Gaming

I’m really good at fighting games.

Like, REALLY good. I’ve been playing fighters since I was 11 years old, when I first got Tekken 2 on PS1, and started playing competitively at the arcade when I was 15 years old. At the time of writing, I’m 29, so it’s been 14 years.

Still, some people have played for longer, and haven’t achieved the success and glory that I have. Note: Sarcasm.

The question is, how did I do it? And why should you care?

Well, thanks to the Survey and $50 amazon gift card giveaway, I’ve discovered that lots of you peeps care, and want to know the secret to my success. So here it is.

Kentucky_Fried_Tekken_by_lost_tyrant

By Lost Tyrant on DeviantArt

How To Be Good At Tekken: The Basics

Basically, fighting games are an integral part of my life, and have also defined who I am as a person. I’ve learned so much through fighting games about patience, reading other people, control, momentum, and fun. As I mentioned before, it’s very similar stuff to what’s needed to meet women.

I’ve distilled my fighting game prowess into a couple of rules that I follow. Most of these will involve Tekken examples, but I’ve used them to be decent at UMVC3, and pretty good at SF4, Injustice, and Kof14.

Here they are:

1. Don’t take low tiers.

Seriously, don’t do it. You want to win, right? Take someone who’s at least mid tier, and can compete with the high tier characters that everyone and their mother is spamming. For example, if you’re playing Injustice right now, you’d better be playing someone that can go toe-to-toe with Superman and Black Adam, or you’re not getting anywhere near a win.

However, when selecting your character, don’t believe the preliminary tier lists. If a character is considered low, it’s possible that s(h)e hasn’t been explored enough, and you’ll be the one to find out what makes them amazing. A good example of this is ChrisG and Morrigan in UMVC3. She was considered garbage for ages, and is now the best character in the game, hands down, thanks to one guy putting her on the map.

In my case, I used to play Yoshimitsu in Tekken 3, and then Tekken Tag, when he was amazing. In all subsequent games, he was made progressively worse, and although I tried valiantly to win with him, it was just too difficult. I finally abandoned him in Tekken 6, switching to Baek and Miguel, and all of a sudden won every major in Canada for a year.

Thankfully, he’s a decent mid tier in Tekken Tag 2, so I’m playing him again!

Here’s an old match of me playing low tier Yoshi vs Justin Wong Feng in Tekken 5: DR

2. What’s my mix up?

Whatever the game, you need to know how to put pressure on your opponent. If you’re playing Tekken, the easiest example of this is Mishimas. The basic mixup is sweep (low), a safe mid or launcher mid, and Electric Wind God Fist for pressure and frame traps. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

With other characters, it’s more complicated. Do you want to do frame traps, and get your opponent on counter? Is your mixup more about putting your opponent in a 50/50 situation where he has to guess where to block? This is up to you to find out.

If you don’t know your mixup, you can’t win at Tekken.

3. How do I take control of this match?

When you lose a round, how do you come back? First, assess if you were being proactive or reactive. Were you putting pressure on your opponent? Or was he making you play his game, and putting you on the defensive?

Once you figure that out, you need to put a stop to it. If he’s constantly pressuring you, punish him for it. If all he does is block and punish, play super safe, and grab a lot. If you feel his movement is weak, do a tiny bit of damage to him, then run away and make him come to you.

Take control of the momentum. It’s your game, not his.

4. Practice ALL your combos

You need to know the combos that you get with each of your launchers. Start with the basic launchers, and work out the max damage. Then move on to counter hit launchers, wall combos, wall break/ground break combos, and finish with guaranteed damage.

The worst thing that can happen in a match is you land a hit on your opponent where you can kill him, but you’re unprepared because you don’t remember a combo. Don’t be that guy. Use this checklist to make sure you have them all:
-regular launchers
-CH moves
-wall combos
-wall break
-ground break
-guaranteed damage

5. Create a flowchart

Once I’ve mastered all the combos, I look at the regular hits. I specifically look for 3 types of moves: what knocks my opponent down, what gives me frame advantage, and what puts my opponent in an awkward position where I can dodge his move and punish. I then figure out all the options that spring from these hits.

For example, I do move A. Three things can happen:

It gets blocked, and I’m on slight negative frames. I know I can then do sidestep, or backdash, but I can’t attack.

It lands, and knocks down opponent. I know can do move B to hit grounded, move C that catches backroll or quick getup.

