There were certainly some recognizable ladies I saw at the tournament since they were girlfriends of some of SoCal's best players as they coached them to do well in the event. It was an wide open tournament in terms of who would win in the end, but some clearly had the confidence to take it like Ciji aka StarSlay3r (played as Sagat), coached by her boyfriend, the one and only Mike Ross (pic of them above along with ComboJack). Early on, it seemed like the Russian invasion as I think a fourth of the field was using Zangief and I can tell that the other competition hates a dangerous Zangief player that knows what's she doing using Lariats and Spinning Pile Drivers to get easy victories. Eventually, players learned to take advantage of Zangief's weaknesses using spacing and the matchups to their advantage like Ciji and Stacy, aka the manager of AI. The other theme of the tournament that I noticed besides the Zangief show, was Chun-Li's jump crossup kick being dominant for the first half of the tournament by some Chun player (Louise I think), but eventually the competition figured out how to counter it. Most of the field that consisted of sixteen ladies were indeed trained by fellow AI regulars to make them competitive players. Also expect video of the matches at top 8 and beyond with commentary by Gootecks, Shoo, and KillerKai soon.
Yesterday was also a great opportunity to hang out with the SoCal SF4 community seeing the usual folks like Keno, Mike Ross, Gootecks, KillerKai, shglbmx, Kyrojenix, Luka, Jack, and more. Keno, his girlfriend Teresa (second pic above), who also competed in the tournament playing as Balrog, and I were talking to Gootecks (I'm in the background in the first pic above) about his "shimmy" dance he did at the GameStop tournament and how it is so godlike. Seriously Ryan, don't be embarrassed for the "shimmy" its amazing! I also chatted with Mike Ross about his win at last Thursday's Shadaloo Lounge tournament in Chinatown LA (also promoting the Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li movie release on DVD & Blu-Ray) and him living a "nerd fantasy" of three Chun-Lis giving him 2,000 dollars for the win. Mike told me he just wanted to go home when that happened, but still Mike, you're still living a "nerd fantasy," be proud of it! Even though I was told from many people that Shadaloo Lounge event wasn't all that even with the open bar and also Devastation the other weekend, I still overheard Gootecks going crazy on how two of the Chun-Lis were fine as hell (lol Ryan). At that rate, Gootecks might as well get one of those Chun-Lis to appear at Bar Fights #2 and also get a female 2 on 2 exhibition match going too.
Other highlights of the tournament consisted of JayJay (first pic above) getting her drink on and hype with her Akuma landing Raging Demons as well as shouting out the first "You Just Don't Know!!!" of the day. I expected someone to say YJDK more than once and I got that as I looked at Mike Ross when it happened and we were like nodding our heads "Yup!!" The hype quickly rose up near the end of the tourney with Naomi and Teresa's match as it was intense stuff and it never died down since. Ciji and Stacy (second pic above) really stepped up their game in the losers bracket after being sent there and when the two faced off at losers semis, I thought it would be the match of the night and it was when Stacy pulled off an "Eagle Eye Ultra" once Ciji did a Tiger Knee which cost her the match. In the end, it was Miyuki, who played Abel and knew how to play him well using his command throw along with his crouching fierce to ultra combo to win the tournament defeating Stacy's Bison. The bonus challenge was a "boss fight" against AI regular Tatsu who decided to play Ken instead of his main Vega. Tatsu tried to do Ken's "empire" combo in the end, but failed as Miyuki won that match. After the tournament ended, Get Your Tournament did post-game interviews with some of the entrants as Gootecks asked about how the tournament went for them and what not.
Then it was the "after party" at the bay that is filled with bananas, otherwise known as Banana Bay. This is the first time I decided to go to Banana Bay after an AI tournament and realized what I have missing out on as it was awesome times. Besides the food (Thai Fried Rice!!!) and drinks like Thai Iced Tea, decided not to go crazy with the alcohol, craziness ensued in the place. More of the known SoCal SF players showed up such as Sanchez, Kai, Mr. Bean, and more to eat along with most of the folks from the tournament. I felt like my mind was blown just being at Banana Bay witnessing the shenanigans for myself like Kryojenix and Tatsu dancing together near the music stage, some of the female competitors dancing together as well, and ComboJack doing his karaoke thing rapping the Ludacris verse from Usher's "Yeah." Damn, that was some good times and the night is not even over yet.
After Banana Bay, fellow AI regular Warren told us about this random place called Tea Bar nearby where it also has midway-like basketball with tournament settings. So most of us decided to go there and check it out as it felt like an actual midway arcade with basketball and those claw things for stuffed toys like Yoshis, mushrooms, and Kirbys. The basketball game they have consists of scoring more points to advance further by rounds as it requires specific coins provided by the staff to play, which is a dollar. After knowing about this place now, it seems to be the new spot to go to after Banana Bay on tournament days or just any other ordinary day at AI.
All in all, the Ladies of Street Fighter IV tournament is a huge success at Arcade Infinity with an amazing turnout of competitors as a first all-girl tourney at AI along with the numerous spectators like me as if we were watching a normal AI Ranbat tournament. The HYPE was everywhere from the tournament, to Banana Bay, and then Tea Bar. It is always awesome times hanging out with the SoCal SF4 community and they are nice people to chat even for a little bit. Congratulations to all the ladies who competed, everyone who showed up to watch and support the scene, and especially Shoo for throwing this amazing event together (Interview with him and his girlfriend Naomi, who finished tied for 7th at the bottom at this post). More photos (specifically the photo shoot before the tourney) are up courtesy of Karaface, who does an awesome job at these events, and the usual AI videos of matches with commentary in the coming days as well. So yeah, it was an awesome day and once again it was nice seeing everyone there.
Photos by Kara and other video by the AI YouTube channel / Get Your Tournament (more interviews with the ladies such as the champ Miyuki, the runner-up Stacy the AI manager, and JayJay the drunken master at their YouTube channel).
Also, the AI Blog for official results and more...