTubers between games

This is a special broadcast that I hadn’t heard about until the day of, but two hours before the 7th Section of the JP Street Fighter League broadcast, there was this special show with two people from the entertainment industry, and two Virtual YouTubers.

The teams are: Utahiro Bombers with

  • Beginner Class. Sasaki Saki. I don’t know anything about her, but you can check out her YouTube channel. The song on her page video is nice.
  • High Class. Utahiro Jun. The bassist for Golden Bombers. He’s well know for liking Street Fighter – he was on commentary the previous session – and plays a good Ken.
  • Extreme Class. Gachi-kun. Capcom Cup 2018 Champion.

Team Shooting Star Takiue.

This was actually streamed live. The setup is the same as one bout of the normal JP SFL, where the Beginner Class match is worth one point, the High Class match is worth two points, and the Extreme Class match is worth three points.

There is some chatter before things get started, it turns out that Takiue Eijirou and Utahiro Jun are fighting for the title of “Best Street Fighter Player in the Entertainment World”. They played once before, and Utahiroba Jun won, but Takiue complains that he had been working all day on commentary and he was in terrible condition, which excuses the loss. He wants revenge.

For the two Beginner Virtual Tubers, Sasaki Saki has never played Street Fighter, and just started two days ago. She’ll play Dhalsim. Kanae hasn’t really played SFV, but did used to play SF4.

Sasaki Saki played Dhalsim, and Kanae played Juri. Kanae was the better player, and was consistently using some special moves and Juri’s V-Skill. Sasaki Saki was pressing lots of buttons, and was able to win a game off of Dhalsim’s long range attacks, and the fact that Kanae just never really blocked. He came back to win though. In between games, Utahiroba Jun helped his VTuber refresh with a drink of water, and he adjusted her headphones.

The two Team Captains – both High Class and from the Entertainment World were up next. Ayako Hatta talked with both of them, and they both were making lots of noise about being the best Street Fighter in the Entertainment world (is Lupe Fiasco watching?) Utahiroba did say that the Ken Birdie matchup is in Birdie’s favor, so if he won Takiue Eijirou would really have no excuse. Utahiroba Jun played Ken, as he always does. His opponent Takiue Eijirou played Birdie. He had one nice CC roundhouse punish combo that ended with a CA, and seemed to be pretty good, but Utahiroba cleaned up with him 2-0.

The final match was a good one, but Gachi-kun had the upper hand. Storm Kubo was trying to fight out of the corner a lot of the time. Gachi-kun took it 2-1. Before the match Ayako talked with both of them, and Storm Kubo said that he thought he could win, and then made an appeal to Gachi-kun: “You just got married, and you were picked up by Red Bull. Everything is going great for you, you can afford to let this one game go.” It was pretty funny, and there was talk about how Storm Kubo is looking for a sponsor, his teammate Takiue tried to help by showing how the water bottles they had didn’t even have any branding on them, and how if Storm Kubo won the sponsors would definitely come calling, but his line of reasoning seemed to depress Storm Kubo more than help. There was also a call-back to Storm Kubo’s time on Nemo’s team in the RAGE All Star League powered by Capcom, and how that was a bad situation for him, and Nanai made a comment about Storm Kubo’s luck with the ladies (or lack thereof) and how Ayako is probably one of the nicest women he’s had interaction with lately (something like that – I’m doing this off memory since I was feeding a baby at the time, and now have that baby in my lap and it would be a bit tough to go back and check.)

Shooting Star Takiue Utahiro Bombers Battle
B   2-1
  HH 0-2
  EEE 1-2
1 5  

It was a fun interlude before the 7th Section, and bringing the VTubers on was interesting. The guests also commented that they were surprised the VTubers were on tablets instead of doing some other CG wizardry (which is possible – these VTubers have live shows and do some mixed reality stuff sometimes).

11 2019-03-02 Section 7

Gachi-kun Commentator

Today the color commentary guest is “Anaconda” Gachi-kun. If you didn’t watch last year’s RAGE All Star League powered by Capcom, Gachi-kun was on Itazan Ocean’s team, who ended up winning it all. There was a funny bit in there about how he tried to nick-name himself “The Anaconda”, so when Hameko introduced him that way, someone off screen got a hearty laugh out of that. As far as I can tell, it never stuck, but it has popped up everyone once in a while as a joke.

Talking from the future (I initially wrote most of this while I watched) Gachi-kun didn’t comment too much, and generally was pretty taciturn unless asked a question. He seemed pretty serious throughout the evening.

11.1 Umehara Gold vs. Itazan Ocean

I like how in the team introduction, Hameko calls Itazan the “super butter-churning leader”. (Well, super spin spin leader.) Gachi-kun always looks super serious, even on the commentary desk.

They start off with a video talking about how Umehara’s team usually goes out to eat together, and they film a segment at a Yakiniku place. They ask Daigo what they usually talk about, and he says they don’t talk about the game. They talk about their jobs, or their lives, and Daigo says that Nagashima Pineapple’s stuff on YouTube is interesting. Daigo talks about how he really can only concentrate on things that he really likes, and so he chooses to do what he likes. When you live like that, you are always doing what is important to you, so when you have to perform at a tournament you don’t feel like it is different from when you are already passionately doing what you love. He talks a bit about how playing in these games is probably stressful for Nagashima and Oniki. Nagashima Pineapple says that before the league ends, at least once he wants to make Daigo bust out laughing hard. So he does a kind of joke. (Not funny to me, but.) Daigo doesn’t react. Says it was about 15 points. (Out of 100.) They then cut to the studio training room, and Daigo tries to tell him how to beat someone who is stronger than him. He says what he should really concentrate on is preventing Ken from jumping.

They also go with Itazan Ocean for dinner, and ask how many times they’ve done it. Itazan says this is probably the second time, since they all have their own things to do. Kimura says he wants to ask Itazan something, and asks whether calling him out to pick him at the draft worked. Itazan said that he thought this would be ok. Then they talk about how Itazan is always checking his phone, and how they have all also started taking notes on their phone. Back in the training studio, Itazan talked with Kimura more about pressure, and he wants him to do medium punch, hard punch, EX hadouken, and confirm into Dragon punch if it hits.

Ayako asks Umehara about how he is feeling, and he says that they have prepared, but he’s a bit worried about Nagashima Pineapple since Kimura has a high win percentage. He talks about how Kimura is a strong player (cut to Kimura taking fake notes on his hand) but he wants Nagashima to do his best. Ayako asks Oniki about his match, and he says he found a weakness in F.A.N.G. so is feeling confident.

Itazan says that he wants to decapitate Daigo – and then Ayako says “but you play a command grab character” and Itazan is like, “yes, but…” Motchan says that people say he looks like he’s going to cry each time he loses, but he really feels it that deeply. He wants to tell people that they should come and see what it feels like to be in this position, they would make the same kind of faces! But he’s doing ok now, and it will be fine. (He does seem to be in much better spirits). Kimura says he’s going to surf the wave and win (I think referencing a bit the thing about Hadouken – a wave attack – and his over the top personality.)

Nagashima had a nice V-Skill through a fireball, and took the first round. Kimura had an EX Hadouken sequence in the second round, and won the round off a punch of an Eagle Spike. He also had some good anti-airs on Kimura. Right before Pineapple got his V-Trigger you could hear Daigo saying “you’ve almost got V-Trigger so get ready for it” and he was able to activate and hit Kimura. Pineapple won off of a CA, taking game 1 2-1. Itazan told Kimura that he wasn’t able to use his V-Trigger at all, so I’ll look out for that in the next game. In game two round one, Pineapple had three good anti-airs (one with V-Trigger), and Kimura was able to activate. You can also tell that Daigo worked with him on air tatsu, because he either throws, or does a light attack and has pretty must negated Kimura’s frequent air tatsu game. Second round was close, but Kimura took it. Pineapple opened with a medium spinning mixer anti-air then immediately after a CA anti-air, then two medium punch anti-airs after that. He won convincingly 2-1.

I started paying attention to what the captain was teaching recently, and now I really want to go back and keep better track of how many times the Beginners were able to pull off what they were practicing. I definitely am not going to do it though.

High class battle is Motchan F.A.N.G. vs. Oniki Karin. Motchan had two nice mix-ups and took round 1, but did try an air fly that Oninki sniped with air-to-air. Motchan rolled over Oniki in the second round with an early CA hit, and two crush counters, taking it 2-0 in rounds. Daigo told Oniki that the thought that was fine, it was just something that happens in SFV sometimes. Motchan won a super close first round in the second game, and took the second round convincingly.

The captains face off as Guile vs. Zangief. Umehara took their first meeting 2-0, also against Itazan’s Zangief. The first match was super close, but Daigo took it 2-1. The second game was less close, and Daigo took it 2-0.

Umehara Gold Itazan Ocean Battle
B   2-0
  HH 0-2
EEE   2-0
4 2  

Daigo says that he was able to take advantage of Itazan’s tendencies, and since it was a short battle, that went ok. When asked about Oniki he said that he thought he had the hardest matchup, but he thinks he did ok given that (hard to catch exactly what he said, that’s my impression.) Daigo thought Nagashima Pineapple did really well with anti-airs, and that is rare for a beginner. He said he thought Nagashima is the best of all the beginners – then Ayako says “What about Kunisada?” and Daigo is like, “oh yeah”. Daigo cracks me up.

11.2 Fuudo Gaia vs. Nemo Aurora

Hameko is calling Nemo Aurora the “Violence White Company”, so I guess he’s completely changed him image around. Abema’s advertising today was talking about how it looks like Nemo’s team is the fun happy one now, and Mago’s been getting strict and hard on people!

The opening video segment is taken from Fuudo’s JikokenTV event at RedBull Gaming Sphere. Kawano came, and talks about how they were using that to help him improve. All I saw was Jiyuna in the background manning the stream and speaking in people’s left ear. Since many people are watching, Fuudo thought that would help Kawano improve. At the training station Fuudo helps him traing for Anman’s Urien.

Nemo’s section opens up with Okumura Mami. They also came to Red Bull Gaming Sphere, likely to the Thursday SFV event. Mami really stressed how Nemo is a really nice guy. After training, the team goes out to eat together at a Ghengis Khan (lots of meat) restaurant. Nemo is cooking all the meat and giving it out to everyone. He’s really pushing this image change.

Ayako talks to Fuudo first, and says that the ranking is really tight. Fuudo says that originally he thought it would be fine if he just won all the points for his team, but since things are so close now, he thinks the points from the Beginner class are really important too. So it is important to think about how the Beginner class can win, teach them. Ayako asks Kawano about his match with Anman, and he says something like he knows Anman will come at him aggressively, and his intentions are to handle that. The chat is talking about how he is going on about what his intentions are, but it seems like he’s not optimistic. That also got a laugh out Anman (the intentions bit). Ayako says that Hidemechi has been on the receiving end of a lot of strict training from Fuudo. Hidemichi says that he’s been training more and Fuudo gave him lots of chances to win – like the Miyata must win tournament (an idea that Mago later “stole”.) He said he won that, and he feels like it gave him momentum, and he wants to win here too. The main thing though is to do what he has been practicing.

Ayako asks Nemo what he thinks about the match, and he says that he thinks he can cover Fuudo’s characters. Ayako says that Anman has the largest winning percentage of all the High class members, but thinks that Kawano will be a strong opponent. She asks Anman about Kawano, and he says that he won in their first match and wants to continue to increase his winning percentage. Ayako says that Okumura has been practicing Blanka a lot more, and wonders if she is more confident now. She says that she is more confident now, but one thing she is confident in is that she has lots of supporters, and her intentions are to do her best for them. (Call back – see why having people with an entertainment background is fun? SMUG would have done something at least as entertaining, but Daigo wouldn’t have.)

Miyata definitely practiced using V-Skill against Blanka’s straight balls. He knocked just about every one of those out. Mami did do a V-Reverals once (unforunately, on a blocked Hands that she could have punished) but she lost 2-0. She needs to think about how to deal with V-Skill against Blanka balls. She opened with a rainbow ball in the second game, which worked well, and she blocked a jump-in, which was a problem in previous matches. She often uses cr. medium punch for anti air and it gets stuffed, I don’t know why she isn’t using heavy kick. She lost the second game 2-0 as well. I do think she is improving, but she’s still a bit behind some of the other Beginner class members on basic things (blocking air attacks, anti-air choice / timing, and simple punishes.)

The High class match is Kawano Kolin vs. Anman Urien. Anman took the first game 2-0. In between games he and Nemo are talking, as are Fuudo and Kawano. Anman took the second game 2-0 pretty handily too.

