Behind The Stick: An Interview with Betadood

I had the chance to sit down and talk to Betadood, a high level Ragna player, and discuss some topics that include: His history with fighting games, his thoughts on Cross Tag Battle, some of his fiercest competition, what he likes to do in his free time, and more.

Q: I’m very excited to get the opportunity to talk to you man. This is one of my first Blazblue interviews (I normally do Guilty Gear and UNIST) and while I’ve played the game a decent amount I’m excited to pick your brain a bit about the game, the scene, and more about yourself. But before we get into that how are you doing?

Beta: I’m doing good thank you! And thanks for having me on for an interview. I’ve been seeing them going around social media as of late and I’m happy to have the chance to represent for the Blazblue community.

Q: No pressure on you or anything haha. You were actually a request from someone who read one of my Guilty Gear interviews so I figured I would reach out and see if you were interested. I’m glad to know that my interviews have been making the rounds though. I love doing them and I hope I can do something with them down the road as a career. But that’s enough of that let’s get to it. So as you said you’re a Blazblue player. But for those that don’t know who you are could you give us a brief history of your time with fighting games starting from when you first started playing to where you are today?

Beta: Well it all started back around 2009 when my cousin showed me Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting on Xbox live arcade. I was pretty terrible at the game and proceeded to get crouching heavy kicked by M.Bison over and over again with my Ryu haha. Something about the experience just stuck with me though, and when I saw Street Fighter 4 at my local game store I decided to pick it up. As many people already know traditional fighting games aren’t all that easy to pick up and play. And over the next few months I struggled to really grasp fighting games as a concept. I even tried switching from Ryu to Ken just because his wakeup ultra was better! Getting fed up with my online losing streak I decided to look up any advice I could on ways to improve at the game. That’s when I managed to stumble upon this match footage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPQdhZQLAO4 …

Whoever this Daigo was he not only made Ryu look so much stronger than I thought, he made the game look like so much more fun too! From there I decided to look up more about Daigo and found the Evo moment 37 video. I was instantly hooked and wanted to immerse myself further with fighting games. Got my arcade stick that Christmas as a gift and have stuck with the genre ever since. Flash forward about a year and that’s when I discovered Blazblue Calamity Trigger. I instantly fell in love with the aesthetics of the game and kept up with the series from that point on. It wasn’t until Chronophantasma released that I started participating in tournaments though. And even then I told myself that if I wasn’t winning my local tournaments then I wasn’t ready to fly out of state to a major just yet. Through countless games and training sessions with my local scene (shoutouts to woob house!) I finally was able to develop and refine my play style into something I could be confident with. And that’s when I participated in my first major tournament at CEOtaku 2016. That was another formative moment for myself. Being able to test my abilities against players from all over the world made me realize not only how far I had come, but how much further still I wanted to go too. And that’s pretty much how I ended up where I am today!

Q: Quite a storied history. It seems a lot of players got their start with Street Fighter 4. It’s quite a transition from Street Fighter to Anime Fighters. Speaking of, was it just the aesthetics of the game that drew you in to Blazblue, or was there more to it?

Beta: Yeah it’s not the kind of backstory one tends to expect from an anime fighter player. Blazblue will always be my favorite but I hold a soft spot in my heart for those Street Fighter 4 days. I came to enjoy the system mechanics of the game through time but it was definitely the anime style presentation and distinct soundtrack that sold me on the series. It’s the little details too, special music tracks or character dialogue depending on who you fight against is just such a nice touch.

Q: So I know you play a lot of Blazblue Central Fiction but do you dabble in Cross Tag Battle as well?

Beta: I still play the game some from time to time, but after seeing how the metagame developed I didn’t really feel like keeping up my practice with it anymore. Tag style games are really hard for me to mesh well with! And with the first North American stop of the ArcRevo world tour coming up at Frosty’s I decided it would be best to put all of my focus into Central Fiction.

Q: How did you feel about cross tag being at EVO this year instead of Central Fiction? Did you think it was bound to happen? Were you disappointed? Or are you doing other tournaments anyway so you are indifferent?

