Saturday, August 1, 2015

Brutality - August 2015


Summer Season 2015 is underway! This is Meet 2 of Summer Season, so that means there are only two more tournaments, counting this one, where you can earn ranking points for the Summer Championship in October!

VENUE
$5 - All Night Entry to Arcade Legacy

GAMES
MKX - PS4 - $5 Entry
KI - XBONE - $5 Entry

This is a BYOC event (Bring Your Own Controller). There are no guarantees that Arcade Legacy, PowerUp, or other players will provide you with controllers.

All players will be responsible for deleting Bluetooth devices from the PS4 that they are to play a tournament match on.

PRE-REGISTRATION

You may pre-register for the event, although it is not mandatory, at the following link: http://www.powerupfighters.org/p/pre-registration.html

STREAM

The stream will show exclusively MKX, unless we get 13 or more players in our KI bracket.

PRIZES

Entrance fees are divided amongst top placers based on the number of entrants in the bracket.

MKX Bonus Prizes
1st Place - $5
2nd Place - $5
3rd Place - $5
4th Place - $5

KI Bonus Prize
1st Place - $5

One random player who enters MKX and places 7th or below will receive free entry to the next Brutality event (a $5 value, cannot be turned into cash or credit). The same person may not win consecutively.

CHARITY
PowerUp is proud to have Brutality - August 2015 as an event where players and viewers can contribute charitable donations to Child's Play. Our goal is only $20 for this event, so let's make it happen! Be an upstanding #FGCitizen and go to the following link to contribute to Child's Play: http://www.powerupfighters.org/p/donate.html

POWER RANKINGS
Players who enter MKX will earn ranking points based on their performance. Players who earn points in the top 5 values will be invited to compete in a Championship Round Robin during Brutality - October 2015. There will be prizes, and there is the potential for a KI Championship as well, based upon further increases in the number of KI entrants.

There will be normal MKX and KI brackets during Brutality - October, and the power rankings will be reset for Fall Season 2015.

Players will be seeded in all Brutality MKX and KI brackets according to their power ranking. The first tournament of each season will always be randomly seeded. Players without a power ranking will be seeded as having zero ranking points.

CURRENT POWER RANKINGS
MKX
9pts - Action Jackson
8pts - Tylenolz
7pts - Dean IMH
6pts - TheRedCyclone
5pts - MPII The Ronin
5pts - cR | Skcorpion86
4pts - Bad News Brendon
4pts - Mac
3pts - Arkayne
3pts - Zubastian
3pts - JoNeZ
3pts - Advilz
2pts - Sylar
2pts - Wicked Wraith
2pts - Sinow Beat
2pts - The Relic
1pt - Johnny Z.
1pt - Ninja Stewart

KI
9pts - Gilgamesh
8pts - Bad News Brendon
7pts - The 18th King
6pts - Arkayne
5pts - Angels and Demons LP
5pts - GUNSBLAZEDPANDA
4pts - Zubastian
4pts - Pope Temmy
3pts - MPII The Ronin

RULES
Winner is character and variation locked.

Blind picks are allowed upon player request of the TO.

You may request a coach, who must follow the PowerUp private coaching rules. Follow the link below to the PowerUp Rules Document for more information.

Stage will always be randomly selected. Either single random or double random.

No fatalities on the big screen. The tournament will be up on a giant projector screen, in full view of children. We do not want any parents bringing complaints to our generous venue, Arcade Legacy.

For the complete PowerUp Rules Document, please go to: http://www.powerupfighters.org/p/event-rules.html

SOCIAL MEDIA
Join the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/576492125822303/

Join us in The Brutality Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/454333527975618/

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Firestarter - Part 1


Killer Instinct was extremely fun during the lull between January 2015 and the release of MKX. However, I did not take it seriously for two reasons: I knew MKX was coming, of course, and at that time I did not have an XBONE arcade stick. Playing on XBONE pad was a nightmare for me and I hope my life is never on the line with only an XBONE pad available to me. So, once MKX was released and I got my arcade stick, KI was put on the back burner.

I did not forget about the game, though, because it is run as a side tournament at every Brutality event. The average number of players is five, but we have a special opportunity this month to receive a $50 bonus from the FightFest component of FandomFest, in Louisville, KY on August 7-9, 2015. All we have to do is reach thirteen entrants in our KI bracket. So, with that incentive, I intend to enter the tournament myself and help bolster the numbers. Hopefully I will not be too free to the competition!

The first thing I do when starting any new competitive fighting game is decide on which character I want to play. I take into consideration that character's playstyle, story, visual design, and, when applicable, the tier of the character. This is where Infil's Killer Instinct Guide for SFIV Players was extremely useful to me. In fact, I am positive this guide will continue to be a great tool as I go through the early stages of my KI training. I also made use of Cinder's page on the KI Wiki.

