Tag Archives: fgc

Have a Seat: First to Ten kicks into kombat and victories with Meryluna

Happy Holidays everyone tuning into this week’s First to Ten!  I hope everyone had a good time at NEC this past weekend.  For those who didn’t go we saw quite a variety of characters in top 8 which was hype to see including Hellboy, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Black Manta.

I wanted to take this First to Ten to cover another woman in the scene who I admire.  Meryluna is not only an incredible person, but a very talented player.  She has clutched spots in top 8’s for Mortal Kombat X in Kombat Cup for more than one time.  She has also placed top 8 at Defend the North 2017 and Summer Jam 2017 in MKX. Her ravenous Mileena is insane and not to be taken lightly. She also has some pretty amazing titans in Injustice 2 she plays.  It’s only a matter of time before she shows her work she’s put in for Injustice 2. I felt it only appropriate to put her on this week.

Mery and I became friends from being in a group chat we were both in a while back. We first officially met in person at NEC last winter.  We blossomed into a good friendship where as of today where we have even gotten to play casuals at a tournament and a bit online as well.  We also just talk occasionally because she’s just honestly a sweetheart and enjoyable to talk to. Let’s get to it so she can share all the amazing things about herself with you.

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The lovely Meryluna herself. 

1. Meryluna thank you for joining us! Please tell everyone a bit of a personal introduction like who you are, how you got your tag, and where you’re from.

Before anything, thank you for having me in your First to Ten. I think what you are doing here is amazing and great for people and it gives everyone an insight of other players in the scene. My tag at the moment is Meryluna, but deep down it will always be Merytrailmix. I was eating a bag of trail Mix one day and the name just popped into my head and i loved it.

2. What got you into playing fighting games competitively? What makes you choose a character?

As a gamer, I am naturally competitive. But when I found out that there was a Fighting Game Community, it opened a whole new world to me. I couldn’t believe that there was a whole community dedicated to fighting games and it motivated me to get so much better. I wanted to learn the fighting game language, frame data etc. When MKX came out, I attended these locals in StartupBox and I loved that feeling of playing against other people in tournament, especially with my character Mileena.

When I pick a character, I go for the aesthetic but I usually love the villains and non-human characters. I like to find something that I have in common with them and then I pretend to be that character while I’m fighting, it’s more fun that way.

3. What was your first top 8 and what kind of feelings did you have before and after playing it?

My first top 8 was in StreamMe’s Konquest, and honestly, I was happy and both disappointed. Happy because it was my first top 8 but I knew I could have done better. Sometimes that is my problem, I am a bit hard on myself after tournament matches. I try to tell myself to not be satisfied with how I do, so that way I motivate myself to perform better.

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Meryluna playing games at Summer Jam XI with Starcharger.

4. Do you feel the community treats you any different (good or bad) for being a woman? What advice would you give to women looking in?

I don’t feel they treat me different at all, and my advice to anyone trying to be a part of the scene is never get intimidated to lose or play poorly because we all start off as noobs sometime in our life. Be patient with yourself, we don’t always learn things at first. I tell people this all the time. Give yourself time to learn at your own pace. Trust me, you will definitely get better. Practice makes perfect.

5. What made you go with Ravenous for Mileena and not piercing? Was she always your main in MK?

When I first heard about Mileena being in MKX, I already knew she was going to be my main character. I tried all her variations but I loved Ravenous the most because of her pounces and how crazy her fighting style was. She also reminded me how Nitara played in MK: Deadly Alliance so I felt like it was a combination of the two characters.

6. What characters are you playing in Injustice 2 and what do you enjoy about them?

I currently play with Robin and Starfire. It’s hard to say which one is my main character because I play both of them equally. Robins sword animations are so nice to look at during combos, and I love his sound effects. Starfire’s appearance and animations are also what I enjoy most about playing her, I love anti-airing people with her B2, it’s so satisfying.

