To Russia with Love

This will be a longer blog post about my own personal experiences of the Russian GG-community, the RusReversal GGXrd-singles tournament, and MFA 2018. Hence, it will be very opinionated :) But there will also be plenty of photos!

I will edit this post with personal shoutouts later.

The Russian GG-community
– overwhelmingly welcoming

This was my first time flying to participate in a GGXrd-tournament. Also, other than Headstomper 2018 in Copenhagen, I had not travelled outside of Sweden for a GG-tournament since 2006.

I was excited to go to Moscow, because of the city’s history, and because of my memories of all the Russian GG-players that came to our Showdown-events. I wanted to meet them again, and show how much I appreciated them coming to our tournaments back in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core.

The Russian GG-community was overwhelmingly welcoming. All three of us that came from abroad felt very welcome, and the Russian players seemed genuinely happy to have some foreign players at their event. So many people wanted to play with me and many seemed to enjoy just watching me play. I later understood that Llano had hyped me up since the Accent Core days. Of course, while I am aware of my shortcomings as a player, all of this made me very happy, since I have put a lot of time and effort into the game and into the community over the years. This made me want to perform at the tournament even more, the implications of which I will get back to later.

My general impression is that the average level of the Russian GG-community is higher than in Sweden, but that they maybe have fewer that play/understand the game at a high level. More importantly, there was definitely more players that really wanted to compete. I think this created a very different tournament atmosphere than the Swedish events that I have been to, that tend to have a more laid-back atmosphere – while there of course still is some salt involved.

It was a very social community with so many interesting members. Just hanging out with people was awesome as well! On Thursday we were a couple that went to Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, on Friday I spent the entire day philosophizing with Raven before attending the pre-mash party at GLHF in the evening, on Saturday there was a bar meetup after the venue closed, and on Sunday there was a full-scale after party. I got so many opportunities to talk with members from the Russian community, about their lives in Russia and about their relation to GG. I really want to thank everyone for being so open and curious – it really became such an enriching experience for me outside of the game.

To the community, thank you so much for an awesome experience, inside and outside the game!

The Tournament
– from being a last chance to becoming a new future

To start, I am going through many changes in my private life right now. Coming into the event, I was not sure how I wanted to, or was going to, relate to GG in the future. More or less explicitly, I viewed this tournament as the last chance for me to play competitively. Hence, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. Oddly enough, at a purely emotional level, this pressure became even stronger when I felt how supportive the Russian GG-community was. In a sense, I wanted to perform not only for myself and for the Swedish GG-community, but also for the Russian GG-community.

The pool were stacked. In my 1st round I faced a keyboard SL-player called -72C.Nuts and won 2-1. 2nd round I faced a LE-player called I_Am_Axy and won 2-0. In the third round – winners bracket final of my pool – I faced DhZero(SL) and lost. My Slayer-matchup experience is mainly legacy-based after having played SO MANY HOURS versus Yonasu(SL) in XX Accent Core. However, knowing that DhZero was coming to the event, I had of course done some homework on the Slayer-matchup in GGXrd. Reflecting on my match, I believe that I lost because DhZero played a good and methodical Slayer, because of my approach to defensive decision-making, and due to some execution errors that didn’t allow me to establish my offense.

In top 16, I faced Xed(ky) on the main stage. I started out comfortably executing my game plan against Ky for the first three rounds. I could see that Xed was a bit nervous, and started to think about that a bit. At the same time, Xed stepped his game up and put even more pressure on me by switching up his approach. After some final scrambles, I managed to win what the commentators dubbed “the most hype match of the day” with 2-1. Immediately afterwards I faced smile_fan(RV), while Martin was playing his match against Yuzu on the main stage. Somehow I managed to remain somewhat focused, and took the game 2-0.

Top 8 on Sunday had a really cool setup, and my first opponent was going to be DhZero(SL)! However, although we all were on the main stage, my first match was going to be played off-stream, with Raven(JO) vs King_Rasta(FA) going on in the background. I did not know of this beforehand, but was really looking to get my runback against DhZero. I lost the first match, falling for some resets, but managed to step up my game for the following two. I think that the major reasons for me winning was a couple of well-calculated reads on offense and on defense. My next match was against Raven(JO), which I lost 1-2. The major reasons for me losing here were two-fold. First, I could have adapted quicker to his neutral game in the 1st match, noticing his approach to the neutral game, and taking advantage of it with other tools than what I used. Second, was my awful combo and okizeme-execution. Regardless of the reason, GG is not a game that is forgiving against execution drops. This is why I believe that it was myself that lost this match, and not my gameplan against Johnny.

The tournament continued and I focused on rooting for Martin. I was so happy to see him perform so well against both Goga(CH) and Raven(JO)! Personally, I think that he relaxed a bit too much after that, and didn’t come into his match against Ashimriat(SO) with the best mentality. Finally, although Ashimriat had an impressive run, King_Rasta was the best player at the event this time, and he won the tournament fair and square!

What I now experienced was not only the feeling of letting myself and everybody down, but also the feeling of losing that one last chance that I had to actually compete in the game that I love in a shitty way. I actually felt miserable, ended up being very rude by not caring about the 2v2… I didn’t really recover from my loss until we left the venue, and went to the after party. This is when I managed to get my act together and remember my love for the game and the community.

Now, after the dust has settled, and after I have talked with my fiancé and friends, I ask myself why I put so much pressure on myself by framing my trip to Moscow as “my last chance”. Obviously, GG as a game and as a community has come to mean so much for me, and I am sure that I will be able to find some way to make room for it even in the future. I will now use my experience in Russia to rethink my approach to playing GG competitively.

Event feedback
– to the tournament organizers

To staff, thank you for a great event and a great experience! Since I know that you wanted feedback, I thought I’d write down some suggestions and praises.

Suggestions

  • If your schedules always end up with delays, you should really consider rethinking your approach to scheduling. From a player perspective, having a trustworthy schedule of where you need to be and when really allows you to focus on your game much more than the opposite. Obvious but still very true.
  • From a player perspective, the lack of game audio is a problem, as many of us base part of our game on audio queues. If you can’t get sponsors for headphones for pool, you can invest in audio splitters for tournament monitors. This is a cheaper way to allow for game audio at the venue. Then you just have to communicate that players should bring their own headphones.
  • Minor thing, but try to communicate to the players in top 8 how it will be run beforehand, as it was kind of bummer to learn that my match against DhZero was to be played off-stream just as top 8 was to start.
  • Another minor thing, but I don’t know why some matches were played on other stations on the main stage when they were neither on stream nor showed on the projector. For example, I had no way to watch Martin’s match against Romeo, because only staff were allowed on stage.

Praises

  • The venue, oh my god, it was epic!
  • The MC and live commentary for top 8, oh my god, it built such a nice atmosphere!
  • The prize ceremony, oh my god, it was so nice to see an event that gave the players in top 8 some recognition!
  • The fact that everyone in top 8 got prizes, oh my god, such a nice thing!

Photos
– what you all came for

Photo time –> over here!

 

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