Hopeless Fighter; The Life and Times of 40%Flashkick (Formerly Shinku Gadoken)


~July 24th Edition~
Tournaments: Back to Back to Back!

So it seems I’ve got a tournament every Saturday for the next… Four or five weeks. Awesome! Normally such a schedule would be overwhelming, but I’ll have the transportation, the desire, and the ability to take out as many players as I can in my effort to win TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS! … Oh, and a car.

Anyway, short update until my brain functions better.


~August 15th Edition~
I hate losing…

"Guile wasn’t giving up, no matter how aggressively I played, he wouldn’t lower his arms from his block for a moment. Hwoarang tried to smash him in the head and break his momentum, but it was to no avail, he saw through the ploy and struck the Tae Kwon Do Prodigy in the leg twice, a third time with his extended leg, and before I knew it, it was over. Julia had tagged in and Shoulder Checked him into the ground. Though arrogant in practice and in battle, that arrogance had cost him the fight. Jin fell to his knees as he’d realized it was over.

The round was finished. I had lost."

Hey everyone, if my short introduction is any indicator to anything, I recently lost out in fourth place at the Michigan Masters tournament to a player (Steve-O) using a Guile and Julia team. I wound up getting baited into a bad situation by rushing in on characters who out footsied my own. It unfortunately cost me the match when I over reacted and recklessly pursued my opponent in an effort to score more damage on a decreasing timer. Ultimately it just comes to being outplayed.

And I hate it.

You’d think the amount of time I put into combos, set ups, all that other wonderful Jargon would come into play, but all it did was wind up getting me screwed as I fell into predictability and ate about 30 low shorts into cross rush combos. But, that’s the wonderful thing about losing, it teaches you to not fall for stupid stuff and to try and be more flexible in your set ups and game play. Losing because of something dumb your opponent does is one thing, but losing because ‘you’ were playing stupidly? It’s a whole other ball game.


Holy shit. Has it been a whole month already? I better get back to updating this!!

~September 16th Edition~
**“A God Versus A Hopeless Fighter” **

“I WILL DEFEAT YOU!” Running up the tower steps, I faced the third in a long line of fights, facing down a legion of flunkies yet again. Raising my fists and solidifying my stance, I waited for the first one to approach. In a simple kick combo, the opponent was down. The second one I got the jump on, jumping through the air and smashing my heel on his head, before spinning around into a solid round house kick, only to send him flying into a wall, the last one hesitated to approach, and that was his mistake. I punched left, right, stance change, right again, before spinning around and sending him off into the background with a vicious roundhouse kick to the jaw. The room was empty, save for the knocked out enemies, and I lowered my guard.

A noise caught my attention. I turned to face the unseen opponent, only to be shocked at what I saw. It was a bear. A Bear wearing a Karate Gi. Kuma was his name. … No. Not Kuma. Seth. The nameplate said Seth. Seth was the owner of the bear? I didn’t care. Needless to say, the Bear swung its paws around in the air, like it wanted to fight. And I had time to kill. So I raised up my hands. In some other universe I could hear the announcer yelling out ‘Fight!’ And it was on. I rushed in, spinning around in a solid kick aimed to smash the bear in the head, to no avail, it caught my attack and I was forced to kick off, and reposition myself. Big mistake. The bear rolled forward, and in my hesitation he caught me with his foot. Before I knew it, I was airborne, spinning around on my back. I was a circus act. With a push, the bear pumped me up off of his legs and I flew into the air, only to slam onto the ground. Recovering quickly I spun back to my feet. Maybe it was weak to low strikes? With this in mind I focused more on a fundamental set of attacks, a Left right combo into a Low Kick, the first two strikes being blocked, only for the last to strike him in the knees. Yes! A good hit! In my haste I tried to lift my leg up sideways, aiming to knock the bear off of its feet. That was a mistake. A Giant Bear Claw came crashing down on my face. And another. And a third one! By this point I was too dizzied to stay on my feet, an I fell to my back.