7. Do you go to any locals? How do you do at them and do you have anyone you feel is a rival to you there?

I have gone to NLBC several times but lately I haven’t been able to attend . I don’t really have any rivalries there but if I did, I feel it would make things more interesting, since I love competition. The last time I attended it was the second week after Injustice 2 was released.  I had a set with someones Harley Quinn who kept beating my Robin. I was still new to the idea of not having a block button, and I barely knew any bnbs with him.

8. What other games do you play? Would you recommend any for those reading this?

Right now, I am currently obsessed with Overwatch. I used to be a Call of Duty fan all of my highschool years but when I started playing Overwatch, I instantly became hooked. It is such a stimulating game that I never get bored of. I recommend the game to anyone who likes FPS and games that require teamwork. I also recommend the The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. When I play that game, I feel like I am really inside the game, and the music is beautiful!!

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Screencap from Mery’s twitter of her rank in Overwatch.

9. You stream pretty often from what I see. What do you like about streaming fighting games most and how do the community of viewers you have make you feel?

What I like most about streaming fighting games is how the viewers are able to help you out with the game. When I streamed MKX, so many people would help me out with matchups and share advice on how to deal with other characters. It definitely helped me get better, so I’m very thankful to everyone that took the time to help me learn these things. That’s what I love most about the community, everyone just wants to get better and have fun in the process.

10. Lastly, what tournaments do you plan to attend in 2018?

I’ve never went to CEO and I heard it is one of the most fun events in the whole year so I’m going to pray that I am able to make it next time it comes. Of course, I will try to attend NEC and Summer Jam since they are the closest to New York if life allows me to.

If you would like to support and follow Mery you can do the following here:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/xomeryluna
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/xomeryluna

The local Mery goes to is always a blast to watch on stream.  If you haven’t already, follow the twitter for NLBC and also feel free to check out their website:

NLBC Twitter
NLBC Website

I hope everyone in the FGC has a safe and happy holiday.

I am pleased to announce here first and later on twitter my video project.  Many of you I have already contacted about submitting a video for it.  The project is called Thank You NetherRealm.  I need all video submissions by the 25th and will upload and post on the 31st or 1st.  My goal is to ring in the new year with positivity for the NRS community.  Together we can achieve this.  If you would like to be a part, please record a horizontal video (<—–>) (please no vertical because it is not the format).  You can use your mobile phone or any device to do so.  The video needs to be no longer than 7 seconds (9 is cutting it close).  You will say in the video “Thank you NetherRealm for….” and say something positive you are thankful for.  Some examples of ones that have been said are:

“Thank you Netherrealm for creating my favorite game ever.”
“Thank you NetherRealm for creating my wifey Mileena.”
“Thank you NetherRealm for the constant updates you put in the game.”

If you have any questions feel free to ask.  And if NetherRealm games have impacted your life in some way (MK or IJ etc.) feel free to make your video clip and send it my way.

Email all videos to: romanovacosplay@gmail.com

Thank you everyone for a fantastic new year.  Can’t wait to see what happens with First to Ten going forward.  I love you all and I am extremely humbled by your support.

A look at the Galloping Ghost Arcade and the Chicago NRS scene with GGA Wafflez

Happy Sunday to those in the NRS community and FGC.

I wanted to take this week to go back and interview another T.O. in the scene. If you recall, First to Ten’s first interview was with Chyna who helps run a weekly in her town in Tampa, Florida. This week I decided to show you all a man who’s involved in the Chicago local scene who’s’ been around for a long time, GGA Wafflez.

As you all know, many names in NRS’ past have been associated with the Galloping Ghost Arcade. Some who were even associated with the name currently work at NRS such as 16 Bit, Dizzy, PPJ, and SaucyJack. I reached out to Mr. Tommy Wafflez for him to give you all the scoop on the Chicago NRS scene.

I had the pleasure of officially meeting Tom about 2 months ago when I went to my first GGA weekly. I had wanted to go for a while, but schedule had restricted me a lot. But honestly, I am glad I went. Tommy and the other GGA gents like Jeremiah, Max, and Fillpops are all very kind and excitable individuals. They continue to run this weekly in the suburbs and it has a pretty decent turn out as well. It also peaked my interest to interview Tom because I still haven’t gotten to learn much about him even with spending some time down at GGA. First to Ten gives myself and all of you in the scene a chance to learn more about everyone though, so let’s get to it.

