Behind The Stick: An Interview With RetroStation

I had the chance to sit down and talk with RetroStation: A player turned Tournament Organizer from the New York scene. In this interview we discuss his history with the scene, his transition from player to TO, his advice to players and new TOs, and much more.

Q: First, I wanted to say I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk to me today. How are you?

RS: Been doing pretty well, thanks for asking! And yourself?

Q: Just got done watching CEOTAKU so I’m feeling pretty hyped right now haha. So for those who are unaware of you are could you give us a brief history of who you are in relation to the Fighting Game Community?

RS: I am currently an organizer for Kick-Punch-Block; we are a NYC-based team with members in various parts of the US. I also briefly competed in DBFZ on the local level before realizing logistics and operations are more my forte. I’ve volunteered as a bracket judge and game lead at multiple events on the East Coast and the Midwest. Additionally, I’ve been hosting the Twinkle Star Sprites side tournament at Combo Breaker since 2018 while also placing 3rd in the Mystery Game tournament at this year’s CB.

Q: So you mentioned that you were a competitor for a bit before you decided to make the switch to a more behind the scenes role. What was it that prompted that swap? Was there a moment you realized that you didn’t want to compete anymore? Was it something that you did here and there and then grew to love the more you did it? What’s the story behind the switch?

RS: What prompted the transition into operations was realizing that I am my own worst critic when it comes to competition. I realized I was being unreasonable with myself and expecting good results in a short period of time – what I like to call, “Gifted Kid Syndrome”. Around the time I was competing in DBFZ hardcore, I was in a relationship where my partner was also my coach. She didn’t play the game, but watched enough of it to understand high-level decisions and help me improve on where I was coming up short. When we ended our relationship, I sat back and asked myself whether I was competing for my own sake, or just to make my partner happy. Ultimately, I decided to embrace my knack for operations. Even outside of the FGC, I’m usually the type to help execute projects as efficiently as possible. I just also happen to enjoy being in a support role. That’s not to say I wouldn’t indulge in a FT5/7/10; I still play, after all.

Q: Of course, we all have a love for the game. So once you decided to embrace your knack for operations how did you get started in that role? How did you get from where you started to where you are now at Kick Punch Block?

RS: Although I’ve been in the FGC for years, the bulk of my involvement is from the last year and a half. I’d reached out to KPB with the intention of joining them as a player, citing recent placings at the time, along with mentioning how I was a key factor in having Skullgirls events hosted in NYC, back in 2014. It wasn’t until I attended my first major – Winter Brawl 2018 – when I met Rodimus Prime and Rage, KPB’s founders; it would also be my first event as a bracket judge. We had a discussion about what I wanted to contribute to the community, and we agreed on a lot of key points regarding growth and camaraderie within the FGC. I would then proceed to volunteer as a bracket judge at nearly every event I’ve attended since, also being a Game Lead and DBFZ’s Top 8 Stage Manager at this year’s Combo Breaker. Since joining KPB, I’ve always expressed a desire to learn more, whether it be on the tournament front through bracket running, or on the production front through camera work and stream operation. After several discussions throughout the summer with Rodimus, Rage, and Aphro Dynamek – the third KPB admin – I and my teammate Deezee Kujaku were brought on as organizers, expanding the leadership team to five.

Q: That’s awesome! It’s good to see that hard work and dedication eventually pay off. So when you look back at all the events you hosted and the mistakes that you made along the way what is some advice that you would give to yourself back then or maybe even to young and aspiring TOs who are just getting their feet wet?

RS: For TOs getting their feet wet: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people out there who have been doing this for ages, and you only stand to benefit from picking their brain. Just go to your events and show people you’re willing to learn. Ask questions, even if they may sound silly to you. Chances are your question is a valid concern, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. Also get to know your players; you wouldn’t have an event to run without them.

Q: And as a TO what are somethings players do that drive you crazy/could do to make your life easier?

RS: Going back to communication: If you, as a player, need to leave your pool for whatever reason – bathroom/smoke break, overlapping pool in another game, etc – LET YOUR TO KNOW. It grinds my gears when players disappear and hold up the bracket. Going further, if you sign up for a game, and you know you can’t make it, at least have the courtesy to communicate your absence so they don’t have to spend time wondering where you are.

Q: Hopefully we can make one TOs life a bit easier after someone reads this haha. You figure common courtesy would be a no-brainer but here we are. So when you look at the way that tournaments are run where do you think are the biggest areas for improvement?

RS: Coordination and collaboration. An issue I’ve seen fairly often is overlapping events for the same game. It splits up the community because you make them choose between one event or the other. It results in lackluster attendance and a subdued viewership for the streamers involved in said events. If event organizers could come together and hash out a calendar with minimal overlap, it’d ultimately benefit the community at large.

Q: Yeah, it always bums me out when I want to watch something like UNIST and Guilty Gear but they overlap. It happened today at CEOtaku. I know I can multi stream but it isn’t quite the same. What is an area that you think tournaments are lacking? For example, talent for interviews and analysis.

RS: I feel like we don’t do enough player interviews, so your example is spot-on. While people within a given community know who their players are, people outside of said communities may not know who a player is unless that player competes in multiple games. However, we must also account for event schedules, so it adds another layer of organization to consider, so it doesn’t surprise me when interviews are few and far between, outside of the brief interviews held for a tournament winner.

Q: Understandable. I think that it’s definitely an option to consider in the future and maybe one that can be planned around. It’s one that I feel strongly about myself for the reasons you listed and in part why I do these interviews. Which leads me to the next part of this interview: you. First, why did you decide to go with the name RetroStation?

RS: Before I entered the FGC I dabbled in chiptune covers as a hobby, and that was my music handle. It’s a play on Metro Station – Shake It was still fairly popular back when I came up with the name. I’m a fan of wordplay and puns, so I jumped at the opportunity.

Q: Takes me back to my high school days. The girls I used to hang out with loved that song. So what do you like to do outside of fighting games? What are some of your hobbies?

RS: Outside of fighting games, I enjoy working on chiptune music covers, other games (especially rhythm games and racers), and… singing.

Q: Racing games are something I’d like to get into. I want to get one of those wheels and pedals. So you mentioned quite a few music related things. Do you have a background in music or was that something you stumbled upon one day and have continued with since?

RS: I actually have a musical background! I’m a self-taught singer, along with 20+ years of percussion experience. I was in my middle school’s marching band in 6th grade, performing in the Memorial Day Parade, and I was in concert band all of high school. After high school, my music experience went digital when I was first introduced to FL Studio, which is how I’ve worked on most of my pieces.

Q: Ah, a fellow percussion man like myself. Although you are probably much better than myself given your years of playing. So obviously you’ve done a lot of changing over the last 5 or so years from player to TO to now working with Kick Punch Block. What do you think the future is going to hold for you next? Do you already have big plans in the works or are you just taking each day at a time?

RS: Honestly? I’m taking this a day at time. I’ll continue to hone my craft, build/establish communities wherever the need arises, and continue to make a name for myself as a consistently reliable TO. At the end of the day, I want the FGC to grow further and prosper, and I’ll do whatever I can to help make that happen.

Q: And how do you feel about the growth of the Fighting Game Community? The scene has been growing and the amount of great fighting games is arguably at an all time high in my opinion. That coupled with social media and higher level production quality when streaming has added another dimension to the scene that maybe wasn’t quite there before. Do you think the scene will continue to grow or will it become stagnant. Why?