It took me but a moment to come to my senses and roll back into stance, only to see the bear still coming. This time I was ready. I hopped upwards and delivered three swift kicks to the bear, one to the face, another to the chest, and a third to the knees. Lifting my leg up I spun around quickly for a powerful Chop, only to follow up with a spinning low kick into a back stance. The bear wasn’t ready for my assault. As it recovered from the strikes, it tried to forsee a low strike. It never came. From my reverse position, I pulled my leg upwards and caught the bear under the chin, lifting him up into the air. Time to end this! Left, Right, Stance, Right, Jumping Axe Kick! SPinning Roundhouse Into Side Kick (60 Damage!) The bear went crashing into the wall, and I rubbed my forehead. Phew, That was tougher than I thought…

*Then he stood up. *

In my haste, I tried to raise my defenses quickly, only to suddenly be rolled into by the bear, My body flying through the air once more, the beast responding with a ghastly follow up; Leaping Forward With His Rear End Forward! The resulting attack had me smashing through a brick wall, and down into the courtyard below. Somewhere, an announcer would be heard saying K.O.!!

It was hours before I stood back up. Looking back to the hole in the wall, I’d brush myself off, shaking my woozy head. I’d hardly been a match for the trained bear… How did I expect to defeat the Demon Martial Artist, The Vampire, and The God, waiting at the top of the tower? … No Matter. I’d been left alive, for whatever reason. I suppose that was my only option, to go home a loser and train harder for next time.

Hopeless Fighter, Still Has a Fighting Spirit.

So after that short story, I hope you’re all still with me. Can I start by saying how awesome Tag 2 is? Harada really went all out for this game, and it seriously shows with how much fun the cast is to play with, how awesome the music, stage designs, and other decorations are, and how varied the costume selections are. Oh, and the characters. I love the characters. Oh wait, I talked about that. Fuck it, I’ll talk about it again! I’ve not had this much fun in a tekken game since Tekken 3, and that game was a gold mine for me.

Now I’m not a Tekken Player by Nature, so some of the set ups are kinda new to me. Ukemi, Forward Tech, Roll Attacks, Standing in Specific Positions to Block Follow Up attacks. I dunno a lot of it, but I’m figuring it out slowly. Though, I really need to change my in game mindset. I’m like a rock when I’m playing, Hard to change, ya know? That and I need to learn to block low. I keep forgetting that blocking low actually ducks out of a lot of shit. Ah well, I’ll figure myself out.


~December 24th Edition~
The End of Shinku Gadoken

No, this is not me giving up fighting games. Lately at the tournaments I’ve been going to, namely Youmacon and a few others, I’ve been using different Monikers as my gaming title. Things like J.J.E. (Judge, Jury, Executioner) and 40%FlashKick. It’s interesting how people receive some of the names I use. But all the same, I’ve felt less and less like a Joke character. In my effort to be taken seriously, I’ve spent hours on end honing what skill I have to whatever degree I can, practicing whenever the opportunity had arisen and seeing myself growing stronger with every consecutive game. I feel as though that, one of these days, I’ll probably win something astounding if I just put my time and effort and mind towards it. But to do that I have to treat this a little more seriously as just something to make money in. It’s gotta… Become my life.

So I’m officially retiring the Moniker of ‘Shinku Gadoken’ and replacing it with a soon to be named title instead. I’ll find what fits soon enough.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me so far. I hope I can do you proud some day.

Off to Frosty Faustings I go…


I refuse to call you anything other than Shinku.


~January 30th Edition~
A New Year of Street Fighter X Tekken

“PUMPKIN!!” Marduk went careening across the battlefield, crashing against the destroyed Nancy, and bouncing off of its thick metal plating, heading right back for Paul. As the flat top fighter readied, he’d leap into the air, shredding through Marduk’s body on the return, before landing and stepping forward. One hand came fout in a firm backfist to Marduk’s chest, before he’d yell out “UNIVERSE POWER!!” and crush his elbow into Marduk’s chest! With a powerful Upper Cut, Paul sent the fighter flying into the air once again. It was hard to tell if Marduk was even conscious anymore. Mustering up every inch of strength Paul had, he’d wait for his opponent to fall into position, before…


I blinked and Marduk was crushed into the wall, his body slumping into defeat, his shaggy wig falling off of his head as his Hugo outfit proved to give him none of the giant’s resistance to blows. Paul put his right arm up in victory, as he proclaimed ‘Boosh!’ Another victory for the world’s most broke fighter.