1. Tom, thanks for joining us this week. Please start out by telling everyone a little bit about who you are, where you come from, and what you do.

Glad to be here! My name is Tom, but most know me as Wafflez. I’m an original member of Team GGA from Brookfield, IL (Western suburb of Chicago), was actively competing and traveling from 2011-2014, and now run Ghost Battle Series at Galloping Ghost Arcade every Thursday evening.

2. When did you start going to GGA and what made you want to stick around most?

I found out about Galloping Ghost in late 2010, shortly after they had opened. I fell in love with their Street Fighter IV cab, and played it as much as I could when I was there with one of my best friends Fil Pops. This inspired us both to pick up the game on Xbox, buy our first fight sticks, etc. We later transitioned to Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which they had a cabinet for as well. Finally, in April 2011, Mortal Kombat 9 was released. The owner, Doc Mack, decided to put a team of strong local players together for one of his favorite game franchises. The game took off (within the FGC, being at EVO and all…), and our team of sponsored players started grinding it out, as our first tournament was Seasons Beatings later that year in October. I had always been a competitive person when it came to video games. Like many others, I was always dominant or at least strong among my group of friends. I was immersed into a scene where I was nowhere near the top. It was new to me, but I was determined to play everyday, travel where I could, gain as much exposure to the game, to become the best I could possibly be.

3. I know you really loved Mortal Kombat 9. Who did you main and what did you love most about that character?

Yeah, it’s easily one of my favorite games of all time. There is a ton of nostalgia attached to it for me, which is probably why. I mained Smoke. I won’t lie, I started off because he had MASSIVE damage when the game first came out (and even after they patched it 🙂 ). I thought he was a cool ninja. His color, his HAIR, his schtick, his name is Thomas. He was just really cool, had great tools, and I just clicked with him. Not many people played him either, which I like. I definitely used people’s lack of character knowledge against them in tournament often.

For some video of Tom’s Smoke:

GGA Wafflez vs. DR Gross

4. When did GGA begin to change and what caused that change? What do you miss most about those days?

Our scene had a lot of really good players back in the day. At the tail end of MK 9 and into Injustice, everyone on our team (Jeremiah, Dizzy, Fil Pops, Hahn, Saucy Jack, PPJ, MAX, SOONK, MOE, myself) was able to play at a high level, and that helped draw twitch viewers, as well as out of town guests, especially during Chicago based tournaments. One player in particular played a big role in creating the monster scene GGA was, and that was 16 Bit. He is a hype man, and with a strong team to back him up, he was able to create tension between other local scenes, and in the end, create really strong rivalries between regions. People wanted to be where he was, he always had something spicy to say. We would easily get hundreds of viewers for GBS (which started during Injustice: Gods Among Us).

I miss the camaraderie we had built in grinding the game almost every single day in preparation for tournaments. This was in a time where playing online was not optimal, and we would all meet up at the arcade to train. Offline/local scenes were valuable, and we had arguably the best. 2 AM trips to Tony’s, the all day breakfast place across the street from the arcade. Going on road trips to Ohio, Indiana, and all the way to Georgia for tournaments. Talking matchups, the blowups, researching opponents, looking at brackets and figuring out every possible scenario on who we could play. It was all really fun.

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Group photo of Team GGA

5. Who would you say was your biggest rival as a player during the peak of the weekly tournaments at GGA? What is your opinion on rivalries?

I am a very competitive person, and generally don’t take losing lightly. I’d say 16 Bit and Fil Pops were some of my biggest rivals locally. Fil, because he is one of my best friends. There’s always pressure when playing him for some reason. He plays weird characters usually, that for some reason always do monster damage. He also likes command grab characters which is a style that is hard for me to play against. When he puts time into a game, he gets really good. He has a win over a Glass Sword I remember. He had come in from Atlanta, and Fil played out of his mind and won (it’s on YouTube go check it out). 16 Bit, because we had always gone toe to toe for the most part. He had more major tournament success than me, but I was able to keep up with him because I knew his play style, and vice-versa. Our matches were usually very close. These rivalries never ended with shit talk though. They were friendly, and after 5 – 10 minutes of salt, everyone is cool and we’re back to just playing the game. Rivalries in general are great though. They are what the fighting game scene was essentially built on. It’s head to head competition. The person on the other side is not your friend for those 10 minutes you’re playing in tournament. They make things interesting, they stir up hype. Everyone wants to see the pop off, the blowups.

