SBO Travel Report - Long

SBO Travel Report

3-20 Thursday:
Our rat pack leaves San Francisco airport at noon on Wednesday. Finally arrive in Japan after a long 11 hour flight. The local time is Thursday, 5PM. Our party consists of me, David Sirlin, Campbell Tran (Buktooth88) and his girlfriend Jackie, Ben Cureton (tragic), Kim Hahn Hoang (ohayo1234), and David Dial (Gunter). Once we arrive in Japan, Spencer, (FetZ) the Soul Caliber representative, is waiting for us at the terminal. Our group all follow Gunters lead and take a long train ride and finally arrive in Takadanobaba station where the hotel for team USA is located. We eventually unload our stuff and make our way to More Amusements arcade which is THE arcade for Capcom fighters. We meet up with the rest of Team USA there and all go for dinner and drinks. Bas birthday is today and we go back to the hotel afterwards and give him the presents weve brought for him. Some of the gifts included a customized T-shirt from Alex Valle that had Bas written on it and a ghetto T-shirt which you can see a picture of
Oh yeah, cant forget the Triple X movie DVD. Bas saw Triple X in the theaters in the US and thought it was the greatest movie ever. Bas is weird.

3-21 Friday:
Friday night was the 3on3 CvS2 tournament at Sportsland arcade. We had preset teams of Bas/me/ohayo1234 and Valle/Cole/Campbell. I knew we would have disadvantage of playing on Japanese sticks but it turns out that the CvS2 speeds were also different. Ino informed us that the speeds for the machines vary throughout Japan. He said that east and west Japan have different speed settings and even on same speed setting, speeds can vary slightly due to the cabinets voltage setting being different. ?? Strange. Anyway, the speed was slightly lower than default US speed. We noticed it when we first arrived but we eventually got used to it and seemed normal by the time I left Japan.

Everybody had different opinions of the Japanese sticks. I think a lot of it has to do with how much you like the green sticks for Dreamcast. Its probably the closest thing to a Japanese joystick so if you played a lot on green sticks, you should be more comfortable with Japanese sticks. I thought it was exactly the same but Campbell and Kim play on the DC green sticks and informed me that it was not the same. I cant play on the DC green sticks at all so my execution on Japan sticks goes down to shit. Im too used to stiff American sticks where I can really pump my motions for moves. The delicate Japan sticks only require a tiny bit of motion so even something simple as walking back and forth would result in random jumps sometimes. My goal was to do 10 dragon punches in a row but could not do it. And forget trying for clutch uppercuts or supers. The extra motions from the intensity make it more likely for a random move to come out. Anyway, out of everybody, Cole seemed to like Japanese sticks the most with me hating it the most.

The tourney started it was time for Valle/Cole/Campbell teams first match. It is usually standard to have team orders with weakest player first to strongest player last. Not that Cole is weak or anything but they decided on Cole, Valle, and then Campbell team order. Cole started out looking good and beat two players from the opposing team. The last player was able to defeat Cole so Valle stepped up next. He struggled with the stick a bit and lost so Campbell finally came up. Due the different sticks and speed settings, he missed his signature super combo and eventually lost the match so their team was eliminated. This is Japan where everything is one game, single elimination so that was it for them. A bit disappointing to lose because of unfamiliar conditions but what can you do. It can only add to your knowledge base and experience. Besides, the competition there was so fierce that I dont know if we would have fared much better even if we had US sticks and same speed setting. Ino and Morikawa who took 3rd at SBO were both present at the tournament but ended up losing early. Its very difficult to be consistent in a one game, single elimination environment.

