F2T goes down under with Injustice 2 Superman, Badge3d.

Hey everyone.

Thanks for tuning in for a fun mid-week special.  I realized there’s a whole creative side of our community and it’s casual and competitive players.  I wanted to start sharing that through cosplay and fan-art in our community each week to keep you excited while waiting for Sunday’s weekly interviews.

I feel the creative side is under looked a lot because some aren’t always the ones you see on stream competing.  But unknowingly they are doing us all a service.  The creative people doing fan art or costumes for example, are putting our game out there.  They’re servicing to all other audiences our competitive streams may not reach.  It’s a beautiful thing that only has the potential to allow our community grow. I would like to introduce my first guest on this feature, Badge3d.

23380386_1743756512593217_5756588478734221271_n

Badge3d’s Injustice 2 Superman by Snappy Happy Ian

So Badge3d, I would like you to welcome you as a guest to our first creative feature.

Here at First to Ten we typically interview the players and various persona in the NetherRealm Studios fighting game community.  I saw your Superman cosplay in a post on Derek’s twitter and really thought it would be awesome to feature you as a mid-week mini session First to Five.  We will keep it to 5 questions but they all should be able to explain about who you are and your work you’ve done on this cosplay as well as any others you may have done related to the games.

  1. Tell us about yourself first.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  What was the first NetherRealm game you fell in love with? What do you love most about Injustice 2?

Woah hello wow-wee !!! So many questions !!! I am the badge aka Lucas Pearson and I’m a cosplayer, gamer, movie/comic buff gym junkie from Melbourne, Australia. To be honest I’ve known Mortal Kombat for as long as I can remember, although, to answer your question ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’. The game just had such an awesome take on a story from the DC universe that was separate to the main continuity whilst having the classic 1v1 gameplay style from Mortal Kombat. To be straight up with you, the graphics and AMAZING costumes and character skins is what I love most about Injustice 2. A massive upgrade from the first injustice game, it really gave many cosplayers a challenge to meet the mark on bringing their best to the table with injustice 2 cosplay builds.

  1. How long have you been cosplaying for? What was the first cosplay you created?

I’ve been cosplaying now for about 18 months now and the first cosplay I did was a Deathstroke hybrid across a few different universes. The first I ACTUALLY created myself was an Arkham Origins Deathstroke which was entirely 3d printed and finished in 3 months. I still to this day have no idea how I accomplished this !

22780250_1738352366466965_4659743838333260169_n

Deathstroke cosplay mentioned above.

  1. I see that you do 3D printing which is becoming popular very quickly as a medium in cosplay.

Absolutely, I could talk all day about this. I build my first 3d printer from a kickstarter kit (not recommended) about a year ago and started from their, I’ve now got 4 printers and honestly it’s so exciting to see the community begin to dabble in the magic of it for making prop weapons and armor. As time goes on it’s much easier for people to get into 3d printing as technology advances and becomes more affordable with the Chinese cloning top end printers. The future is definitely bright for the cosplay industry with 3d printing as a tool.

  1. How long do prints normally take for you and how long did it take to make the pieces for your Superman?  Did you use a program to 3D model them yourself?  Where / how was the suit you wore under created?

So the printing part is quite easy for me. Their is some expertise that is required to run a 3D printer in both the software and hardware, although, I feel I’m quite adept after 12 months. To have all the pieces printed it took me around 2 weeks allowing margin for error with failed prints (it happens). On top of the print time, a lot of body work i.e sanding is required to perfectly smooth out and prep a 3d printed part for painting which took a good month to get to a level I was happy with. The 3D model itself was commissioned by a 3D CAD service as I’m still in the early stages of learning 3d modeling programs such as Zbrush. The undersuit was a screen printed spandex suit on top of a latex muscle suit which was glued together in order to show the muscle definition as such.

22728980_1737684073200461_3241791832418838364_n

The under suit with some armor for the Superman cosplay.

  1. What was PAX Aus like for you?  Did you have fun seeing the tournament there? What future cosplays will you be doing and are any of them Mortal Kombat or Injustice related?

PAX Aus is by far my favorite convention to date as it’s so different to what other conventions have to offer. To be able to go in play your favorite games as well as new releases and meet game designers like my new friend Derek, is just wayyy to cool. We also met Tom Taylor who writes the Injustice 2 comics which overwhelmed me as I just love the story. The tournament was absolutely surreal to see one of my favorite games being battled out by the pros on a massive screen ! We didn’t enter it but we played Derek and he absolutely smashed us with Cheetah and Poison Ivy whilst having a general chat with us about life !

I’ve had friends tell me I’d be a great Kotal Khan so perhaps I should go for it ? Otherwise I was thinking either a Green Lantern, Jay Garrick Flash, Deadshot or even my own version of a Cyborg Superman using parts from both Cyborg and Superman respectively!!!

23380084_1743756032593265_6697409582786065021_n.jpg

Yellow Lantern edit of Badge3d’s epic Kal-El.

You can stay up to date with Lucas at the following:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/badge3d/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/badge3d
Instagram – http://instagram.com/badge3d_

Thank you so much Lucas for your time! Your Superman is absolutely amazing!

I hope you all enjoyed this new mid-week feature.  I’d like to keep doing this for fan art etc. as well.  I’ve been collecting some from artists in the community for future features.

This Sunday tune in for the story of Decay! You won’t wanna miss it!

Article written and published by Romanova.

 

First to Ten goes bananas for Oakiess

Greetings loyal and new F2T fans!

Put your hands together, if you want to clap
As we take you through this… First to Ten.

A few weeks back I was sitting on my couch watching the E-League: Last Chance Qualifier on my television.  I saw that Perfect Legend was about to play a man who picked Gorilla Grodd.  This was interesting to me for a few reasons.  First, PL has a pretty intense Brainiac that is interesting to watch. Secondly, I can probably count the amount of tournament Grodd players I’ve seen on one hand.  The man playing this Gorilla Grodd was none other than Oakiess.  

DLvr40iVAAAGYjX

Oakiess repping his team, In The Skies.