I don’t know what it is, I really really don’t, but Paul Effin’ Phoenix is amazing. He’s simply the best thing since bread and air. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Just a little bit though.

Street Fighter X Tekken feels like the bane of the existence of everyone in the fighting game community right now. I don’t understand why. Maybe I’m not good enough at the game to understand why people hate it as much as they do. Maybe I’m just a scrubby casual who’ll never see these things, but at any rate, I have always loved and supported the game. I’ve always tried to get tournaments going even if there were only four people interested in competing. I played online even when the netcode was bad, and I continued to play even when all of the unbeatable characters were going crazy. And I prevailed. Why? Because this game is amazing. With the new changes and updates to gameplay, I really hope other people get into the game too, especially considering almost every professional player for Street Fighter 4 says that they love playing the game. Some more so than SF4 itself. Now if that doesn’t send any messages, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, is this the dawning of the newest mainstay in fighting games? Or will our fighting game community still refuse to give SFxT a chance?

P.S.: I have no fucking clue what Paul actually says. Punching Pumpkins is the funniest thing that came to mind though.


~February 3rd Edition~<br>
<b>Low Tier Heroes</b><br>
Low-Tier Heroes. That’s basically how I could describe the SF4 tournament I went to yesterday in Decatur Indiana. The Plenty of Corn tournament, ran by the community as a joint Capcom/Smash tournament, was exciting all the way through, as a series of low tier characters wound up squeezing their way into the top four of both Marvel and Street Fighter. El Fuerte, Cody, Vega, and Ryu (All in order of Placement from 1st to 4th) made very powerful stands in the tournament, which only made the final battle one worth watching. El Fuerte ran a train on Cody, which pissed me off, but really it wasn’t all that bad. The fact I even made it to Top 8 to begin with was exciting, and ultimately winning 2nd place helped me to realize I’m a lot better at Street Fighter than I used to be.<br>
Here’s to the next tournament!


~March 1st Edition~<div><b>The Rise of Hwoarang</b></div><div><b><br></b></div><div>I love the 2013 patch for SFxT, this is no secret. It’s practically the only fighting game I even wanna play these days. Figuring out new things, coming up with new combos, new techniques, exploring every single character’s options, new ways of playing the game, new attack methods… It’s just a wonderfully awesome game. I mean I thought it was awesome before the patch, now… Now I’m blown away. It’s just an amazing game, even more so than before. That being said, I have noticed a plethora of people picking up my favorite characters. Normally this would be a thing to be over joyed about. After all, more people like what I like. People playing Jin is great I what I want! … But, then there’s people playing Hwoarang.</div><div><br></div><div>I don’t know what it is, so why, but when I see people play Hwoarang, I get pissed off. I get really Judgemental of their gameplay, I get mad when they don’t use the right punish. The right combos. I just wanna strangle them until they stop playing him. Why am I so angry? I’ve been finding more and more Hwoaang players online, and every single one of them just angers me to no end. Why can’t they learn to play him accurately?</div><div><br></div><div>Maybe after my next tournament I’ll figure myself out. After all, its just a game, and I shouldn’t get mad at people for playing the same characters as me. After all, this game is like, just getting popular again. I should be happy, ya know?</div>


~March 8th Edition~
Training, Endlessly Training

I’m excited for next weekend, its gonna be my first 2013 patch tournament for SFxT. I might play Street Fighter as well but I’m not holding my breath for that one. What excites me the most is that I finally overcame one of my biggest hurtles as far as opponents go when I defeated Stevo the other day. Something just finally clicked in my head, and its helped me overcome lots of stronger players online as well. I’m still lacking in some know how for getting around certain things, but I’m getting better at making sure I don’t fall for silly things and have answers for most any situation.

