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Apr 26th, 2015
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  1. AMBITION'S MICHIGAN ARCADIAN 2 EXPERIENCE
  2. So I wrote a long post detailing my experience at the Arcadian not only for my own sake/improvement but also to give people insight into my mindset and just how deep I believe the tournament experience can be. There are lots of sections and not everything is relevant, so if you want the meat of it, just skip to the "During the tournament: Pools" and "During the tournament: Bracket" sections, which are located in the comments below. I had a lot of fun at the Arcadian and again encourage people to travel to see how much they love the game.
  3.  
  4.  
  5. Before the tournament:
  6. I got ~6 in-a-row hours of sleep before the event, with 1, 1.5 more after staying awake at 5 AM - 6 AM. I was hoping to do well at this tournament. I wanted to at least make it out of pools and from there break into top 8. I knew of at least 8 skilled players going, so I was hoping to meet one of them, if not more than one, and test my mettle. Additionally, I made sure to prioritize having fun/staying relaxed and also playing to play my best, not to win.
  7. My breakfast was a Spinach Avocado Egg White sandwich from Panera and some fruit. It was OK, nothing to write home about. Nutrition is key for pre-tournaments, and I thought that eating meat would definitely be a bad idea -- in an ideal situation, I'd eat an omelette for breakfast or some form of eggs and oatmeal.
  8. There was about 3.5 hours of car ride there, and I needed some way to pass the time. Fortunately I had a few videos of myself on my computer and there was LTE, so I could watch a lot of footage. I had spent quite a bit of time watching my own videos up to the event, so actually those didn't help so much as getting to see Lucky vs. Kirbykaze videos (thank you based East Coast fast uploads). Kirbykaze is my dear friend and my favorite Sheik, and seeing his gameplay in action helped my subconscious get a good visual of the strategies that I have generally been copying against a modern Fox. I also finished the Art of Learning, and there were quite a few tips near the end in terms of channeling emotions into my gameplay and refining strategies that really got me hype and also helped me out. Amazing book btw, read it.
  9. Near the end I tried to relax my eyes and stop watching videos. Whether you realize it or not, it's actually quite a struggle for your brain to maintain focus on moving video while you're in a mobile vehicle. So you need to make sure your brain gets some rest time and you get time to center yourself. Preparation is key and honestly ~50% of performance on any given day. I took a 10 minute nap during the ride at some point.
  10. We got to the venue eventually (lol almost lost my phone), and immediately went to the Wendy's in the basement (shoutouts to U of M venues). I was feeling really antsy to play and practice since there was only ~45 minutes left until bracket, but I forced myself to slow down while eating as much as I could stand. It was important for me to do this because I felt as though this, too, was a form of preparation -- it was a way of reminding my body/mind that it was more important to get it right and to focus on quality rather than quantity. I kept the same mantra to myself while playing -- I felt a slight annoyance at losing some friendlies, but ultimately got past it as I felt more and more comfortable.
  11.  
  12. During the tournament (Pools):
  13. Pools began promptly at 2:30 PM. Remember that Juggleguy's rules for two way ties prioritize win-loss ratio over head-to-head, so I was already on slight edge due to the pressure of wanting to win as many games as possible. There were points between sets where I'd go to check in on everyone and cheer them on, but I was largely staying in my own area.
  14.  
  15. Here was my pool:
  16. 1. roki - Fox
  17. 2. Ambition (me)
  18. 3. stif - Fox
  19. 4. SaxophoneofTime - Fox
  20. 5. KelLorien - Marth
  21. 6. Mason Yason - Falco
  22. 7. Wham - Samus
  23.  
  24. Stif (2-0) - I played him first. This was a super shaky set, as it was my first and he actually knew how to play neutral vs Sheik somewhat (double jump baity) and I didn't edgeguard very well (too conservative). He took momentum, even as I was trading stocks. I remember using too much fair and telling myself to just cut it out and focus on punishing him hard. I got a few good sequences as we were trading stocks and eventually I got him with a fair off the left side. Game 2 he took me to Yoshi's after I banned PS; not a bad choice since he seemed to be using the plats well. At this point I had started to get more comfortable with his playstyle (very aggressive with his aerials, liked to FJ into Sheik a lot) so I just grabbed his landing a lot. Even though I didn't get my usual tech chase sequence (>=3 grabs, averaged 2 against him), the stage was small and my punishes were firm.
  25.  
  26. Mason Yason (2-0) - Falco - This is a matchup I traditionally have low confidence in because playing mechanically vs Falco is honestly difficult and annoying. It requires a lot of precision and no fear towards lasers and I just haven't built that up yet. Nevertheless, I figured I'd go with what I prepared. I don't remember too much of this set, other than he didn't seem to know what to do vs Sheik and his combos weren't great.
  27.  
  28. KelLorien (2-0) - this guy was clearly new cuz he got whooped, his Marth was not even close to a challenge.
  29.  
  30. SaxophoneofTime (2-0) - I was a little intimidated by this guy because it seemed like he was pretty good vs crouch cancel style (he played Wham before me and I got to watch) and his movement/tech was solid. Then I played him and comboed him hard, so that was that.
