This is an interview that Prof.Jones wrote back in 2008 after his trip to Japan. This has been added to GMC as a historical report from a top player.

The first day I went to akihabara in at the hey arcade. They had an ST cab which was very cheap (10 yens), and there was a few players. They weren’t very good for the most part, but I knew I wasn’t in the right place.

Few days later I went to mikado. To my surprise there was a free play event that night : you paid 500 yens and had the right to play for free from 19:30 to 22:00. Sounded like a very good deal to me so of course I went for it. At first there wasn’t a lot of players but I could see the level was high. There was this ken player who pounded me over and over. His execution was flawless (perfectly timed and spaced cross ups, no combos missed) and it felt that he knew everything I was going to do. When I would delay my scissor kicks, he would delay his dp’s too. Nobody ever did that to me before : it was either dp as soon as possible or nothing.

As the minutes passed, more and more players arrived : Noguchi, Yuuvega, Gian… I did some matches against Noguchi’s claw, and couldn’t beat him, even though some matches were close.

pj01 Noguchi, Mattsun and Yuuvega at Mikado

I also met an italian player name Cinque there. He lives in japan and plays Dic too, and was very cool. He knew Yuuvega and asked him some questions about our common character.

The next day there was another freeplay night at Mikado. It was even more crowded this time, and lots of top players were there too. Needless to say, winning even one match that night could be considered as a big victory.

The next day I went back to the hey arcade to get some training. The level at Mikado was way too high, and I had to adapt and change my strategies in some matchups. That day there was a Ryu player who was beating everyone in the arcade. Some of my matches against him lasted 30 seconds. He was using mixups really well, and ambiguous crossups also. Basically if I eated 1 dp I was in very big trouble. I kept playing with him, along with other players, and I never won a match. It literally felt impossible.

I discovered later that the ryu player in question was kurahashi. The same day he went at mikado, and I saw Taira and Yuu play against him. I felt a little releived when I saw he gave them trouble too lol.

Few days later there was a little tournament organized at Game Newton Ooyama. Of course I had to enter that one. I went there with a french friend named Madjid, who can speak japanese. There wasn’t a lot of players (less than 10)) but a lot of them were top players : Gian, Taira, Shiro, and Yoshio.
I was lucky enough to be in a group with only one player, a T hawk player who seemed to have a good execution. I know the matchup pretty well, so managed to win against him. Next was the final block (remember, there were few players), which consisted of me, Shiro and Gian. I lost my matches against them, and Gian beat Shiro, so he won the tournament.

After the tournament, I asked Madjid if he could translate some questions I had about Dic for Taira. So we went up to him and I could see right off the bat that he was a really cool and easy going guy. I asked him what were Dic’s hardest matchups. He said that Chun, S Honda and Blanka were the hardest in his opinion. He also said that shotos and sim could be a problem too, but on a less difficult level than the other ones.

I also asked him why did tougeki staff choose HSF last year. He said that nobody knew why. I also asked him about the character rankings in tougeki damashii. He told me the reason why O hawk was ranked so high is because of his normals and his dp (no surprises). He also told me that Dic was A class but near the bottom, close to B class. This didn’t really surprise me, as it was what I tought.

We went to eat some ramen, and he asked me if I would be doing the last chance quals for SBO. I told him that I had no partner. He said that he would find one for me, which was very cool of him.

After eating we went back to the arcade, and I played against Yoshio while taira was giving me advice and coaching me. I did fairly well thanks to the coaching, and learned to play the matchup a little better (still needs works tho !).

Fast forward to the night before SBO. It was another one of those freeplay nights at Mikado, but that night the place was literally filled with top players. The players from kansai were there (Otochun and co) and all the top players from tokyo. I got to play against otochun, and he was stopping me with all kinds of well timed normals. Then taira played him and won a very close match. Daigo was there too, and guess who he played : Dic ! He seemed good with it too, since I saw him beat aniken with him. Those freeplay nights were kinda cruel : you wait for your turn, you sit down, get destroyed, and wait again. This is not ideal for learning, but it’s a great way for top players to test their tournament skills.