My training regiment for SFxT has been to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in the Training Room before I tackle some online games. Then I’ll do either Ranked Matches with strangers until I get 100 points or I’ll join endless matches with friends so that I can get better. This way I’ve always got a slew of ‘New Opponents’ to choose from, while taking on my strong friends at the same time. Is it the most effective way of getting better? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see next weekend when I head up to Detroit for the Digital Battleground tournament.

As an aside, players really like asking me questions about their characters on Facebook. I enjoy looking into them as well. SFxT Guru, anyone?


~March 10th Mini-edition~
My First Combo Video

I’m pretty proud of this, but I wanted to share with everyone else my personal combo video I put together. SONIC X Tekken. I hope you all enjoy it, and that you enjoy any future combo videos I might put out.


~April 4th Edition~
When you live up to your name

*“See ya later guys, I gotta go get ready for top 32.”

I closed the door to my hotel room, sharing it with Jim, Chris, Darrius, Darryl, and Kiu. They needed to practice or relax, or, something. I needed to get ready for the greatest challenge of my entire life. Top 32 at a major tournament. As I walked down the hall of floor 8, everything faded away around me. I was lost with my thoughts. My thoughts were demons. They were telling me ‘you can’t’ ‘you won’t’ ‘you’re not worth it’.

I stopped.

I fell to my knees, leaned against the wall. My thoughts, were they right? Was I just going to get snuffed out in the first round of the final 32 players? Maybe I shouldn’t even show up. Maybe I should just go back to the hotel room, don’t even try.


Standing up, I began my way down the path once more. Screw the darkness, I’m ready to face the challenges that come. The demons I’ll surpass today are all on the way to becoming a better player! Screw fear! Screw death itself! If I get slain today, so be it! I’ll be the ghost that haunts these demons in their every waking moment! I’ll cause them to cry out in anguish as I surprise and surpass every single one of them! My body may die, my soul turned to ashes, but I’ll never stop, and I’ll never give up!

As I stepped into the elevator, a single tear ran down my eye. Determination struck, and I promised myself, no matter what happens today, this is not the end.*

Can I say how amazing Final Round 16 was? I was so happy I got to go with my friends to that amazing tournament. I spent so much time playing SFxT in the ride there that I was practically warmed up for anything tossed my way. Sure, I wound up losing to Floe and KnuckleDuu, but I overcame a lot of other opponents like TA Moons and Noel Brown. Overall I wound up getting out of my pools and making my way to Top 16.

But enough about me. This tournament was a mind blower. I’ve never been to a major outside of Michigan before, so when I saw all these people, all these players,
here for the same games as me, sharing their common interest, my mind was blown. Everything about the tournament ran like smooth butter. The pools were on time AND ahead of schedule, the staff was very accomodating, as they not only let me play on stream when I asked, they even let me commentate (Sabin’s words: That guy’s a cheerleader), sorry about not asking before hand, Combofiend let me get on right away. Anyway, FR staff made my experience absolutely phenomenal and I can’t thank them enough for what they do every year. Thank you, all of you, and may you have an amazing year ahead of you.

Thanks again to Combofiend and Gootecks for looking at my game too, I’m glad I got to show someone. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to post more details about it and get a playable build ready for the public.


~April 29th Edition~
I am NOT dead yet!
Welcome to the wonderful world of sponsorship

*“K.O.!” The announcer proclaimed as Jin yelled out in anguish, Dudley standing over him as he’d lower his glove-covered fists. “Is that truly all that you’re capable of?”

Sitting back in my chair, I ran my hands through my hair. What was I doing wrong? I was being patient, I was picking my attacks, I was… I was being predictable. I glanced over at Humbag. He was just as surprised as I was that he was even doing as well as he was. Was I some kind of triumph to overcome? Had my reputation preceded me in my SFxT endeavors? What was going through his head…

No, what was going through ‘my’ head? What was I thinking losing like this? The bracket was reset, I sent this guy to losers with TWO perfects! What the hell man?!

I’m doing everything right, I’m playing patiently, I’m hanging back… And I’m getting destroyed. What am I doing wrong…?