I have to like a character for some reason. I need to identify with them, even if they are a villain. Sometimes, a character highlights a piece of my own personality. Anakaris, from Darkstalkers, is mysterious, ancient, and was the leader of his people. E. Honda is full of boisterous confidence and is a generally congenial fellow.

On the other hand, some characters act as foils to my personality. Shinnok is a schemer who wants to control the world to do his bidding. I may not be trying to take over the world, but Shinnok's self-assuredness and dark path are very interesting to me. They make me ask myself the question, "What if I had turned to the dark side?!" It's silly, but these sorts of personal connections with fighting game characters make me want to play them, and keep playing them, and will help me stick with it even as I run into roadblocks. This is especially true if the scene for the game is small, and that is definitely the case for KI in our area. I am hoping to change that, though!

So, why Cinder? Well, Infil's guide has this wonderful tool that gives you a visual representation of how each character stacks up in the realms of rushdown, zoning, footsies, defense, and so on. You can check out this really cool tool by clicking this link and scrolling down. I am more of a defensive player, although I enjoy being able to splash in offense as a surprise to my opponents. I like to change it up, but my foundation is defense and zoning. You would think Kan-Ra would be a great choice for me, but I am not really a fan of traps. I like to play more straightforward. I also like to be able to move around a lot to feint my opponent. Cinder is rated as tied for highest mobility in the game, fourth in terms of defense, and seventh in terms of zoning. He is also rated very low in terms of damage, and around the middle in terms of ease of use and total score. Cinder earns a tentative check mark in the realm of gameplay.

If I were to go off of Cinder's gameplay alone, choosing him as a main is not looking super convincing. Then again, his visual design is still super appealing to me, so I am hooked enough to take his storyline into consideration. In the revamped story of Killer Instinct on XBONE, Cinder is ex-military, and was very good at his job. He became a mercenary who took on jobs coming from sometimes shady individuals and organizations. Cinder relishes the challenge, and has a big ego. He feels his skills are deserving of the money he gets paid, and does not particularly care who he works for. The martial artist in me really likes the idea of Cinder as a contemporary warrior, and he acts as a foil to my goody-goody personality. So, a big check mark in the realm of storyline and visual design. Spoiler: I like bright colors, ha!

At the end of my research into Cinder as a character, I decided to give him a shot and start the Firestarter series. In the future, I could definitely change, and the Firestarter series could morph into something else for a different KI character. Only time, and training, will tell!

Oh yeah, I will have to actually train with this character, won't I? I can't just drop in to Brutality and expect my KI matches to happen smoothly. Onward to training goals!
  • Understand the system mechanics.
  • Try online play. I hear it is loads better than MKX.
  • BNBs (Bread N' Butter combos)
  • Combo Breakers training
  • Counter Breaker setups
  • Shadow Counter usage
  • Have some fun!
  • Convince other people to play. You wouldn't know it from all the marketing and pot bonuses, but the KI competitive scene is actually relatively small.
Good luck on your personal journey to power up!

#FiredUp

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Bonesickle Chronicles - Part 3


Shinnok is Top 10 now? Holy cow! Throughout my time lurking on the Test Your Might forums, I have never seen something quite so shocking. This news comes from the YOMI v1.0 tier list posted by YOMI DJT. You know the YOMI crew, right? They're the cats who took CEO 2015 by storm and brought home a lot of money while awkwardly wiggling their tongues at the camera. So, in theory, they are the current MKX experts.

I believe that Shinnok will drop out of Top 10 as the game ages. He still suffers from meter starvation and while his mixup potential is great, he has a harder time applying consistent pressure if the opponent is defending well. However, if the game remains as is, or close to it, I do not believe Shinnok will ever drop below Top 15. He is definitely that good, and can most certainly compete with the top characters thanks to the significant strategical differences inherent in his variations. You can read more about how important I think Shinnok's variations are to his tournament viability in Part 2 of the Bonesickle Chronicles.

Learn all three of Shinnok's variations, against all of the characters, if you wish to continue seeing tournament success. Yes, the risk of a counter pick will loom over your head, but that is why analyzing each matchup with each of Shinnok's variations is so important. His variations give him immense flexibility that you should use, rather than shelve in the name of playing only the "best" variation. That is laziness. I look forward to doing my matchup research and eventually publishing my Shinnok guide where I will explain which variations I believe are most useful in every matchup.

