Behind The Stick: An Interview with ShinKensou

I had the opportunity to talk to ShinKensou, a popular Guilty Gear (and other games) player, streamer and content creator. He often uses his platforms to give players an in-depth look at games by breaking down high level matches and providing analysis for them. In this interview we discuss his background with fighting games, why he got into teaching and doing analysis, his advice to new players trying to get into fighting games, as well as what he plans do in the future.

Q: Kensou, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to do an interview. I’m a huge fan of your content. How are you doing?

Kensou: Doing great my man just out here trying to make a dollar lol. You know how it goes! Appreciate the kind words on the content! I try my best to bring as much quality as possible!

Q: Of course! You’re great at what you do. I’m sure some people already know but for those that don’t can you take a second to explain the sort of content you create in the world of fighting games?

Kensou: Well first and foremost I am a streamer on Twitch with a focus on fighting game content. I do play throughs and speed runs (I’m the world record holder for Ninja Gaiden 3 Razors Edge haha) as well but fighting games are my favorite to do. I tend to do a lot of lab work or training mode if you will and I educate my viewers in this regard. From combos to situational awareness I’m the guy you can turn to if you have questions about the game. On top of that, I also do analysis on fighting games and break down the things people don’t understand or don’t see when watching a match. I’m very very meticulous in this regard, but I feel it’s necessary to help the viewer digest things that are happening on the screen easier so when they’re watching without my guidance they have a strong foundation of understanding.

Q: So obviously, you’re very passionate about fighting games, but where did that all start for you? Was there a specific event that set it in motion such as an event you attended or a game you used to play with friends? From there how did it evolve? What games did you play over the years from then till now?

Kensou:
Well it truly started with Street Fighter 2. I grew up in the arcade era so just seeing the crowds as a 10 year old kid for SF2 I knew I wanted a piece of the action, right? I was taught by various older players how to do fireballs with the shotos and was just in awe of going head to head with an opponent. I always wanted to be the best among my group of friends at that time lol. From there I knew I loved fighting games and over the years I’ve played anything and everything! From Fatal Fury to World Heroes to Street Fighter Alpha, Dark Stalkers, BATTLE ARENA TOSHINDEN, BLOODY ROAR, GUILTY GEAR: THE MISSING LINK (GG1 lol)! You name it I’ve probably spent some time on it growing up! From there it evolved into me going competitive with Capcom Vs Snk 2 and Guilty Gear XX Midnight Carnival. Eventually I was playing Guilty Gear as a Chipp player almost exclusively from 2002 – 2009 and put down CvS2. I did pick up MvC2 along the way and Tekken 5 but was never really good at it lol. I picked up Blazblue (Bang) and SF4 (C.Viper) Kof13 (Nests Kyo, Mai, Mature) from 2009 onward until Xrd Sign dropped.

Q: And obviously that leads us to where we are now. Most people I interview are players and just players but you’ve taken on a teaching role as well. What was it that drew you to that role? Did you think that there was just a lack of that in the scene? Is it just part of your nature to want to teach people things? Or was it something else entirely?

Kensou: To be honest, I feel like a relic in terms of knowledge. I know at some point I will have to stop playing, or rather competing. I felt the need to share the knowledge I’ve learned over the years as a vast amount of that in which I know STILL pertains to playing today. It is actually in my nature to teach as well lol. I’ve been teaching among my local scene for years so yeah, why not do it on a larger scale? I wanted to help grow the player base because to be honest Guilty Gear needed this. I wanted to dismantle the misconception that it was too hard to learn Guilty Gear. My logic has always been, if you’re willing to put in the time into learning ANYTHING in life, you can be great at it. Everyone learns differently but with enough effort you can be as great as the players in which you admire I feel.

Q: Even someone like my can one day be good at Guilty Gear haha. That’s great though! A lot of people are better for it. Speaking of the Guilty Gear scene how do you think the scene is doing? It seems like most people I’ve read are pretty indifferent to it not being at EVO. DEB said that, “With things like Tension Pulse, locals having players playing the game, and the recent influx of people streaming the game, Guilty Gear shows no sign of going away! This scene definitely has a dedicated fan base that will continue to support the game.” Would you agree?

Kensou: I don’t think Guilty Gear is dying per se, but I’d say its stagnant at this point. I think its fair to say that there has been a player drop off you know? I feel that there isn’t going to be any major influx of players dropping in any time soon unfortunately but that doesn’t mean what we have now is bad. The things like Tension Pulse are great but I also feel that is rather stagnant as well. Local events and the like I feel will always be around but again, not much in the way of newcomers. As for streaming I feel its taken a dip again to be honest. Tournament views are always solid, but general viewership is what I’m speaking on specifically. I think its due to the longing for a new game at this point for some perhaps is why I think its the way it is. I do agree however that the dedicated are always going to be around. That’s for sure!