6. What are some of the struggles you face with running a weekly tournament?

Attendance is probably the biggest issue with our weekly. We lost a lot of our big players, who had really good pull for the tournament. With a larger average attendance, we’d be able to put more resources into our tournament. Pot bonuses would be a nice thing, though it’s not what this tournament was ever built for. The idea of this tournament is to encourage more nearby players to make it to offline events, support their local scene, and meet other people who have similar interests. I highlight people, because what we try to do is provide a social aspect to video gaming. It’s not just playing faceless players on the internet in ranked sets. We try to bring people together who would have never met each other otherwise. I think we have done that part well, as we have created a small, but strong group of players who come out every week after work or school, to hang out and play the game. It also serves as a means to improve the level of local Injustice 2 competition.

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Photo with Tom playing with others at GGA weekly.

7. What advice do you have for those looking to start a local scene/tournament in their town?

Patience is virtue. Make sure to greet those who are new, and try to be as a friendly as possible (give yourself 10 minutes after losing a match haha). You need to put time into these things, and I’ve been slowly learning, season after season, what I can do to improve. This means things such as match videos, streaming on twitch, promoting it through Facebook, Twitter (something I’ll be working on for next season), Testyourmight.com, etc. I was lucky to take over something which had already started. Going out to your local GameStop fighting game tournaments, or your local monthlies and promoting. Talk to people, gauge interest. Also… CONSISTENCY IS KEY!

8. Do you play any other games in your spare time? Any that you are looking forward to?

I play a gross amount of League of Legends and like to pretend I’m good. I’m looking forward to Vanilla World of Warcraft.

9. What would you say is the best part about being at GGA?

I have been given insane opportunities through GGA. They have been able to provide me with things I would have never dreamed of when I was a sponsored/active player for them. I’ve met a lot of really cool people who are now my friends, traveled to places I wouldn’t have, and have accomplished some great goals I set for myself as a player.

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Tom and a bunch of NRS familiar faces such as Kitana Prime, Noobe, DR Gross eating at GGA local diner, Tony’s.

10. Do you have any plans in the future for your weekly? Also, are there anything you’d like to see specifically?

I want to buy more setups and promote more through Injustice centric websites like Testyoumight. I’d like a little more professional commentary for our viewers. It’s tough being a small, local, casual scene though. I want to see more players come out. I think people think we can’t provide the level of competition they’re looking for. I think we provide pretty good competition for those looking to get involved in the tournament scene. We’re a great stepping stone for that, but provide more than just tournament experience.

Shout out to Doc Mack and the Galloping Ghost Arcade group for all that they do.

And also people can tune into the GGA stream: http://twitch.tv/gallopingghostarcade
Don’t forget Thursdays around 8PM Central time is when the weekly begins there!

You can also stay up to date with GGA and Tommy at the following:
GGA Wafflez Twitter
Galloping Ghost Arcade Twitter

It’s always really interesting to hear the perspective of others in this scene and what they do.  No two players are identical and I think that’s a beautiful part of our scene. This guy started awhile back loving the NRS scene and is still around to date making it so players young and older have a place out here to play each other and have fun.

I hope you all enjoyed this segment.

As always I’m very interested in feedback.  I don’t know what content to keep providing other than what I think wants to be scene without it. If there are certain players you really want to see get the spotlight for this let me know. Next week we will have an artist interview mid week as well as Canada’s own, Biohazard. Please remember as always to tune in next Sunday for that.

Protector of the swamp and Goro gains, DecayNRS

Hey community!

 

It feels like forever since I got to post here even though it hasn’t been.

