Post-Genesis 3: Your Next Opponent
Cary "Vro" Zhang
Every time I enter a tournament, I want to play and perform better than the last one. This past year I had the highest activity of my career, going to Evo 2015, Big House 5, Genesis 3, along with several monthlies, and dozens of weeklies. I have traveled and played with many great players and it’s important to never forget the ultimate goal as a competitor: to become great at the global level. It’s not enough to beat your friends and it’s not enough to win a weekly. Everyone knows this, but rarely do players have the drive to confront their weaknesses and the commitment to travel. There has to be a next adventure on the horizon, otherwise you’ll forget the global dream.
Evo 2015 was my first national in a long time; I really had no idea what to expect. The tournament experience and environment were incredible and stories of themselves. But as a competitor, it was a tough story. There were very few opportunities to warm up and some pools ran behind. I wasn’t able to reliably find a hotel room with a setup, so it was difficult to get any games in before pools started. Additionally, competitors have to get used to multi day events and evening time slots. I didn’t get to play my first match until 5pm.
To make a long story short, my run at Evo ended winner’s side by Dizzkidboogie, a respected Ice Climbers player who excels at wobbling. My loser’s side run was ended by Tuesday, another Ice Climber player who had access to wobbling as well. So at my first national in a long time, I got wobbled twice right out of the tournament, not even making it out of round one pools.
I was disappointed to say the least. When I got home, I was determined to make a game plan so that my next national wouldn’t be a repeat of Evo. I attended every single weekly I could, even the small 10 person ones. Two months after Evo, I had gone to about twenty tournaments. I learned a lot about myself and it became really stressful. In this time, my partner and I created Melee Everyday. So in many ways my defeat at Evo created this perpetual machine.
At Big House 5, I managed to play well and plan accordingly with the multiple days and late time slots. At this point in time, my national level seeding was pretty good, so I had no incredibly difficult fights in round one and made it out in winners. My first match in round two was IrishMafia. We had a close set but he managed to send me to losers. In losers I managed to play well until my final opponent sealed me out of entering top 64. Darkrain and I had a strange set, with many flubs on both sides. I felt disappointed, but both of my losses were understandable. I was working on my goals and there was progress.
By now, Melee Everyday was more of an ideology than a literal take on my life, when I used to go to 5 tournaments a week. Rubicon was becoming extremely successful in both its reputation and its attendance. One of the weaknesses I felt Chicago suffered was not only a lack of a strong monthly series, but also talent access. Our power ranked players are not all yet confident enough to travel and many skilled players just barely miss Chicago and attend other Midwest tournaments. I can no longer count on my hands the number of times I have been called a Michigan player by other regions at nationals. Rubicon allows our players to play and develop with strong players they would otherwise have no access to. This personally helped me greatly on my journey as a competitor.
Genesis 3 was an incredible tournament. I spent over half of my time acting as a Chicago liaison, promoting our scene and working on developing relations with key players. I spent time backstage looking at how things operated and met with many key figures in the community. This is the only time all these people can be met in person, all at the same time. There’s always someone to talk to and there’s always new plans forming in my mind for the future of Chicago.
I make it out of round one through winner’s side, as once again my national level seeding has given me a reasonable pool. I get lots of rest and anticipate day 2, hoping that all of my hard work can come together to put me through into top 64. I check the brackets and realize it was very possible, I could just make it out through losers - it seemed very likely.
My first match of round two was streamed against Brandondorf, a player from California. I have experience in this matchup and played well, despite a little bit of stage nerves getting to me. My next match was to be against Tekk, but he was very ill that weekend and did not go to the venue at all. So I got a bye. My next match was against Zhu. Our game was weird and had some flubs, with a notable 200% stock from Zhu on game 2. I didn’t manage to get any gimps and I was really disappointed in my play. I managed to win the rest of my losers matches in round two with a very dead-serious attitude. My last opponent before top 64 was Icer from the East Coast.
I was extremely happy I made it into top 64, an incremental improvement from each national before me. I was lucky with a bye past Tekk as I think it would’ve been a very tough and close game, but with his favor. A few hours later, we had to start top 64 and boil the tournament down to top 8. My first match in top 64 was a loser side match with none other than Dizzkidboogie. He was on the other side of my pool round two and we both ended meeting each other here. I had learned a lot about IC’s since fighting him half a year ago and wanted this to be a good match. He 2-0’d me at Evo and I wanted anything but a shutout.
Within 4 seconds of game one I was being wobbled and killed. The frustration of the tactic was a tenth of the pain I felt from him the last time we met and I held my chin up high. Game one ended with him narrowly defeating me. He proceeds to win the next two games on Yoshi’s and Fountain. He 3-0’d me and we shook hands. I took him down to last stock many times and felt in control the entire set. It was an incredibly hard loss. It was a shutout.
Captain Faceroll and I were the highest placing players from IL, tying at 49th place. He managed to get 2 wins and a very close last game against Redd. He almost made it to the next round.
I only played a handful of friendlies after getting knocked out. It was a tough loss, but I had to remind myself of my progress. I had grown a lot as a player, in many ways. I had learned to adapt to the national level schedule and play with little to no warmup. I had learned and practiced against every matchup I faced in my national level matches. I kept my cool better through losses, as I tasted both victory and defeat more often. I played with some of the greatest players and got insight into both their lives and their play patterns.
You can be result oriented and say things like I got 3-0’d by Dizkidboogie. You can win small tournaments and be proud of 1st place. Or you could strive for greatness. You could fight every fight not like it was your last opponent but preparation for your next one. There is always a player rising to the top, getting better and progressing faster. Every tournament you enter is the next step to winning a bigger challenge. I wouldn’t want to compare my progress and accomplishments with anyone but myself. And my last year has shown my development and progress.
Here’s to the next national and to your next opponent. 2016 Cheers!