Fuudo chose Mika to go up against Nemo’s Urien. Nemo takes the first game 1-2. If you are looking for actual useful information check out HiFight’s analysis of a crazy sequence Nemo pulled off from the last Section. Nemo takes the second game 0-2, bringing the team total to 5 points.

Fuudo Gaia Nemo Aurora Battle
B   2-0
  HH 0-2
  EEE 0-2
1 5  

Ayako asks Nemo if he expected Birdie, and he had been expecting that. Nemo says that Fuudo hasn’t been playing Mika much, so even if Mika did come out, he thought he had a good chance. Ayako asks Anman if he is learning from Nemo, and he is. Ayako asks Nemo for advice for Mami, and he said she was getting too nervous. She was able to do some of the things that she practiced though, which is good.

11.3 Tokido Flame vs. Mago Scarlet

Tokido Flame at Red Bull Gaming Sphere

Tokido Flame

Tokido Flame's Hibiki

Mago's Face when Tokido talks about beating him

Kunisada is broken

The video intro opens with a flashback to the draft selection process, when both Hibiki (High, Ryu) and Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) say that they want to be selected by Tokido. Tokido and his team also went to Red Bull Gaming Sphere on Thursday it looks like, and in the hallway there Tokido says that his team hasn’t been devoted enough (I don’t know if he is talking about himself or his teammates). He says they all have been dropping games they could have won. He wants to see how much they can stand their ground in tough matches. They cut to Misaki Kousei at Red Bull Gaming Sphere and he says that he often chats with Tokido on Line (a SNS app) and Tokido has gone to some different training area or something, and Misaki is always asking him where he is. So he brought them all to Red Bull Gaming Sphere. Tokido watches them play and gives some advice. He was telling Hibiki he was getting Shimmied, and should stop his habit of trying to tech throws. I just can’t stop staring at Hibki’s fuzzy sweater. Tokido says that it doesn’t matter how you play when you win, what matters is how you play when you are in tight situations. He wants them to play their matches, make sure to apply what they have practiced, and when they lose, analyze why they lost, and move on to another match. Tokido talks with Misaki Kousei about blocking against Kunisada, and he says that sometimes he panics and hits buttons. Tokido says that is no good because Kunisada has good combos and can do 2x the damage of a throw, so take the throw.

With Mago’s team, they are practicing at Mago’s place. They talk about the schedule and Mago says they practice until 2 or 3am, if they get hungry go and eat. Sakagami says that actually they sometimes to until 9am, but it is hard to tell Mago that he’s hungry, so they don’t ever eat. He’d really like to have a schedule. Mago says that maybe he should start to get a more fixed schedule for them to eat. They also spent some time talking about Mago’s extensive (over 3000) manga collection. Mago also says that he really needs to step up his game, since he has been losing the last games.

When they cut back to the training room, Mago is saying that Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) likes to play defensive at a slow pace, so Kunisada should try to dash up, and mix in some combos and set play. Since Misaki likes to block a lot, he should throw a lot.

Ayako says that Tokido won a lot of points in the last section, and asks for his predictions. He says even though they have the fewest points they are only two points behind the top team. Everyone is worried about where they will be able to get points, and he wants to take the points from Mago’s team. Mago has a funny reaction to that. Ayako asks Hibiki (High, Ryu) about how he is feeling, and he says that the High class matches are an important source of points, and he wants to take those from Sakagami (High, Boxer). Ayako tells Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) that since Kunisada lost to Nagashima Pineapple, people are saying that he’s mentally broke down. (The camera is on Kunisada while she is saying this, and he has a wry smile). Misaki says that while he hopes that is true, when Nagashima Pineapple won twice, all the other Beginner class members were super happy, and he hopes that he will be able to cause Kunisada some damage like that as well, and other Beginners as well as his team will be happy about that. The Chat is pretty torn up about how this must be tough for Kunisada, as well as some jokes at how rough Hatta Ayako is with those prompts. Everyone is really enjoying it though, and I think she is very good at interviewing people in these shows.

Ayako turns her attention to Mago Scarlet. She says that they have all been practicing together a lot, and Mago agrees. He also ran a Kunisada absolutely will win tournament (like Fuudo did) since he thought that was a good idea. Ayako asks if that is to help him build up his confidence, which Mago affirms. Mago talks about how the Beginner haven’t really gone to any tournaments (go to your locals! Try some weekly online tournaments!) so he wanted to try to re-create that feeling. Ayako says that Sakagami (High, Boxer) also trained with them, and he said he did, but they were doing that tournament while he was trying to play, and he kept getting distracted since they were so loud. Ayako asks Mago if he gives advice to Sakagami, and says he does, but that it is a lot easier to advise him than Kunisada. Ayako asks why, and Mago says that it is probably the same for Tokido, but they became strong players as kids, and it is really hard to relate to true beginners now. I don’t know why but Ayako finds this hilarious, laughs a lot, and the chat goes wild because they generally think she is super cute anyway, never mind when she is laughing. While Mago tries to explain, she just saying “You’re all child prodigies!” (Lit: children of gods – also a reference to Mago’s 2D God tag). Everyone is laughing now. Kunisada said that the “Kunisada must win!” tournament was a good confidence builder, and that he’s had a fun time with the team. Ayako asks if his heart is cracked, he says he would like to believe so, but after each loss it is tough.

Kunisada took the first match 2-0. Misaki Kousei had some good anti-airs, usually V-Skill with a followup heavy punch. Kunisada’s anti-airs were also really on point (as expected for Ed) and he had a better neutral game. In the second game, Kunisada took the first round, but Misaki came back to get the second. He started the third round without any bars, and Kunisada got an CA in to get the lead. He won on an anti-air.

I expect Mago Scarlet’s Sakagami (Boxer) to beat Tokido Flame’s Hibiki (Ryu) in the high class match just based on how Sakagami has been playing, and I think it can be a hard matchup for Ryu. He won the first round, and the second round was close, but he got that too. Tokido must have said some good things, because Hibiki (Ryu) beat Sakagami 2-0 in the second game. Momentum swung back the other way though, and Sakagami took the third game 0-2.

Tokido beat Mago 2-0 pretty handily.

Tokido Flame Mago Scarlet Battle
  B 2-0
  HH 1-2
EEE   2-0
3 3  

Since the points were tied, Ayako talks to each team.

Ayako says that she thought Tokido had a better handle on things this time when he met Mago, and Tokido talks about how he has started to do some things that he didn’t used to, and that just happens to work well against Mago’s character choice. It cut to Mago with a blank look on his face while Tokido was talking about his win. Ayako then asks what he thinks about his teammates’ play, and he says he thought it wasn’t bad. One theme they worked on was when to push buttons, and when to guard, and he thought that worked well. He also says he thought Hibiki did a good job of resisting trying to tech throws. The result isn’t what he wanted, but the way they played bodes well for the future.

Ayako talks to Mago, and he says he is happy to get three points, but he feels bad that he didn’t win. He did a lot of preparation, but it didn’t work. Ayako says that they play together a lot, and asks if Tokido’s different style contributed to the loss. Mago says that he didn’t really think that Tokido’s neutral game was any different (there was one thing that he did a bit more – tema ozanka?). Just that his preparation wasn’t good enough. Ayako says that his teammates were able to get three points though, and Mago is really happy with their play. Mago thought that when he played Ryu with Kunisada for practice that he had a good game, and he was happy that he played without feeling nervous this time. Ayako says that their team is 3-2 though, and they have a lot of points, to which Mago interjects that he is the opposite – he himself is 2-3, and Ayako tries to cheer him up a bit (fishing for compliments, Mago?)

11.4 Results

Last time only two points separated the top and bottom teams, but that has increased to five points now. Still within a single day’s spread.

Rank Team Points Matches Battles Movement
1 Nemo Aurora 24 10 22
2 Umehara Gold 22 12 25 ⬆⬆
3 Mago Scarlet 21 12 29
4 Itazan Ocean 20 11 24
5 Tokido Flame 20 9 23
6 Fuudo Gaia 19 9 20

12 2019-03-03 Section 8

Gachi-kun is on commentary again tonight. He actually messed up his introduction, but looks pretty good in a nice Red Bull T-shirt.

12.1 Nemo Aurora vs. Umehara Gold

Nemo focuses on teaching Okumura Mami (Beginner, Blanka) about how to punish Rashid’s Eagle Spike. He says that if she can consistently block and punish it (with Blanka’s slide) that Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) will stop doing Eagle Spike. Then she can use Blanka Balls when Rashid approaches. If that works then Rashid is likely to use a jumping approach to get in, and Nemo suggests using V-reversal on that. They ask Nemo how he plans to fight, and he says he is thinking of changing his V-trigger. He has been watching Ryuusei play lately where he practices, and when he plays Daigo’s Guile he uses Tyrant. The way Ryuusei uses Urien, he has different movement from Nemo, and he’s been taking inspiration from that. Ryuusei is an interesting guy, he’s with team FAV. If you are interested in reading more about him, I translated an article back when he joined FAV Gaming.

With Umehara Gold Oniki analyzes Pineapple Nagashima’s wake-up and neutral game. Daigo was saying that he thought Nagashima’s movement was smoother than usual, but he should do some hand stretches and warm up a bit before he plays. Daigo says that Oniki had good movement even though he lost, and he warned him against reviewing his match and become more guarded in how he moves just because he lost. It’s important to realize when you did well even in losses.

Ayako asks Nemo about his strategy for the match. Nemo thinks the match with Daigo is tough, but since they are in first place now, that takes off some of the pressure. Ayako says that Anman has been winning consistently in the High class, but asks how he feels about Oniki. (As an aside, every time I go to Fighter’s Crossover -Akiba- hosted at Akihabara e-Sports Square, Anman is there just constantly playing. I’m surprised I haven’t seen some of the other Beginner class players around.) Anman savagely says in a very calm manner that Oniki has the highest losing percentage of all the High Class players, and he’s sure he’ll win.

Ayako turns to Umehara Gold. He says that since they are teams 1 and 2 right now, if they win it really helps them in the standings. Ayako says that Oniki lost last time, but going back to the Draft, there were matches that he won. Oniki says that he thinks he does have a chance against Anman, and while he has been preparing character specific strategy up until now, that hasn’t worked well. So he’s just going to play as he normally would.

The Beginner match is Nemo Aurora’s Okumura Mami (Blanka) against Umehara Gold’s Nagashima Pineapple (Rashid). In the first game, Okumura Mami wasn’t able to punish Rashid’s Eagle Spike. She tried a few times, but was late reacting – she would block, wait about 15 or so frames, then do the slide which Nagashima Pineapple would block. He takes the first game 2-0. In the second game, Okumura Mami was able to punish Eagle Spike at least once, and in the second round she came very close to winning, but lost in the end. The majority of the damage she took came from not blocking on her wake-up. Nagashima Pineapple has pretty consistently gotten good damage on opponent’s wake-up by jumping and doing a combo. The beginner class can really be separated into two basic blocks: those who can reliably block high and low attacks, and those who can block one or other, but usually not both in a game when things are mixed up. That is probably the most important thing in the Beginner class: learning blocking fundamentals.

As they reviewed the match, they showed Nagashima Pineapple after the win. He didn’t look happy that he won either. Lots of people are cheering for Okumura Mami, and she is popular with the other Beginners too.

The High Class match is Nemo Aurora’s Anman (Urien) against Umehara Gold’s Oniki (Karin). He was warming up his hands before play. Oniki takes the first round, and the second. I thought it was interesting that he used two offensive V-reversals (you give up your turn, the opponent attacks and you V-reversal to get your turn back.) This very hard for me to understand, but Nemo said something like “You worked hard to get your turn, but went a bit too far, and that is why you lost, so don’t try to go in too hard”. I think this is similar to what I noticed about the V-reversals, and how Oniki was able to slip through some fireballs, and expect the offense from Anman. I’m no Sajam though, and am in reality just a Gold level butter-churning Zangief waiting for T-Hawk to show up, so don’t trust my analysis outside of the basic Beginner class stuff. Another offensive V-reversal (on a Fireball) in round 1 gives Oniki match point. He takes damange in the second round, but does another Fireball V-reversal. He was really down in life – about a 50% deficit, and got down to about 5% where he had a great cautious run of twenty seconds or so, two V-reversals that built up the gray life on Anman, and was able to punish an attack with CA to win 2-0. It was very tense.