It lands on CH, and juggles. Thanks to the previous point, I know the juggle.

See? Flowchart. I’ll expound more on this in a future article, it’s a really important point.

6. Get yourself an archnemesis

This one’s tricky. You need to find a player who’s either better than you, or equally strong, and practice against them until you beat their ass down. Having one archnemesis gives you a goal to strive for, and also an opponent worthy of your efforts.

Additionally, if he’s good, he’ll learn all the perfect strategies to beat your characters, and won’t let you get away with unsafe moves or shenanigan strategies. This is great, because no matter who you play against at a tournament, they’re never going to know how to beat you as well as your archnemesis, meaning you’ll always feel like the match is a bit easier.

It’s similar to when I was training in Wing Chun, and would get punched a lot. I always knew that no matter how hard I would get hit if I got into a fight, it would never be as bad as my training partner punching me full force square in the face because I lowered my guard for a fraction of a second.

At Tekken, my archnemesis is a player by the name of Howling. He learned all the punishes for my characters, and made sure I felt pain every time he blocked something unsafe. That led to me altering my game, and become a safer, better player overall, so when I played in tournaments, I felt nearly no pressure from opponents.

Here’s a match from January of me vs Howling. His controller broke while playing, so he didn’t do quite as well as he should have.

7. Practice movement

This one isn’t as important for a game like Street Fighter, where movement is restricted to jump, dash, or walk, but it’s the single most important skill to learn at Tekken or UMVC3. I always explain it to n00bs like this: in Tekken, if your movement sucks, you’ll be subjected to your opponent’s mixups all the time.

If, however, your movement is good, you can backdash and sidestep forever, and never actually interact with your opponent’s mixup. You’ll also be able to go in and out of his range as you please, putting you firmly in control of the match. He can’t pressure you if he can’t touch you.

Here’s a tournament match of me and Neorussell of Toronto Top Tiers. Watch the first game, where I basically spaced out his team for most of the rounds, and forced him to change characters. You want to be good at Tekken? Move like this.

8. Learn to block

Last but most certainly not least, the skill that any fighting gamer worth his salt must have, is the ability to block properly.

As Howling puts it, sometimes you just gotta “block like a man”. If you don’t, you die. So, learn to defend properly against your opponents’ mixups, by knowing which moves are mid, low and high. In 2D games, learn to block on wakeup, so you don’t eat random moves by pressing buttons.

Having played Injustice online for the last few weeks, I’ve realized that many players at that game tend to wake up with an attack constantly, rather than just getting up and blocking. This has led to me stealing tons of victories, solely on my ability to knock them down, wait for an unsafe wakeup move, and punish.

Trust me, when you’re not sure of what to do, choose block. It’s the safest option.

Space Invaders

Well folks, hopefully this little guide made sense and gave you some insight into how a top fighting game player runs his game. There are many other points I haven’t touched upon, like punishing, frame traps, conditioning, and so on. I’ll cover these in future articles.

For now, any questions?

Hey geeks,

I need your help.

I want to write more content that’s relevant to you guys, and I realized recently that I’ve never actually asked what you guys want to read about.

So I made a survey.

In exchange for filling it out, I will put your email in a hat, and in two weeks’ time, will draw one name from the hat. The lucky winner will then be sent a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Hurray!

To make sure it’s fair, I have enlisted the help of Blue Ken to judge the proceedings with me.

Rami And Blue Ken Judging The Draw

I’ll get some cool feedback, and one of you will have enough money to buy a low end quadrocopter (seriously, those things are really cheap now. I want one!).

Here’s the link for the survey. It’s really short, and shouldn’t take you more than a minute, because long surveys suck.

If there’s an article you’ve wanted to see for a while now, or something you’ve wanted me to write about, this is your chance to tell me. I’ll probably use your idea for an upcoming article, if I haven’t written about it before.

Thanks for being a reader,
Rami

As Toryuken 2 come to an end, players went home to relax, sleep, and remember all the great moments they’ve had over the weekend. On Sunday night, after an exhausting and exhilarating two days of gaming, I had the opportunity to interview Rene “Kor” Maistry, one of the top US Tekken players, about Tekken, his 2nd place finish at Toryuken 2, and his life.

NOTE: Thanks to Toronto Top Tiers for throwing an incredible event!

Rene Kor Maistry

How does it feel to be part of Empire Arcadia now?

