Japanese KI scene: my experience at Kombo Klash Japan

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Continuing the discussion from (Poll) Are you interested in getting to know the Japanese KI scene?:

In a recent poll on this forum, 95% of 79 voters said that they were interested in knowing more about the Japanese KI scene. Below is my brief (or long) report about my time at Kombo Klash Japan. Thanks again for voting!

First, to manage expectations, this is merely an introduction to the Japanese KI scene based on the info I gathered in three short hours I was at Kombo Klash in Tokyo. Second, I am no professional writer, so the information is not always very well organized or presented but I hope that you will enjoy it anyway. Third, this is not a match report, so you will not find any real analysis of fights and matchups but rather backgrounds of a few players as well as the KI scene in Tokyo based on my brief experience. And finally, this report has three parts and about 1500 words. As I have included various pictures, vids and links for your reference and reading pleasure, don’t stop reading and make sure you don’t miss any of the three parts as there is usually more coming after a photo or video.

The first place I visited was Kombo Klash Japan, and during my time there, I either watched other players play or played casual matches myself. I really wish I had more time to take better pictures and ask more questions. However, I did get invited by some Japanese players to their Tokyo “hideout”, so once I have been to this place, then I will have more specific information on more gameplay related topics. Before I continue, just a few questions to keep you curious and interested. The answers appear in the text. Though, no prize is attached :wink:

  1. One Japanese player who mains Riptor is actually very well known in the Japanese arcades for playing another fighting game. It really surprised me when I heard what this game was, so what fighting game do you think it is? (sort of a trick question).
  2. Does the word Aomori (Awmorry) ring a bell? If you are a diehard FG fan, then it shouldn’t be too difficult
  3. One Japanese player just picked up KI in June. Do you know what character he is looking forward to making his main? (another trick question)

Here we go!

Part 1 - A remote but not so lonely Spinal player

One of the first Japanese players I talked to was a player named “kappy”. Kappy is a Spinal player and one of the few players attending who wasn’t living in Tokyo. He actually lives quite far from Tokyo, toward the north in an area called Aomori. Aomori, you say? THAT Aomori?! Yes, all you hardcore CvS2 players rejoice, it is the Aomori you remember:

So I asked him how and where he practices, since Aomori is a very long and lonely 8 to 10 hour drive from Tokyo. Apparently, there are no other KI players in his area, and he usually practices KI online in ranked. Confirming with a few players on the floor about the online experience (just the lag, not the rage quitters, lol), I learned from them and Kappy that online works great in Japan, which is definitely a compliment to the game and the devs.

Like most of the other local players I met, he stuck with his main character (Spinal) from the very start. As he was playing a match, I took a quick peek at his arcade/fight stick and he uses the Razer Atrox (the only person I spotted using this stick at the tournament). After his practice sessions, he told me that he had modified both the stick/lever and buttons with Hori parts (Sako’s “Hayabusa” and “Kuro” buttons).

Even though, Bass defeated him during the second tournament in a Spinal mirror match, other local players ensured me that Kappy is the nation’s best Spinal player. Honestly, I didn’t get to see him play a whole lot at KKJapan, but I will be sure to watch more footage of him when it comes available (perhaps on Ogty’s youtube channel). Well, nice meeting you, Kappy. Kappy has qualified for the KI World Cup. This ends part 1 and Part 2 begins after the youtube vid.

Posing for a pic with Bass (source: https://twitter.com/kappysenpai )

For those still puzzled by what “Aomori” is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qm7gyQVhVo

Part 2 - A very good Riptor. Riptor top 5?

Not sure about the validity of the sample size, but according to some of our Japanese players at the Kombo Klash Japan (KKJ) tournament, Riptor belongs in the top 5. Very surprising! Wasn’t Riptor low-tier and in need of a buff? (Read: Riptor, low tier?) Well, I recommend you check out Tonosama (殿様). I didn’t know who he was at first but now easily my favorite Japanese player to watch together with Domi (Cinder) and Osomatsu (Omen). Oh yeah…rumour has it that a few more local Japanese players are practicing with Riptor… So be prepared for EVO2016 :dragon_face:

Back to one of the Riptor players I enjoyed watching: Tonosama. I had the pleasure to see some of his some practice sessions with other Japanese players. He was beating everyone easily with his Riptor during these practice runs on Saturday and also ended up winning the first KKJ tournament on Sunday. As far as I could tell, he is a very cool, quiet (and tall) guy. He was kind enough to spar with me and of course beat me easily 10-0 (!). But he was constantly praising me for consistently breaking his shadow linkers, which is unbelievable since I had failed to check infil’s guide before taking Tonosama on in practice. I am not a good analyst of KI matches as I am still trying to learn the game myself, but Tonosama’s frame knowledge impressed me and apparently some in the twitch chat too. Very impressive reads on his opponents: rarely did I see him use a wrong (or inefficient) move in any situation. I did notice that he wasn’t afraid to break often and early in the combos both during practice matches and actual tournament matches. Here is his triumph at KKJ:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCrflsGke2U

