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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.  


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.