Oakiess ended up beating PL 3-0.  It was insane.  Seeing a hype Grodd match is always fun.  There was a time at CEO this year where Coach Steve used Grodd to win a match and everyone was beating their chests like a Gorilla.  I’m pretty sure I remember doing that at home in honor of the Grodd use.

This was when Oakiess first caught my attention because I had not known him prior.  Sometimes it is hard when you’re passionate about the community to admit you didn’t know about a talented player.  Maybe it was because MKX was my time when I became a part of the FGC.  I say that because getting to know a lot of people in the community when you’re new makes it harder to learn details on those who aren’t at every major you’re attending.  Also, if they’re not people who are loud online, unfortunately you may not get to hear their voice as soon as you’d like.

I knew Oakiess had to be on First to Ten after his performance at LCQ.  Regardless of the reach of this blog, I believe he should have a platform of any kind to get his name out there.  I may have missed him doing work in MKX, but I want others to know his name now if they already didn’t.  Players like Oakiess who master these less played characters are important to our community.  They show us just how much time they put into the game by demonstrating live.  

I won’t waste any more time, I hope you all enjoy.

1. Oakiess!  Thank you so much for joining us today.  Could you give us a little bit of introduction to yourself for everyone tuning in.  Who are you? Where are you from? Etc. Any little bit to get an idea of yourself.

Hey Amanda! Thanks for the kind words and thanks for having me! My real name is Brandon Pham. Although, people just call me Oaks or Oakiess. Originally, I was born in Los Angeles, CA. Somehow I ended up in Nashville, TN. But I’m currently living in Knoxville right now because college. I lived half my life in Cali and the other half in Tennessee. So I rep the best of both worlds, West coast and East coast. I really miss Cali and I plan on moving back after college.

2. What is your local scene like in Tennessee? Do you go to any locals?

There is no local scene. RIP. At least, none that I know of. I’ve been looking around for some lately. One time, I remember going to a local for MKX in Knoxville ran by STB. That’s where I met Echo and Emp Murk actually. I haven’t seen them since and it’s been a couple years now. The local place got overran by a Magic, the Gathering scene. Long live FGC!

3. I recall you talking to Joshua Gray about being in College.  What are you hoping to do with your degree and how is it balancing college with competitive gaming?

I’m currently majoring in electronic engineering and I’m like in my super senior year right now. Hopefully, when I get my degree I can start working immediately. Honestly, engineering is not my passion and I still don’t know exactly what to do. I just know I want to make money to support my love for gaming, streaming, and my dog. I guess my real passion is anything to do with gaming. I would love to work for NRS, Twitch or etc. I just want to be around it 24/7.  How do I balance college with competitive gaming? It’s pretty much hell. I go to class in the morning until noon. Then at night, I’m either streaming or working. I have so much respect for people who can balance these things and still go to tourneys. The time, hard work, dedication and money it takes to follow through a competitive gaming lifestyle takes a lot of strength.

OakiessLCQ

Oakiess during his interview at ELeague with @MrJoshuaGray

4. Let’s go back to talking about gaming – When did you first get into NRS titles?  How did you get into the competitive scene?

Oh man, where do I start? I feel like I remember playing MK2 back in the arcades and being scared shitless from the pixelated blood when I was little. It’s vague and a blur but I remember that’s when I first played an NRS game. I guess when I first invested my time into NRS games was when I played Midway Arcade Treasures 2 on PS2. It had MKII and MK3 on there. Alongside, with MANY other gems like Primal Rage, Rampage World Tour and NARC. Anyways, from then on, I became an MK fanatic. I collected the movies and every game MK game you can think of. I played casually though. I first got serious about fighting games when I continuously got my ass kicked by my older bro in MK9. I couldn’t take it anymore so I hit the lab with Sub-Zero and did work on him the next day! I played serious in MK9 but it wasn’t until MKX when I played competitively. I got into the competitive scene from streaming on Twitch. From there, I met many friends and supporters who pushed me to go to tourneys and it all started from there. Shout outs to all of them and shout outs to DevilMaySpy. He was the first to help me and is always making me feel welcome at every tourney I see him at. Final Round was my first tourney for MKX. My first tourney for Inj2 was Combo Breaker. Last Chance Qualifiers was my recent one.

5. I have seen videos of you playing Sub Zero in MKX.  Did you have any notable tournament memories in MKX for yourself? What was one of your favorite moments during that game?

Nah, not really. I drowned in pools against my buddy, StD 2ez, at Final Round. Given, it was my only tournament for MKX. I gotta get my run-back with him at a tourney so I can give him dat fat L ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Ya hear me, I’m coming for that booty. My favorite moments during that game? I’d say every moment from when I started streaming it, to every moment I played it offline or online. I made so many friends and built a whole community on Twitch with MKX. I was brought into the FGC because of it. I can’t thank NRS and the community enough for such an amazing experience.

6. Now in Injustice 2 you play Gorilla Grodd currently, but did you always play him?  What made you end up at Grodd?

Ah yes my baby Grodd. I didn’t always play him when I first picked up Injustice 2. Since I was a Sub-Zero main in MKX, I figured I might as well main an ice character in Inj2. So, I decided to pick up Captain Cold. In my opinion, Cap Cold is a character that I feel is very strong in counter picking for certain match-ups. But as a main? I’m good. A secondary main? Yeah, sure. Most importantly, his play-style didn’t really match mine. It is very important for you to feel comfortable with the play-style of your main character. I sound hypocritical right now because a lot of people say Grodd’s not strong enough to be carried alone as a main but I don’t know why, I feel like I can do it. That’s why I say it’s important for you to feel comfortable with the character you love.

Hell, your character might lose 17+ match-ups but your own dedication and unique play-style can bring that character to life. I think it’s very significant to have character loyalists in games. It brings the hype. Winning with top tier characters is cool. I know it’s important to win. It is to me also. BUT winning with mid/low tier characters that barely anyone ever sees? RESPEK.

What made me end up with Grodd? The reason I wanted to try Grodd was because the character looked funny jumping around and putting people into re-stands. It literally didn’t even look like combos. I first saw this when I was watching Coach Steve on Pig’s Red Hot Sundays. So it’s funny that you mention Coach because he inspired me to try Grodd. So I went into the lab with Grodd. Somehow, I was doing well and his play-style matched mine. Now Grodd and I have an everlasting relationship.