‘Fight Back’


‘Fight back. If you’re not winning being defensive, go on the offense.’

Of course. It was simple. My opponent was being very aggressive, so why not fight back with more aggression?

Hwoarang and Jin narrowed their eyes at their opponent as Jin stepped forward. He wasn’t going to mess around any more, and as he delivered the first punch to the side of Dudley’s jaw, I knew in my mind, I had already won.*

I went to Counter Attack yesterday and it was an amazing experience. Sure, there were only a few entries for SFxT, but I was finally able to prove to myself that I had the ability to win at this game. Coming in 1st was a huge boost to my own confidence when playing this game, and it not only told me I have the ability, but that I have to be able to change playstyles on the fly, or else I’ll get crushed under my own doubt and my opponent’s ability to adapt. I think too much, but not about the right thing.

In other news, Titan Apparel and Kiaeneto have picked me up as a sponsor, I’m officially on the VANGUARD team for their Fighting Game circuit they’re starting up. What does this mean for the newly made VANGUARD | 40%Flashkick? Who knows. But one thing is certain, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me at Tournaments.


~June 15th Edition~

UFGT9 was spectacular. I don’t really care much for the big drama that happened afterwards, so I’m not gonna be talking about that. My experience at UFGT9 was amazing, regardless of what anyway had to say about it. I got to play Dive Kick for the first time and it blew my mind, on top of being able to play a whole slew of brand new players left and right. I met some amazing people and managed to beat Ranmasama as well as Viscant. WLA|Coolkid managing to take 2nd place after losing to Chris G was an amazing final battle for the tournament, and I can’t be happier for the online players coming out and destroying people.

But, this post isn’t about UFGT9, its about my personal goals as far as SFxT is concerned.

I’ve said before that I’m extremely passionate about fighting games in general, SFxT being the biggest one. I’ve always loved and supported the game since it came out and I’ve been working almost tirelessly to see to it that the game gets the love and respect it deserves.

I have a goal in SFxT. Its a simple goal, but its probably the most important goal I’ll ever undertake as a player. When I go to EVO this year, I’m not going to try and win Evo, I am going to stop one specific player from winning. I’m not gonna name names cause he knows who he is and we’ll settle things like men on the big stage. However, before I go to EVO, I need to hone my skills just a little bit more so that I can fight him properly and at the very best of my ability. So I’ll be venturing down to CEO in a few weeks to take on the competition there, and hopefully score some more EVO seeding points.

I don’t care about being the best player in the game, I care about being passionate about what I do. And being Driven like am to defeat this person, I hope all of my hard work pays off.

Look out Florida, 40%Flashkick is coming to get ya!


~July 7th Edition~
EVO 2013

I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster as of late. Up and Down, back and forth, crying and fighting and bitching and scrounging and doing what I can to make the best of a bad situation.

And I’ve succeeded in securing my funding.

I’ll update this later, but I definitely will see you at EVO 2013.


~July 22nd Edition~
**Improving the state of the FGC[/Friends, Countryman, Fellow Fighting Game Community members, lend me your ears for a brief amount of time.

Fighting Games. You love them, I love them, and we both get hype over them. They’re not that big to the rest of the world though.
“Bull shit!” I hear you saying.
But we both know its true. And why is that? Why are we not as big as E-Sports or other major gaming communities? Why is League of Legends, a game that’s only been around for a shorter time than us, potentially going to the Olympics?
I’ll tell you why; because we’re not trying to become bigger. We do the same shit every year and expect different results. Players want to make a living off doing this sort of stuff, yet they can’t because we just aren’t trying to support them enough.

I know this gets tossed around a lot and boo’d off stage quite often, but we need to start drawing in numbers and money. How do we do that? Merchandise, products, little drink mugs with your favorite player/characters on it, and most importantly? Charging for stream views.
Yeah yeah, get it out of your system, but you know I’m speaking the truth here.
Now I’m not saying we need to completely overcharge everybody and anybody who comes on stream to watch us play, just start tossing on one-two dollars to gain subscription chat rights or to see Finals Matches or ‘something’ of that caliber. Why? Because that’s money you can support the players with.