Taira introduced me to my SBO team mate. It was AFO, a player which I knew from watching mikado vids, and a player that I admired for his skills. He seemed a little shy and didn’t speak a word of english, but we somehow managed to communicate thanks to my few words of japanese.

The next day I wake up in the early morning to go to the SBO. We sign under the team name PRO AFO. The last chance quals begin, and I don’t recognize any top player. I won a match against a chun li player and lost a pixel close match to a honda player. AFO was on fire and was playing really well, impressing the crowd. We finally manage to qualifiy for the SBO. I really couldn’t believe it. They give us a badge with our name and then we waited with the other qualified teams for the beginning of the tourney. The first team we had to fight consisted of Haru King and Milky Vega. I went first against Haru King and once again lost a pixel close match. I was really pissed about it but AFO managed to beat Haru King and his team mate. Next was Yoshimura and Yuubou. For those who don’t know, Yoshimura is one of the best sims in japan and Yuubou one of the best fei long. I go first against Yoshimura. I already played against him at mikado, and all of our matches were identical : he somehow always managed to find a way to corner me and I couldn’t get out. Our SBO match, unfortunately, wasn’t different. AFO beat Yuubou, and then lost Yoshimura, but he put up a really good fight, especially if you consider how hard it is for blanka. I thanked AFO, and he tell me that what we just lived will give us good memories. I totally agree !

pj02Me, Haru King and AFO in front of the SBO venue

We then watch the rest of the tourney. I was rooting for Taira. His match against Otochun was really incredible, and really showed how much of a master he his with Dic.

The next day there was a 20 on 20 tournament at Mikado : Kanto vs Kansai. I entered the Kanto side. Of course there was a lot of people, and everyone was having a good time, rooting for the players and enjoying the matches. I don’t remember how it went, but what I do remember is that Gotoh (kansai) did a really nice streak which was stopped, if I remember correctly, by Gian. Gian was then beat by tsuuji. Tsuuji beat some people then it was my turn to play against him. I did kinda well but lost anyway. Some player then tried to make me feel better about my loss and told me that tsuuji was the best boxer player in japan. I already knew ! Tsuuji then proceeded to beat the rest of the Kanto team, beating Noguchi and the end.

pj03 Gian and Suzuyan playing during the event

After the event I stayed at the arcade with Taira and a few other players. There was a fei long player who was really horrible to play against. He always managed to lock me up into chicken wing traps. Taira gave me a few tips about that matchup, like cr hp beats fei long’s jump lp, and jump back lp works well against chicken wing traps. Indeed it worked, but it was still a difficult match.

At the end of the night I got to play against Shougatsu’s honda. It was very hard to get through his defense, and he used throw mixups very well. He also did a crazy combo on me after a crossup which I dont remember. I asked Taira who was the best betweed Kusumondo and Shougatsu and in his opinion, they are at the same level.

By then it was late and I had to go back at the hotel before the last train. I said good bye to Taira and thanked him for finding me an sbo team mate and for his kindness in general. He really is a cool an fun guy to talk with.

pj04Taira, me, and Yuubou

The last night of playing was at the Hey arcade. There was a ken player that night who felt unbeatable (yes, another one). I can’t count how many times I was going to win but then lost because of one of his crazy come backs. The problem was the same : one dp and you are basically dead. I’m knocked down : he does an ambiguous crossup. If it hits, I’m dead ( crossup mk, cr. mp XX HP srk works against Dic, and dizzies most of the time). If it doesnt, then he can go for a knee bash, which is a real nightmare, of another dp which would counter my counter throw attempts.

I then got to play against a honda player who was really good. Very patient, and very intelligent. I saw him beat a good guile several times. I beat him one time and he beat me the rest of the time. I was waiting for him to do dumb shit like all the hondas I played before (random headbutt, random butt splash) but of course he didn’t. So I had to rethink the matchup completely, but there was no time, as it was getting late.

To sum up, let’s just say that in japan it’s another world and another game. They’re in the modern age of street fighter and we’re in the middle ages. Their knowledge of the game is perfect. The only way to get to their level, as of now, is to live there. I felt pretty discouraged at times, but I don’t give up easily so I will keep on making my thinking of the game better, to enjoy it even more.

Thanks to Prof.Jones

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