Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! Due to the nature of the week, getting this piece out about my favorite venue took some time. Apologies to those I met that wanted to see this sooner! This past Tuesday I made my way to Free Play Richardson to attend the Street Fighter II Grand Master Challenge tournament. If you recall, I attended Free Play last week as well. As I mentioned, the games change every single week, which spices up the venue entirely. You’ll never be competing in the same game, so there’s plenty of time to practice before the next week.
I for one had zero practice for Street Fighter II, so I knew I was at an extreme disadvantage. Since last week’s Fist of the North Star, I had bought Street Fighter V to hone my skills. Luckily a lot of my knowledge in V translated well into II. I placed well but nowhere near the level I did last week. The men and women who attended this tournament were incredibly talented, to which they rubbed my smug face right into the dirt. I never had more fun losing though.
Upon entering the event, I could instantly tell the atmosphere was much different. The number of participants was nearly triple that of last week. Many people came out for Street Fighter, some even stating the only reason they come to Free Play was due to the intense care they take in maintaining their Japanese machine. I agree as well, the way the staff at Free Play really care about the well being of their machines is to be congratulated. In most arcades, the owners can’t really be bothered to care about what’s on the floor. You won’t find that in this venue, you can bet on it.
Almost immediately after we arrived I was put into the first match of the night. Hilariously enough, I was against one of my good friends named Tristan Sulak. We had been practicing playing together a few hours prior, so it was time to put my skills to the test. I picked Ryu while Tristan picked Cammy. I would love to go into detail as I did with Fist of the North Star, but matches in Street Fighter go so quick it’s nearly impossible. I lost the first round pretty quickly, but the pro I was teamed up with told me to use my Hadouken’s more often. That’s all I needed to hear. Quickly, I took the next two rounds and knocked Tristan out.
That’s when his partner sat down across from me. Jarrett was his name, and Guile was his game. I didn’t stand a chance against him. Luckily my partner was an E-Honda player who doesn’t take any crap. He took the game and we advanced to the winner’s bracket, quickly dispatching Tristan to the losers. Our time in the sun didn’t last too long I hate to admit. As I mentioned before, the games go super quickly in Street Fighter II, so almost immediately we were put into our next match. Once I saw who I was facing, I knew I was done for.
Chun-Li is the bane of my existence in Street Fighter. As a newer player, I can’t handle the endless flurry of kicks and jumps. I was quickly taken out of the round, but again my partner saved our behinds. The next round didn’t go as well. Once Chun-Li was out, Jeremy Withers sat across from my teammate. He’s an all-around player, but one of the best Ryu’s I’ve seen. My partner grunted in frustration when he noticed he was fighting Jeremy. They jokingly mentioned after the match that they always seem to fight each other at every event. The fight was extremely close and horribly nail-biting, but Honda couldn’t handle the Ryu onslaught. We were now in the losers bracket, but not entirely out just yet.
Meanwhile, Tristan and Jeremy were tearing up their next match in Street Fighter. They were quickly fighting their way through the losers, putting up serious matches against some hardcore people. As I was cheering Tristan on, we were put into the next match. If we lost this game, we’d be out of the tournament entirely. With my blood pumping, I sat down and readied myself. Dhalsim was my next opponent, but I was not expecting the amount of range the fighter had. I lost the first round pretty quickly but learned if I stayed on top of him he couldn’t escape. Putting everything I had into my hands, I took him down and readied myself for their partner. Balrog was picked to fight me, much to my partner’s dismay.
The first thing he said to me was “Don’t let him get close to you”. I listened to his advice to the best of my abilities, but Balrog knew the matchup and Street Fighter all too well. He wasn’t moving until I decided to get closer, to which he answered with a million combos. I barely took a fraction of health off of Balrog before I got demolished. My partner didn’t fare much better, ending our run in the tournament. I didn’t hit third place this time around, but I gained some valuable experience for sure. Tristan ended up making it to the winner’s bracket but was taken out as well.
Within the next hour, the winners of Tuesday Fight Night were announced. The winners were Desiree Cole and Hung “Turtle Power”. When asked, they stated that,
“We really didn’t expect to win!”
With that, the event ended and the participants scattered. This last Tuesday was the craziest event I’ve been to, which made it difficult to write over. The next time I go it should be easier as I get more accustomed to the number of people around. I would like to focus on interviews for my next piece, so if I ever met you at Free Play at any point you can potentially be featured! Until next week, you can watch the entire Tuesday Night Fight on Twitch here.
My name is Gary, and I love video games. I’ve been writing and gaming since I got my gameboy color as a boy. Ever since, I haven’t been able to live without it. I’m an established playwright turned journalist, and I hope to entertain many for years to come!