Behind The Stick: An Interview with ScrawtVermillion

I had the chance to sit down and chat with ScrawtVermillion. Arguably one of the best Melty Blood players in the world and a great player in several other fighting games. In this interview we talk about his history with fighting games, Why he started playing Melty, his favorite tournament moments, his future, and more.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and talk with me Scraw. How are you today?

SV: I should be the one thanking you for the opportunity haha. I am doing great! A bit tired after school but very excited to get this interview going!

Q: Let’s hop right in then! So for those of you that are unaware of who you are could you give us a brief overview of your history with fighting games?

SV: So for those who don’t know me, hi! I’m José aka Scrawt Vermillion. I’ve been in the FGC since 2011. I’m mostly known for my background in Melty Blood, which is my favorite game by far. I have been playing it almost daily for about seven years or so. My best accomplishment I think is being the three peat champ at CEOtaku, repeat champ at Frosty Faustings, and being the Climax of Night Melty Champ. I hope to keep streak going but this year is going to be rough hahaha! I have also played Blazblue Central Fiction in the past. I was one of the few Lambda-11 players to survive the low tier struggle, my best placing I think was 5th place during last year’s Final Round, upsetting Flux twice. Currently I’m mostly known for Dragon Ball FighterZ, which is one of my favorite games currently, right now I’m one of the two unsponsored players in the DBFZ World Tour ranking, I was known to be a Goku Blue player but I “sold out” and I play Piccolo now hahaha. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is the other game I mostly play, where I’m known for playing Weiss, a very unorthodox character that thankfully got some love last patch! Lately some people have recognized me for Under Night in-birth. UNIST is a bit of a side game for me but l have managed to get some top 16s and some top 8 finishes, most recent result was 7th at CEO 2019. Long story short I am an anime fighter player that really loves some Melty Blood!

Q: Quite the variety of games and decent showings in them all to boot. As you mentioned you’re pretty well known for your Melty Blood gameplay. What was it that got you into the game and what is it that keeps you playing all these years later?

SV: My introduction to Melty is very funny and I honestly think it was just destiny. This is back in January 1st, 2012, I was playing MUGEN out of all things and I downloaded a custom character whose sprites came from Melty Blood. I really liked the character so I got interested on the series. It turned out that the current version of Melty Blood had just released on PC December 30th, 2011. So I got my hands on it and I got instantly hooked. The presentation and music were excellent, the character roster is huge (31 characters with 3 variations so basically there are 93 characters), but what made me stay was the gameplay. It is a very aggressive game in which movement and air to air interactions are king, and there isn’t just a correct way of handling situations or playing a character. Melty is not so much about the character match-up, but the player match-up, so I really like trying to figure out my opponent and adapting on the spot. I also just love going to training mode with my character and labbing her combos and setups, she’s extremely execution heavy, but it’s always rewarding and fun once you see the results in a match.

Q: So tell me about your character why did you decide to go with her? Were there any other characters you were considering when you started or even down the road?

SV: So the first character I played was Ryougi Shiki, she’s a guest character from a light novel series called Kara No Kyoukai, and she was very straightforward and it helped me learn the game mechanics, I also loved her character design. Near the end of the first year year I decided to read more about the story of Melty Blood and what was actually going so I read the original Melty Blood novel and really identified with Sion, the main character, so I decided to make the move. I was also attracted by her gameplay because of a Japanese player called Yuu, that really goes for the extremely stylish combos all the time and I really wanted to do the same haha. She’s a very technical character and I really love to sit in the lab with her. The character just clicked with me in every aspect so it felt like the right move. Outside of her I also really like Vampire Sion, which is a character that was very underdeveloped and I came up with some tech for her, and Kishima Kouma, which is considered one of the weakest characters but I proved he’s viable by using him in grand finals at CEOtaku 2018 haha.

Q: You mentioned CEOtaku 2018 so I wanted to talk about some of your prior tournaments. Was there any one that stands out to you as a favorite or perhaps one that you think really cemented how good you were as a player?

SV: For me it’s probably a tie between CEOtaku 2017 and the last Frosty Faustings for different reasons. That year of CEOtaku I won’t go in depth on the drama but we had to replay the first game because my opponent said the setup was “too laggy” right after I stomped the first game so I got tilted and went to losers on winners semis losing 1-2, and I made the entire runback from losers so that felt like I had to prove I had what it took to win. This year’s Frostys was the total opposite, it felt like I dominated every set, I don’t even think I dropped a single game in top 8 so I’m very proud of my performance throughout that tournament. I think I was running on like 4 hours of sleep so maybe that’s the secret power up hahahaha.

Q: You can’t be giving away your secrets like that haha. Now, I know Melty’s scene probably isn’t the biggest but when you look at the scene is there anyone you think helped push you into becoming the player you are today? Perhaps a friend you made through the game or someone you consider a rival?