RS: I think the scene will continue to grow, so long as the people within it are willing to grow alongside it. New games will always be on the horizon, and passion for older and/or more obscure games can still be cultivated. We just need people willing to engage in that labor of love. To that point, I want to shout out Lunar Phase Productions (@LunarPhaseProd) for being the home of UNIST, Melty Blood, and Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Ignition here in NYC

Q: Of course! Well that’s all I have for you my man. 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?

RS: You can find me on Twitter (@KPBRetroStation) and Twitch(RetroStation)! I stream Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and it’s almost always something different every time. I wanna shout out my KPB fam, along with the US Twinkle Star Sprites community. You’ve helped me be where I am today, and I don’t think I could repay the kindness all of you have shown me.

You can follow RetroStation on Twitter @KPBRetroStation

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

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

Behind The Stick: An Interview with Rino

I had the chance to sit down and talk to Rino, a premier BlazBlue Cross Tag player. Rino just recently placed second at CEO and was gracious enough to sit down and chat with me about several topics including: His history with fighting games, his recent run at CEO 2019, his thoughts on BBTAG, and his plans for the future.

Q: First, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I’ve been out of the game for awhile and this interview has been a long time coming between you and I. Glad we are finally able to sit down and do one. How are you doing today?

Rino: I’m doing really well. I’ve been feeling really good about everything lately. I hope your day is going well too.

Q: Great to hear man! I’m doing swell. Happy to be back in the interview game after a break. Let’s hop right in. For those who are unaware of who you are could you give us a brief history of your career in fighting games?

Rino: I’m really glad to. I’ve been around for a couple of years. I played Street Fighter 4 for a year, played MKX, Smash 4 and Marvel Infinite for about 2-3 years total. I’ve been playing competitively for about 5 years with BBTAG being my main game right now.

Q: Quite a variety of games there. What was it about BBTAG that really drew you in over, say, another anime fighting game like a Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, or Under Night?

Rino: I actually really didn’t like BBTAG at first lol. It really grew on me over time. I’ve tried all the games you mentioned but none of them ever clicked with me. Once I tried BBTAG I was hooked. I think this game is the most “team game” out of all the team games that are out. That and I mean there’s so many characters and options both offensively and defensively. It’s actually mad addicting lol.

Q: Yeah, I’ve only played it briefly but it seems like there are a lot of options and setups you can do. Similar in a way to a game like Marvel 3. So you mentioned the characters in the game. I know in recent times you’ve been running Mika/Carmine. Why those characters/that team? Were there other characters you were considering?

Rino: I think that team is like really godlike and Carmine’s best team. I was considering Izayoi for a while and while I was playing Jin I kinda wanted to play Ragna/Jin and still play him. But I think I’m locked into that Mika team for sure.

Q: You’ve seen pretty good success with it so no reason to fix what it isn’t broken haha. You ran that team recently at CEO 2019 to great results. Tell me about that run. Were you confidant going into the event or did you surprise even yourself making it all the way to Grand Finals?

Rino: Considering I only played that team for less than a month, it was more like me playing in a lot of netplay tournaments and other tournaments. I won a netplay tournament and got second at the pg keys to Evo bamboo battles one, but I entered those for experience really. I wasn’t surprised really, I think it’d because of the mentality I have with the game, and not allowing myself to expect a lot or less out of myself. This is a game where you can lose to everyone but beat everyone at the same time. So beating Fenrich and Bace when it mattered really put that into perspective. Plus my strength as a player due to my mentality.

Q: Would you consider this your crowning achievement so far or is there another event that holds more weight for you? Why?

Rino: I don’t think any other event holds more weight. Not just in competition but also on like a mentality state. I think this was the hardest NA tournament to date and everyone who was there had something to give it, even those that didn’t make it out of pools. They were still strong like Mastastef and Ultimox.

Q: So you’ve mentioned a few people previously but is there anyone you think that really helped you as a player. Someone who pushed you to be better whether as a friend or as a rival?

Rino: This might be a really hot take to say or to really make people feel bad. But nobody in this game really pushes me. I have friends and I have people who I’ve lost to, but I think I’ve carried myself and pushed myself more than anything. I think new York is the best state to play BBTAG and they’re the best this game has the offer, bar none.

Q: That’s interesting. I think there is always that East vs. West mentality. Do you think that sentiment holds true on a global scale?

Rino: I think America vs Japan is definitely a thing in this game and the gap between us isn’t far off. I think we’re on the same level as everyone else there. NA is very strong.

Q: How do you feel about the scene as a whole? Do you think it is going strong? Does it have more room to grow? Are there changes/additions you would like to see to the game that you think might help facilitate that?

Rino: I think the scene needs a lot of changing. I think we need to start respecting tournament players more, and to adapt better mindsets. It’s really wack to have to deal with egos on monumental levels when you can just explode. I think the community has a lot of room to grow, but I think it’s still young. But right now we gotta get our shit together and be more respectful towards each other no matter the level of play. I think the game is in a good spot. Just remove Vatista and the game is perfect. She’s another can of worms. I think Merkava can use some tuning but I’m ok with the state of the game. Very explosive and spectator friendly while also requiring really good neutral to excel in.

Q: Interesting. I’ve come to hear that sentiment shared a bit in other fighting game scenes. I’m not quite sure how to combat toxicity on such a high level like that. The obvious answer is to not condone it but to get a group of people to push it out on such a large scale is no easy task. But I think if we were able to accomplish it to an extent it would certainly make newer players feel more welcome.

Rino: I think the best way to welcome new players is to treat them the same way you wanna be treated. And yes this applies to other games too. It can be fixed though. I think you can definitely fix this issue.

Q: I want to shift gears and focus more on you outside the game. A big part of why I like to do these interviews is to get a more intimate look at the player to put more than just a name on the screen when people tune in to events. So with that we’ll start with the basics. Why did you end up going with the name Rino?

Rino: Well Rino is actually my real name. It’s a short version of my name Pelegrino, so you just take the last 4 and it’s rino. I definitely like it more than my real name so people just call me Rino in real life.

Q: I won’t lie, I thought for the longest time your name was pronounced like Rhino until I heard someone say it for the first time haha. Seems like a lot of the names people go by are either old XBOX live names or variations of their actual name. So obviously you are pretty big into fighting games but what are some of your other hobbies that you like to do?

Rino: That happens to everyone. It’s totally fine haha. I actually really love cooking and cleaning. I have a plant that I’ve been taking care of as well. I also am really big into film as well.

Q: Shit, I could really use some of your work ethic. What do you do for work and what are your career plans/goals?

Rino: I am a crew member at trader Joe’s. I really love this job, I get to be really expressive and I can be myself without any faults with it. I definitely want to go back to college for film and pursue in writing my own short film and hopefully developing a following from that and creating films that I’ve always wanted to make.

Q: That’s awesome man! I’m sure you’ll do great! So what other things does the future hold for you? Do you plan to travel and compete more? Are you more focused on other things outside the game?

Rino: I definitely want to keep traveling and competing. I don’t think I’m done competing and I will definitely be more focused on finishing school but I think I can juggle everything and make it all work.

Q: Hopefully we will get to see you sometime in the near future. That’s all I have for you today my man. It was awesome to sit down and get the chance to chat with you. Before I let you go is there anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to?

Rino: I want to thank you for interviewing me of course. I also want to give a big shout-out to my team/sponsor Will 2 Win gaming. I want to thank the NE uni community for being there for me lately as well as the NY SamSho community.

