Over the World and back again: On-site at the Under Night In-Birth National Tournament in Japan

By on July 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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In anticipation of  the Under Night In-Birth: Exe Late[st] home console release scheduled for just after Evolution 2017 on July 20 (and the subsequent Western release),  I wanted to share with you my experience at the 4th semi-annual “Over the World” UNIB National Tournament, which took place last month in Tokyo.

Over the World -Continuation-

A short walk from the west exit of Shinjuku Station, this Club Sega looks like a run-of-the-mill arcade to the casual observer...
A short walk from the west exit of Shinjuku Station, this Club Sega looks like a run-of-the-mill arcade to the casual observer…

The tournament took place at the west Shinjuku Station exit Club Sega, a popular arcade and meeting ground for several arcade scenes in Tokyo.

On the street level, this looks like a normal UFO catcher, Rhythm game arcade. However...
On the street level, this looks like a normal UFO catcher, Rhythm game arcade. However…

This arcade, dubbed the “Battle Arena” of Shinjuku, is a hub for several of the All.net scenes like UNIB, Guilty Gear, and Koihime.

But what lies beneath....?
A descending staircase? I wonder what lies beneath…?

The Over the World series is run as a 3v3 teams event, with qualifiers held in arcades throughout the country. In order to qualify, your team had to win one of 16 events. Even though the UNIB community is smaller when compared to Tekken or Blazblue (the most popular current fighters in Japan), it is a tight-knit, highly-competitive scene that gets good activity in certain pockets of Japan.

The 4th (Semi) Annual UNIB National Tournament, Over the World

This event was streamed on Club Sega Shinjuku Nishiguchi’s Twitch channel (they often stream a variety of All.net titles!), and featured commentary by French Bread’s own Serizawa Kamone, alongside Cross_Speed, an Akiba Leisureland and Club Sega Shinjuku Nishiguchi regular.

-Tonight, the Deepest Night-

16 teams were placed into 4 team blocks, competing in single elimination brackets. Only one team from each group would advance to the championship bracket.

In the block stage, the most exciting matches occurred in block C. The 1st round match-up saw fan favorite Senaru’s team, “Elder Gods, ” on the verge of being OCV’d (One Character Victory) by Equal (Nanase) of team “Sega World Arukas.” Watch as Senaru attempts to rally back in the last round with corner control, only to run into Equal’s awesome abare, followed by a crisp anti air confirm into super. With this, Senaru’s (Arc Revo 2015 Champion) team would be eliminated in round one of the tournament!

After team Sega World Arukas defeated team Elder Gods, they then had to face team “Souiutokoyazo,” from Kobe, in west Japan. With the members of Sega World Arukas being east Japan representatives, this was a special rivalry match to see who would advance from the C block. Nishine (Orie), from team Souiutokoyazo stepped up and defeated Sega World Arukas’s Equal (Nanase), beckoning Toushinsai 2016 champion, Hairou (Gordeaux). Hairou removes Nishine in convincing fashion, calling Aya, whom he also defeats. Finally, Eve, a former Yuzuriha player and 3rd place finisher at last year’s Toushinsai, stepped up to challenge Hairou.  This would be the start to Eve’s incredible day of Mika play.

After EXECUTING Hairou, Eve proceeed to face the opposing anchor, Red, a top Eltnum player from Tokyo area. With the winning team advancing to the final bracket, this was a tense match. In the end, Eve was able to impose his will with Mika.

Thus, Eve and the west Japan team were able to pull off a huge upset, and removed the Toushinsai 2016 champion from the tournament. Carrying this momentum into the first round of the championship bracket, the west Japan team challenged one of the most terrifying names in UNIB, Notes. Nishine would play really clean, showing great defense and conviction with punishing Notes’s gaps.

Eventually, the set came down to Fusemasuta vs Eve. This set had some awesome sequences with big swings in momentum (check out the throw tech trades in the last round!). Ultimately, Eve’s pressure, anti-airs, and throw game sealed the game.

On the other side of the championship bracket, Riputontarou (Byakuya) was fighting as anchor for team “Kinky Kids.” In his match against Hishigata’s Nanase, watch as despite having 0 health, he doesn’t give up until the very end. After putting together an awesome offensive sequence (including a beastly backdash bait and whiff punish!), Hishigata has enough. His super punish punches team UNIryoku wo Tsuketai!’s ticket to the grand final. Thus, the grand finals became a West Japan face-off between Club Sega Nishinakajima’s Team UNIryoku wo Tsuketai! vs. Team Souiutokoyazo, representing Osaka and Kobe respectively (much to the chagrin of the Tokyo-based players).

In the end, Team UNIryoku wo Tsuketai! made the winning play when they sent Lamp in first. Lamp went on a rampage, running through Aya and Nishine with ease, until he ran into Eve. Watch as he struggles to contain and, meticulously break Eve’s guard. Eve finally makes a good call-out on the dash pressure and calls Hishigata to the stand.

Finally, Hishigata rises to face Eve. Hishigata didn’t buckle when Eve gave him different looks (the 3-second stare-downs are super tense!), nailed his counter-hit confirms, and was able to use wind projectile really well to put Eve in uncomfortable positions. And with this, UNIryoku wo Tsuketai! clinched the Over the World -Continuation- national championships.

You can watch the tournament in its entirety here on YouTube.

-Results-

  1. Champion: 【UNIryoku wo Tsuketai!】 Kure (Yuzuriha) / Lamp (Byakuya) / Hishigata (Nanase)
  2. Runner-up:【Soiutokoyazo】 Aya (Yuzuriha) / Eve(Mika) / Nishine (Orie)
UNI Power, the winners of the "Over the World" UNIB National Tournament. (Left to Right) Ranpo, Hishigata, and Kure
UNI Power, the winners of the “Over the World” UNIB National Tournament. (left to right:) Lamp, Hishigata, and Kure

-Unreal Black Things-

“This is an event held only once a year, so it makes me happy to see players keep coming out and playing this game,” said Battle Arena event coordinator, tournament organizer, and Under Night In-Birth Fan, Mobius. As an arcade worker, there can be no doubt events like these where the community and developer can come enjoy the spectacle of a nationally organized arcade tournament, hold a special significance. As the western FGC continues to focus its attention on esports, and more devs step away from the arcade, it feels good to see groups that still have a deep appreciation for arcade culture.


I hope you enjoyed this write-up, and are as excited as I am for the July 20 release of Under Night In-Birth: Exe Late[st] for home consoles. I look forward to seeing the North American scene revisit the game, and hope that they can show the same passion for this version that they did the last (UNIB was a highly-successful title in the Western tournament scene).

A fighting game player from New Orleans, LA, now living in Japan. A sports fan and arcade gaming enthusiast, find him in Mikado on Saturday nights!