My team played soon after that and we decided to play in the order of Kim, me, then Bas. I dont remember exactly but I think this was the match where I won my one and only game. Kim struggled also from Japanese sticks but since he was used to playing on DC green sticks, he had less problems than me. Almost every match resulted in something like me and Kim losing and then Bas stepping up and cleaning up all three opponents. After a couple of games, it was clear that I was the worst player given the situation so we switched orders and I started out every time. I wasnt much help to the team since lost every single match after that but Kim did well and contributed several wins. I felt so helpless on the Japanese sticks. At one point I even lost to a girl and Kim stepped up and took her out. Kim later even took out a top player named Dan(C Ryu/Ken/Sagat). But Bas pretty much carried the entire team. The last 3 matches, Bas had to step up and clean up all 3 opponents. Our team name was Top Players but it should have really been Top Player. :slight_smile: Bas did everything. Here is a link to the results

Ohnuki was at the arcade but did not enter the tournament. Sportsland is a popular arcade for VF4 and he was busy giving out beat downs on it. He went out to dinner with us afterwards and explained that he does not like how his rush team loses to roll cancel turtles. I told him how I changed up my team to better deal with it and he nodded in acknowledgment. He said he still plays occasionally with his new favorite team of N Akuma, Chun, and Sagat. He said he had fun playing against my N team when he was in US for Evolution and requested to play that team against him. I wasnt going to be much of a challenge for him, especially on Japanese sticks, but I obliged. We went back to Sportsland and he unleashed his fury on everyone. He did not look out of form at all. His Akuma was so fast and deadly that I think he got about 8 OCVs out of his 20 game win streak. And I think he had a 7th Raging Demon button on his side of the cabinet. He landed an average of like 3 per game. And Valle swore that his Akuma ran twice as fast as other Akumas.
After about an hour of domination, Ino was finally able to take him out of his win streak. Ohnukis rush is very polished and very deadly. Several players agreed that he is still very dominating and would probably be the best player if there was no roll cancel.

3-22 Saturday
The tournament location was about an hour and a half away from our hotel. And we had to be there early by 7:30AM since the last chance qualifying tournaments would start then. So we got up around 5AM and made our way to the tournament. The setup for the tournament was the best I have ever seen. 3 huge projected screens stood behind a big main stage with smoke machines and spotlights worthy of a rock band concert. The finalists for each game were introduced one by one on stage and interviewed by an MC. Before each fight, the players would enter through a smoke filled stage with the players profile and bio displayed on the huge screens. Fireworks were in place and were set off after the conclusion of each tournament. It was incredible. The tournament booklet was 65 full color pages with pictures of every single qualifier, brackets, game description, interviews, and favorites to win each tournament. Ino told us beforehand that SBO was not a tournament, it was a show. We didnt quite understand what he meant until we arrived. Oh yeah, Campbells picture was in tournament booklet but with a misprint in his name. They spelled it Champbell. So for the rest of the week, he was known as CHAMPbell by everybody. :slight_smile:

The CvS2 qualifiers were about to begin so everybody got ready. A mini side stage was set up with 4 pairs of CvS2 cabinets. The qualifier started and Kim, Cole, Valle, and Tragic all entered but had to play on Japanese sticks and didnt fare too well. The qualifier soon concluded and the final CvS2 tournament was ready to begin. The SBO staff were well prepared and basically brought a small pit crew over to install American joysticks and a customized panel on one of the Japanese cabinets. A brand new 360 joystick was installed and the US side of the cabinet was ready to go. The match was displayed on the big screen for everyone to see. Campbell had a tough bracket draw and started out facing a well known player named Dan who plays C Ken/Ryu/Sagat. Campbell selected his N Iori/Morrigan/Hibiki team and started off well with Iori but when his Morrigan stepped up, he had some problems doing repeated fast dashes. His Morrigan is known for fast Magneto like overheads but he could not pull them off correctly. Probably a combination of factors such brand new joystick that needs to be broken in, different speed setting, and just an unfamiliar surrounding. The game was close but Dan came out victorious.