Be sure to follow Rino on Twitter @RinoNYC

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

Behind The Stick: An Interview with Regi

I had the chance to talk to Regi, arguably the premier Game & Watch player in Smash. In this interview we discussed: His history with fighting games, the Mexican scene, his crowning achievement, his plans for the future, and more.

Q: Hey Regi, I appreciate you taking the time to do an interview with me. This is going to be my first time delving into the world of Smash and I’m excited. But before we get started, how are you today?

Regi: Hi Frail, I’m good, been quite busy these days with work and an upcoming Smash national in Guadalajara Mexico, my city. First and foremost, thanks for taking your time at interviewing me. It’s an honor to be your first Smash player interviewed.

Q: Happy to have you man! So for those who are unaware of who you are could you give us a brief history of your career in fighting games?

Regi: Of course. I’ve been playing video games all my life. Smash Bros. is the 1st competitive game that brought me into the world of eSports, by being sponsored thanks to Smash for Wii U. I also was part of several teams for League and Overwatch, but ultimately, my main game is Smash, continuing on my career with the latest entry, Smash Bros. Ultimate.

I tried playing other fighting games, specially SF IV and BlazBlue, but I found myself enjoying more the non-traditional fighting game that is Smash Bros., aside from the fact that I like Nintendo, so I like the roster a lot.

As for placings, since my debut with Smash Brawl, I placed top 32 in ladder season for All is Brawl, won most tourneys in my region. With Smash 4, I had more chance to travel, getting top 13 and 17 at EVO 2016 and 2017, several top placings in national tourneys in Mexico, top placings at internationals in the US and won most of the tourneys in my region. I even got considered as the best Mr. Game & Watch in Smash 4. For Ultimate, my first international was at Genesis 6, getting 35th out of almost 2k entrants, top 4’s in all mexican nationals and so far, I’m 1st in my region’s PR.

Q: So the Mexican fighting game scene is one that I, and I’m sure many others, are unfamiliar with. How is the health of the scene? Is there a lot of people there? Is it just a close tight knit scene? How do you think the scene compares to others worldwide?

Regi: The Mexican scene regarding fighting games is quite healthy, having people active in games like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Ultimate and, before dying, UMvC 3. In a sense, it’s still small compared to the more mainstream places like the US, but it’s quite strong, with notable players like MKLeo, being one of the best, if not the best, Smash 4 player and actually, top 3 in Ultimate, along with strong UMvC 3 Mexican players and many more Smash Ultimate players. So, it’s safe to say, Smash 4 was Mexico’s best FG and Ultimate is continuing that trend. Most notable Mexican players have the capacity to be top 50 worldwide.

Q: So you’re pretty well known for your Mr. Game & Watch. What was it that made you want to play him? He seems like a rather under picked character from my limited knowledge of the game.

Regi: When Melee was the new game, I played it a lot, but very casually. More than a year later, I got the “New Challenger Approaching” message. I was like “Woah, I still have characters to unlock?” Once I saw G&W, it kind of was love at first sight. I liked how he looked completely different to the entire Smash world and still fit in quite well. I started using him and I was having so much fun with the character that I dropped all characters I mained in Melee. Since then, I have been a G&W main in every Smash iteration.

Q: When you look back at your career over the years who do you think were some of the people that had the biggest impact on you and why?

Regi: To be quite honest, I feel I have been really on my own in every competitive game I’ve played. Yes, my parents supported me, economically, but they never really care(d) what I did or how I did in every tourney, big or small, heck they don’t even know the name of “Smash Brothers”. My actual girlfriend, and these last few years, my sister, have been the ones truly supporting me the most. Feels kind of bad to have this support in what I could feel is not my biggest moment in competitive gaming, due to the fact that today I’m dealing more with adult matters that concentrating on gaming isn’t my top priority.

Q: You don’t have to answer this one but I think it’s an interesting topic to follow up with. Do you think your parents would be more supportive if it were financial feasible to compete more or were they the type who disapproved of the idea from the start and had no plans to change?

Regi: They’re more focused on traditional success plans, study, have a “normal” job, be productive and yeah. The idea of me “working” around playing video games was never a topic they really liked. They even told me every now and then to “stop wasting my time”.

Q: A very familiar concept. You’ve been fairly successful so it surprises me slightly that they are not more supportive. Speaking of your success what do you think is your crowning achievement so far in Smash?

Regi: My crowning achievement I would feel was being the best G&W player in the world in Smash 4. It felt great, made me smile, being able to carry the title with enjoyment and accomplishment after several great placings at very big tournaments.

Q: For sure! So obviously you’ve been playing Ultimate. How do you feel about the game? How do you feel about the community and it’s growth. Do you think the game will enjoy long term success or no?

Regi: The game’s great! I enjoyed Smash 4 a lot due to the way how it got mechanics from past Smash games into 1 and added others that mostly were great. Ultimate seems to show 2 things, 1, Smash games after Smash 4 will most likely use Smash 4 as base from now on, so we can get to see a standard and 2, almost every mechanic was buffed/nerfed and that was a great thing. Buffer system is still an issue but still the game feels great overall. As for the community, Ultimate’s seems to be the healthiest it has been and the largest, which shows it will last in the long term run and that’s also a great thing.

Q: So let’s talk about you outside the game. Why did you end up going with the name Regi over something else?

Regi: I’ve always been someone who plays video games, mostly, Nintendo ones. Pokemon is one of the games I play the most, and I never had the “need” to create a tag in those days till online arrived to Pokemon in the DS games. I needed a username for the forums and whatnot, so I went with “Regi”, which I took from the 3rd gen legendary trio (which, are my favorite legendaries). People even called me like that without me telling me their tag due to me using those guys in matches and whatnot, so it kinda worked. The “Shikimi” one, was later added just to help differentiate the “Regi” one, since it’s a kinda simple tag and it wouldn’t surprise me to see another “Regi” around, and which name I also got from Pokemon, lol.

Q: So as you’ve stated you’re a fan of quite a few other games. What are some of your other hobbies and what sort of things do you enjoy doing?

Regi: Watching anime, and long ago, playing soccer are my hobbies. I enjoy being with my girlfriend, doing basically anything, as long as she is happy, then that makes me happy. Also, helping around my scene in whatever way I can, running tourneys, giving out advice both in and out of the game and overall just being nice to people are things I truly enjoy doing.

Q: And what about in terms of your career? I know you’re a Computer Systems Engineer? Was that just always something you were passionate about? How did you get into that?

Regi: It wasn’t really something for which I have a big passion, though I like it. It was between that or graphic designer and since being a designer is kinda bloated in Mexico and IT isn’t, I went more for it, due to it also being a great career in the long run. I enjoyed it during college, and I have been inside the professional world just recently since when graduating, I wanted to try if I would get some kind of wealth from gaming first before getting caught up in front a computer.

Q: I feel you. Gotta put food on the table. So what are your plans for the future? Do you plan to compete more or do you have other things in mind?

Regi: These days, I have been having the goal to leave home and start life with whom I hope will be my SO. We’re in process of buying a small house, so I’ve been kind of busy lately with that. I do plan in competing still, having several tournaments around Mexico between May and June, but I still want to take it easy. Things have been going smoothly so far, which I appreciate so much. Hopefully it will stay like that.

Q: That’s all I have for you my man! Before I let you go is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to and where can people find you on social media?

Regi: I’d like to give a shout out to my girlfriend who’s been the biggest support I have right now and thank her for all she has done for me. You all can find me in Facebook and Twitter as Regi_Shikimi. Thank you very much Frail for this interview, I greatly appreciate it.