Yes, being in the FGC doesn’t mean you’re in it for yourself all the time. You can still benefit and help the other players too. Say you’re a TO, right? And you get a stream going to have players watch your tournament. Make it so you can watch the pools for free and can buy Chat Rights for 1-2 dollars. Then snap to Top 32? Make it a set amount so players have to pay to stream monster for the top players. Why? Because if you take that stream chat money, add it to an additional 1-2-3 dollars you charge for the end game, and then count up the Green, you wind up with half of which you can stick in your own pocket, then the other half you can disperse to the players as you see fit. Now all of those top 32 players can still make a little money, even though they didn’t wind up getting into that 70,20,10 split. Players have a bigger motivator for getting into Top 32 because its guaranteed money, and everyone grows a little more because we’re fighting harder to get where we gotta go.

And consider this friends, we take all this money we make slowly over time, whether through ranbats or whatever, and we build it up, right? Then, come the end of the season, we can pool it all together for a regional/nationals ending tournament that has some killer sick pot bonus not dependant on the number of participants at our tournament! Players have even greater reason to join, and Stream Monsters can be toned down by having people buy in to see the action instead.

We had like, what, 1.5 MILLION viewers or so on one stream at Evo this year? Imagine, for just a second, if every last one of them had paid 1 dollar to watch. 1.5 Million Dollars to disperse into our games. You could not only pay Top 8, you could pay all of Top 32 with cash like that! And that only goes up if you have it be 2 dollars!

All I’m saying is that we need to get the word out and help our community grow even more. Fighting Games are gonna stay the way we are if we all keep pushing this Niche Poverty Games thing. EVO has proven that we WILL grow, but we need the community to support each other or it’ll just be 10 more years of more of the same.


Loving your work. Reminds me of myself in my essays when I was in school :wink: Hope to see you keep this up. Yes I think the FGC could be expanded. But in our day and age, people turn this genre down and scoff at us. As of such, it is hard to convince many to be interested. Saying that, I would say they are more popular than racing games since we do have EVO and the racing genre isn’t as acclaimed as ours.


Thank you for your comment mister Philosopher. I appreciate the support. Do keep your eye on the thread~


~July 28th Edition~
Yatagarasu, Attack On Cataclysm

Have you guys seen this game yet? Its a cool, fast paced mix of both KoF and SF3. Anyway, I set up a Combo Video showcasing one of the game’s characters, Crow.


~August 26th Edition~
Of Angels and Warriors

*Standing amongst them, I felt out of place, wearing armor and colors I wasn’t familiar with, I leaned over to whisper to Stevo, needing some clarification, some guidance. Why was I here? Further more, what did I do to deserve this? Before I got a chance to ask anything, the silence was broken by the heavy thud of boots clattering against marble floors. This place was surreal, but its design was elegant, to match the desire of the people who ran it. It felt like I was standing on the edge of space itself! There was a floor beneath my feet, but there were stars everywhere I looked, both above me and standing beside me. People I knew, but people who I idolized too. While lost in thought, the voice attached to the boots spoke up.

“Andrew Fein, please step forward.”

What, me? What did I do? Why did he need to talk to me? All the same, The Mad King even bowed to this man, so of course I couldn’t refuse his request. Stepping forward from my position in line, I looked warily around me. Was this some kind of set up? I’d been lured into this sort of thing before, but…

“I heard you’ve been busy out there, soldier. You’ve defeated quite a few powerful opponents, and whether you’re aware of it or not, we’ve been watching.” Someone took note of my abilities without me saying anything? Well, that was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to ask a question, but before I did, he continued. “As such, we’d like to extend a formal invitation to you…”

As he finished speaking, behind him the cosmos seemed to open up itself, and descending from this cosmic tear came a being of angelic quality, the female creature comprised not of flesh but of the stars she descended from brandished her six wings, glowing an ethereal fire that burned brighter than the sun. Behind me, the many warriors who bowed to this creature lowered their heads, showing their respects. Looking on to this trenchcoat clad man, two swords on his form, one on his back, another at his waist, he extende a hand to me. “-- Will you take up arms as a part of Seraphim?”