It was my turn to play next and I drew a player that played K Nakoruru/Mai/Sagat. I suffered a similar fate. I went in very cold and it was the first time that I got to even use an American joystick in several days. I think the stick functioned fine but I was just not ready to play. I barely got to my opponents last character where I mistimed my low jab, low jab, low strong link with Chun and eventually died and was eliminated from the tournament. Oh well. Maybe Ill try my hand at last chance Super Turbo qualifiers.


The last chance Super Turbo qualifiers were started at the same time as final CvS2 and I was supposed to enter with Derek Daniels (omni) and Bas. But since I was playing my CvS2 match, we were disqualified and not allowed to enter. The SBO show had a rigid schedule to adhere to and could not wait for anyone. A bit disappointing but the show must go on.

The CvS2 tournament went ahead with some upsets as usual. The ruthless, one game, single elimination format results in lots of upsets. With the US competitors out of the picture for CvS2, we all pretty much cheered for Bas to win. He was doing well and breezed through his first 2 matches. On his 3rd match, he was totally ahead of his opponent who had his last character of P Rugal in. Bas A Bison came in to play and opened the round with a scissor kick in which the Rugal player parried then instantly went into the wall press super. This basically turned the tide of the match and the Rugal player defeated and eliminated Bas. Ruthless tournament.

We then shifted our cheering focus to Ino. Ino still prefers his rush down K team and takes pleasure in defeating roll cancel turtles. He is very fast and combines his great Just Defend skills along with all kinds of little trickery to take opponents out. He is very fun to watch. Probably the most exciting match during the final 8 was Ino vs. Tokido. Two great things stand out in my mind. One was where Tokido charged up his A groove meter fully then attempted to do free Sakura custom against Inos K Cammy. Sakura can activate Custom then do repeated fierce DPs which will chip away about 35% before crushing guard then do an additional 20% damage before meter runs out. Basically free 50% damage against P or K groove which have no alpha counter. Tokido got near Ino then activated his custom and attempted to start the chip damage. Ino Just Defended the first hit of the custom then immediately DPed to knock Sakura out of her custom. The crowd went wild.

Later on in the match with Tokidos Sakura vs. Inos Blanka, Sakura had Blanka trapped in the corner with repeated roll cancel hurricanes. K groove can Just Defend all the hits of Sakuras hurricane but can not reliably hit her back afterwards. Sakura can simply start up her hurricane again. Ino knew this and after Just Defending 3 hits of the hurricane, he hopped FORWARD immediately to go through Sakura and escape the deadly corner. Once again another crowd pleaser.

Although the finals of CvS2 wasnt a good representation, Daigos Guile is really good and commands respect. His defense is almost impenetrable. His Guile is so scary that Tokido changed his usual Blanka2 anchor to start the match to get rid of Guile. I thought this was a gamble but it paid off for Tokido since he was able to get rid of crucial Guile and match up Sakura against Chun and Sagat. Chun has a hard time against Sakura since she doesnt have a good way to stop her dive kicks. He was able to shut down Daigos Chun then out turtled Sagat to victory. C Sagat has good damage from any opening but lacks the mobility to break through some of the elite defensive tactics. He has to slowly wear down his opponents but its hard to wear down an opponent who is Tokido.

Next was the KOF finals where a Japanese player upset the favored Korean player in the finals. I dont know anything about the game or the scene so all I could do was cheer for the Korean. :slight_smile:

Soul Caliber 2 is a very pretty game and thus exciting to watch. The US representative FetZ did very well and made it to final 4. It looked like he could have taken the whole thing but Japanese tournaments allow no room for error and he lost a close match to the winner of the tournament. But he made an impressive showing and earned lots of respect from the crowd. Good job FetZ.