Well, DMG is something I grew up with in the fighting games community. I got a lot of wins with DMG by my side. EMP is a different project, it’s made for the community by the community. With EMP, I feel the players are of a higher caliber, and it’s more to live up to, but at the end of the day it’s a team. I encourage anyone in competitive games to join a team at least once.

I’ve had the pleasure of playing you at drunken Tekken, and also really serious Tekken. Tell me about both of them.

Drunken Tekken is reckless Tekken, mostly for fun, you’re not all the way into it, you don’t second guess your moves, you don’t think as much. It’s always fun. Serious Tekken, on the other hand, is when you play with something on the line. You know you can’t even mess up once, you have to play perfectly. I love serious Tekken, just the adrenaline from it, and the way you have to adapt and change your play style.

I got to money match you. I beat you in the first game, 5-4. How did you feel at that point?

In the first match you beat me, I was trying to get used to what you were doing. I stayed back more, tried to figure out your offensive and defensive patterns. I really hoped you would run it back, because a lot of people say “no, I’m good.” I’m glad that you ran it back, that was very sportsmanlike of you. I enjoy money matching, first to five is always fun for me.

Ok, when I beat you in the first set, were you worried? What was going on in your mind?

Honestly, I thought you had an interesting play style, and I wanted to explore it more. That’s why I wanted to MM you some more. It’s not that I felt like “I got this”, you know? If you got 3 games up on me in the next one, I would’ve still felt like you could’ve won.

So we ran it back, and you won 5-1. At that point I felt you had convincingly figured me out. What happened?

I got more used to your defensive and offensive patterns, I knew what you wanted to go for in certain situations, and I adjusted accordingly.

(NOTE: Kor’s being humble. We played a 3rd set after that, and he beat me 5-0).

How long does it take you to adapt to your opponent?

Initially, I try to see how far I can get with offense. I try to alternate between offense and defence every round to see what works best. I usually need 2 or 3 matches to adapt completely. If I can’t, then I know what I’m doing isn’t working, and I have to completely go 360 and change up my game. It’s a little harder after 3 matches of consistent losing.

You played FightingGM in winners finals, and you lost. What happened?

Well, I kind of know GM’s play style, and didn’t expect him to be that offensive. I started to see his patterns, and he wasn’t changing it up much, but he was definitely guessing right. I didn’t adapt fast enough in those three matches. I thought it was ok, I could always come back from the losers bracket. I tend to come back from losers, 6 games, I’ve done it plenty of times. I relied on my second time to play him to adapt, and I didn’t do it fast enough. It’s like how it was before when I played him at NEC 2 years ago, I didn’t adapt fast enough.

Toryuken Top 3 Tekken Tag 2

We noticed you were catching on in the grand finals, near the end.

Yea, I started to feel very comfortable with it near the end, but at that point it was too late.

At any point in those matches, did you get mad or freak out?

The only time I freak out is when I mess up. When I mess up my execution, or I mess up something, then I get flustered. When I was playing GM, I didn’t mess up, he just outplayed me, and outplayed my play style. Maybe I should’ve gotten mad, because it brings my adrenaline up, but I didn’t, because keeping composure against someone with an offensive play style is very important.

Do you have any advice for people in tournaments with nerves?

Try to zone out everything except for the game, put your two eyes into the game. Nothing else matters around you, and think of it like playing your buddy at home. You guys are relaxed, there’s no tension or pressure, you’re just going to play.

Let’s talk about your dress style. You are one of the better dressed Tekken players out there.

Thank you, I appreciate that. I like to dress up. You know, when you go out of town, you’re not at home, you want to dress nice.

What about your hair, the Kor trademark?

I’ve done a little bit of modification here and there, but it’s the Kor hair.

Would you consider yourself a geek?

I consider myself a hardcore Tekken geek. I love the game, and every opportunity I get, I’ll play it. I kind of put it before all other hobbies.

What do you do for a living?

I go to school fulltime, trying to graduate in marketing, similar to your job. I also work fulltime at a metals company where I sell copper, brass, and bronze to the industrial sector. I also help out with my dad’s company too, he’s got the same type of business in metals, and we’re trying to build up a family business. So I work fulltime and go to school fulltime.

That’s a lot of hours. On top of that, you play Tekken, and you’ve just gotten married. Tell us about that.