WwZRgX8N

In his own words, this was Brandon taking a break after drowning in pools at Combo Breaker to lift the bean.

7. If I recall correctly, you said in your interview with Josh that you don’t want people to just think you’re some online player.  What makes you think people would feel that way?  How do you think you are perceived by players now after LCQ?  

I guess some people feel that way because I stream and I don’t go to tournaments often. Also, I hear things from people. A lot of people think that there’s no competition online and sometimes it can be true. But it’s not 100%. There’s hidden killers out there that can’t find the money or time to make it to tournaments. I play a lot of friends online that are crazy good but they just don’t end up going to tournaments. Although, I understand where people are coming from when they call online players casuals. I believe it is very important to go to tournaments to truly test your skills against some of the best players out there. Placings are absolutely important. They are your credentials. Basically, like requiring a degree to get a job. If you want your name out there and to be recognized as a pro player, you got to put in the work and show it. I want people to see me as more than a streamer. I want them to see me as both, a streamer and a professional player. That’s why I went out there, to prove myself. Although, it’s perfectly fine to play this game casual! As long as you’re having fun, you’re winning. How do I think I’m perceived after LCQ? I’m very happy with all the support and love from everyone. It makes me really happy to hear that I’ve inspired people to pick up Grodd. After LCQ, I just hope I made an impact and proved my worth that I can be a challenge to some of the best player out there.

8. Do you have any other video games you’re playing right now besides IJ2?  

Not really. I usually play horror games if I’m not playing Inj2. I love me a good horror. I want to pick up CoD WWII though. Just because of zombies though. Well, actually I just downloaded Fortnite the other day so I might play some of that.

9. Are there any people in your life that inspire you or that you look up to?  (In gaming or outside of gaming) How do those people affect you when in competition?

My parents. They work so hard to raise my siblings and I. And I just always want to do something to make them proud. My parents aren’t actually fond of my gaming at all tbh lmao. As stereotypical as it sounds, they always tell me to stop gaming so much and study. “Brandon, game don’t get you degree or job” That’s usually how it goes.. As a matter of act, they don’t know anything of what I’m doing with gaming like traveling to tourneys, streaming, etc. I don’t inform them much since they’re not fond of it. It’s okay though. It doesn’t bother me much. That’s why I think it’s so dope to see other player’s parents being supportive of it.

ptheqncg.jpg

Fun fact: Oakiess plays guitar in his spare time also as a hobby.

10. Thank you so much for your time.  I’m glad myself and the community will hopefully know even more about you after this.  Will we see more of you in 2018?  What tournaments do you plan on attending?

Noooo, thank you for having me on this! It’s an honor really. You will DEFINITELY see more of me in 2018. Season 2 for Injustice 2 will be stacked but I’ll be ready. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to NEC this year 2017. I’ll for sure be at KIT in January cause I literally live like 40 min from the event. I’m gonna try to make it to all of them: Combo Breaker, EVO, CEO, Frosty Faustings, etc. I hope to see you there at the next event Amanda! Thank you all for your time.

You can keep up to date with Oakiess on social media at the following:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OakiessTwitch
Twitch: https://twitch.tv/Oakiess

I’m so thankful for another interesting interview with someone in our scene.

I didn’t know much about Oakiess and from doing this I feel like I actually know the guy.  It’s refreshing to see somebody come to offline tournaments that has grown their own online fan-base such as him with his twitch.  I hope we see more of Oakiess in the future.

Next weekend we will not have a F2T since I will be attending Red Bull Battlegrounds as a guest cosplayer.  BUT, I will have a mid-week mini feature for First to Ten creative.  I wanted to start showing off fan art or cosplayers who love our community games and the first will be Thursday, stay tuned!

 

Article written and published by Romanova.

 

 

 

First to Ten has you now, Beyond Toxin

Good day to everyone tuning in on this Sunday.
You have made it to another week of First to Ten!

I hope everyone enjoyed when we went to the UK with Ketchup last week.  I know that I had even learned a few things about him that I didn’t already know.  He is such a talented person in our community and outside of it too!  I would like to thank him again for his time he took to do the interview.

This week we are going back to Florida, again.  There happen to be a decent amount of our scene in Florida.  If you look at the sunshine state and our community many players come to mind.  Some of these players include but are not limited at all to Noble Semijj, DR Gross, RNG Whiteboi, and PG Kitana Prime.  The talent runs deep there. We are nothing shy of that talent when it comes to Juan Jing Contreras, or as many know him as, Beyond Toxin.

q9syln6j1.jpg

Toxin during a match at Combo Breaker 2017 and his father, “Papa Toxin” close by supporting.

A small backstory before the set…

I met Toxin at ESL’s MKX Pro League Season 3 Finals.  He and his father were instantly heartwarming and kind.  Toxin was nice enough to play some casuals with me after I offered to play my Mileena against him for some match-up practice. I feel like I got to even know them both more as we all got to grill together the day after finals thanks to a genius idea from Mr. Joshua Gray.  A friendship had been made and only got better after meeting such sweet and genuine people.

ErmacWins.gif

Myself, Papa Toxin, and the crowd reacting to Toxin’s comeback on Sonicfox during ESL MKX Season 3 Finals.

After ESL, I had seen Toxin at EVO 2016 and I believe maybe one more major that year. It wasn’t until this year at Combo Breaker that I had learned some of Toxin’s background as to how he got into eSports through something bad happening to him.  However, he turned that unfortunate event into something that has, and will keep giving him memories to last a lifetime: the competitive gaming community.

It was after discovering Toxin had this history that got him into our scene that contributed to why I wanted to do this blog.  I knew our community needed an outlet to get his story as well as many others out.  But I am so excited for you all to finally hear it from him himself.  I won’t make you wait any longer.

  1. Juan Jing, thank you for taking the time out to be a part of this week’s F2T. As tradition, please answer us the simple questions of who you are, where your name came from, and tell us about your local scene.