  31.  
  32. Wham (2-0) - I felt really proud of this match. Wham wasn't very good (tried to play movement heavy Samus but useless movement kind) but I had given advice for his gameplay before the set that he was clearly trying to incorporate. I've been struggling vs Samus a lot lately, even comparatively low level ones (<3 Kane), but I just copied what I did in videos and used the set to try to learn about implementing the strategies, and it worked.
  33.  
  34. Roki (0-2) - I was most determined to win this set but up until this point I had been using my black Smash 4 controller, which hasn't been fully broken in yet. I had a lot of trouble executing my movement, which is critical vs a Fox that knows how to use platforms against Sheik, and I also had not had enough games vs Fox that day, so I was still missing my tech chases To be clear, both games were close (even closer after I switched back to my white controller), but the difference maker was really not being able to move well.
  35.  
  36. I made it out with a second seed (fun fact: I only started on BF once this pool - vs. Roki). I played hella friendlies after this vs. a spacies main and eventually got into my tech chasing groove -- unsurpisingly, I went from consistently losing close games to winning by a healthy margin on all stages. He wasn't too happy.
  37.  
  38. During the tournament, between bracket and pools:
  39. At this point I was feeling kind of rattled and disappointed that I didn't play to my potential vs. Roki (excessively so, in fact). I called Will and he gave me some advice/reminders based on what he and I had been preparing. I went to Jimmy John's and had a Vito with my favorite salt and vinegar chips -- I didn't want to feel bloated. At this point the feeling of disappointment still hadn't vanished, but I also felt somewhat drained, so I started on my Arizona Iced Tea Ginseng/Rx Energy drink. I was unfortunately feeling slight bloat from eating too fast, but more important was getting my mental state ready in time for bracket. I sat down in the lounge next to the tournament area, tried to meditate, and strangely enough was not able to tap into my 'buzz state', even after trying for ~8 mins or so. When I meditate, I eventually enter a state where the front of my brain feels like it's going to burst apart due to a 'buzz' feel. I used to be really uncomfortable with it but after getting used to it, when I emerge from the 'buzz state' I feel fully refreshed. Anyways, I couldn't tap into buzz state, but I got halfway there and felt confident that that was sufficient. I warmed my hands up with friendlies vs. ThuGz and was prepared to play in bracket with a clear focus on my goals: playing to play at my best, having fun and seeking to test myself and my preparation against my opponents.
  40.  
  41. During the tournament, bracket:
  42. Napkin (0-2) - This was a Sheik mirror. I heard that this guy was pretty good and beforehand I was confident in my CGs. Unfortunately, when I was doing light prep before him, my CG wasn't consistent and I tried to cram learning the CG. I got it down kind of, but this was an MU I had low experience and confidence in -- so in reality I should have focused more on the general neutral game strategy because I got *wrecked* by him. I was nervous, he was focused, his punish was better than mine and his defense was better than mine, and honestly it was just a quick double 3 stock. I was dejected, to say the least, especially because I felt like I'd had experience against his 'type' of Sheik before (plays similar to Aaron but trades adaptability for more optimized punish/better movement).
  43.  
  44. Nexic (2-0) - At this point I'd regained some of my composure. I figured that loser's bracket was to be taken as an opportunity - a second chance at life - and there was no reason to give up now. After seeing him put his icon on Falco, I knew it was definitely 100% the time to focus, and I zeroed in on playing my best. As a result, my tech chases were, as Chuck might say, "on fleek": I averaged 4+ grabs per sequence, which helped calm me down a bunch and put me in the game. I kept trying to 'figure him out' as a player but my matchup knowledge wasn't enough (in particular, he did bizarre things that didn't really put him in the game as much as he thought), so eventually I resolved to continue to play solid and it worked. 2 stocks both games.
  45.  
  46. Toast (2-0) - this red Falco was not, in fact, Toastbread and was a winter jacketed white dude who was tall and somewhat reserved. I was nervous because I'd heard he was pretty solid and did well in the draft crew battle too. I felt very proud of my gameplay during this set. In addition to sticking to my matchup guns as much as I felt comfortable, I also adjusted where I wasn't comfortable: I would just play highly evasively, letting myself roll even if it wasn't 'the best option'; I would get on the platforms and make him come to me when I had a lead; I would tell myself to cool it after whiffing a few shield grabs and dash attacks; I would shino stall if I got hit out of my get up (I got a few blind fairs this way, as I would set a shino stall rhythm, then when I noticed that he was coming closer or had the intent to do so, I'd just ledge hop fair him from max range. Oof), and best of all, on his tech sequences, I would take note of his tech habits and punish him accordingly or adjust for the next tech chase sequence. I almost dropped game 1 due to wanting to win too bad and dropping edgeguards, but I clutched it out (and regrettably popped off). I then beat him game 2 on FD with a solid two stock -- his laser game was not on point and I ftilted him out of laser at least five separate times. As a side note: people need to learn past the first layer of escaping the tech chase. After you DI behind Sheik, mix in no tech along with stand tech/tech roll. It's hard for me to pure react at that point honestly (though I was doing enough usmashes to discourage him from it probably).
