GnM is an online blog that chronicles my experiences through whatever it is that is catching my attention at the moment. Expect shifts between PC gaming news and commentary, to absolute nerding out about the new MG Exia Gundam kit. My brain is full of random esoteric crap, and I'll be spewing it out here. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The first ever West Coast Warzone Tournament was held this past weekend in Irvine, California. I was lucky enough to catch most of it live on the live stream. All I can say is wow! Tons of quality play, by players I’ve never heard of and players that I’m very familiar with. On the famous front, we had Marn, John Choi, Alex Valle, Floe and Ed Ma, plus a few others. The relative unknowns were Filipino Champ, Bryant the Tyrant, Masarap, and Yeb, plus more. I’ll touch on Yeb later in this post.

For commentating, the floor was held by Gootecks and John Rog. There were a few repetitive instances, but good commentary over all. The speakers got genuinely hyped and the feelings were infectious.
In early pools, some standout play by the heavy hitters like Alex Valle and Marn. Valle actually played Gouken in his early matches, and did pretty well with him, to the delight of the crowd.

Speaking of hype, the biggest swell of excitement surrounded Yeb, a Gen player from San Diego. Yeb was a relative unknown coming into the tourney, but he’s well-known on the srk Gen forums alongside JiBbo. Both players are proponents of Gen’s standing medium kick into hundred hands combo. For the uninitiated, the mk hands combo requires 5 punch inputs during the very short window when mk can combo. This is used profusely in matches to grab additional damage on Gen’s best poke, as well as to string together combos upwards of 18+ hits. It’s pretty damn impressive, to say the least. As well as being hard as hell to execute. 

Yeb wowed the audience early on in matches against Andre, and later, in a knockout match against Hugo, a Dictator player, he brought the crowd to it’s feet with a last ditch final round Ultra that he landed against Dictator’s EX head stomp. The significance of this is that he used the invincibility frames of the Ultra to make the head stomp miss, and plant Dictator on the ground in time for the Ultra to land. Needless to say, this was CLUTCH. The room exploded. In later matches, he took down the famous John Choi, and got a double perfect on Magus1234. At the beginning of top 8, the whole room chanted his name after he defeated Floe’s Sagat. In the words of John Rog, if you don’t know Yeb, You Just Don’t Know. After his 4th place finish, losing to Ed Ma’s Akuma, he received a standing ovation. Quite possibly a first for the fighting game scene, and this was after his loss. Yeb was definitely MVP of WCW.

Other surprises included Masarap, a relative unknown getting comparisons to Daigo due to his uncanny consistency with fadc ultras. As well as Boxer player Bryant the Tyrant with some stunning upsets, and a Blanka called Moval beasting. In the end, Marn took the finals after facing off against Alex Valle. The consensus was that it was a great tourney with a great turnout, including about a hundred players who signed up the day of the event, throwing brackets into chaos and causing some delays. Still, a great time was had by all, and some classic moments were had.
Top 8 is here, this does not include the first game of top 8, floe vs Yeb, linked to earlier.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Playing Abel: Another Approach.

I’ve started playing Abel seriously as an alternate to Ryu, I say alternate, but I’ve been playing him fairly exclusively this past week. He’s a good change of pace from Ryu, and the approach is completely different. Where shotos excel at zoning you out and spacing for anti-airs, Abel’s game involves up-close mixups, combined with command throws and a roll that bypasses most attacks. His anti-air game is pretty weak, though. He has a throw that catches jumping opponents, but the timing and angle that it comes out at causes it to miss most of the time. 

Abel is pretty challenging to use, as he has no basic “safe” strategy, unlike say Ryu who can throw fireballs, and shoryuken his opponent out of the air when he tries to jump. Ryu can win matches using almost nothing but into fireball, and shoryuken. Abel doesn’t really work that way. Instead his game is based on reacting to the opponents actions and punishing their mistakes. And at intermediate to higher levels you really need to get into your opponents head and condition him into playing in a way that Abel can punish him at will. Many players call this using mindgames. 

Here’s an example. Say Abel knocks down his opponent. As the opponent gets up he can:
1. Stay back a bit and sweep the opponent, as his sweep has deceptively long range
2. Use a Wheel Kick, which must be blocked high, alternate with sweep to mix it up
3. Dash in and use either regular Tornado Throw, which beats counter-throws, or EX TT, which beats most attacks
4. Roll behind the enemy, and attack from the back
5. Jump over the enemy and go for a crossup
6. Do nothing, block.

The thing is, this isn’t even all his options in that scenario. He can use his step kick to dash in and start another mixup for example. The step kick itself leads to another half dozen options. Of course, not all those options are safe, and if the opponent guesses correctly he can knock Abel out of the mixup. Still, he’s a real versatile character. And I think that’s the key to his appeal for me. I really have to out-think and psyche out the opponent to win with Abel, so when I do win, it’s very satisfying. The flipside is that when I can’t get his offense rolling, it’s very frustrating. “I should have done this, I should have done that” kind of frustrating. Still when you totally Yomi your oppenent’s game, and make him feel that everything he’s doing is getting countered or punished, there’s no feeling that compares.

NOTE: “Yomi” is a japanese term that loosely translates as “knowing the mind of your opponent”. And since Abel’s gameplan is reliant on mixups and baiting, yomi is a big part of his game.