As I saw my pools early in the morning I recognized two names. They were Tokido and Starnab. I was confident in seeing their names since I felt comfortable in those match-ups.
Let me set the scenario. I met up with Air before AE singles started. He asked me who was in my pool. I told him that Tokido and Starnab were in my pool. However, Air had told me that Starnab did not attend and that they replaced Starnab with another European Sagat player (who I beat to face off against Tokido in my pool finals).
He continued, while laughing, and said, "So you will make it out of your pools in losers. No big deal."
I instantly looked at him in shock and said, "You don't believe in me? You don't trust me [to take out Tokido]." He said with a serious tone, "Well, let's look at the reality here... If I can't beat Tokido do you think you can?" I was in shock. No offense to Air (who is my friend and I'm not trying to make him out as the bad guy here), but I couldn't believe what he was saying at the time. He's absolutely right about it being the reality of the situation because 1) I hardly play against Tokido, and 2) I have less knowledge about the match-up compared to Air. I wasn't disagreeing about that part at all. But I continued arguing, "Well, I've studied Tokido and I'm confident in facing off against him. Isn't that enough?" Air said, "Tokido's smart. He knows people study him." I replied, "Well, remember what happened when I fought Combofiend at West Coast Warzone 3? You said I would lose to him and I didn't." Air replied, "That's different." To me nothing was different. My confidence was high and I've been wanting to fight Tokido ever since losing to him in money matches at EVO2k11. And the same was when I fought Combofiend at Hadocon. I was eager to fight him again at West Coast Warzone 3.
My other friend, Wilson (who's also friends with Air), looked at me and said, "I believe in you Miky. I trust you." I smiled and laughed saying, "I've always known that. You always [believed in me]."
As both Tokido and I settled down near the stream I felt compelled not to say much to him. I had a lot on my mind so I kept to myself. In those moments specifically, I was mentally reviewing everything I had studied of Tokido in the past months. Everything from his game-play, weaknesses, strengths, mind-set, experiences against Ryu, and all of his various setups. With that I also remembered what Ricky Ortiz had said about Tokido in his interview at Dromstruction. Ricky's game-plan against Tokido was to rush him down before he would get rushed down by Tokido. It makes a lot of sense Tokido wouldn't able to setup an offense and his lack of defense would eventually float to the top of his game-play (and eventually crumble to Ricky's rush down). I figured if I'm able to keep Tokido away from me and pressure him I would do just fine. This meant that I could not get knocked down with a sweep, I could not get thrown (especially in the corner which allows him to do the unblockable), and I could not let him setup any variations of his offense.
Eventually we were up on the stream and the game started. My first thoughts were to zone him and stay grounded while keeping him out. As soon as I knock him down I must test him. Soon enough, I knocked him down and I got two counter hits into a big life lead. He wasn't respecting my block strings. I took the round convincingly. The next two rounds I was unsuccessful in avoiding his sweeps and throw setups. I slowly started to see that all he wanted to do was knock me down and set me up into an ambiguous situation. When he did throw me in the corner I was unsuccessful in parrying his unblockable. The option of blocking the unblockable was out of my control. For those of you who don't know, it is extremely hard to block the unblockable while playing on different monitors. The timing is ridiculously hard. With that being said, I had lost the first game.
I took about five seconds to rethink the situation at hand. I felt he wasn't giving me enough respect and attempted to continuously throw me. The next set I challenged him on my wake up. I woke-up dp'ed just about every single time he came near me in attempt to start a block string. All of them hit. He still wasn't respecting my wake up. The one dp that I had done for the win was especially meaningful to this experience.
I had been knocked down from a fireball and didn't quick-rise. We were both even on life and I saw Tokido walk towards me. My exact thoughts were: 1) He's going to do a block string on me, 2) He wants to use his meters somehow, and 3) I'm going to dp and it's going to hit (since he won't expect it). This is where the controversy begins. Air told me that I got lucky when I hit him with this dp to win the set. He was telling me that I made a big guess and that if he had not done anything I would have lost. Here is why he's right: 1) Tokido had the life-lead, 2) Tokido had the meter advantage, 3) I was knocked down, and 4) There seemed to be lots of time on the clock. In both player's situations, there were decisions to be made, and at the time, the situation seemed much more clear to me. With the recent amount of dp's I had done (in which all of them hit Tokido), I decided that Tokido would not turtle against me. It's not his style (at least at the time I thought so). He wanted to keep me knocked down and stay on me until my life was depleted.
It just so happened that Tokido chose the wrong decision and I just made a decision overall. What I'm trying to say is that maybe (just maybe) Tokido was hesitant. I, however, made a decision as soon as I saw Tokido walking towards me. Whether or not it hit, I made a decision and I was going to ride with it for the rest of the event. Here's the kicker: my dp was not a reversal and I got a counter hit. I had won the second set.
The set was extended for a third and final bout. I took another five seconds and rethought the situation. I felt like it was time to close the deal. I started seeing extensive uses of teleport and crouching sweep from Tokido. I felt he was getting desperate to knock me down from here on out and that he cracked from his original game-plan. He attempted to throw me much more and only had frame trapped me once. Eventually, Tokido started to jump much more than usual and I punished him with fadc ultra. It was my time to pressure him. I kept the situation safe with a whiff jab into a kara throw. He teched it (and I wanted him to). Here is where my setup begins. After a throw tech in the corner, Gouki will not be able to hit you with a low attack, that is, if you do standing light kick. Ryu's hurt box will be raised and Gouki's attempts to hit you with a low attack will whiff giving you the opportunity to whiff punish. I have been using this setup against my buddy Javier (Gouki) for quite some time. Another example is if you tech a throw against Zangief while you are in the corner. Zangief will still be in range to light punch SPD you. With that being said, I positioned myself correctly and swept his sweep. I got in his face again and did another block string that pushed me just far enough for me the do the trick once more. Tokido took the bait and swept while I did a standing light kick. His sweep whiffed and I whiff punished with sweep once again. I had won.
By far, through my experiences playing Street Fighter or any fighting game in general, I have never double-plinked sweep so hard in my life. It was a monumental moment for me. I had defeated the best Gouki in the world with fundamentals and footsies and it felt absolutely great.
Air, Wilson, Javier and I went to Basil (a small pho store in Calgary next to the venue) to celebrate a little bit. Even though it was day 1, it was worth taking a break to enjoy some good food and laughs. I said to Air, "I told you... you didn't trust or believe in me." Air said with a serious face, "What are you talking about... I knew you could beat him." As soon as Air said that both Wilson and I looked at each other and busted out laughing. Wilson said, "I like how we both looked at each other at the same time." Air replied, "Okay, fine. You did good man... good job. But you still got lucky." I admitted to me being a bit lucky, but we both agreed that the last round of the last set was definitely all me.
That night, my bowl of Vermicelli tasted delicious! :)
P.S. Hope you guys enjoy the read. It's a bit long but I feel it is necessary to tell the story properly. Let me know who you want to read about next!