Be sure to follow Regi on Twitter @Regi_Shikimi

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

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

Behind The Stick: An Interview With Magnets

I had the chance to sit down with Magnets, one of the premier Eltnum players in the UNIST scene. In this interview we discuss: His history with fighting games, his thoughts on UNIST’s future, why he plays Eltnum, his future, and more.

Q: Magnets I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. I’ve only known you for a brief time but I’ve had fun watching your streams and watching you play UNIST so it’s great that we get a chance to talk. But before we get into that, how are you doing today?

Magnets: I’m doing pretty well, thanks for taking the time to interview me!

Q: Of course! So for those who are unfamiliar with you can you give us a bit of history about yourself in relation to fighting games?

Magnets: The first fighting game I played was Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 back in early 2013. I got introduced to it when I was hanging out with some friends and one of them wanted to show us this game he had been playing a lot recently. I watched him play some people online and instantly fell in love with how flashy and chaotic the game looked. I went out and bought a copy of it the next day. After being an online warrior for some time, I steadily became more invested in the community and attended UFGT9, which was my first tournament. A few months before the release of UNIEL on PS3 in Japan, one of my friends I had met through locals showed me the trailer for the game. I thought the game’s cast looked really cool, and I really enjoyed the aesthetic that the game had. When the game came out in Japan, I imported a copy and thought the game was amazing, and was my first breakout into other fighting games besides UMvC3. Slowly over time I found myself playing it more and more over UMvC3, and eventually it became my main game.

Q: Seems like everyone was either a big UMvC3 or SF4 person back in the day haha. That’s awesome though. So it’s no surprise to anyone who knows you that you are big fan of Eltnum haha. What was it that attracted you to her? Was there anyone else you played or considered playing?

Magnets: When I was waiting for my copy to come in, I was looking up a bunch of match footage and watching streams to see what the game was like. The second I saw someone playing Eltnum, I thought to myself “That’s her. That’s my main.” I thought the combination of a wire and a handgun that makes up her moves was really cool, and I liked the combination of rush down game play with longer range space control options as well. As soon as I got my hands on the game, I instantly took her into training mode and haven’t looked back.

Q: I wish I had your level of commitment in my life haha. So earlier you mentioned a friend who showed you the game, when you look back on your career so far who would you say are the people that had the biggest impact on you as a player and why?

Magnets: Of course there’s my friends from high school that I would play with all the time and really got me into the FGC. Once I started going to locals for UMvC3, Frankie G was the one who approached me as a new player and really taught me how fighting games play outside of a basic level (neutral, mind games, reads, etc.), and would host house sessions with the whole Chicago Marvel scene. A lot of my initial growth as a fighting game player is indebted to him. More recently, I give a ton of the credit in my growth as a UNIST player to Juushichi. He hosted a get together in Columbus for all of the Midwest players that wanted to grow in the game. He helped me fix my mentality towards the game, and showed me what makes a great player stand out from a good player. Shortly after that I managed to get my first top 8 at a major, which was Combo Breaker 2018. Without him, I don’t think that would’ve happened.

Q: So you brought up Combo Breaker 2018 and I wanted to ask when you look back on your first time competing vs. now, how do you think you’ve improved? Do you remember how you felt playing then vs. now?

Magnets: For the first few majors I went to, I really didn’t have any goals for myself in mind. I would just think that it would be cool to not go 0-2, and just have fun with it. I wouldn’t really “prepare” for tournaments or anything like that. Nowadays, I find myself grinding whenever there’s a tournament coming up. I look at my pool, see who I may have to play, see if there’s footage of them online, see if I can practice the matchup, see if I can find new stuff in the lab, etc. I definitely take tournaments a lot more seriously now, and I want to see how far I can push myself as a player at every tournament I go to. That first big breakout at CB2018 really left me wanting more.

Q: It’s so interesting to see how seriously certain players take the game vs. other players. Some players, like yourself, prepare so much and practice while others just show up and play. So, as I am sure you’re aware, UNIST has been experiencing a massive boost in the player base lately. How optimistic are you about the future of the game? Do you think it will continue to grow months after EVO or do you think we are currently living in the golden age of the game?

Magnets: While the EVO announcement obviously caused a huge amount of growth to the scene, I personally believe that even after EVO UNIST will continue to grow. Over the course of 2018 and the first few months of 2019, the game had already been naturally growing at an honestly unexpected rate. Some tournaments were even breaking previous year records by double the amount of entrants. I think that this natural growth will continue well after EVO, and I’m confident that the future of the UNIST community will be bright.

Q: So as we have been discussing there has been an influx of new players. What sort of advice would you give to new players that like the game but are maybe struggling with picking a character, trouble getting better, or just any advice you would like to give.

Magnets:I guess there’s a few things I’d like to go over. First off, when you’re picking a character, I’d advise people not to just pick a top tier and stick with it. UNIST’s cast is very well balanced, and I think its better in the long run if you’re playing a character that you think is cool and genuinely enjoy playing. Even the character that is considered the worst in the game, Enkidu, has had very good tournament placings here in North America. Second, I would advise people to learn the ins and outs of Vorpal and the GRD mechanic. It’s the biggest thing that sets apart UNIST from other fighters, and understanding it and using it to your advantage is key to becoming good at the game. Lastly, look into the multiple throw OS options that exist in the game and learn how to both utilize them with your character, and how to beat them as well to improve your defense and offense. There are some great resources out there that will help with the last two points.

Q: I’ll be sure to share some of those when I put this up. So a big reason that I do these interviews is because I like getting to know people and I think the FGC has a lack of player focused content that allows you to get more intimate with them. As such, these next few questions pertain to you as a person rather than a player. First, why did you decide to go with the name Magnets?

Magnets: I get asked this a lot, and unfortunately there isn’t really an interesting story behind it. Back in middle school, a bunch of my friends wanted to have matching Xbox Live gamertags for when we played Call of Duty because we thought it would make us cool, and I was struggling to come up with one. My friend threw out the suggestion of “What about Magnets?”, and I honestly just thought it sounded cool and was a simple tag to go by. Whether or not his suggestion was in reference to the ICP “Magnets, how do they work?” meme is something I will refrain from disclosing, though haha.

Q: You can take some solace in knowing that at least 25% of the people I talk to had their names come from XBOX gamertags. So what sort of things do you do outside of fighting games? Do you play other games? Work? Anything you’d like to share.

Magnets: Right now I’m a university student studying computer science, so that takes up a majority of my time. Outside of fighting games, I also love to play rhythm games, watch anime, and I used to dabble in playing the guitar (although I haven’t much the past few years). The past 2 years or so I’ve also been studying Japanese, and that’s been a lot of fun.

Q: Only so much time in a day. So what are your plans for the future? I know you recently started streaming. But what else is in store for you?

Magnets: I’ve been having a ton of fun streaming, so definitely expect more of that in the future. Besides that, I want to make it out to a bunch of events this year. My list right now is Michigan Masters, Combo Breaker, EVO, CEOtaku, and if it happens, Climax of Night 2. Once I finish school, I’m not quite sure what my plans are just yet, but for now I’ll be focusing on supporting UNIST at events and create more content to help newer players learn and enjoy the game!

Q: Awesome! Well that’s all I have for you today my man. 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?

