Street Fighter V and the Capcom Pro Tour entered a new era on July 31.
Meanwhile, Michael “Bizarro13” Martin (that’s me) didn’t have quite the same level of success as he did in his first major tournament experience at Northwest Majors back in April when he somehow avoided going 0-2. His CPT career is in shambles after getting bodied and exiting the tournament with an 0-2 record. (He will also stop referring to himself in the third person from here on out).
Running a fighting game tournament isn’t easy. Running a 256-player online tournament with ramifications on the CPT is an even more daunting task.
But Alex Valle and his event production company Level|Up (the people responsible for Wednesday Night Fights every week) have been preparing for just this occasion by running online Ultra Street Fighter IV tournaments since last year. I’ve played in and watched a few of Valle’s previous online tournaments, so I entered the CPT Online Ranking Event because I was curious to see how well (or not well) it would go.
It was a little bit of both.
We started out the day by logging into Discord at 9:00 am PT to check in. Well, the majority of us anyway. The spots for the players who didn’t show up went to waitlisted players, which was allegedly well over 100. I expected us to start late, but we managed to get checked in by our bracket groups and my first match started close to on time.
I wanted to get an idea of who I might be playing first. I was originally in Group D and was set to play a Bronze level Laura. That was encouraging.
But then I got moved to Group C and my first match changed. Now I’m playing Curtis “CJShowstopper” Minor Jr. I had no idea he played R. Mika.
I’m dead before it even begins.
I know that’s the worst attitude going into a match, but it’s R. Mika. I struggle with certain match-ups, but none as badly as R. Mika. Hell, even top players complain about the wrestling ace because sometimes there’s just no way to gameplan for her. One hit and you’re in the blender. The next thing you know, you’re in the corner and it’s game over.
There isn’t even much to say about this one. It’s one of the least competitive matches I’ve ever played. I wasn’t salty about the loss. It is what it is. I took my lumps and moved on to the losers bracket.
Unfortunately, this is where things went off the rails.
For some reason, Challonge crashed as soon as everyone went to report the results of their first round matches. It completely stalled the tournament and Valle had to remake the entire 256-player bracket. During that time, some players had dropped out of the event for some reason or another. The whole event was delayed for nearly an hour.
I spent the ensuing hour warming up in ranked matches, Valle updated the participants, threatening that he might need to restart the tournament. That’s the worst case scenario for a tournament that’s already underway. Fortunately, the few player changes that needed to be made were rectified by having those matches played while the rest of the tournament could continue with its results intact.
My loser’s bracket opponent came back just in time for play to resume. This time I faced off against RDU_XaiahNC, a Platinum level Ken player.
Our match was surprisingly competitive. I lost the first round of Game 1 pretty badly but I took round two and felt I had a shot. Unfortunately, when I needed a couple of key anti-airs, I didn’t get them and that was my undoing.
Game 2 started off much better for me as I took round one more convincingly than I would have expected. Everything fell apart in round two, however, and I took a deep breath, praying for something to keep me alive in this set (just as I had done at Northwest Majors when I staved off elimination against the Nash player who said I was “no good.”)
But I blew it. I jumped in with a roundhouse kick and it hit, but I wasn’t expecting it to so I didn’t confirm into any combo that would have killed him. Instead, I tried to throw off of it (which was my intent if he had blocked it) and my throw whiffed over him as he crouched. A back throw from his Ken bounced me right out of the tournament.
These types of losses bother me more than getting trounced by R. Mika. I was in it for the most part and I figuratively (and literally) threw my chance at a win away. But it also served as a key lesson for competitive gamers: good players are keenly aware of situations that present themselves and know exactly how to take advantage of them. If I was ready for that jumping roundhouse to hit, I would have finished him off right there. But I wasn’t, and I left the damage on the table. Perhaps that’s what’s keeping me from improving even more. I need to think a step or two ahead and be prepared to capitalize on those opportunities.
That’s it. I went 0-2 in the CPT Online Ranked Event and I don’t feel good about it. But I did gain some knowledge from the experience and I definitely still prefer to play people in person as opposed to online. That’s where I see the most improvements in my game.
The rest of the tournament seemed to go off without a hitch, with the exception of players periodically being disconnected during matches, some lag issues, and a late finish.
While some remain skeptical, I’m confident online tournaments can work. They won’t be perfect thanks to a variety of issues that can occur at any given time outside the organizers’ and players’ control, but I was surprised and happy with the quality of the top 16 as a spectator. The competition was just as good as any on-site tournament.
And XsK Samurai’s run through top 16 was incredible. He might have played two of the most entertaining matches of the year against Hsien Chang (Necalli) and Ultra Arcade’s TakuyaSugi (Alex), who came out of nowhere to play in grand finals. We might not have ever seen that had it not been for the CPT online tournament.
Michael Martin will see you all at the CPT Regional Finals in Seattle…as a spectator. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.