Alright, I should of wrote this earlier, but oh well (busy with things like school and Uncharted 2 - so good!). Anyway, I was at Pasadena again for Street Fighter Bar Fights II, aka the sequel to Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez's brainchild of an epic Street Fighter event. As if the first one was crazy enough, Bar Fights II was a crazy success among how many people showed up (the line was already long three hours before it actually started). Luckily, I bought myself a VIP pass to skip that line and go straight in to Jake's, again the venue for this event, to the VIP area. It was a Street Fighter IV-filled weekend for me because it was like I disappeared within the SoCal scene for two weeks and it felt like a long time. From Friday night at Arcade Infinity as Arturo "Sabin" Sanchez was wrecking dudes fresh off his level up campaign at Japan (I did play him one game and got wrecked as well), to the big show itself it was just a great time seeing all my friends from the SoCal Street Fighter scene as well as meeting new faces too.
Even some of the big wigs of the scene recognized me like Dogface, who MCed the event again, as that guy is cool and energetic every time I see him providing the jokes during the event (Dogface Show is returning soon too = Yes!), and James "JChensor" Chen, who has been around the scene for like forever as well. I also had a chance to meet the East Coast peeps "aka team Empire Arcadia" like Arturo, who I mentioned already, Marn, who I saw already at West Coast Warzone winning that and loves California (yes he does), Sanford Kelly, arguably the best Cammy player in the U.S., "ILoveU" Joe, the non-Empire member there and the East Coast's best Sagat player, and the man himself Justin Wong, now with brown hair. They're all nice dudes once you get to know them. Along with East Coast coming to town, NorCal and San Diego is there as well from Magus1234, who switched to Zangief from Viper the last time I saw him at West Coast Warzone, Filipino Champ, aka the hypest Filipino I know from Northern California rocking the Dhalsim, Yeb, aka the Gen master, and the infamous MarkMan himself from SDTekken.com and MadCatz. I chatted with MarkMan for a bit about the event itself and of course Tekken 6, since it will be the hotness at the end of the month (more on that later). Other than that, it was just great catching up with friends I haven't seen in weeks like Ciji aka StarSlay3r, who I haven't seen since the Ladies of SF4 tournament being busy with the Guitar Hero/Rock Band thing, traveling to PAX/Mexico/Japan, and more, as well as Mike Ross, still the nicest man you'll ever meet, and others. Of course it is nice seeing the regulars again from Keno, his girlfriend Teresa (her birthday was that day as that couple looked fabulous there), Shoo and his girlfriend Naomi (picture of those four above), Sherryjenix (aka "No You Cannot!"), Sanchez, Luka, Bebop, Dae, KillerKai, Colin aka Fade Out, ComboJack, Jeremy aka Vicious (aka "twin?"), DJ Vest, Hugo101, Vic the Slick, ChaiThai, Warren, Anna, the Get Your Tournament crew (Glenn, Kara, AJ, Kelly, and Cami), and many more I probably can't remember now.
The Beat A Pro Challenge returned and started off the event as there were lots of stations for players to face off against the main eventers (Justin, Alex Valle, Sanford, Arturo, Joe, Marn, Mike Ross, Edma, Ken I, and Combofiend) for an opportunity to win 100 bucks. I didn't really go there to attempt to do so since it was crowded like mad with players playing and watching. I think at that time I was just hanging out at the VIP area drinking a beer or something like that. I did stop by the area once in time to see Joe lose once and randomly played a game against Gootecks with the MadCatz SE sticks (that went quick and I lost). There were also drawings throughout the event for prizes like posters, shirts, stick art, and the grand prize being two Round 2 Tournament Edition sticks autographed at the main eventers (Dope!!! and I didn't win = :C) After Beat a Pro, the exhibition matches started proper as I hanged out with Bebop, Luka, and Ultradavid to watch the shenanigans unfold on top of pool tables (no joke).
Magus1234 (Zangief) & Filipino Champ (Dhalsim) def. UTJ (Dhalsim) & (Bryant the Tyrant) - These guys started things off and they were good matches. At first, seeing Magus switch to Zangief from Viper was crazy to me, but it seemed like he got his Zangief skills on lock beating Johann "UTJ" and Bryant easily. Bryant has been on the rise with his Balrog knowing how to do "jab ultra consistently" (I think). Seeing the Dhalsim mirror between Filipino Champ and UTJ was interesting as well since mirror matches are pretty self-explanatory. GS to NorCal for winning this one.
Yeb (Gen) defeats Tatsu (Vega) 5-2 - This matchup between these two is one I wanted to see because not features two characters you don't expect and two of the most talented players in SoCal. It is always great seeing Yeb's Gen in action executing his chop combos with ease (using his stick as a piano), but Tatsu's Vega is no slouch being the premier Vega in SoCal. Once Yeb got things going, it is hard for Tatsu to bring things back as you can hear Bebop getting advice left and right. Vega let Gen jump in too much and that could of been countered by standing roundhouse I think. Anyway, the match video is available to check out below, but these two players put on a great show with the two most unexpected characters.