Hi Amanda, thank you for having me on your first to ten segments! My name is Juan Jing Contreras also known as Beyond Toxin. My gamer tag originated from a clan I was in back during gears of war 3. And ever since then I never changed my name and BeyondToxin just got hooked onto me. The “Beyond” part came from the clan and Toxin is named from a symbiote in the marvel universe. Now my local scene in my opinion one of the strongest scenes! Down south they used to run the weeklies and versus gaming center but for some reason after a couple of months people stopped going. Then Jebailey started doing these monthlies and the first month Injustice 2 was feature we had over 60 players and unfortunately the last meeting we only had 16. I already told myself now matter if 7,6,5, or even if 4 people showed up I will continue to support my local scene and try to grow the community here in Florida.

  1. How did you get into the FGC? How did you overcome what happened to you?

It was around December 15, 2014 I was headed to the gym from school when I got into my first car accident. Lady wasn’t paying attention and ended up rear ending my car causing my car to be totaled and leaving me with a herniated disc. Ever since I kind of fell into this dark abyss, everything around me wasn’t going the way I had planned. Mind you this was my senior year of high school this is the year where you have fun and enjoy! But thankfully I finished my football season but was heartbroken that I could not continue weightlifting and run track to pursue that scholarship to run or play football in college at a D1 or D2 level. But thankfully my friend Elliott was kind enough to buy me Mortal Kombat X and after watching the ESL season pro finals I decided that I wanted to grind and become one of the pros or top players in the scene. Mortal Kombat made me forget everything that happened back in high school and I just saw this as a blessing in disguise.

nrDV5JQN

Toxin in his football uniform when he still played.

  1. I know you are a very family oriented person, I’d like our audience to see that as well. Your dad comes with you to almost every tournament.  When and why did that start? How does the rest of your family feel about your gaming path and how do they support you?

My family and especially my dad have always been supportive with anything we do. Whether it was track, basketball, or football my family was always there for me. My dad made so many sacrifices just to make sure he was every sporting event we attended. My dad turned down jobs that would pay 80k or more a year just because he knew if he took the job he wouldn’t have time with his kids and would never ever make it to any our events. And for a father to make sacrifices like that goes to show how much love has for my brother, and sister and me. And for that I thank him and by doing well at tournaments and hearing the excitement in his voice after I did well at a tourney is one of the best feelings ever. Especially when my mom calls me because she doesn’t even know what is going on but she’s supportive also. But at first, I wasn’t comfortable traveling on my own, so I made sure my dad always came with me. Now that I am more experienced with traveling and what not he’s staying home and just being a stream monster while I go and travel by myself. Main tournaments I am going to bring him to are definitely CEO and Combo Breaker. Chicago is after all, my dad’s hometown.

ClB-ztEf

Toxin and his dad at a Cubs game pre Combo Breaker.

  1. Again, about your love for family and their importance to you: You did a GoFundMe for your grandfather in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma. I know the community we have was able to come together and support you during this. I was hoping you could tell everyone how he is doing now that you succeeded in your goal and what you were able to do for him with the goal you hit.

My grandfather from when we last spoke to him he was doing good! We were able to use all of the money to purchase the food for him.  Unfortunately the generators in our budget with the leftover money are currently sold out in Florida where we are.  So we are in talks with FEMA to see what my dad can do. But as of right now we have no communication with my grandfather still. Everyday my dad goes to work around 8am and he gives him a call in hopes to answer him because we need to know how are things and what not. But as of now we are waiting to see if he would love to fly here to Orlando and stay with us until things are back to normal in Puerto Rico. But from the bottom of my heart I just wanted to say thank you to all who donated it means a lot to my dad and I ad without you guys things would have been tougher.

  1. Back to gaming – what got you into Mortal Kombat? How did you end up choosing Ermac as your main? What was your favorite variation and why?

I always thought Mortal Kombat was cool, but I just never got around to playing the old ones. The only old one I played was UMK3 and it was a PS3 purchase! Now for choosing my soul mate Ermac, this how it happened. Upon release of Mortal Kombat X my brother and I were so eager to just start playing. But while the game was downloading the rest of the characters the only characters we could use were Scorpion, Sub zero, Reptile, Kotal Kahn, and Ermac. I just saw this cool looking floating dude and said yep that’s my main! And ever since release I was an Ermac main and never dropped him.

 

  1. What was the hardest moment for you in your competitive history of MKX? What did you decide to do after to overcome that?

Hardest moments in my MKX career was definitely being stuck in that 9th and 13th place vortex. It was the toughest thing to swallow after a loss at a major knowing that you were either 1 or 2 games away from that top 8. All I would tell myself is to get over it, level up, and just keep on grinding until you get that top 8. Once I get that top 8 its time to start aiming for consistency and trying to win a major.

CmPbkWpXEAAZq1v

A meme from Toxin’s twitter… Sorry Toxin.

  1. How did it feel going into Injustice 2 after the success you had in MKX? Who are your mains and why do you play them?

To be honest, I was a little nervous since I never played injustice on a competitive level.  I was super nervous to see how well I would transition over to a new game. I went into Combo Breaker 2017 telling myself that I only played this game for like 2 or 3 weeks if I drown in pools then I drown. Turns out I actually got 17th and felt really good after that and just continued to grind and level up for the upcoming IPS tourneys. My mains are Scarecrow and Supergirl. Scarecrow was just one of those characters that once I saw him on the “it’s good to be bad” trailer, I told myself that I was maining that character. His command grab and chain moves attracted me to him so that’s why he’s my main. And Supergirl, well, there’s not much to say. But she’s better than superman character wise and during the Injustice 2 announcement trailer at ESL S3 MKX pro finals she looked cool.  I find her a lot of fun to use.

  1. With you currently being in College now, how do you find time for gaming and balance it with your studies?

It’s tough! Since now that I am almost done with my A.A. and will be transferring to UCF next fall.  It is only going to get difficult and more stressful. Time management is key when going to school full time and trying to stream and play games with fellow players. I go to class around 8am and I don’t get back till around 12:30. As soon as I get home I start doing my homework and get all that stuff out of the way. So, by around 3pm once I pick up my sister I can do my daily stream and then around 7pm my dad gets home, and my brother and I go ahead and go to LA Fitness and get our workout in, and that’s basically what I do everyday school, homework/study, workout, sleep, rinse and repeat!