As Nemo said he picked VTII Urien against Daigo’s VTI Guile. Daigo takes game 1 2-0. Nemo took the first round in game 2, and lost on a CA chip-out, so he heads into round 3 with full CA bar to Daigo’s empty bar. Nemo takes game 2 2-1, so we head into a final game. Daigo turns back to Oniki in between games, they say something, and both laugh. He does look like he’s keeping relaxed (I’ve never seen Daigo not look like he is ready to fall asleep.) Nemo also did an offensive V-reversal in the first round, which usually with VTI I don’t think he would do, but with VTII he still has a good chance of getting that off, and in fact he won the first round off of VTII Tyrant Rush. Daigo had great defense in the second round, and took that. Nemo really dashes in like a maniac. He took the final round off of VTII activation. After the win, he talks with Anman and says that Tyrant really works well – with Aegis he wouldn’t have been able to V-reversal as much and get an activation. So Ryuusei’s influence is spreading in interesting ways.

Nemo Aurora Umehara Gold Battle
  B 0-2
  EE 0-2
EEE   2-1

Since the teams tied in points, Ayako interviews both of them. She starts with Nemo, who she congratulates on winning his match with Daigo, and she says it was the first time she’s seen him play Urien without using Aegis. (Ayako does play some Street Fighter V – various pro players have been teaching her Abigail. Nemo says that really is something he’ll only use against Daigo.

She doesn’t interview Anman or Mami, and turns to Umehara Gold. Daigo says that because his teammates won, they’ve stayed out of the “hurricane” of 3rd place, but he tried his best because had he won, they would have almost clinched a spot for the finals. Ayako asks Daigo if he was surprised by Nemo’s V-Trigger choice, and he hesitates a bit, then says “I didn’t really think he had to go that far” and laughs. Ayako joins in. He goes on to say that he thinks most of the people in this league aren’t really going all that far out of their way to prepare for the matches, and it’s really just Nemo doing that. Again, I have to question whether Daigo is just applying his own attitude to things, because I guess everyone is working pretty hard for that $45k prize pool. Now that I’ve checked the amount though, it isn’t really all that much in the grand scheme of things, the Beginner and Intermediate classes are likely more excited about the exposure, so maybe he’s right. The chat seems to doubt him too.

Ayako congratulates Oniki on this win. Oniki talks about how Daigo told him he should move his hands a stretch before playing, which he demonstrates (and did) and he thought that helped his movement. They end the segment there – nothing from Nagashima Pineapple! Probably that’s his punishment for beating Okumura Mami, a fan favorite, and favorite of Ayako Hatta as well.

12.2 Tokido Flame vs. Fuudo Gaia

Before the start of the match, Hameko explains that Tokido has the highest winning percentage of the Extreme Class (so I guess he isn’t washed up – take note Best of V Show!) The opening video shows Tokido playing as Kolin with Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma). He talks about how Kolin moves a bit, and how his opponent will likely try to approach with Vanity Step, and how you can usually fireball that on reaction when she steps back. Once you do that, your opponent will try to jump and you can get good damage off of that. He talks about some ways to punish Kolin’s V-Skill, and he thinks that Akuma’s EX Demon Palm (Hyakki Gosho, the air flip hit attack) is useful in this matchup.

The Fuudo Gaia video starts out with Fuudo working with Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner class, Kolin) but in the background Kawano (High class, Kolin) is yawning and the chat seems to be entranced with that. Misaki Kousei belongs to the same talent agency as Miyata Hidemichi, so this might be an interesting match for them. Fuudo says that based on Miyata’s previous match, when he knew about the moves that his opponent could do, that gave him more confidence to do his moves. So he starts by explaining the options that Akuma has. Fuudo runs through Akuma’s moves, and they practice some punishes. They focused on fireball, dragon punch, and hurricane kick, but not demon palm, which the editing made very clear.

Ayako tells Tokido that they have 20 points, that this is a very important match for them, and asks what he thinks going into it. Tokido says that they have not yet been in the lead, and at some point he wants to win a bunch of points so they can shoot up. He didn’t sound super confident that it would be this time though (“and we might also be able to do that here.”)

Ayako asks if Fuudo is planning to get more points in this match, since they are at 19 points now. Fuudo says that they had a tough schedule initially, but he thinks they can get three wins in a row with the remaining opponents and jump into the lead.

The Beginner match is Tokido Flame’s Kousei Misaki (Akumu) vs. Fuudo Gaia’s Miyata Hidemichi (Kolin). Misaki had two V-Skill anti-airs, and did try to punish a V-Skill from Kolin, but missed. He did take the first round though. In the second round Miyata missed a punish on a blocked Tatsu, but won off of a V-Skill actually. In the third round Miyata (Kolin) pulled off a combo he had been practicing on whiffed EX dragon punches where he jumps in the air, and did roundhouse, fierce, into hands. Misaki Kousei (Akuma) tried a Demon Palm, but Miyata blocked it properly. It was close, but Misaki won with a wake-up jab to take the first game 2-1. The first round of the second game was very close, but Misaki took it. He got a Demon Palm to hit in the opening of the second round, but lost it on his wakeup when Misaki did a EX tatsu.

Tokido Flame’s Hibiki (High, Ryu) choose a deep Green Ryu, perhaps trying to psyche out Fuudo Gaia’s Kawano (High, Kolin). It might have worked, since Hibiki won the first round off a confirm into CA. He took the second round too, winning 2-0 with some nice Ryu play. You could hear Tokido in the back throughout whispering encouragement (yeah, like that, that’s good, good.) Fuudo comments to Kawano that when he backs off, the Hadouken becomes more powerful, and he should close in to use jab to beat out the hadoukens. He recommends closing in more. In both cases Hibiki had a bit of a come from behind win. Kawano played a bit closer this time, and took the first round. Hibiki took the second round off a nice punish of Kolin’s double jump using CA at the end of a combo. Kawano pressured well though, and took the final round, winning 1-2, bringing the game count up to 1-1. Fuudo continued to give advice on either walking and blocking, or jumping over fireballs. The second round was close, but Kawano took it 0-2.

Birdie really hits hard. Fuudo took the first round, and Tokido took the second round off of a dirty setup with Akuma VTII. He did a red fireball, then did the vskill cancel into a jumping short (which hit the cr. blocking Fuudo) and went into air tatsu then air FB for the win. I’d get hit every time. Jump in on Birdie get Bullhorn hit out of the sky, standing fierce into CA, that is crazy damage (or was it the other way around?) Fuudo took the third round to win the first game. Fuudo told Kawano that he won off of that – he saw him jump and was excited. Tokido says to Hibiki that he died because he jumped. I wonder if people think the conversation is more cereberal than it really is if they don’t understand it. Fuudo took the second game 0-2, using VTII for some extra damage to get the win.

Tokido Flame Fuudo Gaia Battle
B   2-0
  HH 1-2
  EEE 0-2
1 5  

Ayako interviews Fuudo Gaia, and comments that getting five points at this juncture is really big, to which Fuudo agrees. Ayako says that the first time they played, Fuudo said that he chose to play Birdie to beat Tokido and Daigo, and asks if things are working out as he planned. Fuudo says that it is working out well, but he feels like he’s losing “synchronization” with R. Mika. He says that he wants to put time into both characters though. That was it, no interviews with Kawano (High, Kolin) or Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner, Kolin).

12.3 Itazan Ocean vs. Mago Scarlet

In Itazan Ocean’s introductory video (the standard player intro scroll) Hameko screams out “He needs no other introduction, it’s the emotional Motchan!” which in Japanese was only a few words, but very funny. Hameko explains that in their first meeting, Mago won, so we should pay attention to that.

In the training video, Itazan explains some distances to Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken) where he should not jump against Ed. He explains it really well too. If you are a bit closer though, jumping heavy punch can stuff Ed’s kick uppercut thing (Psycho Rising). Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.) then talks about how he lost in the previous meeting (while Kimura is practicing in the background loudly making this super annoying to understand – the chat agrees, so it isn’t just me). He says he shouldn’t have lost based on his play, but he lost mentally (I think). He wants to show that he can win this time. Itazan talks about his match, and the game volume is still super annoying loud. He says that he found a good counter / good tactics this time, and thinks he will win.

Mago Scarlet starts by trying to teach Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) character matchup knowledge. Sakagami (High, Boxer) says that Kimura (Beginner, Ken) really likes to air tatsu a lot. I agree! That is the first thing people should prepare for against him. (I just noticed as I’m watching that someone in chat called this team a “3 person High class team” which is super rough but kind of funny.) Mago says that against heavy kick tatsu (in trigger) throwing is the best option after blocking. They also practice some DP punishes.

Ayako opens with Itazan Ocean with “You had a really heartbreaking loss to Mago Scarlet last time” (Itazan: Yes, that’s true, went 0-6.) She asks how he feels. He says something like “Yeah, when you say it we’re reminded that we went 0-6, but it didn’t really feel that bad, we don’t take things too tough.” He’s got that total maniac Itazan grin and says “Maybe we should take that stuff more seriously?” to which Ayako replies “Oh no, you’re doing fine!” Ayako talks to Motchan, who has been doing a lot better lately. He says that he wants to win against Sakagami this time.

Mago says that they’re just going to play like normal, and the way he says it is just hilarious. He also asks Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) for confirmation, and he’s like “yeah, of course”. Sakagami looks a bit reserved compared to Mago (totally carefree) and Kunisada, and Mago asks what’s up with him, breaking into a huge laugh. Ayako chastises Mago a bit saying that nobody on his team has the same manic carefree happy attitude that he has. Mago says he thinks Sakagami is a bit nervous, but he says he isn’t. He sounds pretty unnatural though. “I don’t think I’m nervous. Probably not. I’m probably fine.”

Before the Beginner class match, Kimura was checking his phone, just like Itazan would. (In Section 7 when they were eating he said that Itazan was like his Dad. His FGC Dad?) Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) took the first round pretty handily, off a an anti-air that Itazan had warned Kumura about. Then in round 2 Kunisada got a punish off a whiffed heavy DP that he had practiced. He got a second one later in the round too. Kunisada took it 2-0. Mago complimented Kunisada on getting those DP punishes. Kunisda got two anti-airs, and one DP punish in the first round. Kimura punished one blocked Psycho Upper, but then missed a punish on a second EX Psycho Upper that could have won him the round. In the last sequence, Kimura tried to jump fierce to beat Kunisada’s Psycho Rising, but he hit it way too soon, giving Kunisada his third anti-air Psycho Rising and the first round. Kunisada got an anti-air Psycho upper, but a little bit later Kimura got a jumping heavy punch on the anti-air (his first), but lost to a wake-up EX Psycho Upper. Kunisada did a better job of implementing the specific things that were called out ahead of time by Mago (based, of course, on what we get in that edited version.) I still think it is really fun to look at what they talk about before the match, and see how well that gets put into practice.

Motchan (Beginner, F.A.N.G.) took the first round handily, and cornered Sakagami early in the second round for a near-perfect 2-0 win. Sakagami came out hard in the first round and took that easily. Motchan took the second round with about 50% health left, and pretty quickly cornered Sakagami forcing him to use a V-reversal. He got the win pretty handily.

The Extreme class is Zangief vs. Cammy. As the match starts Yamato comments on Itazan’s super Red Mecha Zangief, and whether it has to do with his V-Skill. Hameko comments how when he pops V-trigger it can be hard to tell the difference, so it is a tactic. (Not as good as the Smug Color, but good.) Mago takes the first round. Super close second round, but Itazan took it, and went on to win 2-1. Itazan takes the second game 2-0 to win.

Itazan Ocean Mago Scarlet Battle
  B 0-2
HH   2-0
EEE   2-0
5 1  

Ayako comments that Itazan laughed when he beat Mago, and he says that it felt like an apple just appeared right in front of him. He says it’s like when you’re super hungry, and an apple just falls down into your lap. He’s crazy insane, it’s great. Ayako says that Motchan got his revenge as well, and now he has won four in a row. So now they have 24 points and are in a good position for the Grand Finals (the top 3 teams advance.)

12.4 Results

Itazan Ocean and Fuudo Gaia rise up, Mago Scarlet and Tokido Flame look like they are in trouble. With only 6 points separating the top from the bottom, and two more

Rank Team Points Matches Battles Movement
1 Nemo Aurora 27 11 24
2 Umehara Gold 25 14 30
3 Itazan Ocean 25 13 28
4 Fuudo Gaia 24 11 24 ⬆⬆
5 Mago Scarlet 22 13 31 ⬇⬇
6 Tokido Flame 21 10 26

13 2019-03-09 Section 9

13.1 Itazan Ocean vs. Tokido Flame

The video opens up with Kimura asking about whether he should jump when he gets caught in the corner. Itazan goes over the basics about how a throw doesn’t hurt too much compared to taking a combo, and talks about some other defensive options there.

