So Tougeki 2011 has come and passed.  Ever since 2007, it has been downsizing every year and 2011 is perhaps the most drastic example, with the lineup getting cut down to just 4 games.  Sadly Guilty Gear was taken out of the lineup, which was both expected and a surprise at the same time.  It’s expected in the sense that it’s a fairly old game with a steadily shrinking scene, but it’s also a surprise because GG is consistently among the most hype tournaments at every Tougeki.  I believe that one of the reasons is because of its 3on3 format, which really encourages character diversity and creates some really interesting team dynamics.

The stream this year was handled almost exactly the same as last year’s: pay to view on Nico.  However, because the roster got cut down to 4 games, every game got a good amount of stream time.  There were also considerably less interruptions, which I appreciate.  A friend of mine who is a big SSFIV AE and Blazblue fan paid for the stream, so I was able to watch the event at a viewing party.

One change I noticed this year is that Tougeki actually went out of their way to discourage re-streaming.  What would happen is periodically there would be a message that would flash across the screen, showing your Nico user ID.  So if you were re-streaming, your nico ID would then be broadcast to everybody watching, and it would then be a matter of somebody reporting your ID followed by an account ban.

From a spectator standpoint, I’d have to say that Tougeki this year was pretty poor.  Super Turbo is always amazing to watch, and it really pains me to say this, but the BBCS2 top 8 was actually very great to watch even though I don’t like that game.  AE, and especially Aquapazza were just awful though.

Let’s start with Aquapazza.  This game is such a huge joke, and the character lineup for top8 was a good indication of this.  The announcer even said something to the extent of, “I know you guys don’t like this game, but let’s try to cheer for these players as fighting gamers” during the top8 matches.  I guess one thing that was cool to see was the return of Ogawa!  I had no idea he played this game, so it was a surprise to see him to make it all the way to top8.  His pre-game speech was pretty funny too: “This game is so terrible compared to Guilty Gear, but it’s at Tougeki this year so here I am.”  I believe he ended up tying for 4th place.  Another cool thing was seeing 2 top Melty players make it to top8, GO1 and Kaimaato, the former of who actually went and won the whole tourney with Riannon.  I didn’t recognize the other players, but from what I hear they’re all top players in other games who just play AP as a side game lol.

ST was great so I have no need to say anything else about it.  That final round was just brutal though.

BBCS2 was a big surprise.  I totally expected it to suck because 1)it’s BB and 2)for whatever reason, it was a singles tourney.  But top 8 was really entertaining and there were some good personalities.  Almost every match was very close and went down to the final round.  Dora is always hilarious and I enjoyed his matches the most.  There were some dudes with unbelievable amounts of PSR too: Yoshiki Lambda had 323, and R-1 who was using Aoniku’s card had 320 on Rachel.  That card has 0 PSR on Noel, and after 2 matches he was already at 45 haha.  Konan was a beast, and I don’t think anyone expected a Tsubaki to make top8, let alone win the whole tournament in a 1v1 format.

And then AE…  oh boy.  A ton of controversy arose over this tournament.  I’ll get to that later though.  The pre-top4 matches were actually really great to watch: some nice character diversity and close matches.  The Kuwait team of Ganoon Sakura and Nox2 Guy were able to get past 1st round, and from what I hear Ganoon put up a hell of a show and received a standing ovation after he lost.  Once it got to top 4 though…  it just further reinforced how intentionally unbalanced the game is.  I enjoyed Nemo’s matches the most, and he was able to pull off a surprise win against Umehara in a very close match.  Grand finals between Kazunoko’s team and Nemo’s team was very one-sided, but it was cool to see AE grand finals being fought between 2 top Guilty Gear players.  I remember nico comments telling them to “settle the match in GG” too haha.

Now as for the controversy, it’s a long story and a lot of people were pointing fingers at Planet Zero initially.  Not really a surprise, since they have a shady history with Tougeki.  But amazingly, it was really out of their hands this time.  From what I hear, it all began with the Last Chance qualifiers.  Normally there is just one LCQ, and it is done on the day of Tougeki.  Not only that, but because there are tons of teams that want to qualify, the LCQ bracket is restricted to just 16 teams with the chance to play drawn out from a hat.  Well this year for AE, Tougeki made it so that the top2 in LCQ would get added to the bracket.  So Daigo/Iyo and Neurosis/Shiro end up getting top2, so they’re in the tournament.

Tougeki then realized that they completely forgot to add in the Taiwanese team into the bracket.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and just making Daigo/Iyo and Neurosis/Shiro play each other for 1 spot, they decide to drop the PZ team of Hsien and Banana Ken/Jose and replace them with Taiwan.  Now, this is terrible no matter what the circumstances, but it was especially bad for Jose because he pretty much paid for the trip to Japan all by himself.  Hsien was actually somewhat covered because he also qualified for BB, which PZ paid for.  So Ryan Fubarduck negotiated with SBO staff and the final decision was that PZ would have to play against Team Kuwait to get into the bracket.  Even though Jose was already getting screwed over here, he was nice enough to mention that this would be unfair to the Kuwait team, but Tougeki staff said that the only alternative would be to not play at all.

The end result is that PZ team agreed to the conditions, and then proceeded to lose to Kuwait.  It always saddens me to see this kind of stuff happen in big tournaments.  Especially when the solution is so obvious, but I guess Tougeki didn’t want to risk the chance of Daigo not being in the main bracket.  From what I hear, Daigo/Iyo actually got a special invitation to the LCQ as well, so they didn’t have to bother with hoping that their team would get selected.

EDIT: Tougeki actually issued an official apology regarding this.

EDIT 2: Banana Ken has now made a write-up about his SBO trip.  Seems like the Kuwait team was running late, and the Tougeki staff had just assumed that they had dropped out?  Either way, what a terrible way for them to handle things.