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« SoCal So Mad As NorCal Takes The Specialists 3 »

Eric Choi mashing Ex. Messiah Kick while everyone watches in disgust.

Mike "thxyoutoo" Perlas gives a rundown of the Level|Up Series event, The Specialists 3, which was a 5 vs 5 regional exhibition that took place in Southern California. NorCal and Arizona were special guests for this event, and though team NorCal had strong players on the team, with the team lacking many NorCal "household names", the eventual outcome was one that most people did not expect. 

California - a place of sunshine, greenery, and hot babes.  In this mythical land movie stars roam free, everyone is always in a hurry, and we all dress the same.  In California the people are laid back, some say crazy, while others dare say progressive.  It is a strange place to be.  This is the image people get when they think of this place.   Yet, the reality is that California isn't as easy to describe as a flowchart.  Ken would not want to live here...

Being a singular state, Californicators are often stereotyped.  We step into a room and tell people, "We're Cali." They just respond, “Ooooh, you're one of those people.”  However, things are not as simple as all that!  California is the longest and third largest state in America.  What does this mean?  In reality, California is extremely diverse and almost should be considered two states, with  a North and a South.  When we introduce ourselves we specifically state “I'm from NorCal” or “I'm from SoCal”.  It's our identity.

Having this internalized perception of differentiation within California,  a natural rivalry began.  We say “Hella”, while they say whatever the [f-bomb] they say in that mysterious part of that region (they totally/probably/most likely say “Heavena”).  Yet with these differing identities we share similar and at times identical philosophies, vocabulary, wardrobes, and all eat the same things (In-N-Out Burger anyone?).

So where the [f-bomb] are you going with this, Mike?  This last weekend was the Level|Up Series Specialists III.  Many of you should already know that this is Alex Valle's current project in progressing and growing the fighting game scene/community.   This event was a regional 5 on 5 exhibition, dividing So Cal into 6 regions.  Additionally, 2 guest teams from Arizona and NorCal.  Yours truly traveled with our team to be a guest commentator at the Level|Up event and be the NorCal cheer captain (not on the bleachers -  like Taylor Swift).

I drove down with Team NorCal's Sagat player Sean “200 yen” Pak (formerly known as a top Tekken 5: DR player).  It took us 7 hours to drive from NorCal to SoCal.  It must be noted many states in other regions of America can be passed through in a fraction of that time.  We arrive at the home of Eric “Jesus Kick” Choi, John Choi's little brother and Team Nor Cal's Rufus player (note: Eric Choi's brotherhood with John Choi may or may not be DNA related).

Here we stayed for the night, all the while reading EventScrubs for helpful strategies and playing on the PlayStation Network for that last minute practice.  I asked Eric Choi if I could play with him but he said he'd get better and more beneficial practice in G2, which he is currently ranked in on Championship Mode (SF4).

The next day we traveled about an hour and a half to get to the infamous House of Cicada.  Let me stress the fact that although we were already in SoCal, it was an unpleasant realization that SoCal is bigger and more spread out than I had thought.  Apparently SoCal suffers from the same problem NorCal does, in that top players are spread out hours apart from each other and must travel a lot (if at all possible) to get that high quality practice in.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that NorCal and SoCal shared this similarity.

When we arrived, I noticed the rest of Team NorCal was already practicing.  I watched nervously as Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez coached Brian “Grimmz” Rincon during his warm up games.  Soon, Vance “Vangief” Wu began to please the crowd with his amazing Walking/Standing 720 Ultras.  When that died down, Team NorCal relaxed in a room apart from the main area and mayhem to wind down before the event was to begin.

The crowd goes wild while F. Champ does something awesome as usual.As the main event got under way, it was clear that NorCal was perhaps the strongest team represented in this regional exhibition.  Matches were played, intermissions commenced, and Hori sticks were raffled off.  During this time Alex Valle gave out a very inspirational speech about how the new game (Super SF4) was to release soon, and hopes that each of us continue to develop our own styles and be true to who we are as players.  This tear dropping moment was soon invaded by a room full of howling laughter as someone asked, "What about Yeb?!" (Gen's slap chops got nerfed :sadface:).  

Afterwards, the intermission was over and the exhibition continued with some amazing matches.  Through all of this Team NorCal continuously won their matches, beating all comers with ease.  This was until Team NorCal met with Team San Diego.

NorCal had a very strong team, yet Team San Deigo was an extremely big threat.  NorCal was beating player after player until Shady K (Akuma/Gouki) stepped onto the plate and began to reverse OCV Team NorCal; defeating Filipino Champ, Grimmz, Vance and Eric Choi, things were looking grim (pun intended). Finally, NorCal and San Diego were on their last team members in 200 yen and Shady K.  In the match 200 yen made it look almost free, toying with Shady K and attempting Kara Uppercuts through Shady's fireballs.  Though Shady K had a terrific showing, his endurance was not enough to beat 5 NorCal contenders and 200 yen saved NorCal from, what would have been, their first defeat.