Tokido talks with Misaki about how he did some heavy punch heavy punch sequences that were blocked and that led to his loss.

Ayako ask Itazan about this important match, and he says that they really want to have fun with it. They have prepared, but want to enjoy it too.

Ayako asks Tokido about his fight with Itabashi. Tokido says that he has prepared for both of Itazan’s characters. If he pulls out a third though, he’s in trouble. He gets a laugh out of that.

The Beginner match is Itazan Ocean’s Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken) against Tokido Flame’s Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma). Misaki was a bit late on one anti-air, and ate a combo for it. The match was super close, but Kimura took the first round, in the second round Misaki made good use of Demon Palm, but lost out in a very close second round. Kimura had really good corner control to take the first round of the second game, and in the second round he had two good anti-airs. He jumped in on Misaki, who tried an anti-air V-Skill, but was a bit late, and got punished with a combo into CA for the win for Kimura.

The High Class matchup is Itazan Ocean’s Motchan (High, F.A.N.G.) against Tokido Flame’s Hibiki (High, Ryu). Motchan took the first round with about 95% life left, but things looked a bit closer in the second round. Motchan took the second round to win the first game. Tokido gave Hibiki some advice about how to get out of pressure by jumping back, while Itazan told Motchan that the approach of using EX meter and playing offensively was working out well. In the second game Motchan went in hard again, and took the first round, but was fighting from behind in the second round. He successfully did that though, taking the second game 2-0 as well.

Itazan lost the first time he faced Tokido. We get Zangief vs. Akuma, so no surprise third character showing up. I thought Tokido had the first round, but Itazan got a fierce SPD, then popped V-trigger in cr. short, jab jab spin and EX Borscht Dynamite for the win. He built a lead in the second round, and took that too. Tokido took the first round off of a VTII blockstring instant overhead, and built a huge (70%) lead in the second round to take the second game 0-2. In the first round Itazan blocked that same VTII sequence into instant overhead he lost on before, and took the first round. He had a nice Zangief 3-SPD sequence (last one in the air) to build a lead, and took the final game 2-0.

This triggers the “Time of Crying” where Tokido Flame can choose either their Beginner class member (one round) or High class member (one game) to fight Itazan, and if they win Tokido Flame gets 3 points. They chose Hibiki (High, Ryu) who put up a good fight, but Itazan took it 2-0, so the only ones crying will be Tokido Flame.

Itazan Ocean Tokido Flame Battle
B   2-0
HH   2-0
EEE   2-0
Time of Crying   2-0

Itazan says that this is the happiest he’s been all year. He didn’t think that they would really be able to win all three matches, but their preparation paid off.

13.2 Mago Scarlet vs. Nemo Aurora

Mago talks to Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) about how Blanka really has one move that he thinks will come out. So he wants to make sure that he won’t lose on repeated Blanka balls.

Nemo talks to Okumura about how she was pressing buttons on her wake up and kept getting hit. He says she really needs to block on wake up, and maybe V-reversal. He also (finally!) talks about how to block jump-in attacks by blocking high and blocking low attacks low.

In the pre-game interview, Mago says that it was really rough when he lost to Itazan. Sakagami says that he thinks in a ten game set he’d maybe win 2 times now against Anman (up from 1 in the interview the last time they met). Mago chastises him saying he should be stronger than that, so he goes up to winnin 9 out of 10 sets, getting some laughs. Kunisada is confident in his play, but since he woke up this morning he’s been worried about what Okamura will say about him.

Ayako says to Nemo that if he can get a lot of points here they would be safe for the finals (the top three teams in points move on after 10 Sections). He agrees and says they will do their best. Ayako turns to Anman and asks how he is feeling. He says that since he lost in Section 8, his Company President (Nemo) has lost confidence in him, so he wants to play well, win, and regain his President’s trust. Ayako asks Okamura about her feelings about her match, and Mami says that actually she really loves Kunisada-san now. Kunisada has his hands covering his ears but looks up at that, as she continues: “He trained with me and would the character that I am facing.” Ayako asks Kunisada if he did that, and he says something that the mic doesn’t catch, but seems kind of affirming. Okamura Mami continues: “So I think in actually, he really supports me, and I’m thankful for that. I’m sorry!” (She bows as she apologizes. Mago gets a real kick out of that.) Kunisada says that he actually also feels the same way. That chat is going on about how this is a psychological trick, a honey trap, all sorts of stuff.

The Beginner match is Mago Scarlet’s Kunisada (Beginner, Ed) against Nemo Aurora’s Mami Okumura (Beginner, Blanka). She hasn’t won a game yet (she has gotten a round though) and everyone is cheering for her. Mami got hit both times on her wakeup (I think she was pressing buttons) but was consistently able to do Blanka balls. She came close to winning the second round, but lost the game 2-0. Mami did a better job blocking in the first round of the second game, and got off a V-reversal, but lost. She did block on her wakeup once and V-Reversal’d Ed’s jumping roundhouse. She lost the second round convincingly too though.

The High Class match is Nemo Aurora’s Anman (High, Urien) against Mago Scarlet’s Sakagami (High, Boxer). For all his talk, Sakagami took the first round, and the second round for the game. He did something I hadn’t seen before, dashing back into Urien’s Aegis activation behind him to get hit by it and build charge, then dash punched to hit Urien. Interesting. He came on strong in the second half of the first round to take it, but Anman came back to tie it up in the second round. The final round was super close, but Sakagami took it, and had another nice Aegis sequence. Urien threw the mirror out in front of Sakagami when he was stuck in the corner, but Sakagami jabbed it getting hit and trading with Urien 3 times in a row, finally breaking the mirror, and then was able to trade a final time for the win. He really knew what he was doing against Aegis setups.

The Extreme class is Cammy vs. Urien. In their previous meeting, Nemo said that he has Mago’s heart in his pocket, so I’m guessing we will avoid another Time of Crying. He took the first game 2-0 (VP) which has got to be tough on Mago. Mago had a sequence of three or four throws in a row, and won the first round of the second game, but Nemo came back to take the second round. Mago took the third though, so we go on to a final game. It was close, but Nemo takes the first round. He must have turned something on, because he took the second round in 22 seconds, probably pleasing thegametwok who is keeping stats and worried about rounds getting longer as SFV ages.

Nemo Aurora Mago Scarlet Battle
  B 0-2
  HH 0-2
EEE   2-0
3 3  

Ayako interviews Mago Scarlet, and Mago again says it was tough for him to lose. He was surprised that Sakagami was able to pull off the 1/10 chance to win though.

Nemo says he thinks they are in an ok place, but in order to stay in the top four he thinks they will need to win in Section 10. I agree, but think he should worry more about top 3 since those are the only ones that will move on.

13.3 Umehara Gold vs. Fuudo Gaia

Daigo says that he thinks that Nagashima Pineapple has

Fuudo shows Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner, Kolin) things that Nagashima Pineapple likes to do. Mainly jump and do Eagle Spikes, and talks about walking and blocking.

Ayako asks Daigo about how he feels about the Birdie matchup. He says he’s done some prep for it and looking forward to the match. Ayako says that Nagashima has a good win rate, but he says that when he thinks about that he lost. So he just wants to play as Daigo told him, and actually act as a remote control player for Daigo. (He has said this before as well.)

Fuudo thinks that he has improved with his Birdie, and that he can beat Daigo. Kawano says he got a lot of training against Karin. Miyata Hidemichi says that he’ll be happy if he can show off the play that he has been practicing with Fuudo.

The Beginner match is Umehara Gold’s Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) against Miyata Hidemichi (Beginner, Kolin). Nagashima Pineapple took the first round, and opened the second with an anti-air CA, but Miyata was able to come back to win round 2. Hidemichi took the third round with about 95% vitality left to take game 1. He was able to use some of the things he practiced, punishes mostly. Miyata Hidemichi won the first round of the second game on an anti-air V-Skill, but neither of them had any vitality left. He won the second round on a V-Skill as well, going 2-0.

The High class match is Umehara Gold’s Oniki (High, Karin) against Kawano (High, Kolin). Kawano took the first round, but Oniki took the second off of a combo into CA. Kawano rushed Oniki into the corner early and got a dizzy to take the third round pretty handily. Daigo has some advice for Oniki that I can’t make out in his whispering voice … Oniki took the first round in a close match, then Kawano took the second round easily. Oniki had a good punish on Kolin’s double jump and took the second game. In the third game, Kawano takes the first round, and while the second round was close, Kawano took it off a combo into CA.

The Extreme class is Daigo Guile vs. Fuudo Birdie. Daigo had a really nice punish on EX Bullhorn into VTII activation where he walked up a bit. He took the first round, and won the second off an EX flash kick. Daigo got a P on the first round of the second game, and took the second round as well to go 2-0.

Umehara Gold Fuudo Gaia Battle
  B 0-2
  HH 1-2
EEE   2-0
3 3  

Daigo said that he thought this match would be important for placement so he prepared for it.

Ayako asked Fuudo about Miyata’s victory, and he thought that he was able to do things they practiced and won, which makes him really happy. When asked about his match with Daigo, he talked about not being prepared for Daigo’s offense, but that he can use that and prepare to do better in the future.

13.4 Results

Rank Team Points Matches Battles Movement
1 Itazan Ocean 31 16 34 ⬆⬆
2 Nemo Aurora 30 12 26
3 Umehara Gold 28 15 33
4 Fuudo Gaia 27 13 28
5 Mago Scarlet 25 15 36
6 Tokido Flame 21 10 27

14 2019-03-10 Section 10

14.1 Umehara Gold vs. Tokido Flame

The video segment opens with Daigo telling Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) that looking back on the Section 9 results, he doesn’t think that Nagashima Pineapple that he intentionally decides what he is going to do. He isn’t sure if he will take to the air, or attack from the ground, and plays without a concrete plan. He says that he should decide on a basic approach first, of course, Daigo will give advice as he plays (by the way, that is very fun to hear as the game proceeds – you can hear the coaching sometimes going on during gameplay). He should have a base idea of how to approach the match on his own. Like when he thinks it is time to start going on the offensive, he should watch whether his opponent jumps and if not use cr. heavy punch for pressure (as an example of a plan). Oniki advises that he can do light whirlwind from far away which will hit his opponent if they jump. Daigo says that Oniki can proceed as is, but he is concerned that Nagashima Pineapple’s shallow play is starting to be exposed.

Tokido Flame won’t be able to make it into the Grand Finals, and he says that while they can’t make it there, because it is the last chance for them to be on the stage they need to play their best. Tokido practices having Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) block Rashid’s VT1 Ysaar (big whirlwind) if he is close, and if far away, jump back with weak punch to hit any Eagle Spikes that might come. Tokido says that from his point of view, since they can’t make the Grand Finals, this is the last chance they have to show everyone how much they have improved, so they need to play their best.

Ayako asks Daigo about the match. Daigo asks how many points they need (like 5 he thinks?), and Ayako says that they aren’t in a safe place for sure. He says that he has prepared, but they need to get good play out of Oniki (High, Karin) and Nagashima Pineapple (Beginner, Rashid) in order to advance. Ayako asks Oniki about his match, and he says that since he won last time, he thinks he will win this time too. Ayako tells Nagashima Pineapple that he lost last time after winning a lot, and he says that he had gotten too full of himself, and was trying to show off some combos.

For some reason every time I watch the first interview, I notice the colors that Ayako Hatta is wearing. She has a floral print dress which doesn’t seem to favor anyone, but her pumps are Tokido Flame red. She says that Tokido Flame won’t be able to make it into the Grand Finals, but asks about his motivation. He says that they are able to raise their position, and he really wants to be able to pass Mago Scarlet in the rankings. Ayako says that they are behind by four points for that, and Tokido says that they really want to come from behind to beat him. Ayako asks about Hibiki (High, Ryu), and he says that he has put a lot of effort into the match and will do his best. Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Akuma) also says he has put in a lot of practice, and he really wants to show Tokido and the viewers how far he has come.

