My Experience at CEO 2017: A Jim Amongst Gods

Before I delve into my personal experience at CEO 2017, I would like to show you all a little picture of my bracket prospects prior to attending the event:

As you can see, things were looking pretty bleak. After my first round matches in both SFV and KoFXIV, two separate Evo Champions including “The Beast” Daigo Umehara himself loomed, ready to hand me a case of swift bust-ass back into the loser’s bracket.

In the moment, I felt I had two choices: feel discouraged and curse the unfeeling smash.gg algorithm that assigned me to such a cruel fate OR feel excited for the opportunity to test myself against the highest caliber of talent in fighting games.

As a competitor who does decently in his region (Louisiana), I was a little salty knowing that I would most likely have an early bid to the loser’s bracket where I’d have to play several matches to not drown in my pool. However, what CEO2017 reinforced for me, and what I didn’t necessarily want to believe prior, was that results at a major — no matter how hell bent we are on success — are secondary to the overall experience of the weekend. Yeah you may get out of pools, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you improved your game as much as possible. And that also doesn’t mean you had the best time possible talking trash and hanging with your boys either. Major tournaments, while they are great benchmarks to measure your skill, are insanely valuable experiences where the FGC gets together to kick it and have a great time.

If anything, I would like my experience at CEO 2017 to be a testament to one of my favorite aspects of the FGC: that a “Jim” or a relative nobody always has a chance to try themselves against the highest competition. Can an aspiring amateur tennis player get pick up games against Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer? Hell no. Can an aspiring fighting game player get casuals or tournament sets against four different Evolution Champions in two days? With a little money spent on travel & registration, hell yes!

At no other major tournament have I gotten to play against such a crazy amount of top level talent in multiple games, whether it be King of Fighters, Injustice, or Street Fighter.

Now, let me dive into my experiences with the 3 games I entered at CEO2017. Just bare with me, for there will be gratuitous amounts of shoutouts and shameless plugs.

Street Fighter V:

So yeah, I played Daigo. I time-stamped it to the coolest part for your viewing pleasure.

For the first time ever, I found myself popping off for my opponent rather than on my opponent. (and yes my sonic boom hit Daigo out of his super’s recovery so he could calmly walk up and backfist my face.) Daigo displayed a clear understanding of the Guile mirror, and adeptly applied counters for certain situations like backdashing to avoid the throw loop after Guile’s back throw and saving his meter to activate v-trigger into super anytime I was careless with sonic booms. I was clearly outclassed, but the match itself was incredibly fun as a decently sized crowd formed behind to watch. Ultimately, I went 4–2 in pools, losing in loser’s semi’s to a Ken player that made a comeback when I was one jab away from closing the set. (the salt still lingers.)

The Main Hall was less crowded this year during pools, and brackets were T.O.’d pretty efficiently. I was afraid at one point that my Injustice pool would overlap with my SFV and I’d risk getting DQ’d, but things were handled fine.

I also got to play some sick players like Dark Jiewa, Ludovic, Danslip, and other random people who busted my ass. I actually struggled to get any sort of wins in sets outside of my pool, and it motivated me to play SFV a lot more when I got home. I’ve noticed that I rely far too much on instinct rather than MU knowledge in SFV, which honestly can be successful, but at the highest levels won’t suffice.

Louisiana players didn’t do half bad at the event either, and it was dope getting to cheer on GoL|Novaspec and GoL|Ranmasama in top 64. They both ran into PG|Punk but neither of their sets was a straight blow out. GoL Krucial B also made it out of his pool but lost to King Birdie who ended up doing incredibly well.

LA Crew Watching Top 8

Injustice 2:

If you were playing Injustice 2 at CEO2017, I would consider yourself incredibly lucky. The Injustice room had, in my opinion, the best ratio of setups to players and, unlike the Street Fighter setups, got to stay open well into Saturday night. I actually got more casuals against good Injustice/NRS players than any other game I played.

Injustice players were also generally eager to discuss MU’s and strategies if you were having a hard time. Perhaps it was the newness of the game, but most of the players I encountered would teach you how to block or interrupt certain strings and try to pick your brain on the strengths of certain characters.

Shoutouts to Madzin, who might have been my favorite person that I met at the whole event. He’s actually super energetic, loud, and funny while still being incredibly analytical and helpful about the game.

One of my favorite sessions of the entire trip was playing against KDZ, the 2013 Injustice Evo Champ. We ran several sets with various characters and I did way better than I ever thought I would, either winning or going even in sets. Shoutouts to KDZ for teaching me how cross up hurtboxes work in Injustice and giving me Batman tips. Good luck on winning Evo with your top secret Black Adam setups >:).

Another Evolution champion that I had the chance to play was Chris G. Though his victory was in Marvel 3, Chris G has won Injustice majors and placed top 8 at Evo in Injustice in the past. Chris G tested Injustice (ban the testers!), but I hear he is allowed to compete at Evo 2017 coming up. I got to play him Saturday night when pretty much everyone, including me, was feeling pretty lit. I’m pretty sure I introduced myself by saying that I was the one that made a sick twitter shitpost about zangief that he retweeted lmao.