Beta: Considering it’s popularity at last year’s EVO and it’s general staying power in the FGC, I wasn’t surprised at all. The community keeps growing around the game and it seems to be scratching that VS style gameplay itch for a lot of players. I’ll be looking forward to the exciting matches for sure. It’d be nice to have Central Fiction as a main game of course but I’m not exactly surprised on it’s exclusion from the lineup considering the current state of the community. Entrance numbers are getting smaller and it’s not helping that the larger FGC community tends to view Cross Tag as the next entry in the main Blazblue series. Makes me kinda wish the game was just called ArcSys Cross Tag Battle instead… At the end of the day though being in the main lineup for EVO isn’t supposed to be a test to see if your game is doing well or not. There’s plenty of other tournaments this year that will be running it as a main game so support those tournaments if you can! And even at EVO it’ll have a good turnout thanks to the tournament being a stop for the ArcRevo world tour. I’m really excited to get the chance to play against all the international competition again at this year’s EVO!

Q: Yeah, a lot of other tournaments have been upping their game and even though EVO is still considered the big one i think these others are starting to get bigger and better. So you mentioned the ArcRevo world tour. For those that don’t know what thats about can you explain how it works?

Beta: So the tour itself is for Rev 2, BBCF, and BBTag. It takes place over multiple tournaments and regions, those being North America, Latin America, Europe, Japan and Asia. 1st place of each of these tournaments gets invited out to the tournament finals held this fall, and everyone in the top 8 gets points towards the tour leaderboards. Each region will also have a player invited to the finals based on this points leaderboard system. And later this fall all the invited players will battle it out in the finals with each game having a 33K pot bonus.

Q: Quite the event. I’m sure a lot of players are stoked. How confidant are you going into these events that you’ll do well or even snag one of those first place spots?

Beta: My past experiences have shown me that I’ll at least do fairly well for myself. But it’s going to take a lot more than just making it to the top 8 of a tournament this time around if I want to make it into the finals. It’s a little nerve wracking knowing there’s just three chances left in North America (Texas Showdown, CEO, EVO) with EVO potentially being the hardest tournament of the three. But I’ll keep focusing on improving my play so that I can reach as high as I can go!

Q: I’m sure you’ll do great! You’ve certainly got me rooting for you haha. I’m sure the competition will be fierce though. Who do you think are some people that have a real shot at giving you some trouble? Is there anyone in the scene, friend or rival, that gives you a hard time at these events?

Beta: Thank you! And definitely, the community has some really dedicated players that I know will always give me an exciting match. Really I could go on forever about all the different players, especially some of the international ones! But I’ll stick to a few standout examples that come to mind for myself.

  • SKD: He’s the standout player in the North American scene, and for good reason! His knowledge of the game and general situational awareness is very high. If you watch him play you’ll notice he tends to play around his burst management very well. Combine that with Izayoi’s ability to utilize her stocks so well in nearly any situation and you have one tough opponent. I also have a lot of fun playing against him since he used to be a Ragna main himself. It’s very hard to open him up with the same tricks that he himself used to utilize but it feels especially satisfying whenever they do land. I think he has a very good chance to take at least one of the tournaments.
  • Jona: One of my best friends, win or lose I know we always have fun fighting against each other! And another contender to take one of the qualifying tournaments. His ability to play multiple characters at a high level is pretty impressive. But when push comes to shove he’ll usually bring out either Valkenhayn or Mai. He has this special kind of sense for the game that just lets him make great decisions during tense moments. Speaking of that game sense, I think that’s a key factor for his success in BBTag so far. You have to be very fast with your on the fly decision making since there isn’t much room to just wait and react in the game. I’m just glad both of his mains in BBCF don’t have great defensive options or I’d really be in for it haha.
  • Fenrich: Mr.Blazblue himself. If I had to pick someone to have the highest chance at winning the whole tour it’d be him. It’s a safe bet to assume he’ll be at EVO since he’s focusing on DBFZ and BBTag as of late. But he’s still going to be an extremely tough opponent to beat regardless. There’s not a lot that can be said about him that hasn’t already. His awareness, reactions, knowledge, execution, it’s all world class level. Playing against him at EVO 2017 made me realize how far I had to go to become a player of his caliber. But I hope I can get the opportunity to show him I’m not the same as I was before.
  • Brkrdave: Please don’t curse me… Jokes aside I do struggle quite a bit in this matchup. There really aren’t a lot of Arakune players out there either so it’s hard to get a lot of experience fighting against, much less one of Brkrdave’s caliber. He just has a tendency to slip away or get a good sucker punch in if you aren’t 100% on top of your game. And one good hit is all it takes for the Arakune pain train to begin!

Q: I almost forgot at Brkrdave! He’s actually one of my favorite players to watch. I’ll have to hit him up after our interview to see if I can do one with him haha. But a lot of great stuff for people to read about other competitors there. So keeping on with the tournament talk I have a question about you and your history of competing. Looking back to your first couple of tournaments how does it compare to how you view them now? Were you nervous when you first started competing? Confident? Contrast that to how you feel when you compete against some of the best in the world now.

Beta: Oh, I definitely had my fair share of nerves for those first couple of tournaments, especially CEOtaku. Would I be able to keep up my performance for the entire weekend? How would I fare against play styles or characters that I hadn’t much experience against? Were my initial successes just flukes? Thoughts like that would ease themselves from my mind as I continued my travels. The continued results helped to boost confidence for sure but there’s still always some degree of nerves when competing of course! Nowadays though once a match starts any doubts I have left tend to quickly disappear.

Q: Speaking of being new, what advice would you give to new players trying to get into blazblue or any fighting game for that matter?

Beta: That it’s all right to make mistakes! Those players you watch in tournaments have all made the same mistakes you have before and countless others as well. What’s really important is that you learn from them instead of ignoring them. Also focus on using each match as a learning experience instead of going solely for the win. Say for example you have an over reliance on reversals in matches. Try playing without them for a day. Can you beat your opponent soundly once you start your offense but you have no clue how to defend against theirs? Try blocking their strings to learn more about their patterns. Don’t know how to open up someone with a throw? Try using throws as your primary mixup until it clicks with you. Save that 100% style for the sets or tournament matches that have something on the line.

Q: As a somewhat new player it’s hard to put learning over winning but it seems to be a common theme among great players. So let’s transition over to more about you. As you may or may not be aware I do this series to get a more intimate look at the players both in and out of the game. So the first question I have for you is why the name Betadood?

Beta: I get that a lot haha. Some people assume I’m a disgaea fan actually thanks to how the prinny creatures say dood in those games! But the reality is that it’s just a transfer over from my earliest tag I made back on xbox live “betawolf”. As any self respecting 10 year old would do it was an amalgamation of cool sounding stuff. So “beta” being the Greek alphabet equivalent for two (I’m the younger brother in my family) and “wolf” because wolves were just cool. Of course after a while I wanted to change the handle but it’s kinda hard to just change your name once the impression has been made among your friends right? So I just took the internet slang “dood” and slapped it on, thus betadood.

Q: I think a lot of us wish we could go back and stop our younger selves from picking the names we did. Dark times dood. So what about the betadood outside the game? What do you do for hobbies, work, fun on the weekends, etc?

Beta: If I have some spare time during the middle of the week after work and school I might get some training in but I mostly just save it for our local meetups on Saturday. As far as other hobbies go I’m a fan of cars and motorsports in general so I like to play racing games or watch races. I’m also a big fan of gundam so I like to play the Extreme Versus series of games and build plastic model kits with my friends. I also like cooking, music, reading, anime, and video games!

Q: All the prize money going towards Gundam kits, huh? haha. What are some of your plans for the future? Competing more? Streaming more? Any new games you might try and pick up? What does the future hold for you?

Beta: I definitely don’t plan on quitting anytime soon! I’ll always try and support the game that quite literally changed my life for the better. So as long as there are people still willing to play I’ll be around. I actually tried streaming some back in the fall of last year but I wasn’t big on the format. Focusing on interacting with an audience just tends to take away from my ability to focus on the game itself. Maybe I’ll try it out again one day though! As for other games really I would just love more content for BBCF haha. It’s been rather difficult to find a game that I enjoy as much as Blazblue. But I have been dabbling with UNIST some more with all the excitement of it being added into the EVO lineup alongside maintaining my current level in BBTag.

Q: Hey man, I appreciate you taking the time to discuss these things with me. I know it took us a few days to get it through it so I’m grateful to you for hanging in there. Before I let you go is there any last words or shout outs you want to give and where can people find you on social media?

Beta: It really means the world to me having so much support from all of my friends and family. They drive me to keep pushing myself to become the best person I can be and I’m truly thankful for them! You can find me on twitter and discord @betadood, though usually I’m just on twitter. And thanks again for having me on for the interview, it’s been fun!

You can follow betadood on twitter @betadood

And as always you can follow me on twitter @itsfrail

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