The Beginner matchup is Umehara Gold’s Nagashima Pineapple (Rashid) vs. Misaki Kousei (Akuma). Nagashima Pineapple popped VT1, and Misaki Kousei blocked it as they had practiced. He did it a second time as well, and even walked up a bit to block it. It came down to the final seconds, and Nagashima Pineapple was able to CA chip Misaki Kousei out. In the second round Misaki went on the offensive and won handily. Nagashima popped a VT1 from far away, and I expected Misaki Kousei to jump back jab, but he didn’t (he had practiced that, but didn’t bring it into play in the real situation.) Misaki missed an anti-air V-Skill and got thrown for it, but on the next jump-in he popped V-Trigger, got a Dragon Punch, and jabbed Nagashima out on his wake-up for the win. The first round of the second game was very close, but Nagashima won it on a surprise Eagle Spike. Nagashima had two good anti-airs (cr. medium punch, heavy mixer) to open the second round, and it close again, but Nagashima takes the second round on an anti-air CA to tie up the game count. Daigo advises him that he should try jumping in on Misaki Kousei to test his anti-air ability (Nagashima was grounded almost the entire second game.) Misaki had some good anti-airs. Nagashima had a few instances where he could go for a big punish, but only got a cr. heavy kick – he could have done some combo, which is what Kunisada or Misaki Kousei would have done. Nagashima had a big life deficient, got CA, and Tokdio told Misaki that he absolutely can’t jump at Nagashima (or he would get an anti-air CA probably.) Misaki Kousei took the second game 2-0.

The High class matchup is Umehara Gold’s Oniki (Karin) vs. Hibiki (Ryu). Catch the HiFightTH clip below. Oniki chased Hibki into the corner for a dizzy to take the first round, but Hibiki controlled space better and took the second round. The last round was super close, but Hibiki takes it off a CA chip. The first round of the second game was close, with multiple corner control swaps, but Hibiki took it. Oniki wins the second round handily, and Hibiki takes the final in an impressive manner (missed CA chip into tense sequence.)

I don’t usually write too much about the Extreme Class match, and I’ll probably continue that, but we have Daigo Guile VTII against Tokido Akuma VTI. I’m always interested to see which V-trigger he takes against Daigo ever since Kemonomichi. Tokido takes the first game 1-2, and the second game 1-2 as well.

Since Tokido Flame swept Umehara Gold, that invokes the “Time of Crying” rule. Umehara Gold chooses for Oniki to go up against Tokido, and if he wins the game their team will get 3 points (which is critical for them if they want to continue on.) Tokido goes full-on Murderface and destroys Oniki in the first round, but Oniki is able to win the second round with a combo into CA. That leaves Tokido will full gauge for round 3, and he makes good use of it, winning 1-2 with about 30% vitality left.

Umehara Gold Tokido Flame Battle
  B 1-2
  HH 0-2
  EEE 0-2
Time of Crying win  

Ayako says that everyone played very intensely and that she was surprised to see such great play in their final appearance. Tokido says Misaki had some great moves, and he was really glad that he was able to use the things that he taught him, and that it was a good win. Ayako says that Hibiki did a great job of fighting out of the corner with no life, to which he replied he had no choice but to defend and was able to do it somehow. Ayako thanks them for playing so well.

Ayako then separately interviews Umehara Gold. She says that before the match Daigo said that he wanted five points, and he replies that he thought they might be able to move on with four or five points, but that it probably wouldn’t be possible with three points. He said he didn’t think they would lose 0-6 though.

14.2 Fuudo Gaia vs. Mago Scarlet

Hameko says that in order for Mago to move on, Mago needs to beat Fuudo. They open the video segment with Fuudo talking about how R.Mika vs. Cammy is a tough matchup for R.Mika, so he plans to use Birdie. He says that he has played that match a lot though, so he has some confidence in it. He also says that Mago makes mistakes at the pace of about one per 30 seconds. Or maybe more. So his plan is to play slow, use all 99 seconds, increase the number of Mago’s mistakes, and take advantage of those. He thinks that’s the approach everyone is taking against Mago though.

Mago Scarlet is looking at the point board, and he says they could get 31 points in the best case, and trying to predict plans for getting in. Mago says it looks pretty tough. He says it was really unfortunate that they lost to Nemo, and that Itazan is shooting up in the standings. He thinks they need to get all six points, so he’s going to focus on preparing for Fuudo.

In the pre-game interview, Fuudo says he is excited because they are in a position of being able to advance if they win. Ayako asks whether he feels like that puts pressure on him. Fuudo says not at all! He feels like instead of being a bad position, he’s in a good position, and actually, Mago is the type of guy that feels more pressure than him anyway. Mago says that he just heard some good advice: “Think of it as a good position, not a bad one” and grins.

Ayako turns to Mago and says that he needs to win. Mago agrees. She asks how his mental preparation has done, and he says he’s doing great, he just has to win the final battle.

The Beginner battle is Fuudo Gaia’s Miyata Hidemich (Kolin) vs. Mago Scarlet’s Kunisada (Ed). Last time Kunisada won 2-0. Miyata Hidemichi takes the first round in a close battle. Kunisada comes back to win the second round, and while the last round was close Kunisada took it. Kunisada takes the first round of the second game handily, and he combos into CA to get a big lead and the win.

The High class matchup is Fuudo Gaia’s Kawano (Kolin) vs. Mago Scarlet’s Sakagami (Boxer – by the way, he shows up in HiFighter’s Local Warriors recaps a lot since he goes to the Cyclops eSports locals in Osaka. I still wonder if he is riding his bike from Osaka to Tokyo every weekend.) Kawano went with Karin’s VTI, which you don’t see much any more. Sakagami bullied him into the corner and got a near-perfect in the first round. Kawano made good use of VTI in the second round, stunning Sakagami, but he was able to get a come from behind victory to take the first game 0-2. Sakagami takes game 2 0-2 as well.

In the Extreme matchup we have Fuudo Birdie VTII vs. Mago Cammy VTI. Mago took the first round pretty handily, and the second round as well. He finished the second round in 50 seconds, so Fuudo’s strategy of using all 99 seconds and let Mago make mistakes didn’t work out. So far. The first round of game 2 took 60 seconds, and Fuudo just barely got the win. Mago takes the second round, and the final round goes to Fuudo in a near perfect victory. Mago got a nice jump over a Fuudo Chain to get the first round in the final game, and Mago had a nice punish on a blocked low forward with a CA to take the lead and get the win on a time out. Mago’s team is going nuts, Kunisada and Sakagami totally popped off for him (Sakagami just keeps screaming “All right! Yeah!” Then right near the end he says in a serious voice “I believed in you the whole time”.)

I can’t believe it, but we get another FINAL ACT “Time of Crying”, and Fuudo Gaia chose Kawano (Kolin) to go up against Mago. Kawano took the lead in the first round, but Mago was able to make the comeback off a fierce punch x activation CA. Mago gets the early dizzy, and takes the win off of that for a 0-2 victory.

Fuudo Gaia Mago Scarlet Battle
  B 0-2
  HH 0-2
  EEE 1-2
Time of Crying   0-2

Ayako interviews Mago Scarlet, and asks about the 6-0 point victory. They are all smiling wide grins, and Mago said that’s how it started (a 6-0 win for them in Section 1) and that’s how it ended. He said that was the plan all along. Nobody believes him. Mago said that once Kunisada won, and then Sakagami had some really great play, but actually they weren’t really thinking about the other team. Well, he had done a lot to prep, but it turned out great.

Ayako then interviews Fuudo Gaia. Ayako said that there were a few points that were strange to her. Fuudo says that actually they didn’t want Kawano to win, because if they won 4-2, they wouldn’t catch up to Nemo, and would lose. If they lost 6-3 (so straight sweep, but Kawano beats Mago in the Time of Crying) they would tie with Nemo, and their head to head record would have them win, and slot into 3rd place. So Fuudo said he didn’t need to win. (I’m not looking at the standings or points, so I don’t really follow this.) Had Miyata won, they would have been able to win though, so I guess when he lost, they might have tanked. Fuudo said they weren’t trying to win. Daaamn. Mago must be pissed hearing that. He goes on to explain that had they won, they could get 4th or 5th place, but the probability of getting 3rd was lower. He thinks the rules are a bit peculiar, because there are provisions in there for win rate (and games won / rounds won even.)

14.3 Itazan Ocean vs. Nemo Aurora

They then cut to Itazan, who says “How can I put it. He’s arrogant. And he leaves openings because of that. Like, you can tell when he’s getting carried away, and use that.”

Hameko makes a point of mentioning that Nemo hates grapplers when introducing the teams. He also says that if Itabashi Zangief wins, they are safe, since they just need 3 points.

In the video segment, Itabashi Zangief says that they are aiming to go in for the #1 position. Itazan works with Kimura (Beginner, Ken) and says he should use cr. medium kick into EX Tatsu against Blanka since it has good carry corner. And is cool. Motchan also says that it solves the problem of not using gauge. He also says that if you use one EX move when you have full vitality, you can still earn it back, and he can still use the “New Kimura Command” (generally a cr. medium kick into CA). They then cut to Itazan, who says “How can I put it. He’s arrogant. And he leaves openings because of that. Like, you can tell when he’s getting carried away, and use that.”

The narrator says that Nemo has not given up on Mami Okumura (Beginner, Blanka) winning. He says that her neutral game progressively deteriorates, and even if she is doing well, she isn’t able to defeat her opponent because of that. He says she should try to increase her damage output to get some rounds. She is able to consistently pull of Blanka Balls, but she loses in the damage race with her opponent. He wants her to practice combos to get more damage. She shows off a combo or two (she does, by the way, stream a lot, so she is definitely trying.) Nemo also says she should try to get some crossups. They then ask Nemo about the Itazan matchup, and he says that he’s not sure what character to use. He says that he wins against Zangief with Kolin, but he’s still trying to figure out which way to go himself.

Ayako interviews Itazan first. Ayako says that both of these teams will definitely advance to Grand Finals, but asks if Itazan is trying to go into that in 1st place. Itazan says he thinks going into Grand Final from the first seed is a much better position to be in (they basically just have to play the winner of 2nd and 3rd place) so that is what they want. He said that since they lost the first Section 0-6, he thinks it would feel great if they could make it to 1st place and the Grand Finals.

Ayako says basically the same thing to Nemo, that they have made it, and asks if he wants to get 1st place. He does. That’s it! Almost unbelievable for this pairing.

The Beginner matchup is Kimura Keita (Beginner, Ken) for Itazan Ocean vs. Okumura Mami (Beginner, Blanka) for Nemo Aurora. Mami came super close to winning, but just barely lost. Kimura takes the second round pretty handily. Kimura continues his streak, perfecting Mami in the first round of the second game. In the second round he also gets the cr. medium kick into EX Tatsu he had been practicing, and takes that round too. Even though Kimura won, Itazan gives him critical feedback on neutral jumping vs. jumping forward and positioning (jump forward gets you closer. Grapplers always be trying to get in closer.) Nemo asks Mami to work on throw teching for the next time, since she really did lose a lot of life to Kimura’s throws. They cut back to Itazan who is actually now lecturing (sounds a bit forceful? passionate?) about how jab, strong, fierce wasn’t always connecting. You could actually hear him in the background when Nemo was talking with Mami.

A bit after this episode aired, Mami tweeted this picture with all the Beginner class members out to dinner, saying that she still hasn’t won (and some spoilery stuff about placement), and she has entirely relied on her two teammates so much that she almost wants to cry each time. Even so, she’s super happy for everyone’s support, will try her best, and she actually does really like all the Beginner class members. I kind of imagine Daigo off camera sulking a bit because he actually wants to drink with Nagashima Pineapple.

The High Class match is Motchan (F.A.N.G.) for Itazan Ocean, and Anman (Urien) for Nemo Aurora. Anman takes the first round, and the second was close, but Motchan took it. Anman took the final round handily. Motchan took the first round in the second game in a close match, and a super close second round to win the game. He looks super tense, and after that win looked pained, with the commentary desk joking about how he looks like he lost. Anman took the first round, and Motchan the second. Motchan build up a huge lead and takes the 3rd round in a near perfect.

Itazan took Zangief VTI, and Nemo went with Kolin VTII. Nemo took the first round off an overhead after a CA, but that left Itazan with full bars to none for round 2. Itazan took round 2 off the most Zangief comeback ever, and he closed out round 3 for the win. Itazan takes the second game 2-0.

Hameko explains that again, in this case, it was best for Anman to lose because if they get 6-3, that extra point (over the two points from a 4-2 loss) would be enough to pop them up over Mago Scarlet. Nemo Aurora sends up Anman against Itazan for the third and final Time of Crying. It was super close, but Itazan takes the first round. In the second round standing medium punch puts in work for Itazan early. He did have a miss where he did jump in roundhouse (hit) and then Zangief’s Command Taunt, Jazz Hands. Which he definitely was not going for. Anman takes round 2 off a CA, which I’ll blame on Jazz Hands. Anman stuns Itazan and gets him down to about 5% to his 95%, and does get the win. Nemo gets their 3 points.