Not bad for picking up KI in April this year!! Asking about what games he played before KI, he said Marvel vs Capcom 3. I actually googled this and found him on some UMvC3 youtube vids. To my surprise he confirmed what other Japanese players had told me earlier, and that he is also a Pokken (!) player. Others on the floor quickly pointed out to me that he is currently the number 1 ranked Pokken player in Japanese arcades. So I felt even more honored to lose those practice matches by his Hori stick. I asked him “why Riptor?”. I got a surprisingly straight answer: “Riptor is cute. Look at her. Don’t you think you so?”. Leaving me speechless and appropriately ending this part 2. Go check out Tonosama because he has a really good Riptor.

Part 3 – A spectator at Kombo Klash Japan (KKJ)

On the first day of KKJ, likely around 15 or so Japanese players showed up. Everyone seemed to know each other, and above all, everyone had a lot of mutual respect for their opponents at all time. Giving a heartfelt round of applause to opponents was very common, even if it was one of their own buddies that lost a match. During the side tournaments and practice FT10s, I looked around to see what characters were being used: Riptor, Aganos, Spinal, Cinder, Orchid, Jago, Fulgore, Glacius, Hisako, Omen, Sadira, Maya and TJ Combo. Almost the entire cast!!! For the number of players that showed up, and then to get such a huge variety of characters says a lot about KI’s balance. Most of the players used the same character they used in practice/side tournaments also in the main tournament. Just a few players shared the same main character (noticed a few Spinals and Jagos).


Speaks for itself (Source: https://twitter.com/XiBassiX)

A person I hadn’t mentioned a lot but who had a good KKJ, was Osomatsu, the Omen player. At some point he asked me if he could borrow my TE2 as he couldn’t find his controller before a match. I was nervous and hoped that the same thing that happened in SFIV Evo Grand finals (malfunctioning stick) wouldn’t happen, because they would probably take my passport and jail me :wink:

Osomatsu (Omen) taking a huge risk with my Aria stick :sunglasses: Thank you @KrizmKazm for the template. Some players even took pictures of my stick, lol!!

A certain Jago player, who had only recently started playing KI in June of this year, wanted to pick up Aganos at first, but the big man’s moves seemed too intimidating to him. The guy ended up picking Jago but he is actually looking forward the most to Rash(!), who isn’t out yet but this should surely please our devs. “Why Rash?” I asked. More so than Aganos, he could understand the attacks by simply watching the character, he answered.

Some random photos of the small and cozy venue

At the registration counter, I was greeted by two guys who later appear to be a Fulgore and Spinal player. Asking them where they usually play their matches, they let me know that either online ranked or at the Black-eye(?) in Meguro (a neighborhood in Tokyo) is the way to go in Tokyo. Being unfamiliar with Black-eye, I ask them about it. Apparently it is a person’s living room where a lot of the local fighting game players gather and play their favorite game (GG, KI, UMvC3, USFIV). Every Tuesday after 9pm or so, KI players gather there, but not before tweeting eachother if they are available as everyone has a job to maintain. At the end of the first day, I finally had a small chat with Ogty, who organizes the stream and comments with UA|Bass. Ogty is one of the better-known streamers and players in Japan. He also welcomed me to the Black eye/Meguro spot for some games.

Bass, Domi and others at KKJ (source: https://twitter.com/ogty)

I hope this brief introduction gave you a bit of insight into the scene in Tokyo. Once I visit Black eye, hopefully I will meet more Japanese KI players and maybe become even better myself. While I am in Japan, I have my XB1 with me, so I will have to train more to not make a complete fool of myself. Going forward I will put some Twitch and Youtube references to Japanese players’ footage for you at the bottom which I will update regularly.

Thank you for reading.


References (UPDATED with Japanese Orchid player)

Here’s a channel with ranked matches of one of the Japanese Jago players (Reto) http://www.twitch.tv/ret0450
DragonSpits, my favorite Orchid: around the 46:00 mark you can see the only Orchid in Japan: http://www.twitch.tv/ultraarcade/v/22346862

To:
TheKeits, MBABanemobius swordman09 adymunrox TheNinjaOstrich Quancro @Marbledecker Infilament BigBadAndy WandaMaximoff TheFinalboss666 CrimsonScorch88, JEFFRON27, CRIS178, thyReaperMC, oTigerSpirit, GalacticGeek and other voters who showed interest! Sorry the forum doesn’t allow me to send to more than 10 people.

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The first attempt at a report of the Japanese KI scene is done. Couldn’t send a message to more than 10 people.
@MBABanemobius @WandaMaximoff @TheFinalboss666 @CrimsonScorch88, @JEFFRON27, @CRIS178, @thyReaperMC, @oTigerSpirit, @GalacticGeek

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Nice breakdown. Real insight to Japan and the KI scene. Wish there was more images of the venues though.

