I never read or watched Initial D in the past. I think I took a glance at it, and was too put off by the drawing style (of the characters) so I just wouldn’t look at it. However, I recently gave it a second chance and started reading the manga. If you get over the ugly ugly drawing style (I really don’t like how the characters are drawn!) all the stuff about cars and driving is actually pretty interesting.
I like the idea of someone driving a shit car who is beating other people with pure skills rather than equipment. I also like that he eventually lost because, all other things being equal, having lousy equipment will make the difference. I feel that using my old badminton shoes and my outdated MP 77 for badminton is somewhat analogous. Yes, I’m relating Initial D to badminton– that’s because I don’t own a car, and as you may know, don’t even have a driver’s license.
I had a pretty big win on saturday– I had been injured in judo about a week ago. Hurt my left heel, so that I couldn’t really put weight on it to stand or walk. Compensating by constantly walking on the ball of my left foot started hurting the ball of my left foot, as well as my right hip. Even today, my heel is still not 100%… but it was worse when I went to play badminton on saturday. Basically, I played 2 on 1 against two of the guys at badminton, without really being able to use my left foot for any sudden motions. I more or less had to stay on the balls of my feet for the entire game, and it was doable, but I was always conscious that if I overdid it, my calf muscle was going to tire out and I’d risk having an accident, something along the lines of twisting my ankle or something. Anyway, things turned out okay. I actually won the game with a score of 21-9 or something.
It was rough at first, because I was playing them the way I normally would, but without running, and that wasn’t enough. What I needed to do was start playing seriously– I started watching their positioning patterns and shot selection habits, and started testing how good they were at cutting off drives and flicks, etc. So at first, the game was quite even for the first 10 points. But then once I’d really gotten a groove for their playing patterns, I made my way to the match point without too much of a sweat.
And I’m not saying that to look down on those two guys. The exercise actually forced me to really look at their abilities objectively, from the point of view of someone who was trying to beat them. It’s different when I have a partner– I guess I don’t care so much about losing when I have a partner, because I could always point at my partner for messing things up. But when i’m playing alone? There’s nobody to scapegoat. As such, it makes me play “seriously.”
Like I said, the point isn’t to put them down. More, the reason why I’m writing this is because it’ll be a useful comparison to someday down the road, when I face them seriously again– and we’ll see how far they’ve come. Playing them under such handicapped conditions really made me try and test the full range of their abilities for holes in a way that I wouldn’t have noticed passively from watching them play against other people, since there are so many variables in action at once. But if I was their only opponent? I could standardize a lot of those variables.
So here’s what I’ve figured out, in terms of things that they could do to improve.
[Jayzee] has a pretty consistent hit. Given that he plays other sports, he has at least average stamina, but I feel that his ‘burst’ speed isn’t as strong as it could be– mostly because his stance is lazy, and his footwork is poor. By that, I mean that his neutral receiving position doesn’t have the racket up or knees bent consistently. As a result, I feel that he’s especially vulnerable to smashes and drives aimed at his body or face, and his ability to cut-off or intercept fast counters is really limited. When he’s covering the rearcourt, his footwork improves and he’s willing to run left to right, but his shot selection is poor, resulting in him being on the deffensive in long rallies. He never plays drops, which is a huge disadvantage. He doesn’t have a fullcourt backhand to backand clear, and his neutral situation clears can reach the other baseline, but again– there’s certain detail he needs to work on. His attack clears need to be more shallow, and his deffensive clears need to be much higher.
Positioning in the front, Jayzee has undetermined net abilities. I’ve never seen him attempt hairpins or crosscourt drops. He doesn’t know how to tumbling drops either. Mostly, I think this is because the opportunity seldom arises, because his front-court coverage position is too far back– he’s about a foot or two behind the “T” when he probably should be on the T or slightly further up, considering his height. Instead, when he’s covering the front, he tends to be placed in a singles deffensive position, which tends to hinder the movement of his partner.
The biggest thing he needs to work on his ready stance, which ties in to his need to practice front-court play. With him always in the back, and without the threat of drops, he’s too predictable.
[Chwang] is not as consistent a hitter as Jayzee, but has a better theoretical understanding of shot possibilities. So, he will actually try hairpins and crosscourt net shots– however, like Jayzee, he has the habit of backing off from the net too much when he’s in charge of front coverage. As a result, the potential for net kills and cut-offs is very low, which is unfortunate, since Chwang is pretty tall. He’s getting better with shot selection, learning to play straight (instead of risky cross-courts) in risky situations. However, maybe because of a combination of his height and stance, his hitting ability is rather weak and he ends up hitting rather awkwardly for certain shots. When he’s receiving serves to his chest for example, he tends to do a chest height underhand-backhand motion, rather then getting below it and hitting with an overhand. The same thing happens when he takes smashes or drives to his chest– he does this strange underhand technique, when he should be getting under the bird instead.
Chwang needs to mostly work on his ready stance and his hitting footwork, because I think he relies too much on his height and reach. As a result, it’s making him hit from odd angles with low power and control.
I guess at the end of the day, it’s really just a question of them working on basics. THey’re both guys, so their power is much stronger than the girls that I also play with– but when they’re forced to hit on the move or forced to hit from awkward positions, there’s clear weaknesses showing up in their returns.