First stop of my 2017 Capcom Pro Tour:
FINAL ROUND 20 – ATLANTA, GA
March 10-12, 2017
Georgia International Convention Center
Cost of Trip
Late Registration – $50
- Registered on Feb 6, 2017.
SFV – $10
Smash.gg Processing Fee – $6
Flight – $206.40 (Leave from NYC Thursday night, Return to NYC Monday afternoon)
- Purchased this flight on Feb 6, 2017. I flew through Delta Airlines.
Hotel – ~$120 (Split between 5 people)
- For Thursday night, 4 of us stayed at Crowne Plaza for a night. Then for the rest of the weekend, 5 of us stayed at Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway.
Food – ~$100
- Waffle House, Louisiana Bistreaux, Champions, McDonalds.
My flight to Atlanta was scheduled to depart from LaGuardia Airport at 9:53PM so I went home after work to rest before heading to the airport (I live a short bus ride away from LGA). I even had time to play Marn on his stream before I left (2 FT5s his Ibuki vs my Laura. He won the first set 5-2 and I won the second set 5-1). I left my apartment at 8:00PM thinking that I would get to the airport in <30 mins but it took almost 1 1/2 hrs to get to LGA (I even got off at the wrong terminal so I had to take a cab to the correct terminal because I was scared of missing my flight). Then once I got to the correct terminal, I came to find out that my flight got delayed by 30mins so the cab ended up unneeded. Regardless, Lil Evil was on the same flight as me so I found him at the gate and sat next to him. He spotted someone that looked like SonicFox at our gate…and it ended up being SonicFox himself.
We got on the flight and arrived in Atlanta around 1:00AM. SonicFox was in a different hotel as us so we parted ways at the airport shuttle pickup. Lil Evil and I took the airport shuttle to Crowne Plaza, our first hotel of the weekend. For the weekend, we would stay at Crowne Plaza for 1 day and then stay at the Mariott for the next 3 days. We met up with our roommates Henry Cen and Yansi and walked to Waffle House to grab a late night dinner. As we were eating dinner, we saw Yipes, Mike Ross, KBrad, Flash, and Sherry walk in to grab late night dinner as well. We chatted, ate dinner, and walked back to the hotel to get some sleep for the next day.
We all woke up around 11:00AM and left the Crowne Plaza in a Lyft to head to the venue. Our fifth roommate, SRK Forte, was on his way to the convention center and he was the one who booked the room in the Mariott so we decided to head to the convention center first to get some casuals in. When we first walked into the convention center, my first thought was that it was a huge improvement over the venue from last year (Hilton Atlanta Airport). I personally believe that the FGC is outgrowing hotel ballrooms and it is time that we look to other venues, at least for the most notable majors. The room we were in this year was huge (think Evo 2016 convention center) and the temperature was just right. However, a big con of being in a convention center was that our food options were incredibly limited (especially because we didn’t have a car). The only food options within walking distance of the venue were food stands in the venue itself (Papa Johns, generic American food, etc.) or Champions, a bar/restaurant in the Mariott hotel. If we wanted to get any food, we had to take a Lyft to the part of town that had all the food (the area where the old FR venue was). SFV had its own section near the entrance and there were ~16 stations for casuals/tournament. The entire weekend, I pretty much stayed around the SFV area. In the past two years, the old school arcade cabs were outside the hotel ballrooms so I spent a lot of time around them when I wasn’t playing in tournament. This year, the old school arcade cabs were on the other side of the convention center room so I didn’t feel the need to walk to them when I wanted to focus on mainly SFV for the weekend.
There were a couple notable players playing casuals already when we got to the main room. Xian, Phenom, Punk, MOV, Inuchiyo, Verloren, etc. were all there practicing against each other before the tournament. I managed to get a good amount of games with Verloren’s Cammy (we were going back and forth at first but he started to win a lot more games than I did later on in the set T_T) and Inuchiyo’s Dictator (I tried both Ibuki and Laura in short sets but he got the upper hand in each set). I wanted to play against more high level players but our fifth roommate finally arrived and checked in to the Mariott so we decided to stop our casuals and head to the room to drop our stuff off (and get lunch). While deciding on a place to eat lunch, Henry Cen suggested Louisiana Bistreaux because he went there with other New Yorkers the previous year and had a pleasant experience.
The food there was delicious and affordable. In the previous two years, I usually just defaulted to Spondivits, Waffle House, and McDonalds because they were so close to the venue. Louisiana Bistreaux was just a short walk from Spondivits so I was surprised that I had never been there before. We ordered gator bites as an appetizer for the table (it was my first time eating gator haha), I ordered a Cajun BBQ shrimp dish for my entree, and Henry ordered the bread pudding for dessert (he shared it with the rest of us because he was getting full). Content with our big lunch, we took a Lyft back to the venue to start practicing before Friday pools started.