Itazan Ocean Nemo Aurora Battle
B   2-0
HH   2-1
EEE   2-0
Time of Crying HH  
6 3  

Ayako interviews Itazan Ocean first, commenting that the 6-3 result is unusual, but they were able to move into first place, guaranteeing at least 2nd place. Itazan says now they just have to prepare for two teams, but it is really exciting, it isn’t over yet. Ayako says that Motchan really played well in the second half, getting 5 consecutive victories. Itazan said that he always thought Motchan had that potential, but that he was nervous early on, but he’s glad that he chose him. Motchan looks like he’s going to cry, he seems super happy – chat is commenting on it too.

Ayako said that Anman did a really good job in the final match with Itazan. Nemo said that was really big for them. Ayako asks Nemo if he thought he was in a bad position when they lost the first three matches, but Nemo said that Anman is very strong, and he thought he would be able to win against Itazan. I only just noticed it when Ayako asked, but she asked why Anman decided to wear the Nemo Aurora purple shirt today instead of his usual team uniform (Scarz Youth). He said that he wanted to display his team colors (a bit emotionally), and Nemo says that he has great teammates which is why they were able to get this far. Ayako asks for final thoughts, and Nemo says that since the 3rd place team is Mago, he’s very confident. Ayako says that he’s very confident against Mago, and Nemo backs off from his previous bravado (I’ve got a broken Hayashi Kenryo in my pocket!) and says that, for whatever reason, he does well against him.

14.4 Results

The top three will advance on to the Grand Finals. Teams 2 and 3 will play each other (see the rules up above for how that works – basically first to 10 points continuously cycling over Beginner, High, Extreme matches with the same scoring) and then team 1 will play the winner of that.

The Finals will be on March 21st.

Rank Team Points Matches Battles Movement
1 Itazan Ocean 37 19 40
2 Nemo Aurora 33 12 27
3 Mago Scarlet 31 18 42 ⬆⬆
4 Umehara Gold 28 15 34
5 Tokido Flame 27 13 33
6 Fuudo Gaia 27 13 29 ⬇⬇

Ayako then interviews the teams in places 4 through 6. She asks Fuudo what he thought of this format, and he says that even though they are in last place, he doesn’t feel like they are in last. It was fun, and a good event he thought. She asks Tokido the same, and he says that he’s disappointed in the result. Umehara Daigo says that they had the chance to make it into the top three, and it was a lot of fun. The chat is saying that Daigo’s happy because he was able to make some drinking buddies. She also asks Nagashima Pineapple what he thought, and he says it was really fun playing games, and making progress in the game. It was really great getting the feeling that you are improving, and he says he doesn’t get that with comedy.

Ayako then talks with the three teams that will advance, starting with Mago Scarlet. He says that in the previous RAGE Street Fighter V tournament Itazan Ocean came from third place to win the entire thing. While he had some times during this league when he thought it was hopeless, his teammates really pulled through, and they were able to make it to the finals. He thinks they can win from 3rd place like Itazan Ocean did in the previous tournament.

Nemo said that he was worried at first, but Anman won for them a lot, and Okumura really developed a lot, so he thinks they can win.

Finally, Itazan says that Kimura and Motchan really showed that they can win to this extent, so he’s very confident.

Ayako asks the commentary team what they will focus on in the Grand Final. Utahiroba Jun says that he is expecting Okumura to get her first win, and wants to see how she prepares. Yamato is interested in how the High Class players, the young ones, develop and what kind of play they can show up. Hameko is interested in the Extreme class (lots of laughs there) since Capcom Pro Tour is starting up, and the leaders are all putting in their full effort.

(This is the third time they’ve faked me out, but with the credits they have some interesting interviews.)

Misaki Kousei (Beginner, Tokido Flame, Akuma) is really broken up and crying about his loss (it must have been pretty soon after – you can see the production studio in back which is right by the stage). While the Beginner class is full of “celebrities” (B-list at best) and they might have started with the idea of exposure, I think they all have become invested in the competition and personal development aspect as well. This lends me more credence to that belief.

Fuudo then talks about how when he saw that Tokido defeat Daigo, he realized that strangely by losing straight, you could get one additional point (3) over if your team’s High class member only won (2). You are behind if you win, and get more if you lose, which is rare. He says it is really tough though because people are watching and you want to have a balance between going all out, or trying to win. He says if you are really playing your best, you are better off losing, but if you want to win, you need to lose. They ask Kawano what he thinks of that (since he had to tank) and he said he thought it was fine. He was pretty sure he’d have another chance to play again anyway.

They then show Daigo and Nagashima Pineapple. Daigo says that since the camera came he thought it was here for the “last challenge” (Nagashima Pineapple said he would make Daigo laugh before this is over) and Daigo says that he still hasn’t laughed at any of Nagashima’s jokes. Daigo has a real bored look on his face. Here’s Nagashima’s joke:

Crap! I’m surrounded by reporters. There’s only one thing I can do, I need to use my special move. He mimes a Sho Ryu Ken move, but at the end moves his hand over his eyes, while saying “Sho Zou Ken” [肖像権]

Sho Zou Ken is the Japanese right to privacy in photographs.

Pan to Daigo’s unmoving face. No laughs. Hard cut to end credits. Nagashima Pineapple was happy that they included that – he tweeted about some notes that he wrote (a bunch of the Beginner class have been writing stuff that I haven’t had the time to read yet) and specifically said he was happy they included that gag.

15 Break: The Many Colors of Ayako Hatta

Since we have some time before the Grand Finals, and Ayako’s shoes matching the Tokido Flame colors got me curious, I went back and took at look at what Ayako wore in each Section. I know it is a generalization of gender roles that people care about what women wear and not what men wear, but I’m actually kind of curious now about what some of the color commentary team work. Utahiroba Jun in particular wears interesting clothes and has good makeup, the other commentary stick to fairly normal suits. Gachi-kun was a bit fun, and so were Higa Eri when she was on. At any rate though, because Ayako is such a large part of the show, and she is so visible, I was curious.

I do also want to say that Ayako is a very good interviewer, and adds a lot of fun and joy to the series overall. I know that probably doesn’t come across in my summaries, but the shows would be much worse without her.

2019 JP SFL Ayako 00 Draft

2019 JP SFL Ayako 01

2019 JP SFL Ayako 02

2019 JP SFL Ayako 03

2019 JP SFL Ayako 04

2019 JP SFL Ayako 05

2019 JP SFL Ayako 06

2019 JP SFL Ayako 06 Special

2019 JP SFL Ayako 07

2019 JP SFL Ayako 08

2019 JP SFL Ayako 09

2019 JP SFL Ayako 10

I also cropped out full body shots when I could find them.

2019 JP SFL Ayako 02 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 03 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 04 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 05 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 06 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 06 Special Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 07 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 08 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 09 Full

2019 JP SFL Ayako 10 Full

Finally, I think there are a few cases where Ayako was in some way showing her support for one team or another.

2019 JP SFL Ayako 03 Fuudo Gaia

2019 JP SFL Ayako 04 Nemo Aurora

2019 JP SFL Ayako 07 Nemo Aurora

2019 JP SFL Ayako 09 Umehara Gold

2019 JP SFL Ayako 10 Tokido Flame

The last one is more subtle, but I still think it counts. Also, I might not have a great sense of color coordination, but I do think she twice showed some affinity with Nemo Aurora.

16 2019-03-21 Grand Finals

20190321 JP SFL Placement Chart

Ayako Hatta, Inoue Yusuke, and Utahiroba Jun

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Wide Shot

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Wide Shot

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Wide Shot

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final ItaZan Ocean

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Full lineup

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Hameko and Yamato

The Grand Finals opened with a 10 minute review of the season up until now. If you are interested in a review, just read up above.

For the Grand Finals they brought in a new MC, a well-known comedian, Inoue Yusuke from the Non-Style Comedy Duo. He’s much more well-known than the other talent that came in for the Beginner League (like, C-list talent probably) and is maybe A or B tier. I don’t really know that world too well, but even I have heard of “Non-Style” before. My general impression of him wasn’t great; I thought he talked over Ayako Hatta a lot, who I do like a lot and who proved herself to be a great interviewer and MC, and she also has good knowledge of Street Fighter and the players. Still, I can see why they would bring in a more famous person to act as the MC, and he didn’t do a bad job. He also played a role where he asked questions about things that a new viewer might not know (“I heard that they are going to prepare for the match, but what do they actually do?” Utahiroba or Ayako can answer in a way to help out viewers who might have just tuned in for the first time.)

The other two Guests on MC duty are Ayako Hatta, who did a great job as usual, and Utahiroba Jun, who I also really enjoy.

If you watched, you might have noticed everyone looking at a little notepad as things went on. The show was broadcast live, so they had some notes to check to make sure they knew what was supposed to be happening. For a live show, I thought it went really well.

They opened with some chatter, talked about the teams, and explained how the Grand Finals would work. The Grand Finals take a different approach from before: the teams will play in order, Beginner vs. Beginner for one point, High Class vs. High Class for two points, and Extreme Class vs. Extreme Class for three points. The first team to reach ten points wins. Play repeats Beginner -> High Class -> Extreme Class -> Beginner Class until one of the teams reaches ten points. In the first match between Mago Scarlet vs. Nemo Aurora since Mago’s team was seeded third, they face a two point handicap: Nemo Aurora start out with two points.

The also spent some time explaining about NTT, who are a special sponsor for this event. They provided high speed internet for two locations for a public viewing – way out in Sendai, and at Capcom Plaza eSPORTS Club in Kichijoji. Over the course of the night they checked in once or twice with the remote locations.

Before any matches started, they called out all three teams, and had some discussion with each of them. They ask each of the captains about how they are feeling, Mago going first. He says he’s happy they were able to make it this far, and both Kunisada-san and Sakagami-san have put in a lot of work. He think they have the highest total combined strength of all the teams tonight, and are aiming to win.

Nemo simply says that having come this far, he plans to win.

Itazan says that they started out the league in last place, but as things went on they picked up momentum, and they plan to ride that to the win.

Ayako introduces Hameko and Yamato who will be doing commentary, and they both look very nice in their Tuxedos. Total eSports. Inoue asks Yamato what he is looking forward to, and Yamato reminds us that Itazan Ocean won the previous year’s RAGE All Star League powered by Capcom. After some chatter where there wasn’t too much of note (enjoyable) they explain the rules. The total prize pool was 5,000,000 yen, broken down across all six team captains. The money was only given to the JeSU licensed Pro Players. I guess they can give them the money, and once they walk out the door if the pro players happen to split the money with their team, there’s still no issue since it wasn’t given to them directly and hey, once you have money you can do whatever you want with it. The first place player gets 3 million yen (very roughly a bit less than $30,000 USD), second is 1 million (< $10,000), 3rd ~ <$5,000, 4th ~ <$2,500, 5th ~ <$1,500, and 6th ~ <$1,000.

16.1 Nemo Aurora vs. Mago Scarlet

After discussing the rules, they bring in Mago Scarlet and interview them. Ayako starts with Kunisada, who says that they are there because of Sakagami’s play and Mago’s advice, and his desire for revenge on Nagashima Pineapple (the only Beginner to beat him twice.) He won’t get revenge on him, but will take that motivation to heart in order to win. Sakagami said that he has done all he can to prepare, and with the crowd’s support will win. They ask Mago how he’s feeling, and he says he’s having fun. Inoue asks if he feels any pressure, and he says that he is (laughing!) Then he says that they made it there because of Kunisada and Sakagami’s play, but he also owes a bit debt of gratitude to his teammates from the previous year’s RAGE All Stars powered by Capcom teammates, Tokido and Fuudo – throwing a bit of shade because Mago Scarlet only made it in because of their sudden drop at the end of the season.

While Mago Scarlet goes to prepare for the match, Ayako talks a bit about how Nemo and Mago have a history together.