Saturday portion of SBO concluded around 8 and I thought it was time to go home. But Bas informed me that a nearby arcade was holding a CvS2 tournament. After a long 12 hour day at such a huge event, it seemed unlikely people would be interested in going to a small local tourney. But it turns out that almost all the SBO finalists were attending. Note: Tournaments in Japan are far different than tournaments in US. The US is so huge and major arcades and tournaments are spread apart so its hard to attend tournaments all the time. Hence people want more for their money when they do make the effort to go. They want multiple game sets, double elimination, prize money, etc. Arcades are plenty in Japan so a tournament is just a few stops away on the train, it costs virtually nothing to enter (100 yen or about 80 cents since machines are on free play for tourney), and there is no prize money (it is considered gambling and not allowed). So tournaments there are more frequent and casual. Who cares if its single elimination, one game? If you lose, its no big deal. Just come back to another one in a couple of days.

So several of us went to the tourney with Bas. We saw Ino there along with numerous other SBO players. We all lost early on then quickly left to go eat ramen. A very different mentality and atmosphere than the US.

3-23 Sunday:
We were very tired from the previous day and slept in a bit so we missed the earlier rounds of the tournament. Made it in time to see the finals though.

3S: US team did really well but eventually lost to a top ranked team. A female player named Yukino (cute!) went on to defeat both Daigo and Raoh. Izus Makoto ran through everybody in finals. After Izu won the tournament, he said in his interview that he studied tape footage of his opponents in order to break them down with Makotos attack patterns. Guess it paid off.

Super Turbo: Kurahashis amazing Guile was able to defeat Dhalsim in the finals to take the gold for his team. I sort of wanted Guile to lose to Dhalsim so Daigo can come in with his Ryu. Daigo made crazy comebacks earlier on in the day with his famous Ume-shoryu. Apparently, Daigo lands so many psychic DPs that the Japanese have coined the term Umehara Shoryuken or Ume-shoryu for short. I would see what they were talking about a few days later at More Amusements

GGXX: I know nothing about the game but it looked cool. :slight_smile:

VF4: I know nothing about this either but the finals had a team with 2 girls and 1 guy. One of the girls was pretty cute too.
The tournament weekend was finally over and we all went out for food and drinks and just crashed out.

3-24 Monday:
Bas took us to Harajuku area to shop. We stopped by a ramen place to eat which Bas said was Daigos favorite place. After eating, we thought the place was mediocre. We all asked, How can Daigo like this place? Bas replied with, Daigo is weird. Indeed.

The Southern California crew was scheduled to leave the next day. So they all decided to go out clubbing to Roppongi area which is the foreigner district. Ive been to Roppongi area before so I wasnt interested. I hung out with the Bas crew and bought some drinks and just kicked back at the hotel and eventually fell asleep. We got woken up in the middle of the night by one of team members that went clubbing because he wanted to collect all the alcohol we had, for some drinking games in the other room. We were not about to relinquish our alcohol until we heard what it was for. They returned to the hotel with 3 Japanese girls from the club. The trains stopped running so the girls were stuck at the hotel until morning when the trains would start back up again. Hrm. We deemed this was for a good cause and gave up our alcohol. In the morning when I woke up I found other team members that were staying in the other room sleeping on the floor of my room. Apparently, it was so that some of the others would have the rooms to themselves with the girls. NICE! Now thats what I call a team effort.

3-25 Tuesday:
What else is there? Played some games, ate some ramen, played more games, went shopping, played more games, went drinking, then fell asleep. Just another normal day in Japan.

3-26 Wednesday:
Some of the crew went to Tokyo Disneyland. I went to Tokyo tower with omni and Bas and later went to Asakusa Temple where random birds rushed us down. There is a tiny little booth where you can buy bird feed from and as soon as you release the food, 50 birds will surround you and rush you down.

In the evening we went to Shibuya and met up with Kurahashi and went to go eat sushi. The line was long but once we got in, every plate of sushi was just 100 yen (80 cents)! The place was crowded so we could not sit together. Bas who is the translator sat far away from me. I sat next to Kurahashi who does not speak English. Through lots of body language and broken Japanese/English, we had a good time.