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AWSOME and this:

I looked around to see what characters were being used: Riptor, Aganos, Spinal, Cinder, Orchid, Jago, Fulgore, Glacius, Hisako, Omen, Sadira, Maya and TJ Combo. Almost the entire cast!!! For the number of players that showed up, for then to get such a huge variety of characters says a lot about KI’s balance.

YES ALL THE YESS

Ill come with next time lol haven’t been to Tokyo for a while :smile:

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Wow! Thank you for this knowledge!

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Thanks, I added a few more new photos of the venue to the article.
It wasn’t the biggest of places, and certainly not the best pictures I could take :wink:

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Thanks very much for the time and effort.

While I consume and digest more, I would like to remind:

  1. It’s not “Yomi” in Japan, it’s just how they play. The mind game is more fluid to them and Riptor’s options can allow their style of thinking to actually flourish more in KI’s Counter System.
    Riptor can stuff/counter anyone with the proper timing and knowledge. Yes, risky and tough and requires seemingly a lot of luck, something discipline helps focus. They excel at discipline.

  2. Need more international tourneys to elevate the game. Through combat, the best learn from each other (actually, anyone learns). As great as it is to crown champions, it’s much cooler to watch high level players face off more and more, and see how their tendencies either flex or solidify.

There’s always been a difference in style to the continents. Hell, if you pay enough attention, though XBL is great, there is still a region style within the continents. Always sweet to see them all mix. FG’s version of mental MMA.

  1. Their tournaments are usually based on entering with a single character, no counter-picks. Keeps the mind-game focused in gameplay. No mixing up characters to mess up the opponent’s rhythm.
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hey amigo @BoJima404 really great job… amazing and very intersting … you rock .

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Cool write-up, thanks a lot! I’m really, really surprised to learn that Tonosama has only played since April of this year, but I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised given how much tech he developed for UMvC3 players. He’s just really talented at fighting games and I’m glad he enjoys playing KI.

@BoJima404 did you get a chance to ask them about KI as a game? Things like, do they think KI will grow more popular among other Japanese players, where it stands among other fighting games they’ve liked in the past, and such?

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Overall that is an excellent and neat report as well as coverage you did on AND at Kombo Klash Japan :smile:

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Hi, I didn’t forget your questions at all. However, I must confess that I didn’t have enough time to talk about the future of KI and how Japanese players perceived it. Most of the talks I had were about where players came from, how and where they played KI and who their favorite characters are.

One of the question you had was about their top 5. Well, that was an interesting question as very few of the players actually played with what they felt were some of the best characters in the game: Jago, Spinal, Riptor, and Omen (lol). Everyone played the character they liked and that was reflected in the diversity of the chosen characters. For example, there was only one Orchid, and I was ensured that was also the only Orchid in the entire country: DragonSpits. He played an aggressive Orchid as you can see here:

Around the 46:00 you can see the Orchid: http://www.twitch.tv/ultraarcade/v/22346862

They gave me an opportunity to hang out with them at the “Black Eye”. There I will surely ask the KI players about the upcoming PC release and other competing fighting games. But also try to clarify the reasons behind their top 5 picks for the KI roster.

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I’ll really look forward to that! Thanks for the cool write up! Very interesting! Also thanks for tagging me to make sure I saw it :smile:

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Cool, thanks!

In addition to questions about top 5 and all that, which are interesting, I’m pretty curious about “why” they’re playing KI (why KI? why not other Japanese-made FGs? what in particular about KI is enticing to you, and do you think it can be made more popular among other Japanese players? what do you like about KI that other fighting games don’t seem to give you?). So any question you can think to ask that helps get at this “why” topic, I’m interested in hearing the answer to.

This is fantastic. Well done! It sounds like a cool event. Good luck at Black Eye. Looking forward to hearing more.

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This is so great! I’ll share it on twitter!

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Which is something that I respect a lot. There could have been more, but I remember only one player (Ogty) doing a counter-pick switching from Hisako to Maya. I would have to look up and analyze the tournament footage. Anyway, thanks for enjoying the article.

@Infilament I will ask them for sure.

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Ahh this is a really great post, it’s great to get some info on the KI players in Japan, and just the general scene as well.

I asked him “why Riptor?”. I got a surprisingly straight answer: “Riptor is cute. Look at her. Don’t you think you so?”.

This was by far my favorite part haha. What a good answer. I look forward to seeing this guy play more!

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When he said it, I had absolutely no response and I remembered mumbling something like “yeah, yeah”. I was totally without words :smile:

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Thanks so much for going in-depth with this post! I’m really glad you made the effort to elaborate so much on the KI Japan scene. It was also refreshing seeing Omen as a serious contender.

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Awesome stuff BoJima.

Added to the front page: http://www.ultra-combo.com/community-blog-exploring-the-japanese-ki-scene/

If any other Community Members would like to feature their KI community or talk about it, be sure to reach out to me on twitter at @CEOJebailey so we can share it!

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