Monday, July 17, 2017

EVO 2017

It was a game-less weekend save for a single match of Worms with one of the short people that live in my house and I feel refreshed, if only slightly. Nothing made me angry over the weekend, nothing raised by blood pressure, nothing forced me to check myself before controllers were hurled across the room. I hung out with family, drank a bit and watched some of EVO 2017. Less than I would I have liked, but only because what I was interested in was on at the wrong time.

Or too late and I fell asleep.

Friday night was King of Fighters XIV. I did not have a horse in the race but the game is always fun to watch. The meta seems to have shifted since last year (less Nakoruru and more Kula) but there have been at least two patches plus a visual overhaul. It looks better but still behind everything else. I did not make it to the end of top eight, a refrain that will be repeated once more with more tragic results.

Saturday during the day I caught some Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (take that, autocorrect!) and the game is as inscrutable as ever. I recognized individual parts of what people were doing but how it fit together was a mystery. Guilty Gear is the best looking fighting game around right now and will remain so until Dragonball FighterZ comes out next year. I almost wish I still played it.

Sunday morning I managed to catch the finals of the last ever Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 major tournament. If I remember correctly the early day of MvC3 were dominated by Dark Phoenix, a character that only appears if you have Phoenix on your team and five full bars when she dies. She was OP, at least in the beginning, in spite of her quickly draining health pool. I do not remember who used her but she won a lot. People hated her.

The game evolved and solutions were found. I cannot even pretend to know enough about Marvel to go over many other popular teams, but Phoenix and was replaced. Just about everyone played Virgil. Zero showed up and was a problem. Doom became ubiquitous. There was even success with team Big Body - Hulk, Haggar and Sentinel. Last year Chris G got his win with Morri-Doom: Morrigan/Doom/Sentinel.

He was back this year in the finals but lost to RyanLV's Chun L/Morrigan/Phoenix. And the last match of course came down to Dark Phoenix showing up. Full circle.

Tekken 7's result was apparently predictable. All I saw were super-human Korean's doing things that are impossible for mere mortals. Tekken is hard, too hard for me, but watching the best in the world do anything is always enjoyable. Unlike most other tournaments that make me want to play the game once it is done watching world class Tekken has opposite effect. It is like watching tight rope walkers and saying 'Yeah, I can do that.' Np, I can't, but I will watch someone else take that risk.

This was the first EVO that saw an American player coming in as the favorite: Punk. I do not know much about Punk. He plays a very efficient Karin, is not very emotional and is a sweet, summer child at the age of 18. He came into top eight on winners side with the weight of a country's expectations on his shoulders and the following tweet dogging him:

Tokido was on losers side of top eight. Punk put him there.

Punk's first opponent in top eight was Itabashi Zangief. He thought that Zangief was a bad match up for Karin so he pulled out a pocket Nash and beat Itabashi, 3-0. Tokido snuck past Filipino Champ, someone who no one even considered for top eight other than Champ himself, in the best match I have seen in a long, long time, 3-2.

Winners finals was Punk again Kazunoko, the 2015 Capcom Cup Champion. He made it look simple, 3-0. Then he had to wait. And watch.

Tokido continued on his quest for revenge, beating Nuckle Du, last year's Capcom Cup Champ, Itabashi Zangief and finally Kazunoko. They were not close matches but I would not call Tokido's performance as dominant. It was also during his loser's final match again Kazunoko that yours truly fell asleep. I am a tired old man.

Because I have no self control I looked up the results before watching the replay. Tokido won, resetting the brackets against Punk. How could this be? The answer is simple: experience. Tokido has been playing fighting games for longer than Punk has been alive. He has been on the EVO stage before and lost. He has studied yoga in an effort to control his nerves, to calm his breathing, to be able to play his very best when it mattered most.

Tokido reset the bracket, 3-1, and Punk cracked. There was no hope and everyone in the building, from James Chen at the commentary desk to the scrubs in the back row, knew it. The reset went 3-0.

I watched the awards ceremony and was amazed at how well Punk held it together. He is 18. I was an idiot at 18. So were you. So is everyone. He was obviously upset but he stood tall, accepted and wore the medal, generally behaving like more of an adult than F Champ was just a few feet to his right. I hope that his loss does not affect him for long.

On the bright side, it was good to see Tokido win. When asked if he had anything more to say he took the mic:

'Fighting games are great.'

The audience cheered. James Chen (and Seth Killian, holed away on the ESPN broadcast) wept. And it was done for another year. I'm still retired.

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