The night was far from over, as Team NorCal had yet to face off with the strongest SoCal team in the tournament: East Los Angeles.  This team consisted of Keno, Mike Ross, Vic the Slick, KillerKai, and Combo Jack.  This was no team to take lightly - Asians are deceptive and tricky and you should always bet on black.

Team East LA Left to Right: Combo Jack, Vic the Slick, Mike Ross, Killer Kai, and Keno.In what was considered Grand Finals for the event, the undefeated NorCal team faced off East LA (which had 1 loss).  East LA needed to defeat NorCal to tie it up, enabling them to run it back for another set to determine the true #1 team in this exhibition.  Long story short, Combo Jack was the only player to win his match against NorCal, and defeated Filipino Champ and Vangief.  Eric Choi and 200 yen do not enjoy facing off against Sagat players; in knowing this, I was not confident in the rest of the teams ability to win now that Filipino Champ had lost.  It was his job to defeat Sagat players and he had failed.

Already admitting defeat, I continued to watch and commentate the matches.  Though two of our players had been taken out by Combo Jack, we still had a glimmer of hope with three remaining.  Next up was Grimmz who had been playing top notch the whole day.  To put my emotions and thoughts into perspective I must go into a little more detail about Grimmz and my (former) opinion on his presence on Team NorCal.

Grimmz was one of two players considered to join the team in place of John Choi who could not attend the event.  The other player, Anthony “Crackfiend” Nguyen was also considered for this same spot.  Grimmz and Crackfiend had to face off in a first to 7 to determine who would represent NorCal.  When I had heard Grimmz beat Crackfiend I was heart broken and shocked.  NorCal has had many tournaments and Grimmz was a newcomer and had never done well in any of the tournaments where big names were present.  On top of that, he had never had experience in high pressure situations.  In other words, this player had no resume.

This being true, I considered Grimmz's match up with Combo Jack already lost.  I thought to myself Grimmz won't be able to beat Combo Jack, I don't think Eric and 200 yen can, and I hope in the next set we can somehow pull it off.  Yet, while thinking this, Grimmz shocked me with the impossible as he was leading NorCal to victory.  His jump ins were perfect, his execution was on point, and he knew when to do what.  Grimmz beat Combo Jack, winning the Level|Up Series event for Team NorCal.  Team NorCal began to celebrate in their victory among a house full of SoCal members who were less than pleased.

Ultra David spitting out informative info as thxyoutoo thinks of some whitty joke or pun to pollute the stream with.Pride was hurt, salt levels increased, and eye contact was averted.  Yet, the dust settled and people began to talk and GG's were given.  People smoked outside and talked about the matches and complimented each other.  Despite the upset people had fun.  I talked to and thanked many friends down there for having me such as AJ Papa, Keno, James Chen, Ultra David, Alex Valle, and Mike Ross.  All great guys and always welcome to NorCal.

If you want a happy ending please stop reading here.  Although the event was fun, I am very upset about some of the words that had been exchanged as a result of this event.  It is understandable to be upset when losing, but totally inappropriate to be offensive and personal about it.  Although top players and friends of ours in SoCal were respectful, I saw much disrespect come from scrubs and general haters.

So Cal? So Mad.One thing that is specifically upsetting to me is NorCal was criticized for having a stacked team of all “pro” level players while SoCal was divided into specific regions.  NorCal was not limited in this sense.  Many were complaining that NorCal was cheating or acting like bullies.  However, Arizona was constructed the very same way as NorCal was, yet people did not complain about their team.  Do you know why?  Because NorCal [f-bomb]ing scraped the [f-bomb] out of SoCal teams while Arizona lost the majority of their matches.  Nobody cares if you stack your team if you lose, but the moment you win, people bring the noise.

Ridiculous?  I thought so.  It is a real shame that such a great event and showing from NorCal was derailed by something so meaningless.  It was a "for fun" event after all.  Regardless, congrats to the NorCal team and thank you so much to the welcoming arms of SoCal.  The good things far exceed the bad and make events very worth it for players and fans all around the state, nation, and world.  NorCal and SoCal may be rivals, but it's all love.  This event really energized me and I know the next time I head down there it'll be... super.  Sorry I had to end on a joke.