I am truly in shock because I have never found myself in the position to play a top tier or upper-mid tier character in the history of my playing competitive fighting games. It is very funny to me that I now find myself worrying over nerfs to my character. That is a strange, surreal feeling. However, I am ready for potential nerf, and in fact here is a suggested one:
  • Impostor  damage buff reduced in strength by 25%. Sure it is a little difficult for Impostor to open you up if you have a solid defense and punish game, but sometimes the damage can get out of hand just because of a couple bad guesses. Then again, them's fighting games y'all!
But enough speculation, Shinnok did get nerfed! Oh what a horrible thing. Hell Sparks meter burned on block is now a paltry +14 instead of the much more fair and balanced +24 frames on block. Shinnok is ruined. His pressure is now nonexistent, blah, blah, blah. This is a fair change that keeps Shinnok from getting in that extra bit of chip, and forces the player to meter burn the first hit of the Hell Sparks. Shinnok is thus closer to the opponent and more vulnerable than he was before. It takes away the braindead nature of pressure that comes with a move that is +24 on block. I welcome this change.

So what is on my Shinnok training to-do list? Matchup training is priority number one, and consists mainly of the following at this point in time:
  • Backdashing opponent's strings and punishing
  • Punishing unsafe strings and special moves
  • Memorizing the high/low mixup built in to each character's strings
  • Neutral game strategy in every matchup
As I mentioned previously, I already have a good idea of which variations I believe are the most useful against each character in general. Of course the list could change over time, but I will post it here for posterity. From left to right are what I consider the most effective variation to the least effective against that character. The differences that make one variation better than another are often minuscule. Also, choosing variation should also take into account your opponent's tendencies just as much as the character they are playing. Lists are lists, though, and some things will get lost in the simplification process. Lastly, big shout outs to Test Your Might user Shamwow0w0w's thread Impostor/Mimicry Vortex Options Megathread. This was a wonderful resource that helped me make my list.
  • Cassie = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Necromancer acts as a counter to her zoning attempts. Frustrate the rushdown character rather than compete with her at her own game. Impostor allows for full screen pressure and reads on gunshot, and even though there is no Mimicry vortex, the damage buff and safe blockstring is good. Boneshaper will not likely win the full screen zoning war and allow Cassie to get in close too often in order to run its own mixups.
  • D'Vorah = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Cassie
  • Ermac = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • Dat vortex, baby. Nothing beats it. Necromancer can attempt to counter zone, but both it and Boneshaper need to be wary of teleports. Boneshaper's zoning is just so slow that I worry Ermac will get in too often, whereas he must respect Necromancer more at full screen.
  • Erron Black = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • Impostor vortex is only possible with meter, so it makes Boneshaper a bit more useful for the zoning possibilities and better footsies.
  • Ferra/Torr = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Necromancer acts as a pestering barrage of zoning against the poor brawler with no teleport. Abuse, abuse, abuse. For Impostor and Boneshaper, see Cassie's reasoning.
  • Goro = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Ferra/Torr
  • Jacqui = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Cassie, but with a vortex possible. 
  • Jason = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • See the Ferra/Torr reasoning, with the addendum that stealing Jason's damage buff and its cooldown vulnerability is probably the worst thing ever for Shinnok, especially since Jason hits so hard. Avoid Impostor at all costs. Try not to use Mimicry if you get locked in and counterpicked. A good reason to start petitioning for no variation lock for the winner of a match, ha!
  • Jax = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • What a shame that Shinnok no longer steals the unblockable ground pound. Would have made this matchup 10-0 in Shinnok's favor, in my opinion. However, stealing the rush punch and its overhead component is not a horrible consolation prize. Impostor can also get around the Jax zoning fairly easily. For Necromancer and Boneshaper reasoning, see Cassie.
  • Johnny = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Jason, but without the ability to pester quite as effectively at full screen with Necromancer. Also, the kick is not a horrible Mimicry move, but it certainly is not good.
  • Kano = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • See Cassie
  • Kenshi = Impostor / Necromancer - Boneshaper
    • See Ermac, but without the worry over teleports. The Impostor combos here are also a bit harder and lack a bit of luster, but a vortex is a vortex!
  • Kitana = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac, but without the worry over teleports.
  • Kotal Kahn = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac for vortex potential, and Ferra/Torr for Necromancer potential.
  • Kung Jin = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • Another almost useless Mimicry steal. Pester this guy at full screen and avoid the footsie game at all costs. Yes, Boneshaper has good footsies, but guess what? Kung Jin has better footsies.
  • Kung Lao = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Necromancer gets the boot here because of teleport. Unlike Ermac, Kung Lao thrives up close. Necromancer can make Ermac respect you. Kung Lao respects nothing except vortex, so that's what we'll give him!
  • Liu Kang = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Johnny
  • Mileena = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • See Kung Lao, minus the worry over super aggression.
  • Predator = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • See Erron Black, but without the vortex possibilities. Also, no Mimicry while invisible is very bad for Shinnok. Necromancer could be good, but Predator throws a lot of quick projectiles itself. Even without a vortex, Impostor is a bit better just for being able to get around Predator's zoning while putting on more pressure. Again, the difference is very slight between these two variations' usefulness in the matchup.
  • Quan Chi = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac
  • Raiden = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • What a mess of a matchup, because Raiden has some good options in his variations that I also believe people should be using more rather than going solely to Thundergod. The differences here are minimal. Impostor is good for the damage buff, but Necromancer is better if the opponent does not use Displacer. Stealing the flying slam is okay, but not great since there is no vortex potential.
  • Reptile = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • See Erron Black, but without the vortex possibilities. Poison ball pressure is cool, though.
  • Scorpion = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • See Ermac, with extra worry over the footsies game, though.
  • Shinnok = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Hilarious. See Ermac, but switch Boneshaper and Necromancer based on the tendencies of your opponent.
  • Sonya = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Johnny. She did.
  • Sub-Zero = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Another tough one. See Erron Black, in general, but switch Necromancer and Boneshaper depending on the tendencies of your opponent. Necromancer if they are more lame, and Boneshaper if they are more aggressive. Vortex is possible off Mimicry, but does require meter.
  • Tanya = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Gross matchup. Impostor vortex is solid. The other two are really dependent on Tanya's variation choice and your opponent's tendencies.
  • Takeda = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • Surprisingly, a vortex does exist, but it is a bit tougher to pull off. Boneshaper has a hard time in the footsie war, though, so beware.
  • Tremor = I will make a point to update this list once I get my hands on the character. 
Let us finish up with my training to-do list, starting with good news! I have completed the first drafts of the general gameplay strategies for Shinnok's variations at Range 1 (full screen), Range 2 (jump in), and Range 3 (point blank). There are nuances in between these ranges, but I find the more general range designations to be sufficient. My last topic is a reiteration of the importance of practicing option selects. The Shin Kick xx Hell Sparks / Mimicry option select is particularly important. The f.2 xx Hell Sparks / Mimicry option select is also going to be key in the footsie game of Impostor, and to a lesser extent the footsie games of Necromancer and Boneshaper.