Once the tournament began, it started to get very crowded around the SFV stations so I decided to just hang out around the spectator seats near the stream station or on the outskirts of the stations when I saw people I knew hanging around. I can say with confidence that the level of SFV I saw at FR 20 was at an all-time high! There were so many amazing matches on and off-stream. On stream, the matches that I remembered the most were Momochi vs Brian F (huge choke from Brian…), NuckleDu vs Danny Pham (huge choke from Danny…) and Tampa Bison vs Daigo (amazing comeback from Tampa after being down a game and a round). Off stream, I can distinctly remember Haitani vs Mikeandike. Mikeandike was one round from sending Haitani to losers but his pad desynced when Haitani hit him with a cr.MK xx LK stomp xx CA combo so Haitani took the round. In the last round of the last game, Mike had Haitani at pixel life and got hit by a hailmary EX DP after Mike landed after an air-to-air j.LK).
When it was finally time for my pool, I was pretty nervous as always but ready.
2-0 DaFeetLee (Ibuki) vs Dregamesta (Rashid/Ibuki)
2-0 DaFeetLee (Ibuki) vs NightTwo (Ken)
1-2 DaFeetLee (Laura) vs Rommaler (Ibuki) – I was sent to losers after this match
2-1 DaFeetLee (Ibuki) vs Dregamesta (Akuma)
2-1 DaFeetLee (Ibuki) vs Bombito (Birdie/Urien)
2-0 DaFeetLee (Ibuki) vs Rommaler (Ibuki) – made it out of my pool and qualified for Top 64 in losers after this match
Notes: I picked Laura against Rommaler in winners because I don’t like the Ibuki mirror match and I felt that Laura had a slight advantage over Ibuki. Rommaler showed me that he had a lot of experience in the Laura matchup and he beat me pretty soundly in the third game to send me to losers. The second time around, I decided to go with Ibuki because Laura failed me in winners. I anti-aired a lot, did Ibuki things, and managed to take it over Rommaler in the runback to make it out of my pool. I was pretty happy that I won the runback but soon found out that I would play the loser qualifier of Phenom/Shine’s pool.
After my pool was over, the venue was closing up for the day so I went to my room to rest for the next day.
I set my alarm for 11:00AM and woke up around that time because I wanted to watch some more tournament matches before Top 64. It was around this time that Phenom went to play Shine on stream for Winners Finals of their pool. I watched Phenom vs Shine closely as they played on the stream station. Shine took the first game against Phenom and I thought that I would end up playing Phenom in losers. However, Phenom quickly downloaded Shine and won the next 4 rounds straight (He just kept jumping on Shine, knowing that Karin’s antiairs were weak, especially against Necalli). My first opponent in Top 64 losers would be none other than Shine from NYC (basically a NYC team kill). Luckily, our Top 64 pool didn’t start until 8:00PM so I had a lot of time to watch the other top 64 matches.
Around this time, I finally met RagingStormX (Real name: Jeff) in real life. We had played against each other in the past (Back during HD Remix days LOL) so it was pretty cool to finally put a face on a gamer tag I’ve recognized over the years. We realized that both of us had not eaten lunch yet so he suggested that we drive to McDonalds to grab some food (he drove to Atlanta from Texas so he had his car in the parking lot). We chatted a lot during the ride and got a ton of McDonalds to fill ourselves up for the day. When we got to the venue, they told us we couldn’t eat in the tournament room so we just ate in the seats outside. When we finished our food, I went back to the SFV stations while Jeff went to the old school cabs on the other side of the room.
At this time, I got to squeeze in some casuals against some players before my Top 64 pool started (I got to play Joel, Justin Wong, Alex Myers, etc.). I was also rooting for every NYer that was still in Top 64 (In particular, Moons and JonB). I was so impressed at how well JonB was playing this tournament; he lost a very close match against Mago in winners, then he went on to eliminate Marn, Gamerbee (he beat Gamerbee 4 rounds straight which was a huge surprise to me because Gamerbee’s main training partner is Oil King, a Rashid main), Mikeandike, and FChamp. When he played his stream match against Itabashi Zangief, I expected him to lose 2-0 but he managed to push Itabashi to last game, last round of their tournament set. Out of all the NYers at FR, he impressed me the most (right next to Arturo’s amazing performance in Top 64).
When I finally got to play Shine, I felt ready because I had practiced with a couple Karins before our match (most notably Justin Wong, who has a lot of Ibuki practice because he plays Marn all the time). Shine ended up beating me 2-0 anyway, although the first game was fairly close (I fell for a dash in, dash out shimmy when we were both fairly low on health and I was fully stocked with VTrigger). I didn’t mind losing to Shine because he usually beats me in general but I wish I got to advance further in the tournament. It also sucked that I got eliminated by someone from my city haha.