Reader Comments (24)

LOL. love the caption under eric choi's pic. eric + jesus forever! lol

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternowandlater

Dude. awesome write up. i wish all the major events had writups like this one. you can watch videos but stuff like this gives u a more inside look at what happened.

and lot of smacktalking about socal haha. I guess things just arent going thier way since they lost the east/west 5 on 5 last year

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValkyrie

Best part of the night, "I wonder if these pad players are excited about the iPad?"
Hahaha, jking we <3 thxyoutoo here in so cal

April 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterLeXxXiNgToN

Scrubs are scrubs. They get mad when they lose. But with good players, when they lose, they make sure to fix the problem.

At any rate, this article was a good read. I think I would prefer reading articles cause I know people who try to make a video documentary would take long cause of editing choices and all plus with videos loading these day. Its best to have as many articles as what I read right here because its quick and wow what else can I say? Its a good story.

lol What about Yeb?

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC5Audio

Very interesting read. I knew there was a rivalry, but didn't know how much of a rivalry. Thanks for the write up Mike. Now I wonder if we will see a SoCal write up. =P

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEXC355UM

I can't wait to see all the matches! Level-up has slowly started to post match vids on their youtube site.

NorCal isn't bad, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere other than Los Angeles. SoCal forever! =)

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterProtocol Snow

What character does Grimmz play?

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJ

lets keep it up norcal. show them we arent just playin around anymore

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercody

awesome read man, its already been said but this kind of hands on reporting needs to be done more. Such cool insights into the inner workings of the event and most of all i respect the honesty you showed. I like that you spoke about your doubt in Grimmz, and on the other side spoke about how he proved himself.

I like that you spoke about some of the salty feelings and disrespect going on as well. I'm no tourney level player[ far from it in fact] but in the words of a much wiser man. "Play to win" or if that does not work for people a quote that i do no know the owner of. "If you are prepared to shoot, you have to also be prepared to be shot at" Sounds like a couple people come there with the wrong state of mind, which i suppose will happen with the gathering of so many people.

Still sounds like that was small and the event was awesome to watch, thank you for this insight. Please if you go to any more of these do a write up again! this is one of the best articles ever put up on IPW. Just one more example of why this site rules.

April 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterSpiron

omg! there were three so cal teams... if you take the top five from those fifteen im sure theyll kill it!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwho

Loved this write up, excellent read!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJuniorMints

you put valle, ross, keno, shadyK and combo jack on team SO CAL!
nuff said

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwho

I write for IPW but I am also a reader of the site. I must say I loved this article. The way it set up the rivalry between NorCal and SoCal so well, it perfectly set the stage for the rest of the article.

I just wish that all major events had a nice writeup like this, as Valkyrie said. I mean we can watch vids and watch streams but it doesn't come close to giving us a picture of what it was actually like from a player's perspective.


I wonder if this event could potentially spark a NorCal vs SoCal event down the line.

You mentioned that SoCal's best players were distributed around 3 teams, but some of NorCal's best players weren't in the event either, so it kinda evens out somewhat.

April 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterFuriousRGD

Badass article. Entertaining read throughout.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKonqrr

haters just need to stop that stuff, they just need to be happy that they live in cali, witch is one of the BEST places to be a competitive gamer. intead of this norcal vs socal bull its should just be allcal. CALI as a hole could take on the rest of the WORLD in gameing and wouldnt even need the rest of the u.s. to help so you should just be happy with that. so i would just like to say STOP HATEN CUZ U LOST (witch happens to everbody) AND START STEPPIN UP YOUR GAME!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterG ZUSS 666

Looks like you still don't respect Grimmz as you didn't even mention what character he plays, let alone a play-by-play of his match that secured Norcal's undefeated streak. Nice respect there

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGom

I think this is something, IPW can pick up on. Some hands on reporting on big events like this would just be amazing.

April 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterSpiron

We've been doing event coverage for a while! You can check out my write ups here..

April 2, 2010 | Registered Commenterhaunts


Just because ThxYouToo didn't do play-by-play doesn't mean he doesn't have respect. Your assumptions are really misplaced.

April 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterCrackfiend

"Scrubs are scrubs. They get mad when they lose. But with good players, when they lose, they make sure to fix the problem."

I dunno man, I've seen the top of the top get to the point of being irate after losing. I do agree what they do next does determine a lot, but I think all skill levels are susceptible to getting upset.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKrsJin

First of all, fuck Shoo, this dude was the biggest hater in the Specialist III thread talking shit about Thxyoutoo. And for anybody that agrees with the funny looking fob, fuck you to.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMontry

Great read but the article could of done without the bad ending.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRomeoisburning

In my honest and humble opinion, I think more articles should incorporate situations like these. This is what defines the scene, for better or worse. On top of that, it's pretty valid/true information that should be conveyed for other people to know about.

Not everything has a good ending, but it is very important to be able to confront situations like these and discuss them.

April 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterCrackfiend

Why can't we all just have one massive hug.

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhuh
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