Behind The Stick: An Interview With ZomBmu

I had the chance to sit down with ZomBmu, a high level DBFZ and BBTAG player. In this interview we discussed his history with fighting games, people who helped him get to where he is today, his favorite tournament moment, and more.

Q: First, I just want to say I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. It’s been a long time coming so I’m glad we can finally get to it. How are you today?

ZB: Hey! Doing pretty well, it’s a Monday so unfortunately that means back to work – but otherwise I can’t complain!

Q: We’ve all got a case of the Mondays haha. So for those who don’t know you could you give us a history of your time with fighting games?

ZB: So I’ve been playing fighting games here and there for a long time – got a pretty strong start playing some less known fighting games in High School(2008ish) playing some more obscure games like the Touhou fighting games: Immaterial and Missing Power, and Hisoutensoku. I played a bit of Melty Blood, and I did travel a bit for Super Smash Brothers Brawl – but my real break out fighting game would’ve been Persona 4 Arena. The release for this game(late 2012-early 2013) lined up with a big step forward in employment for me, so I was able to travel more and make a decent name for myself playing Chie. After that I took a bit of a hiatus from playing FGs seriously, up until DBFZ dropped early last year – and since then I’ve been playing it and picked up BBTAG along the way!

Q: Very different from a lot of other players I’ve talked to. Most seem to come from Street Fighter/MvC background. So you mentioned you played DBFZ what attracted you to the game? Were you a fan of the show? I know you also play BBTAG. Are you just a fan of tag fighters?

ZB: Before DBFZ and BBTAG I didn’t have a lot of history with tag fighters. I played very small amounts of MVCI and even less of Skullgirls – but most of the games I played were 1v1. Of course I grew up watching Dragon Ball, so when DBFZ was coming out I wanted to give it a try. During my hiatus I had been playing a lot of MOBAs, RTSes, etc to scratch that competitive itch and it fell on a time where I was in a bit of lull in that regard. I started going to local events here in Seattle(when I played Persona it was in Atlanta), clicked with the local scene, started traveling again for events and really enjoyed it – all in all the right game at the right time.

Q: Sticking with DBFZ, it’s not a game that I am super familiar with so I wanted to pick your brain about the team that you run. You run Kid Buu/Bardock/Goku Black. How did you decide that this was the team you wanted to run? Were there other teams that you were trying out?

ZB: I actually mixed and matched a few characters/teams…. at different points in the games lifespan I was playing Gotenks, Cell, Tien… I’ll probably try SSJ Goku… but these characters I think are very strong, and I think they also work well together so the team is fun for me and really strong in general.

Q: Earlier you mentioned that you started click with your scene in Seattle. Was there anyone there (or Atlanta) that you think really helped you grow, whether that be as a player or a person, and helped push you to the next level?

ZB: Well as far as people to thank… there’s far too many to count. All of my friends are really supportive and I’m grateful for all of them. As far as the most influential people on my actual growth as a player – I’d credit 3 different people: A friend I met through MMOs when I was 13, Dimglow, for getting me into fighting games and opening my eyes up to the competitive scenes around them. A friend I met through Immaterial and Missing Power when I was in High School, Baco ( @beikho ) for teaching me a lot of the more advanced fundamentals and grinding tons of matches. Lastly, Ivysaur, who I met playing Persona in Georgia, for opening my eyes to how powerful optimization and labbing details of situations can be. To this day though, everyone I play and meet has been a big influence! I really enjoy netplaying since you’re able to get a bigger picture than just what your local scene can provide… I enjoy talking about, sharing ideas, and comparing options with just about anyone when it comes to FGs.

Q: Sounds like you’ve met some great people. I’m still good friends with some of the people I played MMOs with too haha. So looking back at your career so far what do you think is your crowning achievement?

ZB: Of course! And half the appeal to FGs in my eyes is how kindly they lend to actually meeting and becoming more familiar with the other players – not something that happens so much in MOBAs/RTSes. A crowning achievement? Hm, it’s hard to say. I’m still trying to do better! I think maybe my most impressive result so far is placing 17th at EVO2018 for DBFZ – considering the sheer scale of the tournament, to place 17th out of ~2500 I had to beat quite a few great players. Generally speaking, nowadays I’m very proud of any event where I play well in both my games(though now I’m trying to add BBCF and maybe UNIST too haha)! I just have a lot of fun playing fighting games, and results aside I want my game play to reflect it!

Q: I highly recommend UNIST. I’ve been putting some time into it and it’s great! So you talked about just trying to play your best at every tournament. When you look back to when you first started to really dive deep into fighting games vs. when you compete now how do you think you compare? Not just your results but also mentally and emotionally. Are you still nervous or no?

ZB: Yeah! UNI is so much fun to watch. I just need to find the time to invest without hurting my performance in other games. As for nerves, I do still get nervous. I think most players get pretty nervous about how they’re going to play, what results they’ll have, if they’ll hit their hard combos… it’s inevitable. For the most part nerves never go away. I’ve since worked really hard on mitigating them, and I think my tournament play isn’t terribly far off from my casual play at this point. As for myself and competition… I never got into competition with intent to win. Or rather, I didn’t start entering events because I expected to win them. I really enjoy growing and learning more about the games, so it just kind of “happened.” First I played with my friends, then I played online, and I just kept growing and looking for new people to play, and more challenges to overcome. The ultimate answer is entire communities and events dedicated to improving and being the best! And that’s what got me into competition – whether it was being a part of a netplay scene, a local community, or traveling to majors, it was the “next step” in my growth as a player.

Q: One day I will have your attitude about not playing to win and playing to get better haha. So a big reason I do these interviews is to get a more in depth look at the player outside the game. So these next few questions will be about yourself. First, why the name ZomBmu? Where did you come up with that?

ZB: Sure, that one is…. a little bit of a long story but an easy enough one to tell. It originated as simply “ZomB” – I played ROB in Brawl, and thought it was a really clever play on the musician “Rob ZomB” The name ended up sticking with me, but it was taken fairly frequently, so I decided I needed to spice it up a bit. I mentioned the Touhou fighting games I played earlier, this was around that time, and I was playing characters like Reimu, Youmu, etc. so I stuck the “mu” from their names on the end of mine and called it a day.

Q: And thus ZomBmu was born. Believe it or not that is one of the more interesting origins behind a name I have heard. Outside of fighting games what are other things that you like to do for fun/hobbies?

ZB: Well I like playing competitive games in general… so I have way too many hours in games like League of Legends, DOTA2, Starcraft 2 etc…. but these definitely compete for the same time as FGs and it’s not very satisfying to not be invested so those are “on hold” so to say. Outside of that I got into programming a bit as a hobby and ended up turning it into my fulltime job, so I do quite a bit of that. I also take care of my cat(her name is Jam) and wind down watching anime or studying Japanese.

Q: Oh wow. How did you end up turning programming from a hobby to a career?

ZB: Well the long and short of it, is I was getting tired of completing the same mundane tasks over and over with slight variation, so I wrote some code to automate that and trained my whole team to work with it and improved everyones QOL and output significantly… so I leveraged that to get an engineering job at the company!

Q: So aside from your pursuit of programming what are your plans for the future?

ZB: Hmmm, well right now I’m having a good time learning the ropes as a full time programmer and I’m loving the current generation of FGs so I’m not expecting a huge change in that regard! I do want to go back to Japan next year though to practice my Japanese some more.

Q: Alright my man that is all I have for you today! I appreciate the time! Before I let you go is there anyone you want to give a shout out to and where can people find you on social media?

ZB: I’ll give a shout out to Hit Box, since their support has really helped me travel so much recently! You can find me here on twitter: @zombmu Or catch my streams: twitch.tv/zombmu

You can follow ZomBmu on Twitter @zombmu

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

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