Killerkai defeats shglbmx to become the new Roseball champion - Roseball "aka THIS GAME IS SO GOOD as Kai would say it" returned in better form as more Rose mindgames were put on the table other than standard Roseball. From EX reflects, FADCs, and other stuff, it looked Roseball evolved into something else. Anyway, Eliver "Killerkai" Ling took this one home against now former champ shglbmx. Yes, Roseball is still hella exciting to watch once the rallies go longer.
Kai (El Fuerte) defeats Shady K (Ryu) - This match was announced the night before, but it was a still a great match with these guys regardless. Kai still has the best Fuerte that I know of (and apparently still hates Street Fighter IV) and Shady K has been a consistent top player in the SF4 scene lately finishing top 8 at Evo with his Akuma, but decided to go to Ryu this time. Except going with Ryu didn't work in his favor as people thought Kai's Fuerte shenanigans brought him the victory.
Team East Coast (Marn, "ILoveUJoe," Sanford, Arturo, and Justin Wong) def. Team West Coast (Mike Ross, Ken I, Combofiend, Edma, and Alex Valle) 10-1.
The main event is what we have been waiting for since Evo 2009 and it turned out to be complete and total annihilation by the East Coast over the West Coast (as Glenn from GYT says, "Murder's Row"). I did expect EC to win it because of their stacked lineup by a close margin over WC, but I didn't expect the complete ownage they laid out. At first, there were signs of hope with Mike Ross (Honda) against Marn (Viper), but Marn laid out first blood from the get go. Ken I (Rufus) couldn't do anything against Joe's "safe" Sagat playstyle and Combofiend going with Abel against Sanford's Cammy was an interesting choice as Sanford's Cammy rushdown was too much for Peter to get things going. Another sign of hope of Edma (Akuma) nailing a Raging Demon ultra through Arturo's (Dhalsim) ultra which made the crowd go crazy. Then, Justin (Rufus) defeated Alex Valle (Ryu) easily to close out the 1st set and sweep for the East Coast.
The West Coast team was allowed to change up their order for the second set, but it still was not enough to beat the East Coast team's domination. The last sign of hope for the West Coast team was Alex barely beating Joe preventing the total sweep as if WC still had a chance, but nope. Sanford beats Combo again, Arturo defeats Ken I despite the matchup not being in Dhalsim's favor, Justin owned Ed, and then Marn finished it off against Alex. It was still a great main event to watch, but seeing East Coast destroying the West Coast easily demoralized the crowd into silence. Still though, GS to Marn, Joe, Sanford, Arturo, and Justin for getting it done while the West Coast team had a "bad day at work" as Alex Valle would say it. The East Coast/West Coast smack talk on internet forums escalated again after this happened the way it did and those who support the EC deserve to talk smack after the dominating performance. Despite that, it is still a game and we all love it, but if Evo and West Coast Warzone weren't wakeup calls for the top SoCal players, Bar Fights II definitely was.
After the main event ended, people started to leave even though a bonus challenge for the winning East Coast team was laid out by Gootecks with another team of five (himself, Tatsu, Yeb, Kai, and Shady K). The EC guys were allowed to use their secondary or other characters so Sanford used Dan as an example and Justin used Fei Long. It was getting a late too on a Sunday, so I left before that went going. This contest went a little better for the West Coast, but East Coast still won using their other characters.
In the end, Bar Fights II was a great event regardless of the results with East Coast coming in to our house and owning. I had a great time personally just hanging out with all my friends in the whole Street Fighter scene as they are great people and having drinks as well. Get Your Tournament provided the amazing coverage for the event from photos, videos, interviews, and podcasts. The event was handled better than last time from the VIP area, free drinks, free appetizers from Jake's, streaming of the matches, and more. Thanks again to Gootecks and the crew that helped for putting ever another amazing event as well as my friends for more good times. As for what's next for me with Street Fighter IV? Well, I'm taking a break from the game to focus more on Tekken 6 since console versions are out at the end of the month and the SoCal arcade scene is slowly evolving seeing more people compete in Video 94 tournaments. I'm willing to get better at Tekken again by playing more against the regulars and hopefully learning a thing of two other than improving on fundamentals (spacing, techs, okis, hit confirms, frame data). I'll be still around the Street Fighter scene because of my friends from random trips to AI, AI Ranbat 2.6, and other events. Check back this post for more video and other stuff that I missed.
GYT podcast recapping the event.
Torrent for the event stream.
More pictures by GYT's Kelly Bracha
Photos by Kara "Karaface" from Get Your Tournament