Later through a translator, he basically said Old Sagat is cheap and thats why people dont really use him. Its very interesting to hear since Japan does not ban infinites on A3, roll cancel abuse on CvS2, unblockables in 3S, yet thinks Old Sagat is cheap. He also told me that there is a famous New Sagat player in Japan who can beat pretty much anyone. But when that player picks Old Sagat, no one can even touch him. I asked him why that guy doesnt win every tournament with Old Sagat. He replied with something to the effect of Old Sagat is too cheap/no fun so that is the reason that guy plays with New Sagat. Hrm.

We finish our meal and Kurahashi ate 9 plates. Me being the fat American, I finished 13. Then Bas finishes his meal with his skinny friend named Ochi who is like 90 pounds. Ochi claims he ate 15 plates. Hrm. Ochi is cheap.

3-27 Thursday:
We went shopping at Akihabara, the electronics district then ended up doing what all good FOBs must do at one point in their lives karaoke! The karaoke crew included the likes of Otaku, a famous K groove player, omni, bas, and Mike Creque. We had 2 separate rooms so I did not get to see Mike Creque singing. (Note: Mike Creque is a big black guy) I would have paid money to see Mike Creque sing. :slight_smile:

Bas who is a Metallica fan wants to sing Until It Sleeps with me. I cant sing worth shit but this is Bas asking me so I can not refuse. Heck, I would have sung Britney Spears if he asked me to. I butcher the song completely but Im relieved since I can sit out for another round of songs. Then Otaku wants to trade song requests with me and omni. He says hell sing a Japanese song if well sing an English song for him. Once again, we can not refuse. Otaku sings the DragonballZ theme song for us. He puts on his sunglasses, stands up, and really sings his heart out like a rock star. Omni and I are intimidated. He then asks us to sing a Beatles song for him. He does not know the title but knows some of the lines. We tell him to sing it and he sings the following: Help, I need somebody Now since Im a FOB, I vaguely know this song. But omni being the true white boy from Indianapolis knows this song by heart. Omni does an ok job singing but I manage to butcher every note and line. We do not have sunglasses. We do not stand up. We mumble the songs from our seats. Otaku and Bas give us overwhelming applause regardless. Good thing this wasnt taped. I can just imagine us on American Idol getting chewed out by ok, enough of horrible Thursday.

3-28 Friday:
My final night in Japan. I leave on Saturday morning. Bas insists we have to eat at his favorite ramen place which is known for huge portions. We wait over an hour in line to eat at this ramen place. I never thought I would wait in line for an hour just to eat noodles. Indeed the portion is huge and I can not finish it. Then I look over at skinny Bas bowl and he finished everything. Bas is cheap.

We are all hanging out at More Amusements in the evening when Bas comes over and tells me Daigo wants to go eat with me. We go to a nearby place where Daigo has a ticket voucher which lets us get free ice cream with our meals. NICE! I was thinking about ordering this hamburger steak dish when Daigo recommends some other dish. I choose the Daigo dish. :slight_smile:

He asked me lots of questions asking about other famous US players, hotspot arcades, how long I have been playing for, and etc. I then gave him compliments on his unusual style of play and mentioned that he made a lasting impression on the US with his visit for A3. I asked him if he was interested in coming to the US again. His response was lackluster and he said he was sort of interested if another US vs. Japan was planned. But later on when he heard about how much money Tokido and Jason Cole made for winning CvS2 and ST at Evolution, his eyes lit up. Tokido and Cole won about $2000 and $1000 respectively. I mentioned to him that if he came to Evolution and won CvS2 and ST, he could have been $3000 richer. His eyes lit up at this point. Daigo is 21 years old and is now working a part time job to support his gaming habit. Winning that kind of money for tournaments in Japan is unheard of. He said he would try to make it and even asked me if a final date was set yet. Hrm. Daigo the money beast.