Ok, first of all, she works with me. We met at work, one thing led to another, we got together and dated for a year. We decided to get married, we love each other, and we wanted to make it work. I met her parents, who came down from China to meet me. It’s a bright future ahead. We’re working towards making money, and having a good life together.

In addition to being a great Tekken player, you seem to have your life in order. Could you talk about that?

Sure. I understand Tekken is a hobby, and I understand that I prioritize it in my life, but I know that if I have something to do, I need to get it done first, then I can play. I have goals and aspirations in marketing, and with my dad’s company, as well as becoming a successful entrepreneur and businessman. That’s my main focus in life, everything revolves around that. I understand that my life with Tekken may not last too much longer, because of all the things that are happening in my life, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can.

What was it like being invited to be part of writing the Tekken guide for Tekken Tag Tournament 2?

It was a very prestigious ordeal for me. I enjoyed every bit of it. People think it’s easy to make up strategies for a game, but it’s so new, that you’re coming up with it. There was a lot of writing too, a lot of work, but it was definitely worth doing.

When was the last time you won EVO?

I won in 2011. Before then I was winning tournaments like CEO, and MLG, several Texas tournaments too. When EVO came, I was pretty confident, and ran through pretty much everyone in winners until I lost to Rip. I came back in losers to beat him, and then played Fab in the grand finals. It was a straight set, I came back from losers to win 3, then another 3. I was very comfortable with Bob in that game, I devoted a lot of play time to Tekken 6. I don’t get to play as much as I used to. I try to keep the same level of play, I think I’m better now, but the system is different. EVO was definitely a phenomenal win.

What about EVO this year?

I am going to try my best to win it, that’s my ultimate goal. I’ll probably retire after that, if I can win two EVOs.

Is there anything else you want to talk about that I haven’t asked you?

I really enjoyed being in Canada, your hospitality, the Montreal and Toronto crew. The level of play is really good here, and I wish you guys would come to more US tournaments and compete, because I think you guys could do really well.

TTT2 Top 3 at Toryuken 2, with the organizer NeoRussell far left

TTT2 Top 3 at Toryuken 2, with the organizer NeoRussell far left

You know how people make New Year’s Resolutions?

I don’t. I think it’s weird that you have to wait for the new year before taking action and making changes to your life.

I make the changes when it’s time to make them.

Every January though, I do take a moment on my birthday to realize I’m growing older.

Happy Birthday Mr. Geek

Today is January 16th, 2013.

I am officially 29 years old.

I’m losing my hair. I’ve developed a bit of a belly, which would explode outwards if I didn’t hit the gym regularly. I also recently grew a beard. I make mature decisions, and am rarely prone to anger. I’m a great mediator. I’m more gentle with myself. I have less patience for drama. I’m writing my book (sign up for my mailing list on the right to get the sample chapter I’m sending out next week!).

These are all changes I’ve undergone over the last 11 years of my life, since I turned 18.

Last week, I was pondering how much I’ve evolved internally over the years when a coworker asked me a funny question:

“What’s the difference between you right now, and you as a kid, in terms of hobbies and fun stuff you like to do?”

I sat there for a few seconds, and gathered my thoughts, only to discover something hilarious.

Nearly every hobby I currently have is one I had when I was a child, except for one major difference: I have a part of my life that is devoted relationships and women (and writing about them on this blog).

I actually jotted down a list:

  • Videogames (I’ve been playing Tekken since 1996)
  • Comic books (less X-Men and more Transmetropolitan now)
  • Scifi and Heroic Fantasy anything (movies, novels, etc)
  • Card games (currently Magic:TheGathering)
  • Playing a musical instrument (mediocre at best)
  • The Ladies and GutsyGeek (this one’s new)

Funny how some things don’t change, right?

Frogs and Snails and Puppydogs’ Tails

Is this what makes a geek, then? The fact that we never outgrow our childish habits? I wonder about that. When I was young, everybody played Nintendo. Didn’t matter if you were a boy or girl, we all played NES and SuperNES together. It didn’t seem uncool or geeky then.

It was simply the hobby everyone had, like watching Friends in the mid-90’s (even if you didn’t like it, you watched it for a while).

Somehow, as we grew older, playing videogames and geeky habits become less cool. Women especially aren’t as excited when you say “want to come over and play the new Killzone?”

So what happened?

I think it has something to do with the image people have of us.