Good luck on your personal journey to power up!

#Bonesickle

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Killer Instinct Guide for SFIV Players by Infil



This online guide is an extremely well done introduction to Killer Instinct. The guide's author, Infil, may indicate through the title that this guide is meant to aid in transition from Street Fighter to Killer Instinct, but the information goes beyond that. Not only does Infil include terminology and concepts that Street Fighter players will understand, he includes a robust breakdown of the game's mechanics and very good introductions to the playstyle of each character.

I first encountered Infil's work through an article posted on Shoryuken. I found the guide extremely informative even in those early stages. I dropped Killer Instinct early on due to not having an Xbox One arcade stick at the time, and the impending release of Mortal Kombat X was much more interesting to me. Now, with KI being a consistent side event at the Brutality series of events, I have slowly rekindled my interest. Imagine my surprise when I found the guide again, completely updated with information on all the current characters.

It was like hitting the lottery. Usually, really good sources of information stay that way for a short while. The authors put in a lot of time and effort for very little to no reward. It is a lot like this blogsite, really. The content is produced because of the player's passion. I think that is the second reason that I chose to write about Infil's guide. Not only is it a great resource for those people looking to play Killer Instinct competitively, but it is a labor of love.

Infil's guide is well written and full of GIF images that show the techniques without the need for numerous videos to load. The information is also deep; this is not a rudimentary overview of the game. Everything is giving a competitive slant complete with tips, tricks, and the frame data to back up the assertions. The guide is not so deep that reading it alone will give you all you need to know about the game and its characters, but I daresay it gets quite close.

The guide, as a website, is extremely user friendly. It is also mobile friendly, and I am sure that is no coincidence, as so many players at tournaments have only their smart phones to look up information. In terms of design, the guide is gorgeous to look at. Simple colors, easily readable text, and proper resolution images round out a wonderful piece of work. There is even a FAQ section and an Ask.fm. I do not know if the Ask.fm is still active, but as of this writing the most recent response was from approximately one month ago. So go ahead and ask Infil your question; you might just get lucky.

I posted on Twitter a few months ago and said that playing KI was great fun; I had been missing out. It was fun playing on pad back then, and I look forward to now playing on an arcade stick. Infil's guide has helped me choose the characters I am most interested in playing, and I highly recommend that you go the guide yourself to learn about why you should be playing Killer Instinct!

Follow this link to Infil's guide: http://ki.infil.net/index.html