Magnets: First off, shout outs to all of my great friends in the UNIST community that have helped me become the player I am today. Definitely want to give a big shout out to Juushichi (@EnginoJuushichi) for being a great community leader and making the Midwest UNIST scene into what it is, and shout outs to all of my boys in the PFGC for supporting me all this time and for being amazing friends. You can find me on Twitter @MagnetsFGC, and you can catch my stream at https://www.twitch.tv/magnetsfgc .

You can follow Magnets on Twitter @MagnetsFGC

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

Some thoughts on @KingHippo42’s: FGC Content Needs To Be More Critical Article

Recently, King Hippo wrote a piece saying that while content for the FGC is great there is a severe lack of critical content within the scene. It was a really interesting read that I had a lot of thoughts on so I wanted to break down some things and give my opinion on them. (As a nobody in the scene of course.)

This is a very hard thing for me to talk about because I really understand both sides of the argument. While the esports system does increase financial gain for the people at the top the most there really isn’t any financial gain that exists currently anyway.

Here is DEB and PepperySplash asking someone to help them pay their fees to compete at Combo Breaker 2019. These are easily two of the best players in North America in Guilty Gear and they are struggling to be able to go to big tournaments and compete due to financial restrictions. If even the top players can’t afford to compete I can’t imagine the lower players are making much if anything at all.

While I agree, that it is in fact very difficult to become an “influencer” in a scene it isn’t impossible. I don’t think it’s rigged. If you make good content and people want to see it you’ll get popular and if you get popular you’ll become an “influencer.” That said, I’m not naive enough to think that when you get big companies involved they don’t have agendas. This includes things like having people that they look favorably upon. It’s a big of a double edged sword. I don’t really disagree with what your saying but what we have now is arguably worse. No one wins at all. Top players sometimes struggle to make it to events and smaller players just as much if not even more.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to this belief. Content is a business, as you suggest. I mean if people are going to put time into something they expect some sort of return. Whether that is building an audience, making money, or pursuing something they love. However, I don’t think that it doesn’t do a lot for the community. I mean there are so many examples. Let’s take someone who reviews a game. They review games, tell you what they like and don’t like, and you make a decision to buy or not buy based off of what you have been told. If you agree with this person they have now built your trust and you will look out for their reviews in the future. If they suggest getting a fighting game then you’re likely to look into it because you value their opinion. Look at someone like Maximilian. I’m sure there are a great number of people who got into fighting games because of his videos. Hell, I used to watch his MvC3 videos all the time and they got me into the game. Would you say that he didn’t help the community because he profited off of it?

What about people who do tutorial videos, guides, and match analysis? I would say that they are educating viewers about the games and helping to deepen their understanding of the game. This creates more complete players which in turn raises the level of competition and makes tournaments more fun to watch. Does that not impact on the community?

I mean I could go on with how content does in fact help. I do interviews and a big reason I did them was because I’ve always been a fan of story lines. I want someone to root for and someone to hate. It gets me more invested in what I am watching and I think getting to know players on a more personal level helps with that. Does that help with growth? I don’t know. But I don’t think we can dismiss all these types of content creation as not helping to grow the scene. Perhaps it would be smaller now without it.

There is a lot to unpack here so bear with me. First, I agree, peer-to-peer interaction is not amazing in fighting games. You’ll deal with a lot of toxic people who will shit talk you even if you are new and tell you to kill yourself, stop playing, you’re awful, etc. But you will find that in almost any game that involves other people. That’s the nature of the internet. There are plenty of awful people in the scene but there are also plenty of great and helpful people.

I do think that as you suggest that fighting games are much harder to just pick up and play. Shooting games, for example, while they have a lot of nuance and tactics the game play is mostly just pointing and shooting. Fighting games require a high level of execution, match up knowledge, or understanding of sometimes complex mechanics. (Another reason tutorial content is nice.)

But again, another reason people don’t go to tournaments is that there isn’t a ton of incentive to do so. Let’s take me for example. I live outside of Boston. I would have to go to Boston to compete at Balance Patch. I’d have drive to the train station, pay for parking, pay for a train ticket, pay for a subway ticket, pay to play the game, and then have to go all the way back to where I live. That’s a big investment for very little return other than maybe a fun night with some friends. I don’t have the kind of money to be making those trips. Now imagine if I had to get a hotel room, plane tickets, parking garage, etc. Does the fun outweigh the cost? For most people probably not. Couple that with the toxic people that you seem to be alluding to and I think that is why you don’t have more people. I also think the pool structure only allows for so many entrants due to time constraints so that is also an issue.

I don’t totally disagree with what is being said here. However, it’s not like these problems don’t exist in other games. But these games have much larger audiences. So what is causing the gap? If I log into a CS game right now people will call me names and tell me to kill myself. If I boot up a fighting game with voice chat the same thing will happen. Yet one is vastly more popular than the other. I don’t think people feeling alienated is causing a cosmic ripple in the player base. I think there are a lot of factors at play.

A big factor in my opinion (other than what you have already listed) is that fighting games can often be hard to understand to a casual listener. When commentators throw out words like Oki or meaty viewers have no idea what they are talking about. It’s also very hard in some games to understand what is happening on the screen. This is another reason I think it is important to have talent at events to be able to break down matches and do post match analysis so that casual viewers can appreciate the game.

For example, I’ve never played competitive football in my life. But, I can appreciate it for what it is. I can understand it, the commentators talk about what’s happening on the field, they’ll draw lines and explain what players are going to do. It makes for a great viewing experience. My girlfriend on the other hand can’t understand football at all. She says it’s too complicated and she can’t understand it so she refuses to watch it. Similar things occur in esports. If it’s too complex it will turn off large viewing bases so it needs to be digestible.

I don’t disagree with anything you said here really. I think the issue is that these are big people in the scene so when it comes to someone like myself who does interviews they won’t even give us the time of day. On top of that, as you mention, these are controversial topics and even if they did give us the time of day they wouldn’t likely respond to them as to not ruin their own image. Not saying it is right or wrong, just the truth of the matter.

Ultimately, I agree with a lot of what is being said in Hippo’s article. I highly recommend giving the whole thing a read as I only hit on a few points. The community is great, but it could always be better and it should strive to do so. However, I think there are a lot of issues that are preventing fighting games from getting bigger outside of just that.

Behind The Stick: An Interview with JDR

I had the chance to sit down and talk to JDR, a high level player in many games but most recently UNIST. In this interview we discuss: His history with fighting games, his feelings on the KOF and UNIST scenes, and his crowning achievements in fighting games.

Q: First I just want to say thanks for doing an interview with me. I’ve really been enjoying UNIST so it’s great to get the chance to talk to another top player about the game. How are you doing today man?

JDR: I’m doing great. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed. Just woke up and starting the day already with my messy hair.

Q: I feel you on that one my man. Messy hair, messy life. So for those who are unfamiliar with who you are can you give a bit of history about yourself and your history with fighting games?

JDR: Certainly. My player name is JDR, but my real name is Jordan Del Rosario. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I currently live in San Francisco with my parents and that city is where I was raised since childhood. I’m currently a student at San Francisco State University studying Cinema. I’ve liked doing video productions since my teacher from high school convinced me to go into the film industry. I also do volunteer work at an organization to help out the community. Currently, I’m volunteer at Wednesday Night Fights as a Tournament Organizer for the Anime Games such as UNIST and BBTAG. Every Friday, I volunteer at a non profit organization called Donaldina Cameron House where I live. A program called Friday Night Club where I lead the youth with different activities such as a physical activity or a workshop to talk about different discussion topics. Both of those organizations I still volunteer as of now. My different hobbies would be exercising and taking initiative in doing a side project from people that I know closely. I started playing fighting games when I was 8 years old and first ever fighting games that I’ve ever played was Super Turbo and Alpha 2 on the Anniversary collection.