Though apprehensive, I felt this was a chance to be part of something greater. So with a bit of thought, I said yes.*

Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t checked in as of late, been working on the Beast’s Fury fighting game, we’re finally almost ready for some basic play testing before we get the Demo out. To anyone around in Australia, we may be bringing a working version of the game to Shadowloo Showdown! Maybe. Don’t hold your breath, we’re not 100% sure yet.

Anyway, Following my brief introduction, I joined a new fighting game team known as ‘Seraphim’. They’re tag line is SRM, some of you may be familiar with SRM Stevo, who recently placed 3rd Place at Summer Jam in SFxT. They’re a strong group of players who live in Detroit, Michigan and they asked me to join them. How could I say no?

At any rate, I have 3 Tournaments coming up in the next few weeks. The first is Chicago Heart 5, followed by Godlike Saturdays, and last, but definitely not least, The Fall Classic. Here’s hoping I can place well and do exceptional at all three tournaments, seeing as how all my money I make will go towards getting to Australia!


~October 18th Edition~
What do you wanna be when you grow up?

*I told myself once when I was young that, no matter what, no matter where I went, who I met, I was only going to do what I loved for the rest of my life. No other job is worth it if I don’t love it. Looking back at it, can I say I’ve followed that to a T?

The short answer is yes.

When I first got into fighting games in 2008, I realized this is what I wanna do with my life. Not learn guitar, not be an artist, but this right here. My abilities were barnone in a medium of competitive sport that I could have a ton of fun with while also bettering myself as a person. Sure, for the longest time I’ve only ever known the basics of fighting games. Cr. MK into Hadoken is a combo, you use grabs to open up defensive opponents, your fireball is punishable by jump-ins, really basic stuff when I got started, but I learned more over time, picking up little things like how to set up hard to block situations or how to bait out reactions and punish them accordingly. As I grew, I became a better person for it. I learned how to apply simple mind games to other aspects of life and other video games, how to see things from other perspectives. Fighting Games helped me mature, helped me grow.

But I still wasn’t very good at them.

When I met the In brothers I had my cold reality of thinking I was great knocked down several pegs. I learned that there are people who are far greater than you who will beat you furiously into the ground without any mercy whatsoever. Not because they want to destroy you, but because they know that if you want to succeed, you have to realize what its like playing against the strongest players. Real pros won’t show you any mercy, because they’re not there to hold your hand, they’re there to win. However, they want you to be a good player too, to validate that win. I learned, slowly, that I wasn’t that good, and I won’t be that good for a long time.

I cried a lot. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’d lose horribly, realize I just sucked, and that I wasn’t even improving. I’d go match after match getting my ass kicked, losing tournament after tournament, my money slipping away, my morale fading, it was awful. I hated it. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I loved competing too much, I loved the friends I made, I loved everything about the games I played. I just loved fighting games.

Street Fighter X Tekken was released in March of 2012, my friend Travis and I picked it up the moment it released and played the hell out of it well into the night. I was still on a school schedule so I conked out early on while Travis kept playing. My goal in that game was to play Hwoarang and Jin, not just because they seemed strong with their Mix-Ups and spacial traps, but because I loved those two characters. They had this burning eternal rivalry between one another that struck me as a motivating point for becoming the best at this game. I would study match ups, learn frame data, explore options, try new combos, new mixups, slowly improve as time went on and even though I lost a lot of critical battles, Dan and I teamed up and put our abilities together to triumph at a Team tournament, and as a result, it provided me with my 1st Tournament Victory. I was proud of myself, proud of what I’d managed to accomplish with my friend, and best of all, proud of the fact that all of my hard work had finally paid off.

I still wasn’t that strong yet.