Geeks are expected to look and act a certain way. A geek is supposed to have glasses, be nerdy, know a lot about computers. He’s supposed to be antisocial, a bit of a loser, and terrible with women. He’s unable to dress himself in sizes that fit, and always wears gear related to videogames, comic books, or some other geeky endeavor.

He’s supposed to be mostly a loveable loser, and sometimes, just a loser.

Eight years ago, when I looked and acted like a geek, I was terrible with the ladies. I was the stereotypical geek, fitting the image society had of me to a tee. At the time, telling a woman I was top 5 in Canada at Tekken was not an attractive thing. I could almost read her mind: “yep, he definitely looks like he’d be a videogames champ.”

Today, my hobbies are the same. But when I meet people at a party, they don’t think GEEK when they meet me. We get along, chat, and have fun. When I tell them I’m huge geek, the response is usually “no way, you’re so not!”

So I prove it by talking about how I’m something of a Tekken champ. The feedback I get is incredibly positive. From the generic “Oh, that’s so cool!” to a recent cute girl saying “I love Tekken! I play Jin!”, they become more open to the idea that “geeks are cool.”

Either that or I’m just a damn sexy example of one.

Paradoxical, If I Do Say So Myself

If anything, I realize these days that people really want to love geeks. We’re up-to-date with all the new gadgets, can google a solution to anything (including mysteries such as “oral sex on a vagina”), and are lots of fun.

Perhaps the only part of geekdom that still weirds people out, is the insistence we sometimes have on looking like crap. Geeks, I know that godlike Kratos t-shirt is super badass, but if you can’t find it in your size, don’t wear it. Check out this post on changing your appearance to get the results you want out of life if you’re unconvinced.

Who knows? Maybe with a bit of work, geeks everywhere can have a new image that looks more like this:

 

Groomed hair and beard, space invaders shirt, blazer and nice shoes: Geek From The Future

Groomed hair and beard, space invaders shirt, blazer and nice shoes: Geek From The Future

I’m Rami.

I’m 29.

I’m a geek, and I fucking love it.

Today I’m skipping out on the usual advice to talk about my year.

A lot has changed in the past 12 months, more so than usual, and I’d like to review my accomplishments and failures with you guys. Maybe it’ll encourage you to share some of yours.

In Which Things Are Strange

January was a crazy time for me. I had just finished working on a TV show in Toronto, and was suddenly out of a job. Worse still, I was directionless. To clear my head, I took a trip to NYC to visit a good friend, where I decided to run GutsyGeek as a business.

In the meantime, I also finally got closure with my ex-girlfriend, and became more emotionally stable than I’ve been in a long time. It was good.

The following couple of months were pretty rocky though. I didn’t make much money off of my blog, and I feel like I did it all wrong. I learned a valuable lesson about traffic, importance of my mailing list, and why it’s not really feasible to try and make cash off a site where you only get 60 hits a day (at the time).

Oh, and I wrote a hilarious post about the way I look that went kind of viral.

In Which There’s An Intermission

April and May were the months where I realized that GutsyGeek was not making me money, and I had to get a day job. I also owned up to the fact that I hadn’t been writing my scripts for television, or my book, or any other long-term projects. It was time for a change, and when a good friend offered me a job at his company, I took it.

This meant steady money in the bank, and a reason to leave my house every morning. It also meant blogging less, and GutsyGeek has suffered since then. I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve  reduced the articles to once a week, and even miss a couple of weeks here and there. But I also need a life, and free time.

June was perhaps the month where I accomplished the most. I completed a Spartan Race, and finally got my driver’s license. I also lucked out, and received a ticket to the World Domination Summit, which I attended in July. I was blown away and inspired by this event, and driven to make a bet that I’d finish a book by July next year.

In Which Life Goes On

The rest of the year just kind of flew by, didn’t it?

When you work full-time, meet girls part-time, and play videogames the rest of the time, there isn’t much of an opportunity to grow in the way you want to.

I guess I let life run me, instead of running life, and floated by until Christmas. I also failed at sculpting my belly into a sixpack, although I did get damn close.

There were two accomplishments that stood out:

The first was to tell people whose opinions didn’t matter to fuck right off. It was hard for me when people I cared about read the blog and judged me for it, sometimes very intensely. There’s even one person in particular whom I considered a very close friend, that I no longer speak to. It’s a bit sad, but a necessary step I guess.