While I was in middle school, I went to my first tournament in 2010 at a GameStop store since I was too young to go tournaments outside of San Francisco. My first tournament was Super Street Fighter IV. That’s when I didn’t play stick at the time and use a pad instead. My first tournament was a single elimination and I went 1-1. So no 0-1.

Following the year of 2011, a new arcade shop called Southtown Arcade opened which was located at the Stockton tunnel near my house. I first stepped into the store and man there were a lot of fighting and non fighting games to play. I talked to the manager named Art and he was a really cool guy to talk to. This is where I started my fighting game career. I wasn’t that great at the time, but I had great friends that helped my game play such as Reiki, N4US, Hellpockets, El Gallo Negro, Honnou Rod and others in the Southtown Days

After Southtown Arcade closed, I was 17 and old enough to go outside of San Francisco. I went to a another place called Game Center. It’s mostly a place that focused on Anime fighting and poverty games for casuals. The reason I went there was because a VSav player named Tenkai convinced me to play VSav when they used to run tournaments there. So when I went to Game Center, I met the manager named Myung. He’s a really cool guy to talk to about technology and he’s really good at ST.

In 2015, I was debating if I wanted to retire from fighting games and focus on school, until one of my friends convinced me to play UNIEL because it’s a good game. So I tried it out and give it a shot. After labbing and playing the game, I was so impressed with the game that I stuck with it. That’s the reason I’m still playing fighting games right now. Now only I play UNIST, but I’m also talented in other games that I’m playing right now such as KOF, DBFZ and VSav.

Q: Quite the history. Seems you’ve had a pretty extensive library of games that you’ve played. So you mentioned that you had a friend who convinced you play UNIEL. You said that you were impressed with the game but what was it that actually impressed you and kept you playing?

JDR: I think there were a lot of things that I actually liked about the game. UNI in general has a lot of stuff that the games that I played in the past also had. Assaults are similar to the short jumps in the KOF games, the green shielding is similar to the push blocking in VSav for defense and the damage scaling in BlazBlue. Since I mostly play easy characters such as Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter, Kyo and Iori in King of Fighters, Ragna and Jin in BlazBlue. I mained Hyde because of how easy the character is to use in neutral as well as the combo routes. Since he does big damage in the corner, I stuck with him ever since. I like damage characters for some reason lol. I have some friends that helped me to play UNIEL such as Brett who taught me about the mechanics of the game more and another Hyde player named MikeLoafers, he taught me on how to play Hyde. After playing with him, I was able to adapt my own combos and neutral with Hyde. Since UNIST was released, we’re getting new players as well. So I’m doing my best to help them out and who knows whether they’ll stick with it in a year or two.

Q: So you’ve mentioned quite a few people that helped you learn about the game but is there anyone that you think has pushed you in the game to become better? Maybe someone you see it at tournaments that you play a lot or just someone you run into and play a lot of sets with?

JDR: To be honest, I mostly play with my friends in NorCal whenever I get the chance. But the strong players in NorCal are usual Tari, Brett, Tensei, and Lolimaiko. They helped me get stronger by playing them at Esports Arena or other venues. They gave me some advice on what to do in a situation and I followed it. One such thing included adapting my own skills to make the opponents confused sometimes. I can take some sets off them sometimes, but I try my best to catch up with them while balancing my life, school, work, volunteering, etc.

Q: Seems like quite the crew. So you’ve been playing fighting games for quite awhile at this point. Do you remember the first time that you started competing them? Do you remember how you felt back then? How does it compare to when you compete now.

JDR: I remember I officially competed in 2011 at Southtown Arcade playing Super Street Fighter IV. I didn’t do well, but at least I tried. I realized that Street Fighter isn’t my game, so I tried out KOF XIII and I actually liked the game because of how the combos are longer and the damage system is better compared to the Street Fighter games. I wasn’t great at doing the optimal combos, OSing, teching grabs, and other things in the past when I first started. However as year passed, I’ve became more comfortable. Other than KOF, I started playing more games such as VSav, UNIST and DBFZ right now while I still play KOF.

Q: KOF is a game I feel like that doesn’t get enough love tbh. There is a scene there of people who love it but I feel like it is drown out by other games fanbases that are much bigger and more vocal. So let me ask you a sort of two part question relating to two different games. A) How do you feel about KOF as a whole? Do you feel the scene is still going strong or that it’s not doing so well. Why? Secondly, UNIST has been seeing a surge in players. Do you think it was a long time coming and that they’ll be able to keep a lot of those players or do you think it’s just a passing fad?

JDR: First question. I feel KOF as a whole is actually a good game to play, but the community actually needs to step up and take more initiative in promoting their game because you barely see KOF XIV in majors. Vegas Cup for example run by my friend named Reiki, he’s one of my long time friends in the Fighting Game community, his dedication and communication is the reason he was able to bring the international players such as ET, ZJZ in Asia and Layec, ViolentKain, Wero Asamiya from Mexico. Players complain like, “This game is too hard” and will quit in a month or two because either they get bodied by cheap stuff or bs things. What makes it more frustrating is people who complain about the mechanics, XIV for example is all about confirming into max mode for one bar. I think we just don’t have like leaders that actually care about the community in terms of bringing people in. I hope KOF XV change the mechanics and actually has people taking initiative. Second question. Since EVO announced UNIST as a main game, most likely a lot of players from different communities, will be playing the game. As long as there is a strong and dedicated leader in each of the regions, I think UNIST will be there for quite a while. Maybe a patch could either bring more players or drop. We just don’t know yet.

Q: Yeah, I feel like the KOF scene is hurting a bit. I can only speak from my limited experience and it’s probably because I play PC but I couldn’t even find anyone to play online during peek hours. Perhaps it’s the fighting game market becoming very saturated but it’s tough to say. But let’s bring it back to you for a bit when you look back at your storied history as a player is there a moment that stands out to you as being a sort of crowning moment so far? An event that you look back fondly on?

JDR: When I first went to a major tournament, basically no one knew who I was. But once I started going to more major tournaments, people recognized me as the guy who plays Hyde or Ralf or Lilith or Bardock or whatever. What stands out to me is I was able to grew the UNI community because of my dedication to the game. I was once an admin in the discord group, but since I was too busy with a lot of stuff in my life, I stepped down as an admin and I passed the torch to a player named Cookies. I’m really glad that I have actual friends that I can trust such as Suika, Hiari, Cookies and the moderators in the UNI group. One major that I remember was Combo Breaker 2016 back in UNIEL. It was me vs SonicFox in grand finals. It was a close call between us, but in the end SonicFox won 3-2 with no reset. Could have done better, but what was awesome is that I inspired the UNI players to go to Combo Breaker because it’s one of the best major tournaments to go to each year. Shoutouts to Rick as known as Hadou and the staff for running Combo Breaker every year.

Q: So a big part of why I do these is to get a more intimate look at the players being interviewed. So the first question I have is that obviously you go by JDR which is are just the initials to your name but was there ever any other name that you went by or have you always been JDR? Were there any others you were considering?

JDR: I used to have my initial name as JD. I transitioned from JD to JDR in 2015 because my friends from Cameron House started to say JDR to me due to having too many Jordans and it’s easier for them to understand my name. So that’s the reason people call me JDR in tournaments, but some of my friends say my real name.