When I first met CORN | Sethlolol, it was at a tournament in Mishiwaka, Indiana that my friend had thrown. We ran casuals and, at first, I was winning the first couple games we played. After that, Seth found out my gameplan and took the remaining games. When the tournament itself started, I wound up losing to Seth but winning against another strong player from Detroit, CORN | Tha’Alucard. Ultimately I wound up placing 3rd in that tournament as Seth would wind up taking the whole thing. At first I thought Seth was just a pretty good player. It wasn’t until I saw him again at Michigan Masters that I saw Dan take him on again that I really realized Seth’s potential. He wasn’t just a good player, he was the best. When he went to the Street Fighter 25th and ran a train on the Evil Genius’ team, I believed it too. For the longest time I rooted for Seth, wanting him to do good, wanting him to beat Infiltration and prove once and for all that he was the greatest at the game. You can only imagine my excitement when I saw him face off against Infiltration yet again at Final Round only to take the game from him and practically solidify his position as best in the world. To me, Seth was this pillar of hope, that you ‘can’ come from absolutely nothing and no sponsors to become so good at a game that everyone you face worries about you or whispers your name among themselves.

I talked to him, learned his name was Sareth Sok, wanted to get his insights, his mentality going into the game. Obviously someone so good must be passionate about the game, right?

He told me that this was ‘Just a Hobby’ and that he was going to go to EVO to prove that he ‘can’ win at the game, after that, he’d quit and focus on his work and schooling. According to him ‘It’s fun fighting for the top, but defending that position sucks. So I’ll win, then quit, so nobody can ever challenge me.’

I couldn’t fathom that. I hated him so much when he said that to me. I kept hating him well until EVO rolled around. I made sure that, no matter what, I was going to make it to EVO and stop Sareth from winning. He wasn’t allowed to. Not in my mind anyway. He had become this great bastion of power that I drew from as inspiration to keep pressing on, to prove that ‘if he can do it, so can I’ and that no matter what happened, no matter who I faced, I’d become as good as Sareth. I threw that mentality out the window. I didn’t want to be as good as Sareth. I hated Sareth. I wanted to beat him.

Up until that time, I played my best against everyone I could play against. I beat strong players like Noel Brown, TA Moons, Ranmasama, Viscant, and even when I finally got to EVO, I took on Gouki FaFa, Ricky Ortiz, and even Arturo Sanchez. My passion for this game was strong, and everyone who knew me was silently cheering me on. I felt like goku, drawing energy from the planet to try and defeat a great evil. So when I finally faced off against M.O.V. and dropped out of Winners side to go to Losers, I felt a sadness in my chest. I just lost my shot at Top 8 through a sloppy play, because I didn’t know the potential of whiff punishing at that time, I’d defeated myself through a stupid move and it cost me the game. So going into Losers side, I tried not to make that same mistake. I told myself to forgive myself for what had happened, and that I’d see M.O.V. again. I just knew I would.

Waiting for me at the other side of Loser’s Bracket was Justin Wong. I’d never played against him though I’d met him in the past. Justin was kind of like the ultimate guardian of the EVO Top 8, and to me he was the greatest challenge I needed to overcome in order to defeat Sareth. I was ecstatic, I wanted to fight Justin and prove that I was like Sareth, that I was just as good as him, if not better, that I can play with the big boys just like everyone else.

I lost.

But Justin told me something that kept me from feeling discouraged. He said ‘You earned this spot. You earned this opportunity.’ And looking around me, at the hundreds of players that had come out for this event, that all signed up for the same game, that I had over come, that I had triumphed over to get to where I was… I didn’t feel so weak. I felt like, even though I wasn’t going on to fight for the top 8 spot of EVO, that, yes, I had finally become strong. So what if I wasn’t going to stop Sareth, so what if he quit the game. I didn’t care. I’d proven to myself that I can do it. I can be as good as any of the tournament players, I can overcome any obstacle, any opponent, to get where I need to go in order to become a better player.

I felt strong.

Later I learned that Sareth had been knocked out of the tournament earlier than I had been, and that technically made me the strongest player in Michigan. This was exciting to hear, but I didn’t believe it. Sareth is still stronger than I am, I know it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying to overcome him. Over anyone else for that matter. I didn’t hate anyone anymore. I just wanted to prove that I was strong.

And I did.*