I hope everyone enjoyed the first creative post on this blog with Badge3d! I thought it might be a cool way to introduce different art mediums into this so that those outside looking in might find some creative inspiration here as well.  Speaking of creative, we have a very special guest for you this week.

It probably seems like an obvious to put NRS’ own Decay in here (Thanks Ragnarok).
So, we are putting him on First to Ten this week.

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Some of you may know Decay from back in the days of Injustice: Gods Among Us.  He was known by quite a large amount of people for his Lobo back then.  Many of you may know him for his artwork he posts online or when he does a freelance project.

Regardless of how you know him, he’s an interesting and all around nice guy.  He’s been living out some of his dreams by having gone from competitive player to QA analyst over the last 2 years. He is still a humble person and someone who isn’t shy to play games at home with members of the community or attend tournaments for fun.  This man got a big heart for the FGC and the people he’s come to know from it.

That’s enough from me, I’d rather him tell you the best parts about himself.

1.  Eric thanks for being on First to Ten. Please tell everyone tuning in who you are and where you are from originally.  Feel free to include your background about you as well such as any degrees or awards you’ve achieved also.

Thanks for having me.  As mentioned before, I’m Eric Tran, or Decay. I am a competitive player who got started in Injustice: Gods Among Us and ended up using my artwork to get my foot in the door at Netherrealm Studio.  While being at the studio, I have not only been able to input gameplay knowledge but also have done some really cool artwork for Injustice 2.

Lots of people ask me about my art background so I’d love to explain it a bit in detail here.  I started drawing at about age 4, and continued drawing throughout the years and I eventually got my bachelors degree in Art and Illustration.  I didn’t quite know exactly what I wanted to do with my art until my dad bought me a book called “Spectrum”, in which I saw amazing digital concept illustrations.  I decided at that point that I wanted to draw for games and that I would teach myself how to draw and paint digitally.  I invested in a Wacom Tablet and taught myself the rest, with the help of online tutorials.

2.  When did you first start competing? What is the best placement you’ve ever gotten and what tournament?

I first started competing about half a year after the launch of Injustice: Gods Among Us’ release.  At first I was just an online warrior using Lobo until people online noticed my Lobo was getting pretty damn good and suggested that I go to Eight on The Break arcade and compete locally.  I went there almost every week, and then eventually started to compete in major tournaments.  My first major was Summer Jam 8, which I got 9th place. The best placement I have gotten is 4th at WinterBrawl and I also have won Eight on The Break a few times.

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Eric competing at Salty Sundays, a local Jersey tournament that he used to attend.

3. What is Eight on the Break? What was a favorite memory there and how did this impact your life?

“The Break” is an amazing arcade in New Jersey which runs local fighting game tournaments on a weekly basis.  EVO champion KDZ ran a lot of these tournaments and the streaming was typically done by Shock and 8 Way Run.

My favorite memory had to be getting bodied for the first time there.  If it wasn’t for that, and for Zyphox saying “just keep coming here and you’ll level up super fast”, I don’t think I would have wanted to train so hard and become one of the best at that game.

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Arma and Decay commentating together at the Break.

4.  What was King of the Bill?  What do you miss most about it? Why do you think Podcasts are important to the community?

King of the Bill was a Podcast that I created with Mr. Aquaman, Honeybee and Forever King.  Our idea was unique, because we would host a player in a King of the Hill game match, and fight each other for a prize at the end of the podcast.  We would intentionally ask difficult questions during the matches to have players screw up!  It was a blast.

I really miss it because not only was it just a great time, but it was a way to get top players to show off their skills but also joke around and let loose.  I think it’s important to have that kind of outlet in a community, especially since the rise of Esports.  Esports are amazing, but are so big budget and so serious, that sometimes I feel like we forget what it is that brought us here.

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King of the Bill art by Decay for the podcast. From left: Mr. Aquaman, Decay, ForeverKing, Honeybee.