I also mentioned to him that videos of him are hard to find and are in high demand. I told him about how some of the Japanese players brought over tournament footage in the past and sold it in the US. I mentioned more money opportunities for him so he said if he were to come, hell try to bring along a video compilation of him. Yay.

I thanked him for an interesting Q&A session and paid for him and Bas meal. Then I said I wanted to play some CvS2 against him so we went back to More Amusements and he went on to get almost a 40 game win streak against everyone with C Ken/Sagat/Guile2. I got to see lots of Ume-shoryu in action. He plays so differently from anyone Ive seen. I cant really describe it. He just stands there and does not even walk back and forth. Literally stands there with the stick in neutral sometimes and suddenly his moves just randomly hit you. Hopefully Daigo can come to America again and people can see firsthand what he is really like.

3-29 Saturday:
My nice vacation has finally come to an end and Kuni graciously drives me and Sirlin to the airport where we all have lunch and disembark.

Well, thats about it for the trip report. Back to the normal life until the next big tournament.

No words can truly describe the experiences you get in Japan. The people, the food, the games, and the atmosphere are just so different. No words can really describe how Daigo, Ohnuki, Bas, Ino, and etc. are really like in person and in the game. Hopefully there will be another opportunity for everyone to see them in action. Perhaps next Evolution? Until then

Much thanks to Bas, Kuni, Ochi, and rest of team Japan for taking such good care of us. I hope to see you all soon.

John Choi

I too would’ve paid any amount of money to see Mike Creque sing karaoke.

No words can truly describe the experiences you get in Japan. The people, the food, the games, and the atmosphere are just so different. No words can really describe how Daigo, Ohnuki, Bas, Ino, and etc. are really like in person and in the game. Hopefully there will be another opportunity for everyone to see them in action. Perhaps next Evolution? Until then

Wow. Thx choi im gona cry =`(:frowning:

Very well said Choi!

I enjoyed that read. Here’s hoping to Daigo at Evo2003

Cheers! :cool:

Glad to see you had a good time John:)

One of the best logs i read in a long time. Really makes you get excited when you think about SBO.

Crosses fingers that Daigo will attend EVO 2003

Also crosses fingers that OMNI will create a log. Omni = tier 1 for logs.

Nice report. Heh, surprised that he didn’t know that Americans play for money. Now I guess He’ll come down and take all our money. Depending on who else comes for GGXX… But still glad to hear that he’s interested.

Chaotic Blue

Very nice log John.

I appreciate you sharing your experiences with the SRK community. It almost feels like we’re there with you, haha :smiley:

Man, I really want to goto Japan after reading that. I seriously need to go. That would be so awesome to hang out with Daigo, Ino, and all of those Japanese players. Glad you had a good time.

Thanks for writing this! I love logs.

Daigo thinking about coming to US for the $$$… too good. lol

thank you for that wonderful post.

I get the impression that you guys are very close to the japanese players as friends. Always hanging out with all the jap top players and so on. I don’t mean just playing another in tournament or arcades, but going out and eating for example. keep up the great relationship :slight_smile:

Great thread. Does sound pretty killer, although I venture to say that those of us without such great Japanese contacts might have a much different time of it…

For the 3s fans KO will be coming to evo and izu will be going to the next n-cubed…

good read. so sf players get booty too, huh? :smiley:

sweet, that is good to hear. Kind of guessed Izu was coming to N-cubed this year. He kicked our asses last year. Why not do it again?:lol: Izu and the rest of his team were a lot of fun last time and can’t wait to see them again.:slight_smile:

We may not be able to send a huge SF force out to japan. But where else can you make 3g’s legally in two days of SF. The american dream is so beautiful… (sheds a tear) :smiley: GO USA.

Zass said in another thread that ST has been out so long, everyone is pretty much set on whats cheap so they feel confident in doing that.

Nice reading. Choi you speak english probably better than anyone I know. The trip sounded amazing, I wish I could’ve seen the japanese play.