After Nemo Aurora comes out, Inoue asks Okumura Mami how she feels about being the only woman, and she replies that she really wants to do her best because she hasn’t won even once yet, and wants to win for her supporters. Someone in the crowd shouts out for her to do her best. He asks Anman for his comments, and he said that he practiced a lot and definitely will win. Inoue asks how much he’s practiced, and Anman says that while he normally makes sure that he gets plenty of sleep (given the Red Bull pushback I’m glad to see that) but lately he really cut into his sleep schedule and practiced so much he almost injured his hands. He’s playing it for laughs, but seriously, get sleep and take care of your hands. He repeats that he will definitely win. Inoue said that when Nemo entered the stage, he had a look on his face like he wouldn’t let anyone get in his way. Nemo says that he doesn’t want to lose to his opponent, Mago, so will crush him. He actually says it in a really kind voice though. Inoue goes on to say that when Nemo arrived he heard some talk of a 10-0, and Nemo replies that they had a match like that in the past, and if he lost this time it would all be for naught, so he’ll go 10-0 again. Inoue rushes over the Mago and says “Are you hearing this?” Mago says “I can’t believe you brought that up” with a laugh in his voice. Then he says that he’ll actually crush Nemo.

Nemo Aurora heads to the station, and they pass it off to the commentary desk. Utahiroba Jun talks about how he really just wants Okumura Mami to win one game.

Hameko reminds us that she did win one round, back when she was using Cammy, against Kunisada. He says that Blanka is a rare character, so she might be able to win off of character unfamiliarity. It doesn’t happen though, and Kunisada wins handily 0-2 each time.

In the High class match, Anman wins the first game 2-1, and the second game 2-0. Nemo takes the first game against Mago 2-1, and the second game 2-1 although Mago did get a P in there.

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Crowd Interview

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final Crowd Interview

After the first rotation, they get an interview with audience members by Ayako Hatto and Inoue-san. They interview a young kid, who came to cheer on Mago. I can’t recall his twitter handle off the top of my head, but I’ve seen him around at Japanese events with his parents. Ayako asks him what he likes about Mago, and he says “Sometimes he drops a combo or makes a mistake but -” and then Inoue jumps in to let Mago know the kid is talking about him, getting a laugh when the camera cuts to Mago. The boy continues: “but he quickly catches up to his opponent, and doesn’t think that he’ll lose and get the come-from-behind victory.” There is a bit of chatter and Inoue asks the kid if he wants Nemo to lose: “yes”, and they cut to Nemo for a few laughs.

They next interview a woman from the crowd. They ask who she supports, and she’s cheering for Nemo Aurora. Inoue asks what she thinks about watching the matches live, and she’s really impressed with how the crowd is really into it and it’s very exciting. She talks about how the crowd cheers to support each team (in a very Japanese way – everyone cheers in syncopation for one team, that goes on for a while, then those supports stop and the other team supports do their own chant in turn.) Inoue shouts out to Nemo saying that a lady is cheering for him, and he waves it off. The lady says that she isn’t cheering for Nemo, but for Nemo Aurora – and actually she’s a real Okumura fan. She says that like Utahiroba-san, she really wants Okumura to win.

I wonder if she is a fan that got pulled in from the entertainment personalities who joined. That reminds me that someone on twitter that I follow said he was interested in looking at the composition of the crowd at the event, and was surprised that if the audience wasn’t 50% female, it was at least something like 60% male to 40% female, which I’d argue is a bit different from the normal demographic at fighting game events.

They resume the games, with the Beginner match again. Kunisada wins the first game 0-2. In the second game, Mami wins the first round and the crowd (+ Utahiroba Jun and other commentators) go absolutely nuts. Chat too. Sadly, she lost in the end 1-2.

In the High Class matchup, Sakagami won the first game 0-2, Anman comes back to take the second game 2-0, and the final game goes to Anman 2-1.

Nemo wins the first game 2-0, and the second game 2-0 as well.

Class Nemo Aurora Mago Scarlet
– Advantage – AA  
Beginner   B B
High HH HH  
Extreme EEE EEE  
Score 12 2

They interview both teams after its done. Inoue starts with Mago, asking how it went (not really the most insightful question after a loss) and Mago says it was tough. Kunisada erased the two point advantage, so he wasn’t worried about that, but he and Sakagami weren’t able to take care of their opponents. Sakagami said that he was able to play as he wanted to, but his opponent was too strong. Kunisada says that he was nervous, and they lost, but despite that it was a lot of fun. Inoue asks Mago about what he thought about the kid that they interviewed, and Mago says that he’s friends with the kid and he’s taught him a bit at his house, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him there. (The kid always travels with his parents, so it isn’t strange.) Inoue asks Mago if he dropped anything, and he’s like, “yeah, at the end”. Inoue says that is what the kid was expecting, but Mago should go on to win next time.

They move on to interview Nemo Aurora, and start with Mami. She said that she lost, but she’s happy that the team won. Ayako chimes in that Mami got a round and it looks like she’s improved. Inoue said that he didn’t know Blanka could be so cute, and Ayako tells him about Blanka-chan and costumes. Anman says that Sakagami had prepared well and was strong, but he was prepared for that and was able to win. Nemo says that he was happy they could take out Mago 10-0, but was a bit sad that they couldn’t get Mago’s team 10-0. Inoue asks if he wanted to break that kid’s heart, and Nemo said that well, they beat Mago, so he guesses so. Inoue says that they’ve got some momentum now going into the final, and Nemo says that “Well, we hate the team that’s waiting for us, and he does not want to lose to them.”

They throw back to the commentary desk who review the Extreme class matchup and talk about the history between Itazan Ocean and Nemo Aurora a bit. They cut back to Ayako Hatta and Inoue in the crowd, and interview two friends of Anman, Oniki and Kinoko Boxer I believe. They praised Anman’s play. They’re looking forward to the matchup with Motchan. They also interviewed a friend of Kunisada’s, another comedian. They ask what he thinks about Kunisada’s game playing, and he thinks it’s really cool. Inoue asks about how he feels about his friend getting good at games, but what about his entertainment career? He says it’s funny because he doesn’t want him to stop being a comedian, but he’s getting more well known for playing games. Inoue talks a bit about what it is like if half of a comedy duo becomes well known for something else and how it is sad for the guy that is left behind. Utahiroba Jun also talks about the same thing when they throw back to the desk. They take a bit of a break before starting the Grand Final up again.

16.2 Itazan Ocean vs. Nemo Aurora

They open the break up talking about NTT again, and interview someone at the NTT booth, and he will talk with the NTT representative. They keep it a bit secret, but standing next to him is Kagecchi, the organizer of Fighter’s Crosover -Akiba- (the Wednesday night SFV event at Akihabara eSports Square) and Fighting Thursday more recently (a Bandai/Namco DBFZ/Tekken7/SC6 event on Thursdays at Akihabara eSports Square). Utahiroba acts super surprised that it’s Kagecchi, who is super well-known in the community (like our own Alex Valle, or Spooky, or Arturo really). I made a snide tweet about it, because Kagecchi is always talking about how he’s at work and someone starts talking about eSports and he doesn’t want to be found out, or other things like that. I was surprised that he’d put it out in the open like that, but granted it is probably small viewership. So they talk a bit about the public viewing that NTT set up with fiber and remote cameras in Sendai. Then they do a quick FT1 match with MOV who is in Sendai against Utahiroba. MOV wins. The chat was surprised that it was Kagecchi too, and a lot of people were talking about how they use NTT. I have NTT fiber to my apartment, about $25 a month, and my speed is insane. It’s great.

Nemo: I really, really don’t want to fight Zangief, but I went begging to Kichi-palm and prepared for the match.

Itazan: My opponent’s theory is that if you play Zangief, you’ve wasted your life. I’ve played Zangief since Street Fighter 4 ten years ago, and I can’t let all that be for nothing, I can’t validate his belief.

Nemo Aurora comes out on stage, and they interview them. They start with Mami and she talks about how she’ll do her best against Kimura. Inoue asks if Nemo gives her advice, and she says that he has, and other people on other teams are giving her support as well. Inoue asks if she’s gotten used to the pressure, and she says she has gotten a bit more used to it. Inoue tells Anman that his friends said that it looked like his play was tight and that he was nervous at first, he says he thought things were ok with Sakagami but he was a bit late getting into it. When asked about the finals match, Anman says that “Everyone on Nemo Aurora hates every person on Itazan Ocean (gets some laughs) and that they want to lose to Itazan Ocean even less than the previous team.” Inoue says that Itazan Ocean was watching the playoff match very closely back stage.

Nemo says that he really, really hates Zangief and doesn’t want to fight him, but he went begging to Kichi-palm for help and prepared for the match, and wants to do his best to win. The chat is surprised that he went to Kichi-palm, and I am too – I really like his Zangief but feel betrayed! 😉 Nemo goes on to say that Itazan is the only person that beat him twice, so he’s really pissed off at him.

Itazan Ocean comes out, and Inoue asks Itazan how he feels about the semi-finals result. They joke around a bit, and Itazan says how he expected to see Mago, or something. I didn’t really catch it. Kimura says that today’s fortune is that Blue is your lucky color, and that he will definitely win with the “New Kimura Command”. Inoue says that Kimura’s got more enthusiasm than the rest of his team combined, and asks if he is nervous, to which Kimura replies that he’s super nervous. Kimura get all quiet and says he’s super nervous and doesn’t know what to do, when Itazan buts in and says “Please act normally!” Inoue says that Kimura’s opponent is a woman, and Kimura says that isn’t going to stop him. They cut over to Mami, who says “I don’t really like Kimura anyway” to lots of laughs. Inoue asks Motchan how he feels, and he says “terrible”. The chat is talking about how it looks like he’s going to throw up. Inoue asks what he was thinking about watching the semi-finals, and he says he was hoping either one would win, and then saw that Anman won, and he’s like aaaaaaah it’s Anman I’ll just have to do my best I guess. He really looks like he’s going to throw up. Inoue asks about the matchup and Motchan says he thinks he can fight it, and will do his best. They talk to Itazan, who says that his opponent’s theory is that if you play Zangief, you’ve wasted your life. I’ve played Zangief since Street Fighter 4 ten years ago, and I can’t let all that be for nothing, I can’t validate his belief. Inoue says that the other team says they hate every single person on his team. Itazan says that is the opinion of the “Violence White Company” (referring to how Hameko often introduces Nemo as the Violence President, since his Urien is so Violent, and going back to the long-running schtick of Nemo as the President of a terrible company, but this season turned around with the addition of Mami to a nice company.)

He says that his team has good teamwork, and all three of them have more wins than losses (ooh, Mami burn), have performed well, and grown individually, so all they have to do now is just keep doing what they’ve been doing. He says that while there’s some joking around in there, they are going to really play to win. Inoue says that they came up all the way from the bottom, and Itazan says that is how they are going to keep going.

They throw to the commentary desk, who talk a bit about how needing ten points to win means that the Beginner’s points can decide it all (3 points for Beginner + High Class, so some combination of that +3 points from the Extreme class to get to 9 points, then the pressure is on the Beginner for that last point.)

Kimura’s Ken is super aggressive and gets a Perfect on Okumura Mami’s Blanka in the first round. Mami comes back in the second round with a win, and the place goes nuts. She was down to about 40% vitality early, then got a slide, and a target combo (she’s consistent with the target combo) into a throw, an overhead to get Stun up super high, and a slide for the Dizzy. She did another target combo, slide, and electricity when Kimura activated his V-Trigger for the win. Commentary went nuts, chat went nuts, the crowd was going wild, she’s supported by everyone. Kimura takes the 3rd round to win 2-1. Kimura opens the second game with another perfect. The second round was a bit close, but Kimura takes it for the win 2-0.

Motchan has looked super worried all day. He takes the first round against Anman and looks super happy. He takes the second round too. He takes the second game 2-0, almost perfect on that last round, and looks surprised himself.

Two clips of Motchan’s F.A.N.G. vs Anman’s Urien.

A clip of Anman’s Urien:

Nemo takes the first game pretty handily. Itazan brought the second game to 1-1 and had victory within his grasp but missed a combo into CA. He was able to recover to bring it to 1-1 in games. He took the second game 2-0.

In the break before rotating back to the Beginner class they interviewed the three other Beginner Class members who didn’t make it into the Grand Finals. Misaki Kousei says that after having practiced themselves so much, they really want to be up on stage there too. Miyata Hidemichi says that Kimura has really improved since the start, and he’s a bit annoyed by it (laughs). Nagashima Pineapple says that he’s really worried about Motchan. He said that before the match, Motchan got his hair done, and Nagashima Pineapple told him that he was looking good, and thought he was maybe overconfident. Nagashima was sure that he would break down and lose, but he was surprised to see Motchan’s good play get the win. Then Nagashima Pineapple says that he wants to see Motchan’s crying face, so he hopes he loses one. They keep cutting to Motchan, who looks super anxious. Inoue asks them what they thought of the battle between the leaders, and Misaki Kousei says he thought Itazan looked super cool. Miyata Hidemichi says they look cool too, coming back from a near loss on such a big stage. Nagashima Pineapple says that as an entertainer (and he really is the star of these three – he acts like he knows what to do in front of a camera and talks like it) he wants to be able to show people his cool side too.

Then he goes into another prepared joke, he says for the sake of the staff, “Hen Shuu Ten” (sounds like Sho Ryu Ken) but in this case means “video edit point (e.g., cut)”. You can hear the crickets. Inoue, part of an actual very famous comedian duo, says “Unfortunately, you just lost with a Perfect.” Chat is saying that “Daigo still isn’t laughing”.

They rotate back to the Beginner match. Kimura takes the first game 2-0, and the second game 2-0 to pick up the point. Motchan had a great first round against Anman, went down early in the second round but pulled it back to lose in the end, and lost convincingly in the final round. You might notice that while they take a bit of time in between games, they keep up the commentary and talk about the match and the players. They don’t cut to a Tostito’s commercial. Motchan lost the first round in a close one, and lost the second round so Nemo Aurora could pick up their first points 0-2.

That leads into the Extreme match class, where if Itabashi Zangief wins they win the whole thing. Nemo gets the first round, Itazan takes the second, and Nemo takes the third to get the first game. In the second game, ItaZan takes the first round, Nemo takes the second, and ItaZan wins the third round to even up the games 1-1. ItaZan takes the first round in the second game, and closes the whole thing out in the second round off a regular throw.

Check out HiFightTH‘s Just Frame Analysis of Itabashi Zangief vs. Nemo.

Class Itazan Ocean Nemo Aurora
Beginner B B  
High HH HH
Extreme EEE EEE  
Score 10 2

Motchan is crying when the camera catches a glimpse of him. I like how someone in the chat said “You didn’t waste your life for nothing!” going back to the Nemo – ItaZan rivalry. Inoue tells Motchan that he can take him time to calm down, but seems a bit out of sorts with that emotional outburst. He asks ItaZan about the victory. He says that “Nemo really put a lot of pressure on me, and actually he’s a really high pressure guy. When someone who is that high strung really tries to scare you, it is really super scary. I was surprised at how scary he was! I was nervous, and actually my game plan was thrown off a bit, I was out of sorts and I actually thought I might lose.” Inoue replies “but this isn’t like a tournament, this is a team event! You can’t win it on your own.” ItaZan: “That’s right. I was able to get my movement back, and my teammates both played very well, and I would have felt terrible if I didn’t play well.” (Something like that anyway.) Inoue says something about never having seen someone churn the butter so much in Street Fighter, and ItaZan says “I get that a lot”. They keep showing Motchan, who is trying really hard not to cry, but failing.

Inoue asks Kimura how he feels, and I have a really hard time understanding what he says. Here is my best guess. “Okamura-san! Even if you hate me, please don’t hate Street Fighter!” I think. Actually, I think I clearly hear “Even if I’m gay, don’t think that Street Fighter is gay”, but that doesn’t make sense. I suppose his “gay” could be the first part of “geinin” – entertainer, but I really don’t know. I suppose the intent is something like what I first said, but that’s more of my interpretation than me really knowing what is going on there. Inoue says: “Since when have you been waiting to say that?” Kimura: “Since last night.” The chat is going on about how that would have been cut out if the thing wasn’t live, so who knows. They talk a bit about how the Beginner class members really improved, and put in a lot of practice, and asks ItaZan about that. He says that Kimura was really dependable, and actually performed better than expected. Then he also says that: “But he does act like this all the time, so it is hard to praise him. So I have to praise him in roundabout ways.”

Inoue asks “Motchan, do you think you are about ready yet?” Motchan clearly isn’t ready. He continues “What kind of pressure did you feel, how nervous were you? How do you feel now that you’ve won?” Motchan, fighting back tears, says “Thank you so much.” Inoue talks a bit about how the pressure must be highest on the High class since they are on the cusp of becoming pros. Motchan says that he lost four games in a row during league play, and he was sad he cried alone in his hotel room. He breaks down a bit and apologizes, and said he didn’t think he would cry so much. Inoue responds “Me neither!” He talks a bit about the league and the pressure, then says “How about you just give us a good ‘I did it!’” Motchan puts his arms up and says “I did it!”, still crying a bit. Very emotional. Inoue says he didn’t think he would ever see such tears of joy because of game, and Ayako says that it really conveys the emotion of the situation. They thank ItaZan Ocean, and call up the other two teams.

Motchan talks in this tweet about how he was super nervous before the Grand Finals for the JP Street Fighter League: ‘I was super nervous before the match yesterday, and I really thought “this is … terrible”. ItaZan told me “Hmm. Ok, well, it’s fine you can be nervous up until your match starts!” At first I was like “?”, but once the match started my hands and legs stopped shaking. It was the best practical advice at the time…’

Mago Scarlet and Nemo Aurora come out, as well as the commentary team. Yamato says that it was really nice watching the league over the past four months, and seeing the development from the Beginner class. Hameko said similar things, and also talked about how the teams came together, and specifically how far Okumura came. They cut over to her, and she says she wasn’t able to do anything, and tears up a bit herself. Nemo says that she put in a lot of work and practice, streamed a lot (she did), and in the finals her movement looked good. Different people develop in different ways, and she did her best. Inoue says that when he first came for this job, everyone told him that Nemo was really tough (Sadistic they said actually) but he’s really a nice guy! To which Nemo responds – but it completely talked over by Utahiroba Jun who says “Don’t be fooled!” He has a good sense for timing and drama, and this allowed Inoue to go over to ItaZan, who says “Well, that’s just for today”. Ayako gets in on it a bit, and Inoue is like “Will nobody defend Nemo-san?” Nemo then says that “Everyone is a bit different…” (calling back to his previous statement on how different people develop differently.) Inoue says “cut it out!” The exchange was funny and got a good laugh out of the crowd, thanks in no small part to Utahiroba Jun directing it in the right direction.

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final ItaZan Ocean Wins!

20190321 JP SFL Grand Final ItaZan Ocean Wins!

The move on to the award ceremony and Ono-san comes out. No character announcements here. The teams get some nice trophies, and envelopes with presumably the prize money in them. In Japan it wouldn’t be uncommon for that to actually be cash in there. ItaZan Ocean gets a large trophy as well.

They talk to each of the teams. Kunisada was very happy to have been on Mago’s team. Sakagami said it was fun, and thanks everyone. Mago says that he was glad he chose Sakagami and Kunisada at the draft, and while there were tough times over the three months, they had a lot of fun training together, and now he’s surprised it’s all over. Inoue asks if the team format is different from individual play, and Mago says that when you are on your own it all falls on you, and you can only be happy for yourself, but as a team you can feel the pain and joy of your teammates as well. Mago thanks everyone for watching. Inoue asks if he would like the same team if there is another run, and Mago answers of “Of Course!” (I don’t see how you can answer that question in any other way in that situation.)

Inoue then speaks with Okumura Mami, and says the results might not be what she wanted, but how does she feel? She says that she’s grateful that her two teammates supported her, and for the fans that cheered for her, and she wants to continue playing Street Fighter (which she has – she’s done a stream or two since this happened.) It was an amazing four months, and she thanks everyone again. Inoue talks a bit about how it is nice to see a woman in the tournament as well, which annoys me a bit because that plays to the stereotype of women not enjoying video games. I would have preferred Ayako Hatta to talk with Mami, and I’m curious what her take would be. (She might say the same thing though.) Inoue asked Anman about his loss, and he said “After losing like that, I don’t think I’ll be able to show my boss my face for a bit. I’m glad I was able to get one set though.” Inoue asks if he is happy with his play though, to which Anman answers that he didn’t think he played as well as he could, and regrets that. When it is Nemo’s turn, he says that things ended very quickly (or “time flew by” for the entire league.) He really enjoyed thinking about how to give advice to his teammates. When it is during the season and there are lots of tournaments overseas it is hard to help your teammates develop, so he liked the timing of it as well. Inoue asks if he would keep the same team for a second run. He says that he would like to be able to develop his teammates further (affirming the choice.) He also said something about maybe doing it later after he was salty – e.g., he wouldn’t like, jioin again right now. Inoue says that everyone would like to see Mami win her first match. Nemo’s like “Yep.” (Sou desu ne.)

Finally, the interview ItaZan Ocean. Kimura says that it was lots of fun, he hadn’t played many games up until now, but he’s really happy he was able to join ItaZan Ocean’s team. Inoue says that the Beginner Class might have had it the hardest, since they really needed to practice every day and get better. Kimura deadpans it and says “Yes, playing games every day was extremely difficult.” Inoue: “You just said that it was fun!” They got him. He tried to walk it back with it was half fun / half difficult. He got some laughs. Motchan is finally able to talk normally, and he says first off he wants to thank ItaZan for choosing him at the draft, and Kimura for being his teammate. ItaZan says that Motchan was great. He looks like he’s going to cry again, and Inoue says “They’re back! They’re back, aren’t they? Is someone cutting onions around here?” Then he says it’s ok, calm down. Motchan thanks everyone. Motchan says he is very happy. ItaZan says that joining with the Beginner Class and High Class was good, their team did well, and most of all he proved he didn’t waste his life playing Zangief.

They asked for comments from the Commentary team too. Hameko said some interesting things: “Including the Beginner class was tough. We didn’t know if their matches would be worth watching. Actually though, after watching it, the Beginner class was probably the most noteworthy thing about it. There are people that saw that and might think ‘I want to try too!’ I thought it was a really interesting four months. I hope that I can explain things in an easy way for people just starting as well. Thank you!” Utahiroba Jun makes an impassioned plea for someone to take him on a team if they do it again. heh.

There is also a special guest: Ono comes out. I tweeted a bit about it when it happened:

There will be two more JP Street Fighter Leagues in Japan in Summer 2019: One Pro 3v3, and Trial, a league with three separate classes similar to this one. There will be more details announced later, which I’m sure will be all over twitter when it happens. There should be a one-off Japan vs. the West 3 on 3 team exhibition as well. The Trial League will have a Beginner Class, High Class, and Top Class. It looks like that will feed into the Pro class in a different league. He does mention that the US SFL is happening, and the winner of that might be involved in the “Dream Match”. Ono says that they want to expand their activities so that people who are watching at home will have a way to participate as well (perhaps not in this – sounds like he’s talking generally about expanding the types of things Capcom supports.)

16.3 A few final thoughts

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope you enjoyed these sporadic and often late summaries of the 2019 March JP Street Fighter League. I really enjoyed watching them, and was surprised at how much I liked the Beginner matches. I hope you got a flavor of some of the interaction between the players and the staff, particularly Ayako Hatta, who is a very good interviewer. I also think the commentary staff did a great job, but I’ve always been a fan of Hameko.

I try to get these things out in a semi-timely manner, so the translations aren’t perfect and I’ll sometimes skip over stuff that would take too much time to research properly.

I’m an unabashed Itabashi Zangief fan, and I hope that didn’t ruin things for you. As a fun side-note, the night before the Grand Finals the entire ItaZan Ocean team was at Fighter’s Crossover -Akiba-, the weekly SFV event on Wednesday night at Akihabara eSports Square. Powell, the strong Cammy player from Nagoya, came to Tokyo to support Motchan (also Nagoya based I believe) and he and ItaZan were playing lots and lots of sets. I wondered at the time if he thought that Mago was going win, or if he just likes playing that much. Motchan was there too, as was Anman, but I didn’t notice if they played each other much. I actually got a few sets in with Kimura, who is a nice guy, and we had lots of fun. His pressure is real, and he mixes up the throw game enough to keep you guessing. I hope he keeps coming out. He certainly seemed to be having fun.

If you are ever in Tokyo, do try to stop by some of the fun fighting game locals. There are all sorts, and I definitely think you should try out Fighting Tuesday at Red Bull Gaming Sphere, or swing by Fighter’s Crossover -Akiba-.



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4 responses to “The Japan Capcom Street Fighter League powered by RAGE”

  1. Hassun Avatar

    Godlike write-up! Absolute credit to the community which deserves to be widely recognized.

    OpenRec is hard to watch out here due to constant buffering but I like the idea of this event.

  2. Momo Avatar

    Thanks for the summary.

    I really enjoyed following the league through your words.

  3. Shakuntala Avatar

    Made an account just to thank you for this write up. I am looking forward for the next ones that you will do. Please keep it up!

  4. Fugu Avatar

    Thanks for the kind comments!

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