5.  Since it’s no mystery where you are working now, what got you there?

My artwork and my competition background got me into Netherrealm Studios.  A concept artist who was working at the studio stumbled upon my work on Instagram who then noticed we both share a lot of passions (art, gaming, bodybuilding) and he extended his hand to help me out.  After meeting him and other studio members at Evo, we all became friends and they recommended that I look at working there as well.  Since I’ve already been competing in their games, it was very obvious that I knew my stuff when it comes to frame data and gameplay mechanics as well, and I got my start in QA because of it.

6.  You are known by many for your artwork.  Are there any upcoming freelance projects you’re working on you can talk about?  Also, who is an artist that inspires you?

I have a bunch of cool smaller freelance projects that include clothing design and whatnot.  I just recently got the word that I am going to have a booth at C2E2 artist alley, so a clothing brand by the name of Sukeban NYC and I will have a joint booth, where I will be selling prints, clothing, and also hopefully sketchbooks (compilation of my sketches in a bound book). I also am working with a tournament organizer on a big project which will be announced soon!

It’s way too hard to pick just one artist who inspires me.  I would say that I have a few artists who regularly inspire me, and those are: Karl Kopinsky, Dave Rapoza, Kim Jung Gi, Carlos Huante, Justin Sweet, Anthony Jones.

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Eric giving his childhood Mortal Kombat drawing as a gift to Ed Boon.

7.  In Mortal Kombat X you were known for your Goro.  What made you choose Goro and what did you love about him most?

Honestly I wasn’t really big into MKX at first, and after going through a character crisis, I selected Goro as a joke because I heard he was really a low tier character.  After learning him, I realized he’s the perfect character for me because he had good damage, good footsies, and amazing armored moves.  He was a struggle character but after a few patches and buffs, he ended up pretty decent.   I also thought that he was awesome because he was swole as hell, and has two extra arms to get gains with.

8.  You love to workout from your posts online.  Were you always this fit?  What advice would you give to others looking in wanting to get into fitness?

I wasn’t always fit, no.  Growing up I was overweight and got picked on quite frequently.  At age 16 I decided I no longer wanted to be like that, and put myself on a diet and went for jogs after school.  When I was light enough to skateboard, I did that religiously and that served as my main source of cardio activity. I managed to get down to 170 from 245 after all that.

After a tragic skateboarding accident where I shattered my ankle and dislocated it, I decided that I should no longer look at skateboarding as my only source of exercise since I can’t risk getting hurt that badly again.  My college roommate brought me to the campus gym and, even though I was nervous since I was the smallest person there, I fell in love with it and continued with it a decade later.

My advice would be to just get started no matter what. Don’t wait for a specific date, don’t look for the perfect gym, don’t wait on a gym partner.  If you want to get in shape, you will.  You can work wonders in a basement gym with $100 worth of equipment from Target, or even shred weight off by going on regular walks and jogs.

9.  Here’s a fun one.  Who was your favorite action hero growing up and why?

Favorite action hero was either Jackie Chan or Tony Jaa.  I always loved martial arts growing up in a house with a sensei for a dad.  My dad owned every single Jackie Chan movie and I ended up hearing about Tony Jaa later on after Ong Bak came out.

10.  What games outside of fighting games are you playing right now?  Anything you are looking forward to?

Mostly just Fortnite Battle Royale.  I love shooting games, but a lot of them just get really boring or don’t have a high skill gap.  What I love about Fortnite is that Epic Games is constantly updating the gameplay and taking advice from pros.

The upcoming games I’m looking forward to the most would have to be The Last of Us 2, and God of War.  I really wish they would announce a new Bloodborne though!

 

If you would like to stay up to date with Decay you can at the following:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/decayNRS
Instagram: http://instagram.com/sketchbrah
Twitch:  http://twitch.com/lord_decay

And to watch old episodes of King of the Bill:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

That’s all for this week everyone.  I will have a mini art feature with some fan art at some point.  If you are someone who loves to draw NRS related content please let me know and I would love to add it in with credit to you.  Other than that, I will have another new interview Sunday.  The interviewee will be announced mid week.

Hope you all enjoyed this installment of First to Ten.

 

 

 

 

Interview 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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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?

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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.

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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.