  1. You were recently at the last chance qualifier and did exceptionally well. How did it feel to go that far there?

Last chance qualifier for me was mainly to get back to my competitive level and see where I was in my game plan and what I needed to fix. Mind, I had to stop traveling after EVO because I ended up starting school the following month and could not afford missing any classes to attend tournaments. Overall, my main goal was to get top 2 and make ELeague.  But for me being out of the loop for so long and making top 8 there, I just had a big smile on my face and knew that I still had it. That’s why people asked after I lost to StarCharger they noticed I wasn’t upset at all. And I told them “no, why would I be upset? I haven’t traveled since Evo and just wanted to shake off the rust!” I was really happy with my play and that’s all that mattered at that tournament! Not to mention my pool was STACKED! You had me, Foxy, Sylverye, Iluusions.  Also some names I also recognized were Tsunami who beat Slayer at ECT. Additionally Xenomorph and Smarrgasm who were Injustice 1 players. I knew that if I wanted to make that top 8 I had to play my best!

 

  1. I know you’re a HUGE Dragon Ball Z fan. Who is your team going to be when Dragon Ball FighterZ comes out? What other games are you looking forward to coming out next year?

Honestly Injustice 2 and Dragon ball Fighterz will be my main games going into 2018. Dragon ball has been in my life since I was little I remember my first episode my dad sat me down next to him and all I remember was the scene when Goku took out most of the Ginyu force single handedly and ever since then I got hooked onto and I just fell in love, my team as of now will consist of Android 18, Cell, and Vegeta. January 26th can’t come any faster because I am super excited for this game! This is the dragon ball game all dragon ball fans have been waiting for.

I know we had our 10 questions but this week I’d like to throw in a new thing that I’m calling a tie-breaker.

Since the idea is a first to ten set we will pretend we went 5/5 in this set since I still have another question I’d like to finish our talk with before we end this.

Tie-Breaker Round:

What are you biggest plans for next year and where do you see yourself?

My plans next year are to go to every major possible and stay consistent and aim for those top 8’s. Other than that, we will just see what the road has in store for me!

12779281_1298272073522924_3839462561325288112_o

Toxin and community reacting at Final Round during a match.

Thank you so much Juan Jing for every bit of your personality we got to see shine today.

Toxin is clearly somebody in our scene with a lot of compassion and talent.  He’s been able to rise against things like his car accident and make something spectacular out of the situation.  He’s somebody who whether sponsored or not will not quit and keeps going.  I look forward to seeing what he does in our scene in 2018!

I hope everyone tuning in enjoyed this week’s First to Ten.

Next week make sure you tune in.  I’ll be taking it to Tennessee with a Player many of us know or maybe don’t know, ITS Oakiess.  I don’t know much about this player myself but his performance at IPS really caught my eye thinking we need to get him on First to Ten so we can learn what he has in store for us with Grodd and upcoming tournaments.

As always, thank you all.  This community is a wonderful thing.

Article written and published by Romanova.

One of the UK’s Finest Condiments: PND Ketchup

Greetings everyone! Welcome back!

This week I would like to start off with a big thank you to everyone who read, shared, or commented on my previous article.  The first goal was for everyone reading to learn facts about a community member that you maybe didn’t know prior.  The second goal was for everyone to experience good feelings while reading the article.  After reading everyone’s feedback, I believe those two goals were met.  I can only hope to keep that momentum going.

(This week’s guest Ketchup in his signature red tie!)

This week I wanted to include another member of our community who is not just someone who plays our games, but a top comentator in the scene.  Ryan Neal, also known as PND Ketchup, is a long time NRS fan all the way from the UK.  Ryan and his twin brother Jake Neal, or Mustard (who we also love and adore), can almost always be seen together working at tournaments. The energy they both give when commentating together is inspiring and entertainment at its finest.

Though both condiment twins are extremely talented, I would like to give each of them individual time to shine on who they are as themselves as well.

I first met Ryan at the ESL Mortal Kombat X Season 2 finals in January of 2016.  His brother and him were doing vlog interviews for their YouTube and were kind enough to ask me about myself.  I had told them I was new to all of this but had always been an MK fan since the klassics.  When asking them about who they are I was told how they are big Sektor and Cyrax fans.   I didn’t realize what fantastic friends I had just made then, or did I?  Either way, the two of them are absolute joys to be around and each interaction is pleasant regardless of talking tech or life. That’s enough backstory from me though.  Let us dive into our ten questions with Ryan!

 

1. Ryan! You know I’ve looked forward to this so thank you for taking the time to do a First to Ten with me!  The first question I would just like to answer some basics in one.  Who are you, what are your handles, where are you from?

Thanks for having me!

My name is Ryan Neal. I’m known in the competitive gaming world as PND Ketchup and I come from the United Kingdom.

 

2. Now that we’ve established the basics. What got you into gaming? Specifically, what got you into the competitive NRS scene?

I owe my entire passion that I have for gaming to Mortal Kombat. The franchise started it all for Mustard and myself back in our younger days. Our first ever MK game was Mortal Kombat 3 on Snes and it stayed with us forever, not even 5 minutes in. We knew it was going to be something special.

On a competitive side, we started playing Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 online at a decent level back in the Xbox Live arcade days. Didn’t really compete as such, but played every day for a couple of years. Once Mortal Kombat 9 came out however, we both went in very very hard and played non stop. Got involved in UK tournaments after some promotional events from Warner Brothers and the rest is history.

 

3. When did you start commentating and what period did you decide you enjoyed this more than just being a competitive player?

The commentary side of things came into play before MKX came out. We were approached to work with the Pro League for season 1 but obviously were unaware of any future plans after that. We’ve always been a lot more career minded over competitive minded, as working in the games industry was a dream of ours since childhood. The choice to commentate over compete was an easy one.