His Blue Beetle is actually really interesting, having fly-unfly mixups as well as strong full screen zoning. Hopefully he enters Evo to show off that character, because I honestly think Beetle might be a sleeper high tier character.

In pools, I also went 4–2 losing in loser’s semi’s to KH Kat. Shoutouts to the Aquaman player named Splash that beat me in winners and made it out of our pool. He also double eliminated OG|Shine from SFV which is pretty damn impressive. He told me it was his 2nd major ever and that he just graduated high school. Always young talent on the come up in the FGC.

KoFXIV:

KoFXIV was my first pool at the event on Friday afternoon. Smaller in terms of bracket size but still stacked in talent, the KoFXIV tournament was fun despite it being one of the more low key events at CEO.

I watched in horror as Xiao Hai slayed my fellow Louisiana player with a full health bar OCV Kula. I guarantee most KoF players have at least one bittersweet memory of getting absolutely blasted by some talented player’s point character. Shoutouts to Layec’s Ryo who blew out my back at SLAM2017.

Luckily, my fate wasn’t exactly the same, as I was at least able to take out Reynald’s point character whenever we played. The first game I won the point battle with my Kensou vs his Meitenkun, but then Reynald’s Benimaru just ran through me in both games. I distinctly remember trying to get his last bit of health with Chin’s stand D and Reynald whiff punished the crap out of me with Beni’s CD into Climax. Don’t ever try that again, playa.

In losers, I ended up losing a last round, last hit 2–1 set to a player named Stealth who ended up getting 9th. My opponent and I both admitted that we had zero matchup experience against some of each other’s characters lol. I went 1–2 in the pool so I was kind of disappointed. However, there’s a daunting amount of characters, legacy strategies, and frame data in KoF that I just don’t currently have knowledge of. I wish I did get to play more KoF at CEO, but the other two games I played (SFV & INJ2) had so many more entrants and setups that I stayed busy in their areas most of the time. It’s a shame that interest seems to be dwindling in KoF as more and more new fighting games come out. It’s meta is far from stale, and despite some mainstays, there’s normally a handful of surprising characters that show up in top 8’s.

Other Memorable Moments

  • Getting to talk to the homie Brian F about our favorite Danny Brown tracks and Top 8 song selections after meeting him at the last CEO.
  • Playing BJ Unchained’s Cody in USF4. I ate so many bingo’s to the face. Cody top tier.
  • Playtesting Wavedash Games’ new platform fighter! I went to CEO with homies from Mississippi and Louisiana that got me into Project M and I gotta say that this new game should excite any fans of PM/Melee. I hear they are doing beta’s somewhat soon and I can’t wait for that.
  • Getting to meet EXT0PDOLL, who was just featured in a great interview with Ryan Hart. It’s awesome to have more female figureheads in the FGC that can illuminate how things are from a woman’s perspective. It was pretty chill talking about our respective local FGC’s and Bison’s muscles. I honestly didn’t know who she was prior to CEO and then I saw her pop up on Eventhubs after I got back. Keep killing it!
  • The sound system in the main hall exploding right before KOFXIV pools and being so loud that everyone was reduced to putting their hands over their ears and praying to jesus that the noise would stop. Was pretty much like the movie Logan where Professor Xavier freaks out and puts an entire hotel into stasis.
  • 482|Mastastef’s intro for BB top 8 with several Louisiana boys wildin’ out.
  • Dogura being absolutely free to Louisiana, losing to the previously mentioned Stef, 482|Doza at Final Round, and even GoL|Ranmasama in SFV. Japan don’t know what’s up in DA SWAMP.
  • When people in an Injustice 2 room were clowning on Lil’ Yachty and the idea of mumble rap, Madzin just laughed and played us some super whack German EDM that apparently is incredibly popular in Europe.
  • Noticing that Daigo was rocking a stylin’ pair of crocs on finals day.

Arbitrary Rating System Time!

Overall Experience: 10/10
Popeyes Not From Louisiana: 4/10
Grapefruit Rum: 10/10 K.O. You Lose
Chicago Pizza in Florida: 8/10
Pool When Hungover: 10/10
Middle Seat During 9 Hr Car Ride: Please Kill Me/10
Hotel - Hawthorne Suites: 8/10
Playing Frogger Across a Crowded Highway to get to the Venue: 3/10
Daytona Song: DAYTONNAAAAAA/10
Namekian Mosquitoes: 1/10
Phone Reception Anywhere Near the Venue: 0/10

Huge thank you to anyone who stuck out this giant wall of text to make it to the end! I’d like to thank everyone who was a part of my CEO experience as well as anyone who had a hand in organizing or running the event this year! I’ll see you all in Daytona.

This was my first recap blogpost, so hopefully from here on out I can make things more streamlined and appealing for y’all. My next FGC events should be Evo 2017 and Absolute Battle. Catch y’all there.

We tried to get the Croc’s in the picture but failed miserably.
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