The second day of NorCal Regionals 10 was more exciting than the last as top players fought it out for spots in the finals. I watched the last matches along with the majority of returning attendees and continued playing with others throughout the day.
There were still setups at the rear when I arrived in the morning, but they were now specifically for the top 16 to top eight matches before the final eight competed at the main stage. After my losses in Street Fighter X Tekken, I didn’t much care to watch the top 16 and instead demoed (the now released) Skullgirls. Developed by indie company Reverge Labs, Skullgirls is based on the combo-heavy fighting games made by Arc System Works, but tailored more for mainstream fighting fans. While only able to play a few rounds, I enjoyed what I tried. There are only eight playable characters, but each are quite distinct from each other. The game also uses a team-based system influenced by both Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK. You can switch characters on the fly and have partners perform assist moves similar to Marvel vs. Capcom. Much like Capcom vs. SNK, a player can have a team of up to three characters that scales in health amount and damage output depending on how many they have.
After trying Skullgirls, I played a little more Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown as it was my last chance to play it before its summer release. While Sega officially provided Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V-SA sticks for us to play on, this time I used the Etokki Omni Korean Edition stick provided by Ryan “Laugh” Ahn, who came from South Korea to attend NCR. Most sticks use Japanese parts nowadays, but as the name suggests, Laugh’s Omni stick utilizes Korean levers and buttons. It was my first experience with Korean parts and they feel quite distinctive from their Japanese counterparts. While both types perform very similary, the Korean parts are known for requiring more pressure to exert pushes of the buttons and hand movement of the levers. The levers are known for having circular ends when moving, similar to American levers, while Japanese levers are common with square gate ends. I was able to perform inputs just as if I were playing with Japanese parts. Korean parts have that slight American hardness while being precise as if it were Japanese.
Along with everyone else, I proceeded to watch the main stage featuring the games‘ top eight players duke it out. I was the most hyped for The King of Fighters XIII and Virtua Fighter 5, as they were out of the ordinary compared to Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Ver. 2012 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. KOFXIII and VF5 had lots of surprises and energetic matches in which the audience were in awe. One of the top eight VF5 players used a character that utilized enough wrestling moves for people around me to make WWE references.
While those two games were out of the ordinary for tournaments, it didn’t mean that the headliners didn’t have their moments. My Sacramento friend Martin “Hi Im Nastyy” Vega got into the UMVC3 top eight. I was rooting for him along with many other fellow Sacramento folks when he was on the main stage. Playing on a controller as opposed to an arcade stick, he’s well known for being one of the best Super Skrull players in the west coast. Martin was able to pull off some surprises with Skrull thanks to the character’s fast and powerful moves. In the end, he lost to opponent Eduardo “Puerto Rican Balrog“ Perez. If he didn’t make an input error in his match, he would have certainly progressed, prompting me to go on stage like a madman to hug him for getting so far. Still though, I’m happy he got far when the brackets were filled with many equivalently capable killers.
I saw a bit of SSFIVAE2012 when South Korea’s Sun-woo “Infiltration” Lee dominated the bracket with his skillful Akuma and Gouken. He ended up losing to NorCal’s own Ricky Ortiz of Team Evil Genius, but took first place in Street Fighter X Tekken. I was impressed but bored — probably due to how dull the game is when only two people face each other. The SFXT 2v2 tag-based event at the Las Vegas Evolution finals (where two players team up and coordinate with each other to win) should prove to be a more entertaining SFXT event to watch.
Going to NorCal Regionals took me away from any fighting community negativity to a world you can’t enjoy behind a computer screen. Being able to directly compete and share thoughts among hundreds of others in one spot is a special thing you can’t find outside of tournaments. In essence, the experience was magical. It makes me feel proud of being part of the community and encourages me to stay dedicated to help make the scene better. Even as I face defeat, I want to fight on. Hopefully I’ll do better at EVO or the next NorCal Regionals. After all, I love the scene as much as everyone else.