To quote the inimitable Dr. Seuss, “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

The second thing I’ve accomplished lately is I’ve restarted my book. It’s under construction, and going strong, thanks to a certain lovely coach by the name of Cynthia Morris. Sign up for my mailing list on the right sidebar to get updates on the book (and an occasional free sample chapter).

In Which There’s A Happy Ending

So, 2012 is out. It was a good year, even though it was riddled with failures. I feel like crashing so many times really led to a lot of internal development, and progress.

Being something of a perfectionist, I had to take a step back from my psychotic “you’re a failure!” ramblings and learn to be more gentle with myself.

I guess if there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s this: fail fail fail as much as you can, it’s the only way to learn.

Believe it or not, I’m really happy I failed so much this year. It was the only way for me to succeed.

And that’s a wrap.

2012 geek sims dating awesome failure

Did I mention I grew a beard?

Hey gang! This is the REALLY late latest addition to a multi-part series about my love of fighting games. It covers my humble beginnings as a child, my obsession as a teenager, and how I became the Canadian champion as an adult. Go here to read Part 1, then go here for Part 2, then go here for Part 3, and come back when you’re done for Part 4. There may be a Part 5 someday, so subscribe to my RSS feed or Twitter Page or Facebook Page to get updated when it gets published. For now, read on to discover why I love Tekken so much.

The year was 2003. I had friends, and I played lots of Tekken. It was good. My best friend Adam noticed that Canadian Tekken players didn’t have a place to congregate, so he created TekkenCanada, our very own website.

Like magic, the scene exploded. All of a sudden, we were in touch with people all over Canada. Nearly every major city had a group of 10-15 players, and we knew them all. I began travelling to Toronto regularly for tournaments, and met players from the USA who came up as well. Slowly, Tekken moved from being just a game I played to a community I was a part of. And it was glorious.

We used to play all the time. I’d show up at someone’s house on Friday around 5pm, and we’d play all the way through til Sunday night. Weeknights when I didn’t have class, I’d be on a bus somewhere to get some games in. When I wasn’t playing, I was thinking about the game, and devising new strategies and combos in my mind, that I would test as soon as I got near a console.

However, despite this obsession with the Tekken game itself, I never actually played alone: fighting games are no fun without someone to pit yourself against. When I look back on these years, I realize there’s one super important aspect of Tekken that players often forget: the relationships.

You can customize Tekken characters to make em look like everyone’s fav Italian.

When I Was Just A Little Tekken Player…

When I first moved to Montreal, I didn’t have much money. The first three years of university, I worked and saved and played a lot of videogames simply because I couldn’t afford to go out much. So when Tekken 4 came out on PS2, I couldn’t afford it: $70 was a luxury at the time.

If I had saved all of the money I spent at the arcade, I would’ve been able to buy it, but that meant not playing for weeks. It was too much to give up, as I had nothing else that made me happy at the time.

Instead, I fantasized about buying it, but never did. Then one morning, my brother walked into my room and woke me up. We’d been fighting a lot back then, and I was wondering how big of a fuckup I’d committed that he’d actually wake me up to berate me.

“Hey Rambo,” he said. “Wake up. I know you want the new Tekken game, and I’ve got some extra cash from my work. Here’s $100. Go buy it and have fun.”

I looked at him, completely stunned, then got up and gave him a hug. When he left, I sat in my bed for a bit, and stared at the bill in my hand, touched by his generosity. See, he loved to go out and party. In a way, that was his Tekken, the thing he loved to do the most.

We were both strapped for cash at the time, which meant he had given up a large chunk of his happiness for me. When the thought struck me, I couldn’t help but cry. I really love my older brother.

When the tears were dry, I promised myself I’d be a better brother, and went out to buy the game, beaming.

Other Tales of Tekken

There are all kinds of touching stories that come to mind when I think of how much I appreciate the Tekken players.

For instance, when I moved to Toronto with 5 day’s notice last year, I sent out a message to all my friends on Facebook who lived there, to see who could put me up for a few days. The only people that responded with offers were Tekken players.

That says a lot about how much we care in our community. I ended up staying at my buddy Jon’s house, and although I thanked him profusely, I don’t think he really knows how much I appreciate his help.

There was also the time Adam, Bryan and I went out all night to party, then went to the arcade and won the top spots of a tournament without any sleep. Bryan was in a life threatening accident a few years later, and all the Tekken players were there to support him. Tekken players care.