  47.  
  48. ThuGz (2-0) - I *really* wanted to win vs. Sean. He has always had a low perception of my skill, he beat Tako in Brawl to inflict everlasting shame on our pride (ThuGz was terrible at that game), and he played Fox roughly similarly to Roki (only slightly more aggessive), so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Game 1 I actually dropped the first stock and was on tilt for a bit of the second stock, then I killed him and got a tech chase and...yeah. He had quite a few tech flubs and I knew that he was trying not to let it get to him, so I was able to get some 'not legit' stuff by playing at his reaction windows. I also tech flubbed sometimes, but ultimately hit my edgeguards (finally) and won on BF. Especially important during this game was the fact that I was constantly channeling my emotions into my gameplay: if I was annoyed or nervous about missing hits, I'd clean it up on the next one; angry that he got a BS hit on me, zeroed in on punishing his badly spaced/executed aerials; impressed that he got a grab, spaced around the grab better and increased my defensive awareness when he got it, etc.. He took me to Yoshi's after I banned PS - not surprising as I'd whooped him on FD in the three friendlies we'd played half an hour before bracket and I was using the plats better than him - and it was clear that he was increasingly frustrated as I continued to tech chase him and beat him in footsies. I almost 3 stocked ThuGz this game, I think - he had one SD, too.
  49.  
  50. Paper (0-2) - when I heard I'd be facing another Sheik I was quite dejected. I was not mentally nor mechanically prepared for that matchup (clear after losing to Napkin), and even when we agreed to no CGs I felt no better. I tried to adjust my mindset for the match, nevertheless: focus on his gameplay, discover his weaknesses and play to learn. I lost game 1 quite handily (3 stocked), but took note of the fact that he was doing better on platforms than I was, then took him to Pokemon Stadium. I lost the first stock, traded a good 90 percent taking the second, and was eventually down 2 stocks to 3. At this point, a full rock transformation had passed, and I still hadn't figured anything out. For some reason, this was the time at which my brain said "fuck it": fuck losing, fuck weaknesses, fuck it all. I'm going to *win* god dammit, and I'm going to learn how. The whole next stock I tried almost everything in terms of strategies and finally remembered, near the end of it, that I could not jump at Sheik unless I was properly spaced and was far away, that from mid range the mix up was "dash attack vs. grab" on the ground, that shield pressure was largely inadvisable...I was down 2 stocks to 1, fighting now, hit a 0 to 95% punish, took 65% to finish his next stock off...he was clearly less experienced than me as a tournament player and wanted to finish me off, I smelled blood...as I dropped my edgeguard on the right side, I tried to regroup immediately but the windmill ruined my combo, I knew that he wanted a stray hit, any stray hit would do it at 120%, focus Chi, you just want one more game...I got hit by a bair, and that was it. Defeated, disappointed, I shook his hand. That was the end, 17th place.
  51.  
  52. After the tournament:
  53. I played John in a tiebreaker match for front seat and I was out of the zone at that point, so I got whooped.
  54. I tried to play Kzhu in a friendly vs his Peach; he first gave me Marth, which was quite close on PS (my worst stage). Then I got the Peach and was fighting toe to toe but he was called for commentary before we could play more than 1 stock.
  55.  
  56. I was quite salty about losing to two Sheiks and John. I was especially sad about losing to Paper as I felt as though if I'd played to win (i.e. tried to adapt sooner) I would have had a three game set; I would've then gone on to play Zinoto, another good friend that I really wanted to play against and was confident I could try to play to win against 100% of the time. The feeling slowly vanished as we drove farther and farther away from the touranment, and now it is the morning after. I feel good about my performance from this tournament. I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but I learned a lot about myself and my opponents, didn't lose to ThuGz (restoring honor to Sneak Ytako's name), proved to myself that I am rapidly growing at ~4 months of serious practice with the game, forced myself to play in a way that was unpalatable to me for the sake of pushing farther and most importantly managed to have fun but stay focused the whole time. As a side bonus, I even figured out things I want to develop for the next tournament (both mechanical and mental)
  57.  
  58. - Refining Samus, Marth matchup strategy
  59. - Improving Sheik MU all around (punish, edgeguard, pressure, pure neutral, defense; how to beat platform camping)
  60. - Improving mechanical gameplay vs Falco, in particular figuring out how to beat different laser patterns then generalizing from there
  61. - Learning basic structure of Luigi MU (got whooped in friendlies vs. Luigi)
  62. - Improving my evasiveness vs. Puff and figuring out how that ties into fighting her
  63. - Increasing the consistency of my gameplay vs Fox (in particular, adapting sooner and getting better at more committal baits)
  64. - Channeling emotion into my gameplay in a constructive manner
  65. - Quicker ways to trigger "play to win" mode and crucial focus
  66. - Identifying weaknesses in the opponent's mental state based on their in-game behavior and relating that to my mechanical knowledge
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