This was made a lot easier to get into due to our content creation background as well. Streaming and making content for youtube was a huge part of us being naturally comfortable talking over gameplay once the pro league began.

Once the Pro League was in full swing, I think we both just realized that we’d truly found our niche in commentary. It’s something we happily do as a fulltime career now.

 

4. I know you commentate games other than MK and Injustice.  As a Quake fan I’ve been watching your commentary when I can for the different broadcasts such as Quake Con and Dreamhack Denver.  What do you love most about commentating for Quake and what other games do you commentate as well?

I’ve had a deep love for ID games for a very very long time. I’d just missed the prime of Quake competitive as a kid because I didn’t actually have a PC. My first Quake was on the N64 and my love of ID originated from Doom 64. I would always enjoy watching Quakecon and seeing players destroy the game in a way I never thought imaginable, the skill displayed between the two players was impossible to not notice straight away. I’d put hundreds of hours into Doom (2016)’s Multiplayer and got heavily involved in the PC community tournaments that community clans would host. Once Quake Champions was announced at E3, I knew it was finally my chance to learn Quake properly and get involved any way I could. The experience has been unforgettable and the ID community across the board is passionate, old school, respectful and very welcoming to new blood. We were terrified to enter the fray as we had big shoes to fill, but the feedback so far has been super positive. We just hope to keep moving forward!

The reason I love Quake is simple. Pure 1v1 and a fast pace. Not unlike Fighting Games in any way. The games lend a lot of basic 1v1 fundamentals to one another actually. There is also the massive grass roots feel that is the bread and butter of what made Quake such a landmark title in the world of competitive gaming to begin with. Another similarity that it shares with the world of Fighting Games. Community is everything.

21317721_10210850454483809_2431308446180950080_n

(K&M looking sleek in their red and golden suits commentating for Quake Champions)

 

5. Normally you are commentating with your brother, Jake.  I know you were by yourself with another commentator for Dreamhack.  How often do you commentate without Jake?  Does it affect the way you commentate when you both aren’t together?

Dreamhack Denver was certainly a new experience. I’d spent so long commentating with JUST Mustard specifically, that I feel it was almost a necessity that I had all of this experience refreshing my experience working with individual people again. It’s important as a commentator to make sure you have your own style, and that you’re able to work with whoever is with you at the time. being flexible for a show is vital and just makes everybody’s life a lot easier.

That said, I did thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve fanboyed over Zoot for a while before Quake Champions even got announced, so it’s kind of surreal to have worked with him so many times at this stage. Jehar and Makaveli are always class acts as well and are very easy to work with. Their experience and knowledge of the scene is legendary.

 

6. What has been one of your favorite moments in NRS game history while commentating? Please explain as much as possible for everyone tuning in!

During the Pro League days, Madzin and Sakron had some ridiculous matches. I think some of our absolute hypest moments have historically come from when those guys clash heads. It was a combination between how slow Sakron was prepared to play vs how explosive and off the wire Madzin would approach the game with Blood God.

That said, I feel like some of my fondest memories came from the ESL Season 3 finals. It truly was a collection of the world’s greatest players in one place. It was insane match one after the other. A blast from start to finish.

 

7. When you aren’t commentating what is everyday life like for you?  What is work like?

Work is a blast. Although our primary role is to work broadcasts/shows when they’re taking place, on a 9/5 basis we’re in the ESL UK studio working behind the scenes. I make a lot of content and videos due to my background in video making on a personal level. We’ve just been insanely busy during the second half of this year because it’s genuinely been an event almost every weekend for 6 months. Insanity!

 

8. Back to Mortal Kombat talk, why Sektor? What do you love most about him? Have you ever dressed up as him?

I just remember as a kid finding him very easy to pick up and play. Visually he was the coolest looking character and the rockets from the chest took to my liking instantly.

His special moves were all forward forward with the exception of the homing missile (that took me over a year to discover admittedly), so naturally I thought I was godlike because I could do all the moves without question. Even though in hindsight, I was terrible.

In the spirit of halloween coming up, yes, I have 100% dressed up as Sektor on multiple occasions for conventions. Both the MK3 version and the MK9 Human Variant. We actually used to make a lot of costumes for cons back in the day. Was a lot of fun and I still miss not having time to do it anymore. Before I’m an esports commentator, I’m still a massive dork. That will never change.

(Ryan and his brother Jake as Sektor and Cyrax. Photo by Event Horizon Photography)

 

9. Now we all know you are very busy person!  But are there any games coming out in the future you are looking forward to?

When working with games as much as I do, it’s important to make sure you’re not burning out or taking them too seriously all the time. Playing games casually is very very important.

Right now when it isn’t Injustice or Quake, it’s Destiny 2 where I’m just switching my brain off and grinding, whilst chatting to friends online. I enjoy classic games as well and have been getting muchos playtime out of my snes mini. Taking time to yourself and zoning out with something easy has been crucial with the busy workflow I have as of late.

 

10. Before we wrap up, I would like to thank you for your time answering these questions.  I hope you had as much fun telling these bits as everyone will have reading your responses to them.

As your final question, I would like this to be for the fans hoping to catch you at an event.  What other events are you going to (NRS related or not) in the next 6 months?

With Injustice finishing up in a couple of weeks along with the Tekken World Tour, our workload is looking kind of light going into the end of this year. Dreamhack Winter is around the Corner for Quake Champions, although the commentary lineup for that event is not confirmed just yet of course.

The year is set to end soon for Mustard and myself, and what a wild ride it’s been. This has easily been the most hectic year we have ever faced in our lives, and I can’t believe I’m even saying that over how insane last year was before it. Life is full of surprises and we are forever grateful to have this opportunity to do what we truly love for a living.

Thank you for having me!

(Joshua Gray, myself, Ketchup, and Mustard at Combo Breaker this year)

Thank you for letting us have you Ryan!

If you would like to keep up with Ketchup here are his social media links:
Twitch:  https://go.twitch.tv/pndketchup
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/pndketchup

This concludes this week’s #FirstToTen.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed. I know this was a little delayed but it was worth it for Ketchup’s epic responses.

I appreciate you all.