There is my friend Etienne, whom I first met when he joined our online forums. We agreed to meet on a street corner, then we’d go play. I waited at the corner for ten minutes, trying to spot the geeky gamer I thought he was. I didn’t realize that the scary guy across the street from me, with the topknot, shaved head, wifebeater and heavily tattooed arms, was actually him. Etienne turned out to be one of the nicest, most sensitive players I’ve ever met. Tekken taught me not to judge people based on their appearances.

There is Renato, who moved here from Brazil, whom I met one night at a gathering. Two years later, and he’s basically my brother, doing our laundry together as he teaches me about self-respect, being a responsible adult, and Street Fighter. Tekken gave me family.

And many more. So maybe this post isn’t really about why I love Tekken, but rather why I love the people Tekken gave me.

Epilogue

This week, something awesome happened: I didn’t go out, I didn’t meet girls, and I didn’t think of any deep relationship stuff. I spent it like a true geek, just like when I was a teenager.

The reason?

On Tuesday, September 11th, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was released. It’s the newest Tekken, and definitely my favorite one to date. I spent nearly every free moment this week playing Tekken with friends, and getting back to my roots. Over the weekend, I played Tekken from Friday 6:30pm til Sunday evening. I was surrounded by friends, old and new, and had a blast.

The Tekken players that couldn’t make it this weekend will be here for the next gathering, new players are showing up on a regular basis, and the community we founded ten years ago is still going strong.

I hope it never ends.

For those of you that don’t play Tekken, this is completely irrelevant.

To everyone else… Glitch with Kunimitsu! A lot of MIDS whiff on her when she crouches.

Check out the vid:

Hey gang, I’ve been a bit busy lately. Sponsoring the MAT IX tournament, hosting about 6 players at my house, then travelling to Boston for a work conference, followed by my driving exam, Grand Prix weekend, and the Spartan Race.

At this point in time, I am exhausted, bruised, battered, and happy as can be. I’ve also got a couple of great posts lined up for you starting on Thursday.

In the meantime, cuz I know you’re all itching for some GutsyGeek talk, check out my interview for sponsoring MAT, done by the great guys over at The Gamer Nerdz.

I show up at 8:00, and talk for about a minute.

See you Thursday!

If you’ve been reading the blog religiously (which you should be! Take a moment to subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on twitter, and subscribe to my mailing list on the right), then you noticed I wrote about the rules of the road trip last week.

They were written in anticipation of this past weekend’s awesome trip to Toronto for Toryuken, a superb fighting games tournament run by my friends over at TorontoTopTiers.

This is the story of our adventure.

IT STARTS

“Raaaaamiiiiii… Raaaaaamiiiiii… wake uuuuuup… it’s 4:30ammmmmm,” an annoying voice lilted at me.

Open my eyes, check my watch. Damn, Mat’s right. It IS 4:30am. Time to hustle and go.

After waking the dragons and rousing the troops, we got ready and left. Most of us were still asleep, but our driver was a responsible adult who took the reins all the way to Ontario, where we stopped for gas and some breakfast sandwiches. Here’s what we looked like:

Now the funny thing is, it was easier than I thought to recognize that we were in Ontario. How? Obviously, the smoother roads, but also the fact that everyone was trying to sell us worms. No joke.

We decided worms were not on our breakfast menu and had a relaxing, uneventful drive to Toronto, filled with remixed Tekken music.

Toruken!

We arrived at the venue, safe and sound, and saw all our old friends. It was great for me, both seeing the gamers and geeks that I love, and also returnin to Toronto, where I spent 6 months working last year. Strangely enough, although I was glad I no longer lived there, I was overcome with a feeling of nostalgia, walking around my old neighborhood in King West.

Then tournaments began, and they were great!

I lost immediately at Street Fighter, as well as at Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Not a big deal, as I hadn’t been practicing those games lately. However, I quickly went through most of the competition at Tekken, losing only to my friend Russell. Surprisingly enough, I made it to the top 8 of King of Fighters XIII, which I had only been playing for about three weeks. I ended up losing to my training partner and friend Renato, who is REALLY good at the game.

As usual, between games the shenanigans ensued. Adam, ever the ladies man, was hitting on a cute girl. Renato was making friends with everyone and watching other matches. I was watching some guys playing Melty Blood, an old game, on their laptop, because that’s how hardcore they were. And Mat? Mat took a bet.