I was stuck in spectator mode for the rest of the tournament.
I was in the front of the crowd when this amazing moment happened. It was probably the highlight of all of FR 20. It was the epitome of FGC hype: the energy from the crowd, the pop off after the match, the reactions from everyone in the front row.
After top 64 was over and top 8 was determined, I knew that I would be rooting for Xian to take Final Round because he had been playing Ibuki the entire tournament. It was amazing to see his Final Round run because he had not really played Ibuki fully in tournament until Final Round and he was playing so perfect with her. I also managed to get a long set against Kazunoko’s Cammy in casuals after top 64; the score was around 9-6 in his favor before he had to leave with the other Japanese players (I wish we got to play until one of us hit 10 wins). When the venue closed up around 11:00PM, I went to Champions with Lud, OGYawn, and Gllty to grab some late night food. Then, we headed to Lud’s room to play some casuals for the rest of the night. I ended up leaving the room around 4:00AM and fell fast asleep to prepare for the final day of FR.
Once again, I set my alarm for around 11:00AM because I was told the night before that they would have some casual setups in the main tournament room before Top 8 of SFV. When I went down, I already saw Phenom playing casuals. Soon after, more and more top players started surrounding the casual stations (there were around 8 setups). At this time, I got to play a lot of casual sets while witnessing a lot of casual sets between top players. I played Phenom in two FT5s (He won both FT5s 5-4), played Inuchiyo (I used Laura against him and won a very close FT2), played PR Rog in a FT3 (He won 3-0 over my Ibuki), played Fuudo in a FT3 (He won 3-1), played Oil King in a FT3 (He owned me 3-0), etc.
Even when Top 8 began, we were still playing casuals on the side. I actually only caught a couple matches of Top 8 because I was busy playing casuals on the side. I played Gamerbee in a FT5 (He beat me 5-3 and gave me some advice after our set), played Tokido in a FT2 (He beat me 2-0), and played XSK Samurai in a FT3 (I won 3-2). While I was playing these casuals, Xian was doing work in Top 8 and managed to win the entire tournament! I was so happy that Ibuki finally won a major; I knew that it would happen eventually but I didn’t think it would happen so soon after her Season 2 buffs. At the same time, every top player around me was whining about how strong Ibuki was as a character hahaha.
As everyone was trickling out of the tournament room, I linked up with Smug, Kami, and JonB, hoping to find a room with casual setups to finish off our Final Round trip. We chilled around in the Mariott and met up with CJ Truth and Asiandemon. I remembered that Lud had a setup in his room in the Mariott so I messaged him and he told me that his room was open; he even had Inuchiyo in his room playing casuals. We quickly went to his room so we could all get some games in with Inuchiyo. Later on in the night, Punk, Shine, and Brian F came into the room so we rotated casual sets while chatting it up when we weren’t playing. Punk and Kami in particular were hilarious in the room; they definitely have no restrictions in the stuff they say. The room shut down late at night because Lud’s crew had to leave in the morning so we all parted ways around 4:00AM. I went to my room and passed out until I had to wake up for my 12:00PM flight the next day.
Final Round 20 Pros
- Great venue this year. Very spacious, never felt crowded, and everything was in one room so I knew where everything was. Additional plus: venue was connected to the airport by Skytrain (free).
- Casual setups for SFV set up long before the tournament actually started so we could get practice in and casual setups for SFV set up on Sunday even though only Top 8 was left for the tournament. (Small downside is that the venue had to close down around 11:00PM every day).
- The SFV tournament itself ran smoothly and there were no delays when transitioning from one set of pools to another.
Final Round 20 Cons
- No real food options in/near the venue. If you wanted any real food, you had to either have a car or take a Lyft/Uber.
- The Mariott (main hotel next to the venue) sold out quickly so a lot of top players had to book hotels away from the venue. It was hard to consolidate all the top players so for most of the weekend, everyone was scattered around in different hotels.
- They took on-site registration for SFV again this year and distributed all the on-site registrants into different pools, just like last year. Players like Mago, Mike Ross, Mikeandike, etc. were randomly placed in the pools (Henry Cen and Lil Evil found out last minute that they had to face Mikeandike and Mike Ross first round respectively). I feel that if they were taking on-site registration for SFV, especially for a CPT premier event, they should’ve made a death pool because that’s not fair to the players that were preparing for their pool (before the on-site registrants were added).
All in all, I really enjoyed FR 20 compared to FR 18 and FR 19. Being in a convention center was a huge improvement. I just wonder if it’s that much more expensive than holding the tournament in a hotel. I know there were less people this year compared to last year so it was probably less stressful to run the whole event. I hope they keep improving for next year! I would definitely go again next year if I can (I will probably start law school this fall so I don’t know how much free time I will have once I do start).