As always, feel free to comment any feedback or comments you have. Next week’s interview will be with Florida’s own BeyondToxin. I hope you’ll all join me in hearing his tales from the FGC and how he came to be a part of it. Feel free also to comment any questions you may want to see him answer on Sunday.

Article published by Rose Romanova

First to Ten with Tampa’s own, Chyna

Hello everyone!

Thank you for returning for this week’s interview.  It is the first of many I plan on doing with men and women who work hard in our scene. Whether it’s competing or helping grow their local scene, this blog is a place for them to tell us about themselves.  Today, I want you to learn about Chyna, a woman in the NRS community,  and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of why I respect her so much as not just a friend but a fellow community member.  I thought Chyna would be a great person to start with because some of you know her, but she has yet to really have a showcase all on her own.

22045896_10207810597261626_812980677120627063_n.jpg

  1. Hey Chyna, thank you for taking your time to answer the following questions for this feature. First, I would like to ask you to tell everyone a little basic information about yourself: Who are you? Where you are from? And how long you have been playing NRS games?

 

My name is Chyna, my tag is ChickityChyna. I’m from Tampa, Florida and I’ve been playing fighting games for almost two years. When I’m not playing fighting games I’m playing Overwatch, binge watching tv shows, or running.

 

  1. What got you into the competitive scene? Are NRS games the only ones you play?

 

My boyfriend, LoBo, got me into the competitive scene. I went as a spectator to CEO 2015 and watched him compete in MKX. After I was so upset I did not try and compete, it looked like so much fun. Also, Cassie Cage felt like my spirit animal, so I had to try her out. I do play other fighting games, Blazblue, Guilty Gear, MvCI but I do not compete in them….yet.

 

  1. What is a challenge you’ve faced since competing? How did you overcome this?

 

My biggest challenge when it comes to competing is nerves. As soon as I sit down for a tournament match I start freaking out. The first tournament I competed in I was shaking so bad! My arcade stick was moving so much on my lap, I felt like a fool. I am still working on my nerves but the more I compete the easier it gets!

 

  1. How easy have you found it to make friends in this community? What about other sub-communities in the FGC?

 

I found it pretty easy.  I think I’m super friendly and will talk to anyone. So that definitely helps being able to branch out and make new connections.

 

  1. You play on a fight stick? Is that your preferred way and what do you like about it?

 

I use a hitbox and an arcade stick. I prefer the hitbox, because my inputs are cleaner. I do not understand how anyone uses a regular pad, my hands seem way too big for it!

 

  1. I know you cosplay and have done a badass Cassie Cage cosplay. What has been your favorite so far and what are you currently working on?

 

Endurance Cassie Cage, it was super easy to make and the most comfortable cosplay ever. I am currently working on a Supergirl cosplay, because I love my blonde characters.

 

11709629_10203082200014650_8801723721294336597_nChyna as Endurance Cassie alongside boyfriend John “Lobo”

 

  1. Who is your favorite character in Injustice 2 currently? Tell us about him/her.

 

This is hard because I really love most of the cast. The character I play the most is Supergirl.  It is weird because I haven’t always liked Supergirl and Superman before this game. Something about their character design in lore always annoyed me. I am looking forward to Hellboy though!

 

8.I know you have done work for your local scene. Can you share your experiences with that for everyone tuning in please?

 

In 2015 we started a weekly tournament in our small town, called Throw-Down Gaming. We had no scene in our town and no one to play with. So, we created our weekly to give us and other players a place to train and compete. With help from a few friends we out grew our venue on the very first day.

Today we average about 20 players for Smash, and about 10-15 for IJ2. Everyone who comes out to this weekly is like family to us and I don’t know what we would do without them.

  1. What is your message for other women (and also men) looking in to join the scene?

 

My advice is to go and compete!

Do not let the fear of going 0-2 stop you from playing the game you love.

 

  1. What are your goals for 2018 in Fighting Games? (Not just NRS games but in general)

 

My goals for 2018 is continue to learn and grow as a player. I’m currently learning Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite! Additionally, I hope to start entering more than just NRS tournaments soon.

22491712_10207909775341016_6672927069123181174_n.jpgChyna in her Supergirl shirt after running a 10K marathon.

 

Thank you Chyna for your time!

 

 

I’m sure we all look forward to seeing her grow as a player and compete more! I hope you enjoyed this interview and feel like you’ve gotten to take away a little bit with you;  If anything, I hope it is inspiration.  Seeing that Chyna and others were able to start something small and grow it into a larger local is a beautiful thing.  We need more of this in every area if we want our competitive scene to keep growing.

As always, thank you for your time.

Feedback is definitely welcome.  Next week I will be interviewing one of our beloved community commentators, PND Ketchup!  I hope you are all excited for this.  Please feel free to comment below for any questions you’d like to potentially see in his 10 questions!

 

Article published & written by: Romanova
Proofread & edited by: King Hippo

Out of the Cage

Greetings everyone.  Thank you for coming to check out my first of hopefully many heartfelt stories from the community.  Since this is new, I will start with mine first.  I decided to go with the platform of writing because I really want to push my support to those doing podcasts, YouTube, and Twitch interviews right now like Theo.  If you haven’t already please follow his Twitch for his first segment this evening.

So here it goes, and it may be long.

Early 2016 I was contacted by a friend I had met at DragonCon the prior year.  My pal Kai Norman,the prop making genius behind @Kormissarprops, asked me if I was interested in trying to do a gig in my Cassie Cage. This was the cosplay he remembered me wearing when we met.  He put me in contact with Joshua Gray who he had worked with before when commissioning the beautiful champion belts you would see as the prize for the winner of ESL MKX Pro League. I had no idea that I would be getting into something that would change my life forever.

To rewind back in my life and how Mortal Kombat ended up meaning so much to me, I will give you back story. As a child I was not allowed to own “violent” video games, but my cousin Norge was. I would go over my cousin’s house and play the old Mortal Kombat’s on SEGA. This was what initially sparked my interest in the series. I lost a little bit of time with the ones in between the Klassics and MK9, but when MK9 came out, I was ready.