SV: Many people have helped me push myself to where I am today. Back when I was living in Costa Rica I was very close to the Latin American community and to this day they keep helping me improve. People like Waka, Kike, Onani, Canceris, Inso, Cristu Shao and Shadowcarnage (aka Provergil) really helped me out and I look up to them a lot. From the States I really looked up to Tsukimori (formerly known as Butterfree) but he’s more of a Dengeki Bunko Player these days. I guess my best rival is MoltyBleed from the UK hahaha. He moved on to Tekken, but he gave the community some of the best story arcs with CEOtaku 2017 finals and the runback at Climax of Night. He’s never forgotten.

Q: How do you feel about the scene as a whole? I know there are a lot of jokes about the game that circulate around but do you feel like the game has a healthy scene? Why or why not?

SV: Melty Blood in 2019 is extremely active for a “poverty” game. I’ve seen many new faces in the discord every time I hop around. I have very mixed feelings about the whole melty blood in the bathroom meme. I’ve known players that have met or had an interest in Melty because of the meme status in which case I think is fine. I just do not like when I’m at a major and we’re in the Bring Your Own Console area getting games and someone rolls around to say something like “Why aren’t you playing in the bathroom?”. I understand it’s supposed to be funny but it comes out as derogatory so it really depends on the context. The game definitely has a healthy scene and a lot of the players that have been stuck in mid player hell are beginning to go even beyond, so the coming years it will be even better in my opinion.

Q: What sort of advice would you give to someone who maybe has only seen the game in passing but wants to try and give it a go? Do you feel the game is welcoming to both newcomers in terms of the both the scene as well as the game itself?

SV: Give it a shot! Melty is an easy to learn/hard to master game, and there are a lot of resources for getting started. A lot of characters have the same basic bread and butter combo so it’s easy to jump to different characters and retain some basic skills. The game is extremely addictive and thanks the caster it has some of the best rollback netcode out there. The Melty Blood discord is full of of people and you will get help from multiple sources if you ask anything in the serious discussion channel. I think the biggest advice I can give is don’t feel down if you you’re getting beaten up pretty hard at the beginning. This is a common situation in small scene games because the people that stick to the game have been playing for months or even years, getting started can be frustrating but we always get new players so trying to find a training partner and build each other up can be pretty effective. This is a game you play out of passion and enjoyment so make sure you’re having fun! Don’t forget to ask for advice and watch matches!!

Q: As a man currently getting his ass whipped in Tekken I feel the pain of anyone who will be going through that haha. So these next few questions are going to be a bit more focused on you outside of the game. First why did you decide to go with the name ScrawtVermilion?

SV: I’ve been using Scrawt ever since I was 10, even my mom calls me that sometimes hahahaha. The origin is very lame tho. I was going to play World Of Warcraft with my cousin and I wanted the name Crow for my character, but of course it was taken, so my cousin helped me change and add some letters and it somehow ended up as Scrawt. The Vermillion part I added in when I was 15 or so, my best friends and I began playing Cardfight Vanguard, and my boss monster was called Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion and I thought it sounded badass so here I am.

Q: It’s okay most tags are pretty lame so you aren’t alone. What do you like to do outside of fighting games? What sort of hobbies do you have? What do you do (if anything) for work?

SV: I have a couple of passions outside of fighting games: singing (terrible at it but that makes it better hahaha), dancing (mostly Hispanic rhythms, since I took classes for many years). I also keep up with some Freestyle leagues, and I love literature as well! Currently I am a full time student finishing my computer science degree at The Georgia Institute of Technology (graduating in December finally!) and I also work part time as a programmer at a game company.

Q: That’s super cool! If they’re ever looking for an HR guy my DMs are always open haha. So obviously you are finishing up school but when you look forward what do you think the future holds for you? Do you plan to compete more? Spend more time on your career? Maybe something else?

SV: I’ll make sure to keep an eye open if we ever need help! *wink* The near future is very exciting. You never know what offers might come, my areas of concentration are Media and Artificial Intelligence so my path is pretty open ended. I am currently trying to expand in the game industry however , which is not a simple task nowadays so it might affect the amount of events I travel to in the next years building a strong resumé and experience. But that is yet to be decided! I would definitely want to use my income to attend as many events as I can even if that means draining all my vacation days hahaha. There’s nothing more enjoyable to me than to see my friends and duke it out with the best.

Q: The world is your oyster my friend. But with that said that is all I have for you today. Before I let you go is there anyone or anything you want to give a shout out to and where can people find you on social media?

SV: I want to shout out the people from the Georgia fighting game community that have done so much for me throughout these 2 years I’ve been here and have become my second family. The people from Melty Suda, which somehow manage to deal with me and are a great community to hang out and talk to, and my mom, which is my number one fan and she somehow always manages to catch me on stream. I’m her fan too but don’t tell her haha.

My Twitter is @ScrawtV and I stream most of the games I play at http://Twitch.tv/scrawt540 . You can also say hi to me at the Melty discord, I won’t bite!

You can follow ScrawtVermillion on Twitter @ScrawtV

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

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