Q: I certainly agree with a good portion of that. Namely that the scene is getting kind of stagnant and that some new content would bring some fresh eyes and hopefully some of them will stay. On the topic of new players a topic I see a lot is that Guilty Gear is often “too hard” to learn. As you stated earlier if you put your mind to it and grind you’ll get there eventually. But for people that are discouraged but the massive amount of work in front of them what type of advice would you give in terms of how to improve as players, how to approach matches, and how to get into the right mindset to improve?

Kensou: Be patient. Guilty Gear rewards you for mastery so be patient and learn as much as you can. The right mindset to have to improve I feel is that “I’m not good right now. But I will be later on.” Many new players get caught up in this rat race to be good and burn themselves out quickly then revert to saying this is too hard. On the contrary to that, of course learn at your own pace. You don’t have to be as good as any of the players you admire immediately. Or your friend who is already better than you at the game. Understand it took them just as much time to improve, everyone starts out not that great. Like anything, starting out you’re not an expert. But as you progress you will become more in tune with everything. DON’T RUSH YOUR PROGRESS! Ask questions to your peers, do your research and study the great players! Again, DO NOT RUSH PROGRESS! Focus on being the best player you can be. Do drills when you play, for the next 5 games I’m going to focus on my ground game. For the next 5 games I’m going to focus on anti air 6p (fwd+P). For the next 10 games I’m going to focus on improving my evasive movement. For the next 10 games I’m going to focus on FD stopping outside of X character’s range to whiff punish. The list goes on and on, if you can force yourself to do these things along side the ideal of the improvement mindset you can find the success you’re looking for.

Q: I could use a lot of that advice myself as I struggle getting out of the corner a lot haha. But like all good things it comes with time and hard work. Of which, you do a lot to teach players the nuances and finer details they might miss. But what about Shin Kensou outside the game? Tell us about yourself. What are some of your other hobbies or things you enjoy doing or maybe just something people don’t know about you that you would like to share?

Kensou: To be honest lol I think most of that is already well known by now! But I’d probably have to say of the other things I enjoy is definitely speed running games. It’s kinda like, executing a longggggg combo pending on how long the run is of course lol. Actually to add to that, I’ve become a full time hitbox player over the last 2 years as well. It was quite the switch but I’m definitely happy for it as there’s quite a few nifty things I can do in game that have had an impact for me!

Q: How have you been enjoying speed running? I’ve got a few friends in the scene and they love it. I know you mentioned a few games you like to run earlier like Ninja Gaiden but is there anything you plan to run in the future? Any plans on going to any speed running events?

Kensou:
I think its a fun deviation from fighting games for me honestly. It can definitely be frustrating but I enjoy it as much as fighting games. I’m looking forward to DMC5 though!! I don’t think I’ll make any events in the near future but I have attended GDQ before and definitely enjoyed myself there.

Q: DMC5 looks great! I know a lot of people have been looking forward to it (myself included). On the topic of things to come what are your plans for the future? Are you trying to stream more? Create more Youtube content? Maybe something outside the internet? What does the future hold for you?

Kensou: I intend to keep streaming and upping my youtube content more. I feel like I’m lacking there. Right now I’m enjoying Dead or Alive 6! Also trying to figure out what games I’m going to play for Evo and the rest of the tournament season as well. So many options! Hopefully what ever I choose I can do well in! The competition these days are really tough!

Q: I’m fairly certain (and I could be wrong) when I used to watch your older videos you said you don’t compete in tourneys much? Has this changed? If so, why?

Kensou: Oh no, you’re fine haha. I haven’t been as fortunate to have the ability to travel to out of state events as much as I used to. But I do attend the monthlies here in Houston. The last few years have been rough in this regard but I still make it to my local major Texas Showdown every year. (Haven’t missed one since 2003!) I did attend Evo 2016 and on top of that, with the help of my awesome, amazing, fantastic, super duper viewer base on Twitch, they blessed me with the aid to attend Evo 2018! I am still so grateful for them helping make that trip possible. But outside of Showdown as I said it’s been hard, I wanted to ensure my career goals were in line before I decided to embark on the journey of events. The stars have aligned for me and a great deal of these goals have been met. So I’m looking forward to stepping back into the arena to challenge myself again!

Q: Well I for one hope to see you and your Chipp at more events and more online. It’s been a pleasure talking to you man and I appreciate you taking time out of your day to speak to me. Before I let you go is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to and can you let people know where they can find you on social media?

Kensou: Any time! Thanks for having me its been a pleasure likewise! I’d like to give a shout out to my stream fam! They’ve been holding it down on the support front like no other and I’m eternally grateful for them! Catch my streams at http://www.twitch.tv/shinkensou  and the youtube at http://www.youtube.com/shinkensou  and OF COURSE TWITTER @shinkensou !

You can follow ShinkKensou on twitter at: https://twitter.com/ShinKensou
And as always you can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/itsfrail

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