Q: Well it’s certainly better than some of the XBOX live names that people carried over into the FGC haha. So tell me what are your plans for the future? Do you plan to compete more? Stream? What does the future hold for JDR?

JDR: My plans for the future is to balance my FGC career and school. I’m half way done with college pursuing a degree in Cinema. After college, I might find a job in Cinema either at home where I will most likely apply for Twitch or move to SoCal for the film industry. I don’t what I’m gonna do in the future. As long as there are games that I can play in the future such as UNIST, KOF , DBFZ, etc. then I’ll keep going to major tournaments. Planning on streaming more, but whenever I have the time and not too tired. I’ll still continue supporting my current team: Kick Punch Block and the UNIST community. I’ll do whatever I can to help them.

Q: Well that’s all I have for you my man. 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?

JDR: I would like to give a shoutout to Art, the manager at Southtown Arcade, for holding down the tournament until the very end and being the reason I still play fighting games. I would like to give my current team Kick Punch Block a shoutout for treating me like a family and supporting me while I support them as well. Shoutouts to the UNI community for being a dedicated union group in supporting the game and taking initiatives in doing a lot of exhibitions at different majors. That’s the reason that we’re at EVO this year. Finally I would give a shoutout to my friends and families that helped me get better not just at fighting games but in general. I’m really grateful for that. Follow me @JDRDelRosario on Twitter. JDRDelRosario on Twitch. heyitsjordan415 on Instagram. That’s pretty much about it.

Follow JDR on Twitter @JDRDelRosario

And as always you can follow me on Twitter @itsfrail

Interview with Phonomancer of AOne Games

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Phonomancer who was the combat, story & game designer for Omen of Sorrow which was developed by AOne Games and released late last year. In this interview we discuss: His history with the company, struggles that his team faced during development, how the game ended up on PS4, and more.

Q: First off, I just want to say thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I’m sure you’re a busy guy so I appreciate it immensely. Also excited to branch out into the world of game development. How are you doing today?

Pho: Things are going well! A bit tired from the week, but that’s to be expected.

Q: It’s almost Friday my man. We both just have to get through one more day haha. So for those that are unaware of who you are can you tell us a bit about yourself and what it is that you do.

Pho: My name is Felipe Muñoz, and I was Combat Director and Game Designer for Omen of Sorrow. I was also in charge of creating the scenario and story of the game, and took part in the character design process alongside Max, our game director, and Genzoman, our character artist. We’re a small team, so we have to wear a lot of hats!

Q: Now Omen of Sorrow was a game that flew under my radar and I’m sure quite a few other peoples’ as well. Could you explain what exactly Omen of Sorrow is?

Pho: Of course! Omen of Sorrow is a 2D fighting game where the characters are based on classic monsters from horror and literature. It’s currently available for PS4 both physically and digitally.

Q: Awesome! So tell me about AONE, the studio that you work for, how long have you been there and how did you come into your role for Omen of Sorrow?

Pho: AOne is a Chilean video game studio and this is our first game. The complete development process took about four years and I’ve been there for the last three. It’s a funny story how I came into my role. I intially was interviewed to do the scenario and the story of the game and a friend who was doing concept art at the company recommended me because he knew I was really into fighting games. When I joined the team was really small and they were still recruiting people for the project. As it turns out, even though they were nostalgic about fighting games, having played them as kids and such, they didn’t have much experience in the competitive side of them or were well versed in what playing fighting games seriously entailed. As such, as we got to know each other better, the team decided I was better suited for the role of combat and game designer. This would become my main role in the development. Even at our largest we were never a very big team. The size of the team has varied through time but at our largest we were about 25 people, which is large for an indie team, but not very large for a game like ours.

Q: That’s pretty impressive. You were sort of thrust into this new role that you had never done before. So obviously as a man who had man important roles in the development of the game why was sit that you guys went with the setting that you guys did? This battle of characters from different lores. Was that decision also made by you or was it decided before you got in there?

Pho: Thank you for the kind words. The idea was already in place by the time I got there, as well as a good number of the characters. After I got there we redesigned most of them, but some remained as they were.

Q: Of course! Interesting, so you were there to bring the idea to life. What do you think were some of the biggest obstacles you guys faced when creating the game? Can you share some examples?

Pho: The biggest obstacle was probably the budget to be entirely honest. When you’re a small company you are forced to pretty much hit the ground running. So that means not as much time as you’d like in many parts of the process. As such, you don’t have the luxury of more time and you have to make do. Also, since we were more or less a patch-work team there were many parts of the creative and production process that we had to figure out on the go.

Q: Keeping along with that thought it seems like you guys had a lot of issues to resolve. Do you feel like you did a good job resolving all of them or were there some things looking back that you wish you had done differently?

Pho: Oh, there are for sure many things that could have and should have been done differently. Even at the time of production we knew that. But revising the process midway through is not really a luxury we had. We were running against the clock. That being said, I think we solved a lot of them far better than we had any right to haha. Still, going forward I would say there is a lot of lessons to be learned from the whole process. It definitely helped that so many people on the team were as detail oriented and dedicated as they could be. We had a very talented team that is for sure.

Q: Sounds like it! So I’ll need you to indulge me a bit here as I know almost nothing about game development, how do you go about getting your game on Playstation? Was it something that you guys pitched? Did you just put stuff out for the public and it caught their attention? How did your game end up on PS4?

Pho: Oh, it is much less glamorous of a story than you would think. Sony has this thing called pubfunds which are basically just grants to small development teams that they want to give a leg up to in exchange for exclusivity. It’s a bet they take on you, while at the same time incentivizing entrepreneurship in video game development in certain areas of the world. Latin America doesn’t have much in terms of a video game industry, so the bet that they make is that if they offer funds and we use them and we grow then in the future we can make better games and be a better partner for them too. So we put ourselves up for that fund and we got it. This was obviously a huge help.

Q: For sure, although I assume that means we won’t see it on PC anytime soon which is a huge bummer because I like to play most of my games on PC now. Speaking of, what sort of plans do you guys have for the future? I know you have the exclusive deal with Sony but is there any chance we see a port of it elsewhere or do you think it will be a Sony game forever. I know some games launch at exclusives and than get PC ports a year or so down the line.

Pho: Oh no, exclusivity with Sony isn’t a lifelong thing. A PC port may well be on its way, possibly even soon. Nothing that I can confirm or deny at this stage. Let’s just say that I have been very busy this past month at the office and leave it at that haha.

Q: Haha, PC port? Never heard of it. Speaking of things to come for Omen of Sorrow in the future do you have any competitive plans for Omen of Sorrow? Obviously esports has been growing at a very rapid pace the last few years, do you hope the game will take on a competitive nature? Was that something you guys were hoping for during development or are you guys fine with it just being played casually and are just happy to have people playing your game. Maybe both?

Pho: At least since I have come on board the game was always designed with the competitive scene in mind. I come from a competitive background, modest as my scene may have been, so I was always aiming for that. I was also trying to capture the more casual players with the recognizable horror characters and scenario. Of course, a fighting game is a very delicate thing as you know and since we were never going to have as much time as I would have liked for things like straight up balance testing we just had to be very astute about the general direction we gave to the combat. On top of that we did the best we could with location testing. This is partly why we traveled as early and as much as we did during the development process. We needed feedback!

Q: Does AOne have anything planned for the future or are you still all hands on deck for Omen of Sorrows. If you are still planing on doing things for Omen of Sorrows what are some things people have to look forward to?

Pho: There’s a project in the works at the moment, but I can’t say for sure about the long term future. Omen of Sorrow will keep having support for at the very least this year, plus a bit of balance updates in the coming weeks!

Q: Well that is about all I have for you today. I appreciate you taking the time to do an interview with me. Before I let you go is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to and do you have any final words on Omen of Sorrow?

Pho: “Un saludo para mi mamá y para todos lo que me conocen” is a Chilean joke about shout outs, so I think that qualifies. Other than that, just a shout out to the team, and to everyone else: please check out Omen of Sorrow! It’s a fun time.

You can follow phonomancer @ThatGuyIMetOnce.

And as always you can follow me @itsfrail

Behind The Stick: An Interview with Sway

I had a chance to sit down and talk to Sway, a high level Jam player from New York. In this interview we talk about: his history with fighting games, why he started playing Guilty Gear, what he does for fun, his plans for the future, and more.

Q: Firstly, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I’m sure you are a busy guy so I appreciate it. How are you doing today?

Sway: Today was actually pretty rough (wrong side of the bed kind of day). BUT, it’s ending on a good note. How about you?

Q: I’m doing okay. Feeling a bit under the weather but it could be worse. So for those that might be unaware of who you are could you provide a bit of background into who you are with regards to your history with fighting games from when you first started to where you are today?

Sway: My name is Jouse (pronounced Jo-Sway) so that’s where I got my tag from. I used to go by PsychoDM a while back too. The first fighting game I ever actually took a dive into was Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend. I just got into anime and my friend Cameron was like “Yo, try this out!”. I was TERRIBLE at it so I quickly gave that up. Eventually though I picked it back up along with Persona 4 Arena. That was around the time my friend Winston (Wne) told me about a tournament he was playing in called East Coast Throwdown. It was my first time watching a tournament and I was INSTANTLY hooked. All the hype from Yipes on the mic and seeing how amazing players like ChrisG were had me thinking “Damn, I wanna do this”. I went to my first tournament NEC13(?) thanks to my friend Ehrik (wara4ever) who i basically owe all of this to. I probably wouldn’t have tried to go to an event if it weren’t for him and the Penn State crew. Since then I’ve been attending tournaments and running them as well. I picked up Guilty Gear and fell in love with that but still have a strong appreciation for all fighting games. I definitely skipped a bunch, I feel like I could talk about this forever haha.

Q: Quite the history. Although, interesting to see you didn’t play any Street Fighter 4 like a lot of others I have talked to. So like you said you changed your name a couple times. How did you come up with PsychoDM and what caused you to change it?

Sway: I did play a bit of SF4 but never enjoyed it. As far as my name, I came up with PsychoDM when I used to play Metal Gear Online. That was my first jump into competitive gaming in general. The DM in my name is a secret ;). Anyone who knows me from MGO might be able to figure it out haha. I switched it to Sway cause someone called me that in college and I thought it was cool and easier to spell than PsychoDM (I’d get PyscoDM too much).

Q: Metal Gear Online, huh? That’s something I haven’t heard in a loooooong time. So like you said you played Blazblue and then eventually P4 Arena. What was it that brought you over to Guilty Gear? Was there a specific element of it that really intrigued you?

Sway: I loved the aesthetic of the game especially with the new 3D engine. I played a bit of AC with friends in college casually so I was drawn to it.

Q: So now you’ve been playing Guilty Gear for awhile and you’ve been play Jam. Did you always play Jam? Why do you play Jam now?

Sway: When I played Faust before I never really felt like he fit for me. I love the character to death but I would see how other Faust’s played and I felt like that style was really awkward for me. While deciding who to play for Revelator I took into account other characters I played in other games. I loved Linne in Uniel so I felt Jam was the closest thing to that. Plus she’s cute.

Q: And at the end of the day being cute is what really matters, right? So looking back do you remember what it was like when you first started competing? Do you remember how you felt? How does it compare to when you compete now?

Sway: The same way hahaha. My first tournament I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hold my stick on my lap. Even now if you catch me before pools, I’m blowing into my hands, jumping a bit, shaking my hands off. Everyone always asks how to make the nerves go away but they never really did for me. The only difference between then and now is that my goals are higher. I’m not just trying to not go 0-2, I’m trying to win the whole thing.

Q: Piggybacking off of that a bit what do you think was your sort of crowning achievement as a player?

Sway: Recently at Frosty Faustings I did REALLY well despite losing round 1. All the good players I beat are people I normally lose to so it felt like the whole tournament was me overcoming these brick walls I keep running into. It was so cool.

Q: Speaking of these players is there anyone you think that really helped push you as a play? Either a friend or someone you consider a rival?

Sway: I can name so many people. Kizzercrate and Deb helped a lot with my growth. Bears is like…in a weird way a parental figure LOL (sorry bears). When ever I’m playing wack and I can hear him laughing angrily saying “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT”. It’s cursed for sure. Really though, I push myself hard cause a lot of people believe in me.

Q: While we’re on the topic of other players When I spoke to Blaze in an earlier interview he mentioned you and Mynus as being huge helps in running TSB. Can you give us a bit of insight as to your role there?

Sway: I can’t even remember how I ended up running TSB with Manny. I might have just seen he needed help and offered to do so. Manny runs the stream and everything on the production side. I typically tend to deal with the actual logistics of running the event and talking to sponsors and such. It’s funny cause we actually clash a lot on ideas. I tend to play it a bit too safe where as he will dive head first through a window. Because of that, I’m never cozy and always trying new things which is great for us. Definitely owe a lot to him and Mynus.

Q: So a big reason I do these is to get a more intimate look at the player both inside the game and out. Tell me a bit about the Sway out of the game. What are some things you like to do for fun, what do you do for work, anything you’d like to share.

Sway: Outside of GG I’m a little ordinary haha. I’m very close to my friends so whenever I’m not playing I make time for them. I did kickboxing for about 6 years before I moved back to NY. I’ve always been competing in something. I plan to get back into it eventually but its so expensive in NY! Gotta pay a few debts first. I work as a consultant for a software company. It’s very laid back so I like it. Sometimes I cook. I’m not good at all HAHAH. I try my best though.

Q: Ha, don’t worry I’m in the same boat with cooking but I’m getting better. Just gotta keep at it. So aside from becoming a master chef, what are some of your plans for the future?

Sway: Obviously I’m going to keep playing Guilty Gear but I am really interested in Granblue Fighter so look forward to me kicking ass in that. I want to keep growing TSB so that everyone in our area as a good, safe place to compete and make friends. That’s super important to me. I got very lucky to be surrounded by great people when I joined the FGC so I’d like to create that for other new players.

Q: That’s great man! Hopefully I can catch you at Super TSB next month! I’m sure it will be a great time and anyone in the New York area should check it out for sure. Well that’s all I have for you my man. I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk to me. Before I let you go is there anyone you want to give a shout out to or do you have any final words? Also, where can people find you on social media?

Sway: Definitely shoutouts to the TSB / NY crew for always hyping me up. Shoutouts to Dkendri, my sweet girlfriend, and my sponsors, BxA. And I also want to show love to everyone who has believed in me from the start. Everyone follow me on @Okaysway and http://Twitch.tv/Okaysway . Thank you for the interview!

You can follow Sway on Twitter @OkaySway

And as always you can follow me on twitter @itsfrail