I really should be upset.
Last Saturday and Sunday, I actually participated in the Manila Cup, my first ever Street Fighter tournament. This may have been hosted by Imperium Pro Team, a local gaming outfit here in the Philippines. But it wasn’t some local tournament. This was a Capcom Pro Tour event. This was an international tournament officially sponsored by Capcom which not only had some of the best Street Fighter V players of the Philippines compete, but from the rest of the world. The Manila Cup had some big names like Justin Wong and K-Brad flying in from the United States, Eita and Bonchan from Japan and Gamerbee from Taiwan. This was going to be watched all over the planet as it was to be streamed by Team Spooky with Street Fighter legends like Mike Ross and Gootecks doing commentary.
Like every one who joins a competition, I had dreams of going far in the Manila Cup. Okay, maybe not win the entire thing. But I did want to have a decent showing in the tournament. Maybe beat a few fighters and make it on the stream to have a decent showing on the live stream against Justin Wong and, according to the brackets, I would have to!
I did win my first match using my Balrog (Boxer in Street Fighter lexicon) against his Chun-Li and I was incredibly excited. This was my first step in actually fulfilling my dream of facing off against an international player on the stream for everyone to see!
But some dreams don’t come true. I guess my opponent adjusted to my play style and applied really stifling pressure with Chun-Li’s incredibly hard to counter instant air Lightning Legs. I just couldn’t keep up. He then proceeded to trounce me with his aforementioned air Lightning Legs and mixed things up with a lot of tick throws that I couldn’t adjust to. He was the one who had to get up on stage to face off against Justin. I did feel a twinge of delight when I witnessed the guy that beat me get on the stage and practically get annihilated by Justin.
My next match, however, was a blowout. I can say I got a few hits in here and there and there were a couple of close rounds. Ultimately, I was beaten with two straight matches by that guy. I think I was just a mere annoyance to that guy because he just stood up and walked away after he beat me.
So, there I was, booted out of the brackets of the Manila Cup. No chance of facing off against the big names and getting handed two losses pretty quickly. I didn’t take the tournament lightly. I actually did practice at home, honing my Balrog so that I could perform damaging combos through muscle memory. I will admit that I did slip up a couple of times but I was fairly consistent in dishing out the damage, especially with the first match I had. Like I said, I should really be more upset since I had such a poor showing during the Manila Cup.
But I can’t. In fact, I was just so happy to be there!
Yes, losing and getting booted out of the tourney early really shattered my confidence in my skill in Street Fighter V. I should be incredibly salty that I didn’t move past the first two people. But I can’t really be mad because just being at Manila Cup was an incredibly memorable experience and, as a huge fan of Street Fighter and just watching really good players compete in the game, I had a great time!
I mentioned earlier on how the Manila Cup was a Capcom Pro Tour event and this had a lot of international players flocking to the Philippines to compete. Well, I’ve been watching these international players play Street Fighter and face off against each other on the streams! To see them actually working their sticks in person is totally different. It’s much like watching a concert or a sporting event on television versus actually going to a stadium and seeing them perform on stage.
It’s the same thing yet a totally refreshing experience because the energy is different. You’re there experiencing the reaction of the entire crowd and feeling the pains of missed opportunities and the joys of seeing someone perform a clutch play at just the right time. It’s even more exciting when you have a hometown player face off against one of the bests in the world! It was extremely thrilling to see local Striderben’s Guile go against Japan’s Eita with his Ken… and actually beat the international player! The entire room was lit up with pure hype!
Speaking of the people watching, it’s also a great experience just being in a room with a bunch of people who love the same thing you do. There were other games featured in the Manila Cup. There were Mortal Kombat XL, Guilty Gear, Blaz Blue and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournaments running beside the Street Fighter V one. Now, I’m not really good at any of those other fighting games but I do appreciate the mechanics they have and, hey, those games can have some really hype matches! Just being in the same room with people who love fighting games is just a great feeling.
There’s instantly a special camaraderie with the person next to you since we were all gathered in Manila Cup to bear witness to great matches and have some great matches. I could turn to anyone and we could just talk and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each and every character in the game! Or how much we love/hate some Smash players because they’re demanding private rooms where they can relax before they compete (I hate those kinds of elitist Smash players, by the way).
Of course, I can’t even express my joy in meeting some of the players that I’ve only been able to see on the streams. It’s kind of hard to explain to a “regular” person as to why it was an extreme honor to meet the likes of Justin Wong, Ricki Ortiz, K-Brad, Eita, Gamerbee, Kazunoko, Haitani, Gootecks and Mike Ross. These are players that I do admire since I’ve been playing Street Fighter and other fighting games even when I was young. I’m incredibly impressed with the amount of skill they have in playing. It’s kind of like a basketball fan getting to see Lebron James and Kobe Bryant; you just need to come up to them and take a picture with them… which I did!
And everyone of these international players were incredibly nice. They didn’t refuse anyone who wanted to take their picture. They were very open to talking with each and every fan that wanted to get their autograph. I even saw Mike Ross take on a request of a fan to take a video message! There was a lot of love being shown in that room those past two days! It was the exact opposite from the usually toxic chats I would normally see during the tournament streams! It was incredibly refreshing!
I do have to express a lot of gratitude to Imperium Pro Team for managing to get these people to the tournament. I know I wouldn’t be able to get the extremely positive experience I had without them going through the arduous task of getting the entire Manila Cup set up and getting all these big name players to participate. Thanks, Imperium Pro Team!
Oh, while I didn’t really get to fight on the big stage, I was captured on stream! So, I did make it to the big stage so to speak. You could say I was behind Justin Wong all the way!
Yes, I did lose big time during Manila Cup. Yes, I got destroyed during my first ever Street Fighter tournament. Yes, I should be incredibly upset because of that. But it’s difficult to stay mad when I just had one of the best times in my life.
There is next year, though…
Have you ever joined a video game tournament? What was is like experiencing it for the first time? Let me know in the comments section below!