The Bet

I asked him for some gum, and accidentally dropped it on the floor. He jokingly suggested I eat it, to which I replied “no way! But I’ll give you $5 to eat it.”

He laughed. “Nope.”

“$10,” I suggested. Mat shook his head.

“$15?” I saw him hesitate.

“Alright, $20 and I get to film it.”

He burst out laughing. “Fine! Show me the money!”

It looked something like this:

Apparently, floor gum is delicious.

Eventually, we all started getting a bit tired. Thankfully, I have the perfect solution: KickButt!

Filled with Taurine, Creatine, Guarana, and every vitamin known to man that keeps you awake, these things are like speed filled crack gumball sized candies. You eat one, and you’re wide awake for seven hours. Useful for videogame tournaments, long drives at night, and fighting jetlag. Just keep in mind they taste like the inside of someone’s butthole mixed with coffee.

It kept me going long enough to watch all the day’s matches, play games until my eyes bled, and have a great time all the way til we fell asleep at our friend Jon’s house.

The Next Day

Sunday was filled with excitement. Only the top players were left in every game, which meant every match was a nail biter. As I watched the players give it their all, I was filled with the same sense of wonder I experience at every one of these events.

My friend Henry aka Chi-Rithy’s turn came up to play on the stream and big screen. He hadn’t lost a single Street Fighter game to anyone, and made it all the way to Winner’s Finals, where he faced Dieminion, an exceptional American Guile player. Unfortunately, Henry lost 3-0 in some heartbreaking matches, and was put into the Loser’s Finals, where he faced Justin Wong, arguably the best overall fighting gamer in North America.

I was sure it was over, as he lost the first game pretty badly. But then something happened. Henry must have pulled himself together and relaxed, because he started analyzing Justin’s game, and figuring him out. He beat Justin to tie the games up at 1-1, then slowly took over control, going 2-1 then 3-1. As soon as he won, the room went wild, and I found myself jumping up and screaming, filled with excitement!

When the Grand Finals came around, Henry had to face Dieminion again, and beat him 6 times to win. I thought it was impossible, given his earlier defeat, but Henry proved me wrong. In his new relaxed mode, he slowly and methodically took his foe apart, beating him in an incredibly convincing fashion 6-1.

I can’t tell you how proud and excited and intense it was to see him go. My heart dropped every time he took a hit, and soared every time he landed one. It was incredible. When he finally won, I was surrounded by the noise of the crowd, and filled with a Canadian pride I rarely feel. After all, to outsiders, Henry won at a game, but to us, a local boy from Montreal just defeated the USA.

A Small Shenanigan

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time left for Tekken, with all the other big tournaments going on. I spoke to Russell and Raymond, my only remaining competitors, and we all agreed to split the prize and forgo the matches, so we could enjoy the Grand Finals of the other events.

However, Russell, being the generous soul he is, realized that he and I had been first or second at the last couple of tournaments, but Raymond hadn’t been first in a while. So we surprised him by giving him first place, and laughed as we took a picture together to commemorate the best Grand Finals ever. What better way to send off the last Tekken 6 tournament than by having fun with your good friends? I can’t think of one. (When I get the picture, I’ll upload it here)

This was followed with drinks at a local bar, where all the gamers congregated. Surprisingly, they all drank like fish, and everyone had a grand old time.

Last but not least, Monday was the long drive back, where three interesting things happened.

First, Tim Horton’s messed up our order 3 times, and ended up giving us an insane amount of free Raspberry Espresso drinks to compensate us.

Second, we listened to Michael Jackson, as is the rule.

Third, we hit major traffic near Cornwall, which made our driver very tired when we reached Quebec. As a result, I decided to drive us home. After all, it was my car, even though I didn’t have a full license yet. As soon as we strapped in and I began to reverse, this conversation happened.

“Oh boss, are we all gonna die?!” Adam exclaimed.

“It’s ok man, I had a good run,” Renato replied with a smile.

Assholes.

How was your last road trip adventure?

Hey gang, we returned last night from our epic Toronto weekend road trip. We went, of course, for a fighting games tournament.

I always feel a sense of melancholy when I return from trips. It is at once comfortable to be home and sleep in my bed, and sad that the beautiful moments we’ve all shared together are over.

Thankfully, everyone had a grand old time, and most of us won in one way or another.

Tune in on Thursday for the full report.

In the meantime, enjoy this old video of me bungee jumping on one of last year’s adventures: