Ahh, X-Mania. Yes, I did play. Either twice or three times, I can’t actually remember.
The way X-Mania worked (back in 2000 or so) was a 3-on-3 team tournament. You see, in Japan, tournaments aren’t run like in the US. In the US (at least back in my day – mid 90s), you’d generally double blind pick characters. Then, the person who lost would get to change characters while you’d be stuck with yours. This led to a lot of metagaming, and counter character strategies.
In Japan, you picked ONE character and you got ONE game. Needless to say, tournaments were pretty brutal and unforgiving. So the game in Namiki weekly tournaments were a pretty fast affair. Depending on the size, it would either be single elimination or round robin. Game in Namiki tourneys usually had a dozen people attending. With three head to head machines, you’d play everyone else once, and the person with the most wins won the tournament. A very fair system (unlike double elimination, which really only places 1st and 2nd accurately). Brutal, but fair.
So X-Mania was a huge tournament, and worked a little bit differently. You had a team of three players. Every player had one character, and you could order your team however you wanted. Whoever won the game would stay on the machine, and would fight another player from that team. The first team to lose all of their players would lose the game. The tournament was single elimination, so if your team lost, it was sayonara.
I played one year with Kuni, and another gaijin named Joe. I had Boxer, Kuni had Zangief, and Joe had O. Ken.
That year, we did pretty poorly. I went first, with Boxer against the other team’s Honda. This is a match I would rate as advantage Boxer – but it’s very easy to lose. Jumping back fierce hits all torpedoes, and you can do a dashing kick rush to knock any jump in out of the air. Low strong hits the HHS. The main risk is ending up cornered having to block a series of flying “superman” moves, with the threat of oochio throws. So position is the key to the game (imho), and it’s much better to be safe and do blocked damage than to do the risky move and go for big damage. For those of you who play Magic: The Gathering, Honda is the “beatdown” and Boxer is “control”.
Anyways, this was my match to win, and I lost it. I felt really bad about this. Kuni had Zangief next, and as we all know, even the most valiant Zangief is no match for Honda. I’m not sure if Joe won or lost, but we lost the match, and that was it for that X-Mania. I felt so bad – I felt like I had let my team down, and put them in a losing situation. Kuni, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry for letting you down!
Anyways, despite the sour feeling in my stomach, I stuck around to watch the rest of the tournament. It ended up being won by a team with YuuVega playing Dictator, and I’m not sure who else. YuuVega was very good, and deserved to win.
After the tournament, there is a tradition at X-Mania where Kanto and Kansai play against each other in a giant team battle. For those of you unfamiliar with Japan, Kanto and Kansai are where the two largest cities in Japan are located, Tokyo and Osaka respectively. There is a huge rivalry between the two cities/regions, in everything from sports, to politics, to culture. This rivalry extends very much to games, and Street Fighter was no exception!
So after X-Mania, the tradition is that each region forms a giant team. Then the teams go head on in one giant elimination bout. So basically, imagine all the players from the Kanto, and all the players from the Kansai standing in line to play on a machine. All Kanto is on the left and all Kansai is on the right. When a player lost, he was out for good. The battles are projected on a gigantic screen that everyone can see. So each player has his own private machine, and there’s a huge screen towering over everything so that everyone can watch.
Now obviously, in such a situation, you’ve got your great players (Kurahashi, Shooting D, etc), and your “randoms” (Beasley, girls, eight year olds, trained monkeys, etc). The line was more or less mixed, and so you’d get fairly large win streaks when a top player would hold the machine for his side for a large number of games.
Now there is a Kansai player named Tsuji who has a very good Boxer. He’s probably the best Boxer in Kansai, if not Japan. I won’t say the best in Japan, because in my very humble opinion, Tama-chan (Tamashima) and Kurahashi are both incredible. Of course, both Tama-chan and Kurahashi are from Kanto, and I tend to rate the Kanto players higher since I’ve played them and lost first hand :lovin:
Anyways, Tsuji got on the machine, and he started a rampage. He started winning a few games, and then all of a sudden it was a lot. Kurahashi’s turn came up, and there was a huge “oooooohh” from the crowd as the Great One approached the machine. I was sure that that would be the end of Tsuji’s reign. This was a master of epic skill! But, to my dismay, Kurahashi lost. Arrgh! Tsuji was beating everyone, even our best players! His win streak was something like 15… at this rate, it wouldn’t even be a contest. It was unthinkable that Kansai rip through our entire team with ONE PLAYER. I was shocked.
And then, my turn came up. As my name was called, there were a few smattered claps from those that knew me (thanks whoever clapped! Kuni probably ). I was a “random”, certainly not Tokyo’s best. I took a deep breath and sat down on the machine. I wasn’t really nervous. I had lost to some random Honda, not even made it past round one, and I didn’t have any illusions. I just figured I would try to not embarrass the Kanto area.
So the game started, and I just went for the attack. Standing fierces, low strongs into rushes, and ticks without mercy. Hell, if I couldn’t win I would at least throw the hell out of him! I was doing ok, and before I knew it, I had won a round! Yay!! I won a round! I was officially not an embarrassment to Kanto. I could now leave with my head held high.
Round two started, and I don’t remember much except that I lost. I didn’t get creamed, I did some damage, and I felt like I did okay. At this point, the battle was to save face, and lose in dignity, not ignominy.
Round three. Again, I don’t remember much, but I know I hit him with a few standing fierces, and got him cornered. At this point, I went for the trap I had learned from Kurahashi. Jumping strong, low jab x 2, jow strong, dash upper-> buffalo headbutt. It worked! Then I did it again, except that after the dash upper, I just threw. And then I just did a low forward, throw (my favorite! What can I say, the basics work!). I then looked at his lifebar. Oh my god, he had almost no life left! Holy shit!! I dawned on me that I could win this!
Trembling, I stepped back, and did the super motion. Please jesus, don’t screw it up. Don’t screw it up. The super came out in slow motion.
BLARG (4 ticks of life)
BLARG!! (3 ticks)
The screen went bright yellow. My hands were shaking, my arms were shaking. And then I heard it.
A huuuuge cheer came up from the Kanto team. I saw in my peripheral vision arms being raised, and people clapping. I had won! I’d beaten the huge win streak! I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I had represented the Kanto side.
After that, I played a Chun Li player, whom I beat, and then another one, whom I lost to. It didn’t matter. I had done well for my team this time. I felt this sense of euphoria. It was silly, this was just an exhibition “fun” game, but I really felt like all of those countless hours playing had paid off. I had done well.