I was in my Junior year of college (working for my Bachelor’s in Game Art & Design) when MK9 came out. I had started reviewing video games also that year for a popular YouTube channel called “Classic Game Room” as well. I was lucky enough to do a review of the game and also list my top 10 fatalities in a segment I did. Mortal Kombat 9 coming out re-ignited my love for the series in every way. That Halloween (2011) I created an MK2 Kitana costume and had my boyfriend dress up as UMK3 Stryker. It was so badass and fun. I ended up in 2014 for PAX East creating MK9 Rain as well. He was my favorite character in the game. Yes, I am indeed a Rain fan if you didn’t know.

I continued to support NRS games as a casual purchasing Injustice: Gods Among Us when that debuted. I enjoyed it a lot. I was an Aquaman main without knowing how he was doing so good in the competitive scene. I just really loved his super! This goes to show you, if that was me, how valuable our casual community is, and how their support is also so crucial to us as a whole.

I’ll stop the backstory here, obviously I picked up MKX. I was there at midnight on launch hugging my Kollector’s Edition box in my arms. I will attach the photo in here somewhere I’m sure. In this game I fell so in love with how STRONG and determined of a character Cassie Cage was. It is SO important to have characters like this in games and in pop culture for girls and women. Look at the following of young girls who are looking up to Gal Gadot for her portrayal of Wonder Woman. The same goes for an adult like me looking at Cassie Cage or Sonya Blade. I wanted to be like Cassie so much, I went to my friend who’s a barber, got my head shaved underneath, and made her outfit from the game.

This is an appropriate place to go back to the ESL bit of the story. After back and forth emails waiting for the approval of Josh’s teams to bring me out as a guest for the MKX Pro League finals, I was given a big YES!

I was at a low time in my life as far as depression goes. With this being close to mental health awareness month it is important to share that. This news was the perfect thing to bring me back up and see my self worth again. It also got my creative flow going. I wanted to recreate Cassie. My first version was okay, sure. BUT, I WAS GOING TO THE MKX PRO LEAGUE SERIES 2 FINALS!!! I really didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I sure as hell was excited.

The day came where I was at the finals and I had walked in only knowing who Sonicfox was at the time. Who do I see when I first walk in, SONIC FOX! And he asks to take a selfie with me. It was the perfect Cage moment with her being his main then, right?

46524_952534834834126_1832104831826007224_n
The day went on with epic battles and my jaw dropping as I saw events like when Biohazard used a brutality on Sonic with his vicious Ferra Torr. I had gotten to meet so many people there who are now great friends like Ketchup and Mustard. All these people were so welcoming to me who I spoke with at the finals. Not a single one made me feel out of place or not accepted. These people all became important to my life but I didn’t know it yet. Without knowing the competitive scene yet I saw there was no women in the top 16 of that tournament. I decided to learn the game like these guys know it, and not be a casual anymore. I may only be one lady, but even if I don’t get placed, I’m one more that’s now playing and learning as much as I can.

Forward a month later, Biohazard, who I met at the finals hit me up asking if I was going to WinterBrawl. He told me how it was a tournament but not like the one I was at in Cali. I said, okay, I’ll go. At the time I was only living 20 min away from Philly in Delaware. This right here is an important example of why it’s important to tell your lady friends who play fighting games (even casually) about these tournaments!!! With ease I got to the venue and brought Cassie hearing on the website there would be a cosplay contest. I somehow ended up winning the contest, even though I still feel Kaysha should’ve won with her Spinal cosplay. I got to play casuals with some of the people. I was still so bad, but learning. I got to meet more people, hang out, watch finals, it was perfect.

The rest of the story is going to speed up for time sake.

Thank you for sticking with me this far.

About a month after WinterBrawl, I ended up meeting my current boyfriend via social media from our interests all being the same during all of this. I couldn’t ask for anything better, we are two peas in a pod, it’s sickening, but cute. Our first tourney together was Combo Breaker 2016. I competed for my first time (yay!) and got BODIED by Hruza’s Liu Kang, a match up I had not studied. Combo Breaker is important to note re-sparking my love for the Street Fighter series by seeing their finals.

That year (still talking about 2016) continued to be great for me. I went to EVO, MKX Pro League S3 Finals,  Summer Jam, and NEC. By the miracle of my resume being looked at, I landed in doing QA for NRS. I may have gotten my Bachelor’s in Game Design, but honestly, being at one of my dream companies as my first job couldn’t mean more to me. These are things little me playing MK2 would’ve ran around in circles screaming about.  I am also lucky to work with such an amazing, intelligent, and supportive team of individuals.

18486030_10213014276370051_43456978312191619_n
NRS QA Team for Injustice 2

So where am I now? How do I fit into all of this since I cannot compete?

Well, my love for the community is what drives me now. I want our community to grow and support each other. We can only do this by appreciating what makes each other different and recognize the mutual love we all share. I support all of you who love this scene truly.

Cosplay is another way I am able to support. Don’t look down on your games dedicated cosplayers. Give them your support. When somebody cosplays a character, I see this story I told you, where it got me into this. That may not be the same for everyone but, hell, it works. It helps grow. Also sharing others cosplays of our most beloved characters is sharing our game and the design of it that we love.  I also was able help run the 1st ever ComboBreaker cosplay contest in 2017 thanks to thanks to Rick (@TheHadou) and his amazing team.  I was so excited to do so because cosplay helped me come into the fighting game community and this was my chance to contribute to maybe adding even just 1 more person into the mix.  This showing, how cosplay can indeed help us grow.

I wanted to write this story to help show you the perspective of a woman who came into this, on her own, and still continues to be a diehard fan. I have seen recent things trying to downplay the involvement of women. Realize when you post that stuff, you may be referring to one person, but when you say “women” or “females” you’re throwing hardworking ones like myself in there.

I still go to tournaments when I can and love watching everyone compete. Be kind to each other, with the exception of tournament salt, but seriously, embrace what we have. Regardless of your views on eSports, don’t stop doing what you love playing these games. We have so many spectacular players in the NRS community who are easily approachable and ready to share their experiences with you or give you tips or advice. Get out there, do your thing, and play. We can grow this community together.