Post written by Mike – Edited by Tommy Vallier
I can feel it coming over me
I feel it all around me
I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life it’s my destiny
There’s a fire deep inside of me
It’s waiting to come out now
No matter what, no matter how, I know I’ll make it through somehow
Exile-The Next Door (Indestructible) Theme to SF4
BirdmanTWIG, former g1 of the year 2007 returning for what will become a weekly blog entry of my thoughts as a journalist as well as an upcoming hopeful competitive player in the fighting game genre with games like Street Fighter 4 and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. This week I’m looking at the the competitive scene with SF4. Over the last months, I’ve been working at an E-Sports arena in Hamilton,Ontario called The Pownz Game Centre and it’s opened up a new and exciting world to me – the realm of competitive gaming. As a journalist, I’ve been able to report on it to a limited degree but I’ve been limited to date with little knowledge of the scene. However, as time passed and I got into the games like SF4 and beyond, I saw and experienced something new. Street Fighter was always one of those games that I played as a hobby against my friends and mostly just to see new endings for the characters. As part of my job I started attending more and more tournaments and seeing what was happening between the player and the stick and what it meant to be better, train harder and eventually win.
I began working with my co-workers and playing for fun and eventually competing in the fun ladder nights and being PWN’d and I don’t just mean I was beaten. It was so bad that I was utterly destroyed, left my dignity at the door and may have well of been beating up my grandmother bad. I was absolutely humiliated. I’m not one who likes to be beat and I love a good challenge at the same time. I started watching some of the EVO videos and seeing how good other people were and figured I’d be good if I could take on a few tough competitors… Boy was I wrong…dead wrong. I was also talking with the people I was competing against which helped to fuel my interest so I knew that it took YEARS of training to get this good. It’s a given that it takes a long time to get good at anything but seeing a true digital athlete was something I hadn’t seen before. EVO and the tournaments like it have been around for years and there’s a huge community around them too. More than that, companies like SF2HD Remix is proof the companies are listening to that community.
There is also a real excitement with the people that get into the competition scene and seemingly A LOT with Street Fighter players I’ve had the honor of being with. The last tournament I attended was a 46-man bracket and I finished 33rd – thank God for byes. LOL. Still, when the games got started it was like being in an NHL arena during playoff seasons – especially when the finals hit. The last match I had the pleasure of watching and commenting on at ufragtv.com was a match between a Toronto veteran and a new kid who played with a controller instead of a stick and it was intense. It was so quiet at times that all you could hear was people hitting the controllers and the baited breath between rounds. Finally the match ended and the NEW kid was the champion…a kid with a controller with NO tournament experience. It was said at the tournament by some of the crowd, the future is here and in my mind it really is. Seeing this kid win this tournament from some of the best Ontario has to offer got me thinking… I want to be part of this world. I want to endure the training, and feel that heat of competition. I want to be able to stand toe to toe with some of the best the sport has to offer. Watching that crowd erupt for that him – some cheers, some genuine jeers – but seeing him stand triumphant against all odds and win… I want that. The competitive scene is something I’ve only observed for a little while I’m ready to be part of it. I know that this will not be an overnight victory and it’ll be a long road filled with lots of ups and downs but isn’t that the true measure of what makes it worth while? It’s the journey to be the best and be along with the like minded and have them encourage, challenge you to your limits. I totally get I make this sound so much larger then what it is but to us gamers, this is excitement and to some this is a way of life.
It’s being part of a community and being a competitor… and it’s an exciting world to be in. I love every time we sit down and fight it out. It’s actually much like when I used to be in martial arts and it’s inspiring me to go back to that world to feel that thrill and rush.
So I’ve begun training myself with some of the people at work on our Wednesday night Street Fighter 4 matches and so far so good. I decided if I wanted to play like the pros I had to be equipped like the pros and so I got a Mad Catz SF4 Tournament stick and had to unlearn YEARS of pad knowledge. It’s been harder then I thought but once I got into a pattern, it really helped bring up my game and now I can throw a fireballs and upper cuts with no problem. I’ve become aware of technical things like hit boxes and frames when it comes to attacks and have learned that this is a lot deeper than I had originally thought. Part of any sport is knowing the history and the technical aspects of it as talent will only get you so far and knowing that it takes dedication to become a contender and eventually a champion. There have been a lot of losses and a few hard earned wins but it’s worth the defeats because I learn something new every time I fight. The knowledge gained from a loss is immeasurable when I think about it and go back to have my coaches analyze me… Yes, I even have coaches. Right now, I’m what’s called a Flowchart Ken in my mind. Sure, that’s a bit of a joke but I’m starting to grasp concepts like spacing and wake up’s and anti airs. I still lose… but now I can feel my game improving every day and with every match.
Eventually when all is said done, we’ll see if all my training pays off but even if it doesn’t, I can take a page from Ryu’s book and continue fighting till I find what I am looking for in the heart of battle.