My family chooses the worst times to take vacations, insofar as there is a bad time to spend two weeks in Hawaii. I really should not complain, but this is a fighting game blog, so let's get on with it.
Our flight departed two days after the greatly anticipated release of Blazblue and between shipping delays and a full day of work/travel, I had only a couple of hours to play it with Pkadden before leaving for the islands. That brief taste made the ensuing wait even more difficult than the past few months have been; even while relaxing on idyllic beaches I could not help but pine for Arakune's gooey embrace. STSD has been rather Street Fighter centric thus far, but Guilty Gear X2 was my first love and Arc System Works' follow-up had induced a fair amount of frothing demand. Expect to see more about BB soon, if I can tear myself away from it long enough to post. Only two days back and the game has already consumed most of my free time.
Compounding the withdrawal was my lack of access to Evo coverage. I was ready to lose an entire weekend watching the stream, but for some reason never bothered to check the actual tournament dates, assuming it to be sometime in August. Consequently, I spent most of the 17th - 19th draining my phone's battery constantly refreshing the site brackets that never updated. Our hotel's crappy connection, coupled with the strain of several thousand other viewers, meant that I only got to watch slideshows of two SFIV matches. In some cruel twist of fate, the live chat worked fine, simultaneously lowering the IQ of all involved and giving no useful information about the event. While not representative of the community as a whole, it was a sad display nonetheless.
The little information that came through felt disjointed, as when semi-final brackets were posted and many of the big names I expected were nowhere to be found. Somehow I ended up on Twitter of all places, as the players' and official Evo feeds were the most consistent source of news to be found, especially towards the end. A forum may have yielded more updates but venturing into SRK for something like this was not terribly appealing.
Miraculously, my flight home landed in time to catch the great Daigo vs Justin grand finals, a much better fight than their contest at GameStop tournament. Is it just me or has Daigo improved considerably of late? I have not been following much Japanese SFIV since the game was released on console, but his Ryu seemed even more impressive than memory tells. The way he moved was simply incredible; it was like watching Poongko wreck some poor fool, but less predictably aggressive and one-sided. Frequent focuses, sloppy but unpunished footsies and, of course, psychic dragon punches made for a veritable whirling dervish of Shoto beat down. That Justin drew out the set as long as he did is quite a feat, but even with the all the whiffed low forwards and narrow comebacks, it was clear the Beast was going to win.
Despite the somewhat foregone conclusion, it was difficult deciding who to root for. On one hand I like the idea of Daigo as this completely dominating, though not unbeatable, figure that everyone is gunning for, it makes for great drama. On the other, America has really stepped up its level of play and deserves recognition and respect. Beating the Japanese would do a lot for the genre's hype